All entries by this author

Peter Singer Did Not Change His Mind *

Dec 6th, 2006 | Filed by

Defenders of biomedical research say the confusion shows the contradictions in the animal rights movement.… Read the rest

Fred Halliday on the Pope’s Visit to Turkey *

Dec 6th, 2006 | Filed by

On what authority do such potentates travel to hold forth on matters of contemporary international politics?… Read the rest

Headteachers Oppose Expansion of ‘Faith’ Schools *

Dec 6th, 2006 | Filed by

‘A great deal more anxiety about a formal linking of religion to politics and education than there was.’… Read the rest

Niqab-wearer to Give ‘Alternative’ Xmas Message *

Dec 6th, 2006 | Filed by

She is called ‘feisty’ and ‘an everyone who can articulate the views of British Muslims.’… Read the rest

Pope Expresses Admiration for Muslims *

Dec 6th, 2006 | Filed by

Has he met all of them?… Read the rest

Globalisation and the Civil Society

Dec 6th, 2006 | By Rajesh Kumar Sharma

The happy spell of economic growth has endured for a surprisingly long period and shows no sign of coming to an end very soon. Led by services, manufacturing and business, and reinforced by infrastructure development and the impetus to scientific and technological research, the economy has become the engine and symbol of a resurgent India. It is indeed a cause for self-congratulations that our democracy has proved its great resourcefulness in supporting our economic empowerment in a globalizing world. But one may be forgiven for asking a sobering question: Would the democratic dissent over issues such as the Special Economic Zones and the Right to Information have been tackled in the same way if there had been a single-party majority … Read the rest

Something’s wrong, I can’t quite tell what it is

Dec 5th, 2006 7:13 pm | By

People are funny. Hilarious, even. Yesterday a regular reader emailed me to express concern. The subject line said ‘Something’s afoot.’ Oh what? thought I. John Bolton has been made Vice-president? Barack Obama has turned atheist? No, the something was afoot at B&W.

Am I picking up a shift in your political orientation? Something is changing in the complexion of B&W and I can’t quite put my finger on it. Almost as though you were feeling contrite about slamming President Bush for his brainlessness for so long and felt you needed to give the other side equal time, or even more, that you are saying, “The Devil take the whole bunch of them.” Why, soon you’ll be telling us you are

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Smile at me, dammit!

Dec 5th, 2006 6:45 pm | By

Um…wait….Libby Purves at a meeting to discuss The Veil.

It was good to have the student speaking of “ghosts”, and good to have women who had worn the niqab saying it made them feel not only more devout but more private, especially in times of divorce or bereavement. I admitted a moment of discomfort myself: on the way in, crossing the Mile End Road and finding myself face to face with a full black veil, as we jinked from side to side to avoid collision, I gave the usual smilingly embarrassed grimace, yet her invisibility denied me any answering smile. When I said this, a cheerful bearded man in the audience whose wife wears one said: “You should

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Violence Against Women in the Congo *

Dec 5th, 2006 | Filed by

Rape accompanied by deliberate wounding, sometimes with guns, sometimes with blunt objects.… Read the rest

Plagiarism Follies *

Dec 5th, 2006 | Filed by

Will all written records of contemporary human experience eventually become off limits to other writers?… Read the rest

Hitchens on Taboo Words *

Dec 5th, 2006 | Filed by

The N-word Jim, faggot, discriminating, niggardly – it’s all a bit complicated.… Read the rest

Ted Honderich Replies to Nick Cohen *

Dec 5th, 2006 | Filed by

‘Do you want in the end to have from a former emeritus professor a mark for his essay?’… Read the rest

Singer Points Out Consistency of his Views *

Dec 5th, 2006 | Filed by

‘I have never said that no experiment on an animal can ever be justified.’… Read the rest

Iran Blocks Access to Major Websites *

Dec 5th, 2006 | Filed by

Amazon, YouTube, Wikipedia, NY Times get ‘The requested page is forbidden’ treatment.… Read the rest

Germaine Greer Declines ‘Plain English’ Prize *

Dec 5th, 2006 | Filed by

Kant’s ‘unsynthesised manifold’ ought to be known to ‘most reasonably educated Guardian readers.’… Read the rest

What did Mrs Plato write?

Dec 4th, 2006 11:35 pm | By

Allen Esterson alerted me to and sent me the link to this bizarre item. (Did I see references to it at the time? Possibly. There might be a faint memory – but if so I didn’t follow them up.)

A study by an academic who has spent more than 30 years looking at Bach’s work claims that Anna Magdalena Bach, traditionally believed to be Bach’s musical copyist, actually wrote some of his best-loved works, including his Six Cello Suites…”I also discovered that the only complete manuscript from the time for the Cello Suites was a manuscript in the hand of Anna Magdalena, and that the original manuscript in the hand of Johann Sebastian had vanished.”

Oh well then. What … Read the rest

On ‘freedom of association’

Dec 4th, 2006 11:00 pm | By

Prompted by an interesting comment on an earlier post about putative rights I did a little Googling about freedom of association. Something I need to know more about. Found this useful page on the subject.

The phrase “freedom of association” does not appear in the Constitution (although the First Amendment protects the right to peaceably assemble). Nonetheless, the Court has recognized to separate types of association that are constitutionally protected: (1) intimate association (protected as an aspect of the right of privacy) and (2) expressive association (protected as as an aspect of the First Amendment’s protection of free speech). Freedom of association cases are interesting in that they bring into conflict two competing views of the world: rights-oriented liberalism that

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The right to declare the right to violate someone’s rights

Dec 4th, 2006 7:48 pm | By

Conflicting ideas of rights, chapter 793.

It’s normal to feel nostalgic for cherished practices once treasured and now disgraced. Sometimes, being forced to give them up is a violation of rights. At other times, it means retracting a privilege that should never have been extended in the first place. Some Southern whites spent the 1960s pining for the old days, when they could lynch whom they pleased; few today would portray that as a right transgressed! Today, conservative Christians behold society falling from their faith’s exclusive grip and, like their Southern racist predecessors, sigh, “There goes my everything.”

Just so. Sometimes, being forced to give up a privilege that should never have been extended in the first place feels … Read the rest

Sword or rapier?

Dec 4th, 2006 7:33 pm | By

Hitchens takes down Coulter in his own special way.

She has emerged as a persona because she has mastered the politics of resentment, and because she can combine the ideology of Human Events (the obscure ‘Joe McCarthy was right’ magazine) with the demand of the chat-show bookers for a tall blonde with a very rapid delivery on a wide range of subjects.

Ah yes the very rapid delivery thing. (I’ve never seen Coulter in action, but I’ve seen others.) I’ve never seen the appeal. I prefer the effete languid drawl of a Vidal or Hitchens that nails you without breaking a sweat. Much more amusing, also humiliating. Anyone can jabber; it’s those relaxed, casual, effortless bastards who can really make … Read the rest

The Trouble With Michael Moore *

Dec 4th, 2006 | Filed by

Moore chases after political fashions, jettisoning principle for point-scoring, shock value or laughs.… Read the rest