HOW TO COMMEMORATE A HUMANIST ICON
Original Article: http://ahsstudents.org.uk
Upon hearing about the death of Sir Terry Pratchett I felt the world had lost one of its great minds. I’m a huge Pratchett fan: having read his books since I was a small child, I always found them interesting and sort of knew they were funny, but it took getting a little older and wiser to understand why they were so amusing sometimes. Terry’s humour was clever like that. I also had the privilege to attend the British Humanist Association’s (BHA) conference in Leeds where Terry received the Humanist of the year award in 2013.
When I heard the news I thought, “What better way to send Terry off than to show that humanists can do death too?” After all: “DON’T THINK OF IT AS DYING” said Death. “JUST THINK OF IT AS LEAVING EARLY TO AVOID THE RUSH.” It occurred to me that this would be an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of the good life of a great man. A man who has left behind not only a wealth of literary works and a rich universe containing the Discworld – precariously perched on the back of four elephants, who themselves stand on the back of Great A’Tuin the turtle – that we can all inhabit simply by turning the pages of his books, but also a legacy in ethical and compassionate charitable and social efforts including supporting assisted dying, and raising awareness of Alzheimer’s disease.
Students and staff from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) are inviting people to join them as they pay tribute to the late author Sir Terry Pratchett.
Following the death of the award-winning author last week, several UCLan student societies have teamed up with Alzheimer’s Research UK to host an event on Thursday 19 March to celebrate the life and work of Sir Terry Pratchett.
Event organiser Glen Carrigan, who is a Masters by Research Student in UCLan’s School of Psychology, will share a reading from Sir Terry’s 2013 humanist of the year acceptance speech which will be followed by the screening of two films; Terry Pratchett:Shaking Hands with Death and The Colour of Magic.
Glen commented: “Sir Terry Pratchett was a fantastic and unique individual, talented and conscientious, as well as a beloved patron of humanism.“He leaves behind not only a wealth of literary works that many of us have enjoyed from childhood through to this present day, but also a legacy in ethical and compassionate charitable and social efforts including supporting assisted dying, and raising awareness of Alzheimer’s disease.This event will celebrate the life and work of Sir Terry Pratchett as we hope he would have wanted it; with humour, reflection and a feeling of only slight embuggerance.”
The event will take place in UCLan’s Darwin Building Lecture Theatre from 6pm – 8pm. It is free to attend but the organisers welcome donations to Alzheimer’s Research UK. People can book via EventbriteFor more information contact Glen on GACarrigan1@uclan.ac.uk or call 01772 893775. The tribute evening will be run in association with the British Humanist Association, the UCLan Students’ Union Atheist, Humanist, and Secularist Societies and Alzheimer’s Research UK.
Update, 18/07/2013; Equal Marriage Bill to recieve Royal Assent.
A land mark case for equality and testament to the values of fairness, equality and democracy. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill was passed in the House of Commons on February the 6th 2013, 400 votes to 175, a majority of 225.
As well as an achievement for society and homosexuals this is especially poignant for those whom like myself, adjusted their views on homosexuality as a youngsters when presented with evidence to the contrary of an erroneous and pernicious opinion.
It was almost impossible when I was at secondary school, not to hear the word gay used as a byword for bad. “That’s a bit gay” was a phrase uttered constantly often in situations having nothing to do with the matter! I once kissed a girlfriend and heard someone behind me say “gaaaay.” Not sure how that works but it happened. And thus a dangerous and devisive connotation is embeded into the mind.
Your opinion, just like mine is not of interest when the facts are weighed, especially if it stems from a religious proclivity seeking to enforce inequality and deem homosexuals to be sinful. The archaic religious attitude to legislate in the name of an imprimatur fiction and a blatant ignorance of data contrary of this most noxious view has done harm for a very long time. It may be tough to accept, but your opinion on such matters or scriptural “authority” is not a reason to keep a group of people from the equal status and rights they deserve.
Think about it, to judge a person based on their sexual orientation, is to judge someone for what they are, not what they choose. And even if they did choose to be gay, it shouldn’t matter to you who they choose to love, it’s about autonomy, and they’re not asking you to join in. We have, most of us, moved away from racism, nobody would dare discriminate on the grounds of race and rightfully so.
To deny homosexuals the right to marry is a prejudice commensurate with racism in this day and age, and those that hold such beliefs should have them vilified and marginalised in a society that strives for equality.
It is of tremendous significance that this bill passed now, as it points to a fairer and more realistic, equal, and practical Britain, casting off antiquated values and preposterous beliefs in favour of reason and parity for all humans. It is my most fervent hope that we never see the recrudescence of such insulting judgements of people who are in the end homo sapiens like the rest of us.
An interesting article; Whitehead, L. R., & Baker, O. J. (2012). Homosexuality, Religion and Science: Moral Authority and the Persistence of Negative Attitudes. Sociological Inquiry, 82(4), 487-509.
“Over the last few days thousands of people have written to their MPs to support the legalisation of humanist marriage, which is due to be voted on tomorrow or on Tuesday. Have you joined them yet?” – British Humanist Association. We are one of the most active organisations promoting marriage equality in the UK and around the world. We hope to one day be the best, and importantly, least prejudice provider of marriage services in the UK upon recognition. Marriage is for all, and no religious organisation should try to have a monopoly on the expression of love on the grounds of their particular tribal values, and sadly more often than not, their prejudices. Read the rest of this entry
Sponsor Madeline who is running the Cheltenham Circular Challenge for UNICEF UK because 650,000 misplaced Syrian children need our help.
The continued violence in Syria is taking an extreme toll on children and their families. Many schools have closed while health centres have either become too dangerous for families to reach, or been closed down by the Assad government. Read the rest of this entry
Cases of the Religious communities feeling as if they’re the victims of prejudice abound in the world. You know, the 5 billion or so believers that constitute the majority of the world’s population yet constantly act like a down trodden minority when challenged on anything. Is it any wonder when people try to cling to their antiquated opinions in an increasingly enlightened (allow for geography here) world, expecting not to be challenged that they feel persecuted when they are? Current cases just show that these beliefs held for Millenia aren’t compatible with an evolving psychology and adaptive understanding of what constitutes a Human Right. Read the rest of this entry
Last night I attended the Law Ball at the University of Central Lancashire which was a respectable and interesting affair. One guest speaker announced that Lawyers need to have a moral compass when practicing which elicited a slight giggle from those lawyers and aspiring legal professionals in the audience.
Today Mrs Justice Lang defended Boris Johnson’s ban on anti-gay banners ruling that Dr Mike Davidson’s anti-homosexuality adverts reading “Not Gay! Ex-Gay, Post-Gay and Proud. Get over it!” for display on London buses “cause grave offence” to those who were gay and was perceived as homophobic. This could “increasing the risk of prejudice and homophobic attacks”. Read the rest of this entry
The Iraq war as a liberal, humanitarian intervention could have been valid, a bold statement I know, and not one I fully support but it’s worth looking at important issues from alternative angles in order to understand them. Some would paint it as a them against us, a west against the east or the ever divisive, them against the faith. It was a strategy mandated under for example the genocide convention to which Great Britain is a signatory, this is how Iraq should have been approached. Take a look at the Universal Declaration of Human rights, we’re all meant to uphold this but some countries don’t even subscribe to it. How does your current government or faith measure up? Utilising certain axiomatic clauses in the UN charter would have been to a great benefit for Blair’s government (and the alliance with the US) in the public arena if they were used in prominence as a measure of legitimacy for invasion. The sad and troubling fact with hindsight is, however, that it was justified under a search for weapons of mass destruction which were never found, and this was to the detriment of all future uses of such a humanitarian interventionist policy and the posture with which it could be delivered. Personally, I am largely anti-war but then you never get a positive answer when you frame something as a war. As an ex-soldier and a communications liaison to places like Pakistan I’ve seen enough conflicts to know what results from them. Although, I also wouldn’t wish to let regimes perpetrate heinous crimes with impunity, especially whilst we might condemn certain things and draw up treaties to prohibit them. So it’s worth looking at military intervention from that perspective too.
Jailed for nothing more than a lack of a ficticious Religious belief. Abdul Aziz Mohamed El Baz, aka BenBaz, is an Egyptian living & working in Kuwait. Born on 1985 in Kuwait, Aziz holds a Bachelor Degree in commerce and has worked as an accountant until his arrest.
Abdel was repoted to the government by his employer because he was an atheist. The original motive for Abdel’s employer reporting him to the authorities was extremely duplicit though. They told the Kuwaiti government that he was an atheist and directed them to his blog on atheist and humanist issues because he simply wanted to leave their company and advance his career. The moral integrity of such a company is unfathomable, how this is enough to incarcerate someone is tragic and doubly so as it was used as a weapon against him in a professional capacity.
Isn’t it also odd how the Religious speak out and claim they are being the victims of prejudice or intolerance when someone doesn’t respect their beliefs or through not practicing it is seen as a heretic. Those who brook the greatest insult to their very freedom are actually apostates and atheists within these communities of totalitarian ideology. It puts it into perspective when the majority bourne over reactions and punishments for insulting a prophet, laughing at a book, and just not having the same opinion in Kuwait merit imprisonment in Kuwaiti society as they truly elucidates the double standards used in favour of faith and against disbelief. This sentence is absurd, and is bourne of an opinion that such supernatural beliefs and legislature based on them is immutable and beyond reproach. Such absolutism is the hallmark of every oppressive society in history and should not be allowed to stand unchallenged. Sign the petition to free Abdel if you agree, as I do that ficticious beliefs are not grounds to discriminate against anyone or suppress their freedom of expression as a fellow human.