Saturday, July 19, 2014

News Round up - July.

So Thor is now a women and Captain America is now black. Writing for the Guardian, Samantha Langsdale asks Why can't Thor be a women?
The truth is that the comics industry has always involved women, even if they weren’t a majority. Now, some of the most exciting names in the industry belong to female creators. Changes like the one being made to Thor are not about creating new exclusionary measures that erase older models; rather they are about broadening our field of observation. Geek culture is made up of, and enjoyed by, all kinds of people and our norms should reflect that. The standard for Thor will now include man, horse, frog and woman, because it should – because comics are for everyone.
Comic books and cartoons are regularly refashioned when companies devoid of new ideas recycle the old for a new generation. But when old childhood memories are trampled upon what emerges becomes a symbol where the traditional is altered to fashion the new. Langsdale is wrong here; this is exactly about erasing older models. Her mistake is believing 'broadening our field of observation' does not create new exclusionary measures that erase the old. It does because it must.

Staying on the subject of identity politics, Tim Black correctly identifies David Camerons recent cabinet reshuffle as a triumph of identity politics over a politics of ideas:
In this, one can glimpse the debasement of the concept of political representation, of what it means, in a democracy, for elected politicians to represent something. It used to mean that a politician represented people’s aspirations and interests. In the words of that old Tory Edmund Burke, it used to mean that ‘[the people’s] wishes ought to have great weight with [the politician]; their opinion, high respect; their business, unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his satisfactions, to theirs; and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own.’ It used to mean that a politician represented the ideas of conscious social constituency. But, as this most bizarre of Cabinet reshuffles reveals, political representation no longer refers to the intentional representation of ideas in the work of government; no, it now means the representation of the mere facts of one’s life, from one’s gender to one’s ethnicity. In the dread words of Cameron, ‘Parliament needs to be more representative of our country – so we need more women in parliament’.
And Enda Kenny is lambasted for not appointing any female Junior Ministers because geography is more important than gender:
The Taoiseach said that he felt his ministers needed to be spread across the country, indicating that his decision was influenced by geography. He also insisted that the number of female cabinet ministers is higher than ever before.
"It's not about an individual reshuffle. The job given to government, the two parties in government, both Fine Gael and Labour, is to fix our public finances and to get our country working. In that sense, you need a team across the country and across the general divide," Mr Kenny said.
But his admission that geography played a key role in the selection process appears to have caused further upset.
One TD said: "Of course geography is important, but is it more important than ability and sending out a message that we are a pro female party?
The Irish state is taken to task by United Nations Human Rights Committee for religious discrimination against atheists in in the Irish education system:
Atheist Ireland raised secular issues alongside independent academic Alison Mawhinney, and other Irish advocacy groups also briefed the UN on their areas of concern. Atheist Alliance International officer M. Quavami Tehrani also participated, to compile information to help other atheist groups to plan for such UN interventions with regard to their own countries.
The overall tone of the UN’s questions was strongly critical of Ireland’s human rights record, and of Ireland’s failure to address human rights breaches that the UN has repeatedly brought to its attention. Ireland’s oral responses to the UN’s questions were incomplete and evasive, and will have to be supplemented by written responses within two days.

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