Posts Tagged ‘religion’

Whatever happened to racism?

March 17, 2011

Ok, so before I get arrested for writing this, I want to make something clear: I AM NOT A RACIST.  I do not base my opinion of people on the colour of their skin – unless of course the colour in question is that bright, dirty fake-tan orange in which case, consider yourself judged, you skank.  (I’m joking.  Maybe.)

‘Racism’ is a word that’s thrown about very carelessly nowadays.  Racism used to be pretty clearly defined – slavery, Nazism, apartheid.  Racism used to be about treating people badly because of the colour of their skin.  It also used to be widespread, culturally acceptable and legally enforceable.  Racism is not the same any more.

In the country newspapers such as the Daily Mail like to refer to as Broken Britain, racism now has a much more fluid definition.  Anyone, of any race or creed, now has every right to live where they choose, to have high-flying careers or a jet-setting lifestyle, to send their children to the best schools – and rightly so.  Nobody’s opportunities in life should be limited by their race.  But something is still wrong with the way race is dealt with in our society.  For example, the BBC is allowed to openly advertise a ‘black music’ radio station.  Would a ‘white music’ radio station be allowed?  Absolutely not.  You’re allowed to be race-exclusive, as long as you’re a minority.  White people can’t complain because we are still weighed down with our white guilt about slavery, apparently.  But how is this any better than the other way around?
If you’ve been paying any attention to the news at all this week, you will know two things. 1: Some shit has been going down in Japan, and 2: Midsomer Murders is being criticised because it doesn’t have any non-white characters.  In case anyone else has been wondering why nobody has given a toss about this until this week, when the thing has been running for fourteen years, it’s because apparently you’re allowed to HAVE an all-white cast, you’re just not allowed to publicly state that it was deliberate.  The producer in question, Brian True-May, has been suspended and could realistically lose his job over this totally pointless shitstorm.  Let’s remember, shall we, this is a work of FICTION – a work of imagination.  And if he has imagined a little village full of white people, then what is the problem with that?!  There’s no racism here.  The village is not populated by white people because they’re all card-carrying Klan members who burn any marginally brown-looking people who start sniffing round the local estate agents.  There just happen to not be any black people in the village.  I’ve lived in plenty of neighbourhoods with no black or Asian people!  The fact that ethnic minorities don’t live near me doesn’t make  me a racist.  Realistically, people of similar cultures and backgrounds tend to live in the same communities.  Society is happy to segregate itself.  I can tell you which areas of my town has the most Asians, the most Indians, the most black people – and they’re not there because Nazis have herded them in and allocated them each a bedsit.  People just gravitate towards the other people who are most similar to them.  If we start criticising programs for not having any black people in them, what next?  Once there’s a black character, is it racist to not include a Chinese character?  Once there’s a Chinese character, will the Muslims be offended?  Do they need to build a mosque in Causton?  Should the local school start speaking Polish?  DO WE REALLY THINK THE COLOUR OF THE VILLAGERS’ FACES IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN A VILLAGE WHERE OVER 200 MURDERS HAVE HAPPENED IN THE LAST FOURTEEN YEARS?  I’m just saying, you know, I wouldn’t choose not to live in a place because all the neighbours were white… but I might choose not to live in a small village with an average of like 14 murders a year.

We are supposed to celebrate the fact that Britain has become a multicultural society, and that’s all well and good – but it’s pretty obvious that it’s come at a price.  I don’t feel like I should have to say this, but I’m going to: we are predominantly, historically, a white, Christian country.  While I am about as white as it is possible to be, I’m not a Christian, so please don’t think I’ve got some kind of agenda here.  But surely there’s something quite wrong about the reports you hear about councils not being allowed to put up Christmas trees because non-Christian residents might be offended, and the way Christmas is now called ‘The Festive Season’ instead of ‘Christmas’?  Look, I’m sorry, you have every right to follow whichever religion you damn well please.  But if you are offended by the sight of a pine tree with some electric lights on it, GET A FUCKING LIFE.  To be honest, I imagine the number of people who are this sensitive is actually incredibly small.  The problem is, we are now overly cautious about race, and will fall over our own arses trying to ensure that NOBODY, ANYWHERE, EVER is offended by the white, Christian culture they have chosen to live in and be a part of. 

Race is sacred ground, now.  You can make a racist joke, as long as the race in question is your own.  You can use whichever racial slur you like, as long as you belong to the race in question.  And, well, anyone can say anything they like about white people.  Who cares, right?  Is it even possible to be racist about white people?  There’s plenty of us.  We’re big enough and ugly enough to deal with it, right? 

The simple fact is that race is an issue because we make it an issue.  We’re making it an issue when we discriminate negatively based on race, but we’re also making it an issue when we discriminate positively based on race.  Race will only cease to be an issue when it doesn’t matter to the extent that we can STOP GOING ON ABOUT IT.

Anyway, before we start accusing Midsomer Murders of being racist, let’s remember: all the murderers were white, and so were the victims.  What says ‘racial equality’ better than that?


Nothing says ‘faith in God’ like four inches of bulletproof glass

September 21, 2010

There are two surefire ways to make a Catholic priest sweat.  The first is pretty obvious, but if you don’t have any small choirboys to hand you could always try the second.  (Zing!)  This involves putting a priest in a classroom with two dementedly zealous teenage atheists for a ‘question and answer’ session.  This hilarious method of priest torture was devised by my high school RE teacher in an effort to get out of actually doing any teaching himself.  Most of my classmates were wholly uninterested, but my friend Linnhe and I put on our most innocent faces and bombarded him with such questions as “if my dad is a good man but an atheist, will he go to hell”, “do you actually have any good reason to believe the Bible is any more valid than the Quran”, “how come all the weird rules about not wearing two types of fabric together and not planting two crops in the same field are now irrelevant but being gay is still wrong” and “what about the dinosaurs”.  Eventually he went red in the face, started stammering and ended up leaving fifteen minutes early.  It was brilliant.  (I am also of the opinion that if your faith can’t stand up to forty five minutes of interrogation by two sixteen year olds, you’re a pretty shit priest.)

I am reminded of this, of course, by the Pope’s visit.  I am not going to bitch about it being taxpayer funded, because after all, I’d rather my taxes paid for an old man to have a nice holiday and meet the Queen than for free heroin for the drug addicts who burgled my house, benefits for Keith McDonald’s 10 children by 10 mothers, etc etc.  I am not the biggest pope fan but clearly a lot of people think he is the dude, so whatever.

I will say that considering the current gigantic hoo-hah over the Catholic church covering up child abuse cases, I thought the Pope should maybe have toned down the baby-kissing.  You know?  Just sayin’.  Probably not the best strategy right now.  “You all think I lead a church full of child rapists so I’m going to come to your country and kiss all your babies to persuade you otherwise.”  Didn’t think that one through.

In all seriousness though, about the whole Catholic child abuse thing, I don’t honestly think the Pope can be blamed for it.  Maybe the way he’s handling it isn’t totally right, but at the end of the day, the Pope is just a very very old, fairly frail and possibly quite ill man who believes that he speaks directly to God and that everything he says is therefore infallible.  Can you honestly tell me that if any other 83 year old man started saying he was speaking to God, he wouldn’t just be diagnosed with dementia and sent off to a home?  What I am getting at here is, the Pope is maybe, JUST MAYBE, a bit too old for everyone to expect him to single handedly end child abuse by priests, so let’s ease up on him a bit, eh? 

Which leads me on to the conversation I had with Chris when our channel-surfing landed us on some Pope-related coverage.  Watching him bless something or other, Chris commented that he didn’t seem to have any inflated sense of himself or look like he thought he was particularly important.  He then used the phrase, “I mean obviously he knows he’s the Pope, but…” which I thought was hilarious.  What if he actually doesn’t know he’s the Pope?  Maybe he’s just some really confused old gent from some Polish old people’s home who they brought in to do the job when they couldn’t agree on an actual priest.  I think that might not actually be a bad gig for some confused old guy; getting all dressed up, living in a big fancy house, millions of people all over the world thinking you are The Man.  And you’re allowed to believe whatever crazy shit you like and they won’t strap you down and give you the pills.  Brilliant.

(I suppose I should end this by addressing the Catholics, before the emails start pouring in: I apologise.  But I’m not sorry.)