Comment, Comics and the Contrary.
Too slow for the interweb?
To keep up in the world of blogging you have to move fast. A day or so of deliberation and you are left trailing in the wake of writers who operate a little closer to the edge of current affairs.
Two stories that it now seems redundant to spend too long commenting on are ‘the chicken time bomb scenario’ – I have, quite brazenly, stolen this title from Chicken Yoghurt, on the basis that it was too good not to – and ‘electrifying student profiling’.The Chicken Time Bomb Scenario
The best coverage of the controversy revolving around Halal chicken being served at a school Christmas dinner are offered at Chicken Yogurt
, Five Chinese Crackers
and Not Saussure
As far as my own thoughts go, I will say, without equivocation, that the objection is nothing more than racism. Show me another explanation. If the parents are objecting on the basis of animal cruelty, then I hope that they are rejecting the vast majority of meat. But they are not, are they? The industrial farming and butchery practices that deliver non-Halal chickens to our plate are uncontroversial. If the parents are objecting on the basis that, as ‘Christians’*, they have a theological objection, then I challenge them to make this case. But they have not, and they will be unable to without stepping well beyond the boundaries of the modern, mainstream Christian churches. And if the parents step so far outside the mainstream, then how does their claim to be defending ‘our’ heritage hold water? And if the parents are serious about preserving ‘our’ cultural heritage, then I ask them; what on Earth are you talking about? Is it the eating of chicken that is contrary to our cultural heritage? If so, why not concentrate on the choice of fowl rather than the method of butchery? If butchery is the issue, are these parents really saying that industrially managed farms and slaughterhouses are a key component of ‘our’ heritage?
The answer is none of these. The most generous answer is that there is a BNP provocateur at work, whipping unreflective xenophobia into a racist response. The least generous answer is that in our current climate, produced by the Express, the Mail, the Sun, New Labour, the Conservative Party and the rest, Muslims are inherently threatening, and that the parents of Oakwood are a racist reflection of this. Denis MacShane ought to be ashamed of himself for pandering to the bigoted politics at work here.
I challenge anyone to give me one good reason why serving Halal chicken should be in any way controversial for a ‘Christian’ happy to eat industrially produced meat. Electrifying Student Profiling
The story of the Iranian-American student being singled out for an ID check at a UCLA library and, when he objects, being repeatedly tasered by campus security is offered at Lenin’s Tomb
. All I can add is an edited round-up of the comments I left at Europhobia
UCLA is, remember, an elite university. Imagine how American security forces treat the underprivileged – and in court, underrepresented – sections of the United States citizenry. Imagine how they treat foreigners. Imagine how they treat foreigners abroad, out of the sight of camera phones and off the radar of well-motivated and well-rewarded lawyers.
I could not see the porters at any UK university that I have been to behaving in this way. For one thing they do not have tasers.
This is not a facetious point. I have never been happy with the enthusiasm shown by some liberals for ‘non-lethal’ weapons. This unease has nothing to do with the actual lethality of these weapons, and everything to do with the way that non-lethal, but still coercive and forceful options for paramilitary control can change the ‘mind’ of the state. Given ‘non-lethal’ weapons, is it not reasonable to expect our security services to become incautious and immoderate in their use of force?
There is a big difference between making the decision to disperse a crowd by firing into it, and making the decision to disperse a crowd by the deployment of non-lethal weapons. If the non-lethal weapons are as good as their advocates would have us believe, the latter option is just as certain and coercive a means of control. But the decision is far easier to take. And it pleases the technological-fix fetishes of the ‘modernity
A police state that only has guns can kill people, but it loses its legitimacy very quickly. A police state that has non-lethal means of paramilitary control can tell itself, quite convincingly, that it is not a police state after all. Remember the mantra that works a fascistic charm; if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. At least until you have a close encounter with a policeman. Or any other real, human authority figure. Redundancy?
Ah. It seems that in the world of blogging, coming second appears to be no bar to holding forth.*I know from personal experience, and we all know from the evidence of evolving rhetoric of the BNP, that the word ‘Christian’ is used as a politically disguised placeholder for ‘white’. At the time of the last census I worked in an office staffed by reasonably educated people. For a lunch break or two, discussion in the office revolved around the question of what religion people would claim. The consensus appeared to be that people in the office were ‘Christian’ because we were white and therefore unlike a variously defined ‘them’. No one claimed to go to church, read the Bible or actually believe in God. It therefore infuriated me when my census response – the census response of thousands of others – to claim to be a ‘Jedi’ was declared invalid. This was a claim that was no more or less fake than the claim made by my colleagues, and was, patently, a response made with a greater degree of reflection and consideration.