Totaal aantal pageviews

maandag 12 december 2011

"Silly, gay and stupid". A policeman's thesaurus? I hope not.

'Silly, gay and stupid': Police inspector's extraordinary outburst at boy, 15, as he used anti-terror law to stop him from taking pictures at military parade

Worth listening to the video at the end of this. I'm sure there are some great police officers out there and I've met some amazing ones, but too often (not most of the time, but too often for my liking) I see members of the police force that fit into this strange category of personality (see video for what I'm talking about). They should not be allowed to do their job.

Not only are they nowhere near smart enough (as the basic vocabulary of the officer on the recording suggests, coupled with his inability to justify his actions), but their presence suggests the force is desperate to attract recruits (which I don't believe they would be THAT desperate). I think it more likely to be that some undesirables routinely slip through net of the so-called "psychological" tests. I mean, just look at my last post on the Stanford Prison Experiment and that creepy policeman in riot gear in California.

One thing is for sure, compensation for the boy and an apology isn't enough. Unnecessary maltreatment with an unashamed homophobic tone cannot be tolerated - this police officer should have been sacked.

zondag 20 november 2011

Western hipocrisy. I hate it.

US university investigates campus pepper spray use 

I was so disgusted when I saw this video.  It shows students at the University of California who are protesting in solidarity with like-minded protesters of the Occupy Wall Street movement, being sprayed with 'pepper-spray'.

These chemicals were sprayed directly in the faces of students sat still on the floor.

Is it just me, or is there something wrong here? When I see events like these it reminds me of the Stanford Prison Experiment, conducted by Philip Zimbardo in 1971.  The 'guards' in this experiment developed sadistic tendencies and even created their own ways of controlling 'inmates' often via humiliating and degrading punishments.  This came from the perceived identities that the 'guards' thought they should take on and embody. The uniforms also dehumanise them and make it easier for them to control other people, as they have the support of other officers in uniform, often covered up with helmets, shields or even just sunglasses.

I also think about the way 'western' countries have handled the uprisings across the Arab world. They have denounced the 'atrocities' and heavy-handedness of the governments of these countries. They disagree with the use of water-cannons, rubber bullets and the like. However when it comes to their own people, students and others who have a genuine cause to be angry, it seems that it is accepted by our governments that our police forces calmly spray people in the face with chemicals. Wouldn't the US or even the UK government call this something like 'state-sanctioned terrorism'?

I am certainly not saying that the way that previous governments in some North African and Middle Eastern countries have treated their people is acceptable, not at all. My question is about the consistency of our attitudes, and the discrepancies between foreign and domestic policy.  Shouldn't we have the same policy about the way protesters are treated in our country and other countries?

There are of course many factors influencing the decision of governments and their security forces to use force to stop violence or other crimes that may be being committed alongside what is often peaceful protest (don't even use the London riots as an example, as that had almost nothing to do with protest - note I use the word almost; it started with a peaceful protest and others hijacked it and started something else completely).  Surely though, we can all agree that the video from the link at the beginning of this post is disgusting and, as the Chancellor of the University herself put it (after being the one to call the police), "chilling".

woensdag 9 november 2011

The "Gaystapo". This is what happens when Churches try humour...

... nobody gets them.

At least I hope Alan Craig made this simple mistake of trying humour. I certainly hope that it isn't Christian humour - their "rock" music is bad enough.

Here's an excerpt of a post he made on his blog today:

I accused Stonewall et al of fascist-type intolerance. I note they recently awarded Melanie Phillips their Bigot Of The Year Award. Whatever you think of her views, she argues rationally, reasonably, includes factual evidence and incites no-one to violence (it’s known as public discussion within a liberal democracy), yet she has been subject to this Nazi-style pillorying and demonisation.

This was of course, in reference to his recent article in The Church of England Newspaper on the "Gaystapo" and their unrelenting assault on "English" and "Christian" society (apparently the two concepts are inseparable even today).

I think the poor guy mixed up his words a wee bit, though.

He says he accused Stonewall of "fascist-type intolerance".  Now it's been a over 18 months since I was at the University of Sheffield (which has pulled an advertisement of a Biblical Studies MA from the CofE Newspaper's website), so my critical thinking may be a little rusty, but shouldn't he have written "intolerance of fascism"?

In his original article, he compared Winston Churchill to his own "side", as if they are the champions against a fascist movement, like he was.

Now I get what he's trying to say -  that the 'gaystapo' is intolerant of Christian views (a bit like a child saying, "well yeah we hate gays, but they hate us too"). This would have had the effect of cancelling out the argument, a bit like the chicken and the egg argument.

However, unlike the chicken or the egg, we know who cast the first stone, as it were. There was no "book of gay" decreeing "thou shalt not worship Jesus, Mary et al." There was the Bible, though. So in keeping with Craig's style of argument, I say to him:


maandag 11 juli 2011


After a blog-break, and Twitter now eating up a lot of my time, I'm back. And I'm back with a little thought I had today while waiting for a pizza after work. Now this may have been because I'm pretty tired at the moment from working so much, but never mind.

So I was waiting for this pizza to take away, and there were some people eating. As I'm in Brussels there is a sizeable Muslim population here. Now I'm pretty sure I saw this guy walk past a lady dressed in a niqab - but without the face veil bit (is that an al-amira? I'm not up to speed on my Muslim dress for women). Anyway, he ha what I thought was a bit of a dirty look on his face as she walked passed and I was a bit saddened. She wasn't doing anything wrong, as far as I could see (although I can't be 100% certain). Even if that was the case, it got me to thinking about many non-Muslim people's phobia of the headscarf, niqab, burqa etc.

I thought, I wonder if people would be so scared of them if they were pink? Or purple, or orange?

Would people be scared of this?
It just so happens that this particular lady was wearing a black one, as is the most common (at least here in Belgium and the UK, where I have lived the most). Many Indian women wear some fabulously colourful saris and there are never news reports about people wanting to ban those.

Maybe the phobia comes from the fact that those in the west see face covering as something that bad people do. Take balaclavas for example. Coupled with the the constant association of Islam with terrorism by ridiculous newspapers such as the News of the World and the Sun (et al), it is clear to see why people who are more predisposed to hatred or phobia of the differences of people, find it difficult to walk past someone wearing a head dress without their face expressing disgust.

For these people though, colour is obviously very important to them and it would be interesting to see if wearing different colours made any difference to their attitude.

Well, first of all, people should be able to wear what they want (the argument that the niqab or burqa actually stops women from wearing what they want themselves, and is most of the time imposed on them, is a whole other argument). Secondly, if colour did in fact make a difference, then those people who are scared of this type of dress are more stupid than we think.

vrijdag 27 mei 2011

"Toronto couple defend move to keep baby's sex secret"

BBC News Article, 27th May 2011

So I was reading the news as I do, when I saw the title of this particular article. The first thing I would say is that what must be made clear, is that there are differences in the nature and definition of the terms "sex" and "gender".

After writing a load of stuff here, I stumbled upon the WHO (World Health Organisation) website which had a very simple explanation (rather than me farting around with and pulling apart dictionary definitions):

What do we mean by "sex" and "gender"?

Sometimes it is hard to understand exactly what is meant by the term "gender", and how it differs from the closely related term "sex". 

"Sex" refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women.

"Gender" refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.

To put it another way:

"Male" and "female" are sex categories, while "masculine" and "feminine" are gender categories.

Aspects of sex will not vary substantially between different human societies, while aspects of gender may vary greatly.

Some examples of sex characteristics :
  • Women menstruate while men do not
  • Men have testicles while women do not
  • Women have developed breasts that are usually capable of lactating, while men have not
  • Men generally have more massive bones than women
Some examples of gender characteristics :
  • In the United States (and most other countries), women earn significantly less money than men for similar work
  • In Viet Nam, many more men than women smoke, as female smoking has not traditionally been considered appropriate
  • In Saudi Arabia men are allowed to drive cars while women are not
  • In most of the world, women do more housework than men 

So here we see that there is a difference in the two, and we can add further to that by saying both are intertwined, with the added variable of sexuality, which as a category of identity itself carries several possibilities and each with it's own nuances. Put simply, and in my opinion, sexuality should be viewed as a scale of human sexuality (i.e. homosexual, heterosexual, and everything in between), which each and every one of us at different points on this scale, our positions changing and fluctuating throughout our lives; some erratically and unpredictably, some never.

There are whole schools of thought on gender identity, sex and sexuality and I have no hope of even scratching the surface in a blog post! But I definitely thought this article was telling of our society. We have such a long way to go in educating ourselves about our own bodies and minds, especially the latter. We cannot even say any longer that we have only male and female sexes, as there are people with certain biological characteristics which are different to those usually seen in male and female genetic make-ups; genetically male with some female hormone processes and vice versa, for example? Could this be defined as another sex? Of course here, I use the "definitions" of identities and sexes to demonstrate the existence of the many and extra-ordinary possibilities of humans. [The apparent need to create definitions, labels, categories, etc., I think comes from an age old human desire to understand new concepts, be they abstract or material. Unfortunately, I believe that this doesn't always work for the modern world, and actually has hindered our understanding of new things. Even in physics, where old rules and equations have been called into question as "exceptions" were unexplained. (added 28/05/2011)]

Psychological research over the years has so far said that by the age of 3-4 years of age, gender identity has been formed and is difficult to change after that. If the child in the above article is not encouraged to take any identity, that is fine, however we have to be able to admit that this could be dangerous for the child as the world today still doesn't accept widely enough the ideas I mentioned above. Is the child going to suffer socially as a result? Psychologically? "Everyone else knows what they are, but I don't."  It may well be harder than normal for the child to become comfortable with whatever sex/gender/sexuality they may gravitate towards, simply due to the society in which we live and the restrictions on labels of identity we seem compelled to take on. I know I feel more comfortable being able to define my sexuality with a label, yet I like going on to explain (if people ask and want to know) the nuances of my sexuality. If you feel like your sexuality  is something private that you don't have to explain to anyone, you are right. But I like doing it, and I do it hope that I can educate some people about it. Anyway, back the Canadian kid...

The truth is, I don't believe anyone can be 100% sure what will happen and how the child will develop and grow. One question I might raise is whether it is ethical to be carrying out this experiment on another human being, at the same time possibly jeopardising their future happiness? Or is it an "experiment" at all? Just the right of the parents to raise their child as they wish? 

On second thoughts, I would probably say the latter is most true. However, I would hope that the parents take extra care of their child, give it even extra love, attention, education, and above all, protection. Just because they may raise one enlightened child, doesn't mean the idea will spread, and doesn't mean people will be nice. Still, here's hoping the world changes, and congrats to the parents on their new healthy happy baby, Storm. I should have just done a blog post about how I want that for my middle name.

Lot's of love

Dave Storm Cooper

[see comments to see why BBC News is crap, proving my point for the need of education over the difference in definition of sex, gender, and sexuality.]

donderdag 26 mei 2011

Red Tape Time

So after the hype of Eurovision and Pride in Brussels (which was fab by the way - I, along with my mates, even made the news), another glorious aspect of Belgium has come along to slap me in the face and kick me in the bollocks. However, this is not just something that is designed to annoy foreigners, for it is the joyous occasion that the majority of Belgians or those living in Belgium will come to experience - that fat arse brown envelope that sits like a black hole in your postbox ready to suck away the last bit of joy in your life.

In case no-one got what I meant (which is probably most non-Belgians), I got my tax-return forms in the post today.

It literally made me want to up sticks and bugger off back to the UK. There's this big-arse booklet to "help" you through the forms (there aren't inverted commas in the world big enough, I'm afraid, to express the sarcasm I'm trying to convey in the word "help"), and then another booklet to give you the CODES you need to fill into your form for different sections.


I haven't started it yet, and I'm not sure I ever will. Suicide seems more appealing, and more likely.  For the moment, I'm going to wait until Nathalie comes back from her holiday (yes I am jealous, even though she's in Tunisia, at a beach resort somewhere no doubt sipping cocktails, with the faint echos of small arms fire in the background) so she can help me through it. Yes, it's all in Dutch too.

AND, I'm not sure if I'm missing some pay slips from last year as I moved to Brussels in December and I forgot to contact my old landlord to ask him to save my post. I hope he has, otherwise I simply do not want to know how many forms I need to fill in extra, nor how many stamps I will need from however many companies/people/entities/abstract Belgian concepts that have to be summoned one way or another.

Please Belgium, adopt PAYE (Pay As You Earn). It works so well(ish) in the UK and there is so much less paperwork and stress.

If I ever make it to the other side, I will let you know.

woensdag 11 mei 2011

Boom bang a blog...

Totally stole that title from some random other blog. Whatever Trevor.

Entonces, en el espíritu del Festival de Eurovisión, pensé que debía escribir este blog en todos los idiomas diferentes que puedo escribir. Anoche vi la primera semifinal, y estaba muy impresionado en general.

No obstant això, estava una mica trist perquè Malta i Croàcia no van guanyar un lloc en l'etapa final. Com a comiat, aquí estan les seves actuacions:

 Ok, so maybe Malta was like a super-gay Josh Dubovie, with a song that was of about as good a quality. Moving on...

J'ai été heureux de voir que la Serbie a obtenu une place dans la compétition finale. Je crois que les gars de l'Islande semblent agréable aussi, et j'aime la chanson. Cependant, je n'aime pas les chansons de la Géorgie ou de l'Albanie. J'aime qu'il y a des certains pays qui tentent de changer leur image avec chaque année qui passe, mais tout simplement le rock n'est pas très 'eurovision', à mon avis.

In de volgende halve final, zal ik graag naar de andere landen kijken die nog niet uitgevoerd hebben, hoewel kan ik nu al zeggen dat ik niet van de liedjes uit Frankrijk, Italië, Wit-Rusland en Spanje houden zal. Maaaaaaar, deze wel...

Schließlich erwähne ich das Lied aus dem Vereinigten Königreich und ich hoffe, dass es die Gewinner des Wettbewerbs wird. (Entschuldigung, ich bin scraping the barrel for Sprache, now)