Idea Rights

I’ve just come across this on Twitter …

Click the image for a larger view

It’s clear, concise and correct.

Although as a couple of people have pointed out in the comments

people have the right to ideas, thoughts, according to UN Declaration of Human Rights


people actually have the Human Right to think what they want

Which is right — the abstract (ideas) and the non-living (eg. rocks, buildings, cars) cannot have rights per se although in some circumstances the living might be said to have rights on their behalf (think, burial of the dead). It is people — in fact arguably all living things (people, cats, cockroaches, trees) — which have rights.

Talking Therapy

Over the years I’ve tried talking therapies, of various sorts, on a number of occasions and each time I have found they don’t work even if one persists with them for a protracted period.

In fact it is my contention that they don’t really work for anyone, although some may be able to delude themselves and reach a cosmetic resolution — which I guess is working of a sort.

Last evening I was reading a blog post by our favourite zen master, Brad Warner under the banner I Hate Myself. Brad points out that the root of the problem is that the “I” and the “Self” are one and the same, so trying to fix one to fix the other is as useful as trying to argue your way out of a paper bag — pointless and productive of very little. And because we become aware of our failure it often makes the situation worse, rather than better.

Indeed it seems to me this is what talking therapies are trying to do: to fix (your variant of) “I Hate Myself” by getting you to separate the “I” and the “Self” when this is neither possible nor sensible.

And this is why talking therapies don’t generally work: they’re based on the false premise that “I” and “Self” are different and can be separated.

In the words of the exam paper: Discuss.

Don’t Criminalise Us …

The fight to get governments to decriminalise sex work (and sex workers) continues. Here’s a piece which highlights the views of Europe’s sex workers — most of whom are (voluntary, not trafficked) migrants.

It is notable that it isn’t just the sex workers who are saying sex work should be decriminalised. This view is backed by

major human rights organisations such Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the World Health Organization and several other United Nations agencies such as UN Women and the UNAIDS Advisory Group on HIV and Sex Work are also calling for the decriminalisation of sex work, noting that decriminalisation guarantees better working conditions, and reduces the social vulnerability and marginalisation of sex workers.

And as that implies many are now warning that the basic human rights — as covered, for instance, by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union — are being violated; and that those violations are state sanctioned the world over.

When are people going to wake up to what’s going on around us? It’s being done in our name, and yet how many of us agree with it?

No Sex Please …

OK, so here’s another nasty, not so little, piece of legislation from the UK government.

The new digital economy bill, which is currently going through parliament, intends to block websites hosting “unconventional” sexual content. So who decides what is conventional, and who will implement and police such a ban?

There’s a piece in yesterday’s Guardian (yes, again!) which tries to explain the What, how and why?

Now whether you like so-called pornography or not, this is worrying. The legislation is ill-conceived and appears to be not just draconian but also potentially arbitrary and ill-defined.

Worse, my personal belief is that it infringes freedom of speech (and belief) and I would agree with critics of the bill who say it is not the government’s place to police what kinds of consenting sex (or indeed anything else) can be watched by adults.

I continue to believe that pornography (unless violent, coercive or involving minors) has a valuable place, just as does the rest of the sex industry. You, personally, may find it distasteful — just as I find the idea of male-male sex distasteful — but that doesn’t mean either should be banned and I would always defend your right to indulge should you choose.

The whole of the English-speaking world has a history of drawing its rules of censorship much more tightly than continental Europe. But that changed with the internet allowing information to be streamed direct to our homes without restriction. And the English-speaking, puritan, nanny state doesn’t like it.

It’s time we started treating people like adults and allowing them to make up their own minds. But to do that requires us to invest in sensible education of our children, and isn’t it easier to keep them in ignorance and subjugated?

So-called pornography is not being forced down people’s throats. It is complete myth that the internet is awash with porn at every turn and it’s being gratuitously feed to every child in the land. Yes, it is there, but you (whatever your age) have to look for it. My systems have every available filter turned OFF and still I do not get a continual stream of emails offering me penis enlargement (surely fairly tame?) nor does every Google search bring up 27,000 pages sex videos and bestiality.

It is worrying enough to have the state control our sexual predilections but the fear is that this will go way beyond pornography; it is the first example of any liberal democratic country creating an internet censor. The fear is what such a framework could go on to be used for.

Yes, this is censorship and as such must be resisted.

Wake up, the coffee pot is bubbling on the stove.

Nudity. Why Not?

Yesterday, in between doing lots of other interesting things (which I’m not allowed to write about, at least yet) and having a day off, I came across a thoughtful piece of journalism on nudity.

In The Scientific Reasons Why You Should Just Always Be Naked Lauren Martin looks at some of the evidence in favour of accepting nudity. OK, it’s American — although that doesn’t make it any less valid elsewhere — not greatly detailed and is written with many questions in order to challenge our prejudices and taboos.

It is well worth reading the whole article, but here is the essence:

Things are only taboo because we make them that way.
… … …
Nudity is a taboo … because we primarily equate nudity or nakedness with sexuality and we have taboos about sexuality.
… … …
What would happen if we accepted our bodies the same way we accepted everything else? What would happen if we stopped covering up and started stripping down? What would happen if we all just let our bodies hang out in the open and didn’t hide them …?
… … …
There’s … no denying … that if we could get past our childish perversions and accept nudity as a basic and natural human form, there would be a lot less “deviousness” and fewer obsessions with the human body — and we could all just stop caring so much about it.
… … …
If men … were exposed to nudity on a normal, everyday basis, they wouldn’t fantasize and obsess over it the way 14-year-olds do at the sight of their first breast … By making nakedness an ordinary, matter-of-fact, common experience, unassociated with sexuality, the unhealthy prurient interest in pornography would be considerably lessened.
Imagine if men were desensitized to the female body … Imagine if men stopped putting all their time and energy into seeing women naked and just learned to live side-by-side with them?
… … …
Imagine if we all just looked at each other the way God made us without any implications or idealized notions of the perfect body? … it’s our clothing that creates our insecurities and inability to accept and love each other the way we should.
… … …
What if we’d grown up in a nude household? What if we’d been taught from a young age nudity is natural [and] beautiful?
… children exposed to nudity from a young age became … unfazed by the human body later in life and sometimes, psychologically stronger because of it … children raised around nudity [grow] up with a higher body self-concept … coming from a nudist family [plays] a more significant role in the children’s positive self body-image than their race, gender, or area of the country in which they lived.
… … …
Humans donned clothing to keep away parasites and filth, yet only created breeding grounds for different types of infections and disease … Along with infertility rates and Lyme disease, clothes also contribute to yeast infections and UTIs.
… … …
It seems arbitrary, but walking around barefoot increases brain flexibility. It doesn’t just make you feel young again, it makes your brain feel young again.

I was brought up in a household where nudity was natural and pornography was seen as a healthy part of life’s rich pattern (but violence and abuse were definitely not acceptable). To this day nudity and pornography don’t faze me — and I fail to understand the taboos around sexuality. I’ve long been an advocate of mixed student residences and mixed changing rooms — if we were all well adjusted to nudity and our bodies this should not be a concern for anyone (but until we are it will be).

I spend time in the nude when I can and I know I have a lot fewer problems with yeast infections and so on because of it. Despite admonishment from the medics I do spend almost all my time at home barefoot (it has to be really cold for me to put socks on) because fresh air is not only better for the feet (see yeast infections, above) but there is thought to be a protective effect against dementia.

So there you have it. An article which looks at some of the evidence and comes out supporting what I’ve been saying for nearly 50 years! Nudity is healthy, mentally and physically, and embracing it would benefit all of us both individually and as a society.

So what really is so special about nudity that we have to make a taboo out of it? Nothing! Get over it.

PS. As an example of how daft all this is, it took me longer to find a suitable illustration for this post than it did to actually write the thing!

Five Questions, Series 8 #5

And so we crawl our way to the last of my current series of Five Questions.


Question 5: If you could write a note to your younger self, what would you say in only two words?

Wow! Two words is actually quite hard. Almost everything one can think of is at least four words.

So one is tempted to go with the advice forum Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: DON’T PANIC!

But I think instead the advice I could best have used and learnt to implement when younger was:


Just learn to let everything flow over you, although that does mean I no longer do “excited”, “panic” or “real anger” any more. I’ll happily forego the “excited” in return from the relief from “panic” and “anger”.


OK, so that’s the end of this series of Five Questions. I hope you’ve enjoyed it, maybe learnt something (if only about the oddness of my mind) and possibly even had a think yourself.

If I can find enough good questions I may do another series later in the year. So if you have a good question, or something you want to ask, then do please get in touch.

Meanwhile, be good!

Five Questions, Series 8 #4

Ah, so we’re getting towards the end with this the fourth of the current round of Five Questions.


Question 4: Would you ever admit to being racist?

Yes, of course …

Hello. My name is Keith and I am a racist.

I wish I wasn’t thus, but I am.

In fact whether we like it or not we are all racists, although some are better at hiding it than others.

Yes, that’s right, we are all racists. It is a tribal thing.

We have sports teams, religions, political parties and socioeconomic classes. And yes, people of different colours, ethnicities and languages. We go through life knowing and interacting with people like “us”, lodging contentious feelings towards “them”. We do it now, and we always have.

Like all animals we all identify with, and thus instinctively prefer, our own tribe and our own territory. And thus by implication we dislike — in extreme cases even hate — the next tribe. The tribe that lives the other side of the river or mountain. Or the one up the valley who are a different colour. I’m green, I’m right, I’m good; you’re red, you’re wrong, nasty, diseased etc.

Neighbouring groups of chimpanzees will fight with each other. As will meerkats and many other species. Yes, this is partly territorial; but to me that is all part of racism. Many animals will ostracise, even kill, a comrade who is a different colour (say, albino).

We do this naturally; at least it is not something most of us are overtly taught. If anything we have to be taught not to do this.

Some of us learn better than others. And some of us can apply the lessons better than others. It’s a bit like learning woodwork or French at school — some can, easily; others never can. I like to think I am one of the better amongst us, but I’m probably not the best person to judge that.

But underneath I am still a racist. We are all racists. All we can ever do is learn to subdue it.

Five Questions, Series 8 #3

And so question three of the latest round of Five Questions.


Question 3: Is masturbation a homosexual act?

There’s a body of very right wing, conservative Christianity (maybe other theisms too) which maintains that solo male masturbation (after all women would never do such a thing) is a homosexual act (the man is touching a penis) and therefore must indeed lead to the horrors of homosexuality.

I see the logic, in as far as it goes, but I don’t agree. For me homosexuality is defined as involving two (or more) persons of the same gender; one just doesn’t hack it. Whatever one might think about Onanism (and I view it as beneficial) homosexual it isn’t.

Thus I reject the idea. Not just because it is wrong, but also because it is believed by some set of wacky nut-jobs, who I neither like nor trust.

And anyway so what if masturbation is a homosexual act? Do all of us (male and female) not have at least a tiny percentage of homosexual leanings? And why does it matter anyway?

Get a life, guys!