I hate all this pop-psych jargon. Probably because I don’t understand half of it.

I need this blog as a bit of an outlet at the moment. Even if no-one reads it, I just feel the need to let off steam, to have my primal scream, in way that isn’t possible in real life.

I do feel hopelessly misunderstood. That fundamentally bothers me. I guess I just have to come to terms with the fact that none of us can be liked by all of the people all of the time and I need to come to terms with the fact that it really doesn’t matter what people think, it’s what’s in your heart that is of true value and worth.

The problem is, that at the moment, if I express any sort of hurt then I am instantly accused of manipulation, playing the victim and being passive-aggressive. In my ignorance I had no idea of what passive-aggressive meant, so I had to do a quick wikki.

I’m pretty sure that I’m not displaying any of those characteristics. All I want to do is say “play nicely chaps”. Can’t we keep the personal insults, name-calling and mud-slinging out of this. Debate a point on its merits as opposed to resorting to unkind retorts and schoolyard tactics, along the lines of “I hate you and so does x, y and z, here’s what they’ve said about you and look they’re still sending me emails about you”. It is making me want to leave the internet, to not be able to express myself at all for fear or what you might say or do next, particularly when I have been told “you’ll find a way to play the victim, you’ll manipulate that’s what you do”. This is not manipulation. This is simply saying stop. Enough. I enjoy the debate, but I don’t like being verbally assaulted and abused. I don’t like being called offensive names and labels which bear no relation to the reality.

Or is it simply that I’m not allowed to have feelings either? By refusing to believe hurt feelings, to accuse me of manipulation is to deflect your own guilt in the matter, apportioning blame elsewhere rather than taking responsibility. I conceded that I may have been a ill-judged in some of my choice of language. Why can’t you do the same? Is that because to admit that I might be genuinely hurt and upset and defensive as a result, concedes that I am human and not the unfeeling, uncaring bigot you would have us all believe?

In any event, continuing to blame me, continuing to assert how right you are and how universally despised I am and how my hurt is actually some elaborate sham, now that really is genuine passive-aggressive behaviour.

I almost came off FB again, I almost deleted this blog, heck it probably won’t be read that much, but I shall leave with the following bit of light relief.

All rather topical methinks.


Turning to my trusty OED again, I needed to remind myself of the definition of Homophobia:

an extreme and irrational aversion to homosexuality and homosexual people

OK. Am I averse to homosexuality and homosexual people? The answer is a resounding no. I was hugely in favour of the civil partnership laws, believing that every human being is of equal right, worth and dignity regardless of race, colour, creed, culture, sexual orientation. I believe that same-sex relationships should be afforded exactly the same civil rights and protections as hetrosexual ones.

On an aside I actually didn’t think the civil partnership act went far enough. It was originally sold to the public under the guise of ensuring legal protection for all those in a close loving relationship, be that platonic or sexual and in fact it has failed to deliver. I know of many people living together in a close-knit platonic relationship, who have no desire to go through a public ceremony/pledge of commitment that implies otherwise. What seems to be vastly unfair is where you have the situation of two quite elderly people, and I call to mind two elderly “aunts” here, who have lived together for over 50 years. They moved in together in the late 50s, when they were both young teachers and have remained living together ever since. Unless my parents have finally updated their will, they are still my legal guardians! At times of family trauma, such as when my grandmother died, or when my mother was badly injured in a car crash we were entrusted into their care. It never occurred to us as children to wonder whether or not they were gay. I’m not sure I would have understood what that meant anyway. Now one is in their late 70s and is acting as a carer towards the other in her late 80s. When one dies, the other will not be exempt from inheritance tax, nor treated as a next of kin with any legal rights, given that they have not chosen to formalise their relationship as being a same-sex one. There are plenty of other elderly people in this position, mostly relatives, such as brothers or sisters living together in the same property, often bequeathed by parents who will face eviction on the death of their sibling, being unable to afford the inheritance tax. This seems to me to be an unfair loophole.

So, why is it homophobic not to want to counsel those in same-sex relationships due to deep-seated misgivings about their relationship? In the case of Mr MacFarlane his misgivings weren’t irrational. They were based on his religious belief. Religious belief requires some element of belief without proof, as indeed does atheism, there is no proof that God does NOT exist, it is just that, a belief arrived at having weighed up and examined the evidence. Therefore no religious beliefs can be irrational if they have been arrived at after having weighed up the evidence and come to a certain conclusion.

To refuse to counsel same-sex couples is not the same as attempting to deny someone basic human rights. It is simply saying – my conscience does not allow me to do this. One could argue that the ends are the same, namely that the couple doesn’t receive the counselling, but realistically there are plenty of counsellors that would be happy to provide the service. My difficulty with this whole issue is that people’s religious beliefs are being dismissed as homophobic, i.e extreme and irrational aversion towards homosexuality when they are nothing of the sort. Mr MacFarlane was following his conscience in as much as he was saying, that led by his beliefs, which we have to assume were informed, he couldn’t be promoting and assisting in a lifestyle which he believed to be erroneous.

I can almost hear the shouts of “how dare you accuse this lifestyle of being wrong, see you are a homophobe, you HATE gay people”. No, actually, I don’t, nor I suspect does Mr Macfarlane. Nor does the Catholic Church for that matter. The Catechism says that homosexual people “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” (CCC 2358). I hate to use these words because they are so vastly misunderstood but there is a need to differentiate between the person and the act, the sin and the sinner.  The Bible does not promote homophobia. We cannot in a just and fair society punish people for their sexual orientation.

Refusing to aid and abet a relationship or lifestyle that is against your own personal principles, does not render one a homophobe or gay-basher. However the refusal of leave to appeal has said that religious beliefs are irrational and that in the course of work you must abandon them.

One of the things I abhor is being told what I must think. I can’t bear it. It drives me mad. Being a Catholic does not been that I have been party to brainwashing or told what to think. To assume that does every single Catholic a huge disservice. If the Holy Father told me the sky was red, I wouldn’t automatically believe him. I’d try to see if I could understand what he was talking about, was he being figurative or literal? I wouldn’t assume he was right nor would I assume he was having a senior moment. I’d examine what he said, what he based this assertion on and come to my own conclusions.

This is why I take such huge issue with this judgement. We are effectively being told what to think. Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus anyone with any faith are being told that this is irrational and irrelevant and we must behave and think in a straight-jacketed prescriptive way, devoid of any faith based ethical code in order to avoid discriminating against others or causing offence. To my mind, this is as intolerant as the prejudice/discrimination it is supposed to circumvent. It is Orwellian:

All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

Homosexuals should have equal civil rights, that is not in dispute. Those with religious beliefs should have the right to exercise them without fear of recourse. We need to get the balance right on this one. We need to ensure that people are able to examine their conscience and be granted exceptions having had a fair hearing, i.e. had the opportunity to explain their principles, the reasons behind them and examine whether or not they are based on fear or hatred. To deny Mr MacFarlane the opportunity to do that, is, I believe, discriminatory and a sad day for tolerance and diversity.

When is Christianity NOT bigotry?

Could someone care to explain please?

I am a Christian, but most definitely not a bigot. I don’t display intolerance to those who may have different opinions. I’ve been attempting to discern which way to vote according to advice from here.

Apparently this renders me a bigot because I am seeking to impose my will/views on others. Isn’t this what we all do when we vote? We vote for a candidate/political party whose views we believe or hope will most closely reflect ours.

When I quoted this on a recent discussion forum I was accused of religious bigotry because apparently my Catholic Christian conscience makes me want to discriminate against others.

I have to accept that if I want to enter the healthcare profession I would be forced to engage in activities that are prohibited by my faith, that no exception can be made for personal beliefs. I have flirted with the idea of midwifery on several occasions, I’ve done quite a lot of investigation as to whether or not it would be feasible for me train and whether or not I’d be suited to a career as a midwife. The conclusion that I came to was that midwifery was not for me as there would be occasions in which I would need to participate in abortion procedures, which is something that I could not do. Therefore the need not to discriminate has effectively discriminated against me as a Catholic as my beliefs disbar me from a profession. Ironic isn’t it?

In relation to the Gary McFarlane case, Lord Carey has said it is “but a short step from the dismissal of a sincere Christian from employment to a religious bar to any employment by Christians”.  I am saddened but not surprised that he lost his case. I suspect that a determining factor might be whether or not Relate were offering same-sex relationship counselling at the time he began with them. I think to deny him his basic right to object to something that he found to be against his principles, was mean-spirited and short-sighted. For me the issue was not whether or not same-sex couples are entitled to relationship counselling but whether or not a person might be legitimately excused from doing something they found impossible due to personal conscience. In this case the right of same-sex couples to receive counselling from someone who felt unable to provide them with this service has been deemed as more important than an individual’s freedom of conscience. Mr MacFarlane is as much a victim of discrimination as the same-sex couples. Had he kept his mouth shut and denied who he was he would have been fine. This disturbs me greatly. Basically what the state seems to be saying is that it’s alright to have faith (yeah thanks for the permission) but you need to be sure that you keep it to yourself and in the privacy of your own homes. I don’t quite see how that’s possible given that Christians’ very faith requires them to reflect Christ in all that they do in the course of their daily lives.

On the forum alluded to I also talked about the fact that I have done some listening for a pro-life charity which involves listening to women who have been through abortions and referring them to qualified counsellors where appropriate. 95% of this work involves listening, not counselling, but listening and offering some ways in which women might reach personal reconciliation and mark their loss. Apparently my Catholicism and pro-life outlook disbars me as it automatically renders it impossible for me to be able to offer any sympathy and to be impartial. I am not able to exercise any compassion and my faith means that I must be compelled to tell women they are “murdering sluts”. I am doing very real psychological damage to women. I have either lied to the charity or the charity themselves are inherently wrong or evil. There should be legislation to stop people like me. Catholics or pro-lifers mustn’t do any work with people who might be facing PTSD or PAS. Now who’s the intolerant bigot?

Essentially if you are a Catholic or Christian and you use either the advice from the Catholic Union or more generic Christian advice given here you are a bigot. Christians are advised not to leave their views in the pews.

So can someone explain for this bear of very little brain. If by following this advice, I am deemed to be an “insult to Christianity and right-thinking Christians everywhere”, how on earth is it possible to be a Christian and NOT a bigot? What is a ‘right-thinking Christian’? Surely that is subjective. Furthermore if we follow this logic we need to lock our beliefs away in a little box somewhere so they don’t intrude or encroach onto our everyday life and YET believing that life starts at conception is so extreme that this belief, held by millions of Catholics all over the world, is so extreme, so out there that it renders it impossible for anyone to be able to offer any sympathy or compassion towards those who are suffering from the pain of abortion.

And for those wanting to know the diametrically opposed viewpoint, she may be found here. She’s a passionate, well-meaning, highly intelligent person. Sadly she can’t bring herself to say the same thing about me.

Gordon Bigot

Gordy’s recent gaff comes at something of a timely moment for me, having recently been accused of bigotry myself.

The OED definition of bigoted is thus: having or revealing an obstinate belief in the superiority of one’s own opinions and a prejudiced intolerance towards the opinions of others.

Mrs Duffy’s question,  regarding “them Eastern Europeans” certainly displayed a level of ignorance, but did it reveal bigotry? I think it’s fairly obvious who the true bigot in this situation really was.

You have to feel a level of sympathy for Gordy here, but I think it is important as it reveals the gaping chasm between private and public persona at a time when politicians are desperately attempting to re-install a sense of trust in them, all of them attempting to play the trustworthy card. How are we able to trust a politician who is so dismissive and indeed disrespectful towards one of his faithful voters? Given he’d actually handled the situation fairly deftly, his remark that the encounter was “disastrous” displayed a level of insecurity and lack of awareness. Is this a quality that we want in our prime minister?

Mrs Duffy was not a bigot in that she displayed no belief in the superiority of her own beliefs, nor did she show any sort of intolerance. Gordy on the other hand, ironically displayed that very quality that he proclaimed to despise so much.  By assuming that Mrs Duffy’s question arose from a deep-seated intolerance, as opposed to a genuine perceived concern, he displayed a disturbing prejudice all of his very own.

None of us know what motivated Mrs Duffy’s question. She might well be concerned about a perceived stretch in public services and creaking infrastructure which is unable to accommodate significant number of immigrants. Her concerns may or may not be valid. She could have a distrust of foreigners, the point is, her question inferred neither of these options. In the absence of evidence, I prefer to give her the benefit of the doubt. To make assumptions about people, to ascribe them certain characteristics including intolerance because of who they are, where they come from, the colour of their skin and their religious beliefs – now that is prejudice.