Politics

My son's favorite word is, "No." While age appropriate at 20 months, the thought of his natural defiance and rebellion meeting with the wrong officer when years replace months causes an anxiety in my chest that I find hard to shake. Zion is all energy and light wound tightly with strings of promise...
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Dear Green Party, Look, I’m an anarchist, and voting isn’t something I do any more. But sometimes, I look at the Green Party and think “they look like they might stand a chance and they’d probably be the least terrible. Maybe I’ll vote for them.” It was growing inside me, the knowledge that you, at least, might make things tolerable rather than terrible. All that’s gone now, because you’ve made yourselves look no different to the others. I’m talking, of course, about your Cambridge candidate, Rupert Read. It turns out he’s a really, really nasty piece of work. The clues came when he tweeted the sort of dogwhistle comment which alerts the wise to transmisogyny: he went for the old “don’t call me cis” type bollocks. Digging deeper it turns out that yes, he’s a transmisogynist, and...
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To the Youth in Europe and North America, The recent events in France and similar ones in some other Western countries have convinced me to directly talk to you about them. I am addressing you, [the youth], not because I overlook your parents, rather it is because the future of your nations and countries will be in your hands; and also I find that the sense of quest for truth is more vigorous and attentive in your hearts. I don’t address your politicians and statesmen either in this writing because I believe that they have consciously separated the route of politics from the path of righteousness and truth. I would like to talk to you about Islam, particularly the image that is presented to you as Islam. Many attempts have been made over the past two decades, almost since the...
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I was in Berlin a year after the wall came down and asked an East German journalist how it felt to young people to now be free. He replied: “It’s great – the problem is we don’t know how to use that freedom.” My community of Marlborough has had a 32-year relationship with the Muslim community of Gunjur in The Gambia. In conversation with friends there since the events in Paris, they have said they are all appalled at the murders that took place, supposedly in the name of Islam. At the same time, they are confused by the demands for the protection of freedom of speech when that speech is gratuitously offensive, not even humorous and is fundamentally about making money through the sale of a magazine. Hands up, those who do not think that with freedom comes responsibility. Dr...
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Dear Professor Chameau, When the new 'King Abdullah University of Science and Technology' was inaugurated in 2009 it was recognised as a visionary attempt to 'rekindle science in the Islamic world'. To mark the significance of the occasion, His Majesty King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia invited heads of state and Nobel laureates to participate. The undersigned continue to take a profound and sympathetic interest in this visionary undertaking. As members of the international scientific and scholarly community we owe it to KAUST to assist it in becoming a leading institution for education and research. All such academies have the right to assistance from others, world-wide, and everyone is heavily dependent on receiving that assistance. We write out of concern that the fabric of...
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The murder of the Charlie Hebdo journalists was shocking and repulsive, and has rightly been condemned. Nevertheless, it is undesirable that this tragedy should be elevated into a heroic defence of freedom of speech. Such freedom is a privilege which must be exercised responsibly. It is not an absolute human right. The law of civilised nations does not protect defamation, plagiarism, blackmail, harassment and other forms of bullying. There has to be a sense of balance. It is legitimate to lampoon living public figures such as politicians and celebrities for their politics and lifestyle. It is also legitimate to criticise religious leaders for extreme beliefs, pomp and ostentation and perhaps, above all, for child abuse. This is not the same as lampooning the founders of Islam and...
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Dear James Stop being so blooming precious. I’m not knocking your success. I even contributed to it by buying one of your albums. I’m not knocking Eddie Redmayne, either. He was the best Richard II I have ever seen. If you’d read the whole of my interview, you’d have seen that I make the point that the people who subsidise the arts the most are artists themselves. Of course that includes you. But it is a statement of the blindingly obvious that that is far tougher if you come from a poor family where you have to hand over your holiday earnings to help pay the family bills. I’m delighted you’ve done well for yourself. But it is really tough forging a career in the arts if you can’t afford the enormous fees for drama school, if you don’t know anybody who can give you a leg up, if...
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Dear Chris Bryant MP, You classist gimp. I happened to go to a boarding school. No one helped me at boarding school to get into the music business. I bought my first guitar with money I saved from holiday jobs (sandwich packing!). I was taught the only four chords I know by a friend. No one at school had ANY knowledge or contacts in the music business, and I was expected to become a soldier or a lawyer or perhaps a stockbroker. So alien was it, that people laughed at the idea of me going into the music business, and certainly no one was of any use. In the army, again, people thought it was a mad idea. None of them knew anyone in the business either. And when I left the army, going against everyone’s advice, EVERYONE I met in the British music industry told me there was no way it...
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"There Are No Gangsters in Chicago" ~ Al Capone Everybody Knows Where The Booze (Cash) Is So You Have to Ask Yourself, What Are You Willing to Do?" ~ Sean Connery, The Untouchables Dear Governor Rauner, I hope both you and your lovely wife Diana are looking forward to Springfield. According to Greg Hinz, Crain's Chicago Business, you all are going to restore the Governor's residence using your own funds. On behalf of The People of The Great State of Illinois, I thank you. I am looking forward to hearing the music flow from that Steinway which one or more of your predecessors left in ruins much like the state of our finances here in Illinois. You sir have an unprecedented, once in a lifetime opportunity to "Shake Up Springfield" and I believe that you are a man of your...
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"There Are No Gangsters in Chicago" ~ Al Capone Everybody Knows Where The Booze (Cash) Is So You Have to Ask Yourself, What Are You Willing to Do?" ~ Sean Connery, The Untouchables Dear Governor Rauner, I hope both you and your lovely wife Diana are looking forward to Springfield. According to Greg Hinz, Crain's Chicago Business, you all are going to restore the Governor's residence using your own funds. On behalf of The People of The Great State of Illinois, I thank you. I am looking forward to hearing the music flow from that Steinway which one or more of your predecessors left in ruins much like the state of our finances here in Illinois. You sir have an unprecedented, once in a lifetime opportunity to "Shake Up Springfield" and I believe that you are a man of your word...
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