Thought Conviction

The thought police aren’t just out there, they’re getting convictions.

A Scottish man who made a website with sick jokes about blacks, Muslims, homosexuals, disabled peopled pleaded guilty to committing a racially aggravated breach of the peace by producing and managing the website.  He only avoided jail by having no previous convictions and quickly admitting his guilt. Instead he gave 160 hours of community service. That’s a month of full-time unpaid work. Plus, he forfeited 12 pieces of computer equipment.

He didn’t make fun of any specific people, other than Simon Weston, the disfigured Falklands War veteran.

I’ve just been reading up on that amorphous area of the common law called “breach of the peace” and even as ambiguous at it can be, I can’t see how the website breached the peace. Breach of the peace is a catchall that the police seem to use when they have nothing else to go on to accomplish their goal. In this case, Andrew Love seems to have done something people find really distasteful, but he didn’t actually do it to anyone.

No one is forced to see his website and they are certainly free to immediately surf away from it the moment they find something they don’t like. No children or animals were harmed in the making of the website.

 According to the Daily Telegraph, ‘Alistair McSporran, prosecuting, said officers found “numerous” items on the website “that had gone beyond the realms of bad taste”. These included a phoney Islamic jihad group and a picture which showed an American police officer being offensive to a young black child in a toy car.’ This is beyond the realm of bad taste?

While I don’t condone Mr Love’s choice of humour, neither do I think it should be a criminal offence.

Three Strikes and You’re Out

The day after two car bombs we found in London, both by providential observers, a blazing car has been driven at the main terminal building of Glasgow Airport.

It appears to me to be a car bomb gone “wrong”. The car was already on fire and one of the occupants was on fire, jumped from the car, but was stopped by members of the public until he was detained by the police.  The other was pulled from the car by police, even as he was trying to fight them off. Both were of South Asian ethnicity.
The car never had the chance to explode and as far as news reports indicate, no one was killed or injured.  So far this week, even when they’ve made an attack, terrorists have been unsuccessful.

The terrorists will have to realise this ain’t Bagdad. We won’t be cowed by their bullying.

Clothes Police

If you’ve heard of the clothes police, but never thought this referred to an actual law enforcement body, you may soon be wrong. It may soon refer to any constabulary in Scotland.

Under proposed Scottish legislation, unlicensed kilt wearers could face a £5,000 fine and six months in jail. Don’t worry about wearing the wrong tartan. It all has to do with the sporran – the pouch worn over the unmentionables due to the lack of pockets in a kilt.

Sporrans are traditionally made from leather or fur. Applicants for a license had better know the provenance of their sporran. The animal providing the materials must have been killed lawfully. That means it if it is made from badger, otter, deer, or a number of other animals, it must have been made before 1994.  It’s always a good idea to keep those receipts.

If you can’t prove how old it is (or that it is disgracefully made from non-traditional materials), not only will you have a criminal record and possibly a cellmate, but you will also have your sporran confiscated.

This crazy legislation is not entirely from the deranged collective mind of the Scottish government. It has been proposed to conform to the rest of the European Union.

Our Father Among the Saints Columba

Today is the 1410th anniversary of the repose of Columba of Iona, one of the patron saints of Scotland. He is by no means one of the earliest bishops in Scotland. St Ninian first worked in Scotland in the 4th century. Nonetheless, Columba’s missionary work amongst the Picts was one of the great evangelistic efforts in this island.

Though like Jesus he began his Scottish mission with twelve disciples, Columba turned Iona into a school for missionaries to the Picts, much as my own patron St Dyfrig did for the Welsh at Hentland and Moccas.

I went to Iona 17 years ago. Wow. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long ago. Anyhow, it would be a great place to be a monk, because there’s not much to do there other than pray. And you have to want to get there. Even today as a tourist attraction and place of pilgrimage, you have to want to get there. It’s not on the way to anywhere else.

Likewise, if you were going to be a missionary to the mainland or any of the other islands in the Hebrides in the 6th century, you would have to want to get there. You would have to be pretty committed to evangelism.

Columba would have probably never imagined that his rebuilt abbey and the community associated with it would be run by a woman and espouse liberal politics and theology, and pan-sexual ecumenism.

Adomnán’s Vita Columbae is one of the great hagiographies of the British church, written within first hundred years after Columba’s death. As the ninth abbot of Iona, Adomnán had access to those who knew Columba, so it is much more difficult to discount the stories told, as is often the habit of modern scholars when dealing with hagiographical literature. They have to find other ways of explaining away his prophetic gift and the miracles performed by him through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Because this aspect of his ministry is so well know, Columba is a popular figure with charismatics who have dabbled in Celtic Christian history. The only difference between them and the Orthodox is that as Orthodox, we don’t see the ministry of Columba as finished, but merely translated from this life to the next, where he prays for us as part of the great cloud of witnesses.

In response we sing:

By thy God-inspired life/ thou didst embody both the mission and the dispersion of the Church,/ most glorious Father Colum Cille./ Using thy repentance and voluntary exile,/ Christ our God raised thee up as a beacon of the True Faith,/ an Apostle to the heathen and an indicator of the Way of salvation./ Wherefore O holy one, cease not to intercede for us/ that our souls may be saved.

Airlift

The popular image of overweight Americans has not been improved by a man who fell ill on a cruise ship anchored in Scotland.

He could not be removed from the ship and taken to hospital by ordinary means. When the 450 lb man succumbed to stomach problems (wow – there’s a surprise), he had to be winched off the ship by an RAF Sea King helicopter. He was then transported to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

He had emergency surgery and is recovering. Soon he’ll be back to eating at full strength again.

Governing on Eggshells

A minority government is a fragile thing. Nonetheless, the leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party, Alex Salmond, has been eleced First Minister of Scotland.

This means he probably won’t be in power very long – at least not without another election. The SNP is have to negotiate hard for every piece of legislation. They are is a kind of issue by issue coalition with that flakiest of parties, the Greens. I’m guessing they won’t even be hinting that anthropogenic global warming is load of anti-capitalist propaganda.

Not that the SNP would ever decry anything as anti-capitalist. They are to the left of Labour. Strange as it may seem, Scotland had to ditch Labour to get a socialist government.

The Price of an NICE English Postcode

The postcode lottery strikes again.

One of the advatages of devolution for Scots is that they may no longer be tied to England for the worst cancer survival rates in Western Europe. The approval of drugs available on the NHS is down to the Scottish Medicines Consortium. England and Wales is governed by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

The Scots have approved the use of cetuximab and docetaxel for head and neck cancer. Drug trials have shown that cetuximab (also know by the brand name Erbitux) plus radiotherapy survive for an average of just over 4 years, compared with less than two and a half years for those treated with radiation alone. Nice says it costs too much for what you get. Tough luck.

As I mentioned back in January, Erbitux has already been rejected by NICE for use in bowel cancer. It seems that Nice and the NHS have found a good way to keep the socialised medicine fiscally viable. All you have to do is let all the cancer patients die off and there are fewer people putting a drain on resources.

When I hear about how much more compassionate enlightened British socialism is when compared with the big bad USA, I just think of all the people here who die due to rationed health care. And if you are in the US, remember that this is what Hillary wants for you, too.