Skip to main content

Context is everything: thoughts on war memorials, urine and war.

When I was a student, I was in my neighbour's rooms: there was noise outside and as I glanced out of the window there was a couple, having sex on the war memorial outside the room.

Today, as I type a student is under threat of jail for urinating on a war memorial.

Two things have changed in the interim 15 years. The first is that instant photos get everywhere. In 1994 there were no digital cameras to fire images around the world at rapid pace. This lad has been charged with outraging public decency, presumably of the people who saw the photo more than the myriad other drunken students.

The second change is that in 1994 we were in an era of comparative peace. We had 'won' the Cold War and we were not yet in the new world of the War on Terror. War memorials were important- but you may struggle to find people calling them 'sacred'.

My point is this. I agree that this lad did something very wrong. Urinating in the street is one of the increasingly seen and always unacceptable parts of UK booze culture. However, laws are written and should be enacted in part to preserve people from the swings and sways of public opinion. This has caused outrage because we are at war- we are losing large numbers of troops- more than since the 1950's. The context has changed our view of this act, I question whether the legal system should follow.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

NO MORE MAGIC BULLET- or why I have stopped watching the West Wing

I love the West Wing. It still rates as one of the most well informed and influential series of the genre. Its speeches have been stolen by people who have osmosed its hope for a better way of doing politics. When we watch it today it holds a very particular kind of resonance because it demonstrates a civility that has been drowned in a sea of hate. It has positive images of a wrestled out faith, is rich with camaraderie and pith and is just good telly.
But its bad for me. 
It pains me to admit this, but the West Wing makes me think I can change the world in a way that is simply not helpful. 
It holds out the present hope that the world can turn on a single conversation. With the brave statement or right turn of phrase one might change the debate, and in turn might change the world entire. The moment in the Oval where they realise that if they take no credit they can save social security. The moment where Donna remembers to pay welfare payments. The realisation that all the NATO people a…

Oxpresidentgate and a Crisis of Generosity

Its been an interesting start to the year for the third sector. As we all get to grips with GDPR (more later), we have been subject to increased media attention as first we reeled from President’s Club revelations to the far deeper impact of this week’s revelations about Oxfam (and others).
There is much that can be written. Undoubtedly there are some in media and politics who will seek to exploit the 1/3 of us who don’t think aid should be sent overseas to change policy off the back of bad behaviour by some people. We could face a drop in giving to international development, as supporting Oxfam is no longer seen as acceptable (like buying a plastic bag). I suspect this will recover at some point, possibly in different form.
However, there is a deeper moral crisis for third sector organisations and my fear is that Christian charities are not immune.
To explore this let me go back a month. The President’s Club- where charities were set to receive significant amounts of money from an…

A very dull post about what I do with my time...

Each year I take a calendar month and record what I do in it. I break each day into twenty minute chunks and note down what happens in each twenty minute block. I don’t do the same for designated Sabbath time (nor do I note each bit of time outside of the beginning and end of a working day, no-one needs to know how long I clean my teeth for).
I categorise each thing that I do (an imperfect science) with a view to getting a handle on what I do with my time. 
This year I did the audit in November (as clergy I always avoid doing this in Lent, Advent or August). 
So- what did I discover?
I work around 55 hours a week. (thats up one hour from last year) That work is spread over five and a half days. The only sabbath day that was interrupted by work was about processing a painful meeting.  Of 26 working days, I worked 12 evenings.
In terms of what I do:
In November 17% of my time was taken up with prayer, reading and learning. Thats a slightly false read as I had a 48 hour away time in there. Prayer…