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Here is the news - now connect head with desk.
Sometimes I just look at the news and I despair, I truly do...

Today's cases in point.

First there was the daft idea that kids should be made to swear allegience to the Queen before becoming citizens. Well, we're already not 'citizens' but 'subjects', something that makes me spit anyway. I'd get rid of the monarchy tomorrow and don't care who knows it - and I felt that way when I was sixteen, too. Far from causing people to feel more "British", the very idea has caused every Nationalist in existence, from the SNP on down, and even those who aren't Nationalist, but who regard themselves as English, Scottish, Welsh, Ulstermen, Irish, Cornish, etc etc etc to get up on their hind legs and proclaim their loyalties. Hell, we've even had pro-Europeans complaining that they don't want to be considered British (particularly if it involves Her Maj, or the idiot son.)

Then there is news concerning our Government's concern for the environment - not. A big coal-fired power station getting the go-ahead on the assumption that we'll develop carbon storage technology. Maybe. Pushing ahead with the idea of a new runway at Stansted despite the fact that every time the idea has been considered by planning experts, they've decided that it's a really bad idea. We should be discouraging air travel except when strictly necessary, not encouraging people to fly to Oz for the weekend!

Then there's the mother asking for our sympathy because her fifteen year old daughter was murdered. Now, I am truly sorry for the child, and very much want to see the people who did it caught, but letting said kid spend all night drinking alone in a bar in Goa, for pity's sake...

Of course, said child might have been taken out of school for the purposes of a forced marrigage, instead of partying. No one seems to take a blind bit of notice in either case.

Oh, and those people earning bonuses of millions a year. Why, they work so hard that this is only a right and proper reward and should not therefore be taxed. And at least one Presidential canidate (McCain) approves of the right of the US Government to torture people, despite having been tortured himself - and, according to a link on my flist, cites 24 as evidence. I kid thee not.

Head, say hello to desk.

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Of course, said child might have been taken out of school for the purposes of a forced marrigage, instead of partying. No one seems to take a blind bit of notice in either case.

Well, I will say that in this one particular example, it's not quite as bleak as you say as the BBC Breakfast News this morning had a fair amount of coverage of this very situation. So some notice has been taken ...

Precisely. And what one of the women who this had happened to was saying was that she had actually told her teachers that this might happen, but no-one even looked for her. Then there were the numbers from the Luton study, which suggested that this is much more common than anyone in government will admit.

Actually we all have been citizens since 1948 as well as subjects. (British Nationality Act of 1948).

I know it's a small point but the move is away from citing us as subjects. Still in the United States every schoolkid has to recite the 'Pledge of Alligance' every day as well as at public events for all.

I never used to being a British citizen and all.

I have no desire whatsoever to pledge my loyalty to a woman whose sole claim to it is that her mother fucked an obscure descendant of a feudal lord. The sheer weight of history continues to pin this nation down like a butterfly in a display case.

It always used to be said that we didn't need something like the Pledge of Alleigance (contentious since they introduced the phrase 'under God' in the 50s) because we British were confident in our own skins. I have to say a number of people who contribute to the atheism board say they used to keep tight-lipped during the Pledge. According to an education chappie from the States interviewed on the radio this morning, the Pledge means very little to the US kids because it is just ritual, and if Goldsmith had bothered to talk to US teachers, he would have been told just that.

The US practice fascinates me - is it possible to opt-out? And if not, what is the point of doing something that clearly has no meaning at all to those involved or the ones making them do it?

And if one does opt out does one immediately go down on a list of 'undesirables' or get deported or what?

These questions, naturally, would also apply to any 'British' oath of allegiance. After all, kids can opt out of the daily CofE act of worship, and (sadly) sex education.

The idea is that, because we're mainly not indigenous to this nation, we're restating our allegiance. That said, I know of nowhere where every US schoolchild has to recite the pledge even once a month let alone every day. Some teachers do, others don't. Many of mine didn't because they thought it was an unnecessary distraction from schoolwork. Failure to do so is not prosecuted or even mildly punished. This is particularly the case in California.

To be honest, I've never really understood why discussions of some weird part of our culture invariably find their way into discussions of other cultures.

Edited at 2008-03-12 05:51 am (UTC)

According to the latest news, the teenager was left in the care of her boyfriend's parents.

Edited at 2008-03-11 02:40 pm (UTC)

I love the way her mother still says that she takes no blame herself. Blimey, if I'd left an animal with the next door neighbours and it had been run over I'd feel guilty - horribly guilty.

If carbon is actually as big a problem as some would have us believe (and I am not convinced either way), then storage technology is not logical. Unlike nuclear waste, which becomes less dangerous over time, and is in any case a much smaller volume than coal fired power station waste, the carbon would have to be kept safely stored forever.

Not 100 years, not 100,000 years, but for as long as the human race wants to live on this planet.

Well, there was - and still is - lots of carbon stored on a very long term basis in the crust of the planet as oil and gas and coal. More dangerously, there is methane, also stored in the crust, this time mainly frozen in the permafrost. The idea, as I understand it, is to find some way of storing it as a mineral, or in porous rock - however, there is no sign that we will have this technology in time, or that we will be able to utilise it without the expenditure of massive amounts of energy....

The climate is certainly changing. Whether it is a man-made change is still argued - but if it isn't man made then I'm afraid there's nothing we can do about it, and it's likely we will be wiped out. At least if it is man-made there is still a chance we can put the brakes on - if it is natural, we can't, and we're dead.

When I was 8 years old, or thereabouts, my dad was asked to stop bringing me to Brownies because I had questioned why we had to declare allegiance to the Queen, and because I'd also questioned the God bit of the same ceremony. Rather than make any attempt to hold a rational discussion with a kid, I was chucked out. Somehow, I suspect that "Authority" would handle the same situation the same way 40 years later, as rational discussion on these subjects seems to more welcome in some quarters today than it was when I was a kid.

When I was 16, and at Sixth Forn college, one friend in my tutorial group had to be escorted to and from college by concerned members of staff and friends (and I helped out here) because a posse of male relatives would lurk around the gate trying to kidnap her for an arranged marriage. She had been given sanctuarly with a friends family when no-one in her own family could be found to help her. It proved impossible to get police protection for her as it was deemed a "family" and "cultural" matter. She eventually had help in changing areas to escape them. But it still seems that just over 30 years on from that, lttle has changed for the better.

It sickens and outrages me that there is no way I could be an MP, because I wouldn't take an oath with my fingers crossed, and I still find it almost impossible to believe that this hasn't been changed (unless it has and I;ve missed the anouncement?)

But in a perverse way, I'm glad I'm not the only person who gets angry about this sort of stuff, so thanks for the comments. I endorse each and every one of them!!

*introduces own head to desk in solidarity*

Fred, we were plainly separated at birth...

I understand that the figures for Heathrow's new terminal were fixed in an unholy alliance of the BAA, CAA and BAE, who, to meet the EU requirements on pollution removed all long haul flights from the calculations and made the assumption that motor cars will emit zero pollution by the time it is all open.

Wonder if the government will stop it opening now the lies are known...
Dont hold your breath.

When I was naturalised to become an Australian citizen, part of the ceremony was swearing alliegence to the Queen of Australia - Elizabeth R. Which amused me, having been born in England and already, as you say, a 'subject' of the same woman.

Out of - there must have been about 20 people, only one poor lone (embarrassed and flustered) individual felt a need to swear an oath of alliegance on the Bible while the rest of us elected to affirm our alliegance.

I might add that because of the word differences in swearing an oath and making an affirmation, the oath swearers and the affirmation makers did their bit separately. And, first up, when there was a call for oath swearers to stand in the middle of the room and make their pledge, and only one person stood - childish as it sounds - there was an outbreak of giggles, grins and smiles.

Actually we arrived late at the ceremony, the taxi was delayed, then my (first) husband decided he really had to go to the "Men's", and then he got himself lost in the building so everyone had a looong wait .. which really went down well (not). What a great memory, though, unforgettable.

Edited at 2008-03-15 12:14 am (UTC)

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