Thursday, January 31, 2008

I write about things I know nothing about

Sometimes, as I'm sure many have noticed, I write about things I know nothing about. I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with that. Sometimes it means I'm wrong; sometimes I'm right. And sometimes there is no relevant right or wrong; rather, there is just an opinion.

I don't know quite where yesterday's post fits into those categories. I have never been to Africa. I have no plans to visit any African nation. While it is in the sort of turmoil we see every day on the news (and have seen for years), that is not a continent I want to go to.

There is a conscious choice one makes when one writes. You choose whether to write something. And I chose to write something that I felt could come across as me being a bit fascist or a bit uncaring. But I want to reiterate that I am neither of those things. I am not anti-Africans (not that anyone said I am); but I am astonished at the terrible state of government over there. And the brutality of what should be normal citizens.

I enjoyed reading everyone's comments yesterday. Some I agreed with, some I didn't so much. I'm not convinced female genial mutilation (FGM) has anything to do with Christianity; I've never heard this before. I'm not saying it's incorrect; I've just never heard anyone make a direct relationship between the two, and I've happened to read quite a few articles on FGM for work reasons.

Also, I fear Four Dinners is right. Or maybe it's just that many of us (in the UK, at least) are fed up of "the Africa thing". We've had it rammed down our throats for a good few decades now. Maybe in the US it's not daily news; I believe the US is far less international in its news coverage. When you see these images and hear these stories, day in day out, for so long, you become immune to their message.

This is partly why the film The Devil Came on Horseback was so successful, I think, to me as a British viewer. It showed me the sort of things that I kind of knew but had never seen. It re-opened my eyes. And not just to the horrors of the situation, but also to the futility of trying to help. As much as the people in the villages need our intervention, and as much as it's probably the socially correct thing to intervene, we kowtow to African leaders who say they don't want us there.

When you were in the playground and your friend was being bullied, did you ask the bully, "Excuse me, do you mind if I fuck you up, for that is my friend you are hitting?" And then he would say, "Yes, I do mind," and you'd go, "Okay," and walk away?

No. Instead you would charge in there, fists and feet a-flyin', and Bruce Lee that motherfucker to the ground. That is what we should do in Africa, if we feel we should do anything. You can't fucking ask permission.

We went into Iraq for reasons far less worthy than this. Saddam Hussein, dictator though he was, had his country running peacefully. It's an odd thing to say, perhaps. Yes, he had committed and sanctioned atrocities, but he was not currently doing so. That doesn't make him a stand-up guy, granted. But if you're going to take a stand against human-rights abuses, you surely have to do it while those abuses are in progress. It's absurd to go in after the fact... after millions have been slaughtered...

Like I say, sometimes I write about things I know nothing about.

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Blogger cappy. said...

why in the name of paul do you feel like you have to justify what you wrote?
it's your blog my friend, you can write what you want. surely the fact that we are fortunate enough to live in a society where free speech is still allowed grants you permission to speak your mind without worrying what everyone else thinks?
i didn't comment yesterday, mainly because i have no view different to what you and dinners already said and i didn't want to be all "right on dude".
carry on *, it's posts like that, that are the reason we come back day after day. and long may you continue.
people that don't like what you write don't have to carry on reading it!
(bit worse for wear, so apologies from me!)

31 January, 2008 10:36  
Blogger Milla said...

I completely agree with Cappy, 100%.

31 January, 2008 10:41  
Blogger Candy Minx said...

Hey...forget female circumcision...did you know that Zombies are also a result of introduction (exposure) of Christianity to traditional African beliefs?

I got a million of them...obviously I must read some realy "out there" research huh? (if you are interested in the relationship of Catholocism to Wade Davis's book "The Serpent and the Rainbow" NOT THE MOVIE!...where we learn voudoun culture is the shadow government outside the cites...)

Hey great post!

31 January, 2008 15:06  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Cappy/Milla: Thanks. It's not so much that I feel I needed to justify anything. Leastways not to anyone other than myself, if you know what I mean. I just kind of wanted to respond top those people who had commented, but I knew than any response would be very long, so I made it a post instead. Thanks for the words of kindness, though.

Candy: Okay, zombies are cool! Much more fun to talk about that than to talk about FGM, I think! Thanks, pet.

31 January, 2008 15:24  
Blogger Candy Minx said...

Attention Martha! I just was reading the other comments in previous post...and saw yours. I want to briefly clarify the idea of Christianity and female circumcision. I am not "angry" at Judeo-Christian...and didn't mean a moral or judgemental tone...I meant it purely in an anthropological observation...

Is it really such a stretch that female circumcision might be a result of exposure to doctrines in the Judeo-Christian religion? After all...male circumcision is a direct result (you can find advice about male circumcision in Kaballah as well as other sacred texts) of followers in Judeo-Christianity. Is it so far-fetched to see that exposure to Judeo-Christianity might also influence other societies than our own?

Morally....I don't see any distinction between male or female circumcision. Yes...I realize that the damages to genitalia are far worse and tragic to females than to males...but aside from that...morally...they are a religious taboo to restrict enjoyment of sexual pleasure...a weird kind of birth control. (In the Kaballah male circumcision is recommended because the baby unconsciously will associate pain with the penis and shame...I am putting the concept into easy to read words here...bear with me)

I should make sure I phrase the corelation of genital cutting (I include both male and female) and exposure rather than a direct translation.

Blood rituals are ancient...but it is confusing to believe that initiation rituals and blood rituals were always as extreme as genital circumcision we are familiar with today. The extreme genital cutting we see practiced in the last couple of thousand years has likely amplified...with monotheism and agricultural economies.

It may have been unfair for me to say "christianity" exposure instead of totalitarian agriculture (although Judeo Christian religions-which include Muslims are almost always the dominat religions in farming cultures).

The mindset that we can grow food and control society are directly linked. It is the "stewardship" of some religions that enforce the idea that we are supieor societies if we are growing our own food...coporate greed, hierarchy between genders and class and circumcision are all symptoms of a culture that believes it can control nature and "progress" through agriculture.

Anyways...Martha, I didn't mean anything particularily personal about the exposure of Judeo-Christian religions on small tribes which gets "warped" into more extreme control over sexuality. Like voudoun religions the practice of genital cutting has gotten more severe and extreme when exposed to "modern religions" or totalitarian agricultural practices (the two are linked as well)

Translating Judeo-Christian morality into a new language and economy has lead to bizarre adaptations within such groups as Haitian culture or small African order to maintain morality meeting the standards of the introduced religion...

I hope that made sense ha ha!

31 January, 2008 15:41  
Blogger furiousBall said...

dude, this was a great post. in fact, one of my favorites of yours, take the shackles off and just go with it. reason be damned! ;-)

31 January, 2008 15:45  
Blogger Martha Elaine Belden said...

don't we all, asterisk. hahha! i think it's safe to say we definitely ALL write about things we don't really know that much about. that's why we're bloggers and not journalists (although, many of us may be both).

and candy... don't worry. i wasn't angry or necessarily offended. i just don't see the link. for one, Christianity has been introduced in some form or another all over the world... as have many many other religions. Biblically, it never speaks of circumcising females... and as for circumcising males (correct me if i'm wrong), it was never (at least not in Christian terms) done in order to cause pain or decrease pleasure or anything of the like. but it's actually supposed to be healthier (hence the fact that the vast majority of infant males are now circumcised). one of the things i appreciate about the faith i follow is that the "laws" we are called to follow aren't merely a set of restrictions enacted to make our lives suck. the laws we are called to follow protect us from ourselves, each other, etc.

anyway... asterisk, i apologize that i keep turning your comments into discussion about Christianity, etc. your posts are just such great fodder for thought and debate :) and candy, thanks for being open to discuss. so much is lost in translation through typing... i hope i never come across as angry or unwilling to hear the other side.

i love you guys! thanks for challenging me to think more deeply and examine what i believe.

31 January, 2008 16:01  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Candy: I just don't know! But I think the notion (if I've understood it correctly) of exaggerating practices to further distance one belief system from another is very interesting.

F/Ball: Thanks dude. "Reason be damned" should be my new motto.

Martha: "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story": that's my other motto. FYI, though: In the UK and Europe, most males are not circumcised. Your comment is clearly based on US figures. Is it a coincidence that the numbers of Jews in the States is greater than here...?

31 January, 2008 16:10  
Blogger tweetey30 said...

You know Asterisk your ramblings are great.. LOL.. I like them and just was saying that there is alot of stuff going on over there that of course us Americans dont know about. I know very little about Africa. Hubby would love to go over on an African Safari sometime. but not sure about myself.

31 January, 2008 17:37  
Blogger Martha Elaine Belden said...

wow *, i had no idea it was an american thing! once again... ya learn something new every day.

but just for your reading enjoyment (well, i don't know about enjoyment)... really just so i don't look like an idiot for making the claim that it's supposed to be "healthier" ...

31 January, 2008 18:12  
Blogger Cynnie said...

Reason be damned is a great motto.

I hate how we americans back regimes and not the people of a country.

31 January, 2008 19:21  
Blogger Candy Minx said...

Martha, I am glad I didn't stick my foot in my mouth too far! I was about to add to what * is a popular U.S. practice (and some in Canada) regarding male genital cutting.

I think it is a barbaric practice no less disgusting that female genital cutting...and a dirty secret that many people do not deal with or deny.

Fortunately the trend to cut the genitals of boys has been rejected more and more in America.

(have you ever been to a bris? or seen a circumcision...I don't know what kiof of cruel heartless person would torture a baby like that)

It is absolutely associated with guilt shame and pain to reduce the pleasurable associations on a SUBCONSCIOUS level for boys...just like genital cutting is for girls.

Have you ever heard of "urban myths" or "memes" or "bad science"? know there are even high school teachers who believe the water in Australia goes down a sink different than it does in U.K or northern hemisphere. The water doesn't go down the drain differently but it is such a strong bad science that many people still believe it does. That the genitals are "healthier" after cutting is a myth to help support the practice.

From a mainstream website...if you don't believe me that religion is associated with circumcision...

"Parents who choose circumcision often do so based on religious beliefs, concerns about hygiene, or cultural or social reasons, such as the wish to have their son look like other men in the family."

There is no conclusive evidence that circumcision is a healthy surgery over nature.

Genital cutting is just plain cruel and a barbaric form of birth control.

31 January, 2008 19:52  
Blogger FOUR DINNERS said...

never have a bloody clue most of the time.

I cry (in a manly way) when I see African kids starving or their hacked up bodies.

I can't stop it and I wouldn't know where to begin.

You write what you think. Right or wrong doesn't matter. It's what's in your head and your heart.

Never apologise for being alive mate.

It isn't our fault. We have no responsibility towards them.

We just want to stop it but can't.

I don't feel even vaguely guilty. Ever.

Just sad.

31 January, 2008 22:19  
Blogger d34FpUpPy said...

"I believe the US is far less international in its news coverage. When you see these images and hear these stories, day in day out, for so long, you become immune to their message."sez tha starman

no we just get mexico shoved down r throat 24/7
mabe we should all go back to isolationsts ? n we do have news from around tha world we have bbc news we has french news we hava lota diff stuff plus u can read from everywhere online

01 February, 2008 00:00  

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