Rant

Moralfagging Over The Recent ‘YouTube Kiddiefiddler Exposé’ Trend

[NB. This opinion piece is in no way intended to rag on or besmirch the character of any You Tubers who have made these exposé videos. All of the examples I watched were by content creators I enjoy/follow/respect and in each case the underlying sentiments the expressed were shock, disgust and a genuine desire to want to do the right thing. This piece is just my personal opinion, based on what I’ve been told about how investigations are conducted.]

There has been a bit of a recent trend emerging in the (so-called) “Skeptic Community”, whereby some You Tubers have been drawing attention to and castigating, certain content creators whose particular penchant is good, old-fashioned paedophilia. Yes you read that correctly; You Tube now has its own kiddie-fiddler community. Barf.

And it really is as stomach-churning as it sounds: a bunch of bloody paedos all waxing lyrical about such topics as:

  • How kids are sexual beings
  • Why they believe kids should be able to consent to sex
  • Places in the world where pederasty is accepted/welcome (backward tribes basically)
  • The “benefits” of your kid being in a relationship with a MAP*

*Oh, didn’t I tell you? Yeah these malfunctioning creeps have gone and created another slick little acronym for themselves, because branding is everything dontcha know? MAP stands for Minor Attracted Person (I guess ‘The Arseholes Formerly Known As Paedos’ just wasn’t catchy enough) and the idea behind it was to ‘rebrand’ paedophilia as something less controversial and as more of a completely benign lifestyle choice. No I’m not making this up. (I’d tell you to google it, but you really don’t want to die unexpectedly with THAT listed in your t’interwebs browsing history!) Their schtick revolves around the notion that these freaks are fully law abiding individuals, also known as ‘Virtuous Paedophiles’ who “Look, but never touch”…at least while child molesting remains illegal, that is. But don’t worry: they’re working on having their wee pervy peccadillo accepted as a form of sexuality and added to the LGBT+ umbrella of persuasians now too. Because why not, right?

As much as these life-destroying child-abusers repulse me and chill me to the bone, the logical part of my brain (the part that doesn’t just think that they should all have their entire content deleted, before being beaten to a pulp and fed to sharks/ piranhas/bears/crocodiles/huge snakes while they’re still alive) thinks that it might be more beneficial to law enforcement/child protective services, if these scuzz-balls were able to keep their accounts active. Because every video they make and upload (and every comment they leave on other videos made by like-minded sickos) will contain details that can be captured/recorded and be part of an overall picture of gathered intel, from a vast interconnected network of paedophiles that the police will be perpetually tracking/monitoring.

It’s gross for it to be out there in existence, full stop. But as a small “community” who a/ don’t interact much with outsiders, b/ probably aren’t stupid enough to try to get ad revenue and c/ mostly keep to themselves, they won’t appear on many folks’ “recommended” viewing lists; and up until recently probably didn’t receive much in the way of unexpected traffic from normal people. The police will undoubtedly be aware of this “community” and have probably already been monitoring all its activity – despite their content technically falling under ‘Freedom Of Speech’ – but that doesn’t mean we should all start throwing mega-watt spotlights on them and assume our actions won’t impede investigations.

In the past, law enforcement authorities have often told the public not to get involved or try to act on information regarding suspected sex-offenders/child-abusers/people traffickers, but to contact the police directly or via verified anonymous tip-off phone-lines/web-sites like ‘Crimestoppers’, with any suspicions/concerns/information they might have. As far as I know, current protocol remains the same. Whilst this is partly to avoid defaming the character of the wrongfully accused and also to prevent violent altercations and fall-out from confrontation, it was also to stop well-meaning members of the public from disrupting or damaging current and ongoing investigations. Those people who think that they’re doing the right thing and protecting the public from future attacks by confronting and exposing abusers, don’t realise that their actions could jeopardise massive coordinated investigations that have potentially been going on for years, costing the taxpayers huge amounts of money.

I know I sound like some normie fucking buzzkill, but I honestly think that whenever anyone comes across content of this manner (or any content that might have legal/illegal implications) that they should report it to the police and let them deal with it. We have no idea whether the content we are concerned about has already been noticed by/reported to the police, or if it is currently being monitored – either on its own merits, or as part of a bigger overarching investigation that could be just one link in an international networked chain of interconnected sick bastards. By drawing a lot of attention to a single link in said potential chain, we risk worrying them AND other potentially linked individuals, into pulling down their channels, removing their content, deleting their accounts, cutting their online connections and disappearing back underground, off of everyone’s radar. And that helps no one.

As vile as this content is, you need to remember that these sickos have always existed and will continue to exist until scientific research and development comes up with a way of fixing this brain malfunction. I am NOT by any means suggesting that we learn to accept and/or happily coexist alongside these maladapted monsters. Far from it. What I am saying is that if we want our actions to have the greatest positive impact, then our reactions must be sensible, measured and proactive. This kind of content is revolting and disturbing and distressing. If you are likely to react adversely to this kind of content, don’t go out of your way to intentionally find it. If you do come across this kind of content and you believe it references illegal activity, report it. In the UK you can file a report online with CEOP Safety Centre or Crimestoppers (both of whom are also on Twitter) and the Internet Watch Foundation says: “If you want to report a child at risk or you’d like to report something other than an online image or video of child sexual abuse please contact your local police or child protection organisation for advice.” But, you know what to do. Forward it to the authorities, let them decide what needs to be done about it.

I know it’s dull advice, but just stop and think about the bigger picture; about the ramifications of your actions. Consider if what you’re doing is genuinely rooted in the best of intentions. Are you trying to gain attention/views/keks, or do you actually care about helping to keep kids safe? If it’s the latter then please consider avoiding any vainglorious heroics and just make sure that the relevant authorities are informed as to what they need to be aware of. The downside of us striving for unlimited free-speech, is that there are always going to be times when you have to hear some appalling things. It isn’t necessarily always obvious ‘when and if’ an individual has crossed over into the realms of incitement to commit a crime, hate speech or slander/libel/defamation of character, (although you can be real fucking sure that these sleazy fucks are gonna be a helluva lot more knowledgeable about the law as regards THEIR rights and exactly how far they can push their luck) so it’s important for you to not allow your own disgust or anger to end up getting YOU in trouble.

Just take comfort in the fact that the increased ease of access to self-promotion, the myriad options for online publishing, the continued push to demand our rights to absolute freedom of speech and the recent weird softening of attitudes toward paedophilia by regressive uber-leftist publications, ALL mean that these grotesque individuals are putting themselves out there more and more, feeling less reluctant to speak out about their paedophilic tendencies and may eventually end up being hoist by their own petard. So if you want to see these fuckers monitored and less likely to actually hurt any children, report them to the authorities who can actually help prevent that shit from happening and don’t scare them back into retreating underground.

Right. Lecture over.

As you were.

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Remember When Reading Diversely Meant Something Else?

I’m sick and tired of being made to feel like I need to explain my choices, my intent or the meaning behind my various opinions and exhortations, to people who – in the grand scheme of things – I really shouldn’t give a shit about. Yeah, I know: umpteen million other people have it far worse than I do. This is such a  ‘white girl problem’. I should just check my fucking privilege and realise that by dint of my merely owning a computer from which to compose my tirade of ‘first world’ ire, everything I have to say going forward is invalid, irrelevant and easily dismissed as being both self-absorbed and drastically lacking in self-awareness.

It’s okay. I get it: I wasn’t born ‘wrong’ enough to warrant the right to voice my displeasure or distaste for any aspect of my life. Oh wait, did I say ‘wrong’ enough? Shit. That’s such an exclusionary, ableist and ignorant way of putting things. What I meant to say was that I wasn’t born ‘disadvantaged’ enough. ‘Marginalised’ enough. I’m insufficiently hindered by arbitrary demographical demarcations, decided upon by people I’ve never even met. Yeah, that sounds about right. Sure, I’m female and with that comes the slight inching up on the ‘progressive stack’, but I’m also straight (deduct 10 points), cis-gendered (deduct 5 points), able-bodied (deduct 5 points), middle class (deduct 10 points) and white (deduct 50 points). So, I guess I need to pipe down and let someone much less privileged than me take the mic, right? I think that’s how these things are supposed to work.

check_your_privilege__bingo__by_plumpiepelican-d5z2lqd

What’s that? You think I’m exaggerating? I really wish I was. But you and I both know that the past 5 years have seen the scourge of identity politics infest all of our lives with its far reaching, invasive tentacles worming their way into all that we hold sacred; all that is/was good. It wasn’t always like this though. I remember when things used to be fun. Sure, I’m probably older than some of you, but trust me when I tell you that there was a time once, when the films we went to see, the video-games we used to play and the online communities we were a part of, weren’t immediately judged to be a reflection of our political affiliations or our overall worthiness as human beings on a scale dreamt up by smug ideologues.

No, seriously. I’m not making this up. Once upon a time, the most disparaging thing you would ever heard uttered about gamers was that they were a bit nerdy. Films were criticised on their merit and atheism was just a word used to describe a disbelief in a god. The internet was a democratic platform where anyone who understood how to access it could go to speak freely, engage and voice opinions – however disagreeable – without fear of being curtailed, or ostracised or doxxed. Universities were institutions of higher education, where young adults would go to gain valuable information, seek knowledge, have their ideas challenged, be exposed to new perspectives and figure out how to become independent before going out into the real world. These were halcyon days back then. We just didn’t know it at the time.

And now? Well now it’s all gone to shit and no one can say or do anything without it being poured over and picked at, by a strange new class of self-appointed, virtue-signaling wankers, who want so badly to be deemed ‘right-on’ and ‘PC’, that they spend their days patrolling every medium we have at our disposal, looking for things to be offended by. And these things are rarely things that they themselves are offended by. No, they tend to be perpetually on the lookout for any instances of transgressive misdemeanor that they can take offense at, on behalf of other people. It’s quite amazing really, the way they just feel entitled to rock up and adjudicate you with the unspoken message that: 

“What you’re saying/doing there, doesn’t necessarily offend me, but it might offend someone, somewhere and we simply can’t have that now can we? So kindly fuck off out of here with your sexist/racist/homophobic/ableist intolerant bigotry, before someone gets so upset, they need to set up a Patreon account to seek reparation.”

Urgh. Everyone knows what I’m talking about. Fucking retarded (yeah, I said retarded; big whoop – wanna fight about it?) SJW ideologues, doing everything they can to encompass the sentiments expressed in George Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’. That book was supposed to be a cautionary tale, but these control-fascists are treating it like a goddamn itinerary or a manifesto for the dissolution of civil rights. And with each community they’ve infiltrated, violated and devastated, you can see society starting to divide up, as people decide whether they’re going to sign up to be one of the shiny eyed, unquestioning conformists, or say “Fuck this noise!” and join the ranks of insurgents who refuse to be told that they’re a piece of shit, merely for liking or enjoying a ‘thing’ in their spare time.

My particular pastime of choice is reading. I’ve been a voracious reader for most of my life but it’s not just a hobby to me. Books are something I both treasure and kind of take for granted. To me they’re not a luxury, they’re a necessity – I love them. I live in them, through them and alongside them. They’re my teachers, my instructors, my friends and my compatriots. I learn from them. I grow from them. With books I try to challenge myself. And they challenge me right back.

Bookshelf

They inspire me. Entertain me. Enlighten me. They keep me company and they grant me precious solitude. They open my eyes, they break my heart and they blow my fucking mind. So when I see the SJW narrative seeping into the literary community, it devastates me. Enrages me. And it also kind of baffles me. Because as much as I adore – and sometimes almost fetishise! – books, in reality I know that they are merely conduits for ideas and opinions and knowledge; they are bridges between the minds of the authors and the readers. Hold a book in your hands and what you have is a collection of bound pages. Nothing more than a pile of material derived from trees. But actually read a book and you take part in an ages old act of receiving information; of listening; of learning; of connecting. To encroach upon the content of books, is to encroach upon ideas. By monitoring what people write or read, you are policing their freedom of expression.

So to have this form of pleasure questioned, derided even, by those who want to enforce a kind of social obligation onto readers, really pisses me off. Articles like this one: Why You Need To Start To Read Diversely designed to guilt trip us into changing our reading habits, so that they end up meeting some kind of self-enforced quota system that represents every single author demographic. Because apparently, what we choose to do on our downtime should no longer be about just finding something that we like, enjoy or are interested in; no, we should be forcing ourselves to read books that we didn’t actually show any prior interest in, so we don’t end up reading books by – GASP! – predominantly straight, white men!

Last year the pressure to read books from outside one’s area of interest, was ramped up with the Twitter campaign: #DiverseDecember set up by bloggers Naomi Frisby and Dan Lipscombe. The idea was to get people to tweet the titles of the ‘diverse’ (I’m beginning to hate that word) books/authors they were reading. Because nothing says “Look at me! Look at what a good person I am, reading these books by non-straight-white-cis-gendered-men and telling you all about it!” quite like jumping on a Twitter campaign bandwagon to do just that.

I used to think I read pretty diversely myself actually. I read fiction and non-fiction. I like literary fiction, the classics, sci-fi, dystopia, horror, crime-fiction, physics, biology, psychology, history, sociology, medicine, biography, true-crime, study-guides, books about books and books about…well all manner of things really. But apparently that’s not what reading ‘diversely’ means these days. No, now it means that we’re supposed to consider the race, gender, sexuality and nationality of the authors writing those books, more than the breadth of subject and genre they cover. Suddenly, there was a whole new level of expectation required of us, in order to be able to claim to be a ‘diverse’ reader. Never mind if every book you read was a romance novel or a history text. As long as you featured a range of cultural demographics in the author of said books, you could now call yourself a ‘diverse’ reader. Which is exactly why I started to hate that word. It stopped being about the different topics one read and instead became disingenuous shorthand for a self-identifying morally superior ideologue.

Identity politics loves to take words and change them so that mean something else. But even more than that, it seeks to make an issue out of the very topics it claims to be free from. Choosing to read books because they are written by someone of a particular gender, race, or sexuality – and subsequently choosing NOT to read other books because of those same reasons, becomes inherently discriminatory by its very nature. You’re not eliminating or tackling issues of racism, sexism or homophobia by singling those categories out as a means to seek out certain books to read. You’re perpetuating it.

Regressive Left RD

You can imagine how utterly fucking annoyed I was then to see tweets appearing in January by people stating that for the whole of 2016 they would not be reading any books by straight white males. These people, in their attempt to show just how ‘right on’ and ‘progressive’ they were, were simply basking in their decision to discriminate on the basis of gender, race and sexuality. And they wanted everyone to see that they were doing this. Virtue-signalling has become to go-to method of indirect boasting, used by the regressive-left, whenever they want to draw attention to their supercilious faux do-gooding. What’s even worse though, is that those of us who refuse to join in with this strategic ideological game, find ourselves being labeled as racists, sexists, homophobes and bigots. In this case, all because we choose our books purely because their content is what appeals to us the most.

I’ll be honest with you. For a huge number of the books I read, I don’t actually know what their race, sexuality or nationality is. If they don’t have a photograph on the dust jacket, or if I haven’t bothered to look the author up online, then I have no way of knowing if someone is white, black, mixed-race, hispanic, Asian or Inuit. Even a non-anglicised name is no guarantee of someone’s ethnicity. People marry. They move to different countries. They have children and can decide on names ranging from the traditional to the bizarre (I’m looking at you Frank Zappa). Some people adopt children from other countries and whereas some will choose to keep the child’s birth-name, others will want to give them a name of their choice instead. Yes of course I know that there are some cues to be gained from some names; for instance I was pretty sure from day one that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of ‘Americanah’ wasn’t a pasty white Russian oligarch. But how many people would be able to correctly assess the racial or sexual identity of James Baldwin, Tess Gerritsen, Randy Shilts, Roxanne Gay or Thomas Sowell, just by looking at their names?

It might sound like a moot point, but if a large portion of the books I have on my shelves turn out to have been written by non-straight-white-cis-gendered men, without me realising one way or the other, does that make me more or less of a ‘diverse’ reader? Which is truly a more egalitarian, less discriminatory approach to seeking out literature? Going out of one’s way to read a book purely because the author fits into the ‘diversity’ ideology, or reading books because they looked interesting, regardless of who wrote them, and subsequently finding that there is a ‘diverse’ representation within the authors I read? I know for instance that the handful of books written by authors based in Karachi, that I bought to get a better understanding of modern Pakistan, were written by Asian authors. But on my Kindle, when I look at the vast collection of ebooks – many self-published – by authors I know nothing about, how am I to know upon first glance, what cultural demographics the authors fall into.

I can’t. And more than that. I really don’t fucking care. Weird and retrograde as it might appear, I have a particularly novel (pun intended – sue me) system for finding a new book to read. It involves one of two approaches. The first is where I already know the author and want to read more of their work so I purposely go find if they have any other titles that I’ve yet to read. Simple. The second is where I wander through the aisles of a local bookshop, or use the search function to look through the millions of titles offered online in Amazon or Audible or whatever, looking for a book that sounds…wait for it…interesting! I might be in the mood for a book on the search for gravitational waves or something about the historicity of the Bible; maybe I’m after a ghost story or a book about neuroplasticity – all topics I’ve searched for recently. And whilst there might occasionally be a title by an author I recognise from previous works, or television documentaries, for the most part the names behind the work mean absolutely nothing to me. I don’t care if they’re black or white or hispanic or straight or gay or trans or cis gendered or ginger. Not unless the book in question is specifically about those topics mentioned.

I just want to read good books. That isn’t me saying “I don’t think that books by non-white-straight-cis-gendered-men aren’t good, so I don’t read them.” (although that’s how some of these amateur identity politicians would happily try to interpret it). It means I read whatever the fuck I want to read, based on whether or not it sounds interesting, informative, entertaining and worth the time and effort required to invest in it. I know I won’t always get it right; Zeus knows how many books have failed to meet my expectations over the years. But a combination of the blurb/dust-jacket description and reader reviews, generally helps to narrow the field down to a selection that are much more likely to be worth my money and my time. That’s why I’ve recently been watching a lot of BookTube. I’ve found a selection of content producers who have similar reading tastes to me and from their vlogs find a whole host of new titles to check out, next time I’m in a position to purchase another book. It really is that simple.

But between campaigns like #DiverseDecember – which has now been extended under the hashtag #ReadDiverse2016 – and countless articles telling us that we should be reading more ‘diverse’ books, it’s getting to a point where a person daren’t suggest that they don’t read books by non-straight-white-cis-gendered-men, for fear of being labeled a shitlord. Hang out on the BookTube channels of YouTube and you’ll find countless videos reassuring readers that there’s nothing wrong with not liking the classics, hating YA or not having a particular fondness for a certain genre of literature. Smiley, happy, well-intentioned 19 year olds, with perky personalities and some pretty nifty editing techniques, are falling all over themselves to let you know that what you choose to read is entirely up to you; because not everyone likes every single genre of literature.

But dare to say that you have absolutely zero interest in reading about stories from refugees in war-torn climbs, or that you’re just not into reading about the experiences of slaves living in the Deep South? That’s a whole other story. I like to read some biography from time to time. But it has to be about a person whose live I’m actually interested in the first place. Mostly, the biographies I read are of scientists, because I’m interested in their work and the person behind it. I don’t however have any interest in reading about a woman who used to clean people’s houses for a living. Sorry if that offends you – well, no actually, I’m really not – but I can barely bring myself to do my own housework. Reading about the daily grind of a woman doing someone else’s housework, really isn’t going to appeal to me. (The makers of the indie-dev game Sunset found that lesson out the hard way!)

But these are people’s stories! They deserve a voice! They need to be heard!” That’s the kind of outpouring you hear from neo-liberals who see us all as identical cogs in one huge great machine. “You owe it to them to help them get their stories out there!” “Why are you so against seeing more diversity in literature?” “That’s so bigoted!” Urgh. I’m not saying I don’t ever want to read books by non-straight-white-cis-gendered-males. That would be really fucking stupid. And a massive lie. But I don’t want to have to alter my reading habits and tastes, just to meet some ideological quota and get the approval of the ‘progressives’ out there, simultaneously virtue-signalling their own worthiness, whilst judging whether my character and choices merit a pass or a fail.

Minorities

If you feel as though you have to tweet about the books you’re reading to prove how utterly fucking ‘diverse’ you are, then the chances are, you’re nothing more than an ideologue. A wannabe stand-up example of how to be a ‘really good person’. You care more about being seen to be doing something you believe to be worthy, than actually doing the thing itself. You want to guilt trip those not already mimicking your reading habits, into feeling bad, before scurrying off to get their own copy of the latest ‘hot’ title to emerge from a ‘diverse’ author. And you make me fucking sick.

Literature should succeed or fail on its own merit. If a book is good and is appreciated by a large number of people then it should sell well and receive the appropriate acclaim. If a book is crap then others are quite within their rights to say so and vote to take their money elsewhere. (It’s funny though, how we rarely see anything other than rave reviews for those ‘diverse’ books that everyone is suddenly expected to be reading at their book club, huh? It’s almost as if we’re not allowed to criticise them?) Likewise, people should be able to choose exactly what they want to spend their hard earned cash on, without feeling guilty that they aren’t reading what regressive ideologues deem ‘diverse’. Books written by straight-white-cis-gendered-men might dominate a lot of reading lists and prizes, but maybe those books were actually just really good. Maybe they weren’t and it just goes to show the subjectivity of taste and the fallibility in expecting lists to reflect everyone’s cultural experience and expectation.

And before anyone starts to try and tell me that these initiatives/campaigns are necessary because there is a perceived problem with non-straight-white-cis-gendered-men getting published, let’s not forget about the curious case of Michael Derrick Hudson. A white poet whose poem ‘The Bees, the Flowers, Jesus, Ancient Tigers, Poseidon, Adam and Eve’, was rejected under his real name 40 times before he sent it out as Yi-Fen Chou, when it was rejected nine times before getting accepted. Nor should we ignore the Indian-American author Akhil Sharma who himself has admitted:

I have benefited from being an ethnic writer. All fiction writers want their stories and novels to feel like something new. Because I am writing about things that are not well known, and I am writing about a community that people are curious about, I have received a great deal of attention. I am not saying that my writing is not meritorious. I am only saying that my complaining would feel churlish since I have benefited so much from being a minority.”

Maybe things used to be different and harder for ‘diverse’ authors, I can’t say for sure. But I think it’s only fair to remember that the smaller the percentage of a minority group, then the smaller the number of books you should expect to see representing said minority. As the numbers within each minority group grows, the number of books that are written by and/or represent said minority will naturally increase; and with that increase you can expect to see more books written by minorities being featured in reviews, which should in turn lead to greater sales. If the demand is there then the supply will increase to meet it. But right now it’s as though we’re all being made to feel obligated to read books by minorities or ‘diverse’ authors. Social justice warriors are trying to guilt trip us into patronising these authors (in both senses of the word) which is only going to artificially inflate the actual demand for them.

There’s nothing wrong with saying you don’t want to read a book because the subject matter doesn’t interest you. And there’s nothing wrong with reading a book and saying you thought it was crap. It’s your money, your time and your taste we’re talking about here. It’s great to try and read outside of your comfort zone from time to time, check out topics or authors you haven’t read before. That’s how we grow as readers. But feeling forced to adhere to some sort of societal obligation, when all you want to do is get lost in the pages of a familiar story or subject matter, is bordering on bloody thought-control. Demanding that we all expose ourselves to a set, pre-approved reading list doesn’t sound like fun to me. It sounds like a totalitarian nightmare. But that’s exactly the kind of future we can hope for if these so-called ‘progressives’ keep pushing their ideological narrative.

Urgh…I know, I’ve been ranting for ages now. But this manipulation of the media by the regressive left both angers and terrifies me. Every time a cultural shift is brought about by the intense pressure of SJWs and Marxist ideologues, we seem to be shuffling closer to the dystopian futures laid out in works by Huxley, Orwell and Bradbury. That might seem extreme or exaggerated to those who don’t spend much time online or in university campuses, but we really are seeing a gradual encroachment of ‘progressive’ ideals, in all our lives. Bit by bit we’re moving closer to the authoritarian societies we were warned about in books like Nineteen Eighty Four and Brave New World. They might not be burning our books just yet, but they’re still trying to encroach upon what we choose to read. So before I go, I’ll leave you with some excerpts from Fahrenheit 451, that should scare you as much as they do me, because I’m nice like that. Thanks for reading.

“Once books appealed to a few people, here, there, everywhere. They could afford to be different. The world was roomy. But then the world got full of eyes and elbows and mouths. Double, triple, quadruple population.

Now let’s take up the minorities in our civilisation shall we? Bigger the population, the more minorities. The bigger your market Montag, the less you handle controversy, remember that. All the minor minor minorities with their navels to be kept clean. Authors full of evil thoughts, lock up your typewriters. They did!

There you have it Montag. It didn’t come from the government down. There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship to start with, no! Technology, mass exploitation and minority pressure carried the trick… We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against.

They were given the new job, as custodians of our peace of mind, the focus of our understandable and rightful dread of being inferior; official censors, judges and executors.”

Fahrenheit 451

Put Your Money Where Your Spouse Is!

“How long will you keep me?” I asked.

You shrugged. “Forever, of course.”

Lucy Christopher – ‘Stolen: A Letter To My Captor’

I really bloody hate weddings.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good finger-buffet as much as the next person. There’s a lot to be said for a well executed vol-au-vent – a vastly under-appreciated comestible creation, if you ask me – and a free bar is never going to be looked down upon by anyone round my neck of the woods. But the whole palaver of a day-long ‘celebration’ put on to witness the decision of two people to promise that they’ll never have sex with anyone else again, for the rest of their lives? I’ve just never really seen the appeal.

This isn’t a criticism of marriage itself. Far from it. For all my outpourings of postmodern cynicism, I’m actually a firm believer in the age-old institution and I’m delighted that the majority of the western world has finally cottoned on to idea that same-sex couples should be just as entitled to a lifetime of misery, as heterosexual couples. No, my objection isn’t to the notion of marriage – it’s bloody weddings that I can’t stand. Barring the obligatory smattering of maiden aunt types, who cry at everything from Countryfile, to the SNP’s Mhairi Black giving that speech to the House of Commons, most of us if we’re being honest, find them insufferably dull too.

From the moment you receive the invitation (and assuming you don’t have a really good excuse for not actually attending) you the guest, are expected to RSVP with enthusiasm, pick out and purchase an item from the pre-selected gift register (3rd-5th cheapest from the bottom, if you’re clued up and quick enough), find an outfit that manages to look as though you genuinely care enough to make the effort – but are in no way attempting to show the bride up – and then agree to give up an entire precious Saturday off work (a Saturday you’d otherwise be enjoying spent watching back-to-back episodes of classic Robot Wars and eating toasties, in your pants), to attend an event that could range anywhere from low-key and intimate, to the kind of opal-encrusted, opulent, one-upmanship you’d expect from Mr & Mrs West. (I’m talking about Kim & Kanye here of course – I’ve no idea how much Fred & Rose forked out for their special day.)

Cheap wedding

But regardless of which end of the spectrum said wedding is likely to hover closer to, the whole shebang is basically going to boil down to you having to sit through a tedious church service (despite neither bride nor groom having set foot in a religious building since Uncle Jack’s funeral in 2006) where even the most militant of atheists among us will still find ourselves desperately trying to decide what octave to aim for, as we attempt to recall the tune to hymns last encountered in our old school assemblies. After that you’ll be off to an insipid, mass-produced carvery dinner (spent sat next to someone you don’t know and will naturally take an instant dislike to) where you’ll sit through excruciatingly abysmal speeches somewhat akin to hearing Ed Miliband recite Vogon poetry. Then, to top it all off there’s the ubiquitous shit disco. Because when you’re damn sure you’re never going to be able to cater to everyone’s musical tastes, it makes perfect sense to get someone to play stuff that appeals to absolutely no one’s musical taste, amirite? If you’re lucky there will be that free bar, in which case you’ll probably just order yourself Pinot Grigio by the bottle and get so shitfaced that you end up getting off with one of the groomsmen to ‘Careless Whisper’, whilst some fat DJ in a Bermuda shirt mumbles incoherently over the saxophone solo.

Weddings are shit. Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve always put a greater emphasis on actually ‘being’ married, than the notion of ‘getting’ married; which is almost completely at odds with how most women seem to approach the whole idea. Their ‘Big Day’ (and it always is ‘their’ day, because no self-respecting groom could give two shits about colour schemes, themes or learning how to perform the closing routine from ‘Dirty Dancing’) is treated with the kind of reverence and spectacle normally reserved for a B-list celebrity’s funeral. Never mind the fact that the average UK wedding costs just under £21,000 (about three times the amount you’d need to put down a deposit on a first time buyer’s house). If the local Premier Inn’s banqueting suite isn’t decked out to look like something from a Siegfried & Roy extravaganza, then Bridezilla will be throwing a shit-fit before anyone can mutter “mazeltov!”

OTT Blue wedding

If/when I ever get married, the whole affair will be the most simple, clandestine and briefest procedure I can legally get away with. None of my family will be there, the witnesses will be whichever anonymous passers-by could be roped into participating at the last minute and all my puff-pastry preferences aside, there won’t be a vol-au-vent in sight. Don’t mistake my ambivalence towards ceremony for an indifference towards commitment though – like I said, I think it’s the ‘being’ married, not ‘getting’ married, that’s important. But chances are, you’re not like me. Your potential other half is probably nothing like me. Your ‘Big Day’ is going to see you or your parents fork out a considerable amount of money, for an event that very few will truthfully enjoy – irrespective of how cunning and subtle the photographer you hired is working at making it appear otherwise.

But…ladies and gentlemen, there is now a new option on the scene for those who are willing to bet on their shacklement being a success. Sure, we’ve all heard that an estimated 42% of marriages now end in divorce. But everyone ‘knows’ that theirs is going to make it, right? And why not? If statistics are to be believed then you’ve got just over a one-in-two chance of making it all the way from ‘being way too pissed to consummate your marriage on your wedding night’, to ‘occupying side-by-side burial plots sometime in the not too distant future’. So why not take the ultimate gamble and put your money where your spouse is?

wager time

Before now, if you wanted to place an actual bet on you and the missus managing to stay hitched, you had to brave the despondent throng of sallow faced revenants at the local bookies as you tried to figure out how to complete the chit using the world’s smallest pen. Because nothing says ‘true love’ like enduring 20 wretched minutes in a room that smells like Bovril, whippets and despair, just to stick a tenner on your upcoming nuptials. But we’re in the 21st Century now folks and anything that can be done online, is done online. So across the pond in the land of burgers, bibles and guns a somewhat cynical sounding little start-up called SwanLuv is willing to bet $10,000 that YOUR marriage, isn’t going to go the distance. With phrases like “Everlasting Marriage Deserves to be Rewarded” sprinkled all over their site, the company basically offers you and your significant other $10,000 to spend on your wedding day, on the proviso that should you divorce you have to pay it all back plus interest. Sounds pretty sweet huh? Because you already know that when you tie the knot, it’s gonna be forever. Right?

Stay the distance and you ‘n yours will get to keep the $10,000 that SwanLuv paid up front, in order for you to have that dream wedding. Granted, that’s only £6,700 in real money (which isn’t all that much when you consider that the new Mrs Frank Lampard spent £10,000 on her frock alone) so your dreams need to sit somewhere between bargain-bucket-chic and modestly mediocre; but you should at least be able to hire the local Methodist church hall, deck it out in bunting from DealZone and still have enough left over to give everyone a roast chicken dinner and somewhere to dance along to ‘Come On Eileen’ in the evening.

Testimonials on the site feature couples gushing about how much they appreciate the “pay it forward mentality” of SwanLuv, and how “the concept of the site is hopeful for love.” They’re obviously not in it for the money; no, SwanLuv are merely helping to facilitate the romantic ambitions of financially frustrated lovers, who just want to cement their commitment to one another – for free. Kind of like a ‘Make A Wish’ foundation, for the terminally besotted. And in case you’re wondering what happens to all that money that these philanthropic financiers recoup when those 42% of failures have to pay it back, don’t worry. According to their site “100% of the money collected from members who are later divorced is used to provide funds for future couples’ dream weddings. SwanLuv keeps the dream alive.” So you can take comfort in the fact that whilst SwanLuv aren’t actually profiting from the demise of other marriages, your three-tiered fruit cake and ivory-ribboned Bentley all came courtesy of the fact that Mr & Mrs Foret of St Paul, Minnesota were no longer able to sit at the breakfast table together, without wanting to stab one another in the eye with a butter knife. Nice. Now I’m not one for believing in karma, but I’m not sure I’d want my marriage being funded by some other poor schmuck’s failed attempt at forever.

Swan song logo

It doesn’t mention anywhere in the small print whether or not the contract becomes invalid if one party goes to prison, or whether you’re still obligated to repay the money if you actually do kill your spouse over breakfast; but there is a clause that states how divorces resulting from abusive relationships will require only the abusive party to repay the $10,000 and I can’t see THAT little caveat being exploited at all! I’m almost 100% sure that SwanLuv aren’t going to have a few dissatisfied wives turning up with some expertly applied MAC pigment powders around the eye-sockets, claiming that they aren’t responsible for repaying any of the $10K. Nor do I think for one minute that there will be any ladies sat smirking to themselves 5 years from now, safe in the knowledge that hubby can’t ever run away with someone who doesn’t berate him for playing on his XBox in the evening, because her decision to be a housewife left them with a very limited single income. I’m sure the brains behind this novel little Seattle based start-up have already thought about all the potential fraudulent exploits that future ‘smug-marrieds’ might dream up, so my cynicism is probably entirely misplaced.

I still can’t see myself ever going cap-in-hand to these guys though; asking them to pony up the fundage so I can have a chocolate fountain, a slow dance to Westlife and the opportunity to dress like meringue for the day, just isn’t my style. But that’s not to say that you shouldn’t apply and give it a go yourselves. SwanLuv (so named because swans are known to mate for life) are taking applications via their website now and will be using ‘online data and algorithm software technology to quickly assess applicants’ with a view to distributing the first hand-outs after they officially launch in February 2016. If getting yoked to ‘her indoors’ is important to you, but you just can’t afford the cost of getting her up the aisle, then why the hell not? Maybe it’ll give some couples a greater incentive to work on their relationships; or maybe it’s just going to turn the already precarious process of permanently pairing off into an even greater minefield, for those who might want out at a later date. Getting married IS a gamble, but that 42% failure rate is on the decline. So if you fancy your odds as much as you fancy your fiancee then fuck it. Have your flutter, have your flowers and have your finger-buffet but please, whatever you do, don’t send me a fucking invite, however close we are.

(Even if you are having vol-au-vents.)

Please Stop Misrepresenting Atheism

Bill Gates

A couple of days ago I was browsing a favourite site of mine: The Conversation and I came across the following article:

Atheism Must Be About More Than Just Not Believing In God

“Atheism needs to be attentive to what it means to live with the consequences of violence, senselessness and suffering. The trouble with atheism in its more conventional guises is a nerdish fetishism for all things that work: what is accurate, the instrumental and the efficient. The trouble is, many aspects of our world are not working. Because of this, the atheist is in danger of being perceived as deluded and aloof from the violent mess of the real. Atheism, if it is to be vital, needs to reconnect itself with the more disturbing, darker aspects of the human condition.”

The title alone was enough to get me all fired up – I’m sick of people trying to explain to atheists, what atheism IS and/or what it should be. I was going to write a separate post about it, but before I knew it I’d gone and left a big long rant in the comments section (wouldn’t be like me) that pretty much sums up everything I’ve got to say on the matter. So I’ll just paste my response here and y’all can go check out the article for yourselves; maybe even leave a comment of your own on there  too!

The title of this article starts off by completely misrepresenting atheism: “Atheism must be about more than just not believing in god”.

Um, no. Sorry, but that’s really all that atheism is. A lack of belief in any god. Not just the Christian god or whatever other flavour of religion that you think is the ‘one true religion’ just because you happen to have been lucky enough to have been raised to believe it, or grew up in a country where said ‘one true religion’ is predominant.

Atheists can and do get involved in many political causes. They discuss issues that go far beyond the topic of existentialism. They also eat breakfast, use public transport, sometimes arrive late for work and even pull the odd sickie. Just like everyone else does.

Declaring oneself an atheist may well be a way in which to find like minded people which with to converse, socialise or organise some kind of activity. But that’s no different to the way in which people get together to do things based on a shared interest in sports, the environment or craft beers from around the world. We seek out tribes in which we feel the most comfortable; where we feel a sense of common interest or purpose.

A lot of atheists like to seek out other atheists, because they want to be able to have a conversation with someone who doesn’t have at their very core, a belief that:

  • The world was created in 6 days
  • The earth is only 6500 years old
  • That a talking snake talked a woman into committing ‘original sin’
  • That a man built a big boat to house two of every species in order to escape a global flood (of which there is no evidence for having happened)
  • That Joseph Smith found gold tablets buried and had their meaning translated using special ‘seer stones’
  • That the punishment for unmarried sex should be lashes and/or exile
  • That women should have to cover their hair or their whole bodies from men
  • That a male infant should have his foreskin removed
  • That a race of giants once roamed the earth, the result of women and demi-gods interbreeding
  • (Insert crazy religious belief of choice here)

Sometimes we just want to know that the other person is on the same page as us, when it comes to having no belief in a deity, because it’s a lot easier than having to try to duck around the issues surrounding religious beliefs further down the line.

And yes, some atheists do try to use atheism as a starting point for other social justice issues – see the Atheism Plus movement for more details. But whilst it often appears that the majority of people who identify as being atheist also tend to be more liberal, concerned with human rights/animal rights and be of a more scientific bent than those who have religious beliefs, it doesn’t mean that atheism should be immediately connected to or expected to represent, any other political position, movement or shared ideology.

The writer of this article has done what countless other people have tried to claim for years and mistakenly tried to equate nothing more than a statement of a lack of any belief, with a multitude of other issues and ideas. Christianity has tried to hold some kind of monopoly on the concept of kindness/goodness/charity/philanthropy for so long, it has become entrenched in the minds of society to equate religious belief with ‘doing good’. The flipside of this is that people then want to try and lump everyone who doesn’t have a belief altogether and ask them what they feel or plan to do for the good of all mankind. Forgetting that people have been doing good and acting altruistically outside of any religious context, for much longer than these religions have even existed.

If people are doing good things because they feel it is their Christian duty, then one really has to ask what these people’s motivations really are. Not wanting to upset the invisible sky-depot in case you don’t get into heaven, isn’t really an act of altruism. And yet society seems to view that as a good way to live. But among those who do not believe, many have done just as many acts of charity or altruism, without expecting any big payoff in the great hereafter. Who is the ‘better’ person in the long run?

Atheists can be as charitable, altruistic or as involved in political causes as anyone claiming to be religious. But atheism doesn’t expect or require atheists to do or be anything. They do so of their own free will. People – believers especially – need to stop thinking that the religious have the monopoly on doing good and realise that atheism is not a counter-religion where one’s beliefs – or lack thereof – hold everyone together in one tidy little sheep-pen, directing or expecting a special set of ideas from us all.

Religion should not be the default position from which one goes on to try to compare any other mindset, ideal, belief or lack thereof. Stop trying to equate a lack of belief with anything other than it is.

I know, it’s kinda lazy for me to just use a comment from online to create a new blog post, but I’ve been meaning to write a new one for so long now, this just seemed like the perfect way to ease myself back into the game. What do you think about the way in which atheists and atheism are constantly being misrepresented by religious people and the media? Check out the link, become part of The Conversation and be sure to have a look through the rest of the site because there are a lot of great articles on there – some just waiting to be commented on!

Have a good weekend folks!

Bex

P.S. For a much better and in-depth response to the original article, please go read Joop Beris’ post on his ‘Random musings, rambling opinions’ blog here! He does a much better job of it than me and he’s well worth a follow!

I’m Not Apologising

It’s been about a week now since news first broke about the murder of Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. These three, brilliant, intelligent, young people, with promising futures ahead of them were gunned down in their own home, by a neighbour, over what seemed to have been an ongoing dispute over a parking spot. At first glance the story sounded like another terrible casualty of the US Constitution’s 2nd Amendment, giving citizens the right to bear arms; which, all things considered, it still is. But as more details about both the victims and the perpetrator began to make the news, a much darker motive for a seemingly senseless crime started to emerge.

Craig Stephen Hicks, 46 was an atheist. His victims? All Muslim.

Within moments of this information being made public, the predictable uproar blew up on Twitter with hundreds of people calling for the same kind of of outrage and public outcry, as had been witnessed after the Charlie Hebdo incident in Paris last month. Because with the mere mention of this crime having taken place between a non-Muslim perpetrator and three Muslim victims, for some it seemed as though obvious parallels were to be drawn. In those first hours after the story had broken and as people all over the world began waking up to the news, it seemed as though the majority of public opinion was firmly rooted in one of two camps: those who seemed convinced that this was in fact a hate crime, somewhat on par with the Charlie Hebdo massacre, or those who understood that there was a very real difference between the incidents and that atheism at it’s core is not something that can ever be tied in with hate crimes and violence.

But the internet is a place of reactionary statements, where emotional outbursts often take the place of rational thoughts and opinions. There were calls for the more prominent atheists among us, such as Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss to apologise and be held accountable for the actions of this one, lone gunman’s actions. Dawkins responded immediately to these claims via Twitter:

Dawkins on Chapel Hill

Lawrence Krauss in turn responded to the brimming tensions among those who wanted to connect outspoken atheist voices such as his, with this heinous killing, in an article published on the Huffington Post:

“Let’s be clear about one thing. Hate speech is directed at people, not ideas. To argue that individuals like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, or any of the other outspoken atheists, including myself, who criticize the doctrines of Islam, or Christianity, are inciting violence against individuals on the scale of the terrorists who espouse Islamic fundamentalism is akin to suggesting that the Enlightenment was fundamentally no different than the theocracies it eventually undermined.”

UNC Isn’t Charlie Hebdo, and Thomas Paine Isn’t Osama Bin Laden – Lawrence M Krauss

And whilst I understand why both they and scores of other prominent atheists/skeptics, felt that speaking out against this incident was the right thing to do, I’m absolutely fucking fuming that they were made to feel that way in the first place. Twitter poured forth with similar statements from other members wanting to apologise “as an atheist” for the actions of Craig Hicks. Making matters worse were tweets like the one from a user @lina_serene (whose account has now been deactivated) demanding that all atheists apologise for the shootings at Chapel HIll.

Excuse me? You DEMAND an apology? I don’t fucking think so. I don’t care how horrendous this man’s actions were. I will condemn the actions of anyone who takes it upon themselves to attack, injure or kill another person REGARDLESS of their age / gender / sexuality / race / nationality / religion / whatever; but I will NOT kow-tow to pressures from other people on social media sites, expecting me to somehow shoulder the blame and responsibility of one man’s actions PURELY BECAUSE BOTH HE AND I HAPPEN TO HAVE NO BELIEF IN A DEITY.

Wow, you know, when I type it out like that, plain for all to see, it seems so ridiculous, one can hardly imagine that anyone would even consider suggesting such a thing. Because in being an atheist, all I can really say that I have in common with the Chapel Hill shooter, is the fact that neither of us believe in a god. That’s it. And that’s because that is really all anyone can truly deduce from discovering that a person is an atheist. I know that there are certain other groups of people who would love to associate the term with a whole host of other things, but the reality is, it means just one thing: a lack of a belief in a deity.

And I get pissed off enough as it is, having to explain to people over and over again, that atheism is not a religion, that we don’t have a set of rules to live by, that there is no Grand Poobah who we follow/worship/give praise to or that speaks for us all as a collective. But it’s as if a general consensus of willful ignorance has been adopted by the majority who want to believe that we operate like a religion, so that we too can be held accountable in the same way that we expect of their belief systems. Sorry, but you don’t get to determine what it is we/I stand for or believe in. It just doesn’t work like that.

Atheism-isn´t-a-religion.-Its-a-personal-relationship-with-reality1

Now a lot is being bandied about as to whether or not the actions of Craig Hicks on that day can be considered as a hate crime, with a huge amount of attention being paid to his Facebook page, where he posted and shared a lot of atheist memes. At first I was quite interested to see for myself, just what exactly his Facebook page did say, so I spent a good hour or so, trawling back through everything he’d posted over the past three years. What did I find? Well… nothing particularly out of the ordinary as far as the atheist content goes. A lot of the memes he had on there were exactly the kind of thing you’d find on my Facebook or Twitter pages. As has been pointed out time and again, yes there was a post regarding a handheld gun & holster, but lets be honest, if you’re going to make owning guns legal in your country, you’d better be ready to see a bunch of people posting pics of their favourite piece, here every so often.

But in response to the allegation that this guy was some kind of bigot who had killed his neighbours because of their religious inclinations, I found more posts suggesting the exact opposite. Posts about equality for same-sex marriage, for women’s rights, posts about seeing an end to racist attitudes and even a post which fully supported the rights of the Muslim community of New York, in their bid to build a mosque two blocks away from the Ground Zero site. The only thing setting this guy’s Facebook postings apart from mine, were the couple where he posted about his guns. I’m completely anti-gun and not just because I live in Britain. And so i thought about taking to time to copy and paste a few of his posts here to show how I really didn’t think that this guy’s actions could be considered a hate-crime. Because if half the world is trying to use the fact that he posted a lot of atheist memes, to denigrate and tar all atheists with the same brush, well, surely it made sense to look at whatever else he was fond of posting to get a better idea of how the guy thought.

But then I realised: It doesn’t actually matter if Craig Hicks was motivated to commit a hate crime because of the way he may or may not have felt about his neighbours. I mean, sure it matters to the victims’ families, the police and the authorities who are responsible for trying to figure out motive and motivation; but it really doesn’t matter one iota to me.

Why?

Because I have no reason to care about this man at all. He is nothing to do with me. We’re not related, we don’t live on the same street, he didn’t harm anyone directly connected to me. What he did was heinous enough without me needing to clarify his motivation for having done it. If I start to try and defend the guy and pick apart his online life as a way of somehow mitigating the actions of someone who just happens to have the same lack of a belief in god as me, then I’m falling into that same trap that everyone else in the mainstream and social media. Craig Hicks does not represent me. Nor does he represent ANY other atheist. In the same way that I don’t represent any other people who don’t believe in ghosts, or who happen to really love fountain pens.

There is NO atheist ideology that we all adhere to. There is no creed that Craig Hicks has disobeyed or dishonored. By committing such an atrocity, he has destroyed the lives of three innocent, young people and in doing so, set himself apart from the majority of the rest of the human race. But he isn’t about to be thrown out of any club for his actions. Dawkins, Dennet, Harris, Grayling, Krauss, Boghossian & Degrasse Tyson, aren’t all going to get together and vote for him to be ejected from some imaginary atheist fraternity. It just doesn’t work that way. Craig Hicks happened to be someone with no belief in any gods prior to him committing his crime and now as he sits in his prison cell, awaiting sentencing for said crimes, he remains an individual with no belief in any gods.

I think that all good intentions aside, fellow atheists in the public eye and on the internet, were too quick to jump to apologise for this man’s actions, in the wake of the burgeoning media attention around his alleged lack of beliefs. This was not Charlie Hebdo in reverse. This was not something that required a group of people united in belief, to come together and defend their position, because Craig Hicks’ actions didn’t actually contradict or contravene any code, creed or belief system.

Atheism+is+not+how+I+live

It’s hard for a lot of people to be an atheist in many countries across the world, so when stories like this hit the news, it can feel like any progress we’ve made towards being viewed with less hostility, just evaporates in the wake of sensationalist headlines. But whilst getting to know other atheists online via Twitter, Facebook, You Tube or an online forum might help to bring like minded people together for support (especially for those living in the US Bible Belt, Middle East or other heavily religious countries) what we refer to sometimes as an ‘atheist community’ isn’t actually a congregation made up of people all following the same rules or expressing the same views, by any stretch of the imagination. The only thing we have in common really, is that we all have no belief in any gods. Yes, there seems to be a greater number of people in the ‘atheist community’ who would consider themselves skeptics, rational and scientifically minded, but that generally just happens to be the kind of people who are more likely to question something as absurd and fantastical as some divine creator and the subsequent holy books ascribed to his word.

But having an interest in science, philosophy, theology or the historicity of any religion is not a requirement for being an atheist. You either believe in a god, or you don’t. Everything else is just down to personal preference. We’re not trying to be the perfect cookie-cutter example of any particular ideal. We may share some similar views, but they’re by no means a requirement. We atheists come from every walk of life. From every part of the world, every social class, every race, gender, age, sexuality, political leaning and any other demographic you can think of. We may identify strongly as being atheists, but being an atheist does not determine who we are or what we stand for. So for anyone to dare suggest, to me or any other atheist, that we should associate with, stand for or apologise for the actions of Craig Hicks, a week ago today, pisses me off more than you can probably imagine.

I am sorry that three beautiful, brilliant, intelligent young people had their lives cut short by this devastating crime and my heart goes out to their parents who I feel have shown great dignity and strength in what must be the most difficult time of their lives. My opinion here is in no way intended as any form of disrespect towards them in their time of grief. I feel sorry for them, but I cannot say sorry on behalf of the perpetrator, or some imagined group people believe he belonged to. I did not pull the trigger that day. i did not know Craig Hicks before he murdered his victims and I have absolutely nothing to do with that man and whatever it is that may have motivated him. I am not Craig Hicks. I am not a murderer and I have nothing to apologise for. So as contentious as it may seem, I’m afraid that this atheist, for one, will not be apologising.

#SorryNotSorry