Ridiculous political correctness and other human stupidity

Today I just seemed to keep running into examples of human stupidity. This morning P. showed me an article on the site of De Morgen about the current climate of ridiculous political correctness in the UK. Wide-ranging laws against anything that anyone might find ‘offensive’ mean that (according to Terry Jones of Monty Python fame) the film Life of Brian could never have been made nowadays. (more…)


Being Charlie – some thoughts on symbols, insults and emotions

Thursday 8 January 2015

As I passed the pharmacy on the way into the shopping centre this morning I saw a girl who had just come out and was sticking up a photocopied “Je suis Charlie” sign on the wall; every website and newspaper has been carrying that message since yesterday and it’s been tweeted millions of times all over the world. I very much suspect that most of the people saying that ‘they are Charlie’ have never even read Charlie Hebdo (just as I haven’t). I found myself getting annoyed today, mainly because of what had actually happened in Paris yesterday – that anyone could be so crazy as to actually kill someone because he felt ‘insulted’, either personally or on behalf of ‘the prophet’ – but also because of all this “Je suis Charlie” stuff. Those murders had been committed by people suffering from the illusion that symbols are important, and the reaction was yet more symbols. If people didn’t take symbols so seriously then they wouldn’t be so easily insulted, people wouldn’t get murdered and other people wouldn’t have to waste their time and energy making yet more symbolic gestures. These are not the sort of thoughts I feel I could really share with the people in my local shopping centre – I doubt if many would understand. (more…)

Ari Shavit : My Promised Land

Ari Shavit’s ‘My Promised Land’ was a very interesting read which inspired a lot of background research, and by the time I finished it I knew a lot more about Palestine, Israel, Zionism and the whole Middle Eastern conflict than I had done when I started. I’d been given this book by my friend H., who told me it had ‘opened his eyes’ about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and led him to his current strongly pro-Israeli position. Having now read it myself, I can’t quite understand why. Interesting though the book was, it did nothing to make me more sympathetic to Israel – quite the reverse, in fact… (more…)

Hannah Arendt

Considered as a cinematographic work of art, Margarethe von Trotta’s film Hannah Arendt is nothing special. It’s a pretty straightforward piece of story-telling, quite well made and very well acted by Barbara Sukowa. Interesting though Hannah Arendt was as a philosopher and as a person, it was still quite an achievement to make such a watchable film from this material: a German Jewish philosopher writes a book about the trial of a Nazi war criminal, thereby making herself very unpopular with the Jews (including lots of her friends) in New York and Israel – the end. The fact that the films succeeds as well as it does says a lot about the exceptional talents of both its director and its leading actress. (more…)