Well of course the IRA still exists. It is Britain’s military presence and power which doesn’t. The IRA remains by far the biggest gang of armed gangsters across the Irish Sea. This can only be news to the incredibly naïve.
It’s no secret that I generally agree with Peter Hitchens on most subjects. (And I have this in common with many other people.)
Hitchens blogged today on an Oxford union debate about freedom of speech.
Hitchens: “…what the offensive person has actually said is seldom very important. It is what the offended person believes him to have said that counts.”
I agree. (And do read Hitchens to appreciate the context.)
But my quick point is this: if we cherish liberty then there can never be any recognition or enforcement of a ‘right’ not to be offended by other people simply expressing their opinions.
Are we witnessing the death of the Scottish press? There were once more newspaper readers per head in Scotland than in any other country. Today sales of major Scottish titles, including the Herald and Scotsman, are down two-thirds on heyday glory.
In the mid-nineties Scotland on Sunday would sell over 100,000 copies; last year this figure was just 33,000. The Sunday Post was once read by over half the Scottish population; last year it was selling 160,000 copies.
The heavy decline has happened over the last eight years.
Scotland’s national press has faced predatory competition from national British titles which publish their own Scottish editions, and some would say the owners of the Scottish press have alienated readers with their editorial policies on several important issues, but, more than any other factor, the decline of the press is probably attributable to the rise of the internet.
(I personally suspect it’s due more specifically to the rise of social media on the internet. Little social media content merits description as serious news but it has nonetheless supplanted the regular reading of a newspaper. How many people now spend an hour a day on Facebook who in a previous generation would’ve been reading a paper – even if only a red top tabloid?)
The question is perhaps not so much whether the press is dying as whether a newspaper’s website can really be as important, ‘authoritative’ and ‘newsworthy’ as a newspaper (not to mention as profitable as papers are, or were)? Is viewing a website a significant daily event like buying a daily newspaper used to be for millions of British people, and will people pay for access to content?
Consider that the [Glasgow-based] Herald’s online readership increased by two-thirds between 2013 and 2014. The Newsquest publishing firm (which owns the Herald) made 40% of its profit from its online business last year.
Whatever happens with the printed news industry over the next twenty years, I believe what really does matter is that high quality journalism prevails and prospers, providing reliable factual stories which continue to inform large numbers of people.
An ill-informed, non-reading society would not be good at all.
Quick comment on Lord Janner…
I don’t think a criminal prosecution of Janner is in the public interest. If indeed Janner is ‘far gone’ with dementia, he cannot possibly defend himself properly; he cannot receive a fair trial.
Janner may or may not have committed some or all of the offences with which he is charged (Janner denies all charges) but regardless of what the truth is, Janner’s current condition is such that he cannot be given a fair trial.
There is a sound principle I uphold: better a guilty man wrongfully acquitted than an innocent man wrongfully convicted. ‘Better’, of course, is not to say good.
If Janner is genuinely incapable of a proper defence then he shouldn’t be tried. Given the historical nature of the alleged offences, the time to have prosecuted Janner was many years ago.
I’ve been asked to comment briefly on burqas. The question is, “Can I be sexy in a burqa?”
I hope the following response finds favour with my burqa-wearing readership. (And in the event that this blog is incorporated into Islamic jurisprudence, I have no quarrel with that. Happy to help.)
It’s primarily women themselves that are sexy – not the clothes they wear. Women can manifest their natural sexiness in various ways which a burqa cannot suppress, such as by the sound of their voices, or by the way they walk or otherwise move their bodies beneath the burqa. And let’s not forget that many women even smell rather good.
It is in the nature of women to be sexy, regardless of what they may or may not be wearing. Men are attracted to women because women are inherently attractive to men; neither a burqa nor a bikini alters this fundamental fact.
Sexiness, whether directed morally or immorally, begins with a woman’s thoughts and attitudes and then proceeds to manifest itself in her behaviour – and the way a woman dresses is only one aspect of her behaviour. The prostitute and the purest virgin can both wear a burqa.
If sexual modesty and decency are our concern, it is certainly true to say that the burqa is an effective means of keeping one’s body strictly on a for your eyes only darling basis. There are however many other items of clothing which sexually-moral women can wear but which are rather more practical for riding one’s bicycle, horse or camel. I do believe it possible for a woman to be dressed decently in public without wearing a burqa.
In a liberty-loving, civilised society, a woman should be free to wear a burka if that’s her choice – and she should also be free not to wear a burqa. When a woman is compelled to wear a burqa against her will – that’s wrong.
But I need to nail the answer to the question of “Can I be sexy in a burqa?”
The answer is actually ‘No’ – and I think it’s best explained by slightly amending the question to “Can I be a woman in a burqa?”
That is to say, is a burka a help or a hindrance to a woman in realising her full potential as a person, as God intends, and in doing God’s will for her life? It is a hindrance. It’s dehumanising. It is like the chains on a slave.
A woman whose face is never seen in public has lost a very important part of her personal, God-given identity, and she has denied or is being denied her full personhood.
Given that most people are fortunate to have the gift of sight (and are greatly influenced by this sense), the handicap of not being able to see a woman’s face is unhelpful to seeing her and appreciating her as a whole person worthy of love and respect.
An alternative to the burqa would be that we put out the eyes of every sexually-immoral man. Whilst to do this wouldn’t prevent lust or acts of lust any more than a burqa, the fact is, women would not be seen by men.
Once we see that the burqa is no more than a blindfold on the beholder, our eyes themselves bear witness that God intends for us the freedom to see and be seen in a way that burqas obstruct. To deliberately blind ourselves or others is life-denying and destructive.
Furthermore, the principles of Sharia law and Mohammed’s personal example both point to the truth that the covering up and seclusion of women proceed not from Islam’s concern to protect women but are rather means by which Islam strips women of personhood and identity.
Better not burqa; a decent dress will do.
SCUM. That was the verdict given by Stephen Weatherill on Michael Overd.
In March of this year, at which time 37-year-old Mr Weatherill was Corporate Communications Officer with Avon and Somerset police, he referred to Christian street preacher Mike Overd as “scum” in a [publicly accessible] tweet (6:58 PM – 23 Mar 2015) published on his Twitter account.
The full tweet reads: “I’ve seen all sorts of scum in court but none ever produced an outburst like the Christian preacher [Michael Overd] which almost cost him 45 days in jail”
Former paratrooper Mr Overd, 51, of Taunton, is appealing against a conviction (March 2015) for a ‘homophobic hate crime’ (public order offence) against 29-year-old homosexual Darren Chalmers, also of Taunton, Somerset. Overd and Chalmers both identified themselves as being Christian at the trial of Overd in March.
Mr Overd currently awaits a date for a retrial at Taunton Crown Court.
OPINION: That Mike Overd is “scum” may or may not be the prevalent attitude towards him amongst the Avon and Somerset Constabulary’s police officers and staff in Taunton. Perhaps the police in Somerset view Christians generally as “scum”? Having attended the two-day Overd trial in March, and having heard his public preaching once, I can only say that if Mike Overd really is “scum” then I dread to think what that makes me!
Great job by Sky News and by the journalists involved. Well done.