‘Some doubt that anyone with whom they disagree could ever be a moral, rational person’

Featured‘Some doubt that anyone with whom they disagree could ever be a moral, rational person’

By Jupiter, my very first post! I’m a little torn as to what I should first write, but realistically the name of this blog probably requires some explanation, and that should do the trick in getting the ball rolling.

This site isn’t named in relation to Rare Pepes (no matter how rare) and funny internet images (no matter how worrying). ‘Some Worrisome Memes’ comes in reference to memes as self-propagating ‘units of culture’. Memes are essentially behaviours or ideas that endeavour to survive and spread from person to person, and in doing so influence their opinions and actions (imagine them as ‘mind viruses’). Not all of these are worrying of course, as many are as mundane as blessing yourself after a sneeze, or habitually deciding to read well written and interesting blogs (hint hint, nudge nudge). But some are worrying indeed, including perhaps (depending on who you ask) my own; I intend to write on various topics and offer opinions that some people might consider ‘problematic’, coming dangerously close as they may to committing the cardinal sin of honest and unrepentant disagreement with some dearly beloved ideas. I don’t always intend to take minority or unpopular points of view, but where I find myself in that position, I argue them as strongly as confidence may permit – and this site gives me the opportunity to do just that.

It is among those people that would find my opinions troubling that many other worrisome memes can be found though, and these are by far the more disquieting. Whether due to the strength of their convictions or the nature of their beliefs, some number of these people on a variety of issues cannot bring themselves to disagree amicably, if they are willing to countenance dissent at all. Some rarely, if ever, consider that their views could be fallacious, or that their friendship groups could constitute echo-chambers, or that anyone with whom they disagree could ever be a moral, rational person. The beliefs and behaviours of these people, who can be anything from highly intelligent Oxbridge professionals to those for whom coherent thought constitutes a fairly radical notion, are far more disquieting indeed.

Much of what I might write here may not be new, and as I said above, I expect some inevitable amount of anger regarding certain ideas (if you think otherwise, welcome to the internet – you must be new here). But if there is someone, perhaps just one person, that happens upon this site, and comes across some provocative thought or position that they’d never otherwise come across – that would be worth all the effort.

I intent to start posting semi-weekly from this point on, and see in what direction my thoughts take me. Wish me luck!

The disgrace that is Monarchy

The disgrace that is Monarchy

Join me in celebrating the spending of millions of pounds of taxpayer money, thrown away in supplication to one of the richest families on planet earth, while the cost of living skyrockets and foodbank usage reaches an all-time high!

Monarchy is one of those things that endures despite its complete unsuitability to the modern world; something that, were it proposed as an idea for the first time here and now, it would be laughed down. But because the royals have been around for so long, some measure of the public believe they’re helpful, honourable, even outright indispensable. But fear not, for I’ll be rendering the loathsome nature of monarchy naked for all to see (apologies for the mental imagery).

To begin with, they are enormously wealthy, yet enormously subsidised:

The yearly cost of the royals is said to be £67 million (How much does the Royal Family cost the British taxpayer? (britishheritage.com)), though it may well be closer to £345 million (The true cost of the royals – Republic). Neither amount is excusable, when the net worth of this family is multiple billions  (The world’s richest royal families of 2022 revealed – net worths, ranked: as Queen Elizabeth celebrates her Platinum Jubilee, the UAE mourns Sheikh Khalifa and Qatar’s rulers ready for the Fifa World Cup | South China Morning Post (scmp.com), though of course, precise figures on this are hard to find).

For a more in-depth look at royal wealth, consider Prince Charles. Charles, as with all previous heirs, earns income from the Duchy of Cornwall. The duchy was specially created for the heir in the medieval period, and this little number brings Charles a humble £18 million a year, with tax exceptions (MPs challenge tax exemptions for Prince Charles’s estate | Prince Charles | The Guardian). And should you pass away without a will as a resident of the prince’s £728 million estate, your property goes to the duchy. Charles’ defenders insist that this money then goes to charitable ventures, but these include his old private school and ‘charities’ that were seemingly set up by himself (Prince Charles uses ‘intestate’ cash in Cornwall to fund his own charities | Prince Charles | The Guardian).

This isn’t even to delve into the bizarre privileges of the Duchy and the powers it holds over its residents. It is a feudal estate in the 21st century, run singularly for the benefit of one person. There is no justification for this.

Outside of the major public figures, a significant cost is incurred by the tax payer for essentially unknown members of the royal family. Is there a good reason why Marie von Reibnitz and Mrs Jack Brooksbank have their security and extravagant living paid for by those struggling to heat their homes? Denmark had the right idea when they ceased paying for royal grandchildren (Denmark to stop paying salary to royal family grandchildren | The Independent | The Independent). It isn’t outrageous to expect the same of our own royals, or that they’d even turn down public money themselves as Princess Catharina-Amalia did last year (Princess Catharina-Amalia, Future Queen of the Netherlands, Turned Down Her Almost $2 Million Yearly Allowance | Vanity Fair). But of course, our royal family knows better than to turn down what’s rightfully theirs.

Speaking of rights…

They are utterly unaccountable:

Their legal status is ambiguous, and changes to suit the situation: the royals are a family of private individuals, and thus close examination of their finances is improper. But paradoxically, they are also a public institution, and so taxing their earnings to the same extent as everyone else is also improper. They are whatever they wish to be, depending on what benefits them. This is why, despite being heads of state and a public institution, the royals are largely immune to Freedom Of Information laws (which is partly why their actual net worth is nearly impossible to establish).
They furthermore have tremendous say over what the BBC is permitted to broadcast, and they wield this power unashamedly (The Royal Family are exempt from Freedom of Information requests and can veto BBC programmes. Why do we put up with this? | The Independent | The Independent). Can you imagine a Prime Minister immune to both FOI and who veto’s documentaries examining his/her own conduct? It would be a scandal. But this is just business as usual for the royal family.

It gets worse. They royal household is also immune to equality and anti-discrimination laws. Genuinely:

“Other documents discovered by the Guardian revealed that, since the 1970s, the Queen has been exempt from the 1970 Equal Pay Act, the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act, and the 1976 Race Relations Act. This was then extended to cover the 2010 Equality Act, which replaced the three previous laws.” (https://www.bustle.com/politics/documents-racial-discrimination-buckingham-palace-royal-family ).

To be clear, they demanded – and were granted – exemption from legal protections of women and ethnic minority employees and job applicants. Who could possibly make such a demand and consider it reasonable? And who are we to tolerate such a thing? I’ll make that very easy to understand: if the royal household discriminates against gay or black people, it isn’t illegal. But the household kindly promised government that it wouldn’t do so. All they wanted was immunity just in case, I suppose.

This begs the question: exactly how far would the monarchy have to go to earn a reprimand? And how on earth would one deal with a monarch behaving detestably? The answer: absolutely nothing. There is presently no mechanism by which parliament or any other power can realistically depose a monarch who behaves unconscionably, or even discipline royals in any manner. They are simply untouchable.  Prince Andrew has managed to demonstrate this spectacularly, his own ‘punishment’ for being a nonce is to lose all his responsibilities… and keep his privileges. Phillip too, making openly racist comments towards foreign dignitaries was well known and tolerated (who else would keep their job here?!). How could we possibly tolerate this state of affairs?

And how exactly did the royals come to be immune to the laws mentioned above? Well…

The monarchy wields a disgusting amount of power over policy:

Many may not realise that the monarch grants parliament the authority to debate legislation which effect the royal family, a ‘mere formality’ without which such laws cannot be discussed and passed. Investigations have revealed however that the Queen regularly  abuses her power to change laws to her benefit (Queen lobbied for changes to three more laws, documents reveal | The Queen | The Guardian). This is how the royals have managed to avoid accountability under anti-discrimination and equality laws, under FOI requests, and even taxes and financial accountability. We are as one entitled monarch away from a constitutional crisis, as the king/queen grants permission for the formation of governments. In what world is this acceptable?

And this isn’t the only influence over government and society possessed by the royals. A legal battle (lasting ten years!) by The Guardian managed to reveal that “Prince Charles lobbied ministers, including the former prime minister Tony Blair, on a wide range of issues, including agriculture, the armed forces, architecture and homeopathy”, meeting with ministers and senior officials 87 times (Prince Charles ‘black spider’ memos reveal lobbying of Tony Blair | Prince Charles letters | The Guardian). The royals routinely trample their expected non-interference in government affairs, and even discovering this tip of the iceberg required Herculean efforts on the part of The Guardian. Charles also lobbies on behalf of his good friends in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere for changes to government contracts and policy, as only an enlightened royal would. What else goes on that we simply know nothing of?

As an aside, it’s worth noting that Charles is a moron as well as an interfering buffoon. Here’s an excerpt from Harmony, a book he co-authored some years ago:

“Having considered these questions long and hard, my view is that our outlook in the Westernised world has become far too firmly framed by a mechanistic approach to science. This approach is entirely based upon the gathering of the results that come from subjecting physical phenomena to scientific experiment.” (Chuck is a spoilt baby – Butterflies and Wheels).

Ah yes, data and research, truly societal ills. If only we all ate organic foods and embraced “Sacred Geometry”, and had more homeopathy available on the NHS.

Unsurprisingly these trash-tier opinions occasionally meet with some pushback, but it seems Charles isn’t well used to being questioned: take the experiences of Professor Edzard Ernst of the University of Exeter who, following criticisms of Charles for his support of various alternative medicines, found himself investigated at the behest of Charles’ representatives, and (despite being absolved of wrongdoing) being forced into early retirement (Professor calls Prince Charles, others “snake-oil salesmen” | Reuters ). This is just another example of the meddlesome toff thinking himself God’s gift to humanity, and above reproach. It’s almost as if the pampered ‘environmentalist’ with helicopters and private jets galore isn’t used to being naysaid. Who would have thought a life of luxury and placation would affect someone so?

Now, to address some of the counterpoints in favour of the monarchy:

“Monarch provides security against tyranny, as she’s technically head of state and the armed forces” – this point would be laughable if people didn’t take it seriously. For starters, this point contradicts the other pro-monarchy argument that the monarchy are mere figureheads with no real power. Secondly, can you imagine a monarch with practical supreme command over the armed forces?! Perish the thought. Lastly, the power of royal families to prevent dictatorships is an experiment that’s already been run multiple times, and the results are laid bare for all to see in both Fascist Spain and Italy.

“Britain makes huge amounts of money from tourism thanks to the royals” – While it’s difficult to estimate the tourism generated by the royals alone, it’s a safe bet that most people do not come to the UK simply because it has a monarchy (no more than people do for Spain, The Netherlands or Denmark). In reality, there’s good reason to believe that removing the monarchy would enable greater development of royal sites. How much more of Buckingham Palace could be opened to tours? How many more museums could display royal riches? Couldn’t the royal gardens be opened to public use? Believing that the current status quo of royal tourism is optimal is just a failure of imagination, and also requires ignoring that republics like France gain comparable or greater revenue from tourism.

“The Queen has done a wonderful job! And the royals splendidly fulfil diplomatic functions for the UK!” – What job exactly? She does a speech every now and then, plays a (supposedly) symbolic role in government, and otherwise sits on her regal arse. Even the best attempts at defending the royal work ethic only demonstrate that much of their ‘work’ revolves around either smiling in public, arranging their own clothing and food for royal events (things that sane people would not consider work at all), occasionally attending the opening of public buildings, and meeting dignitaries. And for this oppressive workload, they are literally paid millions and inhabit palaces. Consider this clip at 03:15 from a decades old documentary on the responsibilities of the royal family (The film the Queen BANNED! – YouTube) where the queen casually suggests that a new dress ought to be made for her, just so that she has something to match a ruby necklace she intends to wear. In what world is this work? And is this extravagance proportionate to their responsibilities? I do wonder!

Even if I were to concede that the Queen had done a good job (which I don’t), that in no way justifies monarchy as a whole. I’ve spent a good portion of this article speaking about Charles specifically, and that’s because the entire point of a hereditary monarch is the lack of choice, thanks to which we’ll be saddled with Bumbling Charles for decades to come. A man who, like his father, laughs and stares at foreign dignitaries (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGamLrHlikc&ab_channel=RepublicCampaign @41:40), doesn’t know his place, and is utterly unused to responsibility or consequences. And such a man gets to be the head of state, why? What right does this man have to involve himself, other than his ancestry? It’s ludicrous. Most other nations rely on qualified, accountable officials for diplomatic functions: they’re called ‘diplomats’. Instead we’re left with a grown man who in speeches refers to the queen as “mummy”.

I could go on, but the point is made by now. Millions of people are currently tightening their belts in the UK, while we grant evermore enormous amounts of money to an unaccountable family of alien millionaires and billionaires, whose influence on Britain damages the credibility of our legal and political systems. They must go.

For a look at the conduct of the heir apparent and the horrifying implications this man has for our nation, check out the documentary ‘The Man who shouldn’t be King’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGamLrHlikc&ab_channel=RepublicCampaign

If you want to join me in celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee in the appropriate fashion, please consider donating to Republic, who campaign for an end to the monarchy. Republic

War in Europe, and making a difference

War in Europe, and making a difference

“In today’s world, where we live, there is no longer someone else’s war. None of you can feel safe when there is a war in Ukraine, when there is a war in Europe.” – Volodymyr Zelensky

TL:DR if you have a conscience, donate to help Ukraine. If you’re not comfortable with supporting their military struggle, at least give humanitarian aid. Links below.


If you had told me a fortnight ago that I would donate my first week’s wage at my new job to a warzone in Ukraine, split between the defending armed forces and humanitarian aid, you would have been speaking to a different person, living in a different world. And that person would have laughed off the thought. Add to that the idea that I might almost come to physical blows with members of my own family over politics, and for me we’d have been discussing an alternate reality.

I’m as guilty as anyone of complacency, living in an insulated Western First World nation, knowing little of the kind of suffering and hardship that has been typical of the human experience. The reality of course is that, while many of us enjoy a stability and quality of life that is unprecedented, we do not live in an end-of-history world. Peace, progress and safety are not guaranteed.

This has never been made so clear to me as in the days since Thursday 24th of February, when Russia began its invasion of Ukraine. I never really believed, following dozens of daily denials by the Russian authorities, that an invasion would really take place. Footage of Ukraine (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2rBUvWKSZw&ab_channel=baldandbankrupt) showed a peaceful, relatable European nation – people sitting in coffee shops, glued to their phones or chatting with friends, going to work or pushing prams along. They occupied the same world I know, in many ways. And war in my world was unthinkable. The various leaders in the West likely felt the same.

And yet it did happen, and Russian vehicles went rolling into Ukraine. It turned the known world for many people upside down.

Before even speaking of the emotional side of this conflict, it’s truthfully been a fascinating thing to observe. The amount of Social Media coverage, giving minute by minute accounts of the war, is jaw-dropping. Misinformation has been commonplace. Seeing a modern war with modern weaponry, in modern cities, between people’s with shared language and history; Seeing POW’s calling their families from captivity, and civilians and officials practically live-streaming the war… it’s overwhelming. It’s unprecedented. One comment I saw online: “When I served In Afghanistan some years ago, we used a GoPro and couldn’t even check the footage until we got to a PC, which was rarely. [Seeing it happen live] is unbelievable.”

But on top of this morbid fascination is a stunning cocktail of contrasting emotions, many of them of course negative. Being shaken by how quickly a situation can deteriorate and how fast all that you know can become uncertain. Seeing how openly and boldly a senior nation state can lie and threaten at every turn, and twist every event to make black into white and up to down (nations lie, but the quantity and quality has been shocking). Seeing Ukrainian civilians forced to take up arms, and Russian conscripts who are practically children being thrown into war by surprise.

This should also be expected to get much, much worse. Ukrainian utilities are beginning to fail, and supplies dwindle. Meanwhile, Russia had been treading lightly as they tried to minimise damage and casualties to maintain the pretence that this was a limited military operation; but now, Russia is warning civilians to flee cities, and broadcasting stations are being targeted – which implies something terrifying is about to take place. The worst human suffering Europe has experienced in decades is about to be practically live-streamed to us, in detail we’ve never seen.

One totally unanticipated side of the war has been the bizarre strength of positive emotions I’ve felt. Just as I’m in awe of Russia’s relentless lies – no invasion will happen, just military exercises, ‘special military operation’, no casualties, and everything else – I’m amazed and comforted by Western cooperation, by the unity and passion of so many different nations. Europe especially has seemingly awoken and come together, working quickly, no longer the complacent idealists (Germany especially, in a historic moment, realising that force is still sadly a part of this world, and substantially boosting its military). I feel proud to be a European, referendums be damned.

And as though I needed another reason, I’m moved to tears by the many people who’ve chosen to join Ukraine in it’s struggle personally, being obliged to do so by nothing except their own conscience and sense of duty to their fellow man (and in no small part by the incredible resolve of Zelensky). Social media has again shown itself to have real power to mobilise people. Though it’s a tragedy that European resolve and unity required such a crisis to come about, come about it has.

At the darkest possible time, I feel a real sense of hope for the future, a united and determined Europe, and a united Western World. But first, we must do what we can to ensure a Ukrainian victory, to ensure that democracy and unity defeat authoritarianism, here and now. And millions have come together to show they can do exactly that.

To the point then at last. I, like you, am a part of this world, and we have a responsibility to make it a better place. Consequently, I have donated the first week of earnings from my new job, split between the Ukrainian military and the British Red Cross. If you truly give a shit about human suffering, and you care for the liberties and democracies that you enjoy, you can put your money where your mouth is.

(Links valid as of 02/03/22)

British Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal

Donate to the Ukrainian Army

They say that all that is required for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing, and so I will do something, and ask that you do the same. And I will try to remember the lessons of 2022 for the rest of my life.

Adventures in God-Seeking

Adventures in God-Seeking

Lighting flashed, and some seconds later thunder inevitably followed. I was a teenager, around 15 years old, sat by my window and staring up at the clouds. In my mind, I pictured Thor bringing down mighty Mjolnir on an anvil with every flash and subsequent rumble. On other days, when it was bright and warm, I would think of Helios in his great chariot, dragging the sun across the sky. I was fascinated by these figures, and often pondered their presence in our world. Was there any truth to them?

I had always imagined that there must be something, some higher power(s) or original being(s), but the difficulty was in discovering where that truth lay. Which religion was actually true, or at least came closest? Perhaps God was best understood via some heady mixture of multiple creeds, fractions of which combined to make God somewhat knowable? Or were they all simply different aspects and interpretations of the divine? For whatever reason, I was always totally intent upon discovering the truth for myself. This is an account of my search for God.

I was well acquainted with Christianity already, having been raised a nominal Christian and having attended Catholic schools. I recognised early on that my Christian leanings were a product of my European context and upbringing, rather than due to any compelling arguments from Christianity. In fact, the justifications for Christian belief I was familiar with were so poor that the faith was quickly crossed from my list of possible true faiths – and we needn’t even touch on the laughable specifics of Catholicism here!

Christianity dismissed, I considered some of the old faiths: The gods of Rome, of Athens, of the Celts and Vikings. Pretty quickly I felt doubtful of their worth in understanding the divine. There’s little appeal to faiths with negligible numbers of believers, and with even fewer public figures arguing their strengths. Would real gods simply lose all of their believers? If they had existed, would they have even retained any semblance of god-like power with nearly no worship, no temples, etc? I put the ancient faiths of Europe aside, and turned expectantly to Islam.

I had always been drawn to Islam. It was somehow alien, but shared enough with Christianity that it wasn’t so unfamiliar. I watched talks online from Islamic scholars, read incredible stories of the mercy of the Prophet Muhammed, and was enchanted by the Call to Prayer (I always had been, and in truth I still am to this day). I grew excited, daring to believe that perhaps I had found a ‘true’ faith, that Islam had an answer, that the Qur’an may literally be the instructions of a divine being. I learnt the Shahada, considered the implications if I became a convert. But I had plenty of digging still to do.

It was around this time, now aged 16 or 17, that I met a preacher in the city centre. I seized my chance to speak to someone directly of my theological interest. He was impressed with what I already knew, gave me his phone number, and piled me with DVD’s promoting his faith, as well as a treasured copy of the Qur’an. At last!

Suffice to say, from here it was all pretty downhill.

I started with the DVD’s. The first was a poor attempt to show that modern science proved true the many statements in the Qur’an, and that Muhammed had known obscure scientific facts long before their discovery. The DVD was frankly hilarious, and I watched another. This was as silly as the first, so I turned it off. I bagged the DVD’s, and instead moved to read the Qur’an, finally.

This was the turning point. The repetitive, bellicose language of the Qur’an had all the tolerance and poetry of Mein Kampf. It damned non-believers to fire, and generally surprised me with its shortcomings. This was inspired by the most perfect being possible, the creator of the universe? This, something at best easily misinterpreted, and at worst malevolent, was penned by a deity, the deity? Something I could improve myself, with the addition of a few simple sentences like ‘I say to you, don’t persecute homosexuals’? It made no sense.

I was stumped. Christianity and Islam were flawed, the old faiths were lacking too. Initially I’d had little doubt that there was real substance to religion, the magic and wonder of it all appealed to me so. But the sudden sense of a vacuum had taken hold once I’d dismissed Islam as well. Were all faiths this flawed? Why was it so difficult to discover the true faith, when such a faith with divine origins would assumedly stand out? I hadn’t exactly exhausted the breadth of human religious beliefs, but patterns had already started to emerge in the shortcomings of the belief systems I had examined.

It occurred to me that I may as well re-approach the arguments made by atheists, including my then most reviled public intellectual on the subject, Professor Richard Dawkins. At the time I truly loathed this person, seemingly smug and superior while also, to my faithful mind, ignorant and needlessly offensive. But my want to understand demanded that I at least consider the possibility of a godless universe, and to that end, I held my nose and opened the copy of The God Delusion that I’d come to possess. And over the course of two nights of reading, my world-view crumbled. I was transfixed. I was 18, sat in my bed in student accommodation, as the reality of the world around me sank in. I put the book on my lap, and looked up around the room. “There is no God” I said quietly, genuinely a touch concerned at the remote possibility of a lighting bolt striking my room thanks to Yahweh’s (or maybe Zeus’) displeasure. Nothing happened.

For the first time, everything made sense. It was a near perfect fit for the world I could see around me, and couldn’t be ignored. Miracles were amply explained by the limitations of human understanding, which is why miracles have become rarer and rarer, and more humble in scale, over the centuries as we understand more. The contradictions and falsehoods found in scripture were exactly as they appeared, penned by flawed humans with imperfect motivations and understandings. Faiths were products of history and culture, of human psychology and little more. There were no divines, there was no cosmic entity monitoring human activity from elsewhere. There was likely no afterlife. Everything I had taken for granted was wrong. Black was white, and up was down. Or rather, I finally recognised that up was indeed up, etc.

From there, I moved to reading the other ‘atheist books’ one might expect, and this was the start of my (possibly unhealthy?) appreciation of Sam Harris’ career. I also began to read more critically on the religions I had previously been enamoured with, finding more and more fiction and outright malevolence in the texts and figures. From here on, I simply couldn’t shut up about these things. I co-found an Atheist society at the University of Leicester, volunteered for a Humanist organisation, etc. Anyone who knows me is aware that I still can’t avoid discussing the subject even now, that I’m something of a broken record.

This subject has always been a big deal for me, and I’m all the more fixated on it because I care about people; my rejection of faith is born of inquiry, but my dislike of faith and my frustrations with religion are largely rooted in compassion. To this day, friends and family committing their thoughts, their time and energy, even their identities and very lives to religion, upsets me a great deal. At best they have invested heavily into falsehoods, or worse they’re compelled to rationalise and defend the indefensible (I recall a committed left-wing activist and Corbynista once explaining to me that stoning women for adultery was “just a deterrent”.)

I understand something of the allure of faith, and have experienced many of the joys that others know via religion. But I also know that such joys can be experienced without the sacred baggage, and that it matters that we divorce morality and reality from identity and from holy scripture. And, broken record or not, I will always affirm this without apology, speaking as a former God-Seeker myself.

The Angelos Affair and Humanists UK

In late 2018, Angelos Sofocleous was studying Philosophy at Durham University. He was an editor at a university magazine and his departments journal. He’d successfully become President Elect of Humanist Students, the student branch of Humanists UK. All things considered, life was going fairly well.

He then made a crucial mistake. He shared an article on Twitter. And not just any article: it was a piece about Merseyside police investigating members of the public for suggesting that ‘women don’t have penises’ (https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/is-it-a-crime-to-say-women-don-t-have-penises-19-august-2018), and it was accompanied by a message from a previous user stating “retweet if you think women don’t have penises”. The vitriol in response was spectacular.

Within a month, he had lost his editorial positions and had been compelled to resign as president elect. Furthermore, following bullying at his university and even harassment from academics from within his own department, Angelos left Durham and only returned where his degree demanded, instead to do as much study from home as possible.

In his own words, “I fell into major depression. The backlash of that single retweet was immense. I would never have thought that I would make national news because I said “women don’t have penises”. It was so comical but at the same time it was something that had a huge negative effect on me. I felt that my whole life and my future in journalism and academia was collapsing.”( https://www.newsintervention.com/sofocleous-jacobsen-2/?fbclid=IwAR1NDPriYcgiL17jEHPHzQyBX3F7u4M31W-g7JQJTWxuVM2bjojytKIifEI).

When I first started this website, my first post was titled “Some doubt that anyone with whom they disagree could ever be a moral, rational person”. Angelos’ treatment both online and on campus is the face of this illness, a kind of tribalism that tolerates no dissent and demands surrender on any subject relating to identity or which could offend (which is to say, on practically every important subject). It’s almost as though I had written that post with reference to the very people that had attacked Angelos so.

In actual fact, I had. My own stay with Humanist Students had been enjoyable for the most part and I had met some wonderful people, but I had never fully settled and never felt fully welcome. This was due in great part to the behaviours of key members – a small but significant minority – who reacted with shock and disgust towards the slightest erring from their small bubble of thought. The villainization and obvious shunning I experienced did serious damage to my confidence and self-perception, and my willingness to express myself waned. And many of the same people – reinforced by other implacable fanatics – led the charge online in ensuring Angelos was duly punished for his voicing of an errant opinion.

One name referenced by Angelos himself (https://conatusnews.com/angelos-sofocleous-free-speech-academia/) is Christopher Ward, formerly of LGBT Humanists (another branch of Humanists UK), and a repugnant exemplar of the hostile and pig-headed behaviours of those referred to above. No matter how civil and approachable you might attempt to be, if these humans have judged you guilty of wrongthink, you had better prepare yourself for some less-than-PG language:

ward nutcase censored

These people are antithetical to everything that is important for progress on polarising subjects. They possess no shortage of outrage and zealotry. And despite the claim I would frequently hear among some of these ‘humanists’ of caring so much about mental health of others, they’re happy to wreck the lives of others if something on the internet offends them. Why else would phonecalls have been made to the university, demanding that Angelos be expelled for a simple tweet?

Aside from the above terrifying crackpots, Angelos takes the view that Humanists UK themselves behaved poorly, due to ideology… “despite their claims that they belong in an open-minded organisation which is driven by science and rational thinking, their actions have proven that, in certain cases, Humanists UK cannot avoid dogmatism.” Though I don’t know exactly what Angelos’ experiences were within the organisation at the time, my own past with Humanists UK leave me thinking otherwise. Their issue is not their dogmatic attachment to certain views, but rather a lack of real principles and committed positions. Humanists UK have long tried to be everything for everyone: a broad church where different views could be expressed, but where progressives could expect a safe-space styled bubble of conformity. A hub for debate and conversation, but so long as everyone largely agreed on what was being discussed.

Among both liberal and progressive acquaintances this caused no end of frustration, and the outcome is that Humanists UK manages to please no-one, alienating people from across the political spectrum. This is why many liberals left Humanists UK in the months that followed the Angelos Affair, and why Christopher Ward and various others ‘progressives’ made very public cancellations of their own memberships also. No doubt the delayed statement from Humanists UK at the time – which infuriated all involved – was partially thanks to their pondering on how best to please all sides (and failing once more).

It’s important to note that I’m not simply throwing in my lot with Angelos out of some partisan agreement with his retweet. If I have understood Angelos perspective correctly, I actually disagree with him fairly strongly. He feels that to identify as trans due to one’s perceived gendered behaviour is to reinforce stereotypes, and such stereotypes are harmful. On the other hand, I see many gender stereotypes as an unavoidable feature of our species, being neither malevolent nor benevolent (except where individuals are mistreated on the basis of stereotypes) and that gender identity is in part inherent. Then again, I could simply misunderstood Angelos’ opinions.

Which is exactly the point of having conversations on polarising subjects: in the event that I have misunderstood or misrepresented Angelos’ views, I would happily be corrected and would want him the fullest opportunity to set the record straight. And if we continued to disagree on a topic, it could be done in such a way as to be productive, and not drag one another (and our mental health) through the mud. It could also be done without our assuming the most base, hateful and ignorant motivations for each others opinions (See ‘Steelmanning’ from Daniel Dennett: https://conversion-rate-experts.com/steel-manning/ ). Angelos’ critics failed utterly in this regard: they felt they’d learned all they needed to know of his opinions, and his character, in 100 characters or less. Such is the norm of the ‘social justice’ twitter mob.

We are fortunate however to live in a society that broadly still values free expression, and where attempts to suppress only end up making voices louder. Angelos himself has since hosted a number of academics on his podcast (which you can find here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxpQepqu0dm0TS7yX8KNS8w?fbclid=IwAR36_CQMur30kzOE1wAhC8hceQ2AgD9EkmGZsgd1M7PVECjBgODRwfiQNnk ) and is swiftly approaching the conclusion of his PhD at York. He’s even published various articles in newspapers including, ironically, The Spectator, the source of the original article that had caused so much drama. All in all, thanks in part to the difficulties thrown Angelos’ way, life seems to be going better still: “I would like to take the opportunity to thank those who pushed me into depression because without them I wouldn’t be pursuing a PhD in this extremely interesting area of philosophy.”

Anyone wanting to find Angelos’ own account of his experiences can find it here:


Talking About Islam Without Being Eiynah

Talking About Islam Without Being Eiynah

Well written! A pity she changed so….

Concrete Milkshake

Since the appalling attack in Christchurch, New Zealand by a White Supremacist Anti-Muslim terrorist, public focus has refreshingly fallen upon the ideology of the attacker. There has been next to nothing of the usual dismissal of stated motive, concerns over potential backlash, or calls to consider the political grievances of this terrorist. Much scrutiny has also fallen upon the kind of remarks made by critics of Islam, and speculation has begun to take place as to whether such criticism played a part in prompting this devastating massacre.

Reluctant to miss an opportunity to disparage “movement atheism”, this has rather predictably become the topic of a new Life After God podcast hosted by atheist ex-Pastor Ryan Bell (@RyanJBell), and guested by ex-Muslim illustrator and podcast host in her own right, Eiynah Mohammed-Smith (@NiceMangos).

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Why the UK must stand with US protestors – Justice for George Floyd

Why the UK must stand with US protestors – Justice for George Floyd

(REBLOG) I feel some distinction ought to be made between protest and attacking private business – the state is at fault, and the state ought to pay the price. All the same, good to read!

Anger and Hope

Yet again, we’ve seen another black man killed by the US police force. In the unforgettable video which is no doubt forever imprinted on our minds, Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneels on the neck of an unmoving George Floyd for nine minutes, protected by three fellow officers, while George Floyd calls out “I can’t breathe.” It is nigh-on impossible to watch the video without feeling you’ve watched the murder of an innocent man.

Since then, America has lit up – in many cases literally – with protests all across the country. Starting with Minneapolis, the scene of the crime, protests and riots have spread across America, from Richmond VA, the old capital of the Confederacy, to New York City and the White House. It’s impossible to avoid or unsee the videos of police squads shooting at, beating up and arresting anyone they see fit, whether they’re journalists with press…

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On Being Wrong and Sargon of Akkad

sargon of akkad carl benjamin


Part of this blog focuses on being open to different ideas, and the importance of being able to discuss issues honestly with others. Obviously there would be little point to arguing as much unless I went out of my way to practice what I preach, and to that end I thought it worthwhile detailing an occasion where conversation succeeded in changing my mind.


Specifically, I was in conversation with a friend to whom I was complaining about Kate Smurthwaite. For those of you fortunate enough to not know of Smurthwaite, she is a cringe-worthy comedian that reeks of entitlement and snobbery (In my humble opinion) who I detest for a number of reasons. I was caught up in detailing the reasons for this loathing when my friend stopped me in my tracks: “I understand your criticisms” they said, “but why do you not hold others to the same standards as her?”


At first I was surprised and defensive, as I generally feel myself to be a fair and consistent person. But the more I listened, and the more I considered their points in my own time, the more their overall point stuck. I was forced to conclude the following: that I had been wrong to be so forgiving of ‘Sargon of Akkad’ (AKA Carl Benjamin) and Milo Yiannopolis, among others, while being so judging of Smurthwaite and others.


Carl Benjamin and Milo Yiannopolis were some of my first exposures to popular criticisms of the political (especially student) left, and I was a long-time subscriber to the former. Even though I frequently disagreed with things that they said and did (Carl’s woeful Brexiteer videos and Milo’s… well, many things), I often downplayed or dismissed these things because, on subjects that I really cared about and that they seemed to champion, they often spoke my language and made the sorts of points that I had struggled to voice with confidence in my own conversations. This is how I initially developed a positive association with them.


Eventually their behaviour (including Carl’s rape tweets and UKIP interest, and Milo’s own actions) shone a light on their shortcomings and hypocrisies. In fairness I suspect that Carl changed for the worse and lost perspective as his fame grew, and he shifted to the right in order to maintain his now distinctly anti-left audience, but whatever the reason for their views, they came to stand for and with much that I could not excuse. I had moved on and no longer volunteered them any respect. Or so I thought.


While some (some!) of my past apologetics for them was a mistake in its own right, it was after my dismissing them that I made a mistake that I was unaware of.
Even after my interest waned and my disgust with them grew, I remained far too comfortable dismissing or downplaying their significant shortcomings: as an example, I greeted the re-emergence of Carl on my social media via his bad press with some non-committal head shaking and soft criticisms, but little more despite the serious gulf that had opened between his values and mine. Conversely I’ve often agreed with Kate Smurthwaite on a number of issues, but only grudgingly, instead focusing on her (numerous) shortcomings, and immediately returning to what makes her ‘bad’ to my mind. Essentially, even though I had distanced my thoughts from Carl Benjamin and Milo Yiannopolis long ago, they still reserved an undeserved space for attention and respect in the back of my mind, while others like Smurthwaite reserved only a position of ire. I can find no justification for this clear double-standard.


This is not to say that I’ve come to disagree with their every opinion, since I feel that many of the points that both Carl Benjamin and Milo make are still fair (in fact Sargon’s earliest videos, which were narrow in scope and generally limited to critiques, remain entertaining for me). But there are better quality thinkers – better quality human beings – than these individuals available to support in the ‘culture wars’ (Christina Hoff-Summers, Warren Farrell and Sam Harris to name a few) and a tribalist approach of ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’ is a sure way of finding oneself on the wrong side of history.


Every person ought to be judged by the same standard as any other; this I have always believed. But it wasn’t until my conversation with a friend that I realised how singularly I had failed to make this a reality. And this is the worth of conversation – it is a simple yet effective means of filtering and finding fault with one’s own thoughts, even for someone like myself that tries (and evidently fails) to base their opinions on careful consideration of the evidence and tries to give everyone equal access to the benefit of the doubt. Simply thanks to a chat, I have the chance to take this failure on board, and improve as both a thinker and a person.


Whether it’s regarding the merits of modern feminist movements, religion or other sensitive subjects, one can find countless examples of failures of conversation on social media. I’ve certainly had more than my fair share of vile interactions with people that otherwise could have been simple disagreements, or even fruitful exchanges. And any time you (or I) resist that nagging feeling that an interlocutor may have a point, or decide to instead virtue signal or ‘mic drop’, you are denying yourself the opportunity to improve your opinions for the sake of a few social brownie points. Take the advice of someone that’s doubtless wrong quite frequently: challenge yourself to be wrong about something, for your own benefit.

Mr D and the ‘Global Transexual Conspiracy’

Mr D and the ‘Global Transexual Conspiracy’


A little backstory. In the past year or so, I’ve had the opportunity to reconnect with a few childhood friends and, with them, re-engage with my chosen pastime: video gaming. In doing so, I also managed to reconnect with an individual that I shall refer to only as Mr D. D had always been a little eccentric, whether it was his sometimes childish gullibility or outright inability to avoid drawing unwanted attention to himself; he had been the victim of persistent bullying at our school, and I was curious to learn where his life had gone over the last few years. I was told that he ran a successful YouTube channel, with which he tried to “enlighten” others and “free their minds”.


Imagine my surprise (if you truly can) when it turned out that the channel was dedicated to ‘exposing’ celebrities as secret transsexuals, the agents of a global transsexual agenda to maliciously transform and confuse society. Following a fair bit of conversation and not a little exasperation, I yielded to my urge to write this, not merely to publicise, but to seek advice on what to do.


It’s difficult to give an adequate rendition of his views as they are at times incomprehensible, and poorly fleshed out. But from what I can actually comprehend, his opinions are as follows:


Everything, from the game of chess to TV shows and the celebrities we see, is part of a transsexual agenda to mislead the populace regarding what is ‘normal’. Every tool is being utilised to encourage the population to forget the realities of masculinity and femininity. People are given hormones at all stages of their life to confuse and misgender the population, especially using foods that encourage sex hormones to the extent that they change the build and behaviour of their consumers. All this is orchestrated by the ‘elite’ who are literally “transgendering children in the womb” and ensure that we receive significant amounts of hormones to change us at birth. There is no need to refer to professionals for any justification of these assertions; he doesn’t need a scientist for facts, he tells me, because he can work these things out for himself. Besides, people in such positions are usually trans themselves, having been promoted to help conceal the lie and spread misinformation.


“Mate, go on google now” I have been told, “all square skulls are male, women have oval shaped ones, [these people] are tranny freaks”. He means this as literally and earnestly as imaginable, and even provided helpful diagrams to demonstrate (one of which can be seen in this article’s thumbnail, and which are scattered throughout his videos).


He even believes that the names of celebrities allude to their transsexuality:


“Nicole KidMAN

Natalie PortMAN

Courtney COX

Kelly ClarkSON

Sarah SilverMAN

Julia ROBERTs”.


He is not joking. He genuinely believes this. I am 100% serious.


My feelings on this are a curious blend of fascination, revulsion and sorrow. It is intriguing to witness this level of confusion in a fellow human being, to see just how susceptible we are to fantastical beliefs given the right circumstances. True, D had been vulnerable and perhaps ill-equipped for the misinformation one can so easily come across on the internet, but he had never been a bad person. It is sad to see what time can do to someone that once seemed so harmless.


As for how he came to believe as he does, there are a number of factors to consider. First and foremost, D had always struggled to understand people and the world around him, and I believe that some inherent difference in how he thinks is the likely cause of this. However, this was exaggerated by his lack of social interaction and general isolation, even moreso since he left school. Without a good basic grasp of ‘people’, D has been left to comprehend society for himself, and – with the internet’s help – he has reached his disturbing conclusions.


Furthermore, it may come as no surprise to some readers that D was the unlucky recipient of a conservative religious upbringing. If anything could have left D more ill-prepared for critical thinking and understanding the people around him, it would have been this.


My last thought is likely the most important though, and the most troubling: there is decent chance that D himself is trans or (more likely) gay, and his obsession with the subject comes as a means of dealing with his confusing feelings and identity. Judging by some odd comments he has made about men in drag (among others), he may well feel some attraction to men, but justifies it by arguing that the men are in fact women – thus, being attracted to them is not ‘gay’, but is ‘straight’ behaviour. Couple this with the Christian (read: possibly homophobic) upbringing, and perhaps the dots begin to connect.


Now to the key question. I have established that D is paranoid, that he is determined to get the ‘truth’ out there. His views are incredible. His reasonings are almost non-existent. His own identity is in question. But what – if anything – could I or anyone do to change this? It would be easy to simply write him off as a ‘looney’ and leave him to his fate as one, but I am fully committed to believing that this individual can be a better person. I believe that they can be helped, and become a positive impact on the world. And especially if D is in fact gay or trans, I want above all to help him acknowledge reality, and come to terms with who he is.


If anyone has ever dealt with someone like this before, or knows of anyone or anything that could help, I would ask that you leave a comment or message me directly. Thank you for reading.


Note: His channel for reference – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8P42cmqsetX4zfxAj0jl5w

My Heart Breaks for Oxfam

My Heart Breaks for Oxfam

(Above: A world map highlighting all countries in which Oxfam was active in 2009).

Rather than a careful and collected, reference-heavy piece of writing, the following constitutes more of a ramble than anything else. It is however an important ramble, on a subject that I feel I have to ramble on. And I would highly appreciate a little patience in its being read.

I cannot speak of the behaviour of Oxfam representatives in Haiti in 2011 in any detail: I don’t know enough of the facts, nor do I really know enough of the measures taken by Oxfam when their behaviour became apparent. In all likelihood, the full extent of their behaviour and the shortcomings or successes of Oxfam’s response will never be fully agreed on.

There are two things that I can speak of, however: the very real and unfair impact of the still-raging media firestorm on Oxfam’s activities, and my own experiences as an Oxfam volunteer.

Multiple Oxfam Ambassadors have already opted to leave Oxfam in the wake of the recent scandal, including Minnie Driver and, more recently, Desmond Tutu. These are serious blows to the organisation. Some media outlets have even taken the time to name as many famous Oxfam Ambassadors as possible, providing some sort of malevolent reference resource for the curious (https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/5574756/oxfam-ambassadors-desmond-tutu-minnie-driver-bonnie-wright/). What purpose could such an article serve, other than simply to pressure more people to abandon the charity? I am truly convinced that elements of the media have been more concerned with fishing for shocking stories (no big surprise in the age of click-bait) than scouring for reliable content. I am told by one manager for example than journalists have even begun turning up at random shops, seeking to question volunteers.

This is not to absolve Oxfam of any guilt, since as I have already said, I cannot speak to the scandal itself, nor do I believe any organisation should be above scrutiny. But the net result of such articles and the media’s general response to this scandal has not simply been to pressure Oxfam to higher standards in future: it has been to ensure that people suffer.

Multiple people have already told me that they’ll never again consider giving to Oxfam (or indeed, any charity) in the wake of the revelations still coming to light. And just as Oxfam Ambassadors are choosing to leave the charity, so too is this reflected in Oxfam donors more widely. Without the much needed support from these people that Oxfam relies on, its power as a charity to help people in need will suffer. At present, Oxfam is active in over 90 countries, helping secure educations and careers for thousands of men and women in the third world, while simultaneously providing aid to disasters all over the globe: can this be expected to continue? With an impending review of its relationship with the UK government looming (http://metro.co.uk/2018/02/10/government-review-oxfam-relationship-haiti-sex-allegations-7301610/), all is horrifyingly uncertain.

Furthermore, even by the admissions of a senior Oxfam whistle-blower, the management of staff behaviour and investigations of allegations were hampered significantly by limited resources (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUJ–w7nTww). It is extremely upsetting therefore, to know that the fallout of these accusations may be to further limit these resources.

No, appropriate measures may not have been taken. Yes, the charity could have done more. But to abandon the entire organisation, to discredit and demonise the efforts of over 30,000 people because of the failings of a small minority makes no sense. And it is incredibly painful to watch support for the charity slip away, day by day in real time, knowing that its ability to help those in need will suffer. Even unrelated charities are being negatively impacted, for Christ sake!

I have been an Oxfam volunteer for well over a year at this point. And I have never, in my entire life, met a more conscientious and caring collection of people, and neither have I ever been made to feel more welcomed and appreciated by an organisation. I have volunteered for organisations and worked for charities where I have been made to feel like shit, due to the behaviour of their members. But my exposure to the atmosphere within Oxfam – limited though it may be – has proved to be an unequalled breath of fresh air.

All staff have inundated with information and openness from Oxfam regarding events, and it is clear that at all levels – from humble volunteers to regional directors– the organisation has been shaken. And my heart truly aches to see such a worthwhile collection of people suffer the short end of the stick, not to mention the people worldwide that will no longer receive such incredible support.

I would urge people to focus on the incredible work of the charity at large, and the admirable efforts of the majority of its staff, rather than judge the whole on the sins of the minority. Many thanks.


Male ‘Privilege’: A Reality Check

Male ‘Privilege’: A Reality Check

First I want to briefly cover reactions to my previous piece, which examined the concept of Feminism as synonymous with equality (a truly marvellous piece which, if you haven’t already, you should definitely go and read). It seems that some persons are more attached to the label of ‘Feminist’ than to the actual principles of believing in and agitating for gender equality, which only goes to reinforce the point of the piece. One would have expected some level of contentedness regarding my views due to my believing in gender equality (if indeed equality were the heart and soul of Feminism) but alas this seemed not to be the case. I had even included a graph which demonstrated, if indeed Feminism were simply about equality, how much of a Feminist I am, but still this was not enough. I shan’t digress on the matter any further.

For the most part though, reactions to the piece were both pleasant and reasonable. Even among those that disagreed, most were kind enough to be both amicable and informative in terms of their disagreements, which tended to rest upon one central point: that woman are indeed still significantly disadvantaged in the western world today. This piece is the promised follow-up regarding that point of view, with which I disagree muchly; it is not the case that women in the West (primarily I am speaking about the UK and USA) are significantly more disadvantaged than men. For some of you reading, the idea that women aren’t oppressed in the UK and elsewhere in the West is laughable, and perhaps even infuriating. But for many others, the opposite view is regarded with equal scepticism. This is my attempt to clarify and explain the latter viewpoint.

In order to approach this without writing the single longest thing in the history of the internet, I’m splitting my reproachment into multiple parts; there are just too many areas of this issue that I would like to address for a single piece. Here, I want to jump head-first into the topic in perhaps an odd location: men’s issues, and the idea of the inherent ‘privilege’ in being a man. Part of the concept of women’s oppression and marginalisation in the Western World rests on the idea that men simply have a better time in society than do women, and this is a plain misconception.

Take for example employment inequality. It certainly is the case that men dominate top positions in major companies, and are the majority in a host of other highly respected and well paid positions. References to the glass ceiling faced by women are commonplace among those that cite women as simply being worse-off than men, and campaigners and activists on this topic rarely fail to highlight this blatant disparity.

However, this issue is being approached in a way that is typical when it comes to gender politics, and identity politics more widely: in such a way as to neatly chop and package the relevant slices of inequality one is concerned with highlighting. In this example, only the higher end of the societal ladder is being examined. Campaigns for gender equality in employment revolve around the want for more female CEO’s and highly successful businesswomen of all sorts, while ignoring that men also dominate the lowliest of jobs, ranging from Masons to Mine Workers and Builders.

Just pause to consider this for a moment. There exist movements and drives to improve the lot of a group that typically avoid the worst jobs society has to offer, movements which demand that this fairly fortunate section of society be entitled to the most comfortable and desirable jobs. Does this strike no-one as outright bizarre? Sections of society see boardrooms of men, and reason that this is unacceptable: they see streets being swept by men, or sewage being cleared by men, and not an eyelid is batted.

In my own experience, this speaks to the often middle-class and ironically privileged nature of those making the demands: growing up in a working-class household, with a father that works manual labour and feels real pain for a living, and a mother that works easy hours in a easy job by comparison, it wasn’t hard for me to note some degree of inequality between the two, and I saw this dichotomy played out in the parents of countless others from working-class backgrounds. Had I grown up in a middle-class household with at least one parent being a highly-paid professional – and statistically, this would likely be my father – perhaps I too would have been left feeling that women are disadvantaged when thinking of the workplace. After all, why should my mother only earn 40k per annum when father earns 55?

On top of occupying the least desirable jobs in society, the risks men run in doing their jobs should alone give workplace equality activists second thoughts in prioritizing women’s issues. Men are far more likely to sustain serious injuries, and overwhelmingly more likely to die, in the course of their employment than women (men account for around 97% of all workplace fatalities). To refer again to my own upbringing, if my father were to return home from work without bleeding hands, this could generally be considered a good day at work. His shoulders and back suffer recurring strains and pains, and the top of his head is marked and scarred in various places, while some fingers no longer straightens as they should and once did. It is difficult to see this hardship on a day-to-day basis for years on end, and conclude – especially having looked at the wider statistics – that men are simply ‘privileged’ when it comes to the workplace.

Homelessness too is a men’s issue far more than it is a women’s, and so is the indignity of imprisonment: three in every four of the homeless are men, while men are overwhelmingly the majority of the prison population in both the UK and the US. In the West, poverty and the lack of prospects that comes with a criminal background are problems faced largely by men, and not the other way around. Indeed, there is even evidence to suggest that men in some western countries are given harsher sentences than women for same crimes. Note that this disparity is even greater than the black-white disparity in sentencing in the US, though if I am honest, I’m personally somewhat sceptical regarding the methodologies involved in both these studies.

As ever, for some the issues of one gender simply trump those of the other, no matter the statistics relevant to the topic at hand:

1 in 4 homeless women

Pictured: An odd way of saying “three in four homeless are men”.


As though not bad enough, these figures coincide with a greater likelihood for men to take their own lives. I am personally appalled by the number of men I’ve met and know who have at the least considered taking their own lives, and it is stunning to think that the lead cause of death among men my own age in the UK is suicide, while the disparity between women and men in this regard has only grown in recent decades. And the rush for a release from the mortal coil among men isn’t limited to self destruction. Men also have the pleasure of dying around 4 years earlier on average than women.

The experiences of many of these men during their lives are unenviable no matter their longevity. Divorce courts and child custody laws as they currently exist, in societies where marriages too often end in failure, serve to deprive men of their possessions and fathers of their children. In some countries entire organisations have campaigned against default shared custody with little public outcry (see previous entry on this subject), and around a quarter of children in the UK are currently raised in single parent households, typically with their mothers (though not in all instances is this simply men being prevented from seeing their children, of course).

Despite the various points and references above – which I am by no means being original in compiling – the concept of men as victims is usually approached as a marginal issue at best and laughable one at worst, with even British politicians somehow failing to know better than to snort at the notion. As radical a position as it may be, I feel that there is little amusing in men being the primary victims of violence and of murder, and even though around a third of domestic abuse victims are men, the issue is approached by charities and authorities as though virtually non-existent: As of 2015 around 7500 refuge spaces were available for women who were victims of domestic abuse in England and Wales, while men possessed a whopping… 60. That a third of abuse victims would be allocated less than 1% of available refuge spaces, essentially on the grounds of their differing gender, should serve to shock and disgust any right-minded reader.

Despite all of the above, some people genuinely seem to believe that men simply have a much, much better time of life than women, especially considering the gender disparity in politics:

they genuinely believe that since men dominate politics in the US, UK, etc, and since men dominate the most influential and desirable jobs in society, men therefore possess privileged representation, influence and power. The thinking behind this style of idea it so clearly flawed that it shouldn’t really require reproachment, but I’ll do so regardless: what is actually important is not shared identity, but ideas. Consider Bernie Sanders and Sarah Palin: who is to be trusted with women’s reproductive rights? The conservative pro-life Christian woman, or the pro-choice ‘stale pale male’? This should take you all of two seconds to answer. Jacob Rees-Mogg does not go home after a quick speech in parliament and contemplate how he can further his gendered agenda. Most likely, he considers how to benefit his friends and other well-to-do conservatives. If anything, the male domination of the worst jobs in society serves to demonstrate the lack of advantages that the male domination of the best jobs in society confers on them.

I am also uninterested in historical discrimination and privileges unless these clearly translate into present ones. The notion that somehow, by virtue of the historical privileges they once possessed and by virtue of ‘fellow men’ being in politics and business, privilege inevitably trickles down to the average man, is no more a sensible idea than when Republican Senators argue the same of wealth in the United States.

I have already occupied too much of your precious time with the length of this article. The point I am trying to make is quite simple, so I’ll put it clearly just for the sake of memory: The idea that men – who live shorter lives, work longer hours, who are more frequently the victims of violent crimes, who sustain more injuries and far more fatalities while working the most undesirable jobs in society – possess a position of eminent privilege compared to women in the West, is nonsense. To quote Christina Hoff Summers: “Men have to be the only oppressor class in history who are less educated, more victimized and have shorter lives than those they oppress, and who claim society’s most gritty and dangerous jobs as their exclusive preserve.”

Please note that I am not suggesting that women’s issues do not exist and shouldn’t be taken seriously. The fight for reproductive rights in the US and elsewhere continues, and the categorisation of tampons as ‘luxury items’ is a clear instance of injustice, without even needing to discuss the depths to which casual misogyny and objectification can sink. Among certain groups, the term oppression may even be well suited to the treatment of women on religious and cultural grounds. I am advocating merely that issues of gender be approached proportionally and with men’s issues in mind too.

Nor am I saying that men are in fact the disadvantaged gender in Western societies. Instead, I am simply pointing out that what ‘men’ as a collective possess is not ‘privilege’: it is ‘variation’. They are the majority of successful careerists and unsuccessful criminals, street cleaners and CEO’s, and this indisputable fact simply isn’t recognised all too often. It is too easy to point at the tip of the societal iceberg and claim ice to occupy all the high places, but there is a lot to see concealed beneath the waves, too.

A last thought – I shall be doing MOVEMBER this month, and sporting the most sporting of moustaches for the sake of men’s health. If you would be so kind as to consider donating even just a little spare change, it would be a tremendous help. Here is the link, and many thanks in advance.