Whisper words of wisdom, Maccabee

The last November Chanukkah was in the 19th century, so for those who don’t remember that, this year’s early festive approach might have caught you unawares. If so, you’ll appreciate this opportunity to buy some seasonal gifts at knock-down prices all the more.

gabriel festive innovations 2013 click hereOn behalf of the entire editorial team of Gabrielquotes, I would like to wish all readers a refreshing and joyful Chanukkah. Those who will be in the Sussex area – Jewish or not – are encouraged to drop by the Meeting House at 4:30pm any day between 27 November and 4 December to see the candles being lit. Chag sameach!


Festival of religious freedom

The Telegraph ran an interesting story this week (now there’s a phrase you don’t hear so often):

littleton-green-community-schoolGosh, but doesn’t that sound unlikely. Jollies to the London Zoo or the local swimming pool are fun but surely bunking off isn’t an issue of racism!

But, it turns out that the school trip was to something dramatically described by the Telegraph as a “religious workshop about Islam” – which was actually an exhibition about Islam, hosted at Staffordshire University; so it was about as much a ‘religious workshop’ in the same way that a talk by the local police would be a criminal workshop.

One parent, shocked at being accused of racism, said: “To be told my kids have got to attend this workshop is disgusting. It’s not our religion. We should have a right to stop our children going.”

Well quite; it’s not our religion, why should we bother to learn anything about those bloody foreigners with weird hats? How could anyone describe this normal, mainstream view as racist?

Now of course the school chose the wrong tactic, in their quest to make Religious Education popular, by sending out threatening letters. No question. And of course Islam is a religion rather than a race.

And more to the point, labelling children as racist because of their parent’s decision to shelter them from people with a different skin colour seems very unfair: what sort of right-wing newspaper would characterise the son with the behaviour of the father?

But by portraying RE as a menace that our terrible liberal nanny state is forcing on impressionable children, isn’t the Telegraph encouraging people to be just like Stupid Parent Woman who I quoted above?

John Duffy and other animals

John Duffy's cooler cousin
John Duffy’s cooler cousin

Sussex’s Registrar and Secretary has a much more interesting colleague. Paul Greatrix, registrar at the University of Nottingham, runs a splendid blog called Registrarism featuring a regular column, True Crime on Campus.

TCoC contains excerpts from the logbooks maintained by his security officers, who – unlike at Sussex – seem to spend their time not intimidating students who have the nerve to treat a university as a place encouraging the free exchange of ideas, but on rather more unusual pursuits. For example:

20:10—Report of a large number of students running around the Trent Building. Security Officers attended. The students explained that they were playing hide and seek. The Hide and Seek Society President was found by Officers and spoken to. Officers conducted a search of the building and located all the other hiding students. Officers declined their turn to go and hide.

23:10—Conference delegates contacted Security from Sherwood Hall to say they were too hot. Delegates were advised to open their windows.

07:55—A male contacted the Security control room stating that he had discovered the meaning of life and urgently needed to speak to a Professor in Physics.

…and so on. Check out the other stories of True Crime on Campus here!

People behaving irritatingly

r-ANNOYING-large570[1]Paul Greatrix’s security officers might be breathing a sigh of relief, because Parliament is currently considering a law which would allow anyone to obtain a court order (an Injunction to Prevent Nuisance or Disorder, or Ipna) against anyone else if that person has been displaying behaviour “capable of causing nuisance or annoyance.”

As Baroness Mallalieu said in a recent debate:

There is no human activity that does not annoy someone somewhere. This measure risks being used against every single one of us for something we do – protestors; people with noisy children playing outside; people preaching in the street; people canvassing; people ringing church bells; pet owners; carol singers; clay-pigeon shooters; and even nudists.

To this list one might add, blogs that criticise universities, blogs that criticise elected local policing bodies and people who have a pun for every situation. (Fortunately I’m protected against self-incrimination. For now.)

No doubt the government will pursue Ipnas against people who engage in such irritating behaviours as wilfully being foreign; claiming disability benefits in a built-up area; and, something which particularly irritates Iain Duncan Smith, expecting the state to save them from starvation while they await a tribunal decision on whether or not, erm, Iain Duncan Smith is allowed to withdraw their benefits.

And of course the most annoying behaviour of all: trying to criminalise annoying behaviour.

The hashtag is #feelfreetoannoyme


Five of the best

Who da man?
In tonight’s episode, Greek values were imposed on the Temple Jews by Helen Isation. Britain’s oil supply was kept open by Ameer Akkle. The House of Lords debate about annoyance was a dull, baron affair. And thank goodness there’s still one high street retailer with the guts never knowingly to undersell cambozola cheese. This was an Gabrielquotes production.

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