Thursday, 1 March 2012

Party Politics Part 3: Appleyard With A Vengeance

As you know, I love everything in the world, with the exception of three things. One of those things that I love is the New Statesman. Again.

Today the sun was out, and so were the idiots. There's something about a nice warm day that makes them bash their laptops with their flip-flops in the hope that some semi-coherent Facebook status falls out which points at the sky and notices that "it's sunnyyyyyyyyyyy!"


This is a similar kind of response to those that lazy journalists have whenever secularism comes up in the news. They instantly churn out tired, knee-jerk articles about "militant atheism", with the unfailing, unthinking reaction of Pavlov's dog, complete with salivation.


The worst of these in the wake of Baroness Warsi's recent spewings came from the Telegraph, which argued that Dawkins' ancestors owned slaves and he is therefore EVIL. But even the Independent couldn't resist some Dawkins-dumping, calling him "puffed-up, self-regarding, vain, prickly and militant", before adding, "and that's not a lazy cliché," despite that being exactly what it is.

So, my bleeding brain in hand, I turned to my beloved New Statesman. "The NS is sensible," I thought, "they never fall back on boring hack material." Clearly I'm the biggest idiot of all. This was the front cover:

I didn't realise it was Make Your Respectable Current Affairs Magazine Look Like A Sensationalist Tabloid Day, nor that the new editor was Michael Bay.

Now held in a mental headlock, Bryan Appleyard repeatedly punched me in the face with this article.

He starts by casually mentioning that he was having dinner with three of the foremost writers of our time, and continues to smugly refer back to this Greek meal.

Let's look at some quotes from Appleyard's artidull:

"The talk is genial, friendly and then, suddenly, intense when neo-atheism comes up. Three of us, including both atheists, have suffered abuse at the hands of this cult."

Calling neo-atheism a cult may be superbly clever, particularly when in the dining company of these intellectual giants, but it's not accurate. "Cult" according to

A particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies.

OK, so does neo-atheism fit this definition? No, quite the opposite in fact; it's a lack of religious worship. And there are no rites or ceremonies, unless you include the annual ritual slaughtering of a Christian, obviously.

"Dawkins, the supreme prophet of neo-atheism..."

Do you see what he did there? He called Dawkins (famous for his lack of religion) a prophet (a religious leader). THIS IS WHAT I FUCKING MEAN.

“Immediately [Dawkins] was out of control, he said, 'Oh, God!'" Warsi recalls, "so even the most self-confessed secular fundamentalist at this moment of need needed to turn to the Almighty. It kind of defeats his own argument that only people who go to church have a faith."

It's hard to know where to start with this drooling piece of cluelessness from everyone's favourite unelected idiot. Using the expression "Oh, God!" is not an admission of religious belief. That's like if Baroness Warsi said "Shit!" and I went, "Ah! So you admit that you need a shit!" Although, she probably does have to vocalise each time she has a bowel movement.

She ploughs on: "Even the most self-confessed secular fundamentalist at this moment of need needed to turn to the Almighty." But a "secular fundamentalist" might well "turn to the Almighty." Obviously Dawkins isn't, but secularists can be religious. What Warsi has done is to confuse secularism with atheism. Appleyard warned against this earlier in the article, but he claimed that, "Neo-atheists often assume that the two are the same thing." Clearly a greater problem is journalists and politicians making this mistake.

But the main point is, "Oh, God!" is an expression, that needn't have philosophical implications. I'm genuinely angry that I have to explain that.

De Botton: "[Dawkins] stands at the head of what can really be called a cult."

It really can't.

"There had always been an anti-religious strain in science..."

One which makes sense if you stop and think about it for just one second between smashing plates.

Fodor now chuckles at the memory. "I said we should write back saying we had no intention of reading his review but we thought it was all wrong anyway."


Fodor: "If you found something with two heads and a horn in the middle you could cook up some story from evolution saying it was just dandy to have two heads with a horn in the middle. It's just sloppy thinking."


"Religion is not going to go away."

I'm with Appleyard on this one, but all this means is that I have no sympathy for claims that "religion is under attack." Religious privilege is under attack, and rightly so, but religious belief can stop acting the victim.

Then Appleyard mentions that they all laughed at a question that Dawkins had asked Hitchens, which brings to mind the thought of them all sitting round their moussakas and pretensiously cackling away at the desperately unfunny like the worst type of dinner party guests.

I know it was Bayswater and not Montreal but considering I just grafted four of the smuggest faces ever onto a picture apparently taken in hell itself, you could give me a break.

Thanks for reading, if I do many more of these sequels I'm going to seriously struggle with puns on fourth and fifth parts of film franchises. This blog is named after a Catch-It Kebabs song, again, and I'll leave you with a different song of theirs, again. Enjoy!


  1. I had a very civil conversation with a girl who assumed that by me saying I was atheist I was part of some organised group. It was eye opening. Apparently this is a widely held misconception?

  2. This is why i don't much like being labelled an 'athiest'. I don't collect stamps, but i don't define myself as a 'non-stamp collector'. The term is historically derogative. The pagan Romans used it to describe Christians.

    1. I don't think a term being historically derogative has stopped people from reappropriating it before. Look at the use of the 'n word' today.

  3. I think you should call yourself an atheist, because all it means is that you don't believe in God. Anything that anyone else infers from that is all their own prejudice.