Every once in a while, people surprise you.

From the article:

The Catholic Church has lost its fight against a new British law that bans discrimination against homosexual couples wanting to adopt children.

Prime Minister Tony Blair announced yesterday that faith-based adoption agencies would not be exempt from the law but would have until the end of 2008 to comply.

After this, he said, agencies that opposed applications from same-sex couples would have a statutory duty to refer them to other organisations.

In a statement, Mr Blair said: “There is no place in our society for discrimination. That’s why I support the right of gay couples to apply to adopt like any other couple.”

Astounding. And in a country with a state church too.

Unfortunately here in Australia we aren’t nearly so enlightened. We wont even give a gay couple the same legal rights as a married heterosexual couple, let alone the ability to adopt (or for both parents to have equal legal rights and responsibilities for a child conceived via a sperm donor or surrogate mother).

So just what does this imply? That any two old slappers of the opposite sex have a divine right to be parents just because they can, while two loving people of the same sex who desperately want a child are somehow automatically substandard? Goodness, I really don’t think that just because you can do something, you have a right to, or should. Armageddon anyone? Paris Hilton? Good grief.

The head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor said:

“We are, of course, deeply disappointed that no exemption will be granted to our agencies on the grounds of widely held religious conviction and conscience.”

Well, I think that’s tough really. People like Rev. Fred Phelps certainly don’t give same sex couples an exemption from religious bigotry and prejudice, and while most groups certainly aren’t that extreme, in the end the difference is largely a matter of degree rather than principle.

And why should conviction have anything to do with it? Believing harmful and stupid things because someone tells you to, is not a skill that should be rewarded or encouraged.

Same sex couples are one of the last groups of people in our society who it is still largely acceptable to discriminate against, entirely on the basis of rules set down in millennia old religious writings. And so many rules! Groups like the Exclusive Brethren lobby tirelessly against gay marriage because the Bible considers homosexuality an “abomination” (Leviticus 18:22), but where were they and their trusty stones when I worked on the Sabbath? (Exodus 35:2). Or when I was “unclean” because I slept in the same bed as my girlfriend during her period (Leviticus 15:19-24). And of course blasphemy. Don’t even get me started on blasphemy.

If you’re going to blindly follow stupid rules, why pick and choose?

The Education Secretary, Alan Johnson, said: “This is the right outcome because it puts the interests of the child first. We reject discrimination in all its forms, particularly when that deprives our most vulnerable children of a stable, loving and secure home.”

And that just about sums it up really.

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This Sunday I wasted an hour of my life and I’m never going to get it back.

All unsuspecting, I sat down to watch A War On Science, SBS 7.30pm, described in the TV guide as:

(UK) A group of scientists and university professors have become the first in the US to demand the teaching of the controversial theory of “intelligent design”.

Oh Boy.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect. The use of the word controversial rather than bogus, debunked or refuted should have triggered my bogosity detection systems, but I must have been distracted. Or stupid. Or something.

Anyhow, the documentary was loosly based around the Kitzmiller, et al v. Dover School District trial, presenting Michael Behe and his pro Intelligent Design cohorts in a very credible light. (If anything, they were portrayed as plucky underdogs fighting the nasty and amoral scientific establishment. Thankfully the presenters didn’t actually go so far as to compare them to Gallileo, or I may have been forced to scream in an unmanly fashion.) This was followed by Kenneth Miller refuting the main points of ID, and a couple of short bits with Richard Dawkins.

I don’t want to go into too much detail, but the documentary basically presented “both sides” as though it was a “he said, she said” debate, badly misrepresenting the relative validity of the two arguments and doing nothing to address the false dichotomy at the core of ID – that failures in the theory of evolution equate to evidence for ID.

I hate this kind of junk. I think it’s very dangerous to partially or poorly explain arguments against creationism (in any of it’s multitudinous flavours). Creationists can say so many wrong things so very quicky, and it takes time and scientific education to refute them. It’s a constant game of catch up and misrepresentations like this just cloud an already muddy issue.

In contrast, for a really well reasoned and systematic refutation of ID, download a copy of Judge Jones’ final decision on the Kitzmiller trial (PDF format). It might look a bit daunting for the first few pages, but it is well worth persevering with.

Hey hey.

I think that Dr Phil Plait once described blogs as the “ultimate in narcissistic poetry”. In that spirit, I’m going to jump straight into first person and assume (despite all evidence to the contrary) that someone is listening.

Ahem.

Firstly, I’m not some kind of grumpy curmudgeon. Well, not just grumpy anyway.
I just happen to think that sometimes the world we live in doesn’t measure up to what was advertised on the label, and even though I probably can’t do anything about it, I don’t have to just accept it.

Having tried to deal with this frustration by eating, drinking, smoking and just stomping around the house making my girlfriend’s life unbearable, I’ve decided that in the interest of my stomach, liver, lungs (and not getting smacked up for stomping) I’m going to have a go at channelling my indignation (and my propensity for over written parenthetical prose) into this blog.

So we’re not operating under any false pretences here, I should say a few things about myself. I am an Atheist and a skeptic, but in general I’m not militant about it unless someone is being taken advantage of. I abhor racism, homophobia, anti science, religion in government and intolerance in general. If you don’t agree with the things that I say, then leave a comment – I’m always open to new evidence and to be honest there’s a more than even chance that I might have my facts wrong – but please explain your position. Ad hominem attacks are just nasty and pointless.

Anyhoo, welcome to my imaginary audience, and thanks for listening.