All entries for March 2006
March 23, 2006
Dr Frank Ellis, a lecturer in russian and slavonic studies from the university of Leeds has been suspended because he believes that black people are 'intellectually inferior' (ie, dumber) than white people. He also believes women to be 'intellectually inferior' to men. He aired his views in an interview with the student newspaper, in which these and a number of comments revealed him to be strongly right-wing, sexist and racist. (If you believe that a person or group of persons is inferior to you, a) you are discriminating against them and b) you are holding prejudices) Ellis claims that he treats everyone like an individual, and does not make assumptions based on these wider 'rules'. I'm not convinced that anyone can have these beliefs and still treat black people or women identically to white or male students, but if he can, congratulations to him. However, that doesn't answer the question of how a black or female student would feel with him as a tutor, having to go to lectures or seminars with him. It would be greatly unfair to expect those students not to feel anxious in that kind of situation. I suppose it is this which has led to his suspension. I can't help but feel a slight joy at it.
Of course, the thing which has thrown the lefty-liberals into a tizzy is the issue of freedom of speech, and civil liberties being eroded (see Marcel Berlins column at link for a convincing argument for preserving them). All things should be sacrificed on the alter of freedom of expression. I include myself in this tizzy-ing – generally, freedom of speech something i value highly. But there are always exceptions – the BNP, for example are banned from speaking on campus, and I quite approve of that. I think. The problem is, people can't be trusted to think the right things. And so, you run the risk of turning the liberal lefty into an endangered species, because suddenly everyones reading the sun and joing the BNP. Its a terrible conundrum. I'm still not entirely sure Ellis being suspended is a good thing. Now Leeds will be accused of hiding behind 'political correctness', an issue which I'll address when i have the energy.
Another argument I've heard a lot of, is that Universities are centres for academic debate, and instead of silencing Frank Ellis, we should argue with him. Some have even commented that they find his suggestions interesting. My argument against him will follow :)
March 19, 2006
With the drug trial thing that happened, its raised another particular bug-bear of mine which I decided needed expression. One of the things which annoys me more than anything else is the extent to which people sue other people all the freaking time!!! The way I see it is quite simple – if someone has done something to someone else which has severely damaged their quality of life/public image in a way which is likely to have serious repercussions (ie, a doctor being accused of being an alcoholic, or something) then they can sue for compensation, to help them carry on living in the manner which they lived beforehand, as well as (in the case of the doctor) making some actions towards reparing the damage. In the most present case of the drug trials, the families of the injured men are considering/threatening to sue the drug company for compensation. Its a fairly logical assumption that the men involved signed waivers and were aware of the dangers of a drug trial before they took part (who wouldn't have an inkling that it might not be entirely safe), and although the risks may not have been registered as very likely to them, they must have been aware of them. Incidentally, the drugs company can't really be blamed for that, as studies show that we base our own risk assesments on our knowledge of when, if, and how it has happened previously, and to the best of my knowledge, there has not been such a bad reaction to drugs in recent history. Apart from anything else, although companies are not allowed to 'pay' test subjects, the 'compensation' they recieve for thier time is rather generous, and this shouldn't be overlooked. Sadly, in this case, we'll probably see the drug companies giving all the men a healhy sum as a 'goodwill' gesture, one of my least favourite transactions. Evertime someone comes out of something ill, or injured or even a little upset, they are always looking for someone to sue.
On to the second part of my annoyance – compensation. Everybody always seems to be getting compensated, even when its not appropriate. Take, for example, the victims of the tube bombings in London over the summer. Victims, and families of those who died are recieving obscene amounts of money. Its true that in some cases people have lost their ability to work, or lost the main breadwinner of the family, but the welfare state is there to provide support in these kinds of emergencies. The compensation seems to be coming from entirely the wrong direction – I can't see the extremists who blew the tubes up shelling out millions of pounds to support the people they exploded, so it seems like the public coffers are compensating for something they can take no blame for. It was the same after 9/11, and I'm sure it occurs in less publicised cases all the time, and I don't understand why …
I hate to jump on the bandwagon despairing over the state of the world today, but I would argue that the 'compensation culture' we live in is getting beyond a joke. You know, the other day it rained when I was wearing a white shirt, and everyone could see my bra – I was traumatised – so who do I sue ….. :)
March 03, 2006
For all of you who haven't yet remembered how cool Wallace and Gromit really are, a quick reminder that tomorrow you have a second chance to see the Wallace and Gromit night – a chance to see A grand day out, The Wrong Trousers, A Close Shave, and The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, and the fabulous shorts Cracking Contraptions – all in one night!
Get down to L3 tomorrow night, for a 7.30 start, or go to link for more info!!!
March 02, 2006
I just read a pro-life discussion on someone elses blog, and it made me think about morality and all that stuff. When I'm in a happy mood, I like to think that the world is simple enough if you follow a few rules:
1. Please yourself
2. Try not to hurt other people
3. Be honest
4. If you say what you really think, then you shouldn't feel bad about it.
Like I say, simple, and perhaps a little crude. To put please yourself first is selfish, maybe, but often to keep yourself happy, you have to keep other people happy – boyfriend, girlfriend, friend friend, family. I mean more that its your responsibility to make yourself happy – theres no one who can really do it for you. And you should try not to hurt other people when you're making yourself happy. Unless you can really help it. And then the being honest. It makes sense I suppose – be true to yourself – do or say what you honestly feel needs to be done, and that should work. I mean, if you feel bad, its usually because you did something wrong.
But then, I feel bad. I think I hurt someone, I didn't really mean to, I don't think. I insulted someone – I was trying to be honest, and I stand by what I said, but I still feel guilty deep down that I hurt them (maybe). And I wonder if I'm the best judge, and I can say I was trying to be honest but I'm lying to myself because I like to feel all calm and superior like I have everything worked out.
I'd like to think I have everything worked out. Mankind is the only animal that doubts. I'm pretty sure anyway. Even chimps probably have more certainty than us. ALthough, I'm not sure we're all uncertain. Could it be that certainty is what sets apart the truly great – the scientists, the politicians – people who change the world? Or were they pretending like everyone else?
This is a little arrogant. I should take some time to explain that I'm not ruminating on life, the universe and everything because i am terribly wise. It annoyed me when I was replying to the other blog, and suddenly I wondered 'is this true'?. This is, I believe usually referred to as the 'human condition'.
The human condition is one of uncertainty. It works in a sentence I suppose. I remember thinking when I was little that when I was grown, I would know everything. It was such a perfect dream. Imagine knowing everything – being sure that what you were doing was right all along. Maybe that'll happen when I become a geriatric.
Either that, or I'll lose my marbles and won't care either way. I'm not sure morals are a good thing.