Thursday, 1 November 2012
Dear reader, our blog has moved to a new address.
Do come on over (and change your bookmarks accordingly): rationalist.org.uk
You've had several weeks to tell us who you think should be included in the final poll and, through a high-level, albeit possibly fictitious, conference held just this morning between our editorial staff and our in-house bookmakers, we have produced a shortlist from which you now must choose.
Who will be crowned 2012's leading enemy of reason? Examine the shortlist (listed in alphabetical order) and make your choice by voting in the poll below.
Todd Akin: The US Congressman,who represents Missouri's second district, caused a storm in August after he appeared on a local news station to discuss his anti-abortion position. Asked for his view on whether women who become pregnant as a result of rape should have access to abortion, Akin said: "... from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child". Akin later apologised, but his comments have been widely cited during the US election campaign as an example of the so-called Republican "war on women".
Ghulam Ahmed Bilour: There was no shortage of bad faith on both sides as the crude anti-Islamic video Innocence of Muslims prompted a global wave of riots and bloodshed this September, but Pakistan's Railway Minister marked himself out as a spokesperson for stupidity when he appeared on national television to place a bounty on the heads of those who had made the video and call on the militant groups currently engaged in trying to topple his government to carry out the murders. "I invite the Taliban brothers and the al-Qaeda brothers that they should join me in this sacred mission," he told a press conference. "Along with others, they should also join in the good work. And God willing, whoever is successful I will present one lac dollars (100,000 U.S. dollars) to him."
Lord Carey: The former Archbishop of Canterbury has been on fine form this year in his current guise as right-wing newspaper pundit and outspoken opponent of gay marriage. In April he declared that it “is now Christians who are persecuted” in Britain, “often sought out and framed by homosexual activists”, despite having written in the Daily Mail two months earlier that "British Christians are not being persecuted, as some have said".
Prince Charles: Special thanks to blog reader John Hind, who nominated the heir to the throne for a“lifetime achievement” award. Here’s his reasoning: “there can be few other candidates with such a broad, multi-disciplinary record for irrationality and for shamelessly exploiting his inherited position to advance irrational causes, from his trenchant support of quack medicine and his jumping aboard every anti-scientific bandwagon, to his indiscriminate support of ‘faith’ against secular values.”
Joseph Dias and the Catholic Church in Mumbai: One of the big stories that we have covered on this blog this year concerns the plight of the President of the Indian Rationalist Association, Sanal Edamaruku, who has had to leave India in order to avoid arrest and imprisonment for “deliberately hurting religious feelings" after he debunked a supposed miracle involving a dripping crucifix at a Catholic Church in Mumbai. You can read more about the case on the page for the petition we started in his defence. It's hard to pick one individual to nominate for the Bad Faith Award for helping to bring this illiberal and misguided case against Edamaruku, hence the collective nomination of Mumbai's Catholic authorities, but one individual who does stand out is Joseph Dias, founder of the Mumbai Catholic Secular Forum - he was one of the people who filed a police complaint, and has said he will only withdraw it if Edamaruku apologises for the offence he has caused.
Nelson McCausland: Northern Ireland's former Culture Minister, who hails from the Democratic Unionist Party, was nominated by one of our readers, who suggested that her home country "probably have more suitable candidates [for the award] per head of population than the rest of the UK". She selected Causland because his influence on Ulster politics helped lead to this summer's fiasco around the National Trust's Giant's Causeway exhibition, which featured a controversial reference to Young Earth Creationism. McCausland appealed to Northern Ireland's museums to give greater prominence to creationist views when serving as Culture Minister in 2010, and appeared to have been listened to by the designers of the Causeway exhibition before public outcry led to a redesign this summer.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien: Ever the bridesmaid, the head of the Catholic Church in Scotland has been nominated for the award in the past, but he has surely increased his chances in 2012 with his campaigning against gay marriage. In March he likened the marriage reforms to the legalisation of slavery, and suggested it may be “time now to call a halt to what you might call ‘progress’ in society”.
Baroness Warsi: Another past contender, the former Tory party chair and recently appointed “Minister for Faith” secured a position as one of the favourites for the 2012 award when she used a visit to the Vatican to say that “a militant secularisation is taking hold” in Britain which “demonstrates similar traits to totalitarian regimes.”
So, those are your choices – place your vote now. Poll will close at 9am on Monday 26 November.
Posted by Paul Sims at Thursday, November 01, 2012