The new intolerance

This is a story about Keith Starmer falling afoul of a righteous brigade in his own party. Apparently he visited an evangelical Church in London which is helping with the vaccine rollout. But it turns out that the pastor of this Church holds traditional religious views on homosexuality. According to the article the pastor wrote to the Telegraph in 2006 to criticise proposed New Labour legislation (secondary legislation the ‘Sexual Orientation Regulations’) and to argue against this legislation on the grounds that it would oblige Churches to promote homosexuality. This is what he wrote:

The regulations force Christians in churches, businesses, charities and informal associations to accept and even promote the idea that homosexuality is equal to heterosexuality. For the sake of clarity, this is not what the Bible teaches and it is not what we believe to be the truth. In our view, these regulations are an affront to our freedom to be Christians.

And in 2013 the pastor again wrote to the Telegraph to protest against gay marriage. This was before the law was passed. This is what he wrote:

If the Government gets its way, it will not be a victory for equality. Equality requires diversity, and diversity requires distinctiveness, and marriage is and always will be distinctively a union between a man and a woman. By changing marriage from its historic foundation it would be creating a legal fiction, and consequently devaluing this vitally important social institution. The Government is not respecting difference, and it is not promoting a plural society.

As readers can see this is the pastor arguing for his own value system and traditional views.

Following Keith Starmer’s visit to this Church an internal Labour party “LGBT” group has criticised the leadership:

We have spoken with the leader of the opposition’s team regarding his visit to the church on Good Friday that does not align with our values on conversion therapy or LGBT+ equality…

This visit was unacceptable and we made this clear to LOTO. 

The leadership issued the inevitable grovelling apology.

That is – because the pastor of this Church at the time that legislation on gay issues was being debated in parliament wrote a letter to a newspaper expressing his point of view (against the proposed changes in the law) no one from the Labour party can ever meet him. Not ever. (Regardless of any other good work he may be doing in the community – such as promoting vaccine in minority ethnic communities; where it is sorely needed).

I wonder if these people have any grasp of what they are doing, of what kind of society they envisage? For a start they certainly don’t believe in the traditional British idea of democracy; that when legislation is being debated in parliament people can write to newspapers arguing for one side or the other. Not it seems have they embraced the idea that “I respect your right to hold an opinion even though I disagree with it”. They want to send the pastor into complete Coventry, for ever, because he had had the temerity to express (in a newspaper) a traditional value system which conflicts with their own. They propose a society in which there is only a single truth. This is in fact a cult. These people have the same kind of mental fragility as is typically found in cult followers. They can’t cope with difference and diversity. They need a simple world with a single truth.

I hope that in 20 years time people will look back on this as an extraordinary time. Some kind of aberration. But I fear that this is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

The false narrative about racism in the UK/US

Anti-racism campaigning and criticism of alleged racism seems to (rather like ‘feminism’) be making a comeback. Black Lives Matter protests are part of it – but page after page of the Guardian and the Independent are full of stories of racism. White young people are told that they enjoy “white privilege” – a vacuous idea designed it seems to explain any failings at all on the part of their black and ethnic minority compatriots and brothers.

The liberal press has been strongly hinting at the idea that higher incidences of Covid amongst black and ethnic minority populations in the UK are the result of racism. Almost as if Sars-Cov-2 is being accused of having aligned itself with the white racists in power. The news that there are significantly lower rates of vaccine take-up amongst these sections of society is tricky for this narrative – but I have even seen this reported as evidence of racism.

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Why is the liberal media suppressing the Chinese lab theory for the origin of Sars-Cov-2?

A likely candidate for the origin for Sars-Cov-2 is the Level 4 Bio secure lab in Wuhan where scientists were conducting research into Coronaviruses from bats from several hundred Km away and where a previous research project had involved a gain-of-function experiment – (manipulating a virus to make it more infectious to humans for valid but controversial research purposes).

A second theory is that it could have jumped from bats to humans almost certainly via an intermediary animal. (Bats are so far genetically removed from humans that an intermediary animal is much more likely than direct transfer). Wuhan animal market has been canvassed as a likely source though there is some evidence which seems to suggest that it was not the epicentre of the epidemic. The supposed intermediary animal has yet to be identified credibly though there was an organised effort in China to point to pangolins (but this is not accepted as established).

Attentive and scientifically literate readers will note that I am discussing theories. No one knows – these are just theories and one can weigh them up, consider which way the evidence tends and come to a provisional conclusion. The fact is that right now there isn’t much concrete and definitive evidence for either the lab theory or the transfer from bats via an intermediary animal to humans theory other than from genetic analysis. The majority of virologists seem to believe that Sars-Cov-2 does not show signs of having been engineered in a lab. But not all. [2] I am struck by the coincidence of the outbreak occurring just a few Km from a lab where controversial research had been previously conducted into just this type of virus, which occurs naturally some hundreds of Km away, and by the existence of well-documented efforts by the Chinese authorities to prevent a free investigation into the origins either by journalists (a BBC team was interfered with) or by scientists (some scientists on the WHO mission have said that they were not provided with full data).

Other significant voices have argued for the likelihood of the lab origin. This is David Asher a US official who investigated the matter for the State Department. He says that there was an early cluster – workers from the Biolab. He raises the possibility that the virus was part of a military research programme. Sky News also reports (not David Asher) that a key database from the Wuhan Institute of Virology was taken offline in 9/2019. The Institute claims that this was due to hacking attempts. Alternatively it reflects an early crisis at the lab. The US State Departments belief that there was an early outbreak amongst lab staff is also reported by the Daily Telegraph. The full State Department document is here.

I’m interested in how the liberal press is working so (so) hard to squash the lab theory and I wonder why this is. This, is an example of this in the Guardian:

The origin of the pandemic has become a political football with some, including Dr Robert Redfield, a former director of the CDC, suggesting without evidence the virus escaped a laboratory in Wuhan, China.

The phrase here “suggesting without evidence” is the one they have settled on to try to discredit this theory. It is widely used and deployed against anyone who suggests the lab as the origin for Sars-Cov-2. Let’s look at what Dr Robert Redfield actually said. (After all, he is a former director of the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and a former University professor of virology, so not some kind of fringe loon). He said: “I am of the point of view that I still think the most likely aetiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory, escaped. The other people don’t believe that. That’s fine. Science will eventually figure it out” [1]

He didn’t “suggest without evidence”. He simply expressed his view that of the competing theories for the aetiology of Sars-Cov-2 the lab theory is the most likely. Scientists deal with theories and Dr Redfield is simply saying that this is the theory he favours – explicitly acknowledging that he could turn out to be wrong. I.e. he demonstrates that he understands how science works.

It is possible that the Guardian simply doesn’t understand how science works. (How theories can be be developed. How a scientist can favour one theory while still being open to an alternative theory being proved when all the evidence is in). But the systematic insistence with which they try to misrepresent all such theorizing tells me that it isn’t just intellectual clumsiness but that someone at a political-editorial level has decided that the line must be to suppress the lab theory. I’m interested in why. (And who is behind it).

One highly unlikely theory for the origin of Sars-Cov-2 is something to do with it being imported into China in chilled food. This theory has even found its way into the current WHO report – advocated for by Chinese members of the ‘investigation’ team. Its function is to spread out and dilute the lab theory. The Guardian plays the role asked of it by China:

While concluding that the two least likely hypotheses for the emergence of the deadly virus – a leak from a lab (pushed by senior Trump officials) and being introduced via frozen food from outside (promoted by China) 

Chinese officials will be delighted with the Guardian’s reporting. They have equated the highly credible lab theory with this highly dubious claim about chilled food and thus managed to discredit the lab theory.

In the same report the Guardian also claims that Mike Pompeo – who has raised the possibility of the lab origin – has done so “without evidence”. But this is not true – unless ‘evidence’ means a signed confession and a vial of the engineered virus. The State Department in the dying days of the Trump Presidency published a detailed paper (also linked to above) in which they raise the possibility of the lab being the origin. (The paper remains on the State Department web site under the new President). It is worth noting that no direct accusation is made; simply the two leading theories (lab origin and animal origin) are discussed. “The virus could have emerged naturally from human contact with infected animals, spreading in a pattern consistent with a natural epidemic. Alternatively, a laboratory accident could resemble a natural outbreak if the initial exposure included only a few individuals and was compounded by asymptomatic infection.” The document reviews the evidence of cover-up and other factors such as the early cluster of sick lab workers. Together these factors do indeed give rise to serious questions. There is a lot of circumstantial evidence here.

One possible reason why the liberal press is working in overdrive to squash the lab theory may be that it is associated with Trump. [2] Though for me that explanation doesn’t seem to quite explain everything.

Notes

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/26/science/redfield-coronavirus-wuhan-lab.html
  2. https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/03/18/1021030/coronavirus-leak-wuhan-lab-scientists-conspiracy/

No resistance?

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is going currently through Parliament. If enacted into law this bill will a) give the police completely arbitrary powers to “give directions” to “to prevent the disorder, damage, disruption, impact or intimidation mentioned in subsection …” caused by noise from a demonstration. In effect any demonstration which makes any noise (as most do) can be controlled or shut down by the police at will. A second important provision gives the Home Secretary the power to issue secondary legislation to define what “serious disruption to the life of the community” or an organisation is for the purposes of the 1986 Public Order Act. [2] This Act already gives police powers to restrict demonstrations. By allowing the Home Secretary to add new definitions of what constitutes “serious disruption” the power is created to allow the Home Secretary of the day to decide what is permitted and what is not. For example; if a vegan group decided to picket outside MacDonald’s to protest against their use of beef then the Home Secretary of the day could quickly issue secondary guidance which would define this as causing serious disruption to the life of the community or an organisation (MacDonald’s) and the police could, in effect, shut down the protest.

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