Criticise the policy, not the personal appearance

Eric Pickles is a prat, but I’m not sure what his weight and appearance has to do with his politics.

It’s not in question: Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles is a hypocrite and a bigot. If we take a look at his parliamentary record we see clear evidence of this. Take, for instance a bill he has been associated with currently going through Westminster; the purpose of the bill is to impose religious observation on local council meetings. The bill is a response to a 2012 High Court ruling which specifically said that councils had no statutory powers to call councilors to attend prayers [1]. Arguments made in favour of the bill include the fatuous idea that the 2012 ruling would mean that council members would be prevented from attending Remembrance Sunday services to lay a wreath. Eric Pickles wants to impose religion on everyone whether they like it or not and then accuses secular society of being intolerant. [2]

You see why I say he’s a bigot and hypocritical? Of course that’s just my opinion.

It’s also my opinion that we live in a more-or-less secular society. According to the last Census, while 59.3% of the population identify as Christian, only a small percentage actually go to churches of any kind. Christianity is more cultural than heartfelt belief, or so it seems. 14.1 million people – about a quarter of the population – have no religion whatsoever [3]. It may have changed, I got my figures from the 2011 Census data.

Since that’s the case I honestly believe it’s time to cut the connection between religion and government. Religious faith is a private matter, not public. Allowing your beliefs, whether religious or secular to inform your actions isn’t the problem, imposing those beliefs on others to satisfy your own sense of righteousness is ill-mannered and unethical.

Just to clarify I have no problem with those who identify as religious, agnostics, atheist or anything else; I dislike bad manners and hypocrisy in any circumstances. For instance, I happen to think Richard Dawkins and the ‘New Atheists’ are ill-mannered bigots who give other atheists a bad name. And the Pope shouldn’t make insulting pronouncements about childless people; he heads an organisation of celibate individuals who choose to be celibate and childless. Other people can’t have children for medical reasons or don’t want children for practical reasons. Are his priests and nuns selfish, too?

But all this is actually off my point, sorry I got distracted again.

I first read the politics.co.uk comment piece that inspired this post (see sources) when I was doing my morning scroll through Facebook. It had been shared by a secular organisation I follow on that particular social media platform. I read the linked article and then went back to the Facebook post to read the comment.

It is always a mistake to read to comments.

Already unimpressed by the conduct of MPs, I was further irritated by the commenters who, rather than discussing the article and the bill going through parliament chose to attack Pickles on his appearance. Pickles is a hypocrite, true, but those commenters were equally so. Yes, the man is not attractive by our cultural standards, but is that really your best argument against his politics? Surely the fact that he is trying to impose his own beliefs on other people and infringing everyone else’s right to freedom of (from) religion is more important?

Referring to anyone’s appearance when you disagree with their argument is a poor argument against their point or in favour of your own.

And on a side note, people need to stop associating body fat with lazy, greedy or stupid.
*****
Sources – May be of interest

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/society/2012/feb/10/council-court-battle-prayer-meetings

[2] http://www.politics.co.uk/comment-analysis/2015/03/09/eric-pickles-evangelical-charter-forces-people-take-part-in

[3] http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/census/2011-census/key-statistics-for-local-authorities-in-england-and-wales/rpt-religion.html

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