Thursday, 29 April 2010

Open letter to Philip Lardner on homosexuality

Dear Mr. Lardner,

I read on the BBC news website that you had been suspended from your position as Conservative candidate for North Ayrshire and Arran for posting remarks on your website that homosexuality is "not normal". I was sad to hear that an official candidate for a major party hoping to govern the UK made these remarks in the first place; I was more saddened to find that, having removed the remarks from your website, you have now reposted them.

Your comments are discriminatory, hateful and have no place in UK politics or civilised society. I will respond to each part of every sentence from your comments:

"I will always support the rights of homosexuals to be treated within concepts of (common sense) equality"
The rest of your article suggests otherwise.

Also your phrasing is telling - when is equality not "common sense"? It sounds as though you are leaving a get-out clause for not allowing homosexuals the rights of other citizens. Please clarify.

"and respect and defend their rights to choose to live the way they want in private"
Again the rest of your comments suggest you are not respectful and would not defend many rights of homosexuals at at all.

Also "in private" is very revealing. While no sexual act of any kind would be acceptable in public, what aspects of a homosexual life would not be acceptable in public? Kissing? Holding hands? Merely being openly gay? It is comments like these from elected officials that legitimises crimes driven by hate on the street and in our homes.

"but I will not accept that their behaviour is ‘normal’ or encourage children to indulge in it"
You are wrong - there is nothing harmful or immoral about any homosexual "behaviour", from being in a relationship to consenting sexual acts. Therefore it should be considered as "normal" as any other sexual lifestyle.

Everyone would agree encouraging children to indulge in any sexual act would be extremely wrong, whether homosexual or heterosexual - this is an unnecessary comment, surely?

"The promotion of homosexuality by public bodies (as per ‘clause 28/section 2a in Scotland,) was correctly outlawed by Mrs Thatcher’s government."
When I finished sixth form in 2002, my school was still prohibited by Clause 28 from even mentioning homosexuality in personal and sex education. This was wrong. By only mentioning heterosexuality, it meant promoting heterosexuality as the only valid sexuality and implictly condemning homosexuality - and condemning all those young people who already knew, had accepted or even just suspected they might not be heterosexual.

"Toleration and understanding is one thing, but state-promotion of homosexuality is quite another." (original text in bold)
Mr. Lardner you talk about the difference between "tolerance" and "promotion", but clearly you do not understand the difference. In your view, even mentioning homosexuality in sex education is "promoting" it - when in actual fact, as per my previous comment, by only mentioning heterosexuality of all forms in personal and sex education, schools and the government are promoting heterosexuality as the only valid choice.

The only acceptable option for personal and sex education is to teach that hetero-, homo-, bi-sexuality and celibacy are all acceptable personal lifestyles. This is not just the case for a civilised society, but also the only way sex education on things like contraception and AIDS will make an impact on young homosexual people.

"Why should Christian churches be forced by the Government to employ homosexuals as ‘ministers’ against all that the bible teaches?"
As far as I can tell, no party wishes to force any church to employ homosexuals, as if there were quotas or something - that would be weird! But again, your phrasing is suggestive and shows a clear lack of judgement.

Assuming you meant "forced to accept homosexuals on an equal footing in employment", this is absolutely right. Many Christian churches have left hateful policies and ideologies in history where they belong. Why should religious freedom allow any religious establishment to be bigoted and break employment rules in a way no company or public service ever could?

"They are being forced by the Government to betray their mission – would the Equality and Human Rights Commission be fined for refusing a job to Nick Griffin?"
Again, if any religious establishment wishes to engage in a decent civilised society, there is no reason they should need to break the law.

Nick Griffin publically rejects many important values that are enshrined in law, such as equality on race and sexuality, and should not be employed by anyone.

"Christians (and most of the population) believe homosexuality to be somewhere between ‘unfortunate’ and simply ‘wrong’"
You are wrong. Most of this country accepts homosexual people as just that - people - and do not consider their behaviour "wrong" nor "unfortunate". If you wish to make judgmental claims about the people of the entire UK, please provide valid statistics.

Furthermore, Christians are a broad group with many many differing views, and thankfully there are many Christians - if sadly perhaps a minority - who also believe homosexuality is just as valid as any other seuxality.

"The current ‘law’ is wrong and must be overturned in the interests of freedom as well as Christian values."
Which current law? Do you just mean Clause 28, or any laws giving homosexual people rights like others? Please clarify this.

Your reference of "freedom" is an oxymoron and makes you a hypocrit. By giving rights and equality to homosexual people we take no rights away from people of other sexualities and lifestyles. You casually use the word "freedom" to suggest you are in favour of freedoms and civil liberties, when in fact your views would only restrict freedoms of ordinary people.

Lastly but possibly most importantly, you keep mentioning "Christians" and "Christian values". Thankfully, this is a culturally secular country (if not officially). While no-one is suggesting any religious organisation in the country have its freedom of speech restricted, most people are rightfully glad that the Church of England - nor any other religious organisation - does not have a significant impact on law and policy. While we should not deny Britain's Christian history, it is wrong to make policy on the basis of any or all religions, as this discriminates against people of other religions or no religion - of which there are many in this country.

Furthermore, I put it to you that Christian "values" and ethics are no more or less valuable, valid, important or worthy than the values of other religions, or indeed people of no religion, who manage to hold moral views without the impact of religion on their judgment.

Mr. Lardner - It is saddening enough that a propsective MP of this country should express such views openly on his website, but it is far worse that after being exposed and suspended and withdrawing them, you remain unrepentant and reposted the comments. You express wonder that your discriminatory and hateful views could be seen as deeply offensive. You claim that Britain "was until recently a free country!", yet it is your views which threaten to restrict freedoms in Britain and undermine decades of campaigning for equal rights by gay people.

Most significantly, you claim it is a local issue by saying "if people think this is offensive, don’t vote for it" - yet if you were elected as MP, either in government or opposition, you would have a role in shaping the policy and law for the whole of the UK. It is absolutely not a local issue, it is not about freedom of speech, and people of all sexualities have an interest in your unacceptable views and comments.

I ask of you that:
- You immediately withdraw the commments on your website of your own accord.
- You withdraw from running for MP in North Ayrshire and Arran.
- You spend time with gay people. If you were to refute your harmful views immediately, people would not believe you and it would probably not be genuine, especially considering your unrepentant further remarks. There will be groups out there who can help you spend time with gay people, hopefully of any or no religion, in private and in confidence. This will help you see that homosexual people are ordinary people with differing views, lives, loves, faults and hopes, and that all types of homosexual "behaviour" are perfectly acceptable.

Andrew Fulton, Chairman of the Scottish Conservative Party - I was glad to see that following Mr. Lardner's comments, you called them "deeply offensive and unacceptable", and that he was suspended as candidate for North Ayrshire and Arran. However, following this Mr. Lardner has reposted the comments and expressed an unrepentant stance. This is unacceptable.

Whether or not the Conservative Party wins the election on 6th May, Mr. Lardner's views incite homophobia and would restrict freedoms for people in the UK, and are as such clearly not acceptable in Parliament. I ask you that Mr. Lardner be fully dropped as Conservative candidate for North Ayrshire and Arran and, following the correct procedure, expelled from the Conservative Party until he can prove legitimately that he no longer harbours hateful and discriminatory views towards gay people.

By taking decisive action to remove Mr. Lardner from the ballot paper, you will show that the Conservative Party does not share these views and is committed to equality for all in Britain.

Others reading this message - I ask you to write to Mr. Lardner at philiplardner@scottishtories.com and add your rejection of his views to mine.

Mr. Lardner claims this is about freedom of speech. Maybe it would be, if it was a private individual talking in private; these views would be no more acceptable, but they would be a private matter. However, Mr. Lardner is officially a candidate of the Conservative Party, who make great claims about tolerance and equality (despite a record that is, at best, lacklustre). He is campaigning to be an MP, and whether in government or opposition he would have a say and a vote in the laws that affect every citizen of Britain.

Equality rights in the UK have been hard-won as the result of decades and even centuries of hard work, from the working classes, women, disabled, gay, transgendered, children, minorities of all skin colour, and people of any or no religion. Many of these people still struggle and face discrimination, even from our own government.

The rights and equalities that we do have are not for sale, not for negotiation, and there is no place for hateful discriminatory views in our parliament.

Disclosure
I am a UK citizen currently living in New Zealand, but expecting to live in the UK again at some point.
I am not a member of any gay rights group, nor do I have any connection with any group with personal or electoral incentive in the North Ayrshire and Arran constituency, which I have never visited.
I am a young person who believes in equality for all and freedoms of sexuality, religion and speech. These are freedoms that should not and do not contradict each other.

Jez Kemp

Friday, 23 April 2010

Video shooting with dinosaurs

...involves a lot me running apparently. Going great so far, off into town now to shoot with extras!

Monday, 19 April 2010

UK Election - MyDavidCameron.com and Vandalised Conservative Billboards

As the campaign plods on without excitement - apparently there was some debate recently, whatever - a bright spark of fun has arrived. Please welcome MyDavidCameron.com - Airburshed For Change to the election!


It's a website full of photoshopped versions of the original Conservative billboard with David Cameron's airbrushed face. In a brilliant twist of irony, the airbrushing itself has sparked a backlash with more impact than the original £400,000 ad campaign, which has all the more effect because it's entertaining. It's a wonderful example of how the Tories are making things extremely difficult for themselves, in an election that should be easier to win than a popularity contest of Danger Mouse versus Hitler.

About now you're probably thinking "OH-EM-GEE this is like SO amazing, where can I create my own???" The answer is here, right here: http://www.andybarefoot.com/politics/cameron.php

You can create a number of other different posters too, including ones like this gem:



In an unrelated-but-similar vein, those who enjoy the Conservatives' ad campaigns being stripped back to the self-centred nature of their core beliefs (anyone remember the "Are you thinking what we're thinking?" posters for the 2005 election?), there's a facebook page called Vandalised Conservative Billboards. Obviously I could never condone mindless vandalism, unless of course it's satirical or incredibly funny, in which case it's mindful vandalism. I'm at work and without Bookface access at the moment, but I can show you the picture that first attracted my attention to the page. And I think regardless of whatever party you support, it's absolutely brilliant.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

UK Election - Caroline Lucas & Green Party

The first interesting part of the campaign!

So far it’s been a simple case of Labour’s exciting “We’ll cut public services” against the Tories’ tantalising “We’ll cut public services even more”. Ooo decisions decisions!

Thankfully we have the election’s first glimmer of both excitement and substance. Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green Party, is running for election in the Brighton Pavillion constituency. Brighton is one of the most liberal cities of Britain, both politically and culturally (having a reputation as the gay capital of the UK), and by putting its leader there the Green Party has a real fighting chance of getting its first MP into Parliament.


Many countries such as New Zealand and those in Europe who enjoy proportional representation have had their equivalent of the Green Party in parliament and even governing coalitions for many years. However, for Britain with its clunking first-past-the-post system, it’s a struggle and a rarity for any MP outside of the 3 main parties to be elected – so this is a big thing.

To illustrate how it really could actually happen, check the recent elections on this graph I just grabbed from Wikipedia:


She’s been a Minister for the European Parliament (MEP) since 1999, so it’s probably fair to assume she’s not utterly terrible as a politician, if not actually quite good at it. I saw her as a speaker at the Make Poverty History gathering in Edinburgh 2005 and the Iraq protest in Trafalgar Square, and I can confirm she is intelligent, forthright, passionate and principled – things we need in Parliament.

I’m not a die-hard or even typical Green Party supporter – I’d describe myself as a “democratic socialist”, which really deserves a whole other blog to go into ... suffice to say I am a typical liberal old-Labour supporter. Which means that despite a surprising fightback from the Labour government (probably due to the Conservatives being insipid and lame more than anything else), I have been excited by Lucas’/the Green Party’s promises of a more equal Britain, their policies on transport, their progressive attitude towards society, and of course their focus on the environment.

You can say that these are idealistic pie-in-the-sky ideas from a party that will never see government, even more so than the 3rd-place Liberal Democrats. You could point out that the Green Party of England & Wales is more hardcore about the environment than their European counterparts as described by the BBC's Mark Mardell last year.  And you could point out that a party with no experience and radical policies is hardly what Britain needs right now.

But that's exactly why Caroline Lucas winning Brighton Pavillion would be awesome. The Green Party isn't seeking government - it's seeking its first ever MPs. And while Britain does need an experienced government handling the economy (one of the few things Gordon Brown's actually been good at), it's times like this where electing idealistic independent/outsider-party candidates is exactly what we need to keep pressure on whoever makes the government to rule with principles as well as pragmatism.

To put it into perspective, the Conservatives would apparently "consider" gay marriage. Even if it wasn't an obvious and lazy lie, whop-de-fucking-do, how progressive. I await the new sexual revolution with baited breath.

Good luck to Caroline Lucas - if you know anyone in Brighton Pavillion, ask them to vote for her.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Sorry, you probably want some details

Words are often fun things to accompany pictures! That last blog has some photos of Wellington bands playing at tonight's Bar Medusa gig- Throw It To The Fire (rocking out right now), Jonny On The Spot (hard funk, Jimmy Hendrix without the black etc.) and The Novelist (experimental pop prog hard rock). Along with Yours Truly :) had a great set, really busy tonight, good times!

Bar Medusa gig- awesome times

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The Election is here. Oh joy.

Being on the opposite side of the planet doesn't mean I can get away from the impending UK election, whose date was revealed by the media before it was revealed by the prime minister, making the whole revelation completely redundant.

The virtual world has no distance, and being interested in politics makes me a pixellated moth to the interweb flame of predictable drudgery.

Cue the horror!
  • Claims, counter-claims and general lies as all 3 major parties publish dubious statistics on their promotional literature
  • All 3 parties hugging the centre, getting shot down both by hardcore followers and the general public who are bored to death
  • A constant barrage of media coverage and up-to-the-minute updates of NOTHING HAPPENING
  • Very rare examples of passion and incidents of genuine newsworthiness, 2-3 max
  • An outcome so predictable, even that lunatic clown Nostradamus could have predicted it
There are a few things that make this election different:
  • Labour's 3 terms and 13 years in office
    (Mud sticks, parties don't win elections governments lose them, people "want a change" even if they don't know which "change" they want)
  • Financial meltdown and recession
    (People blame Labour for hardships inflicted by global economy, or support Labour for good handling by throwing money at banks)
  • MPs' expenses scandal
    (MPs of all parties face the chop, despite most fraudulent claims being miniscule compared to fraud and bonuses considered normal in the private sector)
But there are more factors making this election particularly excruciating:
  • Labour is worn out, dried-up, empty of ideas, and has lost or demoted all its charasmatic politicians
  • The Conservatives are right-wing enough to despise yet vacant and bland enough to be useless and have even fewer charasmatic candidates than Labour (ie zero)
  • The Lib Dems have some good policies (the luxury of a third party that won't win) and will make small gains, but success will be limited by Tory votes from people determined to end the Islamic communist rule of ZaNu-Liarbore (ie Labour)
  • The British economy's gutted state limits all parties' policies to things like "we won't cut public services too much, yay!"
  • Feverish sneering of old-school Tories and Thatcherites gloating over their "rightful" return to governance
  • US presidential-style debates, as if the UK doesn't import enough from America, with 2/3 party leaders who are fundamentally unlikeable (Mr. Oily and Sergant McDull as opposed to Dr. Who?)
And somehow, through all of this, they still expect - and I still recommend - that you vote for someone on the 6th of May.

Through the cringeworthy onslaught of vacant media coverage for the next 4 weeks, consider me your cynical correspondent on the UK election.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Free download track + Gig this Friday at Bar Medusa

People of world, I bring you free music download!

Reverbnation: http://www.reverbnation.com/play_now/song_3713337
Download link

Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/music/Jez+Kemp/_/Cellos+In+Space?autostart
Download link


http://www.reverbnation.com/play_now/song_3713337


I've been working on a couple of tracks, including brand new song "When Robots Cure Cancer, We'll Talk". The finished track is a long way off, but I got mucking around with cellos, trumpets, in-ya-face rock drums and awesome synths, and came up with an instrumental I call "Cellos In Space". You can hear it on the player here or on Myspace, but the download is on Reverbnation and Last FM :)

EXCITING LIVE MUSIC OPPORTUNITY THIS FRIDAY 9TH APRIL

Friday 9th April
8:00pm
Just $5!
Bar Medusa
Throw It To The Fire
Jonny On The Spot
The Novelist
and Jez Kemp kicking the night off!
Facebook link: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=105896632773350

I'm playing my first solo electric gig in 8 years (yes eight cycles of the Earth!) at Bar Medusa this Friday 9th, supporting the awesome Throw It To The Fire, Jonny On The Spot and The Novelist. It's 3 awesome bands and me for just $5 starting at 8:00pm so if you're in Wellington NZ hit the Facebook link!

I'm very excited, the other bands are ALL fantastic, and I'll be playing a couple of new(ish) tracks including "I Brought Down The Average" and the aforesaidmentioned Robots/Cancer song, and classics such as "Animals" and "I Believe In Dinosaurs", so seriously come along. Ta!

Jezasaurus

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Wellington Music Feed

People of Wellington, Facebook and the internet, I bring to your attention this website:

http://wellingtonmusicfeed.blogspot.com

and this RSS feed:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/wellingtonmusicfeed

I've started up a feed for Wellington music, combining blog feeds from bands and venues of all levels into one single RSS feed. This lets bands get out to new fans, and lets music fans keep up with what's happening in the local scene.

The Blogger page has several gadgets showing new blog posts, Twitter messages and videos as soon as they're uploaded.

The feed and the page are both 95% complete - what I'm looking for now is more content and more feeds to make it really comprehensive.

Do you know any Wellington bands?
Are you a band with a blog, Myspace, Twitter, Youtube etc?
Are you a band without any of these?  Why not start one?

Please leave feeds, comments and suggestions! Thanks!

Friday, 2 April 2010

Vampires are cool, aren't they?

So was Jesus a vampire or a zombie? Tough call and interesting question.  Maybe I'll write a song about it.

I'd like to say at least the one thing we can thank Jesus for is a long weekend, but I suspect without him we still would have had these days off for something else.

You've probably seen this picture before, but it bears repeating.  Merry Zombie Jesus Day kids.