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Sunday, 16 January 2011

How do we best answer Roger Helmer MEP?

Earlier today Roger Helmer, a Conservative MEP, asked this extraordinary question.



My instant action was dismissive: there is no connection between the two.

Helmer is confusing the distinct issues of gender identity and sexual preference.

Furthermore, the reference to "turning" appears to be predicated on an incorrect view of sexual preferences: even a person's "consent" would not seem to make such a treatment appropriate.

However, before one dismisses his question out of hand, it may be worthwhile seeing what the best answer to his question could be.

What do you think?


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Maxwell-Fyfe at Nuremburg: how Goering was demolished

It is March 1946, and the prosecutors at Nuremburg have encountered a difficulty.

Their prize defendant is Goering. But the first prosecuting lawyer, an American called Jackson, has just made a complete mess of his cross-examination. The questions had been too general and the defendant, sobered up and mentally fit after several months' imprisonment, had found it easy to be canny and evasive in his answers.

If Goering is now convicted, it would not be (or seen to be) on the basis of his court testimony; but for him not to be convicted would be unthinkable.

This was a serious problem.


One of the British lawyers at Nuremburg was a then little-known Conservative politician, Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe.



It was now his turn to cross-examine Goering.

He adopted a very different approach to the vapid generalizations of the hapless Jackson.



Maxwell-Fyfe instead focused on particular instances, notably the shooting of escaped RAF prisoners of war (later featured in the film Great Escape). He concentrated on documents; he asked detailed and closed questions; in short, he controlled the witness and the course of the examination.

Against this approach, Goering simply had no where to go, and by the end of Maxwell-Fyfe's sequence of questions, Goering's complicity in serious criminal acts was clear.


There is footage of the cross-examination here and a transcript here.

It was reading about this cross-examination which first made me want to be a lawyer: that precise questioning and attention to detail in respect of those who abuse power is an effective way of ensuring that there is accountability and justice.


After the war, and to his credit, Maxwell-Fyfe helped write the European Convention on Human Rights.

Sadly, however, he then became one of the most illiberal Home Secretaries and Lord Chancellors in modern British history.



It is a fair question whether his awful record in office offsets his accomplishments at Nuremburg and with the ECHR.

But, that said, his clinical demolition of Goering remains one of the great achievements of advocacy.


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Sunday, 9 January 2011

Exorcism and mental health: a troubling day course?

I have just received the following email. I find it bizarre and concerning, and I believe there is sufficent public interest in me posting it in full, regardless of any copyright or confidentiality points. It appears to me that there are perhaps serious issues here about unqualified persons holding themselves out on matters of mental health. What do you think?


EXORCISM

by a leading expert, David Goddard

Exclusive 1-day event at The Atlantis Bookshop

Saturday, 29th January 2011



What is Exorcism? What is possession? How does it happen? What can be done for a victim of possession?

David Goddard - an authorized exorcist for over 20 years, and an expert on the subject - explores the answers to these, and to many more questions.

At this intensive one-day event, you will discover:

· How to distinguish between possession and mental ill-health
· How to cleanse people and places
· What are the stages of Possession ­ the symptoms and problems you should look out for
· Who are the Demons and the Fallen behind possessions?
· Who is an Exorcist, and what is Exorcism really
· How to avoid the Pitfalls and Traps of Exorcism, and
· Spiritual warfare in 2011 and beyond

Contact atlantis@theatlantisbookshop.com or telephone 020 7405 2120 to book your place.

Place: The Atlantis Bookshop, 49a Museum Street, London, WC1A 1LY.
Time - 11:00 to 17:30. Doors open at 10:30 for registration and refreshments.
Fee - £59 - Book before 25 January and your seat is only £50 (you save £9)

About David Goddard

He is an esteemed Lineage Holder of the Western Esoteric Tradition and a teacher of the Western mystical sciences for over 3 decades. (He has 4 internationally published books and numerous training programs and has appeared as a guest on BCC TV & radio).

As an initiate and recognised teacher, David has committed his life to sharing the ancient technology of transformation, helping sincere seekers discover sacred knowledge, wisdom, happiness and joy. And what's more, David has personally performed more than 290 exorcisms. But that's not all - David has also taught occultists and clergy the effective methods of Exorcism and is considered an expert on the subject of possessions and exorcism.

The Atlantis Bookshop
49a Museum Street
London
WC1A 1LY

+44 (0)20 7405 2120
www.theatlantisbookshop.com


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Saturday, 8 January 2011

A vile tweet from the disreputable @MrKennethTong

Let me introduce you to @MrKennethTong.

This is a Twitter account associated with a one-time reality show contestant. Presumably he is the one who uses the account, though one cannot be certain. My comments below go to whoever operates the account.


The @MrKennethTong account is self-promotional and, in Twitter terms, fairly popular. At the time of writing it has 17,412 followers.

However, it is not a pleasant account. It is used to relentlessly promote "size zero" body shapes for women and something dangerous and abusive called "managed anorexia". Although one can be sure that the person using the account believes they are exercising free speech, it may well be that promoting such harmful health practices should be prohibited.

But the point of this blogpost is not to ask in some general philosophical way whether the statements published on a Twitter account such as @MrKennethTong should be (or could be) banned.

Instead, there is a particular tweet which causes serious concern.


The @MrKennethTong account often boasts that the author is sufficiently wealthy to be able to do what he wants.

So on 29 December 2010, it was unsurprising that he published the tweet at the bottom of the screengrab below.



The one which followed, at the top of the screengab, is extraordinary and it is the one which causes the serious concern.


Let's go through the exchange slowly.

First, he states that because of his wealth "you can say, do and think anything without penalty, as you have no one to be accountable to". This reads as mere bravado and is unspecific: just a boast of a fool.

The challenge is then made:break the law let's see what happens. It is important here to note the terms of the challenge: it is not "avoid" or "get round" the law. Instead, it is in respect of breaking the law.

When faced with this stark challenge, @MrKennethTong posts a link. This is in reply to the challenge in respect of him breaking the law. The link is also not neutrally posted. The tweeter adds a ";-)" to the end of the tweet.

The link is to a news story which states the supposed author of @MrKennethTong has been cleared of allegations of sexual assault.


What should we make of this response?

Is @MrKennethTong suggesting that the link is an example of him breaking the law "without penalty"?

Is it even an implicit admission of guilt of the allegation of sexual assault?


It is simply not clear.

We can go no further than what @MrKennethTong says on the point. Certainly there is no other information available from which one can infer such a view. I certainly make no suggestion that he was guilty of the original allegations, but I do wonder what @MrKennethTong is suggesting.


If the tweet is not an implicit admission of guilt, and there is some other explanation, it still seems to me to be an inappropriate link to post in that context.

To show off like this being cleared of a sexual assault allegation is, on any view, vile.


The author of @MrKennethTong clearly craves attention, indeed notoriety. He seems to like the negative reactions, the bad things being said.

So he can add the following to his collection.

There is no basis, other than perhaps his tweet, for believing the sexual assault allegations are correct: but his promotion generally of the dangerous and abusive "managed anorexia" - and the boastful tweet of that link in particular - would not make me think any less of him than if the allegations were true.


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Sunday, 2 January 2011

Ten years of the "War on Terror"

This September will be the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers: the tenth anniversary of, in effect, the "War on Terror".

Not longer after the 9/11 attacks, there was a Richard Curtis film called Love Actually (2003). This film referenced the post 9/11 environment in many ways, including a populist scene where the ever-so-nice British Prime Minister shows plucker in standing up to the ever-so-beastly US President. (I remember this defiance being clapped in the London cinema.) There is also a vomit-worthy voiceover by the supposed Prime Minister saying how we are all joined together with bonds of love.

But it is another scene in that film which I think, all these years later, is more significant for the "War on Terror". In one of the final scenes, the boy-stalker Sam runs and dodges through airport security to say good bye to the object of his affections. It is a fun, slapstick sequence.

And it took place in a film released just two years after 9/11. At the time it was just about credible.

However, ten years after 9/11, we all know what would happen to such a boy at such an airport.

He would be shot dead.


The constant ramping up of security since 2001 has made the UK and the USA illiberal and often dangerous places.

But, with a couple of exceptions, there have been no further acts of terrorism in the UK and USA since 2001; but the grind of anti-terrorism carries on.

It is almost as if anti-terrorism is getting worse the less we terrorism we have.

I was brought up in the Birmingham of the 1970s, where everyone knew someone who had been in the city centre when the pub bombs went off. A friend was in Deal when the barracks were bombed. Another friend's mother worked in Harrods when that bomb went off.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the British mainland was under constant threat from terrorism; the news of another incident sometimes did not even make the top item on that evening's news.

In a way, the fact there was actual terrorism helped keep day-to-day things in proportion; people just carried on.


But since 9/11, with a couple of exceptions, there has been little actual terrorism, and against this silence, anti-terrorism is getting out of proportion.

And it will carry on getting more excessive, more intrusive, more restrictive: making our society as a whole worse off than if the terrorists had actually been more active.

Anti-terrorism is now an end in itself; a version of Orwell's boot stamping on a human face forever; the policy of O'Brien seeking power and control simply for its own sake.

What is happening to our society is not because of terrorism; it is because those who wish to exercise and extend power have found a perfect excuse in terrorism.

Don't we know there is a "War on Terrorism" on?

Yes, still on, some ten years later.



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