Sunday, April 15, 2007

On The Precipice of Defeat(*)

Here she stands: before her, the abyss. Behind her, the forever closed door of Past Time.

Here she stands, in the clear, without any other shield than the strength of her heart and mind. Vulnerable to betrayal and low blows below the belt…if she allows them to harm her.

They are many, those who would smash Segolene Royal into a million tiny and bloody pieces, for daring to be the Socialist party’s candidate, for being the one the members of the party chose in a fair and democratic primary election. For being a woman with a credible chance of winning. For refusing to be influenced and ruled by all the old clans that rot the Socialist party’s heart away.

I do not particularly like Segolene Royal. In fact, I really resent some of the things she has openly spoken out for, or against. Still, she is the Socialist party’s candidate, and any member of that party who has the tiniest bit of honor should have the decency to at least shut his trap if he doesn’t like her (note the use of the male pronoun, it’s no accident). But it seems that honor isn’t a worthy enough character trait for some of the old guard in the Socialist party, for those of that old guard who’ve always dreamed of an alliance with the center-right, because their opinions do not lean on the left side to begin with.

Michel Rocard was a well-known variable in that equation. His call for an alliance comes as no surprise, and also carries very little credibility with it. But another variable has at last decided to reveal its true nature: Bernard Kouchner.

Mr Kouchner, one of the best liked figures of France, and best liked among the French citizens, and also one of the top members of Segolene Royal’s campaign team. His aura of French Doctor, and co-founder of Doctors Without Borders has leant him a lot of credibility, and has given him the image of someone who cares. Someone who is unselfish, and has a heart big enough to enfold all the pain and suffering in the world. But that image is a sham, a lure. I have known this for quite a while, having heard the gentleman expose his opinions on social and economic matters a while back.

Oh, Mr. Kouchner is a French Doctor, all right, but he’s also a member of the upper class gentry, and his heart doesn’t lean left. His opinions on social and economic matters are more than strongly rooted in the right side of the political field. When you analyze his stated opinions, if you’re honest, you quickly come to the conclusion that you do not know why Mr Kouchner is a member of the Socialist party. He doesn’t belong there. He should at the very least belong to the UDF of Mr Bayrou. Once you know this, this morning’s call for an alliance with Mr Bayrou made by Mr Kouchner comes as no surprise either.

It’s perfectly logical. It’s perfectly natural and fits with his rightwing opinions. What’s more surprising is that he decided to step out of the woods and show his true colors…or maybe not.

Segolene Royal stands on the precipice of defeat. François Bayrou stands a chance of being in the second run after eliminating her. So now is the one chance, the one opportunity to realize a wonderful coup: to knife her in the back, to betray everything and everyone to push forward his own personal agenda. And this is exactly what Mr Kouchner is doing.

What’s loyalty when compared to the opportunity to knife the Socialist party in the back and perhaps damage it for a long time if Bayrou defeats Royal? What’s honor compared to the opportunity of furthering one’s little selfish agenda?

I can already guess the name of one of Bayrou’s ministers, if ever he becomes the president of France. Congratulations, Mr Kouchner, for betraying your own and knifing them in the back. You are all that I expected you to be.

Segolene Royal stands on the precipice of defeat. If that sentence has the ring of something you remember hearing, then you know what that means, and what must follow. And you’re familiar with what must be the best shounen manga title to be published in many years: Bleach.

When Kurosaki Ichigo stands on the precipice of defeat, when blows come from everywhere at once from much too powerful enemies, when betrayal threatens to annihilate everything he stands for, then comes the moment of truth. Of gathering to the center of oneself, to light up the flames in one’s heart. And to go all out. To fight to the end.

And to win.

And this must apply to Segolene Royal, and all those whose heart leans left. Make no mistake. Do not let yourselves be blinded by the aura of someone who is nothing more than a rightwing opportunist with an image of humanitarian. Stand firm, and let your hearts be still. Be steady. The endgame is upon us.

With this post, I leave every reader to weigh their own hearts, and I go off-line for two weeks, hoping that Segolene Royal will prevail. Because, even though I do not like her, she is the Socialist party’s candidate, and my heart beats in the left side of my chest.

Never give up! Never surrender! (**)

(*) On the Precipice of Defeat is of course one of the most famous tracks of the Bleach Original Soundtrack, and played at key moments such as the ones I’ve described above.

(**) From a movie that’s among my favorite: Galaxy Quest.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A Call To Arms

Get your butts out of your comfy chairs, get in gear and vote for Royal!

Time is running out. In the universe of the French presidential election, we’re fast getting to the last jump-point before hitting the Rim. Very fast. Time is slipping away from the candidates, from the media, and from the voters themselves. And yet, according to surveys, more than 40% of the French citizens do not yet know for whom they’re going to cast their votes on April 22nd. Like many journalists, and many politics analysts, here I am: sitting before my monitor, and wondering why. I wonder how this can be, how can people simply not know who they'll choose in less than two weeks, how people can be so undecisive.

Never in recent history has an election had such importance.

France has come to a crossroads. Every sign and portent we can grasp, feel, see and hear tells us that this time, these two particular Sundays of April and May will determine the future of France, with more than potential repercussions for Europe. It’s not a figure of speech, or an over-dramatization. We’re all standing at the edge of what could herald the true destruction of our way of life, of our social security system, to fall headlong into an Americanized society. Or perhaps the French people will choose to shrug off the lies of neo-liberalism and decide to elect someone who will defend who and what they are, and the values that define France.

Americanization. Such is the clear, unveiled promise of Nicolas Sarkozy, who spends his time cavorting around and spewing out the same arguments concerning “work more, you’ll earn more” and evoking the American Dream, this most persistent of lures. Anyone who has been to the US, outside of luxury hotels or resorts, who has truly seen what the US is about, and who knows how things truly stand there, knows that there is no American Dream, just an American Erised Mirror, and I’m being overly nice and kind when I say that.

A very gifted and extremely ambitious autocrat who’s in love with anything remotely resembling to power or a symbol of power—why else would he have negotiated for months in order to be received at the White House by Georges W. Bush, pictures with full special effects included (the stool trick allowing Sarkozy to be of the same height as Bush on that picture being probably the most ridiculous thing ever done by a pretender to the French presidency)?—Nicolas Sarkozy is also in love with almost anything coming from there. The catering to the great global corporations, the worship of unfettered free market coupled to the aim of breaking down social security and promoting individualism, deluding people into believing that “if you want and you work, you will get what you deserve and become rich”, the reduction of very grave and difficult problems to questions of genes, the unsubtle hints to religion and religious values being superior to secular values, the gross flirting with far-right and nationalist themes...all that is reminiscing of the W and his neo-con goons’ era.

Make no mistake, if France goes to Nicolas Sarkozy, he will carry out his promises, and he will destroy everything that makes France France. Culture will become a mere merchandise, unemployed people will be expelled from any kind of social security net and forced to accept underpaid jobs with worse and worse working conditions. Nicolas Sarkozy will institute the right for companies to fire employees without warning or reason, and will destroy all the rights our parents and grandparents fought so hard to obtain for all of us. Illegal immigrants will be cut off from all help, and thus be an ever tastier and easier prey for all the black market activities that nibble at our jobs and work conditions everyday. Tests will be performed at birth to detect if you’re not born a pedophile, or a depressive with suicidal tendencies at first, and then the tests will be run to determine whether you’re not a born delinquent, or a born homosexual, perhaps one day the tests will tell whether you’re a born socialist, or unionist… France will pledge eternal allegiance to the US, and will start a ferocious competition with the UK to see who the most faithful dog of the US administration is. And of course, France will also become the perfect heaven for global corporations, for financial hyenas and for all those big CEOs who get rewards that number in the tens of millions of Euros, whether they did a good job or not.

But then, Nicolas Sarkozy isn’t the only candidate who can pretend to win this election. There is a total of 12 candidates, most of whom are either buffoons or people who simply represent ideas and have no chance whatsoever to win. Only three among them stand a true chance to win: Nicolas Sarkozy, François Bayrou and Segolene Royal.

François Bayrou represents little else beyond himself, and vague promises that he will create a new party, and win a majority in the legislative elections that will follow the presidential one. While being a rather sympathetic, easily likeable character, Mr Bayrou doesn’t have much to offer. He tries to position himself as the anti-system candidate, the one who’s neither on the right, nor on the left. For his plans, he picks this from that side, and that from the other. In the end, it’s hard to say what he will do or not do, and it’s even harder to try and understand how he will be able to do it. Truth be told, there isn’t much credibility to his candidacy, but he does come from a centrist party and he does represent a sort of comfortable quietness while having a pretend rebellious attitude that people seem to like.

Among those who use the presidential campaign solely as a formidable tool to let their ideas known, to try and rise their political weight and to convince people in the long run, it’s likely there’s someone with whom you’ll find yourself in agreement, and whose ideas will feel more appealing than those of the “big three”. But voting for such a candidate in the first round of the election while making the bet that the one of the three you’ll fall back on will be there in the second round is tantamount to political suicide. We all know what happened when this same configuration of events first appeared.

April 21st, 2002, anyone?

No, I didn’t think so. Nobody in his/her right mind wants to relive the shame of having a far-right fascist, racist and nostalgic of the good old days of colonization be in position to become the elected president of France, and of having to go vote for someone whose ideas are opposite to yours in order to avoid the worst. No matter what everyone tries to tell people, about how outrageous it is to request that citizens focus on the “useful vote” as soon as the first round (meaning to vote for one of the three who has a true chance of winning), no matter how some small candidates cry out that it is an infringement on the right of citizens to truly choose who would represent them better, or how it is some kind of political terrorism to remind people of the past, casting a “useful” vote will be essential, unless one wants again to be faced with a choice between Charybde and Scylla.

In truth, those who claim that the Socialist party’s request toward voters to cast a useful vote is political terrorism are committing an act of political terrorism themselves: they are those who need the Socialist candidate, Segolene Royal, to win this election so that they can be in a bargaining position and perhaps get a ministry or other. If it’s not Segolene Royal, then Nicolas Sarkozy stands the most chance of winning it. And from thereon, bye bye, France.

For anyone who doesn’t want to see in power a fascist-leaning autocrat in love with anything American and who believes that destiny is written at birth and unchangeable, and who has a place in their heart for the well-being of people in the society as a whole, there is but one credible option: Segolene Royal.

Segolene Royal is the candidate of the Socialist party.

She’s a woman, the first woman in France’s history who’s candidate with a good, credible chance of winning, and boy does that rankle in some places!

She has been battered by petty criticism, by male chauvinism. Everything she has done has been deemed bad or wrong, or ignorant, when the same things done by her adversaries never even made it to the headline news because either it was no mistake, or because it was in truth insignificant. Segolene Royal HAS the competence. She has the knowledge. She has the best team (DSK is there, never doubt that). She has the resilience, she has the will, and she is a fighter, or she would have crumbled and withdrawn long ago. And what’s more, she has shown she can learn. She has shown a willingness to put herself at risk, she has gone to Lebanon, she has undertaken difficult trips abroad during the campaign, taking risks where the other candidates either remained safely home, or were trying to get the endorsement of their liege lord Georges W Bush where Nicolas Sarkozy is concerned.

Segolene Royal, contrary to what her oh so nice opponents have spent their time claiming, does know what she’s talking about. She does know about people, she does know about promises, she does know about listening to what people have to say. She does know that cohesion is of the essence of France is to go on, and grow deeper roots to sustain its model and its way of life. Segolene Royal recognizes the importance of strong trade union representation, of trade union presence within the companies to manage the social relationships, prevent conflicts and help with adaptations. She understands you need to help smaller entrepreneurs, while taking the wealth from where it’s oh so gently drowsing. She knows that if the state helps out corporations, then a return is expected from them: any corporation that receives money from the state and that wishes to leave France afterwards, to seek out greener and much cheaper pastures will have to give back all the money it got. She has a clear idea of where France should stand in the order of things, in the UNO, in Europe. Yes, she does have a project for France.

Yes, Segolene Royal is a promise of change, and of better days.

Segolene Royal is a chance, and a hope. The only one in this implacable race.

And we cannot afford to snub her, no matter that she doesn't like manga or anime.

PS: places to check out (in French):

PPS: yes. Again. B5. Blame Straczinski for creating the most fantastic TV series ever aired.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Abandon All Hope, All Ye Who Are Born Here

This is the news message of the French TV media’s favorite candidate for the French presidential election. Yes, you heard me: not “I’m gonna give you a better place to live in,” not “I’ll solve all your problems in no time,” not “I’m the best of them all.” No.

Abandon all hope.

You are born with a destiny. With a fate you can only bow down to.

Pre-destination. It’s another word for determinism, an obsolete concept according to which we are born with flaws and qualities, with deficiencies, and that’s it. It claims that nothing we can do, nothing our parents, the society we live in can do, will change them. It claims that we cannot make our own choices, we are prey to the material that shaped us at birth. It claims that those of us who become criminals aren't shaped, even in part, by the events of their lives, by the family they were raised into, by the society they live in. It claims that everything is said and done at birth.


Ah, genes. They’re everywhere these days. Gene therapy, hope. Genetic heirloom, threat. Eugenics, nostalgia of fascism and Nazism. It seems that Nicolas Sarkozy is well on the way to falling headlong into that particular pit. A few days ago, in an interview for a philosophy magazine, Mr. Sarkozy argued—twice—that in his opinion, pedophiles are born pedophiles. People with suicidal tendencies are born with suicidal tendencies. Several times he was asked to confirm that opinion, he was asked whether he didn’t think that society, family, the whole environment of the individual couldn’t account for a great part into people turning out the way they do.

But Mr. Sarkozy confirmed, time and again: pedophiles are born pedophiles. People with suicidal tendencies are born so.

This whole interview reveals something dreadful, beyond its message of hopelessness and deresponsibilisation, beyond the unbearable message that claims that we are not free to be who and what we want to be: the nauseating stench of eugenics, of the most repellant aspects of the far-right ideology. If people are born this way, then there is nothing to be done for them. No amount of education, of help, of discipline, of punishment will change what they are. “They cannot help the way they’re born.”

From thereon, the tune is well known. Since nothing can cure those who are born that way, the only thing you can do, at first, is to keep them away. Reject them. Wall them out of society. There’s no need to look for a cause, to question ourselves, to question the way we live, the society we live in, the society we’ve built. We aren’t part of the problem, nobody else but those people are part of the problem. They, and they alone. So, first off, wall the away. Then, really, when the healthy portion of society has had time to ponder the equation, get rid of the problem. Eradicate the defects. Eradicate them from the gene pool.

“They’re born that way.” How easy it is, to wipe difficult, terrible questions and problem away. How easy it is, to shy away from responsibility, from staring at the ugliness that humanity can spawn full in the face. Of course, it’s a very American thing to do. The American school of psychiatry aims to reduce everything to biological problems, to chemical unbalances, thereby turning a blind eye on all the outside elements that cause and trigger depression, and a great many mental health problems. Of course, it’s easy to understand why, when you take a look at the way the US’ society works. It’s easy to see why it’d be helpful to have “science” tell us that our problems stem from our genes, from our biology, thus denying all the harm society, our environment, the blows we take in our lives, the more so when we have no perspective, no social security net to sustain us when the weather gets stormy,

Far more than negating the most basic principles of self-determination and the ability for people to make and lead their own lives, far more than simply bowing down to the US’ way of thinking as is his wont, Nicolas Sarkozy is once again pitting people against each other.

Black and white.

Good and bad.

And this time, he’s telling us that the bad as born bad, and will stay that way. That there is no solution to be found, no question to be asked. That we can do nothing, but protect ourselves. Oh, he’s not there yet. No, no. First, he must rise in power. Be elected. But watch out for him. Once he’s there, the natural sequel of his reasoning will unfailingly follow: if people are born hideous criminals and monsters such as pedophiles, if there is nothing to do about this, then what other way out than to wall them away? What other way out than to build camps? To eradicate the threat, from the gene pool first, and then from society altogether?

But…Mr. Sarkozy, what is the gene that says someone is born a pedophile? What is the gene that says someone is born a delinquent? What is the gene that says someone is born depressive with suicidal tendencies?

Ah, you do not know.

But… Ah, it doesn’t matter, you are convinced that people are born pedophiles or heterosexual or depressive with suicidal tendencies.

And, tell us again, Mr. Sarkozy, what is the solution to those terrible problems, if that is so? Ah, you do not say. Yet.

Today, I’ve read at least ten times the interview where Nicolas Sarkozy happily spews out an argument that places him close to the worst of far-right leaders. Ten times, I’ve been wondering how a man who is making a bid for the French presidency has the gall to utter such heinous nonsense, and how he can get away with it. Had it been any other candidate, it would be all over the TV media, but as it is…nothing.

Nothing at all.

Not even a blink on French TV news. Oh, Belgian TV did mention the scandal, but the French TV networks are unexplainably keeping silent. Of course, the fact that Nicolas Sarkozy’s arm is a far-reaching one, and that he has ties with most of the owners of private TV channels, not to mention connections within public TV channels. If one wants to hear about this, one must get on the internet, read the newspapers, read blogs, and fish out the information the general media doesn’t want the people to see.

And again, Nicolas Sarkozy has shown his true colors: that of a dangerous, out of control autocrat who will stop at nothing, who will embrace far-right theories and more. he has shown that he isn’t worthy to become France’s president. Worse, that he’s not worthy to be a candidate in this election.

I can only hope, that people will hear of this latest derailing, and beware.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Ignorant Fools Should Grow Balls. Really.

Ah, I so love when I see basic anti-European editorialists spewing out the same crap, over and over again, like Mr Krauthammer in today’s edition of the Washington Post, for instance.

It’s always “impotent Europe this”, “impotent UNO that”, and “oh so powerful and benevolent and absolutely non-profit oriented US that saves the day”. An interesting analysis grid for the recent events, to be sure. I’m happy to report that the neo-cons and anti-multilateral institutions goons still cling to the same blindfolds and the same story-spinning and twisting to evangelize the world with their superior wisdom.

So it is that Europe and the UNO are now the ones humiliated by the whole farce between Iran and the UK. That’s weird. Last I checked, the UK was a fervently anti-European integration country, one adamantly opposed to any kind of political harmonisation. Last I checked, the UK was the most vocal and most powerful country to oppose any other voting rule within the UE than unanimity. And now it’s Europe’s lack of ability to unite politically which turned this whole thing into a humiliating route for itself? Uh, no, I really, really don’t think so.

Last I checked, in this hostage situation, it was the UK that was humiliated, along with the US that were forced to move and yield behind the scenes on prisoners and stuff they’re doing together in Iraq. Yeah, Iraq, remember, Mr. Krauthammer? You know, the country you’ve been happily destroying and dumping into long-lasting chaos and civil war? The country you went in to “free” (oil reserves and their exploitation by Haliburton included, batteries sold separately) where now you can even hear Shia people publicly regret the era of the tyrant Saddam Hussein?

Yes, Mr. Krauthammer, Iraq, the mess you caused, the US and the UK together, where Europe and the UNO wisely refused to get drowned along with you. So your allies get caught in a very predictable stage of the nice, unacknowledged cold war you’re busy entertaining with Iran, and it’s Europe’s fault for not getting them out? It’s Europe’s duty to get your allies out of the mess they decided to get in, and where Europe doesn’t want to go, refused to go from the start, and rightly so? It’s the UNO’s fault that your own folly is backfiring and exploding in your faces?

Give me a break, and get a life!

Those who humiliated themselves are the UK, which negotiated behind the scenes while trying to have everyone believe that they were the strong party and were ready to do anything to free their men, with the full option of warlike action hints. Even the UK press didn’t believe a word of that, and mocked the stupid attitude of Tony Blair’s government. Funny, I didn’t hear the English press mocking Europe or the UNO. But then, maybe, just maybe they’re not composed of brain-dead neo-cons and rabid anti-European fools.

Oh, and as to the US, which had to grumpily agree to assist the UK out of that whole nice mess, and had to step back on their own little warfare actions, allowing prisoners to be visited and the like, well, guess who’s looking like a fool? Ah, surprise, it’s your nice and oh-so wise government, Mr. Krauthammer, this paragon of intelligence and world vision that rules over the White House.

So, please continue spitting and foaming at the mouth. Please keep on spewing out ludicrous nonsense. I’m sure you’ll end up convincing yourself…one day. Still, if I mayt be so bold, one humble piece of advice: instead of projecting your own shame and humiliation on others, grow up and learn to shoulder them yourself. It will help you look a bit less like a total fool and ignorant.

As for me, I’ll continue being very, very happy that Europe stayed out of this mess, that we will keep out of this mess, and that it’ll keep being your responsibility, and yours alone. You wanted to dance, well now you’d better dance, and dance until the music dies out completely. I estimate at least a full generation, something like 20 years, before any semblance of order can come back to the ravaged country that you’ve turned Iraq into. So you’re stuck there for a while yet.

I hope you bought good dancing shoes, Mr. Krauthammer.

Good night, and good luck.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Religion’s True Face

“Gays are abnormal people. Abortion is evil, and just a convenient way for women to avoid giving birth. Euthanasia is a mistake. Condoms are porous, and those who encourage their use could well be brought to trial for advocating murder.”

When you read those sentences, you tend to think something along the lines of “ah, well, another fanatic,” or maybe “oh, it’s just a televangelist preaching brain-damaged fools living deep in the US’ infamous Bible Belt.” Or you think, “hmm, that one’s worthy of the true fascist and far-right parties, and to think of it, the Nazis would certainly have approved.” But those sentences aren’t ravings of a maniac, of a nazi nostalgic or a far-right extremist. Those sentences are part of an interview that was published today in a mainstream magazine here in Belgium. The interviewee being none other than a regular bishop of the regular Catholic Church, Mgr Leonard. Of course, Mgr Leonard is famous for his extremely conservative views. He was a fervent supporter of Joseph Ratzinger, our beloved Panzer Pope, and a member of the very powerful Congregation for the Preservation of the Doctrine and Faith (previously known as the “Holy Inquisition”, but for some reason they decided to change their name…). But still, Mgr Leonard is a bishop, and his message is supported by his hierarchy.

When you read those sentences, you think “obscenely backward.” And the message expressed in that interview definitely is. Just as it is also the message and the motto of the Catholic Church these days. You might think that the words are outrageous because the man and the institution behind him intend to spark a debate, and to have a serene discussion between people of different opinions.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. There is no debate to be had, there are only dogma and rules to be imposed on everyone. It goes so far as to challenge the basic principles of law. A law voted by the parliament will not bind the Church and those who bow down to its dictates. When one hears this kind of speech, one cannot help but wonder: aren’t the Church’s people as well as the “faithfuls” citizens of a country, thus bound by that country’s law? Or are they somehow above that, hence above respecting what applies to everyone, including the freedoms our laws offer when managing our lives? Nobody ever said that devout Christian women would have to undergo abortion. Nobody ever said that devout Christians would be forced to accept euthanasia!

When you attend a conference at which Mgr Leonard is invited, sooner or later, someone in the audience will ask him THE question. Someone will ask him about abortion. Being a very, very good Jesuit, he will answer you, as will all the men of the Church answer you: he will tell you about the value of life, about the unborn child, about its unborn soul. He will tell you about the joy and beauty of life. He will tell you about the unborn child’s father, he will tell you about the maternal womb, and all in all he will make a moving, extremely well built five-minute speech, in which there is but one flaw.

During five minutes, the man of the Church will talk about many things revolving around abortion, but he will forget to deal with one little element in the process, one tiny, tiny item involved in the whole thing: a woman. Five minutes on abortion, and no mention of the word “woman” except in a single, offhand sentence. And there, the very core of the Church’s problem is revealed. How can you start disserting on a subject such as abortion without discussing what women think, what women feel, what women experience, how women view themselves, and how they view their own right to self-determination and to rule their own bodies?


You can skip the insignificant “woman” element if you start explaining that this insignificant element uses abortion as a simple convenience means to avoid giving birth. When you’ve said that, you’ve said everything. You’ve revealed everything, and forever unveiled the ugly face of Catholic Church, and all monotheistic religions: that of a misogynist. You have insulted women all over the world, you have negated their psychological distress and pain, the shocking and painful surgical procedure they must go through when resorting to abortion. You have denied their very existence as individual, and shackled them into the simple image of a womb. A tool destined to give birth, period.

Islam, Judaism and Christianity have more in common than just worshipping a single deity. They all harbour a very long-lasting hatred for women. Yes, those religions hate women, and it doesn’t take a lot of intelligence to find this out: every holy book contains its share of chapters devoted to how women are inferior, how they should be disciplined by men, how they are impure in this or that circumstance, on how they are temptresses, and they’re always the ones guilty for pushing the innocent men to sin. Never mind that “poor, innocent men” are considered as impotent children who can’t control their own urges, who shouldn’t even have to, when you think about it, since it’s always women’s fault. It seems that men who stick to those religions are content with that portraying of them, which may also be comprehensible: it’s so much more convenient. Who cares that biology teaches us that male behaviour is by far the aggressive part where sexuality is concerned? It’s not as if religion had to bow down to the hard truths of science. Everyone knows that religion is above that. By the way, how old is the earth these days? 5,000 years? Made over the course of 6 days by a grumpy old man with a white beard?

Say what you will, all the chauvinistic and misogynistic passages exist in this or that Scripture. And never has any true Church authority come forward to deny them, and to ask women for forgiveness, for all the crimes and the suffering they have endured for millennia at the hands of men acting in the name of those Scriptures and beliefs.

Changes and evolution in the last centuries almost managed to lull free-thinkers and women into complacence, into a sense of false security, but make no mistake: the Church is still there. It hasn’t changed, its core values are still there. It simply has learnt to wear a more pleasant, a more inviting mask. A quick fix to uncertainty, to insecurity, to loss, grief, fear, unhappiness and death, it is again on the road to seduce all the people rocked and unbalanced by the way our society is evolving and abandoning them on the way. Now the Church hides behind “universal values”, and slowly, slowly crawls back to the frontlines. Little by little, syllable by syllable, it challenges secular law, it demands its place in the temporal order of things. Patient, stubborn, it works at carving its way back toward the level of power it enjoyed before.

It would impose its dogma and its dictates to those who do not share its faith or its beliefs. And why not, since it claims to hold values that are “universal” and thus apply to anyone, no matter what they think or believe in? Why not, since anyway they’re out to save your soul, no matter whether you’re interested or not?

I must have said this a million times: faith deserves my and everyone’s infinite respect. Faith is a personal matter, one that belongs to the person experiencing it and nobody else. Faith belongs to your private life, and it’s your most absolute right. Religions, however, have time and again demonstrated that they are incapable of sticking to the domain of their faithfuls and to the private life domain. Time and again it tries to crawl back out of its closet to impose its views on everyone. Time and again it tries to seize the power it lost and to dominate our lives.

Religions belong to the past. They belong to obscurity and a feudal relationship of servant to master. We aim to live in democracy, in freedom. In such a world, there is no place for obsolete elements that refuse to acknowledge the reality that surrounds them. There is no place for obsolete elements that would impose their laws on others, and stubbornly refuse to understand that we now live in a secular society.

If religions cannot adapt to our secular world, then they must go.

And good riddance.