Friday, July 14, 2006

Off with their heads!

There has been a lot of focus in the media about the 'cash for peerages' scandal following the arrest of Lord Levy.

But two questions have been bothering me.

(1) Why is a Labour government embroiled in this discredited social system at all?

The more cynical among us might note dryly that peerages are a corrupt system, so it's only logical that they be further corrupted.

In fact, shouldn't we have swept the aristocracy away by now - liberté, fraternité, égalité-style?

Now, some might argue that the modern peerage is just a glorified Noddy badge for services to the country - a nod and a nice new woggle for your cub's uniform.

But that leads me to my second question.

(2) Why, if it is just a bit of recognition for a job well done, are people willing to pay up for a peerage?

The answer seems obvious to me. There must be social and financial rewards (in whatever round-about way) that accompany the 'honour' that are well worth paying up for - if you can afford it, of course. It's an investment - in the narrowest financial sense too. It's also an opportunity to lord over us all from a seat in the undemocratic and unelected House of Lords.

A Labour government should be moving to dismantle the aristocracy, not touting for new recruits.

That a Labour government could see peerages as a state asset to be eBayed off to boost the party coffers, is - needless to say - an even bigger scandal. A new peer gets social status and a permanent say in the political affairs of the country, but the party - rather than the society to which the new peer is responsible - acrues all the reciprocal benefits from the transaction. It's despicable. It makes me think that like vehicle registrations and TV licenses, peerages (while we're stuck with them) should be subject to an annual renewal fee!

Of course, it can't be long before government spin doctors claim that this was a move to aid class mobility (you've gotta start somewhere, right?) and also a means to boost the left-leaning contingent in the HoL so that in future noble moves like banning fox hunting and repealing of Section 28 will go more smoothly.

This government promised Lords reform. Is this their best effort?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Embracing Yehuda Levin

An American rabbi, Yehuda Levin (of the radical Meshugina sect) has promised violence if World Pride goes ahead in Jerusalem.

"I promise there's going to be bloodshed -- not just on that day, but for months afterward. In America, we are outraged and disgusted over this event. There are millions of people who, with their bodies, souls and money, will stand against this..." said the rabbi.

Despite my disagreement with Rabbi Levin's sentiments, I feel that we should not unequivocally condemn him for the following reasons.

(1) I must maintain dialogue with representatives of the World's Great Religions (TM).

(2) As a rabbi, he is a respected authority on theological issues.

(3) Jews are a persecuted minority and as such, condemnation of Rabbi Levin will only contribute to a rising tide of antisemitism.

(4) There are many references to bloodletting in the Torah, so we cannot know that the rabbi is speaking literally.

(5) The source for the story is a "gay" website, so it is naturally biased.

(6) Rabbinical scholars disagree on the precise course of action. Some believe simply that "we must do everything to banish this disgrace from the Holy city.” There is thus a wide range of opinion.

(7) Rabbi Levin was quoted selectively: note the use of ellipses in the extract above.

(8) Many leaders of all the World's Great Religions (TM) hold similar views. (cf. Fred Phelps and Yussuf Qaradawi).

(9) Rabbi Levin is constrained by the tenets of his religion and thus cannot be seen to contradict orthodox theology. We do not know what his private views are.

(10) I'm completely off my rocker.