Thursday, September 27, 2007

People in Glass Houses...

Pope Benedict XVI
Get your own house in order
Some times a message will carry no authority simply because those delivering it have lost all credibility on the subject if they had any in the first place. The last couple of days have featured several cases in point.

Jack Straw's damascene conversion to the cause of protecting those who intervene in criminal situations from prosecution is a good case in point. It is truly an act of rank hypocrisy to try and milk political capital from an issue where his party have claimed so long that opponents where simply following a populist agenda, and no change was required.

This particular case has been well covered elsewhere, as have the other cases of Labour espousing yet more of former Conservative policies that they once ridiculed, so I'll take aim at another authoritarian, centralising body, with a tendency to treat everyone like children, the Roman Catholic Church.

MSNBC had this wonderful story today:
VATICAN CITY - The Vatican on Thursday lamented the lack of women in leadership positions in the tourism industry and called for equal work and pay for women in the sector.


[Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone] called for governments, tour companies, agencies and organizations like the World Tourism Organization to dedicate money and other resources to protect women’s rights and allow them to advance professionally.

“One must work for an effective equality in the rights of women, guaranteeing them parity in work ... and the corresponding equal salary,” he wrote.

Source: MSNBC

Considering the position of the Vatican, as an employer, on equality of opportunity for women, Cardinal Betone may have missed a valuable opportunity to keep his mouth shut.

Charles Darwin
Darwin doesn't need the help
There are, of course, other cases where a message is right, but it simply doesn't need saying as it sometimes gives some form of succour to those who promote the opposite point of view.

Probably the most persistent culprit in this regard has to be the CRE, whose obsession with attempting to find racism in every facet of British life has left them largely discredited, even before Trevor Phillips' rather worrying suggestion that history be rewritten to make it more 'inclusive' even to the extent of including a fictitious contribution of Islam to the defeat of the Spanish Armada.

Almost everyone accepts that racism is a terrible thing, but by making ridiculous contributions like this, and by their attempts to attach the stain of racism to anyone who differs in the very slightest way from their own agenda, they distract from those very serious cases which do still exist and brings an unhealthy reputation to a worthy cause.

On a slightly more trivial level, I was interested to see the latest flurry of political activity at the European level, albeit from the Council of Europe, now fundamentally just a human rights watchdog, rather than more irritating issuer of politically correct half-wittedness, the EU.

Again from MSNBC:
The Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly will debate a resolution saying attacks on the theory of evolution were rooted "in forms of religious extremism" and amounted to a dangerous assault on science and human rights.

The resolution, on the agenda for October 4, says European schools should "resist presentation of creationist ideas in any discipline other than religion." It describes the "intelligent design" argument as an updated version of creationism.

Source: MSNBC

Now I come from a genetics background, have no religious convictions and think that creationism and its partner in crime, the ironically named intelligent design, are pretty ludicrous theories.

Is there any form of human rights issue at stake though? Let's be honest, it's simply a bit of pointless political posturing. No school would seriously consider mentioning these concepts outside of a religion lesson. The works of Darwin and his successors can stand confidently on their own merits without any help from politicians who probably at heart are simply having a bit of a dig at the US were, sadly, these views carry more undeserved weight.

Sometimes the best thing politicians can do is to do nothing, but sadly this would go against their every instinct.

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