Health and safety warning

Professors at prestigious American universities and members of other vulnerable groups may experience vomiting and fainting fits as a result of exposure to other people's opinions. If you think you may be affected, you should click on the Back button and seek medical advice before returning to this site.

Mr Grumpy can now be found posting at

Monday, July 17, 2006

Joe's daughter

Continuing the theme developed here, here and here, but, unlike my efforts, carrying the weight of lived experience: the father of a Down's Syndrome child responds to a caring eugenicist. No quote; read it all, if it's the only thing you read this week. (via - revealing samples of 'progressive thought' in the comments)

Because this says more than a thousand tomes of systematic theology about the difference that faith in a loving God makes. The parent whose faith empowers him with the love needed to raise a handicapped child, versus the ones who could have been perfect parents if only they'd got a perfect child, but decided the one they did get was, sadly, too 'flawed' to fit in with their lifestyle. Two different gods and, as somebody or other said, you can serve one or the other but not both.

Do I have what it takes to raise a Down's Syndrome child? I think I can answer that very simply: NO. Left to my own devices, I'm with the caring eugenicists. What I do have, and what anybody can have if they just decide they want it, is the ability to pray for Joe's faith, courage and love. And the willingness to believe that prayers are answered. So, thank you Joe. And thank you Joe's daughter.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

On the level

While we're on the subject of education, I note that the powers that be have come up with a brilliant solution to the A level problem. The problem being that nowadays everyone who can spell his/her name correctly and read the answers off the exam paper comes away with a clutch of A grades. So the new thinking is: why not get the kids to write essays? Give that man a knighthood!

I suppose I should declare an interest here. I got three grade A's sometime just after the Battle of Agincourt, when it still required a certain amount of ratiocination (and you lost marks if you couldn't spell ratiocination). And for reasons too tedious to enumerate I don't have a degree. So this is personal.

Leave those kids alone

Another politicalcorrectnessgonemad story, yawn, how original, but sometimes you just can't help it...

'A KISS is just a kiss. But not if you are a vicar helping a class of ten-year-old children with their long division.

'In Staffordshire, a vicar has been forced to step down as the chairman of governors of a school after he kissed a girl on the forehead in a maths class.'

(read the rest)

Note that after the police and social services decided that, yes, it is still legal for a school governor to be fond of children (having spent exactly how many person hours on the case, one would like to know) it was the good old C of E that went into spineless mode and forced Mr Barrett to stand down. Lichfield diocese is evidently well supplied with Scribes and Pharisees.

I do adore that word 'inappropriate', ever the mask of compassion on the face of arbitrary authority. 'What did I do wrong?' 'Absolutely nothing at all, but unfortunately you were inappropriate, so we have no choice but to punish you.' Tear off the mask and it's straight out of Kafka.

I've warned Frau Grumpy, in case she does anything that finishes her career before it's started. Worryingly, she thinks kids like to be touched. Should I inform the Bishop?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Breeding the Übermensch

There is evidence to suggest that gay men suffer from significantly higher than average levels of mental illness. It is clear that they are considerably less likely than heterosexuals to succeed in forming permanent committed relationships. They are at high risk from a life-threatening and currently incurable viral infection. The obstacles to having children are obvious. And they continue to face significant levels of social stigma.

So if it proves possible to identify a gene which predisposes individuals to this condition, would it not be a kindness to sufferers to put them out of their misery before they see the light of day, and give parents the opportunity to produce non-defective offspring? Would this not be an act of caring and love?

The question is one for Johann Hari, of that persuasion himself and an enthusiast for 'liberal eugenics'. Personally, I believe that Mr Hari's existence is unequivocally a good thing. But maybe that's just one of my primitive superstitions.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


So, today it's Mumbai's turn (again). I don't think there are any Indian troops in Iraq, so presumably Kashmir is the excuse. Will the legitimate-grievancers at last understand that there'll always something to be angry about, and what makes the difference is what your belief system tells you you can do with your anger?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

In memoriam

...the man and the young girl who have paid for their lives for the crime of watching the World Cup. How the Religion of Peace is cleaning up Somalia.

Custom and practice 2

Following the 'Somali custom' post, another custom in the field of conflict resolution that has been imported with great success. It's rather rare for it to find its way into the pages of the Grauniad, but in this instance there's a twist that makes it even nastier than usual.

Gay marriage and Anglican fudge

From Spain, news that confirms the experience of other countries: the legalization of same-sex marriages has not exactly been followed by a mass stampede to the registry offices:-

'Since the law took effect last July 3, until May 31, only 1,275 same-sex marriages took place, reported the Madrid daily newspaper ABC last Saturday.

'Comparatively, that would add up to a mere 0.6% of the 209,125 marriages contracted in Spain during 2005.'

(from Canon Kendall Harmon)

When you bear in mind that this figure must include a backlog of couples who have been waiting for years for the chance to marry, the lack of enthusiasm becomes even more striking.

Of course this is not necessarily any reflection on the quality of the relationships of those who have tied the knot (though I've seen some interesting data on this, which I may get round to writing up eventually). But as an Anglican I do feel that the Anglican Communion's apparent determination to hit the self-destruct button becomes all the more tragic when the issue precipitating it turns out, in practice, to involve such a very small group of people. Have the reserves of good old-fashioned Anglican fudge really been exhausted?

The new Scramble for Africa

From Gabriel Rozenberg in the Times: how the penny has started to drop at Oxfam, the DfID etc... just when it's too late to make any difference:-

'[...]China will deal with anyone, and pariah states are a gap in the market. Despite US concerns, China treats these countries as it wishes to be treated itself: be they corrupt, inept, or genocidal, it doesn't get involved. Put aside whether this is a recipe for a new Cold War — what does it mean for Bono?

'Britain’s “development community” has been searching its soul recently. In particular it seems to have gone off aid. The idealistic, hippy talk of the redistribution of wealth is now passé as the penny drops that the billions given to Africa have only kept tinpot elites in power. “I think Africans must have been smiling and cringeing at times when they saw us just thinking that money could solve their problems,” said Bono earlier this year. “Aid is not a magic bullet,” says Duncan Green, Oxfam’s head of research. “The real drivers of change are internal.”

'The new buzzword is governance. Growth will come only when accountable governments establish property rights and weed out corruption. Tricky though it is, the Department for International Development is now trying to encourage good governance, by cutting back aid to countries that persecute opposition leaders and supporters. The latest approach makes sense. But, sadly, the game is up: China makes it irrelevant. It is giving billions of dollars of loans to Angola, for example, with no strings attached in return for oil contracts. Raddled old kleptocrats such as President José Eduardo dos Santos can now raise two fingers to the West.'

Very depressing. He may be overstating his case, but not by much, I fear. Looks like now is the time for Africans to rise up against the kleptocrats - before they find themselves facing Chinese tanks.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Custom and practice

Why did a 12-year-old girl take a razor blade to her school in Sheffield and use it to slash a classmate's face in full view of the teacher? Well, it would seem the victim may have been somewhat less than angelic, and that the perpetrator has had a tough time in more ways than one. The question has been raised as to what kind of school does not take immediate disciplinary action when a teacher spots a pupil repeatedly knocking a classmate's head against a wall. Certainly not the kind to which I would be happy to entrust any putative future Grumplets.

But it was this facet of the case for the defence that particularly caught my eye...

'A psychologist told the court she was likely to have been heavily influenced by a Somali custom in which women routinely settled disputes by inflicting minor scratches on each other's faces.'


...or as another report says...

'During the trial psychologist Stuart Taylor testified that in Somali culture women routinely solve disputes by scratching each other's faces with their fingernails or sticks.

'But he said such behaviour usually resulted in superficial injuries.'

I just love that 'usually'. And you have to wonder what a boy equally heavily influenced by Somali culture might have done in the circumstances.

I wish the people of Somalia well. I wish them well rid of some of their customs. For it surely cannot be coincidental that one of the most violent socieities on Earth has a culture which institutionalizes violence even in everyday interactions between women (not to mention the popularity of female genital mutilation). So whilst I have absolutely no problem in principle with people from Somalia settling in Britain, in practice it's unrealistic to expect that they will not bring their culture with them, and it has to be said that this is a problem.

Imagine being the parent of a child in this girl's class. Almost certainly you don't have the financial means to consider any alternative educational path for your child. Do you feel that Somali customs are to be affirmed and celebrated? How do you feel about being lectured about the benefits of multiculturalism by politicians and media folk whose kids go to private schools or, at least, to comprehensives in Somali custom-free zones?

Which leads us nicely to a passage from a speech by Roger Scruton, excerpted by Laban Tall:-

"First, the double standard over 'racism': a charge constantly levelled against innocent members of the indigenous majority, and almost never levelled against guilty members of immigrant minorities..."

"... It is in the light of these double standards that the charge of 'racism and xenophobia' should be assessed. It is a charge almost invariably levelled at members of the indigenous communities of Europe, and in particular against those at the bottom of the social scale, for whom mass immigration is a cost that they have not been schooled (and through no fault of their own) to bear. It is levelled too at political parties that attempt to represent those people, and who promise them some relief from a problem that no other party seems willing to address."

The penultimate sentence encapsulates the issues raised by Somali customs in inner-city Sheffield rather well. But the last sentence worries me. Scruton was speaking as a guest of Vlaams Belang, the Flemish separatist party in Belgium. I don't know a lot about this organization, but here is one reason why I hope Scruton supped with a long spoon. And the project of persuading Flemish-speaking Belgians that it is intolerable for them to carry on living in the same state as people who speak French is not one that I find particularly admirable. Especially since there is hypocrisy built into it: they talk self-determination, but deny precisely that to the people of Brussels, who are to be incorporated willy-nilly into the Flemish statelet even though they are overwhelmingly French-speaking.

And what about Britain? Is he thinking of any party in particular? There's certainly one that springs to mind, but the problem is that its attachment to racism and xenophobia is not a hysterical liberal slander but a deeply unpleasant reality. And there's the rub. It takes something pretty compelling to motivate a politician to break free of the herd on these issues. That something doesn't have to be racism - I think in Enoch Powell's case it probably genuinely wasn't - but in practice, away from the heady intellectual heights which Powell, Scruton and their like inhabit, it's predictable that the people most willing to shrug off the charge of racism turn out to be racists indeed.

Nevertheless, the political space to which Scruton refers needs to be filled by somebody, and even lefties should prefer to see it filled by the Tories rather than the BNP, by a healthy sense of the abiding strengths of British culture rather than by malignant bigotry. The danger is that a Conservative Party which, in its desperation to appropriate New Labour's winning formula for itself, no longer believes there is anything to conserve is leaving a vacuum for others to fill.

PS Mick Hartley has news of a robust approach to Pakistani customs taken by a court in Denmark. Full marks to the Danes - in Berlin there's been a similar honour killing case where the victim's brother was convicted of carrying out the murder, but the rest of the clan not only got off scot free but were in line to gain custody of her orphaned child (details in German).

PPS Eternal fourteen-year-old department: sorry, but I can't resist passing on the information that the Blogger spellchecker suggested 'scrotum' as an alternative for 'Scruton', 'labium' for 'Laban' and 'bowels' for 'Powell's'. More material for the feminist critique of the blogosphere...