Posts Tagged ‘Women’

#DawkinsTweet @RichardDawkins #FeministsLoveIslamists

Shit-Storm Richard

A brief look back at the devastation caused by the last few days inclement weather.

Here we have a satirical cartoon. If you haven’t seen it, stop reading and watch it now.


Good, you’re back. Welcome.

As a piece of satire, it is, quite naturally, offensive to some – especially the people, organisations, or ideas portrayed in the satire. Still, in a free society, there is little they can do beyond commenting on the offence taken, or defending their actions as portrayed in the satire.

Specifically, in this case, initially at least (it was published on a popular YouTube channel on the 8th January) they chose to do neither.

That is until public figure, renowned atheist and evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins, condoned the said satire through re-publishing it via his Twitter feed two days ago. One presumes he watched it, chuckled, then re-tweeted it.


Isn’t that what we all do?

Said public figure, Richard Dawkins – not the satire contained in the cartoon – is then attacked. Not physically, of course, but let’s just say there were sparks flying off more than a few keyboards. Fingers scorched. Nails undoubtedly chipped and broken. I truly dread the day Google perfects voice-to-text. We won’t be able to hear ourselves read – let alone be ripped off by tax-avoiding Multinationals.

Anyways, back to the weather. Dawkins tweets brief statements in response to the attack, as one does, mainly regarding the need to ridicule small elements of feminism that have supported Islamism (the satirical point of the cartoon). He then suddenly deletes his tweet after being informed that one of the protagonists portrayed in the cartoon (the feminist, Thingy Binx – sorry, I can never remember her first name?) had in the past been trolled and threatened online.

Following the deletion, Dawkins then tweets (paraphrased here) that ‘no one should be subject to such threats and intimidation’, appealing to all and sundry ‘never to engage in such activity’.

Brilliant. Perfect play.

Considering he’s a history with Twitter, this looked like a professional team had been brought in.

Nevertheless, anyone who plays Call of Duty can tell you that no Battle-Plan, however good, will survive contact with the enemy.

‘Nice doggie… now, put the rabbit down’.’ ‘Grrrrrrrr.’

chanty binxFollowing this laudable appeal, his statements are pulled apart, dissected, rearranged and re-tweeted. Dawkins is then accused (without proof) of setting his ‘followers’ to harass and threaten the aforementioned individual. Supporters of Dawkins (don’t worry about him, he has loads) point out, to no avail, that the trolling of Ms Binx (Chanty! Yes, that’s it ‘Chanty Binx’!) occurred three years ago following a number of her online videos where she is seen to be loud, aggressive and obnoxious.

Yeah? So? What if she gets harassed online, again, eh, Mistah Big Noise Dawkins?

The attack on Dawkins continues unabated.

Crowds gather. Torches are lit. There are demands that he be reprimanded – or at least flailed publicly. Dawkins is almost instantaneously punished by the withdrawal of his invitation as keynote speaker at an upcoming north American conference, the ‘North East Conference on Science & Skepticism’.

Without contacting Dawkins, the NCSS released this statement (my emphasis):

The Northeast Conference on Science & Skepticism has withdrawn its invitation to Richard Dawkins to participate at NECSS 2016. We have taken this action in response to Dr. Dawkins’ approving re-tweet of a highly offensive video.

We believe strongly in freedom of speech and freedom to express unpopular, and even offensive, views. However, unnecessarily divisive, counterproductive, and even hateful speech runs contrary to our mission and the environment we wish to foster at NECSS. The sentiments expressed in the video do not represent the values of NECSS or its sponsoring organizations (sic).

We will issue a full refund to any NECSS attendee who wishes to cancel their registration due to this announcement.

The NECSS Team

‘What’s this all about, a cartoon?’ ‘Yes, a cartoon.’ ‘Hmmm, that sounds familiar?’

Okay, let us for a moment turn away from the uncomfortable fact that the people who are accusing Dawkins and his followers of online harassment are busy harassing Dawkins online. Let’s instead look at what everybody else seems to be avoiding: let’s look at the cartoon:

The cartoon states implicitly (Dawkins says this explicitly in his re-tweet) ‘This is what a minority of feminists think‘. It does this in order to take a satirical stab at events that have unfolded over the past few weeks. Specifically, in Europe, and culminating in the mass sex attacks in Cologne on New Years Eve. It is a response to multiple situations where purportedly we have seen feminists and people on the left (my supposed natural allies) defending the indefensible (at times pro-actively and at others through a deafening silence) rather than be seen as racist, islamophobic, or ‘punching down’ on a minority.

This in itself is worthy of the greatest ridicule and mockery. It is both regressive and damaging.

Okay, first things first: Facts. Did these events happen?


There was a deafening silence (and much confusion) regarding the handling of recent events in Europe. Following Cologne, a female German Mayor suggested western women could help themselves by ‘staying at arms length’ from people (Muslim men) who were patently organising sexual assaults.

Women were accused of dressing provocatively and encouraging sexual assault and rape.

Elsewhere, feminist Societies at British Universities, silent on Cologne, busied themselves opposing free speech and no-platforming feminist ex-Muslims whilst supporting the misogyny of Islamists – including gender segregation – and the banning of ‘offensive’ depictions of the naked body such as, would you believe, Michelangelo’s ‘Creation of Adam‘.

Police forces across Europe played down the extent of what had – and was – happening.

All of this allowed right wing nationalists and neo-fascists in Europe to take the lead and to denigrate minorities, immigrants and refugees, pushing for regressive policies such as mass deportations, whilst many on the left and feminism sat on their fat arses, scared shitless by their inability to respond appropriately and progressively to a mass influx of single, unaccompanied, unemployed young men from a war zone and hailing from a culture that holds a normalcy to the denigration, oppression and covering of women. A culture built upon a religion that replaces good and bad, moral and immoral (even virtue and sin) with Honour and Shame. A culture that quite openly sees the women who were attacked as shameful, and the men who attacked them as honourable.

The condemnation from feminism and the left that was so quick to materialise at the rapes and sexual attacks in Tahrir Square, for example, throughout the Arab Spring and after, was nowhere to be seen.

A bizarre mix of identity-politics, intersectionality, fear, confusion, dogma and yes, a desire to do good, led to a cultural relativism which in turn led to inaction, to paralysis. To an inability to produce, demand or even identify policy that would be both effective and progressive – whether on the streets of Europe or in its Universities.

Yes, yes, but… what about the cartoon itself?

Well, this brings us back to the initial ‘issue at hand’: did Dawkins re-tweet an abominable slight on women using rape as a joke that encourages death threats against an individual, or did he re-tweet a piece of satire.

Many supporters of Ms Binx, and those satirised, thought the former. I, and many others – feminists and people on the progressive left – do not.

For me, this has nothing to do with Dawkins per se – the actual issue at hand is the satirical content of a political cartoon coupled with the freedom to offend. What many saw as ‘stupid’, ‘offensive’, and ‘hate-speech’ that needed to be silenced, I saw as an excellent satire with a stunningly good tag. Let’s look at what they have done: The producers have conflated what are normally seen as polar opposites to show how a particular behaviour of one – either proactively or through inaction – can support, enhance, highlight or encourage the other.

This format typically leads to good satire.

That they did this using two ‘known’ characters in a ‘jolly duet’ is a ploy that is often used in satire and, indeed, was regularly used by Charlie Hebdo, specifically on some of their better covers:

635562506950226435-Charlie-Hebdo-L-Amour hebdo-exec untouchables

Satire is one of the greatest and most powerful weapons we have. Without the ability to ridicule, to mock, to offend, there is no such thing as free speech. Offence is the very basis of that free speech – and free speech is the foundation of the liberal state.

Political satire is literally a tool to offend. It is accessible, too. It just has to hold enough elements of truth to get its message across. It’s a satirical sketch, not some magnum opus. These people (Binx & Co) have never really met. They have never really sang a duet together. They merely ‘represent’ aspects of Feminism and Islamism in order to tell a story, to make a point.

The point behind this cartoon is valid. I got it. We may disagree as to its value regarding humour – you may not care for it, I do – the question is: was it wrong for Dawkins to retweet it? My answer to that is a definite ‘No’. Would I have retweeted it? Yes. It has satirical value. It has worth. But more than that, it contains within it the basis of liberalism – offensive free speech.

Questions, questions, questions.

The question is raised then, if Dawkins New Model Army were not busy piling faggots around the feet of Chanty Binx, and if the events that the cartoon attempts (well, in my opinion) to satirise had occurred, why would Dawkins be attacked (and punished) for re-tweeting it as an unnecessarily divisive, counterproductive piece of hatespeech?

Further, Why Dawkins? Why wasn’t the actual cartoon attacked?

Again ignoring the fact that Dawkins is now being harassed online for the unproven crime of harassing someone online, more and more this appears to be an attempt to silence both Dawkins and, via him, the cartoon itself. It parallels the regressive attacks by the authoritarian left on Charlie Hebdo.

Then, as now, it is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the concept of free speech and its intrinsic relation to offence – for without the ability to give offence, freedom of speech is worthless.

This misunderstanding has a real effect on policy decisions made by real people holding real power. In the past it brought killers closer to their victims whilst ceding power to the right. Now it is again empowering the right creating policies or calls for policies, here in the UK, Europe and the US, that will harm desperate refugees. People are being and will be physically hurt. Some of them lethally so.

This is not an online game of butt-hurt top trumps. It’s real life.

Yet regressive feminism, like its counterparts on the left, mirror religious dogma in that they seek to silence criticism. Rather than critically analyse, change and learn from its errors, all dogmas are forced to defend themselves, regardless of the truth elements contained in arguments against them. Hence the need and desire to openly punish a public figure like Dawkins: ‘maybe he’ll learn from this‘, was one response I read. Yes, maybe he’ll understand in future that his condoning a piece of satire that mocks and ridicules ideas that people hold dear will have consequences. How ironic then that these dogmas – from the left and 3rd wave feminism – will see people forced into the arms of the right, the segregationists, the nationalists, the isolationists and the fascists.

Once more, this is, in effect no different from The Hebdo affair – even the language from the left is similar: stupid, offensive, disgusting, juvenile, filthy, misogynistic, racist, islamophobic. All words, remember, that apologists for the Charlie Hebdo slaughter repeated ad nauseum. They victimised their targets, didn’t they. They crossed the line, didn’t they. Still, they were held accountable, weren’t they. Some people put them in their place. What did they expect? It was bound to happen. We expected nothing less. They went too far.

Even the fucking Pope, acting as an unrepentant apologist for Islamist murderers, reminded us that if you insult his mother you can expect to be punched in the face.

Yes, they deserved it really, didn’t they.

No. These were the anti-racists, the anti-sexists, the anti-Islamists, the anti-homophobes. Saying things that needed to be said in the only way they knew how to say it. Still, would they have deserved it had they been racists, sexists and homophobes? Of course not, for on their freedom lies yours.

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.

H. L. Mencken

Strangely, the Islamists who slaughtered these wonderful people, these cartoonists, were French Islamists – they understood satire. It’s what the French do.

They killed them anyway.

Kind of ironic to imagine that the murderers who killed those cartoonists in Paris understood satire better than Dawkin’s current attackers – from their point of view they killed them for all the right reasons. They knew what they were saying. They killed them not because they didn’t get it. They got it, alright. They understood the satire. They killed them, anyway. They killed them because the humour of these cartoonists brought them shame by exposing truth. By killing them, these imbeciles thought they regained honour.

I’ve referenced the similarities to Hebdo throughout this piece. I need to do it once more in order to reiterate that every time we agreed with those who demanded the right to silence people, who demanded the right to no-platform people, who demanded the right to not be offended, who demanded the right to safe spaces, who demanded the right to not be micro-aggressed or triggered, who demanded the right to curtail freedom of speech… we brought their killers closer to them.

Anvil Springstien.

Wanna’ know more?: Further Reading/Watching/Stuff:

Kenan Malik on Free Speech and Offence:

The wonderful Sarah Haider on the Necessity of a Liberal Critique of Islam:

National Secular Society. Anne Marie Waters (2012) Sharia Law & Middle Class Feminism:

Muhammed Syed & Sarah Haider. The Humanist – Charlie Hebdo & the Erosion of the Liberal Left:

National Secular Society – The Islamophobia Delusion:

John Cleese on Political Correctness:

Michael Nugent on Satire:

Carol Hunt writing for the Irish Independent:

You Tube ‘Science & (fairly) Anti-Feminist Vlogger, Thunderf00t’s take:

Maryam Nawazi & Goldsmiths Student Union:

Clementine Ford on the attacks in European cities – a response to critics of feminist silence:

Nick Cohen writes in The Spectator – Charlie Hebdo – The Literary Indulgence of Murder:

Cathy Young – The Totalitarian Doctrine of ‘Social Justice Warriors’ [02/02/2015]:

The debate on the issue @ Patheos’ ‘Friendly Atheist:

Last but not least – if you only read one. read this: The Shame and the Disgrace of the Pro-Islamist Left, written by Jamie Palmer

Life Model

Posted: March 22, 2013 in Stuff
Tags: , ,


I’d never make an art critic. I don’t know enough about the history of the subject. Still less with regard to technique or style. Like the average Joe in the street I tend to go, initially at least, with the response the piece engenders in me: what am I looking at, how does it make me feel? What kind of reaction do I see in other viewers? Following that I tend to look for the backstory: when was the piece produced, and who if anybody is in it, and why?

I know little about the above painting beyond that it was produced in the eighties. I don’t even know the name of the artist (but will attempt to find out*). I do love the piece though. I love the line and the colour. It exudes warmth, and time. Looking beyond the subject, the art school background floods me with memories of life-modelling in London in the nineties , penniless – evenings, wet, cold, warm, damp, cramp, sleep, cash.

I’d dearly love to have this on my wall. I think it’s quite beautiful.

Regarding the backstory I know quite a bit, for I know the life model. It’s Sara Park, my children’s Grandmother.

Sara was born in Scotland in 1940 and died in Newcastle upon Tyne, England in 2010 following Sara Parka battle with pancreatic cancer that I wish she had won. Sara Park was one of the most inspirational women I have ever met.

I never knew her in a previous incarnation as a mother of three and wife to an alcoholic. No doubt scars and influences remained from both roles and these may or may not have contributed to the shy humility Sara showed to the world. A humility that drew you to her in an incredibly disarming and calming fashion and, rather than hide who she was as shyness often does, exposed her persona bare, as truth, and honesty.

By 1981 Sara had begun a different life and travelled the world – mostly on her own but later with her partner, Mike – a man who I recall laughing more than speaking. Fluent in Spanish, she favoured South America and covered it extensively, once returning with an indigenous native guide, and, presumably, lover (whose real name we couldn’t pronounce but whose ‘Christian’ name was Sebastian).

We all fell in love with Sebastian – who could speak no English. Sebastian fell in love with us – and with my navy divers knife which he took back to the South American jungles.

The day Sebastian returned to Peru, I asked Sara, humorously, what she wanted to be when she grew up (she was then in her late-fifties, I think?) she answered, thoughtfully, seriously, and with an air of resignation, ” Oh, I don’t know, really?”

An eddy in entropy had produced a creature that didn’t want to be anything in particular, but became something wonderful simply by consequence of doing, and boy did she do.

Sara wrote, extensively, stories, poems, letters. Created clothing (and food) beyond description, and she lived in an Aladdin’s cave of culture, clutter, and colour.

Her dinner parties were not to be missed, either. If, indeed, you could find a space at a table covered with writings, paint, rolls of cloth, books, plants and other detritus of a life too full to tidy or clean.

The food is, sadly, long gone – though I still bump into people wearing a ‘Sara Park’ original.

Sara funded her travels through having students lodge with her. Many would become life-long friends. How could they not.

Sara Park, daughter, sister, mother, grandmother, partner, lover, seamstress, cook, artist, writer, poet, traveller, adventurer, friend.

Sara Park – Life Model. There is no better description.

I miss her.

Everybody does.

Anvil Springstien.

[I’ll edit this later but after seeing the painting posted on Facebook (by Stephen Park – one of Sara’s two sons) I felt the need to get something down, however brief, and rough, apologies.]

[* The Artist was Val Fitzgerald – thanks to Jane Park, Sara’s daughter]