Like all totalitarian systems, organised religion is not just intolerant of dissenting opinion or alternative ideas – it is vulnerable to them. That’s why it must crush free speech.
[photopress:golden_compass.jpg,full,alignright]The call, by certain Catholic organisations, for a boycott of the movie The Golden Compass, reveals just how afraid the church is of its adherents being exposed to ideas beyond its own dogma.
The movie is an adaptation of the first book in Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy. (The book is known as ‘Northern Lights’ outside the US, but, predictably, the film has taken the American title.)
The Pullman books have been criticised in the past as an attack on religion – Catholicism in particular. It has even been suggested that Pullman wrote them because he was aghast at the camouflaged proselytising for christianity in C S Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles. He has gone on record denying both charges.
Naomi Wolf’s prescient warning…
The police state creeps up on us, step by stealthy step. Every law, every restriction, is invoked for our safety and convenience. But a totalitarian state feeds on laws, twisting them to its own ends.
Christianity is a peaceful religion? Well, maybe some of it is ineffectual and a large proportion of its adherents are placidly deluded. But like islam, it contains a hardcore of activists who are not only prepared to contemplate violence but positively relish the idea.
Read this article on AlterNet to see how some fundamentalists believe that war is righteous and desirable. Then check out the video.
It would be easy to dismiss these people as the loony fringe. But they are simply the most visible symptom of a disease that runs right through christianity. Some of these people may be insane. Some may have hidden political agendas. Some may be just plain vicious. The majority are probably just deluded. But they are all dangerous.
The Metropolitan Police has been found guilty of a health & safety violation. It doesn’t seem all that sorry, though.
When Metropolitan Police officers murdered Jean Charles de Menezes in July 2005, they were in breach of health and safety regulations, a court has decided.
It’s surprising anyone needed a court case to decide that — the slaying of an innocent man wouldn’t strike many sane people as good practice in the workplace. All the same, the Met Police pleaded not guilty. Now it’s having to pay a £175,000 fine and £385,000 costs for its failings.
Sir Ian Blair, the Met’s Commissioner, reiterated that he’s not resigning over the affair. He did offer the family and friends of de Menezes another apology, but it rings somewhat hollow.
The problem is that authorities like the Police often have grossly skewed values when it comes to their own behaviour. It’s a given that police forces will always take whatever powers they can grab, because they always perceive their work to be so important that it overrides any other considerations — such as freedom of speech and other civil liberties. That’s why we have to be so cautious about granting new police powers: after all, society is not run for the benefit of the police — it is their function to serve us.
At the same time as making the apology, Blair also made excuses.
“As far as we know, this is the first time that such legislation has been applied to fast moving police operations where the public are in danger,” he said.
This is a trick often used in the co-called ‘War on Terror’. What danger was he referring to, exactly? As we lose our freedoms and walk slowly but surely towards a police state, it is to the sound of the powers that be wailing of the threat to those same liberties from terrorists. It’s all for our own good, apparently. But where is this threat?
Terrorism is real and must be fought. But what we suffer from most is the threat of terrorism, and the greatest damage being wrought on our society is coming from those who claim to protect us.
“The difficulties shown in this trial were those of an organisation struggling, on a single day, to get to grips with a simply extraordinary situation – its greatest operational challenge in a generation,” added Blair.
What situation? A plumber going to work? The mighty Met Police can’t deal with that? A man catching a Tube train is the “greatest operational challenge in a generation”?
The Met Police screwed up and its incompetence resulted in the murder of an innocent man. Blair and his organisation should have the decency and honesty to admit that, not hide behind these self-aggrandising lies.