Thursday, December 07, 2006


In the hands of Shane Warne [a champion Australian bowler (pitcher) who has just devastated the England cricket team presently touring Australia], a cricket ball is an offensive weapon. A total of 650 fallen wickets prove it. Police on a London Underground station thought it was an equally dangerous item in the hands of Chris Hurd, a 28-year-old City accountant who occasionally bowls leg spin for his local team in Belsize Park, North London.

Mr Hurd claimed that he had been merely holding the ball as he rode the escalator at Baker Street station in London when he was stopped by a female British Transport Police officer and subjected to a ten-minute inquisition and allegations that he was carrying "a very hard object", which he should not have done in public as it was a potentially lethal weapon. He had, he said, taken the ball to work because he planned to watch the opening Ashes Test between England and Australia in a pub with friends later in the evening. Earlier in the day he had been throwing it in the air to strengthen his spin-bowling muscles.

But by the time he got to the station, he said, he was holding it firmly in his hand. He accused the officer of ridiculous overreaction. "There was a policewoman on the step below me and she was staring at the ball all the way up. As we got to the top she tapped me on the shoulder and said she wanted a word."

Mr Hurd, who works for Ernst and Young, the accountants, said the officer asked him if he knew he was carring a very hard object and he replied: "Yes, it's a cricket ball." She confiscated the ball while she questioned Mr Hurd for ten minutes, gave him a verbal warning and filled out a stop-and-search report.

"I told her I was only carrying it because the Ashes were about to start and I was very excited. I was wearing a very boring suit and looked every inch the bean-counter I am. It is not as if I was unshaven and looked dangerous. But she was completely humourless and showed no understanding of my excitement," Mr Hurd said. "When she let me go and gave me my ball back, she said she was being extremely lenient with me. She failed to realise that I presented no threat whatsoever and I left feeling completely misunderstood."

Mr Hurd said the encounter had shaken his faith in the police, and had caused him to sympathise with members of ethnic minorities who were subjected to stop-and-searches. "How can a cricket ball be an offensive weapon? I don't think it would be anyone's weapon of choice, and all I was doing was holding it. It wasted ten minutes of time for both of us, and left her with paperwork."

A spokesman said that British Transport Police had no knowledge of the incident but added: "Though we recognise England need all the help they can get at the moment, we would advise that the escalator is not the place to practise. "What if the ball was dropped and hit an old lady further down the escalator? "We would advise passengers to be careful, both for themselves and other people at this busy time. To ensure that the Underground is free of crime and free of the fear of crime, our officers maintain a highly visible presence."



Jokes based on double meanings are extremely common in the area of sex but one uptight feminist at the University of New Hampshire was not amused:

I was appalled at an advertisement I recently saw on the bulletin board in my dorm, which normally posts information on campus events, education opportunities, and general health information. The advertisement from Health Services, calling for safe sex, reads, "Whether you're the catcher or the pitcher, always wear a glove!" with a picture of a smiling woman holding a catcher's mitt and a man holding a bat next to her. Aside from the initial shock of viewing this metaphor as sexist, it does not even uphold its original message -- instead of portraying the man as an actual pitcher, as one who is throwing the ball, he is the batter, as one who is hitting it -- in this instance, I cannot ignore the clearly phallic power being depicted. (Moreover, the concept of a "catcher" and "pitcher" is something that is often used to refer to gay men, so it is not just heterosexual sex that is being distorted here.)

To consider the act of sex as a subject/object encounter, as this advertisement does, where a woman's role is to "catch" a man's "pitches," is degrading, disgusting, and completely beyond the type of behavior I expect from an institution of higher learning. To pair this type of advertising alongside messages of "always get consent" seems contradictory and dangerous to the lives of women - on campus and elsewhere. This poster is sending a message that sex is defined as an act done to a woman by a man, rather than a collaborative effort of two people. I am afraid that this is just replicating a system of hierarchy where women are expected to accept what they are given, including situations where they may feel pressured by men to have unprotected sex, and I hope that this type of safe sex awareness is torn down from our walls permanently.

I would like to say that while I do not disagree with the reasoning that safe sex relationships should be promoted on campus, I do not consider this form of safe sex promotion as reasonable, considerate, or tasteful. What also upsets me is that the message on this poster, as indicated on it, is based on the work of a woman, which may be reason for some to think that it should not be seen as offensive, because if a woman is the inventor, then other people, including women, should not be upset by it. This is exactly the type of behavior that only excuses such offensive messages, and perpetuates them.

I hope that Health Services realizes that this poster is not one that we should consider an effective tool to promote safe sex, and that is promoting an idea of welcomed submission by women. To the people that may think this letter is making a big deal out of nothing, that this type of poster is better than having no poster at all, I ask you to think of the women worldwide -- including those on our campus -- who are forced to accept their fates as only penetrable objects to men. "Harmless" advertising such as this is only one way in which we ignore those fates, and I'm hoping we can help put a stop to that.


OK for everybody but Christians to be warriors?

The article below does not attempt any amateur theology but those who are inclined to attempt it might read this first

A video game that depicts a crusade of violence by Christians could be heading for the bestseller charts this Christmas, even though it has been condemned by Muslims and secularists. The game, Left Behind: Eternal Forces, is set in post-apocalyptic New York and features God’s army battling the Antichrist. Based on Left Behind, the bestselling Christian fantasy book series created by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, it puts players in command of brainwashed legions fighting for Christianity.

Players are ordered to convert or kill to advance to the next level and remodel America as a Christian-controlled state, and establish its world vision of Christ’s dominion. They pit battles between the paramilitary Christian Tribulation Force and the grey, faceless, Global Community Peacekeepers of the Antichrist, said to be modelled on the United Nations. The fantasy is based on what might happen if the events of the Book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible, happened today.

Critics accuse its creators of mixing religion and violence to appeal to teenage fans of violent games such as Grand Theft Auto. The game was sold originally in the US. British outlets are releasing the game for the Christmas market. The Left Behind books have sold more than 63 million copies.

Muslim groups have denounced the game as portraying Islam as evil and accuse its creators of insulting their faith. The Muslim Association of Britain called for the game to be banned, describing it as evil. It said: “This game is irresponsible and highly racist. It demonises every other religion which isn’t Christianity. People must boycott this violent game. “Games like this poison the minds of young people.”

Terry Sanderson, the president of the National Secular Society, said: “Fundamentalists on both the Christian and the Muslim side are creating this kind of nasty, extreme propaganda and aiming it at young people. I’m not into banning things or censoring them, but I think most Muslims and most Christians would recognise that this is crude and despicable hate-mongering and give it a wide berth.”

The creators of the game have dismissed the criticism, saying that the religious story- line in the game is not taken from the Bible and is a creation of the Left Behind authors, which should not be taken seriously. Troy A. Lyndon, the chief executive of Left Behind Games, said: “The game is designed to be a classic battle between good and evil. We have deliberately censored the blood and it does not gratuitously depict death or violence. Left Behind is not taken from the Bible, it is a fictional story.”


Australia: OK to mock Catholicism but not Islam

The verdict below is from the same body that ruled it offensive to laugh at Koran verses

Wearing a T-shirt with the slogan "Mr Abbott, get your rosaries off my ovaries" does not amount to the religious vilification of Catholics, a Victorian tribunal has ruled. The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) has struck out a case brought by pro-life campaigner Babette Francis, who had sought to have the T-shirts banned.

The T-shirts were produced by the YWCA during last year's public debate over who should control access to the RU486 abortion pill and refer to federal Health Minister Tony Abbott, a practising Catholic. One of the T-shirts was worn in Federal Parliament's upper house by Greens senator Kerry Anne Nettle.

VCAT senior member Rohan Walker has ruled that while "many ordinary people would find the slogan to be distasteful", it did not constitute religious vilification. "I do not think that the sale and distribution of T-shirts containing it (the slogan) incite hatred against, serious contempt for, or revulsion or severe ridicule of Mr Abbott, Mrs Francis or any other Catholic," he ruled.

The ruling, dated December 1, also says: "The slogan might generate a more negative response towards those who wear the T-shirts bearing it than towards Mr Abbott or any other devotee of the Catholic faith".


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