Sunday, March 01, 2015

In which the pond indulges in more of a Sunday rant than a meditation ...

It was a story that was almost inevitable, given Cardinal Pell's capacity to alienate (just ask the Catholics of Melbourne):

It's not that surprising, because everyone knows that, in addition to being one of the world's top notch climate scientists, Pell loves a good frock:

So sure, thousands on religious robes at a tailor is entirely to be expected.

But $6,650 on kitchen fittings and a handsomely paid personal assistant?

It's a reminder of how dumb Pell is.

Naturally his dumbness attracts dumbness in kind, from the world's greatest climate scientist:

But here's the thing.

When Francis went to Rome and sent Republicans and Tea Partiers and no doubt in due course the Bolter squealing about his socialist ways and his assaults on the capitalist system and the throwaway culture of globalisation - there's more on that in the Fairfax story here - he had the good sense to stay clean, and to lead a lifestyle that kept him from this kind of attack by many of his enemies:

Despite Francis' decision to move into humble dwellings at the Vatican, Cardinal Pell has spent more than $5100 a month to rent an office and apartment at an upmarket address where he spent nearly $87,000 on furniture, according to the allegations. 

Uh huh.

The new leaks about Cardinal Pell's spending were widely suspected to be the work of Vatican prelates unhappy about his incursions on their authority, and recalled the Vatileaks scandal, in which letters revealing the inner workings of the Holy See were leaked by the butler of Francis' predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.

Well of course, but you'd have to be as dumb as a Pellest not to have seen how Pell's concupiscence towards frocks and other lovely expensive things might set him up for negative publicity ...

By the way, don't you just love the concept of concupiscence, which can be Greg Hunted here:

Concupiscence (from the Latin: con-, with + cupi, cupid - desire + -escere - suffix denoting beginning of a process or state) is an ardent, usually sensual, longing. In Catholic theology, concupiscence has the name "Fomes peccati", as the selfish human desire for an object, person, or experience. For Christians, concupiscence is what they understand as the orientation, inclination or innate tendency of human beings to long for fleshly appetites, often associated with a desire to do things which are proscribed.

Naturally the Bolter would see nothing wrong with this. He has a hearty appetite for great red wine, trips to Europe, so he can deplore it, while also enjoying costly trips to the opera ...

What's funny is when these princelings, of papacy or the press, pretend that they're in the game for the good of humanity ...

Meanwhile, a reader was kind enough to draw attention to the sort of water favoured by Chairman Rupert ...

Lordy, lordy, there it is, it's planet-saving bottled water ... but just in case anyone thinks that Rupert Murdoch has gone soft, they should always revert to his babbling tweets:

Now there's one of the world's greatest climate scientists at work, up there with the Pellists and the Bolter ....

No wonder the planet's being fucked by the day ...

Which brings the pond to a proud boast.

Wandering past a green-t-shirted bearded young loon handing out Islamic literature outside the Newtown post office, the pond showed the greatest restraint by not remarking "shouldn't you be out at a beheading, or perhaps wrecking a museum and destroying priceless antiquities somewhere"?

Yes, the pond knows it's unfair, knows it's possible to be a moderate Muslim, knows it puts the pond in the company of the Bolter, but these street ratbags are the outposts of fundamentalism, funded most likely by people who somewhere down the chain tap into the Wahhabist outreach of all that's wrong with America's alleged ally, Saudi Arabia.

The next thing you know, a decent atheist blogger can be hacked to death in the street (Graudian the story here).

Well fuck the Pellists and the Murdochians, but also fuck the wild-eyed Islamics.

Still, it does give the pond a chance to link to Mark Lilla's piece in the NYRB, France on Fire, which luckily is outside the paywall at the moment.

Kepel notes that while older immigrants overwhelmingly practice a pacific Islam and see no contradiction with French citizenship, more and more of their children have been affected by the fundamentalist currents flowing from the Middle East. Different groups—some strictly Salafist, some associated with the Muslim Brotherhood—compete for control of local associations and actively recruit younger members, to the consternation of the more integrated and shrinking establishment. The charismatic preachers—called “older brothers”—who attract young boys and men are largely trained in Saudi Arabia, Syria, or Iraq and have never lived outside a Muslim country. A great number do not speak French. Their followers—though born in France and French-speaking—are much more observant and separatist than their parents are and have much more extreme views on issues like sexuality (particularly homosexuality), female purity, and Jews and Israel. They and the older brothers can be seen policing certain neighborhoods, singling out girls and women whose dress they find inappropriate. 

It is in this setting that recent French debates over laicity in the schools must be seen. The positions are highly polarized. Integrationists see an increasingly fundamentalist Islam as a threat to the French model and think that the schools should actively resist it by teaching secular values; classic republicans think that the state must keep religion completely out of the schools but should not interfere with private beliefs; and multiculturalists think that Islam is simply being stigmatized, that social exclusion is mainly to blame, and that differences of all sorts should be represented and celebrated in schools. 
The three assassins who massacred innocents were seen not only as fanatics, like the hundreds of French people who, over the past year, have made their way to the battlefields of Iraq and Syria. They were seen as products of a collapsed educational establishment that either failed to integrate and secularize them, failed to make them citizens, or failed to respect them, depending on one’s general outlook. The posthumous support the killers received from young people in quartiers across France was taken by everyone as confirmation of what they already thought. 
Each of these views has problems, but it is the multiculturalist one that seems the least in touch with social and political reality today. Not because the French don’t need to learn to accommodate more differences, but because it refuses to recognize the very disturbing developments in the Islamic world today (which are anything but accommodating to differences) and how they have already affected French life. The current mantra, which President Hollande felt obliged to repeat, is that Islamic terrorism has “nothing to do with Islam” and that the most important thing is not to “make an amalgam” of all Muslims. (The Socialist mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, went even further, declaring the terrorists to be “without faith”—in other words, infidels.) But this attitude only reinforces an institutional and intellectual omertà that makes it difficult even to discuss what is really going on in the schools. 
The evidence has been there for anyone who cared to look for it, in books like those of Kepel and the growing literature of memoirs written by former teachers in the quartiers who gave up because they could not control their classes or enforce the principle of laicity. In 2004, for example, the Chirac government received a report it had commissioned on the presence of religious “signs and belonging” in the schools, which was promptly buried because its results were so disturbing. This Obin Report was based on on-site visits government inspectors made to over sixty middle and high schools across France, concentrating on disfavored quartiers. 
The extent to which life in many of them had been, to employ Kepel’s term, “halalized” shocked them. The report recounts stories of girls being under constant surveillance by self-appointed older brothers who mete out corporal punishment with fists and belts if they deem modesty to have been violated. Wearing skirts or dresses is impossible in many places, also for female teachers. There is an obsession with purity, as students and their parents demand separate swimming hours or refuse to let their children go on school trips where the sexes might mix. If they do go, some refuse to enter cathedrals or churches. 
There are fathers who won’t shake hands with female teachers, or let their wives speak alone to male teachers. There are cases of children refusing to sing, or dance, or learn an instrument, or draw a face, or use a mathematical symbol that resembles a cross. The question of dress and social mixing has led to the abandonment of gym classes in many places. Children also feel emboldened to refuse to read authors or books that they find religiously unacceptable: Rousseau, Molière, Madame Bovary. Certain subjects are taboo: evolution, sex ed, the Shoah. As one father told a teacher, “I forbid you to mention Jesus to my son.” 
In general the report conveys a sense of enormous religious pressure in certain places. During Ramadan, the more “pious” students harass less observant Muslims, and scared kids have been found eating food on the sly in the bathrooms. One child attempted suicide due to the harassment. The situation of Jewish students is far worse and a great number have transferred to private schools (though also because they, too, have become more observant). In 1996 a principal in Lyons had to arrange the departure of the last two Jewish students in his school because he could not assure their safety. As the report says, “there is a stupefying and cruel reality: in France, Jewish children, and Jewish children alone, cannot be educated in all of our schools.”

What a mess.

What a religious mess.

And what has been the response to religious pressure in Australia? Why it's been to fund more and more religion in schools, and not just chaplains, bad enough that that is, but schools of a fundamentalist persuasion, be they Christian, Islamic or Scientological ...

There's no escaping the ineffable stupidity of true believers ... which makes for interesting reading about Norway, with Hugh Eakin's Norway: The Two Faces of Extremism, also currently outside the NRYB paywall.

Well the pond has always refused to show, promote or in any way comment on the beheadings, given that the barking mad fundamentalists are only aping the ways of their Saudi Arabian fundamentalist masters. But it seems right to note some state sanctioned murder of the cruellest kind:

Gruesome footage circulating on social media shows Saudi authorities publicly beheading a woman in the holy city of Mecca earlier this week. The execution is the tenth to be carried out in country in the last two weeks; setting 2015 up to be even more bloody than last year, when 87 people were punitively killed by the state. 
Rare video of Monday's killing shows the woman, a Burmese resident named as Lalia Bint Abdul Muttablib Basim, screaming while being dragged along the street. Four police officers then hold the woman down before a sword-wielding man slices her head off, using three blows to complete the act. In the chilling recording, Bashim, who was found guilty in a Saudi Sharia court of sexually abusing and murdering her seven-year-old step-daughter, is heard protesting her innocence until the very end. "I did not kill. I did not kill," she screams repeatedly. 
Filming of executions is normally strictly prohibited by Saudi authorities raising speculation that a security official may have covertly videoed the killing. In a statement released on their official website, the Saudi Ministry of Interior said that the brutally delivered death penalty was warranted due to the "enormity of the crime," and was carried out to "restore security" and "realize justice." (here).

There's America's ally showing how to do it ...

And if you Greg Hunt it, you can find out more about "chop chop" square here ...

And if the pond draws the line at showing even state sanctioned brutal murder, surely destruction of icons is another matter.

In the grand tradition of ineffable religious idiots, so strut the Islamics ...

Well that's meditating this Sunday.

It's impossible to work out what's worse. Barking mad religious fundamentalists fucking Iraq and Syria, barking mad Saudia Arabia using oil money to spread fundamentalist Wahhabism around the world, cruel dictator Putin fucking over his enemies in Russia while expanding into the Ukraine, barking mad corrupt Malaysia using the courts to proscribe political enemies, or barking mad Pellists, Bolters and Chairman Rupert imagining they're climate scientists ... even as the Chairman sips on conscience-salving bottled water shipped around the world in the globalist way the Pope rails at, and the world is steadily more fucked ...

Oh okay, maybe it's not so hard ... enough with the EOG ... maybe all that's needed is that old curse, honi soit qui mal y pense ...


  1. Sometimes you want to pull the covers up over your eyes.
    Today is such a morning.
    What awaits us in heaven if all the people doing God's work are up there?
    All the false idol crushers, infidel book burners, graven image smashers, teetotallers, missionary ranters, happy clappers, men in long frocks with scarlet trains, Kevin Andrews,....
    Please God. I will be good. Just let me stay here with the loons.
    Miss pp

    1. Y'reckon it could be time for Satan to do a bit of PR. selling on his "Club Sheol" ?

  2. Joe Stalin was too soft !

  3. Edward Gibbon ..wtte : "A nation of slaves will view as magnanimous the tyrant who, while with-holding his hand from supreme cruelty, dispenses pain in small measured doses."

  4. " these street ratbags are the outposts of fundamentalism"

    Oh for the good old days when the street ratbags were Hare Krishna's and young Jesus freaks.

  5. Hi Dorothy,

    "Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-incurred immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use ones's own understanding without direction from another. This immaturity is self-incurred if its cause is not lack of understanding, but lack of resolve and courage to use it without another's guidance. Sapere aude! Dare to know! That is the motto of Enlightenment."

    Immanuel Kant

    It's bitterly disappointing to see that for all the rewards the Enlightenment has brought, scientific progress, liberal democracy, secularism, so many are reverting to the comforts of religious dogma and superstition.

    Faced with rapidly changing technology, urbanisation and the break down of traditional societies, many people are now fearful of the future and are retreating to superstition and simplistic models of how the world operates. ISIS, anti-vaxxers, climate change deniers, free market fundamentalists, creationists, religious nutters of every persuasion, all are fleeing complexity and retreating to a simpler explanation for their existence.

    Worse of all, has been the failure of our political classes to even attempt to explain this complexity and outline the variety of paths that can be taken. Good guys and Bad guys, three word slogans show how politics is being dumbed down to the lowest common denominator.

    The historian Henry May noted that in 1800 the US presidential contest was between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson who respectively, were at the time, the president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the president of the American Philosophical Society. May described this "a coincidence very unlikely ever to be repeated in American politics."

    That our politicians are increasingly becoming ignorant demagogues is symptomatic of our unwillingness to be challenged by complex and difficult truths.

    It's a hard time to remain a believer in rational thought and scientific principles but we can but try. I'll leave the last word to Denis Diderot;

    "Wandering in a vast forest at night, I have only a faint light to guide me. A stranger appears and says to me 'My friend, you should blow out your candle in order to find your way more clearly.' This stranger is a theologian.


  6. Did the papist Sir GG tour the sites on his recent trip to arse-lick the wahhabi ally?

    Chop-chop square. Shaded seating - though it's bring your own ice-creams, or an esky of warriors' VB...

    1. That Walrus story is a shocker, and yet the Wahhabists keep on getting a clean bill of health. Only when you live down the rabbit hole ...


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