Daily View 2×2: 13 January 2010

As if to prove there’s little new in the world, the recent spat between Nick Clegg and childcare expert Gina Ford reminds me of this 1899 poem by Harry Graham.

Father heard the children scream,
So he threw them in the stream,
Saying, as he drowned the third,
“Children should be seen, not heard!

Firm but fair.

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

What are other Liberal Democrat bloggers saying? Here are two posts that have caught the eye from the Liberal Democrat Blogs aggregator:

Spotted any other great posts in the last day from blogs that aren’t on the aggregator? Do post up a comment sharing them with us all.

2 Interesting Stories

Sixteen-year-old has sex change

The Guardian reports that a 16 year old Spanish boy has become the youngest person in that country to undergo a sex change operation.

A sex-change operation on a minor requires the approval of a Spanish court to override a law that sets the minimum age for such operations as 18.

That permission was given in November by a judge after the boy’s parents had themselves made the request. The ­operation was carried out in December, though news of it was only released on Monday.

The boy had reportedly tried to ­commit suicide on several occasions. As a child he was convinced that he was really female, but had been born in the wrong body.

“The judge consulted many medical experts and doctors, all of whom have recommended that he be operated on … she is very happy,” Mañero told El País.

DOZY students have a good excuse at last

The Daily Express has its own take on more and more students needing to work part-time whilst studying

So many young people have to pay their way through university that up to 17 per cent miss lectures because of paid work, a study shows.

Those who do make it are often exhausted, doing nothing for their concentration levels.

Of course, we all know the truth. It isn’t part time work distracting students from their studies, it’s all that plotting and counter-plotting in Liberal Youth that’s taking its toll.

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  • Matthew Huntbach 13th Jan '10 - 9:03am

    Here (and unusually), the Daily Express is quite right. This is not a new thing, as a university lecturer I’ve been seeing it for years.

    The commentariat miss this because they are generally people from wealthy backgrounds who send their kids to the posh universities. So they still think university life is like it was for them in their day – you move away from home, you live a life in which study is mixed with plenty of leisure activities. The students I teach are mostly living at home, and mostly fitting their study in around their employment. And this is in a mid-market university, the trend is even more pronounced in the lower ranked ones.

    We have rubbish politics in this country, because there are too many clueless people at the top spouting their opinions and making decisions on the basis that most people live like them, not realising that with their incomes in the top decile if not top percentile, they are entirely atypical of the bulk of this country’s population. Coverage of universities, which assumes that all universities are like Oxford and Cambridge or one or two of the others at the top of the pecking order is typical of this general cluelessness. If we had better politics in this country, what the Express writes here would not be news because it’s something everyone would know about.

  • Matthew Huntbach 13th Jan '10 - 10:15am

    Yes, the banning of Islam4UK is silly. The sensible way to deal with this is to invite Mr Choudhary to defend free speech and the right for imaginative demonstrations of strong feeling on various issues, and then to invite him to defend free speech and right for imaginative demonstrations of strong feeling on various issues again, and then invite him to defend free speech and right for imaginative demonstrations of strong feeling on various issues a third time.

    The first time you do it with his own free speech and proposed demonstration. The second time you abstract out these and make the free speech and demonstration variables. The third time you instantiate those variables with criticism of the Prophet Mohamed and the claim that the Qu’ran is the word of God, and the action of producing silly cartoons mocking this idea.

    One suspects it would be rather fun to watch Mr Choudhary’s mouth flapping up and down as he tries to cope with this. Did anyone try?

    A glance at Mr Choudhary’s website now shows that he has shut it down apart from a few rather dignified statements. In the true spirit of martyrdom I think he ought to have kept it open and allowed himself to be dragged off to prison for it under the ban. Still, with those like him, martyrdom tends to be left to the little people.

    I would like a frank argument with Islam, just as I have defended my own religion in these very columns from time to time when it has come under attack here. We know, however, this is not going to happen. I wouldn’t feel free to make criticisms of Islam in the way people feel free to make criticisms of my religion, I will be honest, because of fear. I happen to work in an area with a high proportion of Muslims, and many of the students I teach are Muslims. If a little cartoon which is just intended to present visually the idea “Islam leads to violence” leads to people being killed – as it has – how can I be sure anything I might say wouldn’t lead to me being killed? It isn’t like my religion, where major newspapers publish graphic images mocking it and won’t get anything but a little mild “oh, that’s not very nice, and it’s a bit unfair” from the likes of me (and I will then get accused of having “a martyr complex” for saying that).

    In a sense then, I would blame those Muslims who I very much accept don’t agree with violence (I don’t call them “moderate” Muslims because I wouldn’t necessarily say they are “moderate” in terms of their faith they just interpret it differently) for tolerating an atmosphere in which it is felt Islam is beyond criticism. I suspect there is a lot of pent-up anger from people who feel they cannot come outright and attack it as Christianity regularly gets attacked in this country, and this comes out as the sort of nasty “Islamophobia” from the extremists and racists who don’t care (and also as releasing that anger by kicking us Catholics again, because they know we of all won’t do anything much back).

    An open debate about the virtues and otherwise of Islam, in which those who think it has none are free to say so, and those who think it has some argue the contrary using logic rather than throwing accusations of racism and Islamophobia, would do much to establish the religion on a better footing and with more respect in this country. The lack of such an open debate is leading to a situation where the only people saying anything are the extremists on both sides, and each side serves only to stoke up the prejudice of the other.

    As John Stuart Mill puts it, one should welcome free speech for people who attack one’s view as an opportunity to promote that view by arguing against those attacks. If one is unwilling to accept such free speech, it suggests a lack of true belief in those views. No-one of any true faith should be scared of free speech, even if that free speech seems insulting. All that I think is required (and this is not always provided) is a fair platform in which both sides have the opportunity to present their views. And a decent liberal audience which is prepared to listen to both sides instead
    of jumping to conclusions one way or the other without listening.

    OK, so maybe the latter is asking a bit too much.

  • Let’s not repeat the Guardian’s mistake of referring to somebody who identifies as female as a boy, eh?

  • An interesting story worth highlighting today is Nick’s call for LGBT equality in Attitude magazine, covered by DELGA here: http://lgbt.libdems.org.uk/news/000386/nick_clegg_a_liberal_with_attitude.html

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