01 September 2005

99% Heat and 1% light.

Thanks to Bloggers4Labour for posting this most sensible comment (above) on what descended into the most pathetic slanging match between Sharpener commentators Andrew and Blimpish and myself over the subject of abortion.

I don't absolve myself from blame in this, because I was naive to go into a debate like this with all guns blazing. However, hopefully I can sum up the 1% of light that has come out of this.

Firstly, I'm not going to let them get away with slandering my reputation.

My comments on religion were; 'because the majority of people who are anti-choice on abortion are influenced by religion their arguments are invalidated'.

In no way is that bigoted, to compare this comment to a BNP supporter as Andrew does is plainly ridiculous.

I think its about time people realise that views like Andrews' and Blimpish's on abortion are offensive. Just look at how Andrew belittles women in his post 'joking' they should turn Lesbian if they want to avoid getting pregnant. This is not funny. If anyone is the bigot it is him for posting such obvious rubbish in what he claims is a 'serious' post.

He compares me to the bigotry of the BNP but has a link to the fascist website 'cross of st george' on his Sharpener blog.

I think by looking at his posts and comparing them to mine it is quite obvious who is closer to the BNP. I'm not the one advocating banning abortion, pro-capital punishment, against immigration, pro-guns etc..

Believe you me, I have 'debated' with the people on 'CoSG' and it rarely gets above the level of 'I hate brown people cos they smell' arguments! This is the people Andrew is siding with.

Andrew has got so muddled about his inconsistency in being anti-choice on abortion and pro-death penalty that he nows claims he never said that 'innocent life should be saved if possible', in which case where does that leave his argument for saving zygotes (even if you believe his ridiculous argument that they are equivalent to humans).

On religion, I don't think religious views deserve respect because they are plainly absurd.

Rational people should base their views on what the evidence supports not just 'what cannot be dis-proved philosophically', otherwise you can believe anything and whats the point in that?


  1. On religion, I don't think religious views deserve respect because they are plainly absurd.

    People like you said the same things about women's views a century ago, and black people's views a couple of centuries ago. You're a bigot, plain and simple.

    The Sharpener is a group blog. I'm just one of the contributors. Links to other blogs are decided by the editors.

  2. For proof of Neil's bigotry go to the thread 'Why I'm not proud to be British..' and see, firstly, how quick he is to play the race card; and secondly, how he fails to rebut the suggestion that his opinion of religious believers ("irrational nuts") entails a contempt for the majority of the people of Africa, Asia, Arabia and South America.

  3. While the "brown or black skin" motif was ill-advised, I believe the point Neil was making was that opposition to immigration is often taken up by those with racist attitudes, in some cases as a deliberate cover. You can disagree on the extent, but it is clearly true to some degree.

    Sean, the term "irrational nuts" was first applied to "anti-choice people", and just because Neil didn't take you up on the point when you made a logical leap to apply it to "religious believers" in general, that doesn't mean he agrees the term should be applied to all believers from other continents. Let alone having "contempt" for them.

    Strong words indeed. I think you were fishing to make the case that the Left only care about the world's poor as long as they don't pray or continue a conservative tribal/societal custom. Don't think you've made that case here.

  4. Bloggers4labour, have you read the quote at the top of this thread?

    "On religion, I don't think religious views deserve respect because they are plainly absurd."

    Does that not sound a little contemptuous to you?

    As for my making a logical leap, consider the following quote from the abortion debate:

    "My comments on religion were that; because the majority of people who are anti-choice on abortion are influenced by religion their arguments are invalidated."

    So it seems pretty clear that it is specifically the holding of religious views that renders the arguments of the majority of anti-abortionists invalid. We can only infer that the minority of anti-abortionists who are non-religious can expect to have their views treated with respect. The conclusion I draw from this is that Neil considers anyone influenced by religion, and that means the majority of the people from the continents I mentioned, to be ruled out of rational discourse. If you can think of an alternative interpretation I’d like to hear it.

    As for the race issue, Neil states that those who are against immigration base their arguments on the implication that people born abroad are inferior and that this implication is “usually” based on racism. He does not allow for the possibility of any other point of view. Do you accept that by ignoring this possibility he distorts the debate and attempts to rule out a whole range of valid concerns that are not xenophobic and / or racist?

    This brings me on to the case I was trying to make which is not that the Left doesn’t care about the world’s poor as long as they pray etc. but that a range of people, including many of those on the Left, tries to close down the debate on immigration by bandying about the term 'racist' whilst ignoring the many contradictions inherent in their own views. Neil doesn’t think that the views of Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims etc. are valid if they have been influenced by their beliefs, in fact he thinks they are absurd. I suggest that if someone as avowedly anti-racist as Neil can have such an antagonistic point of view there may be more reasons to be concerned about immigration than simple xenophobia or racism.

  5. Sean, you are confusing identity with religion. How can it be bigoted to criticise views that are not based on evidence? I do have 'contempt' for religious views and religion, which is not the same as contempt for religious people. It is ridiculous to call someone a bigot for expressing their disgust at the extreme intolerant views of anti-choice people like Andrew and Blimpish. Would you include Richard Dawkins and Polly Toynbee? I have expressed pretty much exactly the same opinion on religion as them.

    Although a majority of people identify with a religion, this doesn't mean they base their arguments on religion. When I said someone who bases their argument on their religious belief has invalidated their argument, I think I am completely correct.

    Looking at abortion, of those who argue Andrew's position of a complete ban, the majority are influenced (at least in part) by their religious views. It is not bigoted to point out that they have invalidated their argument by doing this. I suppose the 'polite' way to point this out is to say that religion and the state should be separate.

    Andrew, although an atheist, is still obviously influenced by religious ideas of what it is to be a human being. Extreme views like his are bigoted and I am being called a bigot for pointing this out. All the criticisms Andrew throws at me, more accurately apply to him. The best test of his accusations is to judge his own views by what he accuses me of. His views most definitely fail his own test.

    I like how he disassociates himself from his own blog, by saying that the fascist links they provide are decided by others. That is very convenient. By writing for this blog, isn't he tainted by association? Is it really valid to say it is nothing to do with him what links are provided, when he argues points that are supported by these same fascist websites?

    I think it is about time we stopped pussy footing around the issues when people like Andrew are arguing obvious guff, it needs to be pointed out in no uncertain terms.

  6. Sean, another point. Ask someone who opposes immigration, why they oppose it?

    What do you think the answer will be?

    At best you will get some confused (and discredited) arguments about economics and overcrowding, and maybe about how 'cultural differences' cause problems. A lot of others will tell you about disease and crime that these 'people' bring etc. Which is not surprising considering our press coverage, is it?

    The truth is criticism of asylum and immigration are a not so subtle cover for racism for a lot of people.

    Andrew, to claim you are a friend of women's rights after what you have written would be laughable if you weren't so serious. I know you change your views like the weather. Trying to smear me is not going to work. Remember it is the BNP bigots that agree with YOUR views not mine. I reckon its time for you to have another rethink.

  7. Neil, you are simply a caricature of Leftoid lunacy. Whenever people say to me in future "why aren't you Left-wing" I will refer them to this blog. When they stop laughing, they'll just nod, knowingly.

  8. I am quite glad to be called a bigot by you and Andrew. People who compare women who have abortions to burglars and think they have abortions for 'convenience' are not the sort of people I would want praising me. You keep spouting your fascist nonsense on sites that link to fascist websites. I am proud to be the one who doesn't tolerate such rubbish and highlights your bigotry.

  9. Andrew, although an atheist, is still obviously influenced by religious ideas of what it is to be a human being.

    Right... You don't agree with me, so I must be basing my views on religion, despite arguing for several thousand words about where my views actually come from. There's a word to describe someone like you who writes people's opinions off on the basis of group identity. Now what is it?

    Oh yes. A bigot. I'm sure your BNP membership card is in the post, Neil. Can't be too long before you're burning crosses on the lawns of black people in Brighton with views like yours.

  10. It's fairly obvious, Neil, that you have no knowledge of what the word 'fascist' means.

    I see on the following post that you ask, following the doctor and opera director (ahem) Jonathan Miller, "how can an intelligent person believe in God?" Well, if we restricted the sample to me and you, we get the opposite case, don't we, old son?

  11. Neil, I don’t confuse identity and religion but I do conflate them because in reality that is what most religious believers do. To assume that the two are completely separate is to demonstrate a rather eurocentric point of view. In the rest of the world religion and identity are intimately bound up with each other, often to the extent that the two separate categories would not even be recognised.

    Just to clarify things, you do confirm that you have contempt for religious views and religion but claim that this is not the same as contempt for religious people. So let’s try and translate that into a concrete example. Let’s imagine you’re talking to a Hindu and you tell him that you have contempt firstly for his belief in a deity / deities, secondly for the way he chose his wife, thirdly for his conception of his duties to his family, fourthly for the daily rituals which give meaning to his life, and fifthly for the belief system that determines his ethical approach to others......but apart from that you’ve got respect for him. How do you think he will feel?

    I haven’t read Polly Toynbee on religion but I would definitely classify Richard Dawkins as a bigot. He is, after all, the man who chose to use the 9/11 outrage as a justification for airing his old-fashioned, unimaginative prejudices against religion in the press (whilst omitting to mention the tens of millions of people killed in the name of atheist socialism in the 20th Century.). Consider the following quote:

    “To fill a world with religion, or religions of the Abrahamic kind, is like littering the streets with loaded guns. Do not be surprised if they are used.”

    Imagine replacing ‘a world’ with ‘England’ and ‘religions of the Abrahamic kind’ with just one of those religions – Islam – and hey presto! Richard Dawkins becomes Nick Griffin.

    OK, I know Richard Dawkins is a peculiar, hate-driven individual and I don’t want to tar other atheists such as yourself with the same brush so I’ll give you the opportunity to justify your own standpoint in your own words. You assert that religious views are invalidated and that even the views of atheists, if influenced by religion, are unacceptable so I’d like to hear what you consider to be the foundation for your own beliefs. Please explain in purely scientific terms, without any appeal to abstract entities such as values, an ethical position of your choice (such as all humans being equal or theft being immoral or something like that). I’ll be interested to see this explanation.

  12. Neil, regarding your second point, I suggest that it is you who needs to speak to some people who oppose immigration in order to get a feel for the diversity of opinion that exists in this country. You could start by speaking to some of my Sikh friends who oppose any further immigration by Muslims on the grounds that Islam is a “backward” religion.

    Or you could speak to one of their wives who works as a bi-lingual education adviser and who often receives whispered telephone enquiries from Muslim women hoping to attend English language courses in secret – because their husbands do not want them to integrate into the wider society.

    Or you could speak to one of my Hindu friends who worked as a classroom assistant in a majority Muslim primary school and was shocked by the abuse that was hurled by 9 and 10 year old children when the Hindu pupils put on a show to celebrate Diwali – because Hinduism is deemed to be a wicked, idolatrous religion.

    You would, of course, share these people’s less than flattering opinion of Islam and you would be hard-pushed to call them racists as the Muslims they criticise come overwhelmingly from India and Pakistan. So perhaps you might consider amending your crude stereotypes, no different in their own way to those peddled by the tabloid press, about the sorts of people who oppose immigration?

  13. Sean, sorry about the 12 day hiatus, just back from a holiday fully refreshed.

    I will shortly produce a post on my thoughts on religion, but to answer a few of your points.

    Firstly, I believe that identity and religion are totally separate. Just because most who adopt religion are brainwashed from birth with parental and peer pressure doesn't mean they can't renounce it. It is afterall just an opinion!

    This is also why I disagree with you calling Dawkins a bigot. To criticise an opinion and all who hold it (if backed with evidence) is not unreasonable.

    "You assert that religious views are invalidated and that even the views of atheists, if influenced by religion, are unacceptable so I’d like to hear what you consider to be the foundation for your own beliefs."

    Difficult to summarise;

    Obviously religion does include some aspects of scientifically reasoned ethics but crucially for the wrong reasons, and of course it also includes an awful lot of nonsense that totally contradicts itself. The whole nature of this 'fixed' view invalidates religion as a 'whole' viewpoint.

    'Altruism' and 'ethics' can be argued for from a purely scientific basis. I argue for equal opportunity and a reduction in inequality because of the overall economic and social benefits.

    As examples; universal healthcare reduces incidence of disease for the benefit of everyone; reductions in inequality lowers the crime rate and has many other benefits. If the opposite were true I would argue the opposite. I don't 'believe' in equality for any other reason than the evidence supports it as the most efficient way of running a society.

    My only belief is that co-operation is superior to individualism, this is supported by 'tit for tat' scientific models and by observing 'altruism' amongst animals (of which humans belong).

    I'm going to elaborate on this in further detail in the next few days.

  14. On your point about my criticisms of those who oppose immigration. I stand by my view that 'most' oppose it on racist grounds. It may be 'unconscious' racism, but racism none the less.

    'Islam' like all religions is absurd. But this is not an 'argument' against immigration like you suggest, it is argument for education to eradicate these absurd views. It may appear a tough task to consign religion to history but even those who opposed the 'flat earth' theory were in a minority once.