Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Smoking Facists

I am so sick and tired of people who don't like something telling me that I can't do it, want to do it or watch someone else doing it on the screen.

The latest bat-shit crazy idea to hit the headlines is that any film with a character smoking in it should be given an 18 certificate.

I don't smoke, I don't like smoking and despite my reservations about the smoking ban I like going into pubs where no-one is smoking. But come on. Banning smoking on screen? Don't be bloody stupid. I accept that perhaps smoking in a Disney film shouldn't be encouraged, I don't think the sight of Shrek lighting up would be in any way responsible. But really - how many films have smoking scenes? I've not noticed any in the films I've been to see recently - genocide in Burma, bank robberies, many people having their throats cut, but not smoking. Doesn't mean there hasn't been smoking in them, just I've not noticed it.

One film with lots of smoking was Good Night and Good Luck - set in a time and place when smoking was the norm. Do we excise all references to historical accuracy to satisfy these morons? What about Casablanca? Do we re-classify our classics? Of course not.

If you're worried about your kids smoking and want to stop them seeing films with smoking in them then don't let them go to the cinema. People have to start taking responsibility for themselves and their families rather than creating more rules for us all to follow.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Community needs

The story of Shannon Matthews has brought up some questions for me. Taking aside the issues of stranger vs family danger I was perplexed by the public meeting yesterday for members of the "community".

It seemed that some members of the community are unhappy at the Police's handling of the case and are demanding to know when Shannon will be home. I heard one dreadful woman saying she won't be satisfied until she sees Shannon on the doorstep and there is a party.

I don't know what has been happening to the little girl in the past three weeks and wouldn't even begin to speculate but how dare these people demand to see her and say that they won't be happy until their demands are met? Who says that it would be in the best interests of the child to be paraded in front of a bunch of assorted neighbours and press? Frankly if the mother is reassured that her daughter is safe no-one else's opinion matters in the slightest.

Since the death of Princess Diana there has been a creeping sense of public grief and hysteria at every news story. How many of these community members who demanded to know the truth in Dewsbury knew the family? And cared about them before Shannon went missing? We lay thousands of bunches of flowers at the roadside for people we never knew who were stupid enough to run out in front of a car, we hold 2/3/5 minutes silence for victims of different disasters or acts of terrorism, we leave messages on internet forums and set up facebook groups calling for whatever the missing child this week is to be returned home or saying RIP to the latest murder victim that we never knew. Whenever a kid at a school dies there are trained counsellers available for the 1100 kids at the school - 1075 of whom had no idea who the dead child was.

And in our grief do we do anything useful? Do we tell the police that we know who shot the 11 year-old at the bottom of our street or does the wreath assuage our guilt. And when we're holding 5 minutes silences do we think about the thousands dying of malaria every day? Do we donate to charities?

I don't want to see a return to the days of the stiff upper-lip when no-one showed emotion however I'm sceptical that the situation we have at the moment is anything other than sheer self-indulgence.

Friday, March 14, 2008

George Galloway - Human Rights Champion

If anyone thought George Galloway was a defender of Human Rights or some sort of harmless kook then all you need to do is read this story from the Pink News where he claims that gay men in Iran are not executed for being gay.

I would say exactly what I thought of George Galloway but I'm sure that saying that I consider him a scumbag of the highest order would lead to me being sued. So I'll just keep quiet.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Swearing Allegiance

Part of the Government's review of citizenship is to suggest that teenagers swear allegiance to the Queen. Mmm, this is a tricky one for me. I am an absolute monarchist, I believe the Queen has been a wonderful head of state and abhor the idea of a republic. Yet this makes me feel slightly uncomfortable.

I can't help feeling its a cheap stunt. Teenagers who feel alienated and at odds with the community won't all of a sudden change their minds just because they've been forced to attend a special assembly at school and recite some meaningless words. And presumably that's how they'll view them - the same way I viewed having to participate in Catholic masses at school. And is it a quick jump from swearing allegiance to the Queen (something I would have no problem doing) to swearing an allegiance to Her Majesty's Government?

And what about Republicans? I don't agree with the view, but to many people it is a passionately held opinion. Can it be fair to demand that they swear allegiance to the Queen? To some Catholics in Northern Ireland and the West of Scotland the monarchy represents repression of their faith.

Also, it seems ridiculous that we're asking young people to consider their rights and responsibilities as citizens at the age of 16. By then its far too late. And why only teenagers? Why not everyone?

There's nothing wrong with swearing allegiance to the Monarch, but I fear this is a poor way of encouraging good citizenship and loyalty to the country.