Saturday, 31 January 2015

Alan Lomax: Conservation as Revolution

by James Burkinshaw

Alan Lomax (left) recording in the Dominican Republic, 1962
(source: Cultural Equity Centre)

Alan Lomax (born 100 years ago today) helped revolutionise attitudes to music. He was a pioneer of the 'world music' phenomenon, recording the music of thousands of artists around the world whose work might otherwise have been lost to posterity. He was also a passionate and articulate advocate of what he called "cultural equity" - the right of folk musicians, from Cajun fishermen to Bulgarian shepherdesses, to be accorded the same respect and significance as Mozart or Sinatra. His vision was realised when, in 1977, the Voyager probe was sent into outer space with its "Golden Record" featuring recordings selected to represent the Earth's music that included (thanks to Lomax's personal advocacy) not just Beethoven and Stravinsky but
Blind Willie Johnson and Azerbaijani bagpipe music. Legendary producer Brian Eno argues that Lomax "secured for many kinds of music a dignity and status they had not previously been accorded."

A white Southerner, Lomax began frequenting black night clubs during his teenage years in Texas, in a period when music in America was still primarily segregated; recordings by African-American artists were categorised as "race records" and exclusively marketed to African-Americans. Although some of the artists he later discovered (Muddy Waters, Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly) would become big names, Lomax himself was less interested in creating stars than in finding authentic self-expression rooted in local traditions - whether in an Alabaman prison or a Zairean village. He began his career by recording thousands of songs by musicians throughout the American South, preserving musical traditions and individual performances that might otherwise have been lost forever (thousands of his recordings are now available free online at both the American Folklife Centre and Lomax's own Association for Cultural Equity). The influence of this music over the next half century (via artists from Bob Dylan - a protege of Lomax - to the Rolling Stones) was revolutionary. Lomax himself dedicated his memoir, The Land Where Blues Began, to "the black people of the Delta, who created a Mississippi of song that now flows through the music of the whole world". 

Perhaps his greatest legacy was his advocacy of "cultural equity - the right of every culture to have equal time on the air”. Before Lomax, "race" (Southern black) and "hillbilly" (Southern white) music were commonly dismissed as primitive and unsophisticated, not worthy of broadcast on mainstream radio and TV. Lomax helped change all that, most notably by organising high-profile concerts at the prestigious Carnegie Hall, celebrating music from Kentucky bluegrass to Caribbean calypso and Jewish klezmer, establishing their right to stand alongside classical artists. He was also an early supporter of the cultural value of rock music; in 1959, he told a Carnegie Hall audience:the time has come for Americans not to be ashamed of what we go for, musically, from primitive ballads to rock'n'roll songs”. He was roundly booed, but this was a significant moment in American music; as Israel Young recalled, "the point he was trying to make was that Negro and white music were mixing and rock and roll was that thing.” Lomax had been trying to bring white and black musicians and music together for over twenty years, producing one of the first racially integrated shows to be broadcast in America - the Back Where I Came series - as early as 1941.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Photography Club: Sixth Form Centre Lights

by Ella Garratt

The Good, The Bad and The Illuminati

by Caleb Barron

The Illuminati... The super elite intent on infiltrating all the world's organisations to create a worldwide revolution to overthrow the governments of all known states, destroy all religions and create a single world government to control us all. 

After being outlawed they worked in secret promoting evil schemes through groups such as the Freemasons, the British Royal Family, the EU, the UN, international banking, the Zionist-Bolshevik conspiracy and even the current occupants of the White House. That's right and not only is Barack Obama in on it but so are all of out favourite pop stars: Jay-Z, Beyonce, Miley Cyrus, Kanye West and Lady Gaga. 

It seems there is no escape. 

Through these influential roles the Illuminati control our everyday lives and are puppet masters of world affairs, gradually softening up the world's population for the imposition of a new world order. To this date the Illuminati have infiltrated and instigated the American, French and Russian revolutions, the EU, World Health Organisation, the World Bank, the International Monetary fund, that Super Bowl game  - when Beyonce did the triangle with her hands (clearly manipulating and brainwashing us all) and even the UN (why do you think they shut down the League of Nations?). In fact they're probably in league with the aliens and are preparing us to be enslaved as the human race to work for the aliens as they take over the planet.  Or maybe they are the aliens?

The writer for had the honour of interviewing a leading member of the Illuminati. The interviewee is part of what they call the '12-man Ruling Council' containing five Americans, five Western Europeans, one Russian and one Indian. There are currently 6,000 members in the Illuminati and they are often quite wealthy. The Illuminati member goes on to describe similarities in belief between them and David Icke but says that David Icke has been corrupted by their mutual enemies and now thinks it is the New World Order (the sort of end point for the Illuminati) that is bad and not the Old World Order (which is actually bad). The 'great secret' is revealed in code in four novels by Mike Hockney which have been released and the message is out there 'for those who have ears for our [the Illuminati's] message. 

There is also talk of 'the evidence' that reveals the big secret which 'would lead to an unimaginable cataclysm' if revealed. Something finally of substance to back up the claims surely? Well no -because the secret is never to be revealed and can only be found out if one is to join the Illuminati, which would mean giving up a life of work to hear one experience. This of course is somewhat a reference to The Matrix red pill or blue pill conundrum. 

So that brings us nicely back to the beginning. The Illuminati... Illuminati is of course Latin for 'enlightened ones' and, historically, it can only really be accredited to the Bavarian Illuminati, a group almost in competition with the Freemasons to stop religious and governmental influence and generate revolution and a better political system. In this way I have created for you a very brief history of the illuminati: 
  • Adam Weishaupt (Bavarian Professor who was a protestant in a very Catholic regime) became anti-clerical, deciding he wanted to live in a fairer society and not get down trodden because of his views.
  • He decided to join the Freemasonry but it was expensive and they didn't agree with his ideas, so he left.
  • He decided, on 1 May 1776, with four student, to form the Order of the Illuminati using the Owl of Minerva as their symbol.
  • One of his students expanded the group and made a Munich branch.
  • In 1778 (when the order had generated a huge membership of 12) this student was asked to leave because Weishaupt saw him as a liability and so got Zack to help out instead.
  • By the end of summer 1778 they had 27 members.
  • 3 grades were set up for hierarchy (Novice, Minerval and Illuminated Minerval) and a criteria was drawn up for new recruits (rich, docile, willing to learn, aged 18-30 and neither Jewish nor Pagan nor female nor monks nor Freemasons).
  • Some people didn't like the structure and had other ideas that weren't accepted so got angry.
  • The ruler of Bavaria shut all secret organisations down in 1786 and the Illuminati never gained membership above 200 people.

And so it was over. The great and mysterious Illuminati survived a total of ten years and never got more that 200 members. So what's all the fuss about? 

Joel Levy, a conspiracy theorist/ journalist, writes: 'Deranged and distasteful anti-Semitic rants about the Illuminati and their new world order simply obscure and detract from genuinely helpful conspiracy research, helping those with something to hide -  the secret state, for instance - to dismiss serious researchers as nuts and fruitcakes.' 

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Photography Club: Cheltenham Race Course

by Susannah Shlosberg

Motivation: Pain, Gain and Reason

by Frederike Rademacher

As many of you well know, the Year 11 have recently finished their GCSE mocks and as glad as I am that they are all over, I feel the need to talk about what motivates people. We all need motivation, or else what is the point in doing anything at all? Yet I believe that we can define motivation into two important categories: pain & gain.

Yes, I know that this may sound corny, but, when you truly think about it, they are the only two reasons we try to accomplish anything. 

I’m sure that everyone attempted the art of motivating their crest-fallen friends during the exam week and it was whilst I was trying to motivate someone that I discovered incentives behind motivation: 

            Pain – Unpleasant situations
            Gain – Pleasant situations

“Pain” is a brilliant motivator for everyone; in moments of distress and anxiety, our bodies produce adrenalin. For some people, change may never occur until they experience pain. It is only when we feel something become uncomfortable in our lives that we are motivated to want to change the circumstances. It is during this phase that we become either willing or unwilling victims to change, stepping into unfamiliar territory. Adrenalin acts as fuel for our bodies to change; it isn’t until we receive this fuel that we are able to move forward to improve.  

Yet, when we realize that we are able to “gain” something by doing something unfamiliar, we are once again motivated to change. When we see that a benefit lies up ahead, we have a goal to set towards and we become excited at the prospect. It is when we get excited that endorphins are released in our bodies, creating a feeling of euphoria that make you feel good and motivate you to act. Many are guilty of wanting to be able to cruise by without changing anything; however, when we are able to view a palpable incentive/advantage, we find the energy to make a change.
How does this apply to us?

For our bodies to produce either adrenaline or endorphins, we require a stimulus. For our generation, key stimuli include: music, social media, digital visualization, chemicals, medication and books. Unfortunately, we are all provided with these stimuli from a very young age and, as such, it becomes increasingly difficult for people to motivate other people. It has come to the point where we are more than content with cruising  through life because we lack the motivation to stretch ourselves to new limits and allow ourselves room to develop. 

Nevertheless (and I cannot stress this enough), motivation isn’t simply about being rewarded or punished. If we attempt to categorize everything into these two boxes, we will soon discover that we are very good at avoiding all stimuli that we abhor. So it is now that I will introduce a new addition to motivation: Reason.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Photography Club: Sixth Form Centre

by Jake Griffiths

Have We All Been Subject To Buddhist Propaganda?

by Hattie Hammans

After working through a succession of unsuccessful ideas for my blog post this month, I was texted by a friend: ‘Why don’t you investigate violence in Buddhism?’

This message surprised me. I’m no expert, but having studied Buddhism and read a book written by the Dalai Lama, I felt I could reasonably say that Buddhism = Peace.

Typing very bluntly ‘Violence in Buddhism’ into Google, I came across a few articles that shocked me. One example was from 2012, a claim that Buddhists had been oppressing Muslims in Burma, repeatedly trying to block humanitarian aid. The article was accusing these Buddhist monks of fuelling ethnic tensions in the country. For me this was particularly resonant after the very recent attacks in France, having raised questions about religious violence worldwide.

And it made me think: these incidents of Buddhist violence seem to have slipped past unnoticed in the West (judging by my reaction of surprise and horror).

And, even more importantly, I found an act of violence that took place in Japan by the terrorist group Aum Shinrikyo to have been founded upon Buddhist ideas and scriptures. The Buddhist rationalisation of taking the lives of "less spiritually advanced" beings in order to advance them towards salvation seemed horrifying, as my aforementioned perceptions of Buddhist morals were shattered. Reading on, I was pleased to see that these incidents were few and far between, and many Buddhists would be doubtful that this terrorism could be even labeled as an offshoot of their religion.

However, my innocence had been tainted. Was this ideal religion, the one I had so brazenly claimed ‘had never caused any war’ not what it seemed? 

I found some explanation in the blogging of Professor Michael Jerryson, author of the book ‘Buddhist Warfare’  (eight essays that consider Buddhist violence and how, throughout history, their philosophy has justified this). Professor Jerryson claimed that Thai monks, subject to living in constant fear and violence during the South Thailand insurgency, had resorted to carrying guns. This was for survival and, to a Westerner such as Professor Jerryson, it seemed to reject their peacemaking ideals.

And this is where I suggest we have been holding a romantic view of Buddhism. We are held in a Western ignorance of Buddhist history; Buddhist tradition is just as familiar with violence as the three Abrahamic faiths of Christianity, Judaism and Islam: for example, the long history of feuds between Buddhists in Japan, the Tibetan monastic assassination in 841 of King Langdarma, supposedly justified although the early texts condemn the mental states that lead to violent behavior. 

However, within these texts it is also possible to find examples of Buddha killing Hindu people for insulting a Buddhist sutra. As Professor Paul Demieville recounts,We are told that the first reason [to put the Brahmins to death] was out of pity [for them], to help the Brahmins avoid the punishment they had accrued by committing evil deeds while continuously slandering Buddhism.‘Compassionate Killing’ is something deemed acceptable, even honorable, in this instance. Within these scriptures, it has been noted that killing an ant causes you bad karma, but murdering an infidel who ‘has only emptiness’ has no more karmic return than ‘destroying the wind’.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Lessons from Auschwitz

by Anna Sykes

As today is Holocaust Memorial Day, I have decided to take some time to reflect on a recent project that I was given the opportunity to take part in.

Last year, Ben Caldera and I were lucky enough to be chosen from a selection of Sixth Form students by Mr Lemieux to take part in the project ‘Lessons From Auschwitz’. The project was set up twelve years ago by the Holocaust Educational Trust and has already enabled more than 100,00 students and teachers across the UK to visit the site of Auschwitz-Birkenau.  

The project was based on the premise that ‘hearing is not like seeing’ and it aims to explore the universal lessons of the Holocaust and its relevance in the world today. Therefore, the trip was much more effective than any other previous history trip that I have been involved with; it enabled us to move away from impersonalized statistics and generalizations and view the persecuted as human beings-with their own everyday lives.

Along with around 250 other students from across the UK, we attended a pre-visit and post-visit follow-up seminar, which took place in London. Over these days, we learnt more about the treatment of Jews and other minorities across Europe. We were also informed about the radical increase in discrimination across Nazi Germany from 1933 onwards, including Kristallnatch in 1938 and the setting up of the Einsatzgruppen in 1941. Following this, we heard a survivor’s testimony from Susan Pollack and were lucky enough to have the opportunity to ask her a variety of questions.

“What was it that inspired you to keep going whilst in the camp?”                            
She replied: “Hope.”

Susan Pollack
We were rather amazed as she went on to tell us the story of her experience and the traumatic events that followed. She told her story in the most courageous manner, informing us that the moment she arrived at the camp, her mother was taken to the gas chambers. Over fifty of her relatives had been killed during the Holocaust. Her brother, Laci, had been forced to work in the Sonderkommando,a group of labourers whose jobs were to move bodies from the gas chambers to the ovens. As a result of this, he suffered terrible mental health problems until his death in 1955.

After being separated from her father by the Nazis in her home town, Susan never saw him again, and to this day still doesn’t know whether he died in the camp or was deported elsewhere. At first, Ben and I found it hard to take in what Susan had told us. This story was far worse and far more disturbing then anything we’d heard before. The impact of hearing it from a first-hand survivor made it seem so much more real; this was to be our first insight of the trauma we were yet to witness for ourselves. 

Through all these distressing events, Susan had managed to keep hope and is now happily married to a fellow survivor. This put into perspective for us just how strong hope is. The testimony also allowed us to put our lives into perspective and relate our everyday struggles to the struggles that Susan had faced in the camp; there is no real comparison. I’ve come to realise that if people have the ability to keep hope in a situation like hers, then there is hope for everyone.

After the testimony, we divided into smaller groups and discussed our expectations from the visit. However, we knew that nothing could prepare us for the harrowing experience we were yet to face.
It was November 12th and the day had finally arrived. Sadly this meant having to journey to Heathrow Airport at the early hour of 2am. Before we knew it, we were joined on the plane by the rest of our group as we began our trip to Krakow, Poland. 

The intense recollection of walking through the infamous gates of the Auschwizt I camp marked ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ (‘Labour makes you free’) is a memory that will stay with me forever. It was here that we encountered possibly the most moving part of our trip: the room of hair, spectacles, suitcases and personal items belonging to the prisoners. It was in these rooms that the human atrocities that had been carried out seemed real for the first time. Just as the trip had stated in its aims, we began to humanise the Holocaust and understand that the persecuted were no different from ourselves. As we toured the second camp, it was fittingly cold and the eerie feel that lay within the fog set the typical scene that you would imagine.

This camp was even more hard-hitting as we discovered the daily lives of the prisoners and took part in a memorial service outside the ruins of Crematoria II. In the evening we each got the opportunity to light a candle along the tracks that ran through the camp. This was a poignant moment for everyone; accompanied by sound of Rabbi Marcus’ prayers and under a starlit sky, a group of 250 UK pupils gathered together to remember the 6 million lives that were taken during the Holocaust.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Middle School Spring Bulb Competition is Underway

by Miranda Worley

The heady aroma of hyacinths greeted me this morning in the Sixth Form Centre.

Newton, Einstein . . . and Hawking

by Reetobrata Chatterjee

Stephen Hawking has become a household name, so much so that there has even been a movie about him (see Kelvin Shiu's review of 'The Theory of Everything' here. He is held in high esteem in the ranks of the greatest scientists of all time, among big names such as Newton, Einstein and so on. However his contributions are not that well known. He is perhaps best known for his book, A Brief History of Time, which became an international bestseller, after being first published in 1988. In 20 years, this book sold 10 million copies and has been translated into a plethora of languages. He was also a professor of Mathematics at Cambridge for 10 years and has his name associated with some of the greatest discoveries of the late twentieth century. 

All this while fighting Early-Onset Motor Neurone disease. 

His first contribution was during his doctoral thesis, on the very creation of the universe and how and why the Big Bang had taken place. His work theorised that the Big Bang had been an infinitesimally small point, which contained all the matter in the Universe today, not dissimilar to Black Holes. This was first predicted by Einstein, but Hawking provided additional evidence and proved it was the Big Bang which was the singularity. A singularity is a point in spacetime which is infinitely curved, thereby allowing it to have theoretically infinite gravity, so strong that even light cannot escape, hence the name “Black” Holes. Not bad for someone in his twenties who couldn’t walk without external help.

Later he went on to improve the current understanding of Black Holes. Previously, it was very limited. All that was known was that a stationary Black Holes had a constant surface gravity, which would not change over time and if the Black Hole was moving (or rotating) it would change some of its properties such as angular momentum and Electric Charge. At first, he proposed that the surface area of Black Holes will never get smaller, if viewed in normal space. However this created a paradox, it suggested that Black holes were “hot” objects, which emitted electromagnetic radiation such as light. This was puzzling because the current theory was that nothing could escape a Black Hole, not even light.

So, Hawking delved into the weird world of quantum theory (in which cats can be dead or alive or both).

General Election 2015: Don’t be Shy, Be a Tory

by Ethan Creamer

This year’s General Election will be one of the most hotly contested, and many smaller parties are starting to surge in the polls (UKIP and the Greens particularly), much to the detriment of the traditional two main parties. Labour and the Conservatives are neck-in-neck in the polls. A YouGov poll released on 15th January saw them both on 32%, although in terms of seats, due to an in-built electoral advantage for Labour, the Tories will still find themselves with fewer seats. The Conservatives need to be 11.1 percentage points ahead of Labour to get an overall majority – requiring a swing of 2% from Labour. For Labour to win an overall majority they need to be 2.6 percentage points ahead of the Conservatives; they require a swing of 4.9%. If the Conservatives are 4 points ahead of Labour then the two parties would have an equal number of seats. The result of the General Election on 7th May seemingly remains unpredictable and may well be too close to call.

The 1980's leading Leftist Neil Kinnock -
Labour's Leader 1983-1992. He never held ministerial office
During the campaign for the 1992 General Election, Labour often polled higher than the Conservatives. The polling suggested either a Hung Parliament with Labour as the largest party or a small Labour majority. So confident of success was the Labour Party, it nicknamed the Shadow Cabinet ‘the cabinet in waiting’. At Labour’s ‘Sheffield Rally’ - unwisely modelled on American presidential campaign conventions, going overkill with a mix of brass bands and celebrities - the Labour Leader, Neil Kinnock, exclaimed not once, not twice, but three times: “We’re alright! We’re alright! We’re alright!” 

Mr Kinnock lost what composure he possessed, and would later regret shouting such myopic words. John Major’s Conservatives won 41.9% of the vote, thus gaining 336 seats, compared to Labour’s share of the vote being only 34.4%, translating into only 271 seats. The Conservatives in 1992 received the highest number of total votes ever for any political party in any UK general election to date. Under the stalwart and adroit leadership of Mrs Thatcher and her sound convictions, three times had the far-left Labour party been defeated and now, for the fourth time in a row, by her successor, John Major.

Margaret Thatcher and her successor John Major, 
who between them defeated Labour in four consecutive General Elections. 

What could explain the unexpected result of 1992? One theory is the ‘Shy Tory factor’. That is: those who intended to vote Conservative were unwilling to disclose their intention to strangers. About 10% of Conservative voters who had made up their minds refused to disclose their intentions to pollsters before the election and therefore the polls indicated that a Labour victory was on the cards for April 1992. With the General Election now less than four months away, and with polls seemingly unable to provide suggestion of a real candidate to form a minority government let alone a majority government, questions might be asked as to whether the phenomenon of ‘Shy Tories’ continues. 

Recently, former Conservative MP Rob Hayward, who still aids the party, has found that at last year’s local and European elections, surveys underestimated the performance of the Conservative party and overestimated that of both Labour and UKIP. For the Euro Elections, there were six polls and, on average, the Conservative vote was understated by 2.2%, while the Labour vote had been overstated by 2.0%. Not only was this apparent in such elections, but even in five 2014 Westminster by-elections, Conservative support was understated by an average of 1.8% - a figure which could tip the balance on 7th May. Labour’s vote was overestimated by an average of 3.7%.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Who Will Win The 2015 African Cup of Nations?

by Will Pearson

(source: Zimbio)
This month will bring us one of the best under-the-radar tournaments in football, as the Africa Cup of Nations begins its three-week run through Equatorial Guinea. 

It’s also a tournament that has its fair share of haters. For one thing, like the Asian Cup, it takes African players away from their club teams for a good spell of time. In the Premier League, that means neither Yaya Toure nor Sadio Mane for nearly a month. It’s also been in the headlines for the wrong reasons, as Morocco pulled out of its hosting duties due to fears of Ebola. Despite its bad press, at its core is free-flowing football that often provides thrilling moments.

There have been 30 AFCON tournaments since 1957 (which was won by Egypt and had just four teams contesting the title). Since then, there have been 16 winners, with Egypt topping the charts with 7 wins. Several big names are still to win the cup, including Senegal and Mali, both of whom will feel that this could be their year. Online polls reveal that Algeria is the predicted winner, followed closely by Cameroon and Ivory Coast.
The draw for the 30th edition of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations was held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, on Wednesday, as the 16 squads that qualified for the tournament finally found out the teams they'll be facing. The draw was moved back one week to accommodate new host, Equatorial Guinea, which stepped in to replace Morocco. Defending champions Nigeria are one of many top squads that failed to qualify for next year's event, with Egypt and Angola also surprisingly absent.
Group A (Equatorial Guinea, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Congo) seems to be a fairly close group, with no big names set to dominate proceedings. Group B (Zambia, Tunisia, Cape Verde, DR Congo) is similar, and is difficult to call, as it contains many of the smaller nations. The real competition however, lies in Groups C and D. Group C in particular holds Ghana (one of the most successful African teams), Algeria (touted as the eventual winners by many), South Africa (whose undefeated qualifying campaign has given them a strong contention), and Senegal (yet to win the cup and fielding arguably their strongest team yet). Group D is no less competitive, with two of Africa’s most successful teams, Ghana and Ivory Coast, playing against Mali and Guinea.

Churchill: The Funniest Thing He Never Said.

by Isabelle Welch

Churchill was (and still is, for that matter) notorious for his acerbic wit; however, Boris Johnson says in his biography, The Churchill Factor, the great man never uttered some of his most famous, acclaimed witticisms. 

Numerous Churchill mis-quotes "cling to him like burrs" because they are so easy to believe as having come from Churchill's mouth. There are so many true stories about Churchill's behavior, that skilled forgers have opportunistically added to the list in the knowledge that it can be hard sometimes to distinguish between the two.

At a reception in Canada, when Churchill was sitting next to a Methodist bishop, a young waitress offered the men sherry. Churchill took a glass, but the bishop said: "Young lady, I would rather commit adultery than take an intoxicating beverage." Churchill said to the waitress: "Come back lassie, I didn't know we had a choice!" Except that he did not say it, according to Johnson. It is one of many one-liners wrongly attributed to the wartime leader. It feels less like a true story about Churchill, and more like some after-dinner anecdote pinned on Churchill in the hope of making it all the more amusing.

When Nancy Astor, Britain's first female MP, told Sir Winston Churchill that "If I were your wife I would put poison in your coffee", Churchill famously replied "Nancy, if I were your husband I would drink it." Unfortunately, this is yet another misconception. The put-down first appeared in an American column forty years before Churchill's supposed exchange with Mrs. Astor. Johnson asks: "Did the young Churchill somehow spot it on his trip to America and squirrel it away for use on Nancy Astor?” I doubt it. "Did someone simply recycle the joke and decide that to be properly funny it needed to be put plausibly in the mouths of some famous people? Much more likely.”

Johnson also strikes off Churchill's supposed banter with the playwright, George Bernard Shaw. Shaw supposedly sent him two tickets for the opening night of one of his plays with the message that he should "bring a friend, if you have one". Churchill is said to have replied that he could not make the first night, but would come on the second night "if there is one". Both Shaw and Churchill denied the exchange ever happened, in letters found by another Churchill scholar.

Thankfully, plenty of the greatly adored Churchill jests are demonstrably true. Churchill really did meet Bessie Braddock, a Labour MP and Tory-hater, who told him: "Winston, you are drunk." "Madam," he replied, “you are ugly, but I will be sober in the morning." The truth of this caustic retort was confirmed by Churchill’s bodyguard.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Lest We Half-Remember – ‘The Other Churchill’

by Simon Lemieux

Quite rightly, today (24th January, 2015) we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the passing of one of Britain’s greatest politicians, Winston Churchill. But amid all the accolades to this ‘Greatest Briton’ is there another Churchill who also should not be forgotten, Churchill the failed strategist, enemy of trade unions, reactionary imperialist and one who stayed on in the Commons after his best years were behind him?  

Churchill was for much of his career (and here 1940-5 was very much the exception) a divisive figure viewed by many as a party traitor and by others as positively Neanderthal on matters such as India and its demands for independence.  This piece is not intended to be balanced or to take away in any way his immense contribution to the war effort in 1940-5; it is, however, meant to highlight the other aspects of his career and to encourage us to see him as the consummate and extremely long-serving politician that he was, with all the good and bad that comes from that. Also by necessity, it is a far from complete or detailed analysis of his career.

Churchill the Liberal "rat"
(with Lloyd George)
(wiki commons)
So where is the ‘other Churchill’? Firstly let’s look at Churchill the political traitor. Here is a politician who defected not once but twice, quitting the Unionists (Conservatives) in 1904 and then transferring back to the Conservatives in 1924 commenting himself that  "anyone can rat, but it takes a certain ingenuity to re-rat." In part it was fear of the left and communism that motivated his second switch (the first was over free trade), but, had the Liberal Party been on an upward trajectory in the early 1920s, might he have stayed on-side?

Then there is Churchill the ‘enemy of the working class’. Having overseen some important social reforms in the 1906-10 Liberal Government, he was at the forefront of efforts in the period 1910-11 as Home Secretary to crush strikes by miners in South Wales. He was also, lest we forget, from the political elite, an aristocratic family and a moneyed background.  Interestingly (and not unlike a few MPs since) he went on a speaking tour throughout Britain and the United States after first getting elected to Parliament, raising £10,000 for himself (about £940,000 today), and also in 1923, acted as a paid consultant for Burmah Oil to lobby the British government to allow that company to have exclusive rights to Persian (Iranian) oil resources. He was always (or at least until 1940 at any rate) regarded with hostility and suspicion on the Left and among the trade union movement.

As First Lord of the Admiralty,
Churchill presided over the disaster of Gallipoli,
which nearly destroyed his career
(source: Telegraph)
There is also ‘Churchill the strategist’, and a failed one at that. He bears (and to his credit accepted) much of the blame for the disastrous Dardanelles campaign in 1915, a failed effort to take Turkey (Germany’s ally in the war) by means of a badly planned, though bravely executed, amphibious landing at Gallipoli. This is often highlighted by military strategists as a very good reason and case study of why politicians should not get involved in the finer details of military planning.

When it comes to Empire, Churchill was also far from being a clear-sighted visionary. This is especially true in his approach to India in the 1930s. Churchill opposed Gandhi's peaceful disobedience revolt and the Indian Independence movement in the 1930s. He also reportedly favoured letting Gandhi die if he went on a hunger strike.  During the first half of the 1930s, Churchill was outspoken in his opposition to granting Dominion status (i.e. some self-government) to India. He was also a founder of the India Defence League, a group dedicated to the preservation of British power in India. The ‘winds of change’ with regard to our ability to hold on to an unaffordable and increasing untenable Empire seem not to have been present in his political antennae at that time. Surely this was a case of being a ‘Die-hard’ on the wrong issue at the wrong time?

Labour landslide in 1945
Then finally, there is the party leader who led his party to one of its greatest ever election routs in 1945. The country wanted change, a ‘New Jerusalem’ and a ‘land fit for heroes’ (Mark 2); Churchill was unable to offer anything really to compare with Major Atlee’s welfare state based heavily on the Beveridge Report.  

When he regained office in 1951, most historians tend to agree that his record as a peacetime Prime Minister was mediocre – incidentally it also saw the introduction of prescription charges in the NHS. Yet having handed over the premiership to Eden in 1955, Churchill refused to retire entirely from politics, and stood twice more for his Woodford constituency in northeast London serving as an MP until nearly 90, yet attending the Commons increasingly rarely, preferring to relax at his country house in Kent or on the French Riviera. Is part of a successful career knowing when to quit?

Friday, 23 January 2015

Winston Churchill: Soldier, Journalist, Aviator, Politician, Leader…Writer

On the eve of the 50th anniversary of Churchill's death, Laura Burden explores his literary significance.

(source: Daily Telegraph)
The man who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953 never wrote poetry. He never wrote a play. He did write one novel, but the reviews of Savrola in 1899 were decidedly mixed and modest, and it is seldom read today.

We know him as the face of the new £5 note, the winner of the BBC’s poll to find the “Greatest Ever Briton,” as the saviour of the nation during the Second World War and as the nodding bulldog advertising car insurance. Few of us think of Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill as an author.

Yet, as Boris Johnson wrote in his recent biography, The Churchill Factor, Churchill was a worthy recipient of the prize: “he mobilised the English language,” and any attempt to suggest that he does not merit the award is “not just a little bit snooty, but surely untrue.” Yes, before he was a politician he was a soldier-journalist, but his journalism was literary in character. By the time he went to report on the Boer War, he was the highest paid journalist in Britain, commanding £250 a month (which today equates to approximately £10,000). He was not paid such a staggering amount because he was an aristocrat, nor because he was a politician’s son, but because he could write. 

Churchill mastered the art of narrative and rendered every action he wrote about of the South African veldt in pacey, gripping prose worthy of a novel by John Buchan. He knew when to reproduce what he heard in dialogue, and exactly when a short, clipped sentence was called for.
Churchill was not simply a journalist and novelist: he was a historian. His two volume Malborough: his Life and Times is in many ways a homage to his ancestor John Churchill and is fascinating as an insight into Churchill’s own military heritage, but is also a brilliantly rendered portrait of a man who, “Amid all the chances and baffling accidents of war…produced victory with almost mechanical certainty.” His accounts of the First and Second World Wars are, of course, not free from bias but are deeply fascinating because, rather than in spite, of his own role in both conflicts. Here is one passage from The World Crisis 1911-1918, with Churchill describing his time in Cromer, Norfolk, as the storm clouds gathered over Europe on 26th July 1914:

At 9 o’clock the next morning I called up the First Sea Lord by telephone. He told me that there was a rumour that Austria was not satisfied with the Serbian acceptance of the ultimatum, but otherwise there were no new developments. I asked him to call me up again at twelve. I went down to the beach and played with the children. We dammed the little rivulets which trickled down to the sea as the tide went out. It was a very beautiful day. The North Sea shone and sparkled to a far horizon. What was there beyond that line where sea and sky melted into one another? All along the East Coast, from Cromarty to Dover, in their various sally-ports, lay our patrol flotillas of destroyers and submarines. In the Channel behind the torpedo-proof moles of Portland Harbour waited all the great ships of the British Navy. Away to the north-east, across the sea that stretched before me, the German High Sea Fleet, squadron by squadron, was cruising off the Norwegian coast.

In what is predominantly a work that deals with the largest of canvases, the international arena of a global conflict, Churchill recalls a personal, private moment. Through his brief description of playing with his children Randolph and Diana, the valuable nature of family life in Britain, at that moment endangered, is evoked. In places the language is disarmingly simple: “it was a very beautiful day” – but that great man, with the cares of state can, as his children cannot, pierce the horizon with his mind’s eye to see the two great naval powers readying themselves for armed combat. The damming of the little rivulets of water that will, inevitably, run down into the sea, acts as a narrative echo of the frantic efforts to preserve peace against the odds of war. Churchill’s historical works are non-fiction, but always literary in tone. He understood that, with a work of history, what happens is already known: the success of the work depends on how the narrative is relayed.

Churchill was, with a mixture of arrogance and genuine conviction, well aware of his place at the heart of British society and government. He wrote several volumes about his own life and his memoirs are vividly rendered. His opening description of the childhood state in My Early Life is comparable to the start of Cider with Rosie. It is in this work, incidentally, that he describes his lifelong affection for the English language, acquired through an extended period in the bottom form of Harrow School:

…By being so long in the lowest form I gained an immense advantage over the cleverest boys. They all went on to learn Latin and Greek and splendid things like that. But I was taught English. We were considered such dunces that we could learn only English. Mr Somervell – a most delightful man, to whom my debt is great – was charged with teaching the stupidest boys the most disregarded thing – namely, to write mere English. He knew how to do it. He taught it as no one else has ever taught it. …Thus I got into my bones the essential structure of the ordinary British sentence – which is a noble thing.

Certainly the noble British sentence served Churchill well through history, biography, memoir, instruction on the art of painting, intimate letters to his wife and through his written work as a politician. However, the Nobel committee bestowed the 1953 prize upon Churchill not only for “mastery of historical and biographical description” but for “brilliant oratory in defending human exalted values”.

Considering that he had a speech impediment, Churchill’s rhetorical ability was unparalleled. It was not always directed at “defending human exalted values” and, across his life and career, more often blasted and insulted those sitting across the floor than Hitler. Yet it was his speeches that rallied Britain at the time unity and determination in the face of adversity mattered most:

Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Predicting the 2015 Oscars

by Emily Tandy 

Its now awards season again, which is much less a season than half the year nowadaysHowever, I usually enjoy finding out the nominees, following the blogs speculating over who will win, and then the actual events themselves. 

Usually my favourite event is the Tonys, mainly for the performances from Broadway shows and the original opening performances by the hosts - Neil Patrick Harris in 2013 was phenomenal. I would recommend watching it on youtube if youve not already seen it.

At the moment its the 2015 Oscars that Im finding exciting, with my predictions (and hopes) of who would be the nominees seeming pretty accurate. With the exception of The Lego Movie not being anywhere on the list for Best Animated Film’; I felt that it deserved a place there, as one of the highest-grossing films of 2014, not to mention the fact that is an awesome film beautifully created with truly excellent animations. 

Meryl Streep, in Into the Woods
(source: huffington post)
The only other films that I feel have been slightly under-represented this year are Into the Woods and Annie. However, that may be just be my own musical theatre preferences. I am very pleased that the one of the three that Into the Woods is nominated for, is Meryl Streep for Best Supporting Actress. She performs a flawless portrayal of the evil witch in the film, with a very moving performance as the true character is slowly revealed.

Both The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything have both done very well this year and are, unsurprisingly, in many of the same categories. It seems to be popular at the moment, for dramatic portrayals of real people's lives, especially with the added period drama element of The Imitation Game. Personally, I think that The Imitation Game will do slightly better overall, especially as Steven Hawking is alive, which causes me to feel slightly weird about recreating his life while its still being lived. Although that may just be personal opinion and Eddie Redmayne's portrayal of Hawking and his decline is beautifully and sensitively done (see Kelvin Shiu's review here).

As per usual, the producer Harvey Weinstein has done very well out of the nominations. In total, his films have achieved 10 nominations. No real surprises there, though, as he usually does each year. It is also unsurprising that Boyhood has quite a few nominations, which it deserves mainly for the twelve years of work that was put into it, if not for anything else. Hans Zimmer (who wrote much of the Pirates of the Caribbean music) has been nominated for the Interstellar soundtrack, which I hope to win that Oscar.Neil Patrick Harris is hosting this year's Oscar ceremony for the first time; however, if his three times hosting the Tonys is anything to go by, then it should be wonderful.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

How 'Black Friday' Is Transforming Christmas in the UK

by Marley Andrews

Black Friday reaches the UK
(source: BBC)
Like many traditions adopted in the UK, Black Friday originated in the USA, and falls on the first Friday after Thanksgiving. It was a term widely used by the police force in the 1960s to describe the disruption caused to traffic and busy sidewalks on this day, and unofficially marks the first day of Christmas shopping. 

Despite not celebrating Thanksgiving as a holiday in itself, over recent years UK retailers including John Lewis and ASDA have begun to promote this popular American tradition within their stores and online, resulting in huge popularity amongst consumers. Another explanation for the name ‘Black Friday’ refers to the profits generated by the day and indicates the point where retailers begin to turn a profit, thus bringing them ‘into the black’. While it would be assumed that this substantial demand and increase in profits would be solely beneficial for a firm, it has recently caused issues for some UK retailers especially, both in terms of the supply chain and dealing with demand, and sales in the crucial period in the run-up to Christmas. These issues raise questions about whether Black Friday is in fact a beneficial promotion for UK businesses to partake in, or if this is a tradition that should remain exclusively American.

Though issues were inevitable, given the promotion’s infancy in Britain, its popularity in the UK market in 2014 was unprecedented, with overall retail sales increasing by a staggering 145% between the previous Thursday and Black Friday itself, an 101% increase on 2013. This huge increase in demand, while good in terms of shifting stock caused multiple issues for retailers, especially John Lewis, both on the day itself and during the sales 'hangover' caused in the weeks following Black Friday and the crucial period shopping period in the run up to Christmas. Black Friday 2014 broke the record of the highest sales figure in John Lewis' 150 year history, selling £179 million worth of goods and reportedly selling a tablet every second in just 24 hours. The introduction of Black Friday, though great for consumers has interestingly restructured Christmas shopping plans, with sales higher than those in the week before Christmas. People did most of their shopping earlier in the year, hoping to get a better deal in the late November sales as opposed to paying full price in December. This thus had a knock-on effect on sales growth and means that a large proportion of Christmas sales are now being concentrated into one day.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Review – Schubert's Winterreise, at The Barbican

by Julia Alsop

Winterreise by Schubert (D. 911), sung by Ian Bostridge with Thomas Adès at the piano, The Barbican 12th January 2015

Thomas Adès (left) and Ian Bostridge (right)
performing Schubert's Winterreise at the Barbican
Schubert’s Winterreise ("a winter’s journey") is a cycle of 24 lieder for piano and voice, taken from the poetry of Wilhelm Muller. The protagonist is a man departing from a town on a journey on a night in winter. He reminisces about when he first came to the town and fell in love with a girl, with whom he had even discussed marriage but whose love had not worked out. 

Setting out on this journey, he is in despair, and the song cycle follows his physical journey against the cruel winter weather and nature, as well as his emotional journey, until, lamenting in the final song, he seems to find some companionship in an old hurdy-gurdy player he comes across.

Schubert’s music is sensitive, reflecting the agonizing emotional toil of the character, and Bostridge certainly pulled this off, with his expressive voice and emotive presence on the stage. In the post-performance talk, Bostridge, who has recently also written a book on Winterreise, expressed that all his gestures and movements when singing were entirely spontaneous. I think that was one of the things that made the performance have such a stirring effect on the audience; there seemed to be genuine purpose behind each of his (and essentially the character’s) gestures. 

Monday, 19 January 2015

Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité : An Artistic Response to the Charlie Hebdo Killings

by Brandon Choi

As a half-French seventeen year-old who intends to work in the arts industry, the Charlie Hebdo attacks were frightening. I had never really thought that an illustration could trigger so much drama. I know that artists, illustrators, photographers and even myself like to produce work which stimulate thoughts, opinions, conversations and inspiration - but not provoke murder. So, like the rest of the French and many others across the globe, I picked up my pen to show support.

I am no illustrator; personally, I prefer doing expressive paintings and making sculptures, but I decided I had to produce an illustration in response. This piece of work is the result of several French class discussions and the exchanging of ideas with Nat, Harrison, Siena and Mr Crenel.

Although I agree that "a picture paints a thousand words", I feel the need to elucidate some of the ideas behind this illustration, as most of the motifs come from French culture. It portrays two gunmen (Islam extremists) shooting at a duck (Charlie Hebdo) as a Superwoman-like figure (Marianne) defends it.

The Superwoman-like figure holding a pen with a waving French tricoleur is Marianne. She is a national symbol of the French Republic. Marianne is featured in an iconic painting by Eugène Delacroix, La Liberté guidant le people (1830) or “Liberty Leading the People” (see below) where she is depicted leading the French people over the fallen of the 1830 July Revolution. In my illustration, Marianne is shielding Charlie Hebdo; my representation of how the French public have come together and reacted to the attacks. You will notice Marianne is also wearing a Phrygian cap or "bonnet rouge" - this is the national emblem of France. Once again, it symbolises freedom and the pursuit of liberty.

Finally, the words being written by the pen Marianne is using as her weapon, “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité” (Liberty, equality, fraternity), are the French national motto, something the murderers have entirely contradicted. 

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Poem for Sunday: Cyborg

by Zoe Pallant-Sidaway

Metal fights flesh
It halts my thigh
Stalled by inability
Do two halves
                     make a whole?

Monochromatic monsters
Haunt our skin
Glass eyes stare
Blank is the new beautiful

A jolting live
In shades of cool
It warms my circuits
Am I the Tin Can Man?

Deluded miscreation
A fall from humanity
The organic truth
Is now only angular thoughts

Why English Football is More Entertaining Than Ever

by Oliver Wright                

Third in the League
As the 2014/15 title race begins to build up excitement throughout the worldwide football community, I was drawn to watch an immensely entertaining clash at my home ground, St Mary's, between the unusually high-flying Southampton and the three-time Premier League champions, Arsenal. Last season, this would have been considered a one-sided walkover for the potentially Champions League-qualifying Arsenal; however, Southampton pulled off an unlikely 2-0 victory, including an ingenious curling effort from Sadio Mané, to continue the form which has now placed them third in the division.

However, at the beginning of the season, who could have predicted such events? Arsenal were signing big names such as Alexis Sanchez, Mathieu Debuchy and Danny Welbeck, whereas Southampton had been stripped of what seemed like impossible-to-refuse offers for their star performers of the previous season, whilst being written off from any respectable finish the next season. Robbie Savage, the ex-footballer turned pundit even went as far as including Southampton in his list of relegation risks in a controversial pre-season article which he has recently apologised for.

Even though the average goals per game (2.59) is considerably lower than its three preceding seasons (2.81, 2.80, and 2.77 starting at 2011/12), my enjoyment of the unpredictable nature of the matches and the tighter more inclusive relegation dogfight has increased dramatically. Every ‘top team’ has had to watch their step to avoid tripping up against the seemingly more determined mid-table finishers, whilst only five points separates the bottom eight clubs, who are realising that they are in for the long-haul.

Fans' favourite, Yannick Bolasie
(source: BBC)
This is not to say that the quality of football is decreasing, as there have been some magnificent goals: Angel Di Maria’s precise chip against Leicester, or Graziano Pellè’s overhead spectacular versus Queens Park Rangers, just to name two. The fans have also been treated to more world- class players flocking to become part of one of the greatest leagues in the world; we have seen skills on a regular basis that some leagues are fortunate to see once a year. Yannick Bolasie is a prime example of this; he has used unbelievable trickery to beat players on the pitch, becoming a Crystal Palace and national fans' favourite in the process. 

I have, though, heard many express the view that Manchester United’s excessive yet unsuccessful spending throughout the year has dampened the traditionally best team in England, an argument that has been echoed throughout the country as many believe that young British quality is being shadowed by the talented foreign players who are being brought in for ridiculous amounts of money.     

To this, though, I would respond that it has made the League even more fascinating. 

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Free Speech and Islam

by Will Dry. 

Ahmed Merabet, a French Muslim who died defending
the right of a magazine to satirise his religion
(source: Huffington Post)
Britain has an Islamic problem - and the problem is certainly not Islam's fault. 

British society has failed to understand and integrate with Muslims. The answer lies at the heart of the Charlie Hebdo massacre: responsible use of free speech will not lead to more terrorist explosions, but instead to a greater public recognition of what Islam - and, therefore, Muslims - stands for.

A significant proportion of Westerners have suffered from a fatally persistent case of confirmation bias - picking and choosing which stories they base their interpretation of Islamic culture upon. And if you think this is an American problem - or, perhaps, a German problem, after seeing the Pegida rallies - you are wrong. The issue is equally pervasive in our own country: 61% of Britons feel negatively about Islam. Your initial reaction might be 'Oh well, don't worry, it's all the old people and Nigel Farage - society's changed and they don't keep pace', but this is also an illusory thought: 27% of young people 'do not trust Muslims'. These views are compounded by other inaccuracies in our perceptions: British people believe that a quarter of the population is Islamic - even though the accurate figure is only 5%, a disparity that is matched by no other religious or ethnic group. 

TV and newspapers provide 98% of non-Islamic British people with their primary source of information about Islam; it is a suitable starting point for the upcoming exercise of finding out why British people are so wrong. The media, a collective institution whose role is to inform us, has clearly failed if our perceptions of Islam are so thoroughly detached from reality. With the great power of free speech comes a duty to improve our society, not fragment it. Nobody enters journalism with the aim of distorting public opinion; so where along the chain does it all go wrong? Richard Peppiatt, a former journalist for the Daily Star, recounts how he was told to write pieces about Muslims doing 'X,Y and Z'. He would then look at the facts and complain how 'they hadn't done that at all'. Peppiatt was fired from the newspaper after writing an open letter to the owner, Richard Desmond, which concluded with the point, 'You may have heard the phrase, "the flap of a butterfly's wings in Brazil sets of a tornado in Texas", well try this: "the lies of a newspaper in London can get a bloke's head caved in down an alley in Bradford"'.

hypocritical tweet
(image: Wiki Commons)
The journalists are merely the toy soldiers of a bunch of hateful editors and media proprietors preparing for the next outlandish assault on the truth; not so much 'lions led by donkeys', more 'graduates led by purposefully adversarial antagonists.' The chief commander is undoubtedly Rupert Murdoch, a man whose influence is global when it comes to news. He tweeted after the terrorist attacks, in an unfathomable display of ignorance, 'Maybe most Muslims peaceful, but until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer they must be held responsible.' If it is true that we are responsible for the beliefs and actions of our ethnic and religious brethren, then on behalf of white Christians, I apologize for Rupert Murdoch. The hypocrisy of Murdoch is astronomical: Murdoch provided no apology for Anders Breivik - the Christian white supremacist who murdered 77 people in 2011 because he felt the West was being Islamicized - and Murdoch was right not to beg pardon from all other ethnic groups.  

Similarly, Muslims should not apologise, or feel any Western-related pressure to condemn the attacks, for the actions of people who simply were not genuine Muslims. Despite only 13% of British people associating Islam with peace, the second-root of the word 'Islam' is 'peace.' Islam is not commonly associated with liberty either - critics of Islam may look at the punishments for apostasy - but this is rather an indictment on the states of the countries where this law exists, rather than on Islam itself. The Qur'an actually says "The truth is from your Lord, so whoever wills - let him believe; and whoever wills - let him disbelieve." and that there should be "no compulsion in religion", clearly any law against apostasy stems at least in part from the state*, perhaps to maintain control and social order, rather than any genuine religious motive.  

In Britain, we do not have complete free speech. That is not up for debate, that is a fact: in Britain you are not allowed to threaten, defame, falsely advertise, and most importantly, you are not allowed to commit hate crimes: inciting racial or homophobic hatred. This is, unquestionably, a good thing: racial hatred does not scrutinize anything. And that is why drawing a cartoon which mocks Muhammad - and, by extension, the beliefs of Muslims - when trying to scrutinize terrorism is a flawed idea. Mocking Muhammad is unfairly offending Muslims, who bear no responsibility for the actions of terrorists. As Malek Merebet - the brother of the Islamic policeman, Ahmed Merebet, killed defending Charlie Hebdo - said a few days ago: 'these terrorists are not Muslims.. Mad people have neither colour or religion'.  

If cartoonists wish to scrutinize terrorists, the one below does the job (see below the break). Western society - and especially the media, perhaps - have failed to grasp this simple concept. On Question Time last week, David Davis MP, stated how ideally, he would have got the media together and made them all print the cartoons of Charlie Hebdo. I was shocked at the ineptitude of our current politicians; it is no wonder the public's perception of reality is so distorted if our politicians, the people with all the figures and facts in front of them, fail to understand who printing pictures of Muhammad genuinely offends. It is worth giving some thought to the idea that maybe the terrorists want the Western media to print the cartoons mocking the beliefs and prophet of regular Muslims - it helps to justify their actions and gives them a pretext for more attacks. More worryingly, the cartoons may estrange British Muslims, as they see Western culture is incompatible with their beliefs. Free speech, often viewed as the holy grail of Western civilization, still plays a hugely important role in our society: the role of scrutiny. There is a clear distinction between hateful mocking, and comedic scrutiny: a cartoon depicting Muhammad kissing another man is unnecessarily insulting Islam, a cartoon pointing out the hypocrisy of Al-Queda leaders is scrutinizing them.