Friday, November 12, 2004

2004.126 A lazy accent, lacking in clarity 

Private Eye’s Phil Space has cousins working for every newspaper’s features department. They are on the payroll, and are what I call churners. They are paid to churn out a piece every week, whether they have anything to say or not. Usually they have nothing to say because they have no experience of working life beyond what used to be called Fleet Street.

One of these churners is Jane Shilling of the London Times, who for some reason also calls herself Mrs Dippy. On 5 November 2004 she wrote a shallow piece about how young actors of today prefer estuary-speak to RP. She got a response from a real old trouper - Eileen Atkins. It was printed on the letters page in today’s Times-

Jane Shilling doesn’t get it. Received pronunciation (RP), of course changes all the time and I suppose there may come a time when estuary becomes RP, and it may then become more taxing for audiences to sit through Shakespeare, Shaw, Ibsen, Chekhov and Restoration plays as it is a lazy accent, lacking in clarity; but it is the audience that decides if it is acceptable. If they get restless, the actors will change their accent again.

My argument is that drama schools today tell students that if they lose their regional accents, they’ll lose their soul. The result of this politically correct idiocy is that many fine young actors don’t even get as far as reading for a part in a classical play, as they insist on going into interviews speaking in the accent they picked up as a child, and all the best classical parts are cast with young people from upper-middle-class families.

FBBB113 * 12 November 2004

Thursday, November 11, 2004

2004.125 His placard was ordered to be destroyed 

He was a sincere believer, though many disagreed with his views. He took seriously the biblical injunction to spread the gospel (meaning ‘good news’). He thought the gospel taught that homosexual practice was sinful. His name was Harry Hammond, and he lived and practised his faith in Bournemouth. Here is a Times news item about him from 25 April 2002-

Preacher fined for anti-gay sermon

A PREACHER was found guilty of harassment yesterday, after a gay man complained that his street corner sermon was an incitement to attack homosexuals. Harry Hammond, 69, quoted from the Bible in Bournemouth town centre as he brandished a placard saying ‘Stop Immorality, Stop Homosexuality, Stop Lesbianism’.

Shaun Tapper called the police and complained that he felt threatened and that Hammond was inciting people to attack homosexuals. As he made his speech the fundamentalist Christian was surrounded by 40 protesters who pelted him with soil and water. In the furore his 3ft sign fell and hit a protester on the head, causing a small cut. Hammond denied the charge of harassment brought under section five of the Public Order Act 1986 at Wimborne Magistrates’ Court. He quoted at length from the Bible and was reminded by the bench that he was ‘in the witness box, not a pulpit’. He was fined £300 with £395 costs. The magistrates ordered that his placard be destroyed.

I have just found on the Outrage! website the following comment on this case by my friend Peter Tatchell-

Don’t get me wrong. Homophobia stinks. I nevertheless feel obliged to defend the right of people to oppose and criticise homosexuality. They may be misguided and bigoted, but tolerating (though not accepting) their prejudice is a price we pay for living in a multicultural democracy. My reluctant defence of the freedom to be homophobic is not merely theoretical. In 2002, I opposed the conviction of the Bournemouth lay preacher, Harry Hammond. He was found guilty, under public order legislation, for displaying a sign which read: ‘Stop Homosexuality!’. Sure, it was pure prejudice, and prejudice is wrong. But criminalising prejudiced opinions is a step too far. Where do you draw the line between legitimate robust criticism and illegitimate rank prejudice? The only circumstance where there is a clearly valid case for limiting freedom of speech is when it involves inciting violence.

Decent of Peter, but it came too late. While he was preparing an appeal from his conviction Harry Hammond was suddenly taken ill, and died on the spot.
FBBB113 * 11 November 2004

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

2004.124 Are women bishops really good for you? 

The Dean of Leicester, the Very Rev. Vivienne Faull, has ambitions to be the first woman bishop of the Church of England. She had an article in the Sunday Times for 7 November 2004 headed ‘Women bishops are good for you’. Is this true?

I have to say the article made me squirm. Its author came across as self-satisfied, not to say smug. It was also theologically unsound. The Dean says: ‘If the leadership roles in the Christian church are all male, it might be seen as an indication that women are not equal to men in the sight of God’. Try telling that to any occupant of the throne of St Peter over the past 2,000 years! Men and women are not equal or unequal, but human. They are not better or worse, but different.

On the whole women display, and have displayed throughout human history, qualities such as femininity, beauty, shrewishness and guile. They have been maidens and later matriarchs. Men on the other hand have been variously warriors, heroes, masters and brutes. Opposite the maiden there has been the youth; opposite the matriarch the patriarch. Not better or worse, but different. Of course there have been rare exceptions – the milksop youth or Amazonian woman. But they are exceptions that prove the rule.

That is the way it has always been – until the feminist tyrants came along towards the end of the twentieth century. They want to overturn everything – even the way Jesus chose his disciples (all male you note). Whenever I attend a sermon by a Joanna Jepson or a Lucy Winkett I think of what Dr Johnson said-

'A woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on its hinder legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.'
The truth is I do not want to be preached at by a woman. It is not womanly. It is not feminine. A true woman goes about things in another way. Not better or worse, but different. The sixteenth-century Scottish protestant reformer John Knox wrote a pamphlet which he titled ‘The first blast of the trumpet against the monstrous regiment of women’. I am told by scholars that here ‘regiment’ really means ‘regime’, but it was still unkind – and also untrue. Women have always operated a warm, loving, kind regime which has governed men in many different ways. The men have been thankful for it, but it has been done, by and large, in a feminine, gentle fashion. Also a subtle fashion. Not by preaching. It is men who do the preaching.

Our soi-disant Dean of Leicester says she will not be treated as ‘fully human’ if she is not allowed to become a bishop. Very muddled thinking, that. Men and women are not equal or unequal, but human. They are all human, and fully human – every one of them. Always have been. Always will be, bishop or not. It is symptomatic that the Dean cites the comic TV soap The Vicar of Dibley in support of her plea. We are not dealing with comedy here.

Another spurious plea is to say, as she does: ‘Women have asked me if the church wanted them in its life and work if it treats them this way’. That is as sensible as for a man’s mother or wife to ask if he wants her in his life because he does not treat her as he would treat a man. Man and women are not better or worse, but different.

So no, I don’t think women bishops will be good for us. But that won’t stop them being inflicted by the bien pensants (male and female) who now infest our national church. It will happen in time, and Vivienne Faull, Joanna Jepson, Lucy Winkett and their ambitious sisters will rejoice. But I for one will not. And it will all turn to ashes as people in the pews look regretfully back on the past.
9 Nov 2004

Monday, November 08, 2004

2004.123 Women don’t understand men 

Currently there is a furore because midwives have been officially instructed to ask every pregnant woman they encounter professionally whether, while pregnant, they have suffered physical violence at the hands of their husband or male partner. Apparently there are proportionately many more cases of such abuse on pregnant women than on women who are not pregnant. No one asks why this should be so. I have my own theory, which I’ll tell you at the end of this piece. Meanwhile I will give from my SEX CODE records a couple of examples of how women fail to understand male sexuality. Coincidentally they both involve reports in the Sunday Times.

Susan Jones and her father

In the Sunday Times for 16 November 1987 Susan Jones recounted a sad story of prolonged sexual abuse by her father. There would be fewer such tragedies if society (particularly women) more honestly accepted and catered for the real sexual nature of men. The basic fact, too often ignored, is that a man’s body manufactures a product, semen, that it demands shall be voided at very frequent intervals. This is not, like urine or faeces, a waste product. Quite the contrary. The body demands that it be voided in a way matching its high psychic and emotional significance. A woman’s body has no equivalent, except possibly while lactating. Hence women’s inability to comprehend the male sex drive.

Understandably, Susan Jones expressed outrage at the idea that child sex abuse may enrich the victim’s life where violence is not used. What psychiatrists who suggest this may mean is that the abused child at least learns at first hand something of the true nature of male sexuality. Unfortunately the sex-negative impulses of our society usually prevent this knowledge being of any value. The bitterness felt by Susan Jones may be alleviated if she can bring herself to reflect on the following.

Her frustrated father might have resorted to solitary masturbation. His sexuality meant too much for him to do that. As the pillar of rectitude in a strict church community, he could look for no understanding there. His wife was indifferent. So he resorted to his little daughter. It was a kind of compliment, if only she could bring herself to see it that way. It was wicked, and it was criminal ‑ but it was still a kind of compliment.

26 orgasms a day

On 10 December 1995 the Sunday Times called into question Kinsey’s finding that a boy of 13 experienced 26 orgasms inside 24 hours. This scepticism surprised me. As the author of THE SEX CODEI did not understand why this finding should be called into question. If research on the sex lives of our children cannot be carried out legally, it is bound to be inadequate unless other data are used.

What should concern us is not the source of the information, but its nature. If boys in their early teens do indeed experience high rates of orgasm, that confirms their sexual need. This is unrecognised by our society, which pays the penalty. Sex with such a boy by anyone at all, even a willing partner of his own age, is a criminal offence under our new law contained in the Sexual Offences Act 2003. (It was the same under the old law.)

I don’t condone exploitation, but how can that callous neglect of human need possibly be justified?

Back to the pregnant women

I started by asking why no one seems to be interested in why women who are in advanced pregnancy get beaten up by their partners more often than other women do. My guess is that it is because, for good reason, pregnant women deny their man access but, for no good reason, fail to consider other means of relief.

There is lack of communication about this, so the man gets frustrated and angry. Too many women are basically uninterested in how a man works sexually, which is the cause of much unhappiness. (Women might say the same thing about men, but on that aspect I prefer not to comment.)
8 Nov 2004

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