Archive for the ‘Free Speech’ Category
Is this Going to Work in France? Really?
France’s National Assembly has just voted today to penalise the clients of prostitutes.
With 268 votes against 138 a law, which will make a customer of Prostitutes liable to a fine of 1 500 euros (stiffly increased for a second offence) will now go to the Senate before becoming law.
The legislation will also cover Internet sites, hosted in France, or in other countries.
In France, the law currently states that prostitution is legal, although brothels, poncing, and soliciting sex are not. The law will abolish the offence of ‘racollage’ touting for sex.
Minister for women’s rights Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, who has pushed for the reform, argues that prostitution in any form is unacceptable and has said the aim of President François Hollande’s Socialist government was to suppress the trade altogether.
Proponents of the reform point to a rise in human trafficking as a key reason for more restrictive legislation. Some 90 percent of France’s estimated 20,000 to 40,000 prostitutes are victims of Nigerian, Chinese and Romanian trafficking networks, the government says.
Those figures represent a dramatic jump from just over a decade ago, when only one in five prostitutes was foreign.
But the proposed reforms have prompted street protests, and some prostitutes say the law will rob them of their livelihoods.
Government ministers, including Interior Minister Manuel Valls, have also expressed reservations about being able to apply the law as it stands. Hollande’s Green coalition allies voted against the reform, as did the opposition centre-right UMP members.
If the debate on France’s elected Left has been largely consensual – from the Front de Gauche to the Parti Socialiste a majority have backed the legislation, this has been far from the case amongst feminists and social movement activists.
Respected feminist, philosopher and activist, Elisabeth Badinter has declared that it is not right for the “state to legislate on the sexual activity of individuals.”
This ‘penalisation’ is prohibition. I prefer to speak of prohibition rather than abolitionishing protstitution, because that is the objective l of the authors of the bill. They comprae their legislation to the abolition of slavery! But the sale of an individual is not comparable to prostitution , which is a provision of the body for sexual purposes.
A person may accept or reject this sale, if, that is, they are not entrapped by a ‘network’ (by a criminal gang AC). The argument is that we must we must dry up the demand for sexual services so that that there is no more supply.
I do find it normal that the new legislation allows women to be prostitutes, but the law will prohibit men to make use of their services. This is not consistent and it is unfair.
The second reason for my opposition is that they claim that there is the prostitution is dominated by networks, in which women are placed in situations where they cannot say no. But amongst prostitutes there are those who are independent and casual, who practice this in order to make some extra money.
The ban – in effect to do what women want with their bodies – would be a step backwards from one of the important achievements of feminism. That is the struggle for women top do what they like their bodies. This applies, even if it is a minority of women.
It is not a matter of quantity but of principle. (Le Monde)
By contrast Caroline Fourrest has argued that there is little “choice” involved in Prostitution, nor more than for women who “choose” to wear the symbol of oppression, the veil. She perhaps does not help matters by asserting that those defending prostitutes rights are often those who back reactionary Islamists. But her main point is that issues of power are involved.
There are a host of other arguments, about the safety of sex workers, the risks that the law will drive them into clandestine lives, and the view that prostitution will simply not be ‘abolished’.
For those concerned with this debate the pages in le Monde, notably, the dossier, Une nouvelle guerre des féminismes ? (which appeared at the end of last week) are essential reading.
Ali G Discourses with Richard Seymour, and Laurie Penny.
Our old comrade Richard Seymour and Laurie ‘Penny Red’ have been well fit getting down on this with guest, Mr Ali G.
Extracts from A discourse on brocialism
On Russell Brand, iconoclasm, and a woman’s place in the revolution: a dialogue with Richard Seymour and Ali G on the question of how to reconcile the fact that people need stirring up with the fact that the people doing the stirring so often fall down when it comes to treating women and girls like human beings.
Richard Seymour. To an extent, he genderfucks, he queers masculinity. He has his hair as a beautiful bird’s nest, and wears eyeliner. His comportment is very ‘effeminate’ in some ways. Part of his attractiveness, then, is that for all his sexual swagger and rigorous self-objectification, he isn’t conventionally ‘manly’.
Laurie Penny. I’d like to say, first off that there are many things apart from the hair and cheekbones that I admire about Brand. He’s a damn fine prose stylist, and that matters to me. He uses language artfully without appearing to patronise, something most of the left has yet to get the hang of. He touches on a species of directionless rage against capitalism and its discontents that knows very well what it’s against without having a clear idea yet of what comes next, and being a comedian he is bound by no loyalty except to populism.
Ali G. Crack cocaine iz destroyin’ our community, so when a bruva makes it through, he deserves our respect. So, let’s big it up for me main man Brand, who has been off da crack now for eight years!
Richard Seymour. So, in place of a unity in which the oppressed preserve a tactful silence, we need a complex unity, a unity-in-difference. This is what ‘intersectionality’ means to me. It is the only strategy that will work. We aren’t asking too much; we’re demanding the bare minimum that is necessary for success.
Ali G. You wanna know ‘ow I make diz country bettah? Iz simple, two words: keep it real!
Laurie Penny. That’s three words!
Ali G. Don’t be a spannah, it ain’t a real word. It’s short for innit, innit?
Richard Seymour My experience is that ‘brocialists’ don’t openly embrace patriarchy; they deny it’s a problem. Or they minimise it. They direct your attention elsewhere: you should be focusing on class. You’re being divisive. You’re just middle class (quelle horreur!).
Ali G. Me woz born in da heart off da Staines ghetto. Me woz failed by da skool system and hated every minute me spent in da classroom. In fact added together, dat time woz probly da most borin 3 hours of me life – altho me do still go to a skool re-union every second Monday at Staines Job Centre… As well as bein unemployed – i iz also got a lot off well important careers. As head of Da West Staines Massive, me control da most peace lovin and violent gang in da hole of Barkshire.
Richard Seymour. The system of patriarchy has a lot of material compensations and advantages to offer those who accept it and identify with it. To me, the rape jokes and misogynistic language – all this is straightforward symbolic violence, ascriptive denigration, and obviously linked to punishment for transgression. Whether knowingly or not, it’s an occasion for male bonding – the ’naughty’ laughter – and the production of a type of masculinity. It’s the exercise of a ‘privilege’ of patriarchy. Of course, not all men like or want such ‘privilege’. But for it to be effective, quite a large number of men and women have to accept its basic inevitability, its naturalness.
Ali G. Do you think all girls should try feminism at least once? ”
Richard Seymour. I think organisations on the Left should have explicitly organised caucuses of women, of LGBTQ people, of black people, and so on – and these caucuses should have real authority, they shouldn’t just be debating societies where issues that are ‘inconvenient’ can be hived off. They should make policy.
Ali G. If this talk teach you anything, it should teach you how to respek everyone: animals, children, bitches, spazmos, mingers, lezzers, fatty boombahs, and even gaylords. So, to all you lot watching this, but mainly to the normal people, respek. West side.
Richard Seymour. You get this weird thing with many brocialists (I think this is true of Brand to an extent) who are clearly hurt by dominant norms of ‘masculinity’, and who resist it to an extent. And yet they still basically identify with patriarchy at some level, they still enjoy its brutality – the rape jokes, for example. yet they still basically identify with patriarchy at some level, they still enjoy its brutality – the rape jokes, for example.
Laurie Penny. That’s the issue that I’ve seen raised time and again when it comes to powerful men within movements and sexism or sexual violence, or to matters of fair representation, often by those seeking to defend or excuse the violence, but not always
Ali G. But what harm has violence ever done?
Laurie Penny. Oh… death!
Ali G. Yeah, but apart from that.
Frère Tariq Feels Qualified to Give Orwell Lecture.
This year’s Orwell Lecture will be given by Professor Tariq Ramadan of Oxford University on ‘Democratising the Middle East: A New Role for the West’ on the evening of Tuesday 12th November. The event will take place at the new venue of University College London.
More information here.
Here are some extracts from our posts about frère Tariq,
Ramadan’s inability to adopt secular values has come to the fore, as the Flight notes, in his tortuous calls for a “moratorium “ on the most severe Sharia punishments, the “huddud” – the death penalty for apostasy, the stoning of adulterers, the amputation of the limbs of thieves, and other ‘laws’.
That is before we go further into different Islamic ‘legal schools’ and their versions of these and the vengeance of the Muslim talion. The fact that women and non-Muslims count for less than Muslim men in these religious ‘courts’ casts doubt on the credentials of anyone who considers them just. There is no equality before the law in Islamic ‘jurisprudence’.
This came to a head on French television in 2003. The future French president, Nicolas Sarkozy confronted the future Oxford Don. Ramadan refused to condemn these punishments, specifically on stoning miscreant women, arguing that a “consensus” amongst scholars and the Muslim community had to be reached on the subject before anything more than a temporary halt could be called for.
Ramadan simply would not denounce stoning outright. We could then see, “The whole panorama of Muslim women’s oppression suddenly deployed across the television screens of France…”(Ibid) (Post: 2011)
Review. What I Believe. Tariq Ramadan. Oxford University Press. 2009. (Post 2009)
Tariq Ramadan is a “controversial intellectual”. He faces “many-sided opposition”. The soft-spoken supporter of “solidarity, human dignity, and justice” is accused of “doublespeak”. “Criticisms first of (and mainly in) France, then taken up by some French loving groups of some ideological currents, have built up a haze of controversy around me and my commitment.” He asks, “What are the “ideological and/or interests” of these groups?” Not too savoury, as we shall see. He, by contrast, tries to “build bridges between two universes of reference”, “Western and Islamic ‘civilisations’” “and “between citizens within Western societies themselves”.
The book’s contribution to this “process of mediation”? It’s an “opportunity to read me in the original and simply get direct access to my thought”. To show that we “share many common principles and values”. That it is possible to ‘live together’” (all liberal English Anglian inverted commas Ramadan’s). That he belongs to a “reformist trend” within Islam. Which is? A “great and noble religion.”
To counter this, he claims, the religion’s contribution deserves a larger place in the culture. Revised syllabi, he argues, may help. There needs more mention of Muslim thinkers, from al-Kindî (ninth century), al-Ghazâlî (twelfth century) to Ibn Khaldûm (fourteenth century) To rival no doubt the attention already given in Europe’s school trivium to Thomas Aquinas, Dun Scotus, and Anselm of Canterbury.
That in “my Sharia” “all the laws that protect human life and dignity, promote justice and equality, enforce respect of Nature, and so on” are part of the “way to faithfulness to Islam’s objectives”. Take what is true to this, and, as for the rest, well we are not sure. Applied to law and jurisprudence he argues for “radical reform”. Of what? There are plenty of ‘controversial’ parts of the Sharia, throughout all the different schools of Islamic ‘law’. Quite a few subjects for a would-be reformer. Including the Hudud ‘claims of God’ – punishments against Theft, Highway Robbery, Extra-Martial Sex, Apostasy and so on.
These – applied in many countries under what at least some scholars call the Sharia (many with as strong qualifications as Ramadan) are renowned for what we shall call in non-clericalese, obscenity and brutality.
The laws categorised as Qisas, “eye for an eye” – (the law of the Talion) are not mild either. In these what exactly is a matter of custom, tradition, and of divine law?
Sometimes a particularly weaselly attempt is made to say that the Sharia will only really exist in a ‘pure’ Islamic society, with no penalties being carried out – presumably as there will be no theft, no sexual impropriety, no unbelief, and indeed no crime whatsoever.
Ramadan does not provide an answer to how to separate custom from divine legislation. More modestly he once made a call for a ‘moratorium’ (not abolition) on many of the harshest Islamic penalties.
This request doesn’t get a mention here. The idea was dropped without support. What happened on the Way? Did it not shine a light on Ramadan’s reforming path that others may follow? What are his proposals now?
Tariq Ramadan, faces a new crisis (here). This time it’s in Holland. (Post 2009)
Ramadan is employed part-time as an Adviser by Rotterdam City Council. His role is to ’stimulate discussion” on immigration and to ’build bridges’ with the Dutch Muslim community. At the pay of 27 500 Euros a year he does two days a month work, has produced two reports and has led some public debates. This adds to Ramadan’s active presence in various guises across the world: in France, Switzerland, and elsewhere. Which includes the United Kingdom where he has an academic reputation, and is fêted by Conservatives, New Labour, multi-culturalists and Islamophiles alike.
According to Le Monde this week Ramadan stands accused by the magazine Gay Krant of homophobic and sexist comments.
Ramadan aurait déclaré que l’islam prohibait l’homosexualité, laquelle serait “un dérangement, un dysfonctionnement, un déséquilibre”. “Dieu a fixé une norme qui veut qu’un homme soit destiné à une femme et une femme à un homme”, aurait aussi indiqué le philosophe.
Ramadan is alleged to have declared that Islam prohibits homosexuality, which is ‘a disorder, a disequilibrium, a disfunction’. He is also said to have declared that ‘God has fixed a norm that means a man is intended for a woman, and a woman for a man’.
Regarding women’s public appearance he recommended that they take less care of their appearance, and behave with modesty (soberly). In the street, they should “garder toujours les yeux fixés sur le bitume” (keep their eyes fixed on the pavement).
Reactions to these reported remarks have hit Rotterdam Council. An enquiry has been launched. The comments are alternatively denied or considered taken “out of context”. The Islamist has been defended by the Green Party, whose Rik Grashof holds the portfolio of Integration. He has declared that even if Ramadan is opposed to homosexuality he gives priority to “respect for people.”
In France long-standing secular critics of Ramadan place these remarks in context (here). Caroline Fourrest remarks that ’Brother Tariq’, praised as a religious progressive, has more in common with Jerry Falwell than Martin Luther King. In brief his comments are par for the course. While the Council has (here) apparently ‘exornerated’ Ramadan, the controversy rumbles on.
BBC Four’s Storyville documentary about Pussy Riot, the Russian feminist punk group, and founders of a new feminist movement, was extraordinary.
AS Wikipedia describes them, “they stage unauthorized provocative guerrilla performances in unusual public locations, which are edited into music videos and posted on the Internet. Their lyrical themes include feminism, LGBT rights, opposition to the policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom they regard as a dictator, and links between the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church and Putin.”
“Art is not a mirror to reflect the world, but a hammer with which to shape it” ran the Bertolt Brecht quote at the programme start.” notes the Telegraph reviewer.
They also cited Guy Debord.
The great merit of the documentary was that it showed the strength of their movement, their personal courage, and their ideas without forgetting some of the doubts people may have about their actions.
The film makers pointed out that the very Cathedral where they staged their most famous protest (Cathedral of Christ the Saviour (Russian: Храм Христа Спасителя, Khram Khrista Spasitelya) was demonilished on 5 December 1931, by order of Stalin’s minister Kaganovich, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was dynamited and reduced to rubble.
It was rebuilt long after the Soviet era, in the 1990s.
That the believers come in different kinds, and that they have rights too.
At a time when Christians are under physical attack in many lands, we should not forget this.
Human rights have no exceptions, none.
Free Pussy Riot!
Ben says, “I have perter bum than Coatesey”.
Tendance Coatesy presents the ‘Alternative View’ by Ipswich MP Ben Gummer.
“I would like to thank my good friend Andrew Coates for giving me this space to express myself.
God (and he alone) knows it’s hard to get an airing in the Bolshevik local press.
Well there’s been a lot of controversy in Ipswich about Zionism.
Plucky leading local Conservative Kevin Kevin Algar has rightly brought the ‘Zionist domination of the media’ to our attention.
His views on the ‘Zionist’ threat are not alone!
On another side we are pleased to announce that, as part of our equal opportunities programme, that we now employ a Mz Toolidays as our charlady.
She has an excellent background, Green Party, Labour Party and the Sparticist League.
And , forgive me for mentioning this Andy, my bottom is a lot perter than yours!”
Important Update: I am offended. I am offended that Comrade Coates didn’t have the courtesy to give me a ping back like this one. If he’s going to insult me, he can at least draw the insult to my attention.