Friday, August 29, 2008
You will recall that the South African Pagan Rights Alliance (SAPRA) and the South African Pagan Council (SAPC) lodged a formal objection with the IEC against the registration of the National Party as a political party on the grounds that the NP's policy on religion and religious education propagate the contravention of the constitutional right to freedom of belief and religion to recognized religious minorities and intend to prevent membership of the NP on the grounds of religious affiliation by excluding identified religious minorities as undesirable.
The Chief Electoral Officer has not upheld our objection against the National Party - the Commission states that the NP's submitted constitution does not contravene section 16 of the Electoral Commission Act - that the NP's submitted constitution does not discriminate on the basis of religion or belief.
Clearly, while the NP's submitted constitution may not contain any discriminatory content, the party's policies on religion as advertised on its website - http://www.nationalparty.co.za/religion.htm - indicate that the National Party has every intention of discriminating against South Africans on the basis of religion, and the NP has already publicly identified the religious minorities the NP intend to suppress.
In correspondence to this Alliance the NP stated, "We will not allow witches to operate in South Africa under (an) NP Government. We and our supporters can not associate ourselves with anything that are (sic) linked to Satanism. We don't have a problem with your view on our policy, but we will NEVER regard Satanism or witches (sic) as a form of religion. Our major support comes from Christians and Muslims etc, we will never link this party to Satanism or witchcraft. We will make this very clear during elections 2009."
This Alliance has 30 days within which to submit an appeal to the Commission's decision.
Ask yourself this question: Should our country's democratic institutions be permitting political parties to openly and brazenly advertise their intention to undermine religious equality on the basis of partisan religious prejudice?
Again, please let me know your thoughts.
Anyway herewith the South African Pagan Rights Alliance's formal press release:
The National Party intends to suppress Witchcraft should it win the 2009 elections. So says Juan-Duval Uys, Member of the NP National Executive. In correspondence to this Alliance Mr. Uys stated,"We will not allow witches to operate in South Africa under (an) NP Government. We and our supporters can not associate ourselves with anything that are (sic) linked to Satanism. We don't have a problem with your view on our policy, but we will NEVER regard Satanism or witches (sic) as a form of religion. Our major support comes from Christians and Muslims etc, we will never link this party to Satanism or witchcraft. We will make this very clear during elections 2009."
The South African Pagan Rights Alliance and the South African Pagan Council (SAPC) objects to the religiously motivated intention of the National Party to suppress Witchcraft and to discriminate openly against South African citizens who self-define as Witches.
Read the formal objection by SAPRA and the SAPC against the National Party's policy on Religion and Religious Instruction in Schools HERE <http://www.paganrightsalliance.org/Complaint%20against%20National%20Party%20policy%20on%20religion.pdf>
SAPRA and the SAPC object to the registration of the National Party as a political party on the grounds that the National Party's policies on religion and religious education:
(1.) propagate the contravention of the constitutional right to freedom of belief and religion to recognized religious minorities, and
(2.) said policies intend to prevent membership of said party on the grounds of religious affiliation by excluding identified religious minorities as undesirable.
Read SAPRA and the SAPC's formal objection to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) HERE <http://www.paganrightsalliance.org/Objection%20to%20IEC%20registration%20NP.pdf>
Voice your own objections against the National Party's intentions to suppress Witchcraft HERE <http://www.nationalparty.co.za/contact%20us.htm>
Please read this and please tell them (and me) what you think of this intention to ban religious practices that the NP are clearly none to informed about.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Read a hilarious article on Cracked.com about the 7 most retarded ways celebrities have tried to go green. An interesting question raised was whether planting trees to offset pollution was really a viable solution. As it turns out, although it may make celebrities feel better about their wasteful habits, it doesn't help the environment all that much. To reduce our impact on the environment, we might even have to make lifestyle changes.
Don't get me wrong, planting trees is a good thing. But in addition to that some of us will have to cut back on our private jet trips, and for those of us - like me - who have rather smaller budgets to work within, switching off lights and geysers when not used, using the microwave rather than the oven, and sensible use of energy-saving lightbulbs are a good start.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Shelters to stay open, for now
"Johannesburg - The shelters for people displaced by xenophobic violence will remain open until a final ruling is received from the Constitutional Court, Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa said on Tuesday.
"It [closing the shelters] would be in contempt of the court," Shilowa said after the court concluded hearing an urgent application to keep the shelters open until a reintegration plan was produced.
The Constitutional Court on Tuesday reserved ruling on the application, while the government has agreed it will not close the shelters until the court has ruled on the matter.
Jonathan Klaaren, a lawyer associated with the application by the displaced, said: "This gives the parties time to agree on an order." "
The representatives of the refugees share my opinion on whether government had "done enough" to help these people:
Govt 'no help to refugees'
"Johannesburg - The government had done nothing to help victims of xenophobic violence be reintegrated into communities, the Constitutional Court heard on Monday.
All it had done was extend the deadline for the closure of the shelter camp to give refugees more time to make their own arrangements, the Court was told by Advocate, Nadine Fourie.
It was only after a High Court ruling last week that the government undertook to help those who approached it with specific needs, she submitted. "
My sympathies go out to the children and the parents involved, also to the other pupils in the school. But I have a number of problems with this highly publicised "Satanic" killing.
Firstly, how did a teenager bring a sword into school unchallenged?
Secondly, a sword murder does not come out of nowhere. Did no-one ever notice that this boy was emotionally/psychologically distressed? He apparently had an obsession with ninjas and made masks that represented, among others, child abuse. Didn't alarm bells ring for anyone??
Thirdly, "devil worship" is, in my experience, a reaction against an oppressive religious upbringing and not to be confused with LaVeyan Satanism, which, although incompatible with my ethics in a number of regards, has absolutely nothing to do with worshipping Satan, or any other deity for that matter. The Church of Satan certainly does not advocate murder.
Fourth, does "bad Satanic music" cause violence or does a teenager listen to it because he/she is unhappy already? A lot of empirical research still needs to be done on this topic but so far it would seem that "a broad array of risk factors unrelated to popular culture (e.g., depression, access to guns, substance abuse, etc.) ... seem to be precursors of such drastic acts" (Roberts, Christenson, and Gentile, 2003) and that parents are not absolved of their responsibility to be aware of their children's emotional states: "If you like your child’s friends and his/her grades are fine, then there’s probablyvery little to worry about from the lyric content of the songs he/she likes...Thus, if your child is listening to angry-sounding music for three hours each day, that may signal a reason for concern. It may be likely that your child is angry about something and is dwelling on those feelings." (Roberts et al, 2003).
Update: While composing this I found this article - the words of Morne Harmse's parents. I feel sorry for these people but especially for the boy. Being bullied as a child, being quiet and introverted by nature, low self-esteem, stress, ill-chosen coping mechanisms - I am not surprised at the end result. I am just sad and disappointed that two young lives have been destroyed by a disaster that could have been prevented.
I will rant and rave later at what I perceive to be the inadequacies of our current school system, and increasing levels of disengagement between parents and their children. I will also express the fears I have concerning the renewed wave of Satanic Panic we seem to be experiencing. For now I will just keep in my thoughts all those affected by this tragedy.
Friday, August 15, 2008
The xenophobia violence of earlier this year caused the violent deaths of 62 people (among them 21 South African citizens), displacement of and suffering for many thousands of people. People who were once friends, neighbours and colleagues were suddenly targeted by angry mobs. Some of the violence occurred only a few streets from where I live, and we feared for the safety of friends.
Now the government has claimed that they have "done enough" for the victims of xenophobia and are forcing them to either go back to the communities where they were attacked, or the countries they fled.
Unfortunately, most of these people no longer have homes - many of them lived in informal settlements and their "houses" and possessions were looted and sold as scrap by their erstwhile neighbours. What I consider to be some of the underlying issues - poverty, disillusionment, and a sense of being disempowered - have by no means been addressed. So what does our government think will happen when these traumatised, now destitute, people are forced to return to hostile communities?
Blithely disregarding these questions, however, the government started dismantling camps three days before today's deadline, despite - or perhaps in response to - an application by The Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa and the Wits Law Clinic to keep the camps open for two months.
There is no reintegration plan, no provision at all for their future. They are supposed to go back to places where many of their fellow foreigners had been attacked, raped and murdered. Those who don't leave the camps will be considered trespassers and dealt with as such by our merciful government.
I shall be keeping an eye on the situation, and will post more information as the situation unfolds. Please spare a thought for the people returning to possible violence and certain misery, and for a once-promising Rainbow Nation gone horribly wrong.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
"My argument was that there should be a middle ground - various other welfare improvements which would improve a chicken's lot without making it prohibitively expensive - and it was with the same open mind that I approached my investigation into the booming fur trade.
Unlike the food industry, where growing public concern has brought about improvements in animal welfare and transparency in labelling products, the people who wear fur don't seem to give a damn about how it has been produced.
Without pressure from its customers, the fur industry will remain unregulated and, as long as that is the case, anyone buying fur could be supporting animal cruelty. Is any item of clothing really worth that?
For me, the answer is an emphatic no."
Do read the full article and comment. I tried, but my comments haven't been published. I have to say I am appalled that - in a time when I thought more humans were becoming sensitised to the idea of universal basic rights - fur is become more acceptable and even popular. Perhaps I have been too optimistic.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
We stood outside the Myanmar Embassy (comparatively few of us unfortunately) and at some point they sent out a young lady to take pictures of us. I am not sure if we were supposed to be intimidated, or if they are going to put our faces on a Myanmar sh1t list and refuse us entry should we ever apply for visas there.
I will try to post a longer and more informative article when I have more time. However I want to share the startling realisation I had while standing there in front of the embassy. Little as democracy may mean in practical terms sometimes, the very fact that we could stand there and chant and wave posters without fear of reprisal, without the threat of arrest, torture and death, had such an impact on me that for a moment there I nearly couldn't breathe. And I realised that freedom from fear is worth fighting for.Some links for you: