Writings, photos, politics and rants... *Original content - may not be reproduced without my consent.*

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Hes not the Messiah...

Photo: Netflix

As someone on the left, I feel there is too much of  the "men of destiny," "socialist messiah" syndrome not only taken up by working Class folk, but encouraged by people who should know better. The left, like the series Messiah, ultimately fails on the expectations of worshippers whose dream of a saviour is made flesh. Reality never lives up to dreams... And people are full of flaws that will ultimately be used as a crack to let in the divisive darkness. 

Political movements, parties, campaigns etc are only as strong as the wider need for them. They  ultimately fall - become histanai - when one person or vanguard control them. Julius Ceasar was the first fascist hero... And ultimately the prize of hero /ceasar/emporer of Rome, and the flaws of those who sought it, caused it to die. Heroism is infantile. Needy. And it is a way of Teflon shouldering solution, and then ultimately, blame. Thatcherism, the heroising of her and her rapidly ossifying creed, will make way for the next  phase of economic organisation. It won't be socialism as people imagine, nor will it be the overt fascism of the past. And it won't be a meeting place/compromise of each of either of the extremes of those as we currently understand them. 

There are manipulators of crowds who know these things. And use them to divert, and crush, what they, or their bosses don't like. 

In my opinion, and I am no messiah... I am a flawed person who sometimes inaccurately comes to conclusions.., self preservation is leading us to higher walls, and a greener, but very much less democratic world, if we don't start looking at real micro and macro solutions to existing problems.

Socialism really does need to be rethought from the individual, through community and beyond. All of us, are part of that. We don't have to wait for "experts" or messiah to lead us to salvation. There are truths in the past we can learn from. But we need to learn to be honest with ourselves, our imperfections and the imperfections of our personal takes/groupthink re dogma and ideology.

Do something positive today that changes things for the better for you, and one other person. It's a start. 


{loved these... Add to that second one, "lefty messiahs, conspiracy theorists, self proclaimed experts," and you've also got, more or less, a big chunk of the Yes movement I'm part of in Scotland.} 

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Obsessively 2020 Vision

2019 was in many ways a defining year for me. Lots of it quite shite, but with some positives floating in the mire, like little shiny glass baubles. 


Politics was awful, but the gem of a campaign me and a few others from the website leftungagged.org executed in East Dunbartonshire, highlighting the Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson's tory voting record that helped oust her from Westminster was a particularly shiny moment. Helping to rid Westminster of one of the awful coalition members was a happy moment-- helping defeat this woman  who plunged many vulnerable people into DWP despair, poverty and helplessness, did take a tiny sliver off the edge off a decade dominated by Thatcherism on speed, far right fascists becoming "mainstream" and a dreadful opposition to this in the form of a left that has led to strangling, and quartering itself in slogans and obsessive recruitment dislocation.

Personally, the year ended dreadfully as my father became terribly ill, and my "Hogmany" was spent in a ward off A&E in (the pretty sounding) Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry, a night I will never forget. And amongst nursing staff again placed in dreadful situations by a decade of Tories. Our NHS is being drained of resources by these ideological and privileged bastards, who see more value in spooning our taxes out to their mates who crashed the economy in 2008 rather than ensuring there are enough people looking after our sick, Ill and old folk. That night shift for the small amount of staff was a herculean effort. Our nurses and doctors really deserve more, and we deserve more of these absolute angels.

I suffer from self diagnosed winter depression, which takes the form of obsessing over something in my past--usually something I feel I've done badly-an interaction or how I've treated someone. This year is no exception as I obsess over self destructive behaviour of 1988. At least I am coming to some, sort of understanding of why I acted so badly in my past.

The book I really want to write is going to be written after the one I feel compelled to write to make me happy. The one I'm working on will create worlds. The one I want to write will be based very much on the real world.

It's very difficult to be inspired when all feels like it is crumbling around me. 

Anyway, I am back on the blog. And hopefully the practice of writing here will allow me space to write better stuff as the year progresses. My writing muscle really needs flexing and exercised, as it really has become flabby.

NWS

{scene of 1988 bad behaviour}

{after days in Daisy Hill... 👆}

{Daisy Hill 👇} 

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Caught in a loop?

I still like the idea of a "Scottish Socialist Party," but the Scottish party with that name and that ambition fizzled out as its heart left it circa 2009/10, after a long period of cohesion and loyalty during the Tommy Sheridan affair, when the real cross section of the left drifted from it, as all ambition to be the most democratic left electoral organisation was abandoned in order for the rump leadership to "survive." 

The pre-2009 SSP was cohesive, loyal, and let down. 

It reached a point in 2014 after a superb campaign inside and outside of the Radical Independence Campaign, when the "emergency abandonment of constitution" COULD have been reversed... A time when the organisation was again strong enough in confidence and numbers to hold proper internal elections and the caretaker leadership to step aside. Instead, that leadership made up mostly of decent veteran Militant Tendency members who had been part of the original group who had helped build the Scottish Socialist Alliance, oddly decided to railroad loyal activists into Rise, a sectarian vehicle created by a small group of people who couldn't bring themselves to join the revitalised SSP because of their history of and positions during the Sheridan show, and a small group of SSP people who had not been active in the party during the Independence campaign for various reasons, though mostly because of their disillusionment in the existing, tenacious, undemocratic leadership.

And that core, “unofficial” SSP leadership moved to crush, isolate and expel any dissent, discussion and debate the original party thrived on, of the moves towards what became Rise.

By 2015/16 the party had crashed yet again, losing all of the ground it had gained in the lead up to 2014.

However, as I say, the original ideal of a democratic, unified left party is still desirable, though how that is built is the question.

The SNP may well fall to the right after independence is won, and a vibrant, democratic left alternative may well be where many within the SNP will want to go. Using SWP style methods to build a new RIC, which can not really go anywhere after Independence, is really short term. The "many people, asked us to do this and x, yand z are coming, are you?" method is empty, short term and usually built around a persona or a couple of people. This inevitably leads to a short term rise in enthusiastic members, and then crash when they find in actual fact, they have little power, say, etc and things stay the same.

Ric, Rise and the SSP have lost many activists who, if they had have been given real power, within democratic structures, could have built an amazing alternative to Scottish Labour.
Vibrant branches, who were democratic and part of a democratic whole, were key features of the SSP

The building of the greens in England are something to watch. Their leadership changes often, yet they have recognisable spokespeople. Their internal democracy is second to none. And they have flagship, imaginative policies that will change all lives. And members, branches and networks have real power.

The SSP flagship policies are good. Admirable, but they really do not have a flagship headline policy that goes to the heart of their original 200k+ electorate.

I really do hope to be part of a vibrant party dedicated to real change in working class lives-a party that will make policies that aim for real equity throughout Scotland - tangible things that are not just slogan based--sometime in the future. A party confident enough to welcome members questioning, testing and dissenting from internal contradictions and undemocratic constitutional hiccups.

And a party that develops policy in the crucible of branches, regional meetings and internal networks and platforms.

Pre-2009, the SSP had a vision and a democratic structure that ensured all members felt valued. 


The SSP, if it is to grow and succeed in making real changes, need to get back to the recognition that the movement is successful when individuals are allowed to express, argue and debate and recognise their own potential agency within the community of struggle.

The SSP leadership should know through its own experience, that heroic individuals never drive positive, long term events... It is the movement with its lumps, bumps, irreverence, mistakes, networks and internal elasticity that bring success.

Buying in to the heroic socialist, whether that be through the disregard for the early twentieth century movement and the raising individuals above the crowd, through the Sheridan affair, to the Rise nonsense, the insidiously capitalist approach of "certain individuals know best," really needs to be ditched for a real, positive, democratic, COLLECTIVE approach.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

The Christmas Ghost

 

They were standing outside Shirl’s Sweetie Shop in the high street after Dexter had bought his wee sister her Christmas present. He knew she would love the flowery hot chocolate mug filled with marshmallow.

It was their first argument.

“Haunted houses aren’t real!” Sahir shouted.

“Aye they are, and my house is haunted!”

Dexter was really annoyed. His face was bright red from shouting. How dare she doubt him. At this moment in time, he hated her. Usually he enjoyed her company.

Sahir had arrived on Gravel Street, in the house opposite his, just last year. Her family had moved from Syria after, she said, in her words, her house was, “exploded to small bits.” Sahir was usually good fun. She played football, with her scarf and long skirt flying out behind her. The boys got annoyed with her on the pitch because she was always so fast. If she managed to get the ball, that was game over for the other team. She would glide skilfully past everyone, arms outstretched, making aeroplane noises and the ball could not be stopped by any goalie, even Robbie James.

She was the bravest, strangest person he had ever met. And where he met her was just as strange. One night he had looked out of his window to see her sitting on her roof, cross legged, gazing up at the starry night. He had looked at his fitbit. It was 3.30 in the morning. He had opened his window and shouted across at her, “Are you OK?” She had given him a dirty look and shouted back at him, “I am just enjoying the Plough, Mr Nosey neighbour.” He had just shrugged is shoulders and closed his window but wondered who this strange girl was, and what the heck the Plough was.

The next day, at 8am when he was being rushed through his breakfast by his dad, the door bell had sounded. There stood the same strange girl in the same school uniform he was in. She looked him up and down with her brown, shining, sincere eyes and said, “You are coming or what?”

He usually dragged his feet going to school, but when his dad said it was OK for him to walk to school with this strange person, he was ready in two minutes flat. That was when he found out what the Plough was. She told him it was a group of stars shaped like an old fashioned plough – a machine that digs up the ground. In America, she said, the Plough was called “The Big Dipper,” which is what Americans called a soup ladle.

She became his best friend. The mad things they did became legendary in the school class. Like climbing the highest tree, tying a rope around it to make a swing that swung people halfway across the canal was the most famous… even the P7’s were in awe of that one. Well, Sahir had done all the climbing and tying. He had directed her from the ground, letting her know when she was in the middle of the branch.

Another time, just a few days after Sahir had joined the class, the teacher had told them he was just nipping out to the photocopier and would be, “just three minutes!” As always when he had to, “nip out,” he added, “Remember, I can hear you all the way down the corridor.”

As soon as he left, Ashley Gordon stood up and went to the door and peeped round it. “He’s gone!”

The classroom was like a different place as soon as she had said that. The shackles were lifted. Dexter hated these times. It was almost like a little bit of the world had broken. Order fell apart. And Ally Rodgers and his wee crew would start on someone. No-one knew who it would be, but there was relief that it wasn’t you if someone else got it.

Dexter usually kept his head down, either reading or continuing the work they were supposed to do, as most in the class did.

A shadow fell over Dexter’s book, and his heart sank.

“Disaster Williams is teachers pet!” Ally Rodgers lifted the book Dexter was reading and flung it through the open window. There were gasps.

“Oh look what you’ve done, Disaster Williams,” Rodgers sneered. “Everyone saw it… Williams had a temper tantrum and the book flew out the window, isn’t that right?” His little gang all nodded and agreed. The rest of the class, trying not to be the next victim, tried not to react. Dexter knew that if he was not the victim, he would be trying to react in a way that didn't condone what was happening, but wouldn't mark him out as next on the menu. He knew no-one would be brave enough to help him. No-one ever was.

Except Sahir.

She moved like lightening across the classroom. Her face, usually lit up in the brightest smile, looked angry, determined, steely.

She grabbed Rodgers by the collar of his shirt, punched him sharply, hard on the nose, just once, and let him go. He fell to the ground, clutching his face, blood dripping from his chin and hands, wailing.

Everyone fell silent.

She stood over him and whispered, “A girl can beat you.” She turned to each of his wee gang defiantly. “You are wanting to be next?”

To a person, they sat down fearfully, in their seats.

She then walked over to the window and climbed out onto the second floor window sill. She disappeared. Everyone ran over to the window chattering and laughing, ignoring a screaming Rodgers. A few seconds later, her face reappeared and she climbed in, walked over to Dexter and handed him his book.

“Next time, punch the little silly boy good in the nose, Dexter Williams.”

“He’s coming!” Ashley Gordon ran from the door to her seat, and everyone followed, except for Sahir. She walked over to the crying Ally Rodgers, lifted him by his elbow and asked, “Beaten by a girl?”

The teacher walked in and stopped and stared at them. “What happened here?”

The class was in complete silence.

Sahir’s face was back to it’s normal, radiantly smiling, friendly default setting. “Ally Rodgers walks to change his library book and tripping over a chair. I take him to the office to be cleaned up good.”

And she did. Pulling Rodgers past the puzzled, stuttering teacher and through the door.

And after that, Rodgers bothered no one.

Dexter was really annoyed with her when she said she didn’t believe him about the strange noises in his house at night. The noises, although usually soft, sometimes almost imperceptible, sometimes were loud enough to awake Dexter from light sleep. His mum and dad had set mouse traps, but they caught nothing. And when they were in the attic they had found things had been mysteriously moved; cleared to the sides, as if something was making room to walk through the boxes, old toys and bags of clothes they just hadn't got round to giving away to the charity shop – or was that their imagination? Had THEY moved the boxes the last time they were up there?

“Its haunted, I’m telling you! Our house is haunted!”

“Its no a ghost house, you big afraidy,” she said.

He had stormed off, leaving her in the street and running to get home so she couldn’t catch up and change his angry mind.

Christmas Eve, and he had fallen out with his best friend. This made it seem all the worse.

Later, he lay awake, excited for what might be left for him under the brightly decorated tree, but mostly because the argument from earlier was replaying over and over in his mind. How could he have handled that better? Sahir should have been more understanding, he thought. She shouldnt have been so dismissive… or was it just a misunderstanding? Sometimes how Sahir spoke sounded out of place, but that was only because of her being one of the EALs. English as a second language. He lay there for what seemed like hours. Usually he would just switch on his bedside light and read until his mind calmed and he felt tired again, but he knew his mum and dad would be extra vigilant tonight, so he just lay thinking about what had happened earlier. Then it happened.

Then the noises started. Creaking, then what sounded like soft footsteps across his ceiling. He lay listening like he did every night. He didn't want to hear a mouse trap snapping; he didn't like to think of the wee mouse squished to death by those strong springs. But he did want this to stop. At least the snap sound would be some sort of explanation. He thought of Sahir and what she said and he thought, “I’m going mad or else Santa is on my roof!”

A year ago, before he met Sahir, he would have either buried himself deeper into his duvet, or ran in to his mum and dad’s bedroom. But meeting her had changed him. He wasn’t the bravest person in the world, but he was a lot braver than he had been. There were worse monsters in the world, and Sahir had told him about the faceless monsters who had shot her friends and blown up her city. She had, without embarrassment, told him about her fear, her helplessness and her tears when her life and her city was torn apart and he felt stupid being afraid. Whatever this was, he thought, it was not as bad as what Sahir had to go through.




He knelt on his bed and opened his window and looked across the road. Sahir’s bedroom light was on, but no Sahir staring at the Plough or Orion’s belt or the moon.

He climbed up on to his window sill and held tight to the inside of his window and stretched himself up to look at his roof… and he saw it. A face staring back at him from the little skylight window in his roof. He nearly fell backwards, out of his window onto the street below in shock.

But on a second look, he saw it was Sahir, staring back at him with her wide happy smile.

“Did I awake you?” she asked, smiling.

“What the blazing heck are you doing in my attic, you idiot?” He snapped back.

“Sorry Dexter Williams. It’s Jupiter. I love to look at Jupiter on my roof in Syria. I could no see it from my roof here, so I climbed to your house every night. Ghosts not real, Dexter Williams! People real. I miss the people I sat on the roof watching the universe when I is in Syria. But I can stare at the same stars they are staring at… at the same time. Connection. Where-ever they be in big scary world.”

She stretched out and helped him onto the roof.

And that’s where he found out that the Ghost of Christmas knew loads and loads about the beautiful, glittering, friendly, comforting universe…


Monday, 31 December 2018

A few Facebook posts to finish this shitty political year...

... because next year (tomorrow) must be started without sarcasm...

Not sure if my resolution for the new year is to be increasingly sarcastic on political social media, punctuate and spell better on social media, be more angry on social media culminating in daily YouTube videos of me shouting in my car, or to get out more… hmmm...
___

Good to see that heroic tory bloke cutting short his holiday as we are being invaded by four or five people in little boats. That is leadership material right there. Our next PM... Someone who doesn't need holidays while small boats with poor people are invading our borders. This is serious. He is concerned. Concerned about protecting our borders. The Tory bloke needs to put his foot down about Brexit. Brexit is Brexit, even if some lefties call it lexit. That'll save us from four or five people invading our great country in little boats. Protect our borders. Protect people. Protect borders from people. Protect Brexit. Protect Brexit from people. Brexit those borders. 

 Image result for sajid javid cartoon
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As the human world circles the plughole, what do you think you are winning, typing frantically, manically, with your thumbs?
___

The world takes another loop of the sun. Silently beginning a journey it'll end in the same place next year. From afar, viewed through lenses circling, not much changing, we hope.
The politics of people impacting on the thin layer that protects us. Will our politics help that thin layer continue to protect us? Or will our politics continue down the path of starving, bombing, burning people from their homes to die cold in seas, seeking a life we have stolen? Will our politics leave nothing for children?
___

If you don't believe in Christ, you are a sinner. If you challenge the leader, you have fallen. People join to be part of the truth, the arrow, the one true way to God. People join to be embraced, and to be heard. Noone wants to be cast outside, demeaned and be enemies of Christ. The unfortunates are outside, there to be pitied and led by the elect.

If you reject the analysis, you are bourgeois. If you challenge the analysis written by the leader, you are an enemy of the party. People join to be part of the truth, the arrow, the one true socialist party. People join to be embraced, and to be heard. Noone wants to be cast outside, demeaned and be enemies of socialism. The unfortunates are outside, there to be pitied and led by the vanguard. Image result for socialist vs christian cartoon
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Mum: Brexitina and Lexita, time for your bath!
Children: we've voted never to Bath again. Our current knowledge of bathing is that it gets in the way of playing and eating sweets.
Mum: but you'll end up smelling bad. You'll lose friends. You'll get ill.
Children: respect our vote.
Two years later:
Children: mum, Noone wants to play with us and we have open, running sores all over our bodies. We want to reverse our vote.
Mum: no way... The children spoke. I respect democracy. Now keep that bedroom door closed... Noone wants to smell that!

 
___

Next year the Queen needs to dress in a hoodie, pyjama bottoms and a pair of Nike or I'm not listening. 

 Image result for angry man on facebook cartoon

Thursday, 27 December 2018

Disaster Selfie

A bit of a debate over this article in a group I'm in. As some know, I lived in Northern Ireland for 27 years, all of which, except for the first three, was during the troubles. I saw bombs going off, and the aftermath of those.

Mobile phones didn't exist in the way they do nowadays. I guarantee you if they did, many of us would have taken photos in front of bombed out buildings, wrecked streets etc. I would probably have done it as a young person or teenager, and perhaps smiled. In fact, I know I would have. The "normality" or "abnormal normality" of these events even sparked black humour, and when I heard or saw bombs go off, sometimes we'd joke "they missed us." Sometimes we'd rush TO bombs we heard going off to see the aftermath /help (though to be honest, there was never much we could help with... 95% of what we did was pure voyeurism) etc. As it is, I have souvenirs of bombs going off in my hometown, including a chunk of metal from one of the cars I saw exploding. At the time, as a 15 year old, I had no idea if anyone was killed or injured. I wasn't. (as it turns out, Noone else was).
Now, of course this kind of souvenir taking and voyeurism is questionable, of course it is. But it was our normal. It was our way of dealing with what was going on around us. A disastrous war that claimed many lives and ruined many, many more. The photos the press churned out of us were of a wretched, miserable people. A two dimensional view.


But when something happens outside your normality, a valid reaction is to record it. Be amazed by it. Record your presence in something locally, nationally or internationally "surprising," different.
Bombs went off at different times of the day, and on one occasion a pub we'd just left was "hit." Again, Noone was hurt, but if I'd had a camera, I'd have had smiling pics of me and my drunken mates after surviving that one, probably smiling, probably beside the small blast (a bicycle bomb outside Gowdy's... Any of my norn irish friends remember that? It was a foggy winters night is all I remember).


So, the rush to judgement to me, is one of privilege. One of "we send our money to help these people, yet they smile." We want our charitable cases to look miserable, and not to be recording themselves happily beside some unusual, abnormal event close to their everyday normality.


Can you imagine... We in Northern Ireland laughed and smiled our way through horrendous events. Some of the jokes we told would make your toes curl... (mild one: 
"The Reverend Ian Paisley was killed when his car hit a tree. The IRA claimed they planted it." circa - 1985).   It didn't make those events better... It just made our lives more bearable. I'd have been really angry with anyone from outside Ireland telling us to be less sensitive and more miserable looking.

I think we should stop being judgemental about people in shock or whatever and hopefully ensure those who need help, get it.

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Traditional murder

Today, very rich people will chase a spaniel sized wild canine through fields. The canine will then be ripped apart by other dogs. This will be justified as "tradition." It will also be justified as helping the rural economy (by many who have fucked the UK economy by dragging us all in to a racist, and profitable-tory-Brexit nonsense). In the coming days, very rich people will shoot birds from the sky and stalk deer and put a bullet through their innocent vital organs. At no time in these traditions do the participating animal get a fair go at the Royal or wealthy businessman. It is never a fair fight.

Japanese rich people have been justifying the slaughter of whales as "tradition." A tradition that is costing the planet by totally unbalancing an eco system that has sustained us since our species stood up straight on two legs by killing off huge schools of massive animals that support ecosystems on their bodies, and by the sheer weight of their numbers, eco systems that effect our weather and our resistance to disease, starvation and early death. In fact, the decimated world whale population has partly led us to the ecological disaster that is looming… Our hunting species to extinction for our gratification and the profits of a few - our dominion over the other lives outside our own species, has led directly to the storms and ecological disasters encompassing the delicate earth systems we evolved in.

Tradition is something worth preserving if it is at the very least, neutral in its impact on the world. Taking a life, a life that can never be lived again, is not neutral. Tradition really is no excuse to stick to systems. I was brought up in Northern Ireland… There were, and are, hate filled traditions there that really should never be preserved. Traditions in South Africa and the southern states of America are being dismantled because of their awful impact on people.

Imagine a tribe of people who hitherto had stayed hidden on an island in the Pacific or in a rain forest. Imagine they announced via a spokesperson that they were ready to take their place within the nations of the UN and would like to present the world with something valuable... Something that would create jobs, cure illnesses, move technology on 50 years in a year... Imagine this boon came to capitalism on condition their traditions should be respected... The most important tradition to them being their feasting on one selected first born baby a year... Tradition. Would the UN be ok that? Would you be OK with it if it meant a pay rise of a few quid and huge profits for Richard Branson, Lord Sugar, IBM and Pfizer? Would you be OK if that tradition was just the hunting of pet dogs? Corgis, border collies, dachhounds? Or perhaps the eating of live monkeys? No? So what makes tradition that murders and eventually leads to our own mental and physical demise OK? Civilised? In Thailand some eat dogs… How can those who have other people kill animals for their taste buds or to support Tradition really object ? Caged, scared, disabled dogs for the platter surely are no different than cattle, pigs, deer, rabbits, foxes?

The blood sports economy does benefit a few people. But the land it uses is usually kept devoid of other life. Huge swathes of land in Scotland that could be amazing for a wider, fairer economy are kept barren in order for half drunk men in tweed or women in combat outfits to get a clean shot at birds specially rared to stroke murderous Traditional egos. Killing has a huge impact on our ecology. Killing wild life for sport has a massive impact on us. And killing animals that need our protection, for profit, has a huge impact on us, our future survival, and the mental health of those involved. Tradition as murder and planetary destruction.

Until relatively recently in our history, we lived in equilibrium with the animals around us. We took lives when we needed to. We ate a varied diet of mostly plants… Animals historically, because of how difficult to raise them or hunt them, were only eaten on special occasions. Like kids given keys to the sweet shop, we have eaten ourselves, our mental health and our planet, sick.

I'm an imperfect vegan. I'm not evangelical. But I feel if alternatives to murdered animals and chemical pumped rotting flesh are there, that's what we should really be trying to cultivate to eat.

And murder of anything, anyone, in the name of tradition, fun, or profit is just wrong, damaging for all involved, and millions who arent.

That tribe, imho, would not be allowed into the UN. Decency would prevail. Yet people, are considering giving Japan the OK to upset further an eco system that is becoming so unbalanced, more and more people are dying every year because of a broken planet, in floods, extreme weather and fires.

Traditions like orange walks that have erupted in violence against communities are not worth the preserving. Murder as a tradition, regardless of what animal is murdered, is absolutely worth halting and outlawing like the lynching, cannibalism, and witch hunts of our past. Tradition is no excuse to march us towards our extinction.