Friday, November 03, 2006

Macaulay on Southey's Colloquies on Society

Written in 1830, some 176 years ago, Macauley's review is sadly just as applicable today as it was in his own time.

Mr. Southey brings to the task two faculties which were never, we believe, vouchsafed in measure so copious to any human being, the faculty of believing without a reason, and the faculty of hating without a provocation.

Apply that to any of the religious figures who claim authority to lead and to condemn today.

He judges of a theory, of a public measure, of a religious or a political party, of a peace or a war, as men judge of a picture or a statue, by the effect produced on his imagination. A chain of associations is to him what a chain of reasoning is to other men; and what he calls his opinions are in fact merely his tastes.

It's true, reason has been lost to us, as a result of education concentrating on what is merely useful to us for gaining our living as opposed to what is absolutely necessary to us if our lives are not to become worthless.

Now in the mind of Mr. Southey reason has no place at all, as either leader or follower, as either sovereign or slave. He does not seem to know what an argument is. He never uses arguments himself. He never troubles himself to answer the arguments of his opponents. It has never occurred to him, that a man ought to be able to give some better account of the way in which he has arrived at his opinions than merely that it is his will and pleasure to hold them. It has never occurred to him that there is a difference between assertion and demonstration, that a rumour does not always prove a fact, that a single fact, when proved, is hardly foundation enough for a theory, that two contradictory propositions cannot be undeniable truths, that to beg the question is not the way to settle it, or that when an objection is raised, it ought to be met with something more convincing than 'scoundrel' and 'blockhead.'

Again, this could be applied to almost any of the religious leaders of our time, whose first recourse, when some kind of reasonable law tries to prevent them from destroying those of whom they do not approve, is to scream offense and lack of religious freedom.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


  • you are a gay man, and
  • you watch Stargate: Atlantis, and
  • you have a heart in your body, then

read Missed the Saturday Dance.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

It makes you laugh #1

Spain translates more books into Spanish each year than the entire Arab world has translated into Arabic since the ninth century.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Pope 'sorry' for offence to Islam

As the BBC notes:

In the West Bank city of Nablus, two churches were firebombed on Saturday in attacks claimed by a group which said it was protesting against the Pope's remarks.

They are protesting against a link between Islam and violence by firebombing churches? The standard western reaction to that is: What mad perversion of reason made them think that was logical? But this, I think, misses the point.

The truth is of course, they are not protesting, they are punishing, and the Pope has fallen for it. Theodore Dalrymple once said:

In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control.

What better way to humiliate those who dare to link Islam with violence than to do violence to them in the name of Islam while insisting that it is a religion of peace? The Pope, by apologising, has merely tried to appease. And, as anybody might guess, by appeasing has encouraged his tormentors to further demands: "Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood said the statement did not go far enough and called on the pontiff to apologise in person," the BBC reports.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Weird BBC

'Airlines terror plot' disrupted

Today's major article is currently (the BBC apparently has a habit of quietly rewriting them without telling anybody) a masterpiece of mealy-mouthedness:

  • "21 people" are in custody. Do we know anything about these 21 people? Well:
  • Police had spoken to a "good number of community leaders to make them aware that a major operation was under way." Which community was this? Doesn't say. I wonder if it was the leaders of the Bath and Wells Mother's Union?
  • According to BBC sources the "principal characters" suspected of being involved in the plot were British-born. But British-born what? Sheep? Cuckoos?

Well, you won't find the answers in the BBC article. No doubt somebody has decided that the truth could either give offense or incite prejudice. But was that person in the BBC or in the Home Office? The best we can hope for seems to be that the answers will leak out in time.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Gays flee Iraq as Shia death squads find a new target

The gist of the article is, Shia Muslim deaths squads in Iraq, acting on pretended authority from their "god", and with the connivance of the supposedly secular government that we are supposed to be supporting, are executing innocent gay people. Once again, absolute faith leads to absolute corruption.