Topic / Op-ed

Be merry, god damn it!

Well Baby Jesus’s Pretend Birthday is over for another year, so now that everyone is busy scrubbing gravy stains off the ceiling and wrapping up the leftover spam and chestnut pie for the week’s lunches, let’s refresh ourselves with dispatches from the War on Christmas. Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of it. It’s headline […]

Identity and its discontents

I’ve been thinking about what we mean when we talk about identity and ‘identity politics’. It needs thinking about because it’s a muddled conversation: identity has more than one meaning yet the label ‘identity politics’ is treated as if everyone means the same thing by it. I think generally “identity politics” is a name (sometimes […]

Living in an Age of Anger

Let’s talk about anger. We seem to be living in an Age of Anger, so it seems like a good idea to try to understand it better. It’s central to a lot of literature and stories, including movies and television dramas. The Iliad starts with it. Robert Fagles translates the first few lines like so: […]

More – especially the young – discard Christianity in the UK

Britain is fast becoming one of the least religious countries in the world. Although vestiges of the religious establishments that formerly set the pace of British public life still manage to exert power, more and more British people are leaving the faith of their parents behind. A recent study by the National Centre for Social […]

Signs of godliness

Christians, as a rule, don’t wear ridiculous garb. They leave that to their poncy spiritual leaders. But devout Jesus junkies identify themselves by having a certain madness stamped on their features, a swivel-eyed, purse-lipped craziness that suggest someone’s poured treacle into a precision cyborg. I offer as an example the montage, above, of Stephen Green, […]

Pride parade in Vancouver rejects Iranian over veil float

Iranian Shawn Shirazi and his group Cirque de So Gay were denied entry to the Pride Parade in Vancouver, Canada this year because their float criticising the veil was deemed to be ‘culturally [in]sensitive’. In the application for Cirque de So Gay, he wrote: Our entry in the 2017 Pride Parade will be visually stunning, […]

A very bad man

We in the US have been feeling a little overwhelmed lately, what with a racist president and racist marches in the streets and a racist president pardoning a racist sheriff who was famous for his sadistic treatment of prisoners. Let’s learn a little about that racist sheriff, Joe Arpaio, who was elected six times to […]

Is a fascist Christian theocracy REALLY the stuff of paranoia?

When Hulu launched its highly-acclaimed dramatisation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale earlier this year, Barbara Kay, writing for The National Post, had this to say: Atwood chose evangelical Christians as her villains, because their family structures are patriarchal. But patriarchy doesn’t necessarily imply misogyny. In fact, I found Atwood’s demonizing scenario rather […]

What does Dr Manners think?

We live in a chronically boorish and uncivil world, and in the spirit of the great Miss Manners, above, I’m going to set up as an advisor on how to be not quite so unpleasant to each other. You can call me Doctor Manners. (Remember: I’m not a real doctor.) I’ve heard from some correspondents […]

A Clash of the Uncivilised

Trump, Muslim Profiling and the Far-Right’s Assault Donald Trump’s suspension of new refugee admissions for 120 days and the barring of nationals from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia for 90 days (likely to be extended) is fundamentally about a far-right restructuring of US society under the guise of ‘stopping terrorism’ and defending […]