Thursday, 1 July 2010

The Great Repeal - here's one for humanists

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You may have noticed this morning that the Con-Lib coalition's initiative of the day is a website, Your Freedom, through which members of the public can suggest "unnecessary" laws passed by the previous government that they think should be stricken from the record as part of what's being called a Great Repeal Act. Once you submit your idea to the site, other users can rate it and leave comments. Just think of it as government by Facebook.

So, how has the scheme, which is being spearheaded by Deputy PM Nick Clegg, been going so far? Well, if you look at the "top rated" ideas, you can see that many people are taking it seriously, with top suggestions at the time of writing including repealing the unpopular Digital Economy Act, legalising prostitution and simplifying the tax system.

But naturally, any well-meaning online initiative such as this is open to abuse (I wonder, for example, how long it was live before someone suggested repealing the murder laws?), and I'm pleased to report that the jokers out there haven't disappointed. So we now find ourselves in a situation where the government is being petitioned to "Ban necro-bestiality" ("I don't want to have to worry about what some pervert might do to my cat when it dies"), and for "Keane to be declared enemies of the state and hunted down by Jesse Ventura like ‘The Running Man’".

There are also, of course, suggestions that lily-livered lefties such as myself will find somewhat unsavoury (so far I've spotted several "bring back hanging" suggestions, one for getting rid of gun restrictions, an appeal to castrate paedophiles and one to repeal the Race Relations Act) but, hey, I guess that's (online) democracy for you.

So as a humanist, what could you suggest (if banning necro-bestiality isn't enough for you, obviously)? Well, the British Humanist Association are suggesting that people put forward the idea of scrapping compulsory collective worship in state schools. Here's why:

  • It forces young people to pray or worship in other ways, regardless of their personal beliefs
  • It does not respect children’s and young people’s rights to freedom of religion or belief
  • It does not recognise the plurality of beliefs in the UK
  • The system whereby you can opt your child out of religious worship is deeply flawed in theory and practice
  • Under 16s can’t opt-themselves out without their parents’ permission
  • Inclusive assemblies are a better alternative and contribute more to well being and development.
So if you do fancy getting involved in the Your Freedom (it seems as though it's proving very popular, as the website is unable to cope with the traffic it's getting at the moment), and you're looking to strike a blow for secularism, that's something you could suggest.


David H said...

"Bring back hanging"
"Castrate Peadophiles"

Of course, the truth that dare not speak its name is that platforms like this give voice to that great number of people who get their views in bite-sized snacks fed to them via an agenda-led media & political PR system. That's not democracy, and, even if were purified, whose to say that the democratic consensus would be right. I reckon that a sufficiently large majority for it to be a problem only ever think in a parochial way and can't really be trusted - although this may sound smug, or patronising, at least it has the advantage of being non-naive.
I'm with Socrates - let's have a benevolent meritocracy. With AC Grayling as chair :)