Tuesday, 17 February 2015

East Riding of Yorkshire Council shields former Rotherham officials

The East Riding of Yorkshire Council has "investigated" - emphasis on the quote on quote - the integrity of its Child Protection procedures and standards, publicly incited to do so in the aftermath of the Rotherham abuse case; it reports no concerns, other than an increase in child sexual exploitation cases which it attributes to an increased awareness among professionals and the public, which is indeed a positive. But the ERYC, as noted by Councillor Paul Hogan, has failed to investigate cases of historical child sex abuse; an approach highly out of touch with Britain's advent in seeking to investigate abuses from the past, pioneered by the bravery of survivors and their advocates, and to address the institutional failures and injustices which facilitated them.

The full extent of the abuse in Rotherham became apparent following the publication of the Jay report in 2014, which described the widespread, organised rape, sexual slavery, trafficking and torture of hundreds of children and young people (1,400 as a reserved estimation) in the town by paedophile gangs. The Casey report published this January detailed a culture of institutional bullying and willful ignorance in Rotherham Council that reached the highest levels of the corrupt authority, that was deliberately orchestrated to cover-up its failures in protecting the victims and preventing further abuses, an approach which functionally aided and abetted the perpetrators. Whistleblowers were harassed and intimidated. Computers with research detailing the abuse and council failures had their hard drives wiped. Offices with documents documenting the same were stolen, presumably to be destroyed. South Yorkshire Police and the National Crime Agency are making inquiries into the conduct of Rotherham Council staff. One of those named in the Jay report was Pam Allen, who since 2009 has been the head of children and young people's support in the East Riding of Yorkshire Council; two other staff members working under Allen also worked at Rotherham.

Despite all of these comprehensively documented malpractices, the East Riding of Yorkshire Council has refused to make any inquiries staff members that worked at Rotherham Council, including Pam Allen. Councillor Kerri Harold, the chairperson of the East Riding's CSE investigation, argued that would be "wrong" to make any inquiries into the former Rotherham staff; Councillor Stephen Lane accused the media focus on them as being a "distraction". It would therefore appear that to the East Riding of Yorkshire Council, the ruination of innumerable lives in Rotherham by mass child abuse, and the involvement of their staff members in the authority that covered it up, is a trivial irrelevancy; the only liability being journalistic and public criticism and concerns about institutional accountability and the welfare of children. It reflects that they would prefer it to be buried in the past.

How can the people of the East Riding of Yorkshire possibly trust their council to protect children and young people from harm if it takes such an apathetic and self-serving approach to considering the legitimacy and competence of its senior child protection staff? This should be a cause for massive concern.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Is atheism to blame?

Because the perpetrator of the Chapel Hill shootings was an atheist, atheism is being blamed as the ideological motivator of the murders. It seems illogical to blame a philosophy which is only defined by a lack of belief in gods. There are neo-Nazi Social Darwinists and pacifistic Buddhists who are atheists. There are Ayn Randian Objectivists and radical communists who are atheists. And yes, there are atheists who kill their fellow human beings in cold blood simply because of a hatred of their religious belief or skin colour. Conversely, there are atheists across the world, such as in Saudi Arabia, who are killed, tortured and persecuted because of their apostasy; as are the personally religious advocates of political secularism. There atheists who are great scientists and humanitarians, and there are atheists who advocate all bigotries and quackeries imaginable (other than, perhaps, religious creationism). Bill Maher, for example, advocates anti-vaccination quackery, while Christopher Hitchens was a shill for neoconservatism.

Mentioning Nazism, it is evident that Hitler was anti-religious but ruthlessly exploited Christian belief for political gain (and incidentally viewed Islam as a more practical vessel for Nazism). Holocaust architect Himmler, in contrast, pursued the extermination of Jewry as part of a holy war within an esoteric belief system which promoted the God-given divinity of Germanic Aryans. Similarly, the agnostic Dutch far-right demogauge Geert Wilders aligns himself with Christian fundamentalists and fascistic Zionists, in a xenophobia-charged culture war against Muslims, in the name of secular humanism. Wilders and his ilk manipulate atrocities such as 9/11 to smear the majority Muslim population, the very kind of propaganda exercise the reactionary anti-atheists have engaged in with these shootings.

The anti-atheists in this case will thus retort that this is a matter of the influence of New Atheism; a belief system within itself they say, nominally headed by high priests like Dawkins and Hitchens (presumably since 2006), homogeneously habituated by white, heterosexual western males who promote crypto-racial and cultural supremacy in the name of so-called enlightenment. No doubt such prejudices should be challenged regardless of ideological mediums they project themselves through, whether this be by those self-justified by theological belief or otherwise. (And as stated in the aforementioned paragraph, both are keen to collaborate to further their bigoted ends).

The central falsehoods of such arguments is that they depend upon the presumption of an actually organized and ideological unity between atheists, which even within the narrow western parameters they refer to there is none. The closest demonstrable thing to philosophical belief system among secularists is humanism: which stands for the human rights of all people, including the right to life, freethought and religious freedom. These are values which all reasonably minded people, in opposition to all repression and willful ignorance whether religious or atheistic, can stand for.