I was once asked by the Stockport Humanists if I could present a wreath at the official Remembrance civic ceremony. I was extremely happy to help and also honoured to be asked to take part in a day that has particular importance to me and all other serving and non-serving military personnel past and present. Imagine my surprise to be contacted a little later and told that I was not allowed to lay a wreath as an official part of the ceremony to pay my respects. Certain individuals and organisations including The Rt Revd Robert Atwell have the opinion that “we remain clear that this is a religious ceremony and wish it to continue as such” (Jan 14th 2013). This is also particularly galling when bolstered in a recent telephone conversation by the words of one local Councillor who exclaims that there was “no stomach” to take on the church.
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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.
On December 7th 2012 Atheist Alliance International launched an atheist census. I think as a group of like minded individuals we have the right to express ourselves and count our number within our community. Some people seemingly think that, is somehow out of order. The census was the victim of a denial of service attack after only 17 hours of being online and I and many others didn’t even get a look in. What have those outside of the atheist community got to fear exactly other than a rational world that denounces absurd ideologies and in some cases barbaric practices (recent focus on genital mutilation in Malaysia). I feel this is an affront to my right to freedom of expression, want to see the survey back online and be pushed out into the world. Read the rest of this entry