Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Shocking Truth

A 50W light bulb produces a lot more light than a 100W one dimmed to half power.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Closure. Not ever.

Ik hou van de Afsluitdijk. Zo traag als het mag rij ik de tweeëndertig kilometer tussen Noord-Holland en Friesland en stap uit op elke stopplaats. Niemand had durven denken dat de zee zich zo gewillig zou laten amputeren. Met één gave haal werd de Zuiderzee in 1933 herdoopt tot IJsselmeer en als laatste daad van onderwerping werd het water zoet. Nederland gniffelt nu nog na, omdat ik daar zelf ben achtergekomen. Laat ze maar lachen, ik ben de enige die het écht weet.

Hoe lang zou het duren, mocht ooit de dijk in zee storten, vóór het water ten oosten en ten westen weer helemaal hetzelfde zou smaken, vroeg ik me af terwijl ik op een donkere zondagavond de Friedrichsstrasse doorliep en de Zimmerstrasse overstak.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

On the relativity of opinion

A proposition that you can't defend logically is an "opinion" inasmuch as the soap box holding a toddler shouting "Vroooom!" is a car. They are toy opinions for people who wished they could have a real one. Nobody is obliged to take seriously such a travesty of thought, much less respect it. Everyone has such beliefs from time to time and often they are innocuous enough. When they get in the way of one's duties though, one should be relieved of them. Someone who thinks emotions are in the heart should not become a surgeon, someone who believes the moon is made of cheese should not work for NASA and someone who believes that certain laws were made by an invisible being should not be running a country.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Heterosexual abducts, rapes and kills 5 women!

The gates of hell opened here today. The French and Belgian police jointly foiled a plot by two psychopaths to abduct and abuse a young girl. They'd already built a cell in which to hold the child and it seems that their plan had already been determined in all its gruesome detail. They'd show up at the gates of a school, select a girl aged between 5 and 9 on the spot and take her to their hideout. There they would rape and torture the child and, before releasing her, brand her to make sure she'd never forget the day. No further details - my stomach churns as I write this.

The press termed these people "paedophiles". The whole thing was referred to as "the paedophilia affair."

Excuse me? I reckon these people might be considered "paedophile" in the same vein as Jack the Ripper would be a "heterosexual". Technically correct, no doubt, but rather besides the point. What's more, cases of serial killers murdering women pop up with great regularity but I've yet to hear the media report that there's a heterosexual on the rampage. When someone harbours such an obvious, deep-rooted, seething, white-hot hatred of children, about the last thing I would label them as would be paedophile.
The problem is not limited to the media in this neck of the woods of course. On the BBC there is even a pattern emerging. A person who rapes children is referred to by sexual orientation. A person who rapes women is referred to by his profession. The Ipswitch killer, so I learned, was a pig-farmer. Well at least that adds some information that wasn't known before. To see what I mean, enter "Ipswitch pig-farmer" (without the quotes) in Google.

I made something of a nuisance of myself, firing off several e-mails to the public broadcaster (one would presume such an organisation to pride itself on impartiality and quality of information) asking whether they thought there was any logic in their attitude to child rapists as opposed to, for example, religious terrorists. I don't have to spell out how often the media go out of their way to point out that the vast majority of muslims are not terrorists and condemn the practice. For paedophiles though it's tough luck.

The day someone realises he (paedophile women are ignored) is erotically and emotionally attracted to children is the day he's convicted to be and remain at the very bottom of the sexual and moral food chain. Politically correct and upright people see not the slightest ill in stereotyping, condemning and demonising, without restriction, this one category of people.

It isn't limited to the media. Dutch politics too has discovered the new bogey-man. As their right-wing peers woo voters with strong language about immigrants, muslims and people of colour in general, democratic politicians (on continental Europe this term is used to denote any policitian not linked to right-wing extremist political factions) have been watching with hungry jealousy while they can only fight back with moderate messages reflecting the actual complexity of the issue. But now we have the Paedophile! A group of people to be reduced, at will, to a stereotype so excessive it can hardly exist at all. People at whom to direct the fiercest of muscle-flexing. Finally we democrats can shout simplistic slogans too. Bright new political vistas open. Thank God for paedophiles!

In the meantime, the lack of reply to my inquiries was predictable. I can't, for the life of it, imagine any decent explanation for why they prefer not to use words like child-rapist or psychopath when clearly these would be much more accurate labels. Does it improve their listening ratings? Do they think it's a good euphemism? Or is it just plain ignorance? In that case I'd better turn off my radio, lest I be influenced by anything they say about other subjects.

May 22nd: Breaking news. I did get a reply.
(note: translated. Style and wording reflects original - it really looks this silly)

Hello Sir,

Thank you for your mail.

"Child murderers" or "child rapists" is too light a description of that which these people were busying themselves with. Considering that e.g. Dutroux has sexually interfered with the girls several times, and all others involved weren't beyond having sex with minors, we may at least speak of pedophile activities. That this involved crimes and rapes has become clear in the meantime. The comparison with Jack The Ripper does not hold water for the very simple reason that the word "heterosexual" does not carry the rancid connotation of illegality or criminality.

This argument does not exclude the usage of the words "child rapist" or "child murderer". However, our choice of words is not only conscious, it is also defensible. On top of that, we're not alone in this. Our colleagues of radio, television and newspapers are still regularly using the term "pedophiles". Your argument that not all child rapists and child murderers are pedophiles -I presume this is what you mean to say by the muslim comparison?- does hold water, but is less relevant in this context.

Best regards,
(name deleted)
TV News

Owmygawd. If this is representative of the service's standard of logic rigour, it's worse than I thought.