Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Specific Should Win Over the General

I've been listening to ANY QUESTIONS on my drive to Upton Park. Lynne Featherstone said something quite profound. On the question of gay adoption she urged people not to think about the generality of the issue but to concentrate on individual gay people you know and think about whether they would, as individuals, make good parents.

You can draw other parallels here. As a country, British people tend to dislike the French, yet individually we find them charming.

People think that politicians as a group are liars and untrustworthy, yet I've lost count of the times I have heard people say that their own MP is fantastic.

West Ham fans are reputedly all skinhead thugs, yet individually people rather like us (or have I just defeated my own argument?!).

So perhaps we should be more mindful of individuals when talking and writing about large groups of people. I am sure I am just as guilty as anyone in making sweeping generalisations, so do feel free to take me to task when I commit the sin in future.

38 comments:

niconoclast said...

This is because individuals are (rightly) perceived as innocuous. BUT. When they become a political force they become Dangerous. The present controversy is so replete with this. We have a defacto gang of illibertairians foisting their homoerotic bigotry on christian folk. Lets call things by their proper names. These people are Gay Fascists.

Anonymous said...

In fairness, I thought fans of 'the Academy' or whatever bollocks WHU calls itself these days are deluded.

And still do.

Anonymous said...

French women are amazing, politicians are the dregs, as for West Ham fans...well!

Priam said...

Holy cow how things have changed niconoclast. In the 60's gay people were jailed for what they got up to behind closed doors, now they're a bunch of militant fascists foisting immorality and buggery onto the innocent masses!!

Or...you're an idiot. This isn't some plot by the new gay lizard illuminati. It's a failed government trying to show people they're still relevant. I'm not even sure the gay lobby asked for it? If ever there was a case for gay people to put on a "not in my name t-shirt" it's this stupid law. It's completely unnecessary and is causing more harm than good.

I have a couple of gay friends and I'm sure they would make great parents, however I'm also sure they wouldn't give a rats ass about where they got the baby from. If they couldn't go Catholic they could go somewhere else, and I'm pretty sure they wouldn't care if the church said no either. They may even respect the fact that the church stuck by its principles, however stupid they may be.

Anonymous said...

Thats all well and good but how do you explain the fact these 'honest' politicians all vote for terrible policies they do not believe in??

The only important quality of an MP should be honesty, we all accept different opinions but you cannot square behaviour like Hain's with honesty.

Until they stop acting in concert and start to vote in line with their values, the views of their constituents and in the public interst they will be viewed as scum, and rightly so.

Anonymous said...

Have you had a muswell hill?

griswold said...

What do you think of members of the BNP?

Anonymous said...

Great post Ian I thoroughly agree with you. By the way Niconoclast they aren't Fascists- Fascism was a movement in the 1930s in Europe- they aren't forcing you to do anything at all- oh apart from acknowledge their common humanity- difficult I know. They aren't bigots because they aren't saying that Christians are evil. They just want to be equal to anyone else in society- now you seem to want to deny them that- who's the Fascist here?

raincoaster said...

You know, some people say the same about Wordpress fans...until their blog gets blocked because Blogger is offline.

Anonymous said...

Amen to that, Iain!

niconoclast said...

I guess if you are literal minded Gracchi they aren't fascists....

Priap() there was a social sexual revolution in the 60's. Perhaps you are too young to remember it?

All this was predicted when the repealed clause 28 and let the homosexual gene-e out of the closet. Now chaos has come again. Slouching towards Gomorrah.....

'Validate us validate us. We demand your moral sanction' they cry. To the Church I offer only this: 'JUST SAY NO'.

Anonymous said...

"I am sure I am just as guilty as anyone in making sweeping generalisation"

You're doing it again Iain! What a terrible sweeping generalisation!

Anonymous said...

Was anyone suggesting that gay couples would be any better or worse at bringing up children than straight ones?

billybag said...

As individuals they are probably bad or good like everyone else.
I thought the point of this was that they were going to be in pairs.

Anonymous said...

Lynne said something else quite good which was that unless anti-discrimination law bites somewhere along the line then it isn't really doing its job.

Ed, the answer to your question is no. Even the Catholic church is not saying that a gay couple would be worse at bringing up children than a straight couple. They are saying that they don't like what gays do in bed. Sorry, correction. They are saying that God doesn't like what gays do in bed. You couldn't make it up . . .

Voyager said...

but to concentrate on individual gay people you know and think about whether they would, as individuals, make good parents.

Ah so when we think of freedom of expression we should think of Abu Hamza and Anjem Choudary and decide it should be curtailed ?

This is interesting. I think there are some people that are so guilty it is pointless trying them and we should have armed police execute them while resisting arrest

Iain, that is the most basic error that I cannot take you seriously on political questions. It is the principle of freedom of religion and expression and whether The State should use the law-making power to interfere in matters which pre-date The State itself.

I begin to understand why Muslims feel this society is inimical to the practice of their own religion, and I can imagine mosques up and down the country being very wary of British governments and their attempts to shape a British Islam

This was a political blunder on a major scale and a gift to Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda.

Anonymous said...

British people tend to dislike the French?

Make that English people! Us Scots have a centuries old love affair with the French - the 'auld alliance' stands to this day.

Still the best accent in the world on a woman...

Anonymous said...

People tend to think that their own MP is wonderful, because he runs a helpful surgery and listens to their problems.

"Politicians" lie and cheat on matters of national politics, not about whether the council should repair Mrs. Jones's bathroom.

just about had enough said...

Hold on a minute.....

Unfortunately, many MPs do seem to be able to be 'fantastic' for the people who vote for them directly, but equally at home with being liars and untrustworthy in regards to their dealings with the rest of us.

And how many times have we seen individual politicians use the 'specific' in relation to one-off individuals or events to demonise a 'general' population, using that to make a case for repressing or criminalising those who they and their own cronies don't seem to like....?

Classic current cases of the latter are, at one end of the scale, the present discrimination by many individual politicians against, and potential criminalisation of, many Christians' consciences because some at the freakier end of the faith have indeed, in the past, been beastly to gay people, so their discriminatory retaliation against ALL Christians now seems to be in order.

At the other end of the spectrum is the 'Dangerous Pictures' stuff as raised on the Webcameron site, where one incident seems to have triggered off a forthcoming mass repression of the BDSM people. Here we do not seem to being told the truth, as the contributors point out that the government is not merely consolidating existing law, as ministers publicly state, but is really extending it significantly. Whatever, this is introduction of government control over what we are all going to be allowed to look at. It may even be illegal to look at pictures of consenting adults doing things that in themselves are not illegal! The potential outcome is that a man and wife could be jailed and put on the Sex offenders Register for having a picture of themselves doing what is actually legal to do. Neither wonder our European neighbours think we are sexually repressed

Now this particular addition to Labour's ongoing criminalisation of the masses stems from one event, as pursued by some individual MPs and pressure groups, where the original conviction in the related court case has now been quashed on appeal by the Courts and is subject to re-trial, there being grounds for doubt that what the accused looked at was the cause of what he did.

Both of the above represent the introduction of degrees of totalitarian and authoritarian repression on a generalised basis, of kind that I never thought that I would ever see in this country.

(As an aside, in the latter case, I do hope that the Home Office (for it is they behind this) has factored in how many extra jail places they will maybe need as, from a quick trip through the BDSM genre websites, it seems to be a pretty poplular activity. One website i saw has nearly 100k members signed up, and 11% of the adult population is said to be into this in some form so goodness knows how many are not publically 'out' yet. Could we do the NHS thing, and have waiting lists for prison spaces? Or maybe we can have one big open prison, and use the new Border Control people to keep them all in before they escape to more liberal climes? That might be better as the mix of people who seem to be involved is such that one wonders who would be left to run the country. I suppose that whatever 'Morals Police' the Home Office form to deal with this should be given whips and chains, as they seem to have in other enlightened regimes, as these particular 'criminals' will then get some satisfaction in being dealt with)

Given the tenor of some of the earlier responses,I've quite deliberately picked examples from both ends of what people may feel beyond the pale. There is no point anyone moaning about injustice or lack of tolerance for his or her own beliefs if they can't be tolerant of those of others, irrespective of whether you like them for what they are or not, and not also be prepared to look for some middle ground of accomodation.

Anyway, no, the specific should not necessarily be allowed to win over, or drive, the general as it all too often merely results in individual polititians, of all hues, thrusting their own, or their little coterie of friends, non-representative, ill-informed, pet prejudices on all of us, leaving us all subject to some of the craziest and most illiberal laws in the western world

.. and commiserations on the West Ham result....

david kendrick said...

Many more couples wish to adopt babies than there are babies available for adoption.

If gays (or single people) have exactly the same rights as anybody else in the adoption 'lottery', it means that a gay couple could deny a man and a woman from 'completing their family' with an adopted child.

When comparing the suitabilty of adopting parents, it seems reasonable to give the fact that one couple is gay, a low weight. But no weight?



This is not a matter of principle. There is a shortage of foster parents, and a surplus of children who need fostering. There should be no objection to gays fostering children.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, correction. They are saying that God doesn't like what gays do in bed. You couldn't make it up . . .

So are gay people not created in the image of God in their eyes? Or are some bits of the bible more important than others?

Anonymous said...

Nobody seems to realise that the catholic adoption agencies charge local authorities stonking great fees for arranging for children in care to be adopted. Those fees come from the taxes paid by all, including gays and non-catholics.

VOyager said...

You cannot extrapolate from the individual to the general - it is called FALLACY OF COMPOSITION

Good job Lynne Featherstone has family money - she certainly has no intellectual grasp

Little Black Sambo said...

"So perhaps we should be more mindful of individuals when talking and writing about large groups of people."
Did you find that helpful? Oh I do hope so. And will you write to tell me?

just about had enough said...

In furtherance of Voyager's helpful contribution, perhaps all MPs' election literature should carry a compulsory government health warning along the lines of

'I suffer from FALLACY OF COMPOSITION'. Elect me I shall certainly ascribe to you the attributes of someone else'

Anonymous said...

And what happens to the Catholic adopters if their adoptees turn out to be gay?

Voyager said...

"So perhaps we should be more mindful of individuals when talking and writing about large groups of people."

That is FALLACY OF DIVISION

I am beginning to resent being ruled over by people who seem wholly unsuited to anything requiring knowledge and insight.

This parliament is full of compliant schoolchildren ready to do as teacher tells them - Onward March Of The Drones

Anonymous said...

People think that politicians as a group are liars and untrustworthy, yet I've lost count of the times I have heard people say that their own MP is fantastic.

That's the ones not lumbered with a Tory or a Lib Dem or a dratted nationalist?!

The exact same thing happens with the general versus specific perception of public services.

Most people think their bit of the NHS is getting better and is quite good. More so if they have engaged with it themselves recently.

But on general questions they tend to follow the Mail and say it's all gone down the toilet.

Clearly it is improving. Though I think an ongoing ipsos Mori quiz with a blog lined up (almost to go) ia a case of a category Error.

Neil Craig said...

We evolved in small tribes of about 60 so we are hardwired to think that individuals are human beings like us whereas amorphous masses are merely herds or non-existent. Thus the dichotomy between all politicians & my MP is merely human. If this were not so Himmler would not have been able to order the murder of millions but been physically sick on the one occasion he saw a death camp up close.

A very unfortunate side of modern weapons systems is that they allow us to kill without seeing the whites of their eyes.

Steve Horgan said...

Should gay people be allowed to adopt? Of course they should, if they pass the same standards that apply to straight couples. Should they be able to demand a service from a Catholic adoption agency, even if it means that agency will have to close and vulnerable children will be left in care? Not so sure about this one. Presumably we all want children settled with families instead of left with a system that will almost certainly fail them. Is a point of principle worth broken lives? As for the government; if they press on with this then Catholics are going to end up in court, which is going to be pretty unpopular with millions of Catholics at least. Is this government actually trying to lose what little support it has left?

Anonymous said...

You come across as extremely naive Iain, or perhaps you've just been drinking?

Iain Dale said...

I think it must be the former as do not drink!

Anonymous said...

Yes Voyager is quite right. It is entirely obvious why the Gay lobby would want to fling a slab of emotional blackmail into the stew.

I wonder Iain would you accept such an argument about burglars.They usually have a good tale to tell and individually , I know one or two who one forgives out of personal liking.
Nonetheless I regard our penal system as wrongly focussed on helping offenders and indifferent to punishment which is its first duty and the victims justice.

I am not comparing gays with Burglars of course only pointing out that this is no more than a peice of sleight of hand to further socially liberal policy

Perhaps you are in general very socially Liberal. I wouldn`t know. Consistency or the lack of it might be revealing.

To put this in context a few two daddy arrangements would not cause mne huge alarm. It is the oppressive use of the state power to outlaw reasonable opinion that I do not like

Anonymous said...

This is such a great piece........I am seeing you in a new light! (but have to admit to being an ex Luton Town fan, so maybe I would be in a category all of my own!!!)

Anonymous said...

'People think that politicians as a group are liars and untrustworthy, yet I've lost count of the times I have heard people say that their own MP is fantastic' (Iain)

Oh, puleeease. Do you know who my MP is? One of the most loathed of the loathed. Even his party loyalists heave when they vote for him - those who can bring themselves to do vote at all, that is.

Anonymous said...

"British people tend to dislike the French"

Totally untrue.

It's simply that English people know (a) France and French people will always ruthlessly pursue the self-interest of France and French people while (b) hypocritically pretending to be thinking of others.

The English find (b) irritating but admire (a).

Such a contrast to recent British governments that (i) pursue the interests of everyone except the English while (ii)clearly despising all things English.

Anonymous said...

I suppose DD thought about gay people he knows and has worked with and drew is own conclusions! :)

Anonymous said...

Lynne Featherstone said something profound? Well, never knowingly!

In fact, both she and Ian Dale are wrong because this 'profundity' is simply just another manifestation of looking at the issue primarily from the viewpoint of the would-be adoptive couple rather than what is right for the child.