The Syllogism of Betrayal

Earlier today I added a short microblog post in which I called Nigel Farage a traitor. Its a strong word, and maybe one that I shouldn’t throw around so casually.

I don’t really go in for patriotism, nationalism, and all that kind of thing. But I do want Britain — the country I live in, was born in, and am a citizen of — to be the best country it can be. On the assumption that most citizens would have a similar desire, it seems reasonable to me to think that a citizen who acts against that desire — against the country’s best interests — is betraying the country.

Nigel Farage has made it his life’s work to get Britain to leave the European Union, and has been successful in making (or at least starting)1 that happen.

Leaving the EU is not in the best interests of the country.

Therefore Nigel Farage has been working against the best interests of the country. Therefore he is a traitor.

It’s a simple syllogism.

Of course, he’s far from alone in this. I count Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, and, of course, Teresa May in the same group. And many more.

Indeed, you could argue that anyone who voted to leave the EU is similarly guilty, but that seems unfair. Many knew exactly what they were doing, of course. But many also (possibly many more) were duped.

It doesn’t mean much if I name these people as traitors, but it’s worth recording what my thinking was behind using that term.


  1. Brexit can still be stopped, and must be. []
The Syllogism of Betrayal

The Night Before

I couldn’t let this night pass without acknowledging that tomorrow will be the start of us losing something great. In years to come the names of Cameron, May, Farage, Gove, etc, will be reviled, of course, but that doesn’t help us now. It doesn’t help us prevent the slide into the abyss of small-minded, inward-looking ugliness that I fear we are headed for.

I don’t want to see these islands turning into the nightmare archipelago that they could if we let the insane clowns in government lead us into a cesspit of deregulation, rejection of human rights, and economic disaster.

I reject all that. I choose optimism.

I choose to believe that most people are basically decent and want the best for everyone, even if a small minority of them made a bad choice in voting, guided by liars.

I choose to believe that there is such a thing as progress in society, in culture. It isn’t constant and it isn’t guaranteed, but its arc does bend towards justice.

I choose to believe that the forces of backwardness — the racists, the misogynists, the homophobes, and everyone who condemns their fellow humans for what they are, what they believe, how they live or who they love — that those people will be washed up by the tides of history, left flapping on the shores of the future, and waste away.

Tomorrow we will still be in the European Union, but no longer of it. Brexit can still be stopped, but if it isn’t, if it goes ahead at full crashing speed the way the Tories seem to want: I choose to believe that we can still be the open-minded, welcoming society that I know we are.

And one day, Europe, we’ll come back.

The Night Before

Stupid Fawning Lapdog Government Apes the US Again

Our glorious leaders have seen fit to copy Trump and his cronies with banning laptops and tablets on planes — from certain countries. The only possible reason for this madness is to punish people for coming from (or visiting) those countries.

Worse, though: such a ban is only going to:

  1. make things even more confusing and complex at airport security, and
  2. get extended until it covers all flights, everywhere. You wait and see.
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Tory MP Claims Astrology Could Help the NHS

This should be enough to disbar someone from public life for good: Astrology could help take pressure off NHS doctors, claims Conservative MP — The Guardian. Though I notice the article is two years old. It just came to my attention via Facebook one of Twitter’s occasional emails.

David Tredinnick said astrology, along with complementary medicine, could take pressure off NHS doctors, but acknowledged that any attempt to spend taxpayers’ money on consulting the stars would cause “a huge row”.

Getting his defence in early, he goes on to say that his likely critics (he names Brian Cox specifically):

“… are also ignorant, because they never study the subject and just say that it is all to do with what appears in the newspapers, which it is not, and they are deeply prejudiced, and racially prejudiced, which is troubling.”

Nice tactic: he knows he’s talking bullshit, so accuses people of racism. Last time I checked, astrology wasn’t a race.

Nor was stupidity.

And in the unlikely event that anyone reading this thinks I’m just being reflexively mean and as bad as the critics he fears, here’s a considered scientific opinion. The only possible known way the positions of the planets and stars at our birth could affect us is by gravity. And while gravity does travel all through the universe, it is very, very weak — the weakest of the fundamental forces. Just look at how hard it was to measure gravitational waves. We were only able to do that in the last year, and it took colliding black holes to make enough of a splash for us to measure.

Is it possible that heavenly bodies affect us in some other, as yet unknown way? Yes. And here’s what science says about that: show us how, and we’ll study it. Demonstrate the mechanism by which this influence happens, and we’ll write down the equations that govern it and learn all about it. We’ll have to throw out all existing models of physics, but if you bring the evidence, that’s what we’ll do.

That’s science.

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Civil Disappointment

I’m disappointed about the ruling on different-sex civil partnerships. But at least there’s hope for the future. The judges agreed that things need to be equalised, but they’re giving the government more time to sort it out.

You’ve got to wonder, though, why is the government bothering to fight it? It’s just a waste of public time and money. Who suffers by removing the difference?

Well, on that last, according to the Guardian article:

Jean Rathbone, a celebrant for humanist ceremonies, said opposition to extending civil partnerships came from the “marriage industry and the church.”

The “marriage industry?” I didn’t know there was such a thing. But the term makes sense when you think of the crazy amounts of money people can spend on weddings.

Anyway, onwards. There’s a GoFundMe page to contribute to help keep the campaign going. I’m in.

Civil Disappointment

Why Are MPs Doing It?

This is the burning question of the day: why are our elected representatives in parliament behaving like idiots, frankly?

I wrote most of this a few days ago, but the question still stands.

The “it,” in case it’s not obvious, is waving through the bill to enable to government to trigger Article 50. They did so with very little scrutiny, and without accepting a single amendment. Now as I’ve made clear, I’m firmly of the opinion that Brexit must be stopped. But it’s looking increasingly likely that it won’t be.

We in the populace may have to accept that fact. But members of parliament don’t. They are (or were) exactly the ones who could have stopped it all.

It’s like there’s a bus full of schoolkids. The driver has lost control, and it’s careering towards a cliff edge. The driver jumped out and somehow survived. But the kids can’t get off. Luckily there’s another adult aboard. She grabs the wheel. Hooray, the kids will be saved as she swerves and brakes.

But wait: oh no, she isn’t braking. She’s steering more directly towards the cliff, and putting her foot down.

And all the people who could stop her are at best letting her go on, at worst egging her on. Even the ones who said they didn’t want to go over the cliff in the first place.

This simile may be getting out of hand.

Also on:
Why Are MPs Doing It?

Brexit Hope?

A very small hope. Brexit—take back control by the improbably-named Jolyon Maugham, suggests that a court ruling could be achieved which would ensure that we can back out of Brexit at the last moment:

The effects of an Article 50 notification are not fully understood—and not only because May is still peddling a blind bargain, a Brexit pig-in-a-poke. We do know that, should we ask and the other 27 member states agree, we could remain. But it is brave to assume that two years of exposure to the negotiating skills of Boris Johnson, Liam Fox and David Davis will not generate even one hold-out. […] The preponderance of legal opinion is that we could, after all, decide to remain. That we could, having notified, withdraw that notification. But, given the magnitude of the issue, our parliament must know more than what the answer probably is. It must know what it actually is.
[…] only the court to which we all subscribe can give an answer: the European Court in Luxembourg.

He/she (I’m guessing “he,” from the writing style) says:

But a case which—along with Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley, Steven Agnew, a Green member of the Northern Irish Assembly and Keith Taylor, a Green MEP—I am bringing in the Dublin High Court seeks to give us the power to travel back if we need it.

And he explains that:

We access it via a national court. And it can’t be one of ours. One of the complaints in the Dublin case is that the other 27 have breached the Treaty by excluding us from Council meetings before we’ve notified under Article 50. And that complaint can only be made by a court in one of those 27. The Irish court is the natural choice

Which all seems fair. The idea seems to be that the European Court of Justice could rule definitively that we could revoke our triggering of Article 50 at the end of the two-year negotiating period. And if the deal is bad, or especially if there isn’t one, parliament is likely to call another referendum in those circumstances, wherein we’ll know exactly what we’re voting for, and get it right this time.

A small hope, like I say. And it doesn’t protect us from the damage that’s being inflicted in the meantime.

But a small hope is better than none at all.

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