Sunday, January 29, 2006

This Was the Week that Was

So, co-incidentally - the week has been nicely rounded off with the Sunday Times reprising some of the themes I have been developing. Let's round them up!

Happy-Slappers – What's in a name?

In October 2004 David Morley was sitting on a bench on the south bank of the Thames when he was attacked by a group of youthful thugs. They kicked his head in and made a video of it on a mobile phone. Just this week the perpetrators were convicted and sentenced to prison terms for manslaughter. One of them is a sixteen year old girl. Her name: Chelsea Kayleigh Peaches O'Mahoney. Why this crime should attract the sobriquet of “Happy Slapping” by the media is another tragedy. See blog of 28 Jan.

Throw Money at It!

Sorry, I lied – here's a new one. Britain is to send troops to Afghanistan to help police that troubled corner of the world. Actually, police is not very appropriate as policemen are not going – it's combat troops – about 5000 of them. This is nothing new – points out Simon Jenkins of The Sunday Times, as UK plc has been involved with insurgents in Afghanistan off and on for more than 150 years - without conspicuous success. Actually, without any success at all! Neither, lest we all get inferiority complexes, has anyone else been even moderately successful in Afghanistan. Here's an idea that hasn't been tried. Throw money at it!

I actually was moved after the US invasion of Afghanistan to email 'ol Dubbya with just this plan. I didn't get a reply. Mal's “throw money at it” plan involves making the Afghan people so wealthy that when Whose-a-ma-bin-liner and his buddies turn up and propose a raid on the capitalist infidels – they are greeted with a chorus of jeers from the prosperous peasants who are on their way to the gas station to fill their new Range Rover (good for exports) with cheap gas. (As a bonus – they will no longer have to rely on the proceeds of the opium poppy in order to feed their families.) Rich people don't make revolutions! It's simple, stupid. Throw money at it!!

Of course, most of us know little or next to nothing about Afghanistan. I suggest Caravans by James A. Michener be required reading before anyone is allowed to make political pronouncements about this ancient land. Graveyard of anyone who thinks that invading is even a remotely good idea – should be an authorised alternative name for Afghanistan.

Another really good idea would be to let the ICC really encourage Afghan cricket. They have a team and there is no reason why they could not become competitive. Encourage them. In general, the cricket playing nations do not bomb their neighbours.

Losing Mummy

Among the most heart-warming stories of the week must be the assisted suicide of Dr Anne Turner in a Swiss clinic. Dr Turner, “sentenced” to a slow, lingering death from progressive supranuclear palsey, was having none of it. Being of sound mind and reasonably affluent, she travelled with her children to Switzerland and drank (under medical supervision) a lethal cocktail – rather than face months or years in an agonising wait for a lingering and painful death.

Of course, this case highlights the inherent dangers in any regime that countenances assisted suicide; and the dangers are real and cannot - and should not - be overlooked. But, with proper safeguards to protect vulnerable, elderly relatives from possible exploitation by greedy, uncaring and vile family members; it must be possible to allow a humane society of oversee your demise without having the law threatening to intervene in what should be a private, personal decision.

ALF seeks “dreamy spires” targets

Rather worryingly, reports have surfaced explaining that the Animal Liberation Front is planning to “target” anyone (teachers, students, suppliers, etc.) connected with Oxford University in protest at the University going ahead with its plan to build a lab for animal experiments.

This is a tough one. On one hand it is quite incomprehensible how a violent attack (or worse) on a human being could advance the cause of animal welfare – or alleviate animal suffering. It is much more likely that such a successful attack would lose the ALF what public support they may have. On the other hand, how can people legitimately protest about what they see as cruelty to animals?

It's difficult not to conclude that the ALF will have shot themselves in the foot if they were to injure or kill some bricky who is building the new lab – and that is, apparently, what they are threatening to do.

As someone who is not comfortable with any cruelty to animals, I'm left with the only logical answer. Brickies are animals too – protest as you see fit – but menacing those with builder's bum is not likely to advance the cause of animal welfare. Education is really the ALF's only option.

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