The problem with liberalism is that one never knows where one should stand. Two stories in the news illustrate this quite well. First, on Tuesday we had an up raw over whether or not nick griffin should be allowed to speak at the oxford union. Now, all reasonable people loathe griffin and his racist beliefs; yet, at the same time, one must uphold the position that all people should have a right to free speech. My own personal thoughts were that he should have been allowed to speak, and then, in the ensuing debate, have been shown to be the moron he undoubtedly is.
The second, slightly more complex issue is the British teacher in Sudan jailed for allowing her students to name a teddy bear Mohammed. On the one hand, I think we have to respect the will of the Sudanese people and judiciary; on the other, I, as a liberal atheist, don’t see the point of getting het up about the name of this bear. I don’t see how it insults Islam. Were I to call my bear Jesus, would that insult Christianity? I don’t see how it would. Religion, I think can be taken too far. Do I believe, therefore, that the British authorities should get involved? That is a good question. Part of me says her jailing was wrong, but another part says we should respect the Sudanese people.
Mind you, I just checked bbc news – ” Thousands of people have marched in the Sudanese capital Khartoum to call for UK teacher Gillian Gibbons to be shot.” – I can never condone capital punishment, Sudanese sovereignty or not.
Thus we have the paradox within liberalism. It’s a whole bunch of contradictions really, but while some have used this fact, rather inanely, to discredit liberalism, I think it precisely mirrors the uncertainty of reality. Objectivity is a myth. Unlike conservatism, liberalism acknowledges that there is always more than one side to every story, and therefore only it can be held up as a rational political ethos.
this video has set something of a debate off within me. It concerns a family’s fight for a wheelchair the mum needs. Ordinarily, I’d have no problem with this, only they’re demanding an ibot. On the one hand, I think ‘why not? Fair game to her.’ On the other, I think it arrogant for her to demand such a high-spec chair when there are hundreds of disabled kids with woefully inadequate chairs.
I guess I might just be jealous, or have congenital-crip bias. Anyway, tell me what you think.
Just a quick one tonight. Been a much better day – watched a cool film, got about 500 words down about it, and went to watch gospel. I’ve been in a funk since Monday, but Wednesdays cheer me up. Beer discos and pink stuff, innit?
Anyway, here’sa blog by a fellow CPer in the states. He’s got a few highly perceptive entries, especially on inclusion, which I think are worth a read. Enjoy.
About midmorning yesterday I got an email from lee; he was wondering if I was free anytime this week to go and try to find Richard’s grave. Although I was supposed to be working, some things, I think, must take priority. I’ve always wondered where my friend was buried.
Lee came yesterday afternoon, and drove us both to Nantwich cemetery, where, he had heard, our friend was buried. He did not, however, know exactly where rich was, and explained that we needed to hunt. The cemetery itself is overgrown and unkempt, so this was easier said than done. We were both stumbling around this infernal place, looking for the grave of our friend, and it struck me what a shitty state of affairs it was. I keep thinking about rich, about the boy I once knew and now will never talk to again. About how this was the product of the special school system; about how this was what you got when you grew up in such a place, searching for a name on a gravestone. And how it was wrong. It isn’t that I’m not proud to have known guys like Simmo; its just that I consider what we special school survivors had and still have to witness nothing more than barbaric.
In the end we didn’t find it. It was getting dark, we were both starting to fall over, so we gave up. I knew I’d be expected home by jen. It’s just sad we didn’t find it. Poor Richard. I could do with some of his wit right now, but…..
This weekend saw the Onevoice winter conference. Because dad is the only one who can put my chair in the van, and he had to fly out to basil, turkey, yesterday, I had to cut my stay short. This was, of course, unfortunate, but I suppose it couldn’t be helped. At least I got to help a bit.
It was, of course, fun, and I’m getting used to the format. This time, I brought two Pas – jen and ash. They did their job splendidly. Bringing them both may have been overkill, but the truth is I wanted them both to experience it. Onevoice is my ‘other world’; it is the world of disability, which, outside of internet message boards and msn messager, I don’t have much contact with these days. That is, of course, as it should be, but at the same time it feels like going back to your roots – a homecoming, of sorts.
I think that’s how the kids there feel too. At Onevoice it’s as if they are the normal ones. If I can help facilitate that, then it’s all good.
For now, though, its back to my other world – the world of books and learning. In this world, I’ll always be something unusual; there’s nothing bad in that, and I don’t mean it in a negative sense, but its nice, every so often, to go to somewhere where I am the norm.
When I got back to the wes earlier I noticed the neater eater had been fixed. I owe the maintenance guys a drink, it seems.
The footballers, however, are not off the hook.
I blame the footballers. I know it was one of the sports students anyway because only they are empty headed enough to do such a thing. My neater eater is broken. When I got into the wes for tea yesterday, I found the little metal cylinder which goes into the spoon bit had been turned around. Given it was okay at breakfast (I didn’t use it for lunch yesterday) I think someone has been fiddling with it.
Now, I know its being biased and irrational, but I just know it was one of the sports students. They seem to have the brains of Neanderthals. Come on, ‘studying sport’? how imaginative. It’s as if football in our society is the arbiter of masculinity – to be ‘a man’ you must like football. Well its not. Its just 22 overpaid fuckwits kicking a ball around a field. There’s nothing manly or clever about it: it’s just a moronic game which breeds a culture of morons. Morons who break neater eaters. looks like it’s back to ‘here comes the train’ for a while.
I just got the following from my friend eunice, from australia (the weather has been making me want to return there asap). if you ask me, she has it all wrong hampsters are a nice alternative to turkey.:
”A trio of nice local kids arrived at the door last night selling raffle tickets for the school. ‘The second prize is a hampster’, said the little girl aged around ten very importantly. We discussed costs and I filled in four tickets.. The second time she said the second prize was a hamster, I thought I had better disillusion her. ‘Hamper’, I said, ‘did you mean Xmas hamper. ‘Yes, hamster.’ ‘A Xmas hamper is full of food’. I said, ‘we wouldn’t want to eat a hamster!’ Her little face fell, and I felt really mean, like I had told her there was no Santa Claus, but better she knows that some people get more excited about a basket of goodies than a cute little furry, gerbillike creature as second prize. How lovely to be young again and think a hamster for a prize was the best thing in the world. I will be almost disappointed if we dont win one, and have to put up with bottles of wine, chocolates and Xmas pudding!”’
I hate hypocrites. How can the Tories talk about improving schools when, under them, millions of disabled kids would be left behind in seriously substandard special schools (haws that for alliteration). Today, over breakfast, I saw CaMoron’s on about creating new academy places. The bbc website reads: ‘The Conservatives say they will expand the number of academies in England to create at least 220,000 ”good school places” over the next nine years. The plans focus on almost 32,000 children in deprived areas, who appealed unsuccessfully against the secondary schools they were allocated. ‘
This may sound good, but then, its intended to: the Tories are desperate for sound bytes which appeal to the electorate. But when we remember their stance on inclusion, we see their education proposals for what they are: the maintenance of a tiered system, manifestly unfair, and designed, in fact, to take us back to the seventies! Is it not the case that the Tories want to see a return to grammar schools? Thus, despite their jingoism and pseudo-progressive language. Cameron’s Tories are no different from Thatcher’s or major’s, and no less deserving of the electorate’s distrust.
While articles on ouch are what I term ‘okay’ – usually well written, raising a few good points but otherwise unnoteworthy – this article from tom Shakespeare raises something of an odd irony. Shakespeare points out that, in a strange way, wars are good for disabled people because, afterwards, people feel guilty about exservicemen maimed in wars and therefore endeavour to improve accessibility. How ironic? Of course, he sys a lot of other things too, so I suggest you go read.