Time Marches On

The Church of England made a statement about George Bell, the former Bishop of Chichester. Somebody accused him of sexual abuse, saying the attacks happened in the late 1940s and 50s, and the person first made the allegations in 1995. When the allegations were made, Bell had been dead for almost forty years. There is no question that, if a person seeks justice, it is better to make the accusations while the person is alive if possible. If not, then the accusations should be made as soon as possible.

The statment is here:


The statement is a disgrace. It assumes Bell was guilty of the accusations, something the Church cannot know, but it gets worse because it actually smears Bell.

Had it referred to the accuser as ‘the victim’ – and done so only once – it would have been a disgrace.

The word ‘victim’ begs the question of the accused’s guilt. How can a person be a victim if no wrong has been done to them? Begging the question in this way is unacceptable. Imagine if a barrister reffered to the defendent as ‘the murderer.’ The judge would immediately offer some sharp remainders about form. Yet the statement does not once refer to the accuser as the victim.

In only 716 words, it refers to the accuser as ‘the survivor’ eleven times.

If ‘victim’ presupposes guilt – and it certainly does – then what horror is being presupposed by ‘the survivor’?

I do not believe the Church’s statement was made in good faith.

A person might naturally, without malice, arrive at the word ‘victim.’ It comes to mind easily, and it takes a little more thought (but not much more) to see what it presupposes. But ‘the survivor’ is certainly not a natural way to describe a person making accusations which will never be proved. Somebody had to think their way to that formulation, and so must have known what they were doing.

(Another possible reason for that choice of description is that the statement was typed by some fruit-juice drinking, sandal-wearing vegetarian tree-hugging grievance merchant, who’d have you arrested for racism if you dared to say you disliked black coffee.)

That would explain the coinage, but the repetition – banging it into the minds of the reader – is pure malice in my opinion.

I think it’s possible that dark forces are at work, and somebody actually wanted to smear Bell. Who benefits from Bell’s post mortem disgrace?

I hope that somebody within the Church accepts a journalist’s coin and the whole lot gets exposed to the public. Including the identity of the accuser.





No True Christian

Yesterday I speculated that many journalists and commentators and so on will begin to spew the politically correct line that the doctrines of Islam have nothing to do with the Paris horror. I used Sam Harris’s explanation of how weak and politically correct mainstream journalists will blame everything except religion for the behaviour of religious lunatics. I quoted from Piers Morgan (a chap with a large audience). Some of what he wrote in his response to the Hebdo killings was absurd.

Morgan is doing similar, here:


His article is less feeble than his Hebdo response, but there’s still the denial in the core of his mind which damages the coherence of this thinking.

ISIS aren’t real Muslims, as some still maintain. They’re just gangsters who’ve hijacked Islam to suit their nefarious aims, cloaking their hatred and violence under the faux umbrella of religion.”

ISIS are real Muslims, and someone with Morgan’s audience should just tell the truth as a matter of honour. That ISIS take the Koran literally, something most Muslims don’t do, doesn’t mean the Koran isn’t at the core of their beliefs.

Think about Christians for a moment. There are some horrible and stupid things in the Bible, and the behaviour of Christian authorities for hundreds of years proved it.

We know this is true. We don’t deny it. We know Church authorities burned humans alive for reading the Bible in English; we know that Bloody Mary enjoyed toasted Protestant for breakfast; we know that the Catholics weren’t always fond of scientists, and liked to torture and kill them in the name of God. We know that Oliver Cromwell was a schizophrenic, puritanical religious lunatic, who was on a mission from God to rid England of superstition, and who gave the Irish good reason to be less than fond of him today. These are hardly the only examples I could have picked. But who would deny them?

Who tries to argue ‘Oliver Cromwell wasn’t a real Christian’? Who says ‘Bloody Mary wasn’t a real Catholic’? You get the idea.

We all know, and have no problem stating, that the Bible was at the root of their doings.

But what happens when the violence has the Koran at its root?

Suddenly it’s denial-city, with tones of self-loathing thrown in. This is a little example of that from Boris Johnson. He is a person who might one day be Prime Minister of Airstrip One.

When the Islamist killers opened fire, they killed and maimed people who were entirely guiltless of any provocation or disrespect to their religion. They murdered and maimed men and women who have had absolutely nothing to do with Western policy in Iraq or Syria – and who may well have been either entirely ignorant of the policies of President Francois Hollande, or indeed have disapproved of them.”


Read Johnsons words slowly. Allow the meaning to gently enter your awareness.

That is what a pig wearing lipstick looks like.

Boris Johnson thought about that before he wrote it. That is a considered statement from a leading political figure. I’m going to rewrite it, to demonstrate what Johnson could have said, but chose not to:

When the Islamist murderers opened fire, they murdered and maimed people who would have been innocent victims even if they HAD provoked or disrespected their religion. They murdered and maimed men and women who would have been innocent victims even if they had EVERYTHING to do with Western policy in Iraq or Syria- and even if they had FULL KNOWLEDGE of the policies of President Francois Hollande, and indeed loved those policies.

Some acts are unjustifiable, no matter what provocation a person wants to claim.

Johnson’s denial (and he won’t be the only one) is like a mind-cancer, twisting and manipulating thoughts under the surface, so that when the words get to the surface, they’re greasy and smelly because the denial-puss is seeping out from below.

In the days to come there’s going to be more and more of this bullshit, and the idiot public will carry-on claiming ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ as if it was their own thought, not the parroting of garbage from dickheads like Morgan and Johnson.

The Voldermort Effect

I have just looked at Facebook for the first time today. There are dozens of persons I know changing their profile pictures by adding a filter in the colours of the French flag. I wonder about some people.

Changing your profile picture, and spouting all this ‘je suis’ nonsense doesn’t make the slightest fucking difference to anything. Why do they do it? Does it make them feel better?

Watch what follows the Paris horror. If it is confirmed that ISIS is behind the attacks, or that some other group of Islamic fanatics, then there will be an army of commentators, journalists, pundits and assorted ‘experts’ rushing to tell the rest of us how the religious beliefs of the killers had nothing to do with their behaviour. Some will just say it, repeating the ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ line to pretend they are knowledgeable on the subject, the BBC will probably be more subtle.

(Many presenters on BBC news programs refer to Islamic State as the ‘so-called’ Islamic State. It’s a subtle way of suggesting Islamic State is not Islamic, which is a bit weird given that Islamic State is the name it gave itself. The first thing to believe about ISIS is that they know what they believe.)

This denial will happen because political correctness has decided criticising Islam – the doctrines, ideas and so on – is the same thing as criticising muslims. It isn’t.

ISIS probably laugh themselves to sleep each night at the effort the politically correct media establishment go to to avoid stating the bloody obvious.

Many people have seen Ben Affleck make this mistake (and an idiot of himself) on the Bill Maher show.

Sam Harris is one of the bravest voices on this topic.

In May 2014 he wrote this:

“Most liberals think that religion is never the true source of a person’s bad behavior. Even when jihadists explicitly state their religious motivations—they believe that they have an obligation to kill apostates and blasphemers, and they want to get into Paradise—liberal academics, journalists, and politicians insist on looking for deeper reasons for their actions. However, when people give economic, political, or psychological reasons for doing whatever it is they do, everyone accepts those reasons at face value. If a man murders his neighbor because he wants to steal his property and doesn’t want to leave a witness, everyone accepts the killer’s account of his actions. But when he says, as every jihadist does, that he was driven by a sense of religious obligation and a yearning for Paradise, liberals insist that the search for an underlying motive must continue. So the game is rigged. If you’re always going to look beneath a person’s religious convictions for something else, of course you’ll never see that religion is an important driver of human behavior.”


That describes the situation perfectly. After Charlie Hebdo I lost count of the number of journalists who went into full-on denial mode. Max Hastings suggested boredom, and a desire for adventure, might play a part in this kind of murderous behaviour.

Piers Morgan was woeful after Hebdo. He typed this:

“This is war. Let’s not pussy-foot around the terminology here when it comes to analyzing the sickening events in Paris over the last 48 hours.But it’s not a religious war, as the cowardly, murderous thugs carrying out these atrocities would have us believe.These terrorists are not ‘real’ Muslims. In fact, they slaughter Muslims as much if not more than they slaughter everyone else.One of their two police officer victims in the attack on Charlie Hebdo’s offices was a Muslim.The events in Paris over the last few days, after a few extremists thugs carried out atrocious attacks, have been sickening to watch. On the same day, Al Qaeda car-bombed a police college in Yemen – killing over 40 people, all believed to be Muslims, many of them students.And lest we forget, several dozen innocent Muslims died in the twin towers on 9/11 including a pregnant woman. So forget all the garbage about these lunatics representing Muslims. They don’t.”

A muslim who murders a muslim is not a real muslim? Sunni versus Shia? Notice also that Morgan changes his mind. He starts off claiming the Paris killers were not ‘real’ muslims and concludes by saying these killers don’t “represent” muslims. The initial idea seems to have vanished.

Morgan then continued to suggest there is nothing bad in the Koran.

“As my former CNN colleague Fareed Zakaria pointed out today, draconian punishment for blasphemy, including in many cases death, has been created in law by Muslim nations intent on suppressing their people. So when these barbaric assassins scream that they are ‘avenging the Prophet’, they’re doing nothing of the sort. They’re just using him as an excuse to commit murder. It’s a sickening deceit.”

Look at the first two sentences and ask yourself how does the second follow from the first? Morgan’s argument is a sort of Chewbacca-defence non sequitur. One could ask a question or two, here. Why are ‘Muslim nations’ intent on ‘suppressing their people”? Where does the motivation for this come from? If the killers are not ‘avenging the Prophet’ as Morgan puts it, then what is their motivation?

Morgan kept going:

“All they care about is spewing their hateful rhetoric and violence as chaotically as possible, preying on the impressionable vulnerability of many disenfranchised young Muslims who live, for the main, in poverty and hopelessness.”

What disgusting thing to say. Could he be more insulting? Young Muslims, because they live mainly in poverty and hoplessness, are easily brought to killing because of economic or political conditions? I wonder who would be to blame for those conditions? This is a disguised version of the vile idea of blaming the victims and everything is the fault of the decadent west. Goodness me, he’s trying so hard not to say anything “offensive.” But yet – and how shall I put this? – could those conditions be connected to the intent to suppress he has cheerily already blamed ‘muslim countries’ for? He doesn’t say, but he’s conceded, without realising it, that ‘Muslim nations’ are intent on suppressing their own people. What motivates these nations? Might it be the same or similar motivation that motivates individual Islamic terrorists?

“My own faith’s leader, the Pope, was lampooned far more regularly and wickedly than the Prophet Mohammad ever was. Yet I didn’t see Roman Catholics storming to Paris to kill everyone involved in mocking him. Why should one religion be afforded special rights to being offended? In the end, it comes down to this: killing someone for drawing an offensive cartoon is infinitely more offensive than any cartoon could possibly be.”

Four sentences. Examine them. 1. The muslims are over-reacting. 2. The muslims are over-reacting. 3. Good question. Then 4. He suggests the Hebdo cartoons (for what other cartoons is he talking about if not the Hebdo ones) could be offensive, thus granting the reason claimed by muslims for murdering blashphemers, ‘offence,’ exists: therefore they have a reason for what they do. All he does is says his own crowd, the papists, didn’t kill anyone so why should the muslims be allowed to? Why didn’t he say, for instance, ‘killing someone for drawing an offensive cartoon is always unacceptable’? His position is actually creepy when you consider what a person would have to think before they could write what he wrote.

Even Peter Hitchens was feeble on the Hebdo killings.

Peter Hitchens suggested that the two Hebdo killers were lying when they shouted they had avenged the prophet and so on.

He said

Why should such people be assumed to be telling the truth about themselves, in the middle of a crime?

Should we assume they are lying? What Hitchens is doing is hiding a suggestion inside a question. He’s ‘planting the idea’ – Derren Brown style – that the killers were not really religious. It’s the same snide use of language the BBC use with their ‘so-called’ formulation.

So watch what happens now. While the proles and the rubes put filters on their profile pictures on Farcebook, the papers and news programs will tell us how peaceful a religion Islam is, and Sam Harris in the US and Douglas Murray in the UK, will be kept out of the mainstream broadcasts.

This is almost funny.

Islamic fanatics are a threat to civilisation, though a threat which can be faced and defeated. What political correctness does is prevents us from saying what the real problem is – the doctrines of Islam. If politicians and journalists are too scared to put this message out to the proles, and start to delete the psychological PC software, then we’re all screwed.

You can’t defeat an enemy you refuse to believe exists. Maajid Nawaz, who has just published a book about this with Sam Harris, calls this the ‘Voldermort effect.’

Peter Hitchens makes a Mistake. Loudly.

Peter Hitchens is quoted in bold italics, I quote myself in just italics.

This is what happened.

In December 2014 Peter Hitchens apologised to Christopher Jefferies. Jefferies was the man arrested in the Joanne Yeates murder case. The press ruined his character; had he been charged, a fair trial would have been unlikely. When I read Hitchens’s apology, I thought it was quite decent of him to do it, but nothing more than that.

He was apologising for writing nothing in defence of Christopher Jefferies while the man was having his name dirtied by the papers, even though he knew his trade was ignoring the principle of the presumption of innocence. This is the Hitchens apology from December 2014.

One of my great regrets is that I did not stand up for Christopher Jefferies, the eccentric teacher falsely accused of the murder of Joanna Yeates. I felt at the time that the treatment of this man was utterly wrong. I was amazed that members of my trade were breaking what I had been taught were absolute rules to uphold the presumption of innocence. But I never wrote a word. I waited for someone else to stop it. And nobody did. So – reminded of the whole ghastly thing by last week’s powerful ITV dramatisation – I offer my personal apologies to Mr Jefferies for failing to come to his aid when I had the power to do so.

 I thought nothing more of this until Peter Hitchens wrote a piece called George Bell and the Presumption of Innocence.

This is a paragraph from that short piece:

Long after his death, the Bishop has been accused of child abuse. I believe that he, like any accused person, is entitled to the presumption of innocence and has not been allowed it.

 Reading this made me remember what Hitchens wrote about Jefferies. The principle of the presumption of innocence is just that – a principle, it applies equally to Jefferies as to Bell, so why did Hitchens write for Bell but write nothing for Jefferies at the time?

I wanted to know, so I asked. I asked this on the comments thread of the George Bell and the Presumption of Innocence post:

1st attempt:

‘What I’d like to know is why Peter Hitchens hasn’t waited for someone else in his trade to defend Bell and the principle of the presumption of innocence. I shall be careful, here. There was no article by Mr Hitchens entitled: ‘Christopher Jefferies and the Presumption of Innocence.’ Why defend this principle using the example of a dead person when Jefferies was then (and I assume he still is) alive? With Mr Jefferies, Mr Hitchens could have defended the principle AND aided an innocent man. (Zola didn’t wait for someone else to write in defence of Dreyfus.) Why did Mr Hitchens choose to do nothing to help Mr Jefferies, yet he chooses to speak for Bell?’

Peter Hitchens responded to this:

A good point. I have recently, in published work, expressed my shame and regret that I did not do so. It is partly for this reason that I am so engaged in this case.

Is that an answer? Notice the word ‘partly.’ If it is partly because he said nothing for Jefferies that he wrote for Bell this is okay by me – but I wasn’t asking that. Nowhere in his first ‘answer’ does Mr Hitchens provide an answer to my question about why he chose to do nothing for Jefferies. There is no ‘why’ in his original apology from December 2014, either.

Peter Hitchens writes of his first answer (in his appraisal of our exchange, a post called A Question of Tone):

I assumed this would be the end of it. But No. The following day Mr Aspinall returned to the subject.

Yes, because he didn’t answer the question.

Peter Hitchens doesn’t have to answer my questions. He could say, for instance, ‘shove off, I’m not answering you. Who do you think you are questioning me?’ Or something similar and I wouldn’t complain at all.

But if he chooses to respond then I’m justified in repeating the question if it’s not answered.

So, because he didn’t answer the first time, I had another go. This is part of what I said on my second attempt:

2nd attempt

‘We know why he started writing for Bell – so what stopped him writing for Jefferies when the same principle applies? Was he instructed to write nothing by editors, because there was a clear Jefferies ‘line’ being taken? Was he worried Jefferies might have been guilty, and that his opponents would have smeared and misrepresented him as having been defending a killer instead of a principle? (Something they almost certainly would have done.)’

Mr Hitchens inserted a comment and clearly stated ‘NO’ on the question about a line being taken; of the second speculation, he said:

I don’t think it was as specific as that. I’d have had to have got a lot nearer doing something than I did to have had such a defined fear. It was just a general cowardice mixed with a consciousness that I was failing in my duty. Has Mr Aspinall never experienced any such thing? I really don’t see why we need to get so profound about this. I failed, through my own fault, and have admitted this in public, in the place where I failed. I can’t say it’s much fun to do this, but if the only response is to be accused of following non-existent orders, I might think twice before making such public confessions again. Unrepentant people seem to get an easier time from this contributor. [My emphasis]

That’s closer to an answer, but what exactly is ‘general cowardice?’ Cowardice caused by what?

Was Peter Hitchens experiencing cowardice ex nihilo?

Peter Hitchens continued, in his appraisal of our exchange, to state:

Mr Aspinall has not elected me to anything, nor appointed me to anything, and I owe him no special duty. He is certainly not my confessor. Never mind. The question had been asked, and I had answered it. But the questioning continued, with the clear implication that I was hiding something and not telling the full story. Why else continue to ask in this ill-mannered interrogative fashion?

This implication is not clear. The questioning continued because I hadn’t got a specific answer, and I had – take note here – decided a specific answer existed.

I decided a specific answer existed because people will say they kept their mouths shut because they didn’t want to “rock the boat” or “cause trouble” or they were scared of reprisals, or being fired, or being thrown into a dungeon, or exiled to Siberia, or banished from Christendom, or excommunicated – there’s usually a reason for cowardice to manifest itself, because persons tend to be scared of something.

So after two attempts all I’ve got is ‘general cowardice.’

After my second attempt, Mr Hitchens made things a little clearer in his in-comment reply:

The insinuation, that I feared some identifiable punishment or threat, is baseless. Fear, as those who have experienced it well know, does not need to be specific. Most fear, in my experience, is a vague presentiment that something unpleasant lies around a certain corner or beyond a certain door, and that it is best not to turn that corner or open that door. This is why people are so reluctant to take the first small steps which would otherwise lead to major changes in life, such as changing their minds. They don’t want their fears to take a specific shape, any more than the child which fears there is a monster under its bed wants to look to see if it is really there, in case it actually is. Instinct tends to guide this far more than reason.

After this I thought – okay, there clearly wasn’t a specific reason behind the fear which prevented him not writing for Jefferies. I was quite surprised at this, but accepted it.

‘On the Jefferies / Bell question, I’m happy to leave the discussion where it is. I was asking only because I thought it was interesting. I (wrongly, obviously) assumed there would have been a specific reason behind our host’s choice to say nothing on the presumption of innocence principle for Jefferies; if there was no specific reason, then there wasn’t – that’s that. I used two speculations about what this reason *might* have been: one was to ask if there was any editorial line being followed – quite a vague speculation because I didn’t offer any guess as to why such a line *might* have come down from the brass. The second was a specific question about how Mr Hitchens’s opponents might have smeared him as defending a killer and not a principle (which I think they would have done) had Mr Jefferies been found guilty. I offered these as being two ends of the ‘who knows?’ spectrum. They were not offered as disguised accusations.’

Then things got strange as one contributor decided to tell me my questions to Mr Hitchens were ‘unpleasant’ and Mr Hitchens himself decided to complain about the ‘tone’ of my questions / comments to him. This is where I lost my patience a little. I can’t stand it when people whine about the ‘tone’ of something: a piece of writing, especially. I said this to one of the Toneists:

‘This is what happens: a person reads some words and imagines them being spoken in a ‘tone of voice’ they find irritating. They then blame the writer of the words for the tone they have just imagined into existence.’

This comment, in the context of reading words, is perfectly reasonable. It is quite proper to get ‘tone of voice’ from ‘tone’ in this context. But the tone became the moan.

Once I had, I think robustly, rebutted a Toneist that the tone exists in the imagination, not the material reality, Mr Hitchens added an inserted comment.

I said:

‘The ‘tones’ which Peter Hitchens detected in my questions to him exist, or existed, only in his imagination, and the ‘unpleasantness’ detected by louiseyvette, exists or existed only in her imagination. Which was my point about ‘tone’ of voice to begin with. They imagined it.’

Then Mr Hitchens added:

Interesting that two people imagined it, whereas Mr Aspinall was unaware of it. I am reminded of Don Maclean’s immortal line ‘ I’d heard about people like me, but I’d never made the connection’. Could the problem in fact be one of self-knowledge?

This attempt at humour was not appreciated by me, nor was Mr Hitchens’s shockingly unscientific assertion that a data-set of two persons against one is some sort of noteworthy pattern.

I refuted his self-knowledge point immediately:

‘Self-knowledge isn’t the problem unless this mysterious ‘tone’ can be measured objectively. It can’t.’

That final comment from me was what prompted Mr Hitchens to compose the post, A Question of Tone, from which I have quoted.

In this post he tries to argue that the question

‘Was he instructed to write nothing by editors, because there was a clear Jefferies ‘line’ being taken?’

is a disguised accusation. Now – and just on grounds of logic, grammar and semantics – it most certainly is NO SUCH THING.

Mr Hitchens says of the sentence / question:

It is of course this ‘was he instructed…?’ sentence which is inquisitorial, suspicious and accusatory . Indeed, it contains, in the form of a question, a suggestion that I was acting under instructions which, made in any other way, would be definitely defamatory, especially as it is entirely baseless. It may actually be defamatory. As the late Sir John Junor once painfully discovered, his belief that it is never libellous to ask a question is not true in law.

Well, he might be right about that, but so what? That the law is definitely an ass doesn’t mean I hid an accusation within a question. I did not so this. That question was asked – and not really as a question, more of a speculative opener – a sort of starter for ten – in good faith. I had NO INTENTION of hiding an accusation. Had I wanted to accuse Mr Hitchens of anything I would have done so.

Peter Hitchens is attacked quite a lot, and no doubt is sensitive to attacks, and – weasel word alert! –‘perceived’ attacks. Could it be possible that he just saw an attack where one didn’t exist?

Okay, I’ve just written my way to a thought and possibly realised something.

Maybe he thought I was trying to be ‘clever’ and allude to J’accuse by mentioning Zola early on? I did mention Zola, but that wasn’t what I meant. I just meant to offer a comparison of someone writing for someone else who didn’t wait. I was suggesting a possible different future, a sort of ‘look at what you might have achieved had you acted’ type suggestion.

If Peter Hitchens did think this was what I was getting at, then I can’t blame him for being annoyed, and I understand his irritation, but he’s giving me too much credit if that’s what made him think I was trying to accuse him of something.

It actually pains me (mildly) to be accused of something I haven’t done. This is the reason for this post.

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