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Angles of Tolerance: Yusuf Islam in Christchurch

Let’s not be too churlish about this; but then again, let us not be ignorant. The singer once known as Cat Stevens (in pre-conversion state), and known as Yusuf Islam to others, made a considerable impression on the stage in Christchurch. The slaughter of fifty at two mosques in the New Zealand city had made enough of an impression to lure the singer.

Yusuf had worshipped at the Masjid Al Noor in December 2017, a pit stop as part of his 50th anniversary Peace Train tour. On Friday, he performed at the National Remembrance Service in Hagley Park. Assisted by double-bassist Bruce Lynch, he wowed the crowd. To various New Zealand press outlets, he was in a mood to reflect, recalling a city “peaceful” and “orderly” with “nice people”. Then came the trigger happy “monster”. The response to the killings impressed him. There was “this incredible backlash of kindness and love and unity which is obviously so powerful that it changes the whole picture from dark to light.”

The Ardern government had furnished him an exemplary case of emotional management and response. They had shone the light. “Things like [the reaction] don’t happen in many other places in the world. Things happen but it stays dark. The government rarely does anything of any importance in the aftermath. Here the story is different.” He reflected on ignorance being the enemy; freedom of speech was to be valued “but truth, peace and harmony are kind of more valuable.”

Tolerance, inclusiveness, love. These words are often bandied about as part of a stage set but not always practiced. Yusuf Islam supplies us a troubling example, and his dig at freedom of speech as being of secondary order of importance is important. His selection as part of the mourning and commemoration process might have been an oversight on the part of the organisers; if so, it was a grave one, suggesting that ignorance and grief are often two parts of the same distorting lenses.

In 1989, on British television, the singer was posed a hypothetical by international lawyer and pundit Geoffrey Robertson QC. A state sanctioned edict, or fatwa, had been issued by Iran’s supreme leader the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini calling for the murder of Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses. All Muslims were to be encouraged in the endeavour; publishers were also be targets. Even a novel, with an exploratory theme suggesting that the Prophet Mohammed might have stemmed from pagan tradition, was too much to stomach. Rushdie was intentionally naughty, deploying terms long seen as taboo: Jahilia, alluding to Jahiliyyah, or “state of ignorance from guidance of God”; a brothel named Hijab; and Mahound, a pejorative variant of Mohammed.

Did Rushdie deserve to die? “Yes, yes,” came the unequivocal response from Yusuf. Would you be his executioner? “Uh, no, not necessarily, unless we were in an Islamic state and I was ordered by a judge or by the authority to carry out such an act – perhaps yes.” Would you attend an effigy-burning protest against the author? “I would have hoped that it’d be the real thing.” Should Rushdie turn up at his doorstep, he “might ring somebody who might do more damage to him than he would like. I’d try to phone the Ayatollah Khomeini and tell him exactly where this man is.”

Hard to forget, and Rushdie would grimly muse in 2010 on the appearance of Yusuf at Jon Stewart’s Rally for Sanity. “I have always liked Stewart and Colbert but what on earth was Cat Yusuf Stevens Islam doing on that stage? If he’s a ‘good Muslim’ like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar then I’m the Great Pumpkin. Happy Halloween.”

People can mellow, and, with age, even shift their positions. Defects can be revised; mistakes revisited. Andrew Anthony of the Observer failed to note much in the way of change a decade or so after the singer expressed his faithful bloodlust. “He told me in 1997, eight years after saying on TV that Rushdie should be lynched, that he was in favour of stoning women to death for adultery. He also reconfirmed his position on Rushdie.”

Yusuf had also dedicated himself to that unhealthy tendency latent in many monotheistic religions: proselytization. The Islamia school in Brent, Anthony notes, was dedicated to “bring about the submission of the individual, the community and the world at large to Islam.” Women were also to abide by their fair share of subjugation and heed submission in the enterprise. Such is the way of that type of tolerance.

In 2017 on News24, Yusuf continued what has been a systematic process of aversion and denial. (The faithful fanatic can wobble when needed). “I never called for the death of Salman Rushdie; nor backed the Fatwa issued by the Ayatollah Khomeini – and still don’t.” Instead, he was happy to blame Rushdie, a sure sign about where guilt should lie. “The book [The Satanic Verses] itself destroyed the harmony between peoples and created an unnecessary international crisis.”

The Robertson episode is ignored; instead, Yusuf finds fault with “a loaded question posed by a journalist, after a harmless biographical lecture I gave to students in Kingston University in 1989”. The tendency to erase in the name of faith is all too evident here.

The lasting truth about those solemn, and for the most part heartfelt proceedings in Hagley Park, is that they were marked by a person who has little in the way of any problem with theocratic-sanctioned murder for the use of language. By an author, a wordsmith, a thinker. For an occasion supposedly staged to rebuke extremism, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern effectively shared the same stage with one of the more extreme creatures of fanaticism, one who embraces assassination as one of the more effective means of censorship. As Rushdie himself would pen in a letter to the Telegraph in 2007, “Let’s have no more rubbish about how ‘green’ and innocent this man was.”


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  1. Wat Tyler

    My guess is that he is actually unrepentant about his demand that Rushdie be topped.

  2. David Bruce

    We have lapsed Catholics, others are weekend Muslims!

    It is interesting the Quran starts off preaching peace, love and harmony and finishes with conversion by the sword…


  3. corvus boreus

    All three main branches of Abrahamic derived religion revere Moses as a divine prophet.
    According to scripture (Book of Numbers), Moses ordered the murder of all the captive Midianite women and male children (‘thou shalt not kill’ my arse), then gifted all the virgin girls to his men as personal playthings.
    Do not look for sanity or morality in the worship of an invisible penis.

  4. Baby Jewels

    Yes, I remember that question posed to Yusuf and was surprised he was chosen to sing at the ceremony but perhaps the organisers aren’t as old as me and hadn’t heard about his earlier episode of not-so-much-love-and-kindness.

  5. mark delmege

    I liked the Cat’s music a long time ago – perhaps like Ardern liked Blair and Obama. And of course you must know Robertson (like Blair) was a great supporter of the invasion of Iraq. I still like Cats music and haven’t yet found a reason to dislike Ardern. (But I can’t say the same for any of the others)

  6. Wat Tyler

    Brunei. Aren’t they like our…erm…allies?
    Like Saudi Arabia?
    Except, their holy book doesn’t allow Muslims to be friends with infidels. What it does is, It allows them to ‘feign’ friendship if it is in their own interest.

  7. Zathras

    Nelson Mandela was a convicted bomb-making terrorist who upon release continued refused to disavow the use of violence as a legitimate political option.

    Mahatma Ghandi was a black-hating racist wife-beater who was cruel to his children and slept with very young girls (albeit Michael Jackson style).

    Yet both these figures are remembered for only positive things, despite having “feet of clay”.

    If she achieves nothing else in her career, Ardern will be probably only remembered for her response to this atrocity.

    I like some of Cat Stevens’ earlier music and can disassociate if from any political content and care nothing about his religious or political affiliations.

    As for religion, there are plenty of clergymen in prison and likely many more to come.
    Muslims not being friends with infidels? In their holy book Jews can’t be friends with goyim either for the same purpose. That’s how it works.

  8. corvus boreus

    Wat Tyler,
    I would not be at all surprised if the rise of intolerant extremism in the Sultanate of Brunei was directly linked to influencing by the Kingdom of Saud. The Saudis have, for decades, been pouring big money into aggressively exporting their intolerant fundamentalist brand of Salafist/Wahabbist Islam overseas, particularly into South-East Asia.
    As you said, our good friends and allies.

  9. Wat Tyler

    And OUR best friend has intervened in elections 80 times since WW2, including in Australia.. And is at it again.
    Friendship with the USA is one of those situations where ‘the pig got up and walked away.’

  10. Kaye Lee

    I think you are ignoring the power of music. I just listened to the words and enjoyed the music and did not think about who it was coming from.

    If someone is writing in a newspaper or doing an interview or giving an opinion then I understand scrutinising their words, as you have done, even when they were said 30 years ago on a program where I would have thought him completely out of his depth.

    But that day, I found the song entirely appropriate. The music was the message, not the singer. Music unites people.

  11. paul walter

    Here is an exceptional reason why westerners have to be careful dicussingYusuf Islam , Irfan Yusuf and Salman Rushdie.


    Do locals want to look like that boychild?

    Now, it a long time since the Rushdie fatwah and I never got the chance or found the time to discover exactly what it was about Rushdie’s book that so offended many Muslims. You’d have to live in the Muslim world to understand most closely and even that is going to vary from region to region unless I’m wrong.

    I do know that in the West, Jewish people will assume every position possible involving Palestine, from real fundamentalist Nazi type stuff to droll echoings of satire from the politically informed.

    Same with Xtianity. some will satirise people like Pat Robertson, who I think is a crank, others will support the like.

    Irfan Yusuf makes a plausible case from the trajectory of Cat Stevens since he is a European raised convert unfamiliar with the most intimate nuances from within the Islamic culture.

    With Rushdie, I remember the anger directed against him but know not enough about his comments and how they would have been taken outside his particular circle to know how offensive his remarks might have been to middle of the road (rather than hard conservative OR rebellious westernised liberals)

    I think satire is ok if it does with adeptness and within a subcultural milieu. I think often it is fairer to stay out of church mosque or synagogue and leave worshippers alone, but there are lots of angry, nutty people in the world, some are unhinged for good reasons some are just confused or ill-informed and some a just malicious or power crazed.

    But unless I bone up a bit more on Rushdie and his motives and what the angry (and provoked) Iran of nearly forty years ago had in mind, I think I’ll best leave alone.

    I do understand the Satanic Verses were banned, so that didn’t help in finding out what they were about and why the varying reactions.

    I may go and do some boning up now, because here is a situation where ignorance is not bliss.

  12. Lambert Simnel

    I can briefly mention that I have come across Irfan Yusuf at various times in the past (the first being at the old Margo Kingston Web Diary, a pioneering blog site from twenty years. He numbers all sorts of people as acquaintances, from thoughtful Jewish people to crappy lefties, who I think he disapproves of slightly

    He is a little more conservative then I, I think and I put him at the “sensible centre” of politics. I have occasionally had the pleasure of reading some his postings from the Koran, and on those verses quoted, I can’t see Islam as a violent religion. Like the other main religions and philosophies, fanatics will always put blood-curdling interpretations of scripture to suit their own ill understood objectives, but Irfan Yusuf reminds me of people I know who helped me sort out a personal problem of my own many years ago.

    Like these people he has a belief in a power beyond himself, does, therefore, believe in community rather than excessive self reliance, vanity and misanthropy. His idea, unless I am very wrong, is that such a power is “compassionate”,to be welcomed and relied upon; is not the “schoolyard bully and needs not to feared in the way a naughty school kid fears someone catching her out pulling the cat’s tail.

    I write these things for a few folk who may be a little wary of him. I can inform such people that he categorically loathes just about any violence including the various fundamentalist violences. I dont know if he quite has the same views as Waleed Aly, but think Waleed Aly and you are probably on the way to a better understanding of him

  13. Trevor

    Cat Steven’s PEACE TRAIN summed up popular culture in 1970’s, what a lot of folks didn’t get was the cost of bringing a Peace Train in a culture of War.

    Hearing him sing Peace Train in NZ after a crazed White Australian patriot irrationally slaughtered NZ new settlers showed the cost of Peace Trains in societies inculcated to War, the arming for War and the trade of War, is so damn high as to seem unattainable.

    The internal cynic in each individual is the greatest barrier to a Peace Train coming. That and cowardice.

  14. wam

    Yusuf has the voice of an angel and a quality of peace to match ??????

    The ignorance surrounding Islam and judaism and christianity makes it easy for people to spread fear.

    Nor much chance of changing fear to respect till the Abrahamic god’s beliefs, as interpreted by the jews, christians and muslims are discussed openly.

  15. Limited Concentration Span

    Bugger this. I have tried three times to finish “The Satanic Verses” and failed each time. Now I will have to try again.

  16. Wat Tyler

    The Satanic Verses’ is merely a fictionalising of Muhammad’s excuse for stuffing up, a bit like Dylan electrifying. Muslims don’t want to admit to what was basically an attempt to widen his sudience. When he was called out on it, he said ‘the Devil done it.’ My kids always blamed the dog.
    Rushdie merely brought it to the world’s attention, for which Cat Stevens recommended he be murdered.
    Peace Train my arse.

  17. Joseph Carli

    Why is everyone so amazed?….Jesus brought his dad and mum to the Roman world and the Jews crucified him!

  18. Kronomex

    I didn’t like Not Cat Stevens music years ago when he was Cat Stevens and still don’t like Cat Stevens music since he became Not Cat Stevens.

  19. Kaye Lee

    Can a piece of music stand apart from the personal life of the musician?

    I saw Cat Stevens perform several times back in the day. I didn’t go to watch him or to think about him. I loved his music. I don’t think I have ever thought about the opinions or morals of the person delivering the music. If they appeared in a different capacity, then perhaps I would. But for me, the music and the way it can bring a crowd together, is the important thing.

    For example, listening to We are the World inspires me. The private lives of the people who made that wonderful music would shock your socks off.


  20. Wat Tyler

    Kate, that’s a question I often ask myself. Can an act make up for what you have done or said? For instance, Schindler was apparently not a very nice man and his aims were to benefit from cheap labour ( so some say). But does his saving people’s lives make up for his defects?
    If Mengele’s vile, hideous experiments on Jewish children had somehow discovered remarkable medical cures, would it make his crimes worthwhile?
    Islam is a religion/way of life that makes demands on its followers that are greater than any other religion, but it brooks no criticism. As the late Christopher Hitchens said (in so many words), ‘Many people and groups make threats that you take as hyperbole; but you know that when Muslims threaten you they fully intend to carry it out.’

  21. corvus boreus

    How much can misconduct nullify achievement (and vise versa)?
    Can we ever truly separate the art from the artist?

    Here’s one take on the subject (2 1/2 mins);

  22. Michael Taylor

    Kaye, same as “Do they know it’s Christmas” by Band Aid. Some giant egos participated in that – most of whom I intensely dislike – but nonetheless I really like the song.

    Dr Binoy tells both sides of the story in his posts, so we’ll always disagree with one side.

  23. corvus boreus

    Like Limited Concentration Span, I failed to finish ‘The Satanic Verses’.
    Perhaps something might have been lost in translation, but I thought it poorly constructed and narratively unengaging.
    Myself, I shall not re-attempt to finish reading it; there are much more palatable tomes to digest, and I don’t feel that I need to tortuously wade through Rushdie’s torpid fiction just to seek further justification in rejecting the fatwa calling for his killing.
    I already know I believe that disliking someone’s writing is not a valid reason/excuse for murder.

  24. Michael Taylor

    I remember in 1966 when John Lennon was misquoted over his Jesus comment. The Yanks went into meltdown and there were public burnings of Beatle records.

    Did they get over it?

    Sure did.

    Even today a visitor to America today would believe that the Beatles are still the biggest band in the country. They’re obsessed.

  25. helvityni

    I don’t judge any artist by their private life, ONLY by their art, be it painting ,writing ,singing moviemaking,whatever…I only judge them by what they produce…

  26. Kaye Lee

    After several failed attempts, I forced myself to finish War and Peace in some misguided belief that it was a classic that I should know something about. After an interminable struggle, I feel it was a waste of countless hours. I have not read Rushdie’s book but, like cb, I do not need to to agree that calling for someone to be killed for what they write is ridiculous. Some musicians are deep thinkers. I don’t count Yusuf Islam among them.

    When Binoy says “Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern effectively shared the same stage with one of the more extreme creatures of fanaticism, one who embraces assassination as one of the more effective means of censorship”, I don’t see it that way even though he is right. I hear the words of the song, not the words of the man.

    And there is NOTHING wrong with having an obsession with the Beatles!!!

  27. corvus boreus

    For those with limited attention spans, Tolstoy’s War and Peace is now available as a haiku;

    Guns boom, Russia burns
    Whither Andrei, whence Petya?
    Confused, France retreats

  28. Michael Taylor

    Am obsessed myself, Kaye. 😀

  29. Jack Cade

    I have always thought that ‘Barabbas’ was a joke. It means ‘the son of his father’ whereas the OTHER Jesus didn’t even know who his father was.
    ‘Mum, I think I’m pregnant!’
    Who is the father, Mary?
    ‘I don’t know.’
    Okay. Give me a few minutes to think of something.
    ‘Yes!!! Virgin birth! The Jews won’t cop it but I think we can make it stick. After all, the Roman Legion worships Mithras – he didn’t know who his dad was, either.’

  30. helvityni

    Studying German, I had to read some very heavy (Germanic) books, so I had to cut War and Peace short….
    I did not finish Rushdie’s book either….

    Love Leonard Cohen ‘singing’ (he’s my man), bought his poetry book too, but without hearing his voice it was not the same as when he sings on the stage, and as Howard Jacobson said : ‘ I like that he doesn’t jig about…but is immobile, still as a thought’ ….WOW

  31. Kaye Lee


    I also love Cohen. I used to be on the management committee for a homeless youth refuge. I heard one of our young residents singing one day and said wow you’ve got a great voice. She disappeared for a minute and came back with a cd for me that she had made. I went home and listened to it and immediately rang the refuge to speak to her – it was amazing. I rang a music producer I know and sent him the the CD. At the same time, a woman involved with the PCYC was also working on ways to get this young girl started.

    Her name was Karise Eden. She went on to win The Voice. This is her singing Cohen’s classic Hallelujah. It makes me cry every time I watch it,.

  32. Jack Cade

    Talking of poets, I did a programme on Vision Australia radio this week about a man who sold 10 million books of poetry and 100 million records, of poems and songs written by him and recorded by the likes of Frank Sinatra. Now he is almost forgotten. His poems (and songs) were generally rubbished – usually by other poets – and probably justly, but they clearly spoke to millions of people in the 60s and 70s.
    Rod McKuen: 1933-2015.

  33. Kronomex

    War and Peace has much the same effect on me as does the interminable A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin. Unlike being unable get past page 28 of A Game of Thrones after multiple attempts since it came out in 1996 I managed to make it to page 108 of War and Peace before I gave up. One of these days I’ll give them another try. Oh wait, I know what to do, they can be added to the list of books in my will (not a joke) I’m to be cremated with so I’ll have something to do when I’m dead.

  34. Phil

    I am amazed people can still like the music of a musician who is clearly a rat bag. Being a musician myself as soon as I run into a right winger in the business I know the relationship is is going to be strained. Thankfully the right wingers in the music business well, they are few and far between. Politics ruined the relationship of some great bands, Pink Floyd’s Gilmour and Rogers, the Beatles McCartney & Lennon. Noel Gallagher of Oasis now thinks it trendy to despise lefty’s. I will never forget John Farnham doing a song for the Liberal party just before the election of John Howard, with pro Liberal party lyrics. Something along the lines of ‘ Give us a chance. Hence he will never ever get anymore of my money. Yep f#ck the musos that don’t see the world as I do. Maybe it’s just me. A true believer.

  35. Wat Tyler

    I’m with you, Phil! In my youth I loved the yearnings displayed in the songs of a well-known C&W singer. Then I found out he was a drunkard, a drug addict, and a wife-beater.
    I never found out if he kicked his dog…
    And the late Waylon Jennings was a RW bigot. How he managed to stomach the extremely LW Kristofferson in The Highwaymen is intriguing. Apparently their arguments were epic!

  36. Kaye Lee

    If you ignore John Farnham the man, another intellectual lightweight, his songs mean something to people. “You’re the Voice” is a rallying cry.

    When people sing that song together in their thousands at concerts, they are not thinking about Farnham and his views. They are thinking about what the song means to them. Or it could be just pure entertainment that is fun to listen, sing and dance to.

    Let me put it another way. Would you shun the inventions of someone whose political views you did not share (or even found abhorrent) if that invention was beneficial to mankind? The invention is separate from the inventor, in my opinion.

    I do take the point about Mengele. There is a limit to that abstraction. His methods could not be condoned. No invention is worth such barbarity. Odious opinions do not equate to the real torture he inflicted.

  37. helvityni

    Totally agree with your sentiments Kaye Lee…

    Good inventions are GOOD, never mind if the inventor is rich or poor…

  38. Alcibiades

    Monty Python’s the Life of Brian – deleted scenes (Youtube 13m 16s)

    PS The US used all the Nazi research results, regardless.

    Excluded the worst of the worst of the Japanese war criminals from prosecution to obtain their research into Biological & germ warfare on the Chinese, including Allied POWs. (See: Unit 731)

  39. helvityni

    Pauline too read a book once; it had BLUE covers and wasn’t very thick..

    Well Pauline, do not judge a book by its covers, or person by his/her skin colour..

  40. Phil

    Wat Tyler.

    Cheers Bud,

    I could have mentioned a lot more, as I’m sure you could. Dick Clark the American TV and radio icon, made Trump look like a left wing social worker. He was an insufferable fascist. But came across as Mums Apple Pie. I love the Oz band Rose Tattoo my wife and I went to see them recently in Ravenswood in Perth. We walked out after twenty minutes. Abject crap. It was not half obvious the band was, let us just say, a little excited on something. Other people asked for their money back. I don’t have the temperament to stand and argue when I am right and getting fobbed off. I could have put a better show on with a couple of other musos I know. Of course as we know old Angry has he is affectionately known IMO is a right wing racist. A member of the band years ago was Rocking Rob Riley, he was like my good self a raving lefty, how they got on is anyone’s guess, but he is no longer in the band.

    Away from the music world there were the entertainers. IMO Tommy Cooper a British comedian and magician was one funny bastard but, a tight fisted bastard who would pay for nothing. His meanness was legendary in the business. Jerry Lewis was a genius but, that far up himself in real life it was sickening.

    There are plenty of others in the show business world that have put me right off, I haven’t thrown out my extensive catalogue of music as yet but it is a bubble burster when you find out some of your heroes, are just arse holes. Yes their characters are important to me, my choice and all that.

  41. Wat Tyler

    The paradox of Farnham’s signature song is that it’s preaching against the views of the political people Farnham supports. It’s like Dutton singing ‘The Red Flag.’
    My comment about Mengele was to illustrate the point about ‘do as I say and not as I do’. My view is that NOTHING would negate his vileness, and my view is that nothing short of utterly revoking his comments about Rushdie would redeem Stevens. Had Rushdie been murdered Stevens would have rejoiced.

  42. Kaye Lee

    It is an interesting conversation and I understand the valid views being expressed.

    If I refused to deal with everyone whose views I disagreed with, I would be in a shitload of trouble.

  43. Phil

    “Let me put it another way. Would you shun the inventions of someone whose political views you did not share (or even found abhorrent) if that invention was beneficial to mankind? The invention is separate from the inventor, in my opinion.”

    It is all relative. Some people would find the ‘ Electric Chair ‘ beneficial to the progress and protection of society. I find the invention of this macabre instrument of death and its use abhorrent. The inventor I would put to you, was either barking mad or a largely misunderstood do gooder. Depending on whose statistics you read approx., I said approx, half the population would bring back hanging. Albert Pierrepoint accredited with possibly 600/800 hangings in his book said, it was no deterrent. He joined the anti capital punishment lobby. I don’t hate his memory any less.

    If people jump around to the music of people they are politically opposite to it tells me more about the people than the music. Do we not call the people who do not vote as we/I would do, gullible misled fools?

    We will agree to disagree on this subject.

  44. Phil

    Wat Tyler.

    Your point about Farnham was better than mine by a country mile cheers for that.

  45. Kaye Lee

    “If people jump around to the music of people they are politically opposite to it tells me more about the people than the music.”

    I choose my mechanic, my builder, my dentist, based on their expertise in their chosen field. I do not consider their political opinions when availing myself of their talents.

  46. corvus boreus

    To return to the central topic, and turn a magnifying mirror on hypocrisies within my own viewpoint (always a fun exercise);

    ‘Disliking someone’s writing is not a valid reason/excuse for murder’ opined corvus loftily.
    Yet I have, on honest occasions, expressed an anticipatory desire to raise a celebratory toast to the death of Rupert Murdoch.
    And, when all is said and sifted, the main reason/excuse for my gleeful wish for Rupert’s hasty demise boils down to fundamental disagreement with many of the messages peddled by his media proxies.
    ‘I would not kill him myself, but I will gladly gloat over his corpse because I do not like his words’
    Not too distant a stretch from the stance of Yusef Islam really.

    Phuq self-reflection sux.

  47. Wat Tyler

    Oh, Corvus. You are so right!
    I once caught a mouse, in my kitchen, in my hand. It had actually been in a cupboard and I dived across the floor like a goalie and caught it in my left hand.
    It’s head poked out between my thumb and forefinger, and it’s little eyes pleaded with me to let it go. So I did, dropped it over my back fence into a paddock.
    But I set traps.
    Pathetic, really.

  48. Phil

    “I choose my mechanic, my builder, my dentist, based on their expertise in their chosen field. I do not consider their political opinions when availing myself of their talents.”

    Ummm political opinions, how would you that? You don’t. I certainly wouldn’t be discussing politics with my dentist. Under that white coat of respectability may be a member of the One Nation Party. Um why do my teeth fall out whilst I’m eating bacon? Same for my mechanic…..My brakes may just fail on a mountain road.

  49. Kaye Lee

    Self-reflection is difficult I agree.

    I am the first to look up the history of a source who is expressing a political opinion and to perhaps dismiss their credibility based on views expressed in the past. But do I do the same when enjoying someone’s music or paying for their particular skill? No.

  50. Phil

    ” I am the first to look up the history of a source who is expressing a political opinion and to perhaps dismiss their credibility based on views expressed in the past. But do I do the same when enjoying someone’s music or paying for their particular skill? No.”

    Well I do. If I found out my mechanic was the member of his local Liberal party, I wouldn’t use him. it would not be his expertise in question but ,the fact I don’t want him to have my money. Of course my mechanic wont broadcast his politics it wouldn’t be good for business. It is no secret most unions have a list of Doctors, who are on the same page politically. They use them in compensation claims. Insurance companies are the same, they use Doctors who are affiliated with right wing causes. Btw what I’m telling you is fact, not an opinion.

  51. Kaye Lee


    I understand what you are saying. And in no way am trying to disparage your stance. I am just reflecting on and questioning my own.

  52. paul walter

    I thought Michael Taylor’s short comment bringing to mind the famous John Lennon
    gaffe for the late sixties comes closest to deconstructing what it’s about.

    I haven’t read the book but got onto a page of quotes from Rushdie that demonstrated the density of his writing and some of the wit and wisdom as well as the rougher stuff Rushdie’s target, Khomeini and others may have had trouble dealing with.


    A bit Nietzsche, but back to Michael Taylor, it is one thing to criticise a religion or philosophy but another to be cruel over it to hurt the devotees. That was the problem with Charlie Hebdo.

    One thing to critique or even satirise something, quite another to engage the sort of bigoted nonsenses an Alan Jones would come. up with.

    Havent Xtians been similarly offended when some smart person has come with a really nasty comment of Jesus or Mary’s sex lives? I can understand it, why ignorant, egoist and unconscious cruelty, a sort of vandalism, when intelligent criticism can do so much better if an ideas foundations are questionable?

  53. Phil.

    Kaye Lee.

    All good. Peace.

  54. Wat Tyler

    When you debate things – as this thread has more or less developed into a debate – you come down to what are simply opinions, prejudices even, that do not bear scrutiny. But you hold to them anyway.
    I’m talking about me, by the way, nobody else.
    But isn’t that the essence of all religious belief?

  55. Phil.

    ” When you debate things – as this thread has more or less developed into a debate – you come down to what are simply opinions, prejudices even, that do not bear scrutiny. But you hold to them anyway.”

    True but, even opinions are right and wrong. It all depends on, if you are the giver or the receiver of said opinion.

    As for my religion don’t have one. Not that I don’t want one there is just not enough evidence for it. (Stole that from the greatest debater or masturbator depending on your opinion 🙂 ) Cristopher Hitchen’s, to come down the pike. Even pissed he was good.

  56. Kaye Lee


    I disagree. I think it has been a worthwhile discussion with people honestly sharing their feelings. Even if you don’t agree with the other person, it prompts thought and reflection.

    I see it less along the lines of religious belief and more about what is important to each of us.

    For example, I spend my time railing against the Murdoch media but my very hard-working husband enjoys the sport, history and nature channels on Foxtel. I am not prepared to take that from him for my principles.

    But when it comes to views about women, I am overly sensitive. I cannot come to terms with pornography and prostitution and what is euphemistically called exotic dancing, or even the objectification of women in advertising. I am overly sensitive about comments about women’s looks.

    We each have things where we draw the line in the sand. They will be different for all of us but listening to how others feel can only help in understanding and respecting each other.

  57. Wat Tyler

    Ambrose Bierce defined an atheist as ‘a person with no invisible means of support.’
    Can’t top that, really.

  58. wam

    jesus phil you should join the army or the police then you could stand out politically amongst those with equal attitude.

    xxers, notice the boys in georgia fixed the evil lefty abortionists?
    I know people who believe god made man from scratch and man, metaphorically, gave birth to women. Women then became subservient to men.
    It is not hard to extrapolate into god made women not to be equal. When we add men’s fear of menstruation. qed man sperm is the giver of like/

  59. Christopher J Ward

    For once, I agree wholeheartedly with the writer. The hypocrisy of Yusuf Islam has been clearly exposed: no “ifs,” “buts,” “whys” or “wherefores.”

  60. Phil

    ” jesus phil you should join the army or the police then you could stand out politically amongst those with equal attitude.”

    I have served in both, I’m surprised at that comment the full indoctrination process only applies to right wingers. The urban myth they all think alike is just that a myth. I was never going to be a Field Marshall or Colombo. Ah politics it’s every where.

  61. Kaye Lee

    That definition of an atheist made me chuckle.

  62. Wat Tyler

    Kaye. You should see Bierce’s definition of ‘faith’…
    ‘Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge of things without parallel…’
    Again – can’t top that.

  63. corvus boreus

    Wat Tyler,
    Thanks for the quotations.
    I’ll admit I was ignorant of Ambrose Bierce, something I need to rectify forthwith.
    “War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography”.

  64. Wat Tyler

    You are entirely welcome.
    Bierce was a one-off. His ‘Devils Dictionary’ is a goldmine of cynicism. My own view is that cynics are realists – they never get unpleasant surprises.
    Eventually, he just walked south into Mexico, and disappeared forever.

  65. corvus boreus

    Returning to the topic of Yusef Islam (back when he was the Cat),
    People tend to remember the dreamy idealism of ‘Peace Train’, and ‘Father and Son’ articulating the generation gap, but few remember this earlier hit, a whimsical expression of the resentful sentiments behind firearms mass-murder
    Probably a good thing Yusef didn’t bring that one out at the Christchurch commemoration.

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