Pope Francis tries to brush Catholic bigotry under the carpet

Pope Francis seemed to extend tolerance to LGBT people, abortion and women on Friday in a long form interview published in the Jesuit Journals. He said:

The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all.

This seemed to imply, at the very least, that he wanted to focus on the more spiritual side of Catholicism. He said he wanted to move away from these ‘petty rules’ that have ‘socially wounded’ so many. Cynicism under the cut

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Sexism at Golf’s Open Championship

HAVRE DE GRACE, MD - JUNE 06: Lorena Ochoa (ME...

HAVRE DE GRACE, MD – JUNE 06: Lorena Ochoa (MEX) during practice before 2007 LPGA Championship held at Bulle Rock Golf Course, on June 6, 2007 in Havre de Grace, Maryland. (Photo by Keith Allison) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week Alex Salmond and Maria Miller, among others, have announced that they will boycott golf’s Open Championship because of Muirfield’s continued men-only membership policy. Despite the fact that occupational segregation is currently a ministerial gender equality priority in Scotland its golf clubs lag behind in the equality stakes. Muirfield is not the only men-only club to hold the Open but it has become a lightening rod for the debate about sexism in sport. There has been condemnation from within the sport as well as outside it amid concerns for the potential damage golf’s image. Laura Davies, among the most successful British female golfer in recent years has said it’s time Muirfield joined the 21st century. Continue reading

On Ender’s Game and the Russian Olympics: Boycotts and Free Speech

Cover of "Ender's Game (Ender Quartet)"

Cover of Ender’s Game (Ender Quartet)

This week there are two quite different things people want to boycott: Ender’s Game and the Russian winter Olympics. The reasons that they want to boycott them however are essentially the same – by supporting them, you are giving money to bigots and homophobes. Vladimir Putin has signed a law banning same-sex affection following on the heals of his terrible treatment of Pussy Riot and Orson Scott Card sits on the board of NOM and is actively involved in similarly distasteful activities including calls for homosexuality to be made illegal. Continue reading

How do we solve a problem like single parent families?

A Moment in a Tumbleweed's Life

A Moment in a Tumbleweed’s Life (Photo credit: Artotem)

England is a “man desert” and 1 million children are growing up without a father. There has been much lamentation, tearing of hair and rending of garments over this revelation in a report from the centre for social justice from the usual suspects. The assumption seems to be that a man – any man – would be better than no man at all in these situations.

What the report fails to address is the question ‘why?’ Did these women choose to be single mothers? Were they divorced? abandoned? abused? Who are the fathers in question? There are many legitimate reasons why a woman might not want a specific man around her children, male role models are great where you can find them but raising children takes more than sperm. Continue reading

Gay people are everywhere and persecution doesn’t help

Icon for Wikimedia project´s LGBT portal (Port...

Icon for Wikimedia project´s LGBT portal (Portal:LGBT). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Despite both the Vatican and Pakistan being incredibly hostile places for gay people, this week we have strong evidence that they exist in both. According to a recent survey about tolerance, only 2% of people living in Pakistan believe homosexuality should be tolerated in society and yet Pakistan is the world leader in Google searches for gay porn. In the Vatican the pope has given further credence to stories of a shady group of gay priests secretly running things behind the scenes. These revelations should scare homophobes because it is yet more proof that it isn’t a permissive society that ‘turns’ people gay. Being gay is a natural phenomenon. There are gay people all over the place whether it is legal or not, whether they are accepted or not and whether they’re allowed to marry or not. Continue reading

Disney’s Merida Makeover: not the only way to be a princess

Image from amightygirl.com

Image from amightygirl.com

Over the last fortnight, Disney released and quickly withdrew some sparkly, sexy Merida artwork for her ‘coronation ceremony’. The slimming down, aging up and general ‘princess-isation’ of Merida who was billed as a character who hated the fluff of being a princess spurred endless column inches about gender and femininity as well as a “Say No To The Merida Make Over” petition with 233,846 supporters to date.  Continue reading

Primary School Teacher Commits Suicide After Littlejohn Witch Hunt

LBC News Talk - Richard Littlejohn photocard (...

Richard Littlejohn photocard (Early 90s) (Photo credit: radiothings.com)

Lucy Meadows committed suicide on Tuesday after a sustained attack from the Daily Mail and the far-right columnist Richard Littlejohn because she was born Nathan Upton.

Following the revelation of her suicide, petitions have sprung up on the net pointing fingers at Richard Littlejohn and his column, “He’s not only in the wrong body… he’s in the wrong job” as the main agitator in a witch hunt that caused immense distress and possibly suicide. There are at least two petitions, with more than 48,000 signatures between them, calling for Littlejohn to apologise, resign or be fired.

Littlejohn’s column, while apparently acknowledging an individual’s right to transition on the NHS, has been criticised for using male pronouns and calling Lucy’s decision to transition and remain at the same school “selfish” and said the impact on her students would be “devastating”.  Many trans* people have taken issue with the validity of his comments and have pointed out, usually from personal experience, that children are generally more accepting of gender issues. In a story, publicised via one of the petitions, a young cousin reacted by saying “Oh, that makes sense. I always thought you were a boy. Now can be go play Legos?”

In the furore following her death the Daily Mail pulled the column from their website but have defended the column’s content. They put out a statement calling the responses “an orchestrated twitterstorm, fanned by individuals… with an agenda to pursue.” and specfically naming Alastair Campbell as one of the instigators. They also reiterated the point made on several blogs that there have been no explicit details linking the suicide with Littlejohn or any other member of the media. However emails have revealed that in the weeks between the publication of Littlejohn’s column and her suicide, Lucy was hounded by journalists. She had to slip out of her back door and stay late at school to avoid them. Ironically, given the statement from the Daily Mail, Lucy also wrote about how supportive parents were ignored by the media who were keen to pursue the outrage agenda.

Though Lucy was supported by her head teacher and many parents at the school the constant harassment clearly had a destabilising effect on her life and it should not be discounted as a factor in her suicide.

In the end though, whether Lucy committed suicide as a result of the harassment doesn’t matter. It is not Lucy’s suicide that needs to be apologised for. It is the harassment, the victimisation and the monstering that Lucy and the whole of the trans* community are owed an apology for.

 

The full story: