Dec 032012
 

Ordinarily, I post these as they are … this time, I need to pass comment. For reasons which I understand, though with which I vehemently disagree, the editors of Gscene chose not to publish my article as originally submitted, even after having requested substantiation of my comments and claims. While they are understandably hesitant to invite legal challenge, I care not. Therefore, I present the original text I submitted, along with the actual published article, with particular attention being drawn to my paragraph relating to the “roman catholic church” – which I did not capitalise for a reason, the content of which has been diluted so far that it’s practically homeopathic and which offends me in its insipidness, and also to the paragraph regarding islam, again neutered like a bad dog, and this time edited so that it no longer even makes sense!

 

 

Canada Dry

And so man* created gods in his image. Unfortunately, that image is a jealous, violent, ill-educated, petty, belligerent, cruel and evil one. Not the better angels of our nature by any means.

Am I being unfair? Intemperate? I don’t think so … I can think of nothing that has caused more misery, suffering, hatred, distress, death or disfigurement in the whole of human history. Religion has – not just permitted, but – required; slavery, objectification of women, vilification of those of other or no religion, wars of aggression, loathing, ethnic cleansing, beating and murder of homosexuals, beating and subjugation of children, racism, cruel – nay criminal – mutilation of genitalia, xenophobia … the list is practically endless. No other aberration of reason and humanity can make such expansive and loathsome claims.

Born in the time of our utter ignorance of everything, offering facile (and fraudulent) claims to answer the difficult questions of existence, presenting false, shallow solace to those who are in pain, salving the pricked ego of those who’ve considered the possibility of “no more me”, religion has absolutely nothing going for it, save vague concepts of tradition, comfort and respect.

The leader of the roman catholic church is the criminal head of the world’s largest paedophile ring and protection racket; it’s only the mantle of religion, claiming as it does incomparable privilege and exemptions, which prevents this vile subhuman monster facing the punishment for his decades of crimes against humanity.

Those of the muslim faith, calling for the death of (admittedly rather bad) filmmakers and their supporters, stoning gays, throwing acid into the faces of women – nay, girls – “suspected” of looking at men in the “wrong” way, baying for the death of people who do nothing more than draw pictures, wallowing in their sheer pig-ignorance; were it not for the “shield of faith” which requires we respect their beliefs, they’d be viewed for what they are – barely more than animals.

In the USA, otherwise normal Americans who shoot and kill doctors in the name of the sanctity of life, previously loving parents who throw out their own children as being “better dead than gay”, a credible candidate for the Presidency who believes in magic underwear and that Native Americans are a lost tribe of Israel (while an atheist is nigh unelectable); these bizarre, illogical conditions couldn’t exist absent the entrenched, privileged position of religion!

The litany is near endless. Religion makes its hay by valuing and prizing ignorance, eschewing reason and the search for knowledge, refusing to acknowledge that it is a world view, and making pseudo-factual claims about, well, everything and that as such it should be subject to the same evaluation of the evidence as any other such world view. Those of us who adhere to the view that, actually, no, if you believe in the power of intercessory prayer, or that the mind is separate from the brain, or that there is a “part” of you which continues after death, or that evolution is inaccurate, or that the earth is about 6,000 years old, then such beliefs should be challengeable (and challenged!) and tested are told that we are being disrespectful.

Why, yes. Yes, yes we are. Utterly disrespectful. So … what? I suffer at the hands of the brainless being disrespectful towards me; I’m a gay atheist – while there are certainly groups who suffer more disrespect, nonetheless I receive more than sufficient denigration from the religious. Which is their right; I may – and of course do – disagree with their beliefs and attitudes, but their right to hold their pernicious, antediluvian views is something I hold nearly sacred. As is my right to challenge it. Why the road doesn’t run two ways, I do not understand.

Or, perhaps I do. My views stand up to scrutiny, and I am able to defend them using logic; the corollary being that I will change my views if the evidence requires it. The views of the religious are nothing more than wishes and hopes, will o’ the wisp fantasies, castles of credulity, precariously balanced upon foundations of faith. As such, there are no arguments which can reasonably be brought to bear. There is no logical recourse for faith, belief, religion.

Perhaps the greatest mind of recent time speaking on the issue of religion and its maleficent influence in and on the world was, now sadly the late, Christopher Hitchens. A couple of his quotes may serve in a few words to state what I’ve tried to say in many:

“I am absolutely convinced that the main source of hatred in the world is religion, and organised religion.”

“Religion is man-made. Even the men who made it cannot agree on what their prophets or redeemers or gurus actually said or did.”

“Take the risk of thinking for yourself, much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way.”

My own modest attempt at a pithy epithet: “Religion is the single greatest crime we have committed against ourselves.

 

So, to conclude, no, “jesus” most assuredly does not have a place in my heart, and religion can take a long walk of a non-existent pier; you can take “christmas” and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine; I’ll see my family around that time, because it’s nice to do so, and let’s face it, there’s nothing else to do anyway. But, religion?  Keep the fairy tales for the children, and let’s all grow the fuck up.

*Sexist pronoun excused on basis of poetic requirement.

 

 

 

 

 GScene - December 2012 - Canada Dry - Religion

 

Nov 182012
 

I highly recommend you pop over to “Inside Greg’s Brain” and have a read. It belongs to my friend Greg Cox, and he’s a lovely young chap; intelligent, educated – and striving to be more so – interested in the world in a variety of aspects and with a range of things to say on a variety of topics.

If that’s not enough, he’s also very cute, and soon to get braces . . .

Aug 272011
 

 

Another year, another Pride parade / day / party / celebration / farrago / fiasco …

 

Didn’t it all used to be so much simpler? I remember just five years ago, living in London at the time, it was a foregone conclusion that I, along with a selection of my closest friends, would be waking FAR too early on the Saturday in question, hopping on an-overflowing-with-gays train (plus the obligatory, sole, confused pensioner who had NO idea what was going on!) and sallying forth to London-sur-mer for the day’s festivities. Fifty-five minutes – and usually a couple of cocktails – later, we would have arrived, and the day would be glorious; from the practically guaranteed perfect Summer’s day, to the atmosphere of ribald mirth and cheerful fun, to the selection of music, entertainment and even shopping. What more could a poof desire?!

 

Now, however, the sheen seems to have gone. The last two years have beendisappointing. Whether itdue to the less-than-spectacular weather, or the media attention which seemed to presage failure, or possibly my familiarity with the city breeding contempt, donknow. Perhaps Isimply getting older growing up, and standing around in field for 4 hours isnmy thing anymore.

 

Actually, that never was my thing; I was born middle-aged and never really took to the joys of youth. (Youths, yes; youth, no!)

 

Nonetheless, something about the atmosphere of Brighton Pride always managed to help me overlook that and enjoy myself, ravening hordes and barking dogs notwithstanding!

 

So, I’m left pondering the question posed – what sort of Pride would I like this year? Successful, yes, though how you define that may as well be the same question, differently framed!

 

Do I want the parade? Yes – though I often miss it, alcohol NOT being to blame for this, I still value it as a reminder of why we have Pride in the first place!

 

What of the park? To my mind, it’s scarcely conceivable that Pride might happen without the celebration culminating in the park! My experience, as the travelling Londoner, was always and entirely at the park, the two ideas being inseperable in my thoughts! I realise others feel differently; they should get their own columns!

 

And what of the the week of community events leading up to the “big day”? I must confess, they rarely impinge upon my thoughts – I could for myself happily see them fall by the wayside. However, they’re not really up for discussion in the way that other, more obvious targets are; they’re not some monolithic entity, which stands or falls as one. Even if more than half of these events folded, others would remain and still more rise up to take their places. They neither operate under, nor require, the formal approval of Pride.

 

Let’s just keep it simple, shall we? Parade, Park, Party. No more politicking, sniping or in-fighting in the community – we’re going to face enough enemies without in the years to come, without fighting the enemies within! 


Aug 062011
 

Content from my post at  Zhoosh:

Well, Pride gets you thinking about various things … giving back to the community … and looking good on the day!

Well, I’ve probably left it a little late for the second part of that, given it’s a week (ish) away now, but the impetus to look good … or be healthier, is still there.

The Goal

So, I’ve decided to try to lose 20kg, and since I’ve been so pathetic at losing weight in the past, I’m using sponsorship, ie the pressure of others, to motivate me more.

You can click through to my sponsorship page at http://www.justgiving.com/Adam-Highway – and I’d appreciate it if you did!

I will be updating the site as I go to keep track of my progress (optimism lives!).

The Cause

The charity I’ve selected to raise money for is the Sussex Beacon.

Please read more about their current appeal on their website, where you will see that it costs £3,000 per day for the running of their medical Inpatient Unit – just one part of the whole organisation! (Even if you help me reach my goal, there will still be £2,500 left to raise on that day alone!!)

As the appeal says, please be a “Beacon Hero” … with annual running costs of £1.1 million, the Beacon needs to raise £150,000 NOW to keep the Inpatient Unit open!

Please, whether you donate through my particular page, or choose to make a regular donation to the Beacon directly, give something!

About the Charity

You can read more about the Sussex Beacon’s various services, including Anxiety Management, Day Services, Inpatient Unit, Mindful Living, Pathways to Change, Positive Choices, Sleep Service and Women & Families Services, on their website.

You can read more about the Breacon’s activities in their newsletters.

 

 

http://blog.zhooshbrighton.co.uk/2011/08/08/sussex-beacon-fundraising/

Jul 132010
 

Part One …

There are a great many places in Brighton and Hove to eat, that are fabulous, serve excellent food, great service, good value … but where’s the fun in that? So, this is the first in – hopefully – a series of reviews of the terrible, disastrous, cock-ups!

Piccolo Restaurant

We were wandering around, looking for somewhere for a quick lunch, and came across Piccolo’s Restaurant, which seemed like a great deal – a little cheaper than the place next door, good selection of pizzas, in we went. I wish the write-up on their site were true; “The premier Italian restaurant in the heart of Brighton town centre, Piccolo is one of Brighton´s best-kept secrets.”

Perhaps the second part IS in fact true … if it weren’t a secret, it would surely have gone out of business by now!

I ordered a four cheese pizza; Wouter ordered a vegetarian. We ordered a half bottle of wine between us. The wine came, was opened, poured and the (inattentive) waiter buggered off again, without any chance for us to try it; probably intentionally, since the wine – while not corked – was only slightly better than a nice malt vinegar. Yum.

However, we were still optimistically waiting for our pizzas. What a shame …

The pizzas were about 25% smaller in diameter than every other Italian restaurant I’ve ever visited … so, a false economy there already. Still, perhaps the taste would prove worth it.

Oh dear …

The bases were, essentially, dry biscuits! The tomato sauce … was red, but, flavourless. Thin, watery, bland and tasteless.

And my four cheeses … two were visible, one was mozzarella and the other was … PROCESSED CHEESE! Truly awful. Wouter suffered through a bland, tasteless concoction of mushy vegetables, crappy sauce and pointless “cheese”.

Bottom line; don’t go.

May 012010
 
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me.”
Doubtless many of us were told to recite this to ward of the nefarious attentions of attentions of taunting classmates. If only the mantra were true! Sadly, as all of us now know, often it’s words that cut the deepest and leave the nastiest scars.
Personally, I have been gay bashed in the past – a fairly horrific, painful and upsetting experience. But, an experience with which I’ve been able to deal, and move on. A physical assault is direct, up front and – in its own way – honest. To me, bullying is something different, nastier … more insipid and hidden. Its effects less immediately obvious perhaps, but painful nonetheless, and a pain which is cumulative. Rather than dealing with the pain and then moving on, the victim of a bully often relives the misery over and over, each time adding to the suffering.
As a nation, we seem finally to be waking up to the fact that it’s not “just” bullying, something which “everyone goes through” and that a stiff upper lip and Anglo-Saxon stoicism aren’t the answer to it all. This is a good thing, but it’s not enough.
It’s not overkill to repeat some familiar statistics – 51% of gay men and 30% of lesbians were bullied physically at school, compared with 47% and 20% of straights. Add to that the fact that 50% of LGB adults who have been bullied a school contemplated self-harm or suicide and 40% have made at least one attempt. The list could go on, but it’s not really necessary; they should be shocking enough. The distressing thing is that we’re not shocked by these facts any more. The familiar statistics are all too familiar. And familiarity can breed contempt, or at least, disinterest.
Why do we carry on this way? We should be in absolute uproar at the horrific conditions in which LGBT youth are still growing up – instead, we seem to laugh it off. After all, many of us lived through it … perhaps we don’t see why the next generations shouldn’t? But in that outlook, we’re overlooking both the impact that bullying has on the individuals involved, and the reinforcement of the implicit acceptability of homophobia to the general public.
Surely we ought to want to continue the trend of the world getting better for our community – our goal should really be to leave behind a world where the possibility of homophobic bullying simply doesn’t exist, as no-one could conveive of a reason for such bigotry. Dismiss it as a utopian, pie in the sky, dream if you wish – but as you do, remember that many of the rights we now hold and cherish, were equally unimaginable not so long ago. Many people still remember dreaming a dream not dissimilar to today, so why not dream?
Apr 072010
 
“How MUCH”!?
That’s the unfortunate reaction to a quote I received recently from a “green” moving company. Offset this, reduce that, blah blah blah … the bottom line was we couldn’t really afford to assuage our carbon footprint guilt when we considered all the other costs involved in moving.
But this led me to think, why do we care about our impact on the environment? After all, most of us don’t have kids, so there isn’t really a future generation for us to worry about directly. The “children’s children” argument is only ever going to be at least one degree of separation away from us.
So what do we have left? Selfless concern for others? Possibly, but more likely we do it to salve our collective consciences and make us feel slightly better about our rapacious greed. And as a result of being such good, and green, boys and girls, we are able to feel slightly smug and self-satisfied.
That on its own isn’t really incentive enough to make major decisions, though, is it? When my partner and I moved to Brighton originally from London almost two years ago, we were well aware that commuting by train for work was going to have an effect on our carbon footprint. For us to offset our annual 3.07 tonnes of carbon released as a result of this travel would cost £49 through “Certified Emissions Reduction”; not an earth-shattering sum, but it has to come from somewhere. So, having thought about offsetting, and meaning to get around to it some time, we … haven’t. Yet more good intentions with no impetus to follow through.
Of course, trains aren’t the bogeymen of public transport; in fact, they’re considered relatively green. The real moustache-twirling villain of the piece is the aeroplane or, more accurately, incredibly low airfares. Stupendously low. Ridiculously low!
When it costs more to travel to the airport than it does subsequently to fly off to sunnier climes, something must be a little skew-iff!
However, after over a half a century of easier and cheaper flights, there has developed a sense of entitlement to such opportunities for travel. A presumption, the denial of which would cause people to feel aggrieved, regardless of the fact that such possibilities are a relatively recent development, undreamt of in earlier generations. The vast majority of people feel they could no more do without their fortnight of fun in the sun than they could water, oxygen, food or, say, a double soya no foam decaf lattè.
So, how do we move forward, past indolence and indignation?
The only method certain to achieve its goals is to take away the responsibility from the individual, much as it may sit ill with the British psyche. A universal carbon tax, which reflects the true cost, is the answer. Hitting people’s wallets, and showing separately how much the carbon which their activities generate costs them in cold, hard cash, would be guaranteed to reduce emissions. After all, you’re less likely to make those unnecessary trips if you look at the price and think:
“How MUCH”!?
Mar 062010
 

Canada Dry, by Adam Highway

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
Bull.
Even the framers of that oft-quoted document didn’t really believe what they had written, or at least, not in the way that we today would. So what DOES equality actually mean? Is it a fluid, evolving, abstract thing, whose nature changes over time? Or is it an absolute, an ideal towards which we grope, blindly and optimistically? Are we destined always to live in some Orwellian dystopia, in which all are equal, but some are more equal than others?
Probably not, but it’s a thought!
Do we even want equality? After all, to be equal to is to be the same as something; perhaps we ought to strive rather for parity, or even more prosaically, fairness? Equity rather than equality? Or do we instead accept that equality has come to mean something other than its etymology would suggest, and that this is a commonly agreed and understood meaning? Probably the latter – after all, equality is also the goal between the sexes, though nobody is likely to consider men and women to be the same. (Unless very drunk!)
For my part, I know what I mean by equality. It means a world in which there is no country where it is illegal for my partner and me to share a bed. It means a world in which religious tolerance no longer means sexual intolerance. It means a world in which no person ever has to stop to think whether it is safe, before holding the hand of, or kissing, the person they love. It means a world in which, when Stephen Gately died, Jan Moir’s article, if even written, would have been regarded as, at best, the peddling of prurient and salacious gossip, and at worst as unacceptably insensitive, rude, inappropriate and utterly beyond the pale.
It means, I suppose, a world in which such well-intentioned documents as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the United States’ Bill of Rights, the United Kingdom’s Equality Act and the European Convention on Human Rights are considered outdated.
Equality will finally come when we no longer need anti-discrimination legislation, because the attitudes which they exist to combat have become archaic, and utterly unimaginable.
Equality isn’t being told that you can’t think, say or do something “wrong”. Equality is when nobody would even want to think, say or do that something in the first place.

——————————–

From http://www.gscene.com/ – March 2010

Canada Dry March 2010

Feb 262010
 

Well, ok, it’s not ACTUALLY our birthday, but I just noticed that it was a this month last year that we first put our site online, and became adamandwouter rather than Adam and Wouter; an eventful year in many ways, and one which flew by in others. Strange and sad occurrences, and some good things too. I know this sort of retrospective is more common either at new year or on an actual birthday, but sod it, it’s my website! :p