What is Morality?


A small disclaimer to start:

It’s a big question, isn’t it? Possibly the biggest of them all. I’m not going to link, cite or express any opinions other than my own (excepting the definition above). This is a summary of what I think morality is and where it did, and didn’t, come from. As such, this has been difficult to think about and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I get some things wrong. Obviously, I haven’t been dropped in from another planet, so this will be the summation of all the things I’ve heard, read or experienced thus far in my life. This is mostly for my benefit, to get my current thoughts down, but I’ve published it anyway. Enjoy! Or not!

What is Morality?

The above definition is a starting point, but I’d refine it as:

A moral action is an action which causes the greatest good (or minimises the bad) to creatures that can suffer pain (with an emphasis on humans).

I think this is pretty clear. Make decisions which cause greatest good, or least harm. Of course, people’s idea of what good and harm are can be very different.

Where did it come from?

Theists, of course, say it came from God. That’s begging the question. If we go to the place we’ve reliably found answers during human existence, we can see where it came from:

The natural world – it’s clear from the behaviour of other animals (especially higher primates) that empathy exists ex-humans in nature. This empathy (which is born of a selection advantage in evolution) is the building block for equity and altruism. This, in turn, has been enhanced by the human mind into morality; a much more complex beast.

Since humans first formed civilisations and threw off the shackles of the barbarism of nature, morality has been developing and slowly (and not bloodlessly) improving.

This is not new to anyone. The sticky question in today’s world is who’s right? Who’s wrong? Should we impose our standards on others? etc. If you don’t, you’re a relativist; if you do, you’re some sort of colonial force. If, like me, you believe in universal human rights, it’d be handy if an objective standard existed.

Do Objective Moral standards exist?

Is morality absolute? Relative? Subjective? Objective? Some of these? None of these? Here’s my hypothesis:

Morality is certainly changing (trending to improvement), so it can’t be absolute. Slavery has been abolished largely. This is because the majority came to understand this was unjust. Obviously, at one time, it was considered normal and, at least, amoral.

It’s also objective in that a standard, or benchmark, exists outside one human’s mind.

It exists in the human collective of knowledge and experience. A sort of average morality of all humans (I know this sounds a little woolly). It’s intangible, but becomes tangible when codified in laws.

I see it like this:


Imagine that benchmark of morality moving away from the origin over time. It is sweeping up those issues, turning them from moral/amoral into immoral. The issues in yellow (chosen by way of an example) are still being debated. Those issues in red, codified (or being codified) in various laws. The Law line follows behind. Sometimes a long way behind!

As this is a human endeavour, what is pushing the line line forwards? It’s humans obviously, but whom?

I, very broadly, separate all humans into one of 3 types:

1. Activists – This category includes moral philosophers, suffragettes, abolitionists, human rights campaigners, some politicians, etc. These people are actively thinking about moral questions and pushing movements forward. Lots of these people don’t live long enough to see the moral benchmark sweep up their cause, but they’re posthumously vindicated. This also includes people who are wrong about their cause, because this sparks a greater reaction in those who are right. These people push the benchmark forward. Of the world’s population, only a small percentage are activists.

2. Followers – People who accept the changing moral landscape and adapt their behaviour accordingly. This is the catch-all for people who aren’t activists and aren’t in the third category. This is, by far, the biggest category.

3. Laggards – These people have a retarding effect on the benchmark. These are conservative (small ‘c’) individuals who are usually moral absolutists. Moral absolutists are usually religiously inspired and believe the morality was given to us by God, and is perfect. They fight, mostly metaphorically but sometimes actually, for benchmark not to move, and in some cases, actually regress. Laggards don’t always really want the morality they’re espousing, but their dissonance is such that they feel the need to defend their divine morality. Some Laggards do want this morality – ISIS, for example. Morally, these people are anchored to the spot as the benchmark moves away from them. They can only fill this void with protest (sometimes violent) and apologetics for the view they hold. This is a fairly sizeable section of the population and mostly those with orthodox religious views.

What you end up with, after the interaction between the Activists and the Laggards, is the rate of change of the moral benchmark.  The beauty of our objective morality is that it’s a self correcting system based on reason and outcomes. Topics are visited and revisited and cases are put forward with the latest evidence and thinking. As a species, we are improving, moving forward and making the world a more equitable and just place to live.

How to improve the benchmark and hence the well-being in the world? Support the Activists (or even become one) and encourage the Laggards to Follow.

Is ISIS Islamic? A Short, Graphical Analysis




Is ISIS Islamic? – Barack Obama thinks not. At least he’s telling people he thinks not. Political machinations can sometimes curtail individuals’ true opinions. Whatever the case, he’s certainly correct regarding the majority of their victims.

I’m not going to make a case either way. It has been done already, very thoroughly by people better qualified than me.

Here is a monumental piece by Graeme Wood in the Atlantic. It’s long and thorough, and I believe makes a compelling positive case for the question.

Mehdi Hasan and Tom Holland exchanged articles and viewpoints in the New Statesman, and these pieces (MH here and TH here) are the articles I’d like to represent in a graphical format.

Tom Holland

Firstly, Tom Holland presents the case for ISIS having religious roots, I interpret his view as:


Firstly, let’s define ‘Islam’. I’ve used ‘All Islamic things’. What are ‘Islamic things’? The Qur’an, Sunnah & Hadiths certainly are. No-one is disputing this. It is also the sum of the actions of Muslims when they’re acting in a way, or formulating ideologies, based on their interpretation of the prescribed behaviours of Islam.

When Muslims are not doing this, what they’re doing is not Islamic.

Holland clearly makes the case that ISIS are acting in a way that is a credible interpretation of Islam. Barbaric, a vast minority, but still a valid interpretation by true believers in the faith.

Mehdi Hasan

Hasan’s piece is a lot longer. That in itself doesn’t make the article incorrect, but Hasan comes at his justification from so many different angles that it’s quite dizzying.

Some of the people he interviews say things like “Religion has a role but it is a role of justification” and other non-committal statements. He throws so many view points of others at the problem, it becomes a very cloudy picture (whether this was the intention, who knows).

He ends with his own opinion:

To claim that Isis is Islamic is egregiously inaccurate and empirically unsustainable, not to mention insulting to the 1.6 billion non-violent adherents of Islam across the planet. Above all else, it is dangerous and self-defeating, as it provides Baghdadi and his minions with the propaganda prize and recruiting tool that they most crave.

Paraphrased: ‘It isn’t because it isn’t, and what’s more I’m insulted by the notion. Above all, even if it is, we should say it isn’t because that’s what ISIS want.’

Well, we’re trying to get to the truth here. What Obama is asserting, or what Baghdadi wants, is neither here nor there.

As far as I can tell, this is Hasan’s view:


I know which one seems more likely to be true given the evidence and history.

That ISIS are Islamic should be accepted and we should concentrate on discussions about defeating their tyranny and stopping their murderous rampage.

Hereditary Monarchy – A Royal (Busted) Flush



Do you know how government in the UK is constituted and where it gets its powers from? If you don’t and you are not one of the estimated 20% of Anglicans (2009 British Social Attitudes study) in the UK, you may want to prepare yourself for a shock…..

We live in a secular democracy in the UK, don’t we? Well, technically we live in a hereditary, constitutional monarchy. This is, simplistically, how it works:


As it’s a hereditary monarchy, God has not only anointed the current sovereign, but also has promised to anoint their first born children. In 2013, the Succession to the Crown Act ensured gender equality by granting succession to the first born children, rather than first born son. God was obviously OK with that as it received Royal Assent. However, the same act didn’t repeal the exclusion of Roman Catholics in the lines of succession. God has seen the light with regards to sexism, but His religious bigotry remains.

The reason for this becomes obvious when you know what monarchs must swear to, before God, during their coronation ceremonies:

  1. Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel?
  2. Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law?
  3. Will you maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England?
  4. And will you preserve unto the Bishops and Clergy of England, and to the Churches there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges, as by law do or shall appertain to them or any of them?

Not a lot of wiggle room there for a Roman Catholic! (Let alone persons of other religions, or none)

So the Queen, as the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, swears before God (and everyone watching on TV) that ‘All this I promise to do.’ Is this problematic?

I think so. I presume the Queen is indeed a true believer. She must believe she has been chosen by God to uphold these oaths. Either that, or she’s willing to lie about the promises and just pretend, which doesn’t seem likely. She also approves laws in the UK. What if she had to give assent to a law which disestablished the church (of which she’s head) in the UK. This would be a dilemma for the Queen. She would have two choices:

  1. Remain politically neutral and give assent based on the will of the people, and compromise the monarchy
  2. Refuse assent, keep her promise to her boss, and compromise the monarchy

Of course the real issue here is that we can’t have sensible debate about the merits or otherwise of this disestablishment given the unwillingness of any Prime Minister to put the Queen in this situation. 26 Anglican bishops in the House of Lords also makes this possibility less likely.

So, true Secularism in our democracy (rather than favouring the 20% of Anglicans in the UK) is not possible without this constitutional reform.

Now, dyed-in-the-wool Republican that I am, even I quite like the Queen. We don’t know what goes on in her weekly discussions with the various Prime Ministers she’s seen in her 63 year tenure, but I’d guess she sits and listens, maybe imparts some of her significant experience, and then lets the commoners get on with it. She’s been pretty adept at walking the fine line of her constitutional responsibilities and staying politically neutral. I’d still like to see a reform, but I can wait until her reign is over. She’s about the best this archaic process has to offer.

But the Queen is 88 years old. There will come a time when the next in line will ascend to the throne. King Charles III.

Prince Charles has been waiting a long time for his reign. At a time when most of us are retiring, he’ll be given the only significant job of his life. And this is a man with opinions. Opinions that he’s been sharing with government ministers in private correspondence for the last 40+ years.

Charles has shared his views (and expected to be listened to) on the following topics:

  • Alternative Medicine
  • Architecture
  • Agriculture
  • Town Planning, etc

Basically, all the things that interest him. There has been push back on this interference with Freedom of Information (FOI) claims put in by various journalists. Government has reacted to this by amending the FOI Act itself to protect the heir to the throne. Hardly, transparent.

The Prince’s friend and broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby said that efforts are ongoing to redefine the monarch’s role ready for Charles’ accession “…to speak out on matters of national and international importance in ways that at the moment would be unthinkable”. Does that scare you? It should.

Charles is not an academic man. The reason he thinks he should be listened to is that he believes he has been chosen by God. If I thought this, I too would believe everyone should listen to my views. Charles must grow to understand that he can either express his opinion as commoners do (and become a commoner in the process), or be a constitutional monarch and stay quiet and neutral. He can’t do both.

I don’t think he will understand this and, counter-intuitively, this could be the best thing Secularists could wish for. People simply won’t put up with royal interference after having the Queen playing with a very straight bat for so long. It could be the first pebbles at the top of the rock slide of eventual constitutional reform.

So bring on Charles, and let the divinely anointed idiocy commence……..

This piece was inspired by a much better one by Nick Cohen, here.

Is God Self-evidently True? A response to Hamza Tzortzis




Hamza Tzortzis, a researcher for the iERA (Islamic Education & Research Academy) would have us believe this. He makes his case here.

Some might say that the very fact there’s a discussion around the topic (which is not generally accepted as true) is proof enough that this is a false contention. Some might also say that reaching into the hat to pull out this particular rabbit is a tacit admission that theists are losing the evidence argument. Tzortzis claims not.

Let’s review the assertions put forward as evidence for god (I’ll use small ‘g’ throughout for reasons that will become apparent) being a self-evident truth. I’ll then suggest my own test for this claim. The essay is structured like this:

  1. Shift burden of evidence from proving the existence of god to reasons to reject his existence
  2. Prove that self-evident truths exist and a belief in god is one of them
  3. Deal with three objections to god’s existence
  4. Talk about humans’ innate nature using evidence from science and the Qur’an
  5. Conclude none of the objections meet the standard to disprove god, and say it must be true because Muhammed said so 1,400 years ago

1. Shifting the burden of proof

In fact, I would argue that we don’t need any evidence for God’s existence. So the question itself needs debating.  It shouldn’t actually be “does God exist?”, but rather “what reasons do we have to reject His existence?”

This is done in the second paragraph without a shred of rationale. This is special pleading. Very obviously. Tzortzis says it isn’t, but it is. Self-evidently.

One wouldn’t countenance this paragraph as being sound if the word ‘God’ was replaced with anything else. ‘Unicorns’, ‘Tomotoes’, ‘Strontium’? I don’t think so. THAT IS SPECIAL PLEADING.

At this juncture, I’ll point out that the very best Tzortzis can hope for, if all this is true, is to show ‘god’ is self-evidently true. Not ‘God’. Deism, not Theism. An impersonal god, not the ‘God’ of any books that exist here and now. This impersonal god is a god which exists in the gaps; in the currently unknown (or maybe unknowable) space. He would be a very, very long way from proving that Allah is the ‘God’ in question here. And that distance could be unbridgeable for him.

2. Proving Self-evident Truths Exist

Do these axiomatic (self-evident) truths exist? Let’s see what Tzortzis says qualifies:

• The existence of other minds
• The existence of objective moral values
• The existence of logical truths
• The validity of our reasoning
• The law of causality

The existence of other minds? No. This is empirical. If you’d never been exposed to another living being, why would you think this is true?

The existence of objective moral values? No. Again, if only 1 person existed, would there be objective moral values? It would be entirely subjective. This philosophical debate continues at a pace. Certainly fast enough to assert that it’s not self-evident.

The existence of logical truths (or absolutes)? Bingo! Yes. A rock is a rock and not not a rock, etc.

The validity of our reasoning? Not sure what he’s getting at here. That we are all subject to our logical universe? Yes. That we all have valid reasoning? Er, no.

The law of causality? At first glance, yes. But we now know better. We know that at the very base level our universe is subject to quantum mechanics and is probabilistic and particles are NOT subject to cause and effect at this sub-atomic level.

So, we’re left with pure mathematics (logic) and logical absolutes.

Of course Tzortzis is also including a belief in god in that list….. I’ll come to that.

3. Three objections to god’s existence 

It should be clear now that I think this is all a big special pleading led false contention, but I’ll play ball and examine the objections listed:

  1. What about the Spaghetti monster?
  2. Wasn’t the belief in a flat Earth once self-evidently true?
  3. The belief in god is not universal

Spaghetti Monster

Tzortzis suggests three ways to make his ‘God’ different from a generic god which the Spaghetti Monster is supposed to represent.

1. A cross cultural belief – Apparently we all imagine god in our own image rather than one made out of pasta. Who’d have thought that?!? Tzortzis (presumably with a straight face) points out that not everyone know what pasta is. The issue here is just one of definition. The deistic god has no good definition.

2. An innate belief – Not really different to 1. Tzortzis talks about pasta again. He says self-evident truths require no knowledge transfers. One can deduce them (from pure logic, presumably). He doesn’t define what his ‘God’ looks like, so a comparison to the Spaghetti Monster can’t be made. If he thinks god looks like us though, information transfer is required for his ‘God’.  Without a mirror or others to look at, how would one know? He says ‘atheist’ children stranded on a desert island would come to believe something created it – this is not even a good argument from ignorance. Something did create the desert island – tectonic plate movements.

3. Foundational beliefs – Tzortzis’s god explains the emergence of consciousness, apparently. It also helps to explain lots of other things we don’t (yet) understand. This is a weak ‘god of the gaps’ argument, and, ultimately, a dangerous position for the theist. Humans have a long history of explaining things using science. This sort of reasoning is just setting the theist up for ultimate redundancy.

Flat Earth

I’ve read this objection several times, and it’s incoherent. I really can’t understand the point. People thought the Earth was flat, now we know it’s a sphere (roughly). This is progress. Apparently, Tzortzis thinks this progress is more of a black mark against science because ‘truths’ are changing, rather than a positive that science has guided us toward increased knowledge of the universe. God, being outside the universe (except when he’s in it, presumably) can’t be observed and science can never disprove god’s existence.

Well, this is true. That’s not how science works. It’s no surprise or mystery.

Belief in god is not universal

Why are there millions of atheist (and unaffiliated) in the world? Tzortzis has two answers to this:

1. Self-evident truths don’t have to be universal – Excuse me? Yes they do – by definition. That’s the point of an axiom. He goes on to give a specious example of a person who’s a mother to you and an aunt to someone else. This is just a category error of the same person (mind) being given different labels.

2. Belief in god is universal – What are a few atheists anyway? ‘Most people believe in god’  says Tzortzis. Given the shifting world demographic in religiosity, this is a risky position to take. I presume he’ll give this up when atheists hit the majority? This is, of course, ignoring that the theists he refers to, in the large part, vehemently disagree with each other over the nature of this being.

Tzortzis finishes the piece with talk of our innate nature mostly evidenced by quotes from the Qur’an. I can’t argue with quotes from a book only one of us considers to be the immutable and perfect word of the being we’re talking about. He also references some sociological data (which is cherry-picked) saying that young children are keen to find agency around them. Well, yes. Then, I presume, monsters in cupboards are self-evident truths too?

The whole piece is extended special pleading, confirmation bias, shifting burdens of evidence and various other fallacies such as arguments from ignorance.

For god to be a self-evident truth, here’s what you have to believe:

Imagine a baby. This baby is born in a cave. She never has contact with another human, but she has vast genius and is long lived. She also has access to all the materials she needs to build any piece of scientific equipment she needs.

She will:

  1. Deduce the logical absolutes and mathematics (hence self-evident truths)
  2. Discover all of science through inductive reasoning and interpreting data
  3. Discover that the universe had a singularity

Are we expected to believe, after all this knowledge deduction and acquisition, she’d sit back and deduce that a omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, timeless creator of the universe was behind it all, and there’s no further point investigating the universe?

She’d be in the same position as leading edge cosmologists are today. They are investigating, and god doesn’t form part of their models. To paraphrase Laplace ‘they have no need for that hypothesis’. Oh, and the vast majority of them are atheists……

Mo Ansar, Ann Fields & Standards of Evidence



By now, I’m sure you’ll all know the story…. There is more than a strong suspicion that Twitter user Ann Fields (@xtc_uk) is actually the most active sockpuppet of Mo Ansar (@MoAnsar). What some have long suspected was finally documented with credible evidence by Jeremy Duns here. Duns also explains, with clarity, the reasons why exposing this is important.

‘Ann’ responded with a blog of her own, and presented some evidence as to why ‘she’ couldn’t possibly by Ansar. This slightly ridiculous response comes in two parts, and the purported evidence is presented in the second part – here.

Here is the evidence as presented in that blog:

1) Mo Tweet 1
2) Mo Tweet 2
3) https://twitter.com/search?f=realtime&q=from%3Axtc_uk%20since%3A2015-02-05%20until%3A2015-02-06&src=typd

Let’s take a look at the evidence presented. Then, as this is the established standard of evidence that ‘Ann’ feels is appropriate, I’ll offer some of my own.

‘Ann’s’ Evidence

1) A tweet from Mo after his admittance to hospital:


Notice the date stamp – 8.45pm on 6th February. This, presumably is supposed to form the beginning of the timeline of evidence that ‘Ann’ is putting forward (given the second presented piece of evidence). Except it doesn’t. This photo is after his ‘critical’ period (obvious from its jovial nature).


One can see the above tweet second from the bottom in this snapshot of Ansar’s timeline. One can also see a tweet second from the top in which he’s better again.

So, the medical episode happened between the bottom tweet and the next one up.


So, the episode happened between 8.12am on the 5th February and 8.45pm on the 6th February. When in this 36 hour period we don’t know, but a safe assumption would be towards the start of the period given the recovery time from ‘critical’ medical emergencies.

2) A tweet saying Ansar was out of hospital on the 11th February. You can see this above, but he was tweeting readily again since the first piece of evidence, so this tweet isn’t at all relevant.

3) This is ‘Ann’s’ own search of ‘her’ tweets as evidence. As you can see, all tweets presented in this search are between 9.10am and 10.35am on the 5th of February. It is in the time period I specify above, but only covers the first couple of hours of the 36 hour window. Not exactly compelling evidence, unless we think Ansar fell seriously ill very shortly after sending his last tweet.

But I’m charitable, so I did my own search here. I extended the search period to cover the 36 hour window above. What do we find?

Well, we have the tweets in ‘Ann’s’ search, obviously. Then a hiatus from 10.35am to 1.52am the next day. A 13 hour break in tweeting. One more tweet 3 minutes later, then a tweeting hiatus until 9.21am on February 6th. Tweeting carried on for another hour and then ceased until 6.41pm.

So, does this presented evidence conclusively prove that ‘Ann’ can’t be Ansar? Certainly not. There were only two tweets in the 23 hour period between 10.35am on the 5th to 9.21am on the 6th. A very plausible explanation could be that the event occurred in the afternoon of the 5th (in the 13 hours Tweeting hiatus referred to above) and was dealt with to enable Ansar to tweet as ‘Ann’ by 2am. After this, maybe more rest was required (it was the middle of the night after all) and then a solid hour of tweeting at 9am on the 6th after the rest was taken. Only the 2 tweets at 2am on the 6th actually help ‘Ann’s’ case at all.

My Evidence

But I do thank ‘Ann’ for setting the standards of evidence that I’m required to meet in order to prove identities. And here’s my attempt at the same.


Mo went for a get-together and sing-song last night with a singer / songwriter called Adam Wedd (@adamwedd). This had obviously finished by 9.44pm. This is confirmed by Adam himself:


But at the slightly earlier time of 9.14pm. So, it was done and dusted by then. Ansar was in a Twitter spat with Douglas Murray before he arrived and his last tweet was 7.56pm (a rather unsavoury one at that….):


So, this whole meeting lasted about an hour starting after 8pm and finishing by 9.14pm. This short meeting was confirmed by Adam (admittedly sneakily. I have no wish to draw Adam into this):


So, here’s the question: What was ‘Ann’ doing at this time?

A search of ‘her’ tweets for the day is here.

‘Her’ tweet pattern between 6pm and 10pm is as follows:

6pm to 7pm – 31 Tweets (one every 2 minutes)

7pm to 8pm – 45 Tweets (one every 80 seconds)

8pm to 8.06pm – 6 Tweets (one every minute)

8.07pm to 9.12pm – No Tweets. None. Nada.

9.13pm to 10pm – 14 Tweets (one every 3 minutes)

That’s 96 tweets in the 4 hours period and none in the 1 hour and 5 minutes that Ansar was with Adam Wedd.

Coincidence? – maybe. But it’s rather compelling. And ‘Ann’, this is how evidence (yes, even scientific evidence) gains consensus. Add this to the evidence that Jeremy Duns has presented, and it’s getting rather good, isn’t it ‘Ann’?

‘She’ could have been having ‘her’ tea, shaving ‘her’ legs or looking at genes……. or ‘she’ could have been playing the fucking guitar in Surrey!

CJ Werlemen – Champion Shark Jumper


CJ Werleman has surpassed himself. His positions become more and more irrational….

Who is CJ Werleman? If you don’t know him, find out here. He’s a writer who’s been shown to be a serial plagiarist. He admitted (not the full extent) and apologised (if you can call it that) here.

He then, in a blame spreading exercise, went on to accuse (a clearly exasperated) Sam Harris of the same charge. See the rebuttal here.

Now, in the land of Twitter, this is all old news. Just provided as a bit of context for those unaware of the kind of character who would go on to write what I’m going to comment on below…..

The Chapel Hill murders were senseless, abhorrent & too recent to currently pass informed comment on. Hate crime? Maybe. Parking dispute? Maybe. Tragic loss of lives? Certainly. No-one honest would try to make a pseudo-political football out of this issue would they? No-one honest would, no. Then there’s CJ.

CJ Tweet CJ Tweet2

The first tweet is gun-jumping in order to confirm his internal bias that Sam Harris’ and Richard Dawkins’ (and, posthumously, Christopher Hitchens’) form of non-belief created a killer. The second tweet equates people who may agree with these three writers with ISIS. Yes, really, ISIS.

Then he went on to write this for the Middle East Eye. The publication he’s moved on to since the above plagiarism scandal.

This is the piece I want to concentrate on. I want to draw out the most offending paragraphs and point out the logical and rational inconsistencies. I’ll then leave it to the reader to decide how much of this CJ really believes and how much is to position himself more favourably in the public domain in order to earn a living as a ‘public figure’.

When I first heard news of the attack on Wednesday morning, I immediately presumed the shooter, Craig Stephen Hicks, to be a right-wing extremist; someone of the Anders Brievik ilk but with probable Ku Klux Klan (KKK) leanings. I was shocked when CNN identified the killer to be “an atheist”.

An atheist? I’m an atheist. The mere idea of an atheist motivated hate crime is nonsensical to me. Atheism is a non-positive assertion. Wholly and solely atheism means non-belief. It’s not anti-anything or anyone. So I knew there had to be more to the killer’s motives than atheism or a “parking dispute”.

So, early on in his piece CJ shows himself to be both a gun-jumper, in rushing to a conclusion, and also a clairvoyant who knows the killer’s motives can’t be as simple as a parking dispute. But why wait for facts CJ?

Atheism can’t spark hate crime, says CJ. For he too is an atheist. It must be something else. What could it be?

A visit to Hicks’ Facebook page hints at something a little more sinister. Hicks is an anti-theist (New Atheist), and it’s important to make its distinction from atheism, because anti-theism is to atheism what ISIS is to Islam. If that analogy sounds far fetched, then you really need to read more about the anti-religious genocides of the 20th century.

Hicks’ customised Facebook banner features the wording:

Anti-Theism: Of course I want religion to go away. I don’t deny your right to believe whatever you’d like; but I have the right to point out its ignorant and dangerous for as long as your baseless superstitions keep killing people.

In a recent post, Hicks writes chillingly: “When it comes to insults, your religion started this, not me. If your religion kept its big mouth shut, so would I.”

After some top investigative journalism of looking at the killer’s (Craig Hicks) Facebook page, CJ concludes that anti-theism is to blame, and that anti-theism is to atheism as ISIS is to Islam. It’s ‘sinister’, and he quotes a ‘chilling’ paragraph from Hicks. Of course the quote has been said many times before and is only chilling for having been said by a killer. Bit of an easy target there. CJ also makes clear that anti-theists are New Atheists (are ISIS).

He’s always asserted that the no nonsense rationalism of Harris and Dawkins is dangerous and creating animus towards religionists (not religions / ideas) and Muslims in particular, so if this is true, he’s vindicated. He has a way to go to prove this.

After a bit about what others might think the motive for the killing is, we come to this:

If it turns out, as it appears to indicate, that Hicks was inspired to kill by his anti-religious animus, then it’s time for atheists to denounce the extremists in their ranks. The extremists are the anti-theists (New Atheists) masquerading as atheists. I can say this boldly because I was a New Atheist. Witnessing an al-Qaeda suicide attack in 2005 was my come-to-anti-Muhammad moment. I blamed religion, and particularly Islam, for that attack as stridently as any of today’s crop of New Atheist writers. I now hate that old me, and I’ve written extensively about my deconversion from New Atheism to old fashioned, vanilla atheism.

I’ve seen the anti-Muslim animus beast of New Atheism up close and personal. I’ve spoken at the conferences; I’ve appeared and listened to the podcasts – and I can assure you the New Atheists, venomous and virulent, speak in the same hostile language as the religious fundamentalists and bigots they attack.

The need for ‘vanilla atheists’ to denounced the ‘extremists’ in the their ranks. These extremists are not those that kill. Oh, no. They are the New Atheists. Those that dare to question the ideologies of religion. Those that criticise the influence of religious indoctrination on young minds. It’s all hateful according to CJ. He should know. He was once a New Atheist. I hope CJ can confirm that he was virulent, venomous and genocidal during this period in his life.

He assures us this isn’t criticism of ideology, it’s anti-Muslim animus and it’s as bad as the ‘fundamentalists and bigots they attack’. Perhaps he can share the ‘podcasts’ which condemn homosexuality, advocate stoning adulterers and propose living under ancient laws which religious fundamentalists do? Perhaps he can share New Atheist examples of ideologies as stultifying as these? Perhaps not.

After further attacks on Dawkins and Harris, CJ invokes the age old slippery slope fallacy to bolster his position:

If the anti-theistic genocides of the 20th century taught us anything, it’s that it’s a short leap from wanting to eradicate a belief to eradicating the person who holds that belief. The Soviets called religion a “virus”. When their anti-religious propaganda failed to sway a majority, the Soviets used violence. Dawkins has called religion a virus, the equivalent of smallpox, that needs to be eradicated, and Islam “one of the great evils of the world”. While Harris contends, “Islam, more than any other religion human beings have devised, has all the makings of a thoroughgoing cult of death.”

Because Soviet dictators used similar words and committed atrocities, Dawkins and Harris are, apparently, leading us down a similar path which inextricably leads to genocide. Dawkins’ proposal for this eradication? – Humanism, Secularism and promoting less indoctrination in children. I think Stalin had different policies…..

Hicks is not the first to be inspired to murder by similar anti-theistic beliefs, if it is indeed proven to be a hate crime, nor will he be the last to be inspired to violence by overt anti-Muslim bigotry.

The conflation continues. Anti-theistic beliefs are now anti-Muslim bigotry. This dishonest attempt to say that anti-ideology = anti-person is the thread on which CJ continues to rebuild his career. Notice the ‘if it is proven’ caveat. This cheap point scoring belies the air of respectability the caveat is supposed to give this piece.

Back to attacking Sam Harris:

“Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them,” writes Harris. While Harris specifically refers to beliefs such as martyrdom and jihad, he also contends “suicide bombers and terrorists are not aberrations” in Islam; “They are the norm. They have not distorted their faith by interpreting it wrongly. They have lived out their faith by understanding it rightly.”

Harris has a PhD in neuroscience. Hicks and a majority of anti-theists do not! While the former may understand the nuance of his “thought experiments,” it is likely Hicks does not. It’s therefore not unreasonable to suggest that anti-theists, like Hicks, might take Harris’ “it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them” out of context in the same way jihadis take the Quranic verse “Kill the infidels” out of its historical interpretation and context.

The first paragraph carries on CJ’s penchant for publishing this (hideously misrepresentational) quote. Harris has called CJ and others out on this and explained the context, and that would be enough for an honest person. Not CJ it would seem. He then goes on to say (I’m paraphrasing) ‘clever people shouldn’t openly think about difficult topics because stupid people may not understand it’. Well, the second bit of the sentence is right and my evidence is you, CJ.

Unfortunately, and with rising anti-Muslim animus in the US – anti-Muslim hate crimes are five times more likely today than before 9/11 – it’s likely there are many more New Atheists, like Hicks, who are ready to take up that “noble crusade”.

I hope Hicks is a one-off example of a New Atheist turning his hatred of religion into a maniacal act of violence, but there’s little reason to be optimistic. In their minds, and inside their own echo chamber – New Atheists read the same books; listen to the same podcasts; attend the same conventions – religion is evil; therefore evil acts are motivated by religion. In the hours following the Paris attacks, Dawkins tweeted: “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but I don’t need to tell you the religious faith of the terrorists.”

He ends with this. I suggest CJ turns over his evidence for others willing to take up the New Atheist ‘noble crusade’ to the police. Seriously, there are ‘many’ more out there. I condemn anyone willing to commit violence to propagate their worldview. Tell us who these people are that are willing to kill for their lack of belief in God and (no) doctrines.

Then, the denouement of irony in which he accuses New Atheists of group think in a world where 75% of the population are inculcated into religion and group think before they can free think. Treating New Atheists as one homogeneous bloc, CJ? Surely not!

And there ends the article. For fear you might think I’ve cherry-picked this, I encourage you to go back and read his words. If, indeed, they are his words.

As CJ has pretended to know things that he can’t, let me proffer an opinion on CJ:

His animus towards Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens is because his ‘New Atheist’ book didn’t achieve for him the recognition he so obviously craves. So, he gets this recognition from taking an opposing position where there’s less competition (Greenwald & Co). In terms of intellectual honesty, he doesn’t hold candle to the ‘New Atheists’ he so hates.

And (in CJ style) ‘if this is proven to be the case, I’ll say I was right.’

Ritual Slaughter – Humane or not?




News broke earlier this week regarding the Bowood Lamb abattoir in Thirsk, North Yorkshire. It was a report of reprehensible treatment of the animals in the act of, and shortly before, their slaughter.

This animal cruelty is abhorrent. We should be aiming for the strictest of standards to be upheld in all abattoirs. If I had to guess, I’d say this isn’t an isolated incident and maltreatment occurs at other abattoirs in the UK. The risk of this grows as people who work in the abattoirs become desensitised to the type of unpleasant work they are performing.

The reporting of these incidents can sometimes be troublesome. It can be used to demonise Muslims and Jews and assert that this appalling behaviour can only happen in the abattoirs dedicated to ritual slaughter. This is clearly wrong.

It also muddies the ethical issue. The ethical question as I see it can be framed as this:

1. Are halal / kosher slaughter methods more humane than the ‘secular’ standard?

2. If they are not, should Muslims / Jews have the right not to adopt the ‘secular’ standard, thus understanding that the methods are sub-optimal for animal welfare?

The first question is one that is answered through science. It is measurable and demonstrable which is more humane (once we’ve defined ‘humane’).

The second is an ethical question involving the relative rights of humans and animals, and isn’t so clear.

I will put forward arguments for ‘No’ answers for both of the questions above.

Are halal / kosher slaughter methods more humane than the ‘secular’ standard?

Humane – Minimising the suffering of the animal during the slaughter process.

So, is this first question a straw man? Does anyone actually believe ritual slaughter methods (here I’m talking about non-stunned animals) are more humane than the stunned alternative?



Now, I know the source isn’t highly credible, but this argument appears to be the orthodox stance. As always, I’m open to having my mind changed. Whilst Mo Ansar doesn’t state halal is more humane in the longer article, he does in the tweet.

His argument is deeply flawed and I’m not going to spend time unpicking it, except to say that arguing that prescribed standards not being met somehow makes halal as humane is a non sequitur. It just means controls need to be put in place to ensure standards are being met. A position I totally support.

Mo does think he has evidence on his side. Ignoring the piece of the argument commented on above, he quotes the scientific studies to back up his position. And this IS a scientific argument….

He quotes 4 papers in the last 90 years. I couldn’t find the first 3 papers online. They’re just now referred to when the paper by Schulze (the misspelling isn’t mine) is quoted. This is what proponents of halal slaughter hang their scientific hats on.

What of this paper by Schulze? It was written in 1978 and quoted results of a small study done by a colleague on 15 cattle. An excellent review of this study is here. The bottom line is that this study isn’t good science. Or rather the conclusion of the report isn’t good science. Old EEG (Electroencephalography) equipment, flawed assumptions and small sample sizes eventually persuaded the author himself to distance himself from his own paper in his later years.

What about positive evidence that stunning is more humane?

New Scientist

Gregory , 2008

Meta-review (as above)

These are just some of many modern studies. EEG understanding has moved on and scientific consensus (including the British Veterinary Association (BVA)) has now concluded that stunning is more humane than non-stunned ritual slaughter.

The answer to the titular question is a resounding ‘No’.

I hope that those proponents of ritual slaughter can now look beyond the first defence of science (because it is no defence, just confirmation bias and cherry picking on their part) and admit that they want the practice to continue on the grounds of their faiths.

It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that slaughter techniques have improved over the last 1500 years.

Should Muslims / Jews have the right not to adopt the ‘secular’ standard, thus understanding that the methods are sub-optimal for animal welfare?

Given the scientific consensus, we move on to the ethical question. The question here is which scenario gives least suffering to the sentient beings involved.

Obviously, from the point of view of physical harm, the case is clear. It’s only the animals we consider in this scenario and scientists have reached consensus. In purely physical harm terms, it’s clearly unethical to ritually slaughter, rather than stun.

However, this isn’t the only consideration. We must accept that psychological harm can also be inflicted on the humans whose sincerely held beliefs may be being attacked. This is a valid consideration.

Herein lies the moral and ethical conundrum. Does appeasement of sincerely held beliefs in humans outweigh the incremental suffering of animals?

Even though I think reasonable adjustment should be made to accommodate faith, I don’t think this particular accommodation is reasonable.

We know societal pressure have persuaded religions to adapt their interpretations of scriptures on many things over the centuries – slavery, homosexuality, etc all now have much different orthodox interpretations to centuries ago. This has happened more quickly than this particular issue because the suffering of humans outweighs the suffering of animals. This is true, but it is not absolute. Even though I attach more weight to them, a balance still has to be struck.

I believe the alleviation of the incremental harm to the animal does outweigh the ideological belief of a human in a liberal, secular democracy in the 21st century.

As a reasonable accommodation, the ritual element of the slaughter should be allowed post-stun, when the animal is unconscious. Proper best practices and stunning methods should be enforced throughout the industry and proper monitoring should be put in place. Once the stun is effectively and professionally performed, religious minorities should be free to practise whichever final slaughter method appeases their conscience.

I accept that some people won’t agree with this view (religious and not). Let’s make sure we continue the dialogue and this is an ethical, not a scientific, discussion. The science is clear and unlikely to change.

PS For the record I think, with the advancement of artificial meat technologies and availability of other protein sources, that this will be an issue our descendants will look back in 500 years and say ‘They used to eat animals!?!?’.

Further Reading

A (slightly) opposing and well argued view – Matthew Scott (@BarristerBlog), here.

A more detailed & politically astute view – Rye Zuul Iblis (@RyeZuul), here.

On the Nature of Offence


Firstly, apologies for any offence caused by my spelling of ‘offence’. Some of you would probably prefer me to spell offence ‘offense’, but I spell offence ‘offence’. Maybe this explanation and (in)sincere apology is just making you feel more offended by ‘offence’? Perhaps I should stop mentioning it altogether now? Just call it the ‘O’ word?

It’s ridiculous isn’t it? No-one’s really going to get too upset about what’s written above. No-one holds a ‘sincere’ belief that there is only one true spelling of offence, and deviation from this spelling tramples their feelings and leaves them feeling oppressed.

But imagine if someone held this exact belief… what am I to do? Change the way I think it should be spelled in order to appease them? Does it matter if there’s only one person who thinks that way or a billion? What if they’re prepared to hurt me in order to protect their own feelings and those of their potential adherents?

Prompted by the conversation below, I’m going to attempt to lay out some ground rules regarding the phenomenon of offence.



As is evident from the exchange, I wasn’t really sure about my position. So I had a think and here is the output:

8 Rules of Offence

1. Offence is taken, not given

Most people know, through knowledge and an inbuilt empathetic nature, what others may find offensive. But maybe you’ve been in a situation where you’ve said something to provoke a reaction in someone and they don’t react. You say it again. You restate it. Still nothing. Did they not hear you? This is a good example of our human nature, and the assumption one knows what others think and how they will react. One can never be sure, but it’s the reaction that defines offence, not the action.

2. Everyone has the right to offend

We’ve recently seen this debate sparked by the Charlie Hedbo atrocity. Do you have the right to be offensive. Well, following rule 1, the answer can only be ‘Yes’. People aren’t clairvoyant (even clairvoyants), so unless you don’t ever want freedom of expression and open dialogue, one must be allowed to see what reaction is caused by your action whether one was trying to be offensive or not.


3. No-one has the right not to be offended

Unless someone lives the life of a hermit in a cave, they’re going to interact with other people. If they accept this interaction as a part of their life, then they have forfeited their right not to be offended (incidentally or purposefully). This is because a) people aren’t clairvoyant and b) some people aren’t very nice.

No-one has this right. Not the Queen, the Dalai Lama, the Pope, the House of Saud or any dead ‘prophet’. Or God.

4. You have the right to offend, yes. But don’t be a dick about it

Try not to be deliberately offensive. If this is the sole reason for your exchange with someone, it just makes you a bit of a dick.

If the offence taken is a byproduct of humour (satire), serious critique or an honest intent to share your views then that’s beyond anyone’s control and is fine (if sometimes regrettable).

5. People have the right to offend, but not the right to force you to listen

‘I just read it to see if I would be offended…..’. I mean, why put yourself through it? If you know you’ll be offended by something, rather than complain about free expression and question the rules above, just ignore it. Rise above it. Hit the block button, etc.

6. There is no protection in numbers from the right not to be offended

One person. One billion. The whole of humanity (less one). It doesn’t matter. The minority’s right to express (something everyone might find offensive) wins every time. And don’t even think about perverting democracy by using your majority to restrict minority rights to protect your feelings…….

7. So you’ve taken offence. Can you use violence in your reaction?

No, you can’t. However despicable the thing said, you never have the right to physically attack the person who caused your offence. The law will rightly protect them. Of course, there might be a mitigation in your defence if the person on the Clapham Omnibus would have taken gross offence, and no-one can guarantee their actions, but really try not to be, or condone, a violent reaction of the offended. The Pope is an arse.

8. Apologies

You can apologise if you like. You can accept an apology if you like. It’s a minefield!


So there you have it. The rules of offence*. Follow these rules and a better, more peaceful world might follow.

* – Apologies for any offence I might have caused in writing down my thoughts.


The ever vigilant @bobfrombrockley (follow this man!) posed the following challenge:


I accept there are some times when the ability not to listen is restricted. In these situations, you could consider that the message isn’t directed at you but is just in your environment. It’s not targeted. People should then accept free expression (note rule 4) and ignore and /or rise above it. A little thick skin goes a long way….

Charlie Hebdo & the need for a British Constitution



As Charlie Hebdo publish their satirical journal this week, they have a print run of 3 million compared to their normal 60,000. That’s impressive support from the general public in France and across the world, who have already shown solidarity to the cause by marching in Paris.

What is ‘the cause’? Gérard Biard, the editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo, said this:

The millions of anonymous people, all the institutions, all the heads of state, all the political personalities, intellectuals and media, all the religious dignitaries, this week, have proclaimed ‘I am Charlie’ should know that this also means ‘I am secularism’.

Secularism (here is an article with a brilliant definition of big-S ‘S’ecularism) is the cause. That everyone should want a secular state one would think should be a no-brainer. I mean, the same ideology that allows everyone the freedom to practise their religion also protects them from other religions holding power over them and stopping them doing so. A rational, superstition free approach to public policy should be good for everyone, right?

It appears not. It didn’t take long for the apologists, and the ‘it’s bad….. but..’ brigade to make their points known (great piece here). Smearing the anti-racist cartoonists as ‘racist’ is reprehensible and shows an intellectual laziness not to attempt to comprehend what they stood for. If you don’t understand what Charlie Hebdo stood for, read this. These commentators were engaged in protectionism, and this leads back to wanting special privileges for their religion.

And these are still being asked for, and in many cases, given. In Britain, segregation by religious denomination in school is still prevalent. Worse, the media’s reticence to show images such as the ones below are, at best, driven by fear and, at worst, cowardice and a betrayal of journalistic values. Who can say that there’s not a strong editorial reason for showing the Charlie Hebdo image? 17 people died in a secular democracy – executed for blasphemy. (Excellent piece by Nick Cohen – here).


We must consider very carefully what can be done to slow and stop this ‘clash of civilisations’ narrative. I think we can learn from a country that has successful immigrant integration at its very heart – The United States. Sure, the US has its share of problems (tending to grow the further from the oceans that you get), but immigrants to the country know what is expected of them when they ‘sign up’.

The US Constitution (and its amendments, especially the first ten – the Bill of Rights) was ahead of its time and is a fine document. At America’s core, it informs its citizens of the values and behaviours expected by the state and their fellow citizens. When you become American, you swear allegiance to the Constitution (many times). Being American isn’t a matter of geography, its a state of mind. It’s no coincidence that this is the world’s epicentre of multi-culturalism.

In Britain, we don’t have this series of shared values. Various people, at various times, have tried to define Britishness, but it’s never been codified. It’s time that it was. A contract, if you will, with your fellow citizens that gives all Britons a small, but non-negotiable, set of values to rally behind and define our Britishness.

So here I put forward my suggestions for the non-negotiable values that Britons should espouse (not including the ‘right to bear arms’ catastrophe!)

1. Britain will forever have a governance structure accountable and removable by its citizens 

Democracy is the best we’ve currently got to achieve this, but I won’t rule out a possible better system (whether it’s currently in existence or not).

2. All Human Beings are inherently equal and have the same rights 

Universal human rights and non-superiority of any race, religion or creed.

3. The right to personal liberty

The right to think anything you want. The right to say or otherwise express anything you want as long as it doesn’t incite violence against others or otherwise unfairly infringe on their personal liberties. ie Racism, Homophobia, religious discrimination, libel, slander, etc.

4. The right to religious freedom & freedom from religion

The two are interlinked. There can never be one without the other. Britain will guarantee you right to practise your religion (even if some of those practices are contrary to the above). It will also guarantee the rights of all Britons to be free of religion whether that be the safety of those leaving a religion, or those that never had religion not having it imposed on them. A big-‘S’ Secular state.

5. Rule of Law

All citizens are expected to obey the rule of law and are guaranteed a fair trial with recourse to appeal miscarriages of justice.

What do you think? These are deliberately general and, I think, very difficult to disagree with. It’s really just a framework for being a nice human being.

I’m not suggesting these become the basis for law as they are in the US; we have a mature legal system here that doesn’t need debasing. I’m suggesting this should, by custom and practice for those living here, and an allegiance oath for new immigrants, form the basis of what it means to be British.

You are, under article 3, allowed to disagree with this ‘constitution’. Just don’t be upset if other citizens call you ‘Un-British’. A term which currently has no use (unlike Un-American). The question for you then is – if you’re un-British, why would you want to live here?

You’re not welcome.

Charlie & Mo – The Reaction #JeSuisCharlie


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The sickening, and at this time ongoing, events in Paris are a full frontal assault on liberal, democratic values and, furthermore, an affront to reason itself.

12 people woke up on Wednesday 6th January and didn’t live to see the sun set that day. The waves of the effects of this through the families and friends of those innocents who died at the hands of Islamist terror will be lengthy and awful. Senselessness in a very true sense.

As those who fight for Secular (Big S), liberal values have come to expect, it didn’t take long for apologists to lose their initial veneer of sorrow and condemnation, and turn their attentions to protectionism and deflections of any blame away from the ideology of Islam.

As I’d previously predicted, Mo Ansar’s blog was reborn. He proceeded to analyse the events described above. Mo’s blog post is here. The opening paragraph is “It was terrible news from France.” and 13 paragraphs follow. Here is my summary of the blog post:


  1. Agreed.
  2. Starts off well, yet ends suspiciously with “…the vultures came to gloat and peck over the carcass of our freedoms.” Who are these vultures? What are ‘our freedoms’? Let’s hope he’s explicit…..
  3. Mo had a think and a pray. Another reference to ‘those that divide us’ and ‘our freedoms’. Still nothing explicit on who and what these are.
  4. Islam isn’t to blame. Something weird about “Khawarij” and how they’ve rejected Islam and (as it’s been foretold) will leave Islam like “an arrow shot from a bow”. A Prophecy as a justification as to why Islam isn’t to blame. All very reasonable.
  5. At last we get to the ‘vultures’. 5 paragraphs in and Mo forgets the issue at hand and attacks people ‘like Maajid Nawaz’. Of course, it’s people ‘like’ Maajid Nawaz, not Maajid Nawaz alone. Nawaz’s actions were ‘stomach churning’ to Mo, and an equivalent to those showing sympathy for the attackers. Not the first time Mo has drawn false equivalences between Nawaz and others. Here is the ‘vulture’ in action:  Of course Mo’s hatred of Maajid Nawaz and the Quilliam Foundation as Islamic reformers is well known. That Nawaz, a Muslim, has the temerity to think that Islam isn’t perfect is just beyond the pale to Mo. As many have said, and I agree with, Nawaz and Quilliam, at great risk to themselves personally, promote a reformist agenda which could very well save Islam in the future. They are truly brave. And they’re also on TV and we know how that affects Mo…..
  6. Mo equivocates on whether he agrees with, or is offended by, Charlie Hebdo. Islam is better than the West. Muhammed upheld free speech, apparently. Read the story of ‘Asma’ bint Marwan. I accept this story may not be true, but if Mo’s justification in paragraph 4 is allowable, I’ll take this! “There is never a recourse to violence” – agreed (in the case of people exercising freedom of expression in a peaceful manner).
  7. Have you always stated that you do not like the cartoons? Really? This paragraph quickly descends into self pity. Mo asserts his freedom of speech is being affected (the irony he’s claiming this in a published blog has passed him by) by not being allowed on TV. You have free speech, Mo. You have no entitlement to a wider platform than your views and expertise warrant. Back to Hebdo – an inference that they disproportionately pick on Muslims. Here he conflates Muslims and Islam. That Charlie Hebdo satirise Islam more than, say, Anglicanism is hardly surprising. Satire is almost required to have some offence taken against it. It’s the fact people have taken offence which makes the satire necessary and, indeed, funny. Lastly, social conditions had a cause in the radicalization and turn to violence of the terrorists.
  8. A decent paragraph with some ‘Islam is perfect’ thrown in.
  9. Mo attempts to answer his own ‘what did the killer achieve?’ question – Made Marine Le Pen stronger – maybe, people at Charlie Hebdo slaughtered – definitely (I hope this list isn’t in order of importance), more hate, fear and anger against Muslims – so far no Muslim has been injured in response to this. And this is consistent how people living in secular, liberal democracies have reacted to atrocities in the past. I hope it remains so.
  10. A reminder of Ahmed Merabet, the policeman who gave his life in protection of liberty and French law. Mo asserts “This is Islam”. No. This is secularism. He was a policeman tasked with upholding French law and the law alone. And he did it in the most courageous way possible.
  11. On to the solution to the problems that caused this atrocity. Mo’s answer – More Islam. We should spend public funds on better Islamic education of both Muslims and non-Muslims. This suggestion comes before another attack on Sam Harris, Quilliam, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Tom Holland, etc. Finished with some pseudo-profundities regarding the heart having consciousness. Nice.
  12. Anyone who doesn’t agree with Mo’s solution above is arrogant, and is indirectly killing people. Then we stray into a conspiratorial thread of Western funded mass slaughter and ethnic cleansing to oppress the people of the Middle East. Not sure what that’s got to do with two men who grew up in Paris.
  13. A conciliatory paragraph in which Mo defends those in the West (having just attacked them) and asks us to put peace above self-interest. I will if you will, Mo.
  14. As above

There you have it. Mo’s first blog post in 18 months.

I’ve edited Mo’s post to remove his attacks, apologia, pseudo-profundities, speculation, West hating and self-interest:

It was terrible news from France.

The attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris, with so many dead and injured, shocked people around the world.

There is never a recourse to violence. Never.

The fact is no-one was ‘avenged’ today. The killers of innocent people…. are utterly offensive….. and against the morality of all good people everywhere of all race, religion and belief.

Ahmed Merabet was one of the brave policemen who gave his life to defend Charlie Hebdo.

This cannot be an excuse to put pressure on Muslims. This cannot be an excuse to put pressure on the West.

…. peace….

I hope you agree, that this is a better version.

Mo’s twitter interactions were interesting after this tragedy too.

There’s this (in a response to a tweet asking for all newspapers to show solidarity with Charlie Hebdo and print one of CH’s covers as their own):


That will be a no. Appease, do not inflame.

There’s this (possibly the most ironic Twitter exchange of all time):


Defend free speech –> Joke –> Censor or I’ll call the police. I mean, really? Now deleted.

There’s this:


Comparing liberal values of free speech with Nazi anti-Semitism. Although, he likes to compare himself to MLK, I’m not sure he really understands the context of this quote.

And there’s this:


Suggesting that the utopian golden age of yesteryear has disappeared as God is more and more taking a back seat in deciding ethical and moral issues.

Lastly, Mo should show contrition for the danger that he (and others) put Maajid Nawaz in a year ago (dealt with about half way down, here). No-one now needs reminding that irrational offense can lead have have disastrous real world consequences.

I’ll post this as a reply link on Ansar’s on a Postcard……