Archive for January, 2011

Philip Pullman on libraries

Posted by on January 25th, 2011

“Apparently Mr Mitchell thinks that we authors who defend libraries are only doing it because we have a vested interest – because we’re in it for the money. I thought the general custom of public discourse was to go through the substantial arguments before descending to personal abuse. If he’s doing it so early in the discussion, it’s a sure sign he hasn’t got much faith in the rest of his case.

No, Mr Mitchell, it isn’t for the money. I’m doing it for love.”

More here. This is glorious, punch-the-air stuff from Pullman.

Judging by some of my site search terms…

Posted by on January 19th, 2011

… I’ve clearly pissed off some impressive people.

Excuse me while I go sit in the corner and cry a little.

bed and breakfast

Posted by on January 18th, 2011

So, the Daily Mail – predictably – doesn’t seem particularly happy about the decision in favour of the gay couple who were refused a double room by Christian B&B owners. There’s a lot of talk about liberty, rights and so on. For example, the owner in question, Mrs Hazelmary Bull, says:

“(The judge) said his decision affects our religious liberty and forces us to act against our deeply and genuinely held beliefs.”

And it might initially be tempting to see things in that light: that their rights and beliefs were somehow in direct and equal competition with the rights and beliefs of the gay couple in question, and that the gay couple’s rights and beliefs “won out” over the Christian couple.

But that is total bullshit, so let’s very quickly put that idea to bed.

In our society, at the most basic level, the principle is that everyone is equal. Everyone has the same basic rights. Those rights may be taken away at some point due to the individual’s behaviour, of course, but simply being something – gay, disabled, a particular ethnic minority, a woman – is no excuse to be treated as unequal in your dealings with the state. In equivalent dealings with the apparatus of the state – which a business unavoidably is part of – people must be treated as though those characteristics are invisible: access provided; characteristics ignored; etc. Otherwise, those people effectively become second-class citizens because of who or what they are.

We have anti-discrimination laws because, historically, certain characteristics have not been invisible and certain groups have ended up being treated very much as second-class citizens. And regrettably, some people would continue to do so if they were allowed to. Those laws recognise and address that. By saying to Mrs Bull “sorry – you can’t discriminate against gay people” we are making sure that gay people’s basic right to be treated the same as straight people isn’t violated as it has been in the past.

And the wonderful thing about doing so is that none of her rights are affected. The idea that rights are somehow in conflict here is a myth. She still has exactly the same rights as everyone else because nobody else can refuse gay people accommodation either. She isn’t being discriminated against for being Christian; she is being treated exactly the same as non-Christians. None of her basic rights are violated at all. She is simply being prevented from treating another human being as less than another. Boo hoo.


(Deep breaths)

It’s not so fucking hard when you put it like that, is it?

people who want to feed you fiction

Posted by on January 16th, 2011

Very much enjoyed this comment (by asrai at 1.50pm) on Konrath’s latest blog post:

It distills pretty much all the advice posted recently at Joe’s site down to five paragraphs.

Of note

Posted by on January 9th, 2011

This presumed link between psychiatric disorders and violence has become so entrenched in the public consciousness that the entire weight of the medical evidence is unable to shift it. Severe mental illness, on its own, is not an explanation for violence, but don’t expect to hear that from the media in the coming weeks.

More here.

other books you should read #1

Posted by on January 6th, 2011

Just because we should always promote others and point people in the direction of excellent writing – even more so than our own – you should all check out Sean Cregan’s second novel, published today. His first* book, The Levels, is – I think – the only book I’ve ever blurbed. Or, indeed, been asked to blurb. And since I was asked and I know Sean* it was a bloody relief to discover what an excellent, intriguing and original piece of fiction it was. I’m sure this will be just as good.

(*also known as John Rickards, of course. Amongst other things).

Of note

Posted by on January 6th, 2011

”…Jo’s life was cut short tragically but the finger-pointing and character assassination by social and news media of as yet innocent men has been shameful.

”It has made me lose a lot of faith in the morality of the British Press and those that spend their time fixed to the internet in this modern age.

”I hope in the future they will show a more sensitive and impartial view to those involved in such heart-breaking events and especially in the lead-up to potentially high-profile court cases….”

Full statement of Jo Yeates’s boyfriend, Greg Reardon, here.

See also the secret formula for British press murder coverage, via John Rickards, Suw and various others on twitter.