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Christians and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Read all my posts on this topic

Monday, January 25, 2010

Solidarity against intimidation

Stephen Sizer, a Surrey vicar with rather more than a sideline in "anti-Zionism", has not yet featured here. No time like the present to introduce him. Seismic Shock, a Christian blogger who keeps tabs on his activities, has recently had a visit from the police. Another Christian blogger has been personally warned that she may experience similar treatment - rather bizarrely since she is based in Australia.

Mr Sizer affects hypersensitivity to accusations of anti-Semitism. If that reflects his true feelings, he isn't doing himself any favours by the company he keeps. If a book of mine was available as a free download at a Holocaust deniers' website I'd want to do something about it.

I'm pleased to see that Mr Sizer's actions have been widely publicized. It can't be widely enough. In solidarity against intimidation, here is a link to Seismic Shock's post recounting his experience, and here is a link to the post at Vee's Living Journey blog to which Mr Sizer contributed his threatening comment.

And I feel a letter to the Bishop of Guildford coming on.

Update: I've removed the link to the Holocaust denial website as I suspect there is a risk of virus infection. The address, strictly at your own risk, is:

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Two takes on moral responsibility: part 2

Can you believe that Simon Tisdall of the Guardian has written a piece about the plight of Christians in much of the Muslim world? Don't worry, normal service has been resumed by the time the article reaches its conclusion: it's all the West's fault.

No need for a long post since Mr Eugenides is in sparkling form on this one. A small touch of irony from self can be found nestling among the comments.

Two takes on moral responsibility: part 1

What would you think of the proposition that nobody should be prosecuted for speeding, driving without due care and attention or dangerous driving unless they cause an accident in which somebody gets hurt? And even then with a certain reluctance, since bad drivers are victims of society deserving of compassion rather than blame?

I suppose if you're a certain sort of get-the-state-off-my-back conservative you might sympathize with the first part of the proposition. Your approval would only be likely to extend to the second part if you had a significant personal stake in the matter. In which case you would doubtless also be glad to know that state-funded advocacy groups for bad drivers are waiting in the wings ready to plead for clemency on your behalf and shield you from stigmatization.

You feel an analogy coming on, don't you? Quite right, and we're actually talking HIV. I think it's fairly safe to assume that neither the chief executive of the National AIDS Trust nor the chief executive of HIV Scotland would support my suggested libertarian approach to road safety. It's tempting to wonder whether they would take a rather more punitive attitude in their own sphere of competence if someone accused of recklessly putting others at risk of HIV infection was as likely to be a straight white man as, let us say, someone accused of dangerous driving.

A man who knows he is HIV-positive has unprotected sex over a period of years with a number of women. One of them is infected. What shall we say? You may feel that anyone with HIV is a victim to whom compassion is owed regardless of their behaviour. On the other hand you may feel that precisely the demands of compassion require justice for someone who has been infected through another's irresponsible and selfish acts. If you belong to the former group, you can take comfort in the knowledge that your taxes are helping pay spokepersons to put your case. Whereas if you belong to the latter group... Need I go on?

The National AIDS Trust notes in a tone of gentle rebuke that in recent years state funding has fallen to as little as 15% of its total income. HIV Scotland is less informative; the link to its Annual Report is "still under construction". Still, I'm pretty sure that their claim to be "the independent voice for HIV in Scotland" is not to be taken too literally. For folk in this kind of field dependence on the state is so much taken for granted that it simply doesn't count.

Now I'm sure that many wonderful things are accomplished by both organizations. But the point of this microcosm of Britain in 2010 is this: a news story raises a moral dilemma; the state broadcaster is not content to report, but wants an authoritative opinion, the voice of the Magisterium; instinctively, inevitably it goes to the spokespersons of state-funded advocacy groups. We are ruled by a priestly caste which doesn't do God, but bids us worship a god of its own making.