Monday, 31 March 2008

A response to a response...

Nothing to do with Pat Condell, but I'd be surprised if the Condell-Meister doesn't comment on Fitna.

In the meantime, I've kept myself occupied with this simple rebuttal of PfanderFilms' claims over on YouTube.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Stats Update

Image Hosting by Picoodle.comSo Condell squeezed another video out, "Appeasing Islam", and our resident image guru (I like to call him 'Deep Throat') updated the running stats. Click on the stats image for a bigger version.

At the time of writing. the "Appeasing Islam" video has had 439,977 views. In stark contrast, his video previous to this ("Take a cruise, Tom"), in which Condell applied his 'comedy' skills to Scientology, has received a less than stellar, for Pat anyway, 86,340 views. This is despite it being published for a whole two weeks longer.

I'm no psychologist, but surely Pat realised as quickly as I did that his Scientology video was not going to garner him a massive amount of viewers.  Is it any wonder that he quickly followed it with his usual Islam-bashing rhetoric?

Whilst the numbers alone make an interesting topic of debate (who are all these people who believe what is told to them by somebody on the Internet without at least seeking some sort of confirmation from other sources?), I wonder which of Condells 30,000 odd  subscribers are the ones who ensure the wide distribution he so obviously gets in particular response to his Islam baiting?

Obviously, Condell enjoys the support and linkage of the BNP, but probably not when he lets loose on Christianity... I don't know, I'll need to ponder this, perhaps I'll get my thoughts together enough to write something coherent on this.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

YouTube Post No.4

[Update - 26/03/2008, OK, so Pat allowed my video to be a response to his.  Can't deny he is a good sport]

Finally uploaded my reply to Pat Condells' 'Am I a racist' video.

This one took longer than I expected, even though I did very little research for it. It's just an out-an-out dissection of the points Pat Condell makes.

One thing I noticed, which I never saw before, was that when tried to make the video a reply to Pat Condells' original, a message popped up saying that my video would only be associated once Pat Condell had authorised it.  At first I thought that maybe Condell had begun censoring the video replies he gets, but having looked at my video options in YouTube, I see it is the default setting, maybe YouTube just added it, or maybe I've not been paying attention in the past.

Either way, lets' see how much of a sport Pat Condell is...

Friday, 14 March 2008

YouTube Post No.3

So. Got my 3rd video posted up to YouTube. It is the video version of my analysis of 'The myth of Islamophobia'

Hope you like it, but either way, comments appreciated.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Condell teams up with Richard Dawkins Foundation

I read the Pat Condell interview a few days ago on 'The Freethinker'. There are a few interesting tidbits of information, but chief among them was the announcement that The Richard Dawkins Foundation is issuing a 'not for profit' DVD of the first 35 YouTube videos posted by Pat Condell. 

Quite what a Heavyweight intellectual like Dawkins is doing supporting Flyweight Condell I don't know. And don't be fooled by the 'not for profit' tag either. I worked in a 'not for profit' organisation for many years, the trick is, you see, to call the 'profit' by another name.   I have no doubt that Condell is being paid for what is his content, and rightly so.

I'm part way through Dawkins' 'The God Delusion', and have found it on another intellectual plane from the 'common sense' Condell trots out.  The more I read Dawkins, with his scientific reasoning, the more I'm intellectually offended by Pat Condell, and that really does take some doing!

I find it a shame, then, that The Richard Dawkins Foundation is supporting Condell and his bigoted diatribes.  It will do nothing but drag the name of Richard Dawkins into the gutter.  Perhaps Dawkins is thinking that 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend'.  Maybe that is his reasoning, but to sully his reputation by supporting a clearly blinkered and bigoted view of religion, and Islam in particular, will not do him any favours amongst open-minded religious folk, or even those atheists who can see through the transparent arguments put forth by Condell. 

Dawkins mentions 'consciousness-raising' a lot in his book.  He wants to raise the consciousness of the public with regards to understanding the implications of science, especially where science impacts or disproves elements of religion.  And that is fine.  But how is supporting a non-scientific 'comedian' going to do this?  Especially when, in this very blog, I have personally disproved, in a rational manner, the majority of what Pat Condell has to say about Islam (hey, I've only analysed 3 of his videos, lots still to do!).

Putting that subject to rest, and carrying on with my tradition of analysing what Pat Condell says, there are a few other interesting points that Condell raises.

When asked what he likes about the Internet as a medium, Condell replies:-
We no longer have to ask someone else’s permission to communicate with a wider audience.

I’ve been criticising religion for years, but only in comedy clubs. Whenever I tried to do it in the mainstream media I was censored, especially by the BBC where jokes about the subject are always heavily edited, and it’s virtually impossible to say anything at all about Islam.

The internet allows all of us to bypass these self-appointed gatekeepers and communicate our ideas without interference.
Is it just me, or do I detect a spot of bitterness in there?  Perhaps one of the reasons that Condell was censored by the BBC was because, well, his material simply isn't funny enough.  Maybe it be as simple as that?  Condell mentions that 
...somebody alerted me to LiveLeak, a site with a more newsy edge than YouTube...
Huh?  I think Condell is trying to have it both ways.  He is billing himself a 'comedy' act, but claiming it is 'newsy'.  Whilst this is not unheard of, when it is done on mainstream TV, there is at least the pressure to get your facts right.  Fortunately(?) for Condell, there is no editorial team (or should that be 'self-appointed gatekeepers'?) to stop him from passing something off as truth, when in fact there is no truth in it.

On his stand-up, Condell says this:-
I haven’t worked the circuit full time for years. I wrote my last show specifically to say something about religion.
Yes, well, when your act is mauled by the critics, I'm sure it gets harder to find work.  I think Pat Condell is being less than honest with himself if he thinks that he was being censored by the BBC for the religious content of his material.  You can throw out jokes about religion (and culture) and be funny on the BBC, as Omid Djalili proves time and time again.  The critical word here - and please do take note Condell - is 'funny'.

When asked to describe his personal philosophy, Condell says that he is a vegetarian, and he 'strongly' supports animal rights.  One wonders, how strongly?  Strongly enough to send death threats and dig up the remains of an innocent women?  Probably not.  Pat Condell would no doubt be disgusted at this sort of radical animal rights activism, and yet, he probably cannot see the ideological similarities between it, and, say, 'radical' Islam?  Should we ask Condell to apologise for the behavior of radical animal rights activists in the way that he calls for Muslims to apologise for all Muslim behaviour?  Of course not.  That would be a idiotic thing to do.  Does Condell genuinely not see this blindingly obvious fact, or is he just conveniently ignoring it?
As for my opposition to religion, it’s not about theology – I couldn’t care less whether God exists or not – it’s a civil rights issue. I believe everyone should be free to determine their own experience in life and not have it imposed by someone else. We don’t need our reality filtered through religious dogma any more than we need spring water adulterated with chemicals.
How strange.  Having based his entire range of YouTube videos on the premise that God does not exist and religion is only followed by people too stupid to think for themselves, Condell abruptly states that he 'couldn't care less' if God exists?  Surely, if there ever was any overwhelming evidence as to the existence of God - either way - it would have an impact on Condells' life?  If God was proved to exist, would Condell still make anti-religion rants?  And if God was proven not to exist, surely Condell would have to find something else to talk about, as the debate will have been settled once and for all.  Though even I would not begrudge him a smug 'I told you so' video.  Just the one though.

It seems that 'everyone should be free to determine their own experience in life', as long as your 'experience' does not contradict that of Pat Condell and his army of 'freethinkers'.  If it does, you are quite obviously a demented religious nut, and should not be allowed to express your opinion.

Finally, on the subject of 'resisting the growing influence of religion', Condell issues a battle cry:-
If you hear somebody claiming special treatment because of their faith you’re entitled to say: “No, I object to this. It offends me, it insults my beliefs, and it’s a violation of my human rights.”

Use their tactics if you feel strongly enough. Make a nuisance of yourself. Make an official complaint. Take it to a tribunal. As an atheist you’re part of a minority whose beliefs are constantly ignored and marginalised while religious prejudice is pandered to and encouraged, and you have every right to be offended by that.
What examples of people claiming special treatment could Condell be talking about?  I've yet to hear one from him, no doubt I'll catch one at some point!  Condell believes that Atheists are part of a minority.  The 2001 Census clearly shows that Atheists make up at least 14.6% of the UK population.  As an ethnic group(?) they are second only to Christians.  Muslims, on the other hand, make up 3.1% of the population.  

Surely, the argument that Muslims (and Sikhs, and Hindus, and Jews and Buddhists et al) are being ignored and marginalised holds as much water as Condells' assertion that Atheists are being ignored and marginalised?  I doubt Condell would recognise this view, but it would be interesting to put it to him.

In a democratic country, the majority rules.  I've said this before, but it bears repeating. Over 70% of the UK is Catholic, and Condell has proven that this is incompatible with his way of life.  If he doesn't like it, why doesn't he leave the UK and move to a country with no official religion.  Like China.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

The Myth of Islamophobia - A critical Analysis

So I'm working my way through the videos that Pat Condell has posted, when I'm struck by the title of 'The Myth of Islamophobia'.  What a great title.  I mean, surely, this video must be full of intelligent debate and statistical proofs.  Combine that with Condells' dead pan delivery, and we have a recipe for a great 5 minutes of vitriol. I'm almost looking forward to it. Almost.
"I've had a lot of e-mails from people who seem to think that I hate Muslims, when nothing could be further from the truth..."
This is a great start. A metaphorical olive branch. I'm left wondering for a few seconds if Condell has turned over a new leaf.
"...we tend to read into a thing what we want to see there rather than what's actually there..."
On this issue, I couldn't agree more. This is one of the biggest problems which Islam faces. Many people just don't take the time to misunderstand Islam in the indefatigable way that Pat Condell does. Instead, they rely upon nuggets of information handed down by the media, and YouTube rants.
"I have no problem with Islam. With the Islam where people just get on with their lives and pray everyday and don't bother anybody else, nor do I have a problem with any religion that has the common decency to mind it's own business..."
Oh dear. He lost me there. He reminds me of those people, you know the ones, they start off a conversation with "I'm not racist, but..." and it all goes downhill from there.

There is only one type of Islam, you know. It's written down, in Black and White, in the Qur'an. You might call it a tertiary source. What is written in the Qur'an is Islam. And what isn't written in the Qur'an, well, isn't kosher, so to speak.
"I don't hate anyone. Because hate is for losers. Hate is just fear with attitude."
What an insightful, kindly gentleman. So far so good.
"...whatever you hate and fear, well, you know your' going to attract it, because if you invest that much emotion in something, it's coming your way..."
Well, yes. I can see his point here. This, by definition, must mean that Pat Condell really has it in for fascist racist bigoted ill-educated ignorant idiots, because there are, literally, so many coming in his direction.
"... this week the Queen of England was burned in effigy on the streets of Pakistan. Why? Because she gave a knighthood, a pretty worthless bauble at the best of times, to an author better known for his nuisance value than for his actual writing..."
Yes, but fortunately for us Pat, this is a demonstration of healthy freedom of speech in Pakistan. While we might consider it bad taste, no doubt, to burn an effigy of Her Madge, I'm sure they are well within their rights to do so. Who are we to deny them that right? 

Pat Condell famously has no respect for any religion, and yet, he can't stand an affront to the Queen - who, after all, holds the title 'Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England' - even though it is, in fact, part and parcel of free speech? One wonders what Pat Condell thought about the portrayal of the Queen on Spitting Image in the 1980s. I'm sure he sent in a stern letter of complaint.
"... The [Pakistani] government has declared this an insult to Islam. Well, I mean, what isn't these days?"
Lost me again. Which of the Islams you know of has been insulted? The 'good' Islam, or the 'bad 'Islam'? Oh dear. I'm so confused. Can anybody else please explain this to me? I must say, that it never ceases to amaze me how the actions of a country can be taken to represent the 'hive mind' of Islam.
"...I do find it difficult to take seriously this moral outrage in Pakistan... a country whose attitude to women degrades the entire human race..."
I see. You'd much rather watch the bitches n' ho's on MTV? Or maybe catch snaps of female celebrities having drug problems and mental breakdowns? Maybe the trafficking of sex slaves into the UK is more to your taste? Is it not degrading that the so-called empowered women of the west can't walk the streets alone at night or receive a comparable wage to men for the same type of work? What is it they say about people in glass houses? If Muslim governments have the excuse of being medieval throwbacks, what , then, is the excuse of the most enlightened, secular, developed countries in the world for the way they treat women?

He is right though. The fact that European countries can treat women shamefully does not negate any ill treatment of women by Pakistan. But you must remember that Pakistan is a country. Pakistan is not Islam. Islam, as I'm sure you know, is not a country.
"The real insult to Islam is the fact that in Pakistan a woman can be murdered for the crime of being raped..."
I do wish Condell would have the decency to show his sources on this on this issue, I really don't have the time to reverse engineer every statement he makes. And it does seem to be YouTube etiquette to give sources to your claims in the information box to your videos.

But I do agree, it is an insult to Islam. And to Christianity. And no doubt to Judaism, Sikhism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and, yes, even Atheism. See. Something we can agree on. Thank heavens that there is no justification within Islam to murder a rape victim.
"Every year in Pakistan, thousands of women are murdered by members of thier own family, and yet nobody is insulted by that, nobody is demanding an apology for that. Instead what do we get, a deafening silence from Muslims. Almost a miracle in itself."
Again, Condell should show his sources, and again, I'd agree that it is insulting to any decent human being regardless of race, religion, or lack therof. In this spirit of apology, why is nobody demanding that Atheists apologise for all the things that Atheists have done wrong over the years? Why don't we ask all the black people of the world to apologise for all the wrongs that black people have done? Shall I give you a clue? Because it is the ridiculous, fatuous proposition of somebody with no reasonable reserves left in their intellectual arsenal. 

You see. If everybody had to apologise for the sins of everybody else who claimed to belong to their race, religion, or belief system, (and for the sake of argument, I'm including Atheism here) we would all be apologising for something or other.  All the time. Frankly, that much politeness is just unhealthy. But regardless, why should a Muslim, or anyone, apoligise for something of which they were never complicit in?

People condemn illegal actions by not taking part in them.  Is it not enough for Pat Condell that the majority of Muslims do not take part in terrorism or wife-beating, that he must make them all apologise? Muslims can't even get to a wedding on time and you think that they could organise some sort of trans-global apology? What would happen? Should somebody send out a memo?
"Dear Fellow Muslims, 

It has come our attention that some of you have been very, very naughty. For the sake of global harmony, after Friday prayers,  please go out onto the street and say, "I must apoligise for the behaviour of Muslims during the War on Terror". 

Maybe that would do it for Condell and his crowd? Maybe. But I doubt it.  What else does Condell have to say about Pakistan?
"According to the human rights commision of Pakistan, 80 per cent of Pakistani women are regularly beaten by their husbands. I mean come on guys shape up. You can't blame your culture for everything."
Sorry. Lost me again. It seems that here, Condell is implying that Islam is responsible for the beating of women in Pakistan. This is in direct contradiction to his original statement that he has no trouble with the Islam "where people just get on with their lives and pray everyday and don't bother anybody else". But here, he implies that, well, 80 percent of all Pakistani Muslim husbands beat their wife as an integral part of their religion?

Does this argument even merit a serious reply?
"... And yet these are the people who have accused the British Government of Islamophobia. [The Government has] ... already done so much to accommodate Islamic sensibilities. Even legitimising crackpot pressure groups like the Muslim Council of Britain, who recently issued a list of demands that would impose Islamic values on all children in British schools."
We've heard this all before from Condell.  He complains that the British Government bends over backwards to appease Muslims, and yet, he offers up no examples to prove his point.  Surely, this line of reasoning would produce rich and deep seams of 'comedy' for Pat?  But no.  I've yet to hear him give a single example of the UK Government appeasing those Muslims.

Moving on from that though, The Muslim Council of Great Britain was never an illegitimate organisation, so the government has never had to legitimise it.  I have to hand it to him. Condell demonstrates a flair for language.  His smoke-and-mirrors tricks are designed to stop us from even lightly probing his postulations, but if you get past the pseudo-Neuro-Linguistic Programming his arguments are very transparent.

Pat Condell is always mentioning this 'list of demands', so I thought I'd finally take the time to find it, being as Condell doesn't have the nerve to link to it in the information box for his videos. 

This 'list of demands' is called 'Meeting the needs of Muslim pupils in state schools' Page two of the document states that it is an 'information and guidance booklet'. Far from imposing Islamic values on 'all children in British schools', the document is designed to highlight the specific needs of Muslim pupils. It is actually a good guide for teachers who may know nothing about Islam, and importantly, reduces the scope for Muslim pupils to try to pull the wool over a teachers' eyes by playing the 'my religion says so' card. If a teacher is aware of the requirements of Islam, they are less likely to be taken for a ride, or cause offence through ignorance. Lets have a look at a tidbit of this guide:
"Muslim pupils are allowed to take part in educational visits to all places of worship, including churches, synagogues and temples."
Sounds reasonable to me. Not really an earth shattering demand. 

It seems that Pat Condell took his opinions about this document from the Daily Express who ran what can only be described as an inflammatory article, with comments like this nugget from Terry Sanderson of that bastion of intelligent and rational secularism, the National Secular Society (of which Condell is a fully paid up member):
“Schools with even just a handful of Muslim kids will find they have to follow these guidelines because there aren’t the staff to have one set of classes for Muslims and another for the rest. The MCB shouldn’t try to force its religious agenda on children who may not want it. The Government needs to send the MCB packing. Schools should be about teaching, not preaching. ”
The document was launched on the MCB website on 20th February, one day before the article came out. It seems that Terry Sanderson read and digested a 72 page report before the copy deadline for the newspaper. I doubt he spent a full 24 minutes, never mind 24 hours analysing it, because if he had, he would have realised that the publication is not at all about 'forcing a religious agenda on children who may not want it', but it sets out to be an advisory document which schools can refer to for good practice. 

If the best the NSS can do is get manipulated like a puppet by the national media, it is small wonder Pat Condell frets about the political nouse of the Muslim Council of Britain.

Unsurprisingly, the MCB wrote a letter to the Press Complaints Commission about this report, wonder what the result was?

A more balanced synopsis of the document could be found at the BBC four days after it became available. Mike Baker, an Education Correspondant (so, pretty well qualified to judge a document aimed at schools then) asks the right questions:-
"How reasonable were these requests? Were they, in fact, demands?"
Baker at least passes fair comment on the language of the document, particularly, he seems to wonder why the word 'should' appears so many times.  He also points out that schools have the right to 'expect willingness to conform, whether it is to school uniform codes, curriculum requirements, behaviour policies or parental co-operation', and that makes absolute sense.  

Baker goes on to say that "...telling schools what they 'should' do for one particular group, without necassarily considering the impact on others, may not be the most persuasive approach."  He has a point, but it is not in the remit of the Muslim Council of Britain to vouch for the requirements of non-Muslim children.  That is for the schools themselves to balance, given the information they have. 

The purpose of the document was so that schools could create even-handed policy that includes Muslims are far as possible, not for 'special treatment'.

Race Equality Teaching published a great article dissecting not only the story, but the comments to be found on the Daily Express website regarding the story. And, finally on this subject, it seems even atheists can see that we have entered storm-in-a-teacup territory with this one.

So, we return now to Condell, who is still bleating on about the Muslim Council of Great Britain.
"The Muslim Council of Britain sounds like an official body but in fact it's just another extremist group of fanatics who want to turn Britain into an Islamic republic. They'd never admit this publiclly of course, any more than the British National Party would admit that they want to repatriate the blacks and gas the Jews, but we all know thats' where they are really coming from."
The Muslim Council of Britain are no more or less extreme than, say, the National Secular Society, and as I've pointed out before, the NSS have more political and media clout. Who then, should we be more wary of?  Also, is it ironic that he mentions the BNP, who absolutely find everything that Condell has to say about Islam right on.  Funny though, that they don't seem to support his views on Catholicism.  Still, every cloud has a silver lining, eh?

Condell never tires of 'dissing' the MCB:-
"...they love accusing people of Islamophobia. A totally made up word and a blatent lie."
Hold on a cotton picking minute! People accusing other people of stuff when they have no basis for it? Gee whizz. Pat, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas no more!

All words are made up. But seriously. Lets' nail this lie once and for all. Pat Condell is a rational man. I feel sure that when he is presented with overwhelming evidence to disprove his theories, he'll undoubtedly change has rhetoric. Well, I can but try.

Way before 9/11 and 7/7, far back in the mists of 1997, even before Pat Condell had heard of the Internet, the Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia issued a report entitled 'Islamophobia: a challenge for us all' . The report contained 60 recommendations, by the time of the follow-up report in 2004 progress on the original 60 recommendations was minimal. Here is an example of Islamophobia:
"During the war in Iraq in 2003 a student at a secondary school in central England approached one of the staff. She was of Pakistani heritage, as was the member of staff. She was being teased, she told the teacher, by other students in the playground and on journeys to and from school. 'We killed hundreds of your lot yesterday … Saddam's your dad, you love him, don't you … we're getting our revenge for what you Pakis did to us on 11 September…' The teacher asked if she had told her form tutor. Yes, she had told her tutor, and her tutor had said: 'Never mind, it's not serious. It'll soon pass. You'll have to expect a bit of teasing at a time like this.'"
Confronting Islamophobia in the Education System, page 1)
But that is just the UK. It is recognised that a European wide initiative to tackle Islamophobia is required.
"EU member states must also accept their responsibility towards all ethnic and other minority communities. To do this, measures must be taken and new initiatives implemented. Those such as the Irish government's anti-racism awareness programme, that is now to include Islamophobia as well, is a good case in point."
Undeterred by the truth though, Condell gives us the skinny on Islamophobia
"...A phobia is defined as an irrational fear or dread of something, and its' true that many people fear and dread the growth of Islam but there's nothing irrational about that when you look at the evidence. In countries where islam has control there is repression there's torture there's precious few human rights and there's no free speech..."
Great point. I would contest that the countries of which Condell speaks are not implementing Islamic law at all, or not implementing it correctly, or at least, are adhering to an ultra-strict interpretation which a moderate Muslim (yes, they do exist!) would not recognise, and where in fact, there could be a more lenient interpretations of Islamic jurisprudence.

I do find Pat Condell quite naive in his outlook, especially for a man of his years. There may be free speech in Britain, but, funnily enough, not in Westminster, the heart of UK democracy. How very embarrassing.
"... if the Muslim Council of Britain had it's way this would be one of those [oppressive] countries and I'd be arrested and tortured for making this video. This is not a belief system that I want to see encouraged, but there's nothing phobic about it, it's just common sense."
Ladies and Gentlemen... I give you Islamophobia in action. I hope that I've pointed out the holes in the arguments that Condell raises. If, like Pat Condell, you don't take the time to learn about a subject, and simply regurgitate what the media force-feed you, then maybe you could get away with thinking that Islamophobia is common sense. If, however, you have a modicum of intelligence, or bother to do some research for yourself, you might come to the conclusion that Islamophobia is not a belief system you would want to see encouraged.
"...The real phobia lies with Islam itself, and with all religions with their pathological fear of reason, which they know can evaporate all their delusions in an instant, because reason to religion is like sunlight to a vampire. Thats where the real fear is, and that's where the real hate is."
And so, we come to the end of the rant. Condell delivers a closing statement that is diametrically opposed to his opening one. How we got from "I have no problem with Islam" to discussing pathological fear of reason, and insinuations that that is where hate lies within Islam. I should hope this response to Pat Condell is full of reason, and backed up with clear evidence to support what I say.

I'm willing to debate these issues with anyone, I may even learn something in the process. I get the feeling that Pat Condell thinks he already knows it all. Pat Condell delivers good diatribe, but when you actually probe deeper, a less than scholarly approach is evident in his videos. And yet, his word is taken as gospel.

Go figure.