I am almost tempted to feel sorry for David Cameron. After all, who among us cares to have our undergraduate behaviour paraded before a jeering mob, if the readers of the Daily Mail can be so described. The story is that the Ashcroft millions filling the Tory coffers failed to generate a Government post of sufficient gravitas, so he hired a Sunday Times journalist to put together a pastiche serialised in the Daily Mail mentioning juvenile indiscretions, real and, it appears, imagined, about the current Prime Minister. One of the more entertaining was the unverified story of an interaction with a pig as part of an initiation ceremony into an Oxford dining club. Its sheer salaciousness has sent the story stratospherically viral amongst the salivating twitterati who are unable or unwilling to devote more than 140 characters to vent their scorn and outrage. Even if it were true and it probably isn’t, the best one can say about Lord Ashcroft and his shovel-wielding amanuensis might be ‘is that all?’ He probably hasn’t quite come to terms with the fact that this kind of sub-tabloid muckraking makes the raker smell pretty strongly of shit. The only people who may suffer permanent damage are the prizewinning author of “Call Me Dave”, who probably regrets offering her services as a hatchet woman, and her embittered employer.
Nevertheless, Britain is a free country, where people can pretty much say and publish what they like, and insulting the Prime Minister or even the Queen doesn’t carry the death penalty.
|from: “Spitting Image”|
Not so elsewhere. It was hoped when the new ruler of the House of Saud took office, that a kinder, more tolerant Wahhabism might present itself to the world. It would seem not, however. A juvenile nephew of a Shia activist was convicted under torture on a range of charges including ‘insulting the King’, preaching a sermon which ‘disrupted national unity’ and taking part in a protest which turned violent. There were no defence lawyers or what we in the West would describe as ‘due process’. His punishment is first beheading followed by being strapped to a cross and his body left to rot. He is now just twenty-one years old.
We continue to do business with barbaric regimes, since not to do so might ‘damage our interests’, in this case, the interests of the petrochemical barons and weapons manufacturers. It seems there are always ways of getting around mutually contradictory policy objectives like arms sales and human rights. And, of course, primitive, medieval punishments carried out every day in lands where various types of Shari’a are practised, have ‘nothing to do with Islam…’
If you’re looking for the image of a crucifixion, don’t bother. We have enough already.