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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » UK - Anti-abortion group drafted in as sexual health adviser to government (Page 1)

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Author Topic: UK - Anti-abortion group drafted in as sexual health adviser to government
treetops
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Article.

Don't have anything intelligent to say about this, really. Just urgh [Frown] .

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Saffron Raymie
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Agggggggggggggggghhhhh Nadine Dorries. That is all. Looks like we've got quite a fight on our hands.

[ 05-26-2011, 06:42 AM: Message edited by: RaeRay2112 ]

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'Obtain the virgin's consent before you marry her' - Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)

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bump on a log
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Andrew Lansley is quite likely to be kicked out of his job, or so I hear. We did that, we can do this. Let's take on Dorries & co.
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Jacob at Scarleteen
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(hey raeray)

I agree the Dorries bill is really annoying but I feel like she's only a very small piece of this puzzle. If she was a lone ranger I don't think she'd have quite the same platform.

For example I don't think she could appoint LIFE as a new member of the sexual health advisory council?

For some reason this got much bigger coverage than this press release on the 20th of May:

http://www.care.org.uk/news/sex-and-relationships-education-council-launched-in-parliament-this-week

"2) The founding members of the Council are: evaluate, Lovewise, Challenge Teams, LIFE, Silver Ring Thing, Family Education Trust and Right to Life."

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Saffron Raymie
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(Hello you!!)

...Silver Ring thing, really? [Frown] Are they all anti-choice?

Rock on Bumponalog for being so positive, probably the best approach [Smile]

[ 05-31-2011, 10:41 AM: Message edited by: RaeRay2112 ]

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'Obtain the virgin's consent before you marry her' - Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)

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Jacob at Scarleteen
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Well they're abstinence based... in the UK they're actually tiny... but the US version is huge, you get a silver ring if you promise not to have sex. A lot of it is about "saving yourself" for someone. Where sex isn't something you do, but something you seem to "have" and that you need to give to someone... when you get married, of all things.

I actually collected a whole load of quotes, which doesn't mean I'm the biggest geek in the world:

evaluate: " support them in delaying sexual experience until a long-term committed exclusive relationship. "

(At least it doesn't say marriage, so not as anti-gay, and it talks about support)

Lovewise: "Too Special to Spoil
Sex is too special to spoil. This presentation examines the benefits (physical and emotional) of saving sexual intimacy for marriage and discusses the practicalities of 'going out'."

Challenge Teams: "What is the message?

• Saving sex for marriage is a positive, realistic and healthy lifestyle.
• Saving sex for marriage is a lifestyle of sexual self-control and respect.
• Anyone can start over again and choose chastity, which basically means saving sex for marriage.
• There can be many negative physical and emotional consequences to teen sexual activity - unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and diseases, loss of self-respect, embarrassment, anxiety, regret, etc.
• Saving sex for marriage can bring freedom - from worry about health or pregnancy, to be respected for who you are, to plan your future, to enjoy healthy relationships, and more."

LIFE: "LIFE is opposed to abortion on principle in all circumstances because it ends the life of a unique unborn child. This extends even to what many people consider the “hard cases”, such as disability, teenage pregnancy, and pregnancy after rape."

Silver Ring Thing (UK): "There is only one true "Safe Sex" message and that must be the message of abstinence until marriage."

Family Education Trust: "The organisation is research-based. There is no area in social science in which the evidence stacks up so completely on one side: marriage and traditional family life are associated with good outcomes in terms of health, wealth and other indicators of well-being." ... " Liberal divorce laws have rendered marriage less meaningful as a commitment."Young people, including children under the legal age of consent to sexual intercourse, are being provided with contraceptives and then treated for the outcomes of sexual relationships by means of abortion and sexually transmitted disease clinics, without their parents ever having to be informed."

(They seem not quite as aggressive as the rest, and opposed the proposed £60million spend on the "It's OK to be Virgin" campaign a few years ago and said that the environmental conditions of teens are the real concern, which I agree with more.)

Right to Life: "Right to Life is a political lobby group defending the right to life from conception to natural death. It works more closely with Pro Life Parliamentarians and the All Party Parliamentary Pro Life Group than any other political lobby group defending the Right to Life from conception to natural death. It’s recent campaigns have been on the Human Fertilization and Embryology Act, campaigning against the production of human embryos, hybrid (animal/human) embryos, saviour siblings and defending the child’s right to a father."

[ 05-31-2011, 01:33 PM: Message edited by: Jacob at Scarleteen ]

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Heather
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Also on Silver Ring Thing: http://www.aclu.org/reproductive-freedom/aclu-announces-settlement-challenge-government-funded-religion-abstinence-only-

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Saffron Raymie
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Thanks for the info. The best thing that can come out of this is the right to say no if you don't want sex, and hopefully they'll talk more about pressure, and how to recognise it. Maybe this could result in coercion being less powerful? I'm just throwing ideas out there I really don't know what I'm talking about.

but go positive outlook!

Silver Ring thing seems pretty saturated in rape culture...

[ 05-31-2011, 11:20 AM: Message edited by: RaeRay2112 ]

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'Obtain the virgin's consent before you marry her' - Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)

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bump on a log
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quote:
Originally posted by Jacob at Scarleteen:
in the UK they're actually tiny...

And I doubt they could grow much in the popular esteem barring some kind of massive cultural shift. That kind of thing doesn't go down too well over here. Which doesn't mean we shouldn't worry about their being used as government advisers. This will be given a different spin, less direct to how they'd do it in the States, but it's the same nonsense.

[ 05-31-2011, 09:55 PM: Message edited by: bump on a log ]

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Jacob at Scarleteen
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Hmmm I'm not too sure how safe it is to sit on a high-horse about it. I think our slightly more liberal and left wing seeming politics can be deceptive... I don't think people in the US are oblivious, I think these organisations like the silver ring thing capitalise on the political benefits of pedalling abstinence or anti-abortion especially for the politicians who want to promote a basis on which they can be better than thou... I don't think it's so much "This couldn't happen here" as much as, we're not quite set up for it here yet in that particular way... I don't see much of a reason that won't change, or even that it hasn't changed without being immediately visible.

Maybe not the sliver ring thing per sé but maybe something like that could easily emerge, with a slightly more british imagery...

I think the british moral conservative response to a lot of sexuality has actually been silence, awkwardness and stifling... even to talk about being against sexual expression requires you to talk about sexual expression itself... and I think as we "progress" into being more relaxed talking about sexuality (as we have, I think), it may become also easier to verbalise an opposition, and exploit people's i insecurities that come from change with the new language that comes from the progress itself.

I don't think it's backward, so much as it is a modern way for things to possibly get worse. I think it has more to do with modern problems and modern worries than it does the old-fashioned beliefs it claims to represent.

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bump on a log
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Good points. I'm very familiar with both countries and sometimes my understanding of the differences, which are much bigger than a lot of people often assume, can overwhelm my understanding of the broad similarities. I think the way a British version of Silver Ring Thing absolutely would NOT fly is if it were given an openly religious pitch, because people here are suspicious of that kind of thing. But spin it to be about marriage, secure homes and think-of-the-children and yeah, it could fly, especially if the tabloid press liked it. Anyway, up to a point it doesn't need much popular appeal. It needs influence in government and, if it's not particularly liked, just to escape the general public's radar.

[ 06-01-2011, 05:09 PM: Message edited by: bump on a log ]

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CougarBite
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Why I feel the government taking on advise to go against individuals behaviour. Have to remember that the government only uses advisers when they personally want to change something. And I dont see any government bringing in pro-life legalisation to a country with an over-population problem as it is at the moment. (sorry sounded a little cold)

I would remind people that in 2009 when the adviser for drug legalisation in the UK said cannabis was less harmful then sugar they just sacked him.

The only reason I can see the government hiring these people is to try and promote a middle ground that they are representing both sides. Showing the huge problem with 2 party politics, that not having an answer is better then having one that anyone will disagree with. This way they can take themselves out of all responsibility of any decision they want to make and just blame whichever side they hired as "consultants"

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Jill2000Plus
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I have no idea what to do about all this, but I want to do something.

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Heather
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How about this? There's a group of you right here who are clearly so bothered by this and want to do something: why don't you all draft a letter together? I'd be happy to help you do that, and then you can both send it in and we can publish it on Scarleteen's blog to get it further traction.

I could also talk to a contact I have at a major UK publication where I'm sometimes published and see if they'd publish it: I'm betting they'd be delighted to.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Saffron Raymie
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Wow, I'd love to help

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Jill2000Plus
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I am totally up for that, let's kick oppression's butt (with a carefully composed letter which we will write on a giant boot constructed using the power of origami)!

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Jacob at Scarleteen
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Me too... How shall we co-draft a letter?
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Heather
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You guys can workshop this right here. Why don't you start by outlining the points you want to cover?

One format I think that might work out really well is to try and have one or two solid opening and closing paragraphs that address the meat of the issue, then maybe one paragraph from each of you, representing as young people, sharing your individual thoughts and opinions?

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CougarBite
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1- Sexual Preferences is an individual life choice, not a black and white subject with just one answer.

2- Pushing sex back under a "dirty" umbrella will only cause teenagers to be more aloof and not seek help or advice.

3- Abstinence is an option which can be presented to teenagers but it needs to be presented as an option rather then a FACT

4- Making these decision seem black and white is only going to confuse people and will cause upset when someone thinks that they are "wrong" somehow for a choice that they have made that only affects them.

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Cougar Clark

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CougarBite
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5- Making abortion illegal will not stop people from aborting but it will push into a dirty background clinics or make people try to self abort which is only going to cause bigger problems

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Jacob at Scarleteen
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I've just written my idea of what an introduction might look like:


quote:
To Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Education,

We are young people who are in school or have been through the schooling system in this country. We have encountered sex education as it has been carried out in various forms at the schools we attended. Our sexualities are the ones that sex education bodies choose to predict and whose outcomes they choose to fight over. But on the subject of our sexualities we consider ourselves the experts, and so we are extremely disturbed to notice a very current swerve by MPs and the central government to begin pandering towards attitudes to sex education that we feel could have severely damaged our sexual development and threatens that of those only a little younger than us. To see Nadine Dorries’ bill deemed acceptable by her party and to gain votes to be discussed as potential law disturbed us as much as the appointing of LIFE over BPAS in Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV. We are even further harrowed by the press release we found indicating that a new Sex and Relationships Education Council has been appointed and almost entirely composed of either groups that demonise all sexual activity apart from sex that for only a tiny minority happens for the first time it in heterosexual marriage or groups whose sole purpose is to deny legal abortion as playing any positive role whatsoever in the young people’s lives it has saved. So we have written this letter in the hope that our voices will be heard.

It's quite long and maybe a little formal... What kind of thing would other people prefer?

We could start the letter completely differently and go straight for saying what we believe "This is what we believe, abstinence sex ed sucks etc etc etc"

I got a bit of feedback saying that for something that might be published it starts a little boring and could be better a bit more journalistic and angrier... what do people think of that? I can see it.

[ 06-04-2011, 05:11 AM: Message edited by: Jacob at Scarleteen ]

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Heather
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Jacob, I love this so far. For sure, for a published version, it could probably benefit from a little editing, but I think this is a great start and opening.

(Btw, if y'all want me to bugger off so you can do this yourselves, please let me know!)

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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Saffron Raymie
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I like that opening Jacob, I find starting things the hardest part, and I don't think we should start angry.

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Jill2000Plus
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I'm not sure how to word this for the actual letter, but I think it's important that we say something about the way that putting an emphasis on sex only within marriage is heterosexist/anti LGBT as in most countries same sex/gender couples cannot get legally married and significantly more religious groups than not refuse to validate/acknowledge/perform a religious/spiritual marriage ceremony for same sex/gender couples.

Furthermore: refusing to provide teenagers with unbiased and non-judgemental information about the full range of choices that they are entitled to as people with a right to ownership of their bodies means that those who do not make what these abstinence only groups believe is the only right choice are going to suffer in ways that could have been prevented, from unwanted pregnancies and STIs among other things. And pregnancy can kill or disable a pregnant women, and some sexually transmitted infections are fatal, so people who are advocating for this policy should be asking themselves if they really want so strongly to punish teenagers for having sexualities and expressing them in ways that they have faith are wrong (not KNOW are wrong) that they're willing to increase the number of teenagers who die or are disabled or made infertile by engaging in sexual activity.

Also, I have a question: are any of these groups advocating for masturbation as a way of delaying partnered sexual activity, or is this nothing but purity crusading (not that they'd be justified either way, but I think it's useful information to have).

[ 06-04-2011, 12:53 PM: Message edited by: Jill2000Plus ]

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Jacob at Scarleteen
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It's definitely anti-LGBT yeah. I don't think any groups specifically celebrate masturbation all that much... but they don't seem to talk about it either. I don't think they care!

They're all pretty much single-issue campaign lobby groups. Not really providers of that many services at all. "Saved sex is better than safe sex" apparently, according to the Family Education Trust!

They're not really providing information for teens on masturbation online on their websites... and none of the information about the education programs that some of the groups provide indicates that it's a major topic... the only thing i seem to see is "why not to have sex" and "why you should get married" and some "believe-in-yourself" type stuff.

Actually groups like LIFE don't seem to say or do anything to do with sex itself, or masturbation OR young people discovering their own sexualities (they do however work with young pregnant women, to prevent them aborting and support them in childbirth).

[ 06-04-2011, 01:34 PM: Message edited by: Jacob at Scarleteen ]

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bump on a log
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I really like that opening paragraph, Jacob.

But... I don't mean to rain on anybody's parade, and I should explain that I got my political education through involvement with some pretty hard-left people and groups, so I'm a great believer in direct action and all that. It's just, maybe you could think about what you are hoping to accomplish with this letter? Do you want to make your thoughts clearer to yourselves; to issue a rallying cry to like-minded people; to persuade a few people who may not have thought about this very hard or who may be on the borderline? Or do you want to have an impact on your serious political opponents? Because if it's any or all of the first three, then this may well work very nicely. If it's the last, it's highly unlikely to.

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Jill2000Plus
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Does anyone have any suggestions as to how we actually can have an impact on our political opponents? Because when their basic line is "sexuality is bad, women are bad and being LGBTQ is bad", it's hard to know what to do, how do I convince someone who thinks that way to change their mind, particularly when they're in a position of power and can probably safely ignore me?

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bump on a log
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OK...this is difficult. If people are in a position of power, of that much power, you are very likely not going to convince them to change their mind. Ordinary people are the ones you can convince, which is where letters like these come in, why they are useful. But the government higher-ups, no. Even supposing you did, they're like a hydra, they always grow a new head. If you want to get a better idea of what we are up against, I suggest finding out what they say to one another. Listen to a video of a conference at one of the conservative think-tanks, for example, supposing you can find one. That'll tell you what they really think. Doing that was what convinced me that these people differ from me ideologically in such a profound way, thay they are so convinced and so strong, that talking isn't going to do any good, supposing they listened, which they won't. They exist in a world of their own, very remote from that of ordinary people. In order to affect them, you have to hit them where it hurts.

What does that mean? Well --

* An organisation with some clout can vote no confidence, as when the nurses voted no confidence in Lansley.

* Boycotts, where applicable.

* Strikes.

* Occupations.

* Mass demonstrations in which a major city gets out of control for a while.

* Street theatre. This can be surprisingly effective, if you put some funny and eye-catching stunts into it, and is always a good option if you would rather not find yourself being hit by a policeman.

Anything that stops business as usual is what you want to be doing. That is what makes people in power afraid of you. But in order to do that you have to organise, and that is what letters are useful for.

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Saffron Raymie
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(I'm going to post my ideas properly, but as you know it's 1am and my bedtime. However I just wanted to share something with you guys - completely off topic. Cameron did something right today, Ken Clarke wants criminals to have much shorter jail terms, but Cameron fought and fought for sexual abusive people to be exempt from this freedom. So, he can do things right sometimes. Just wanted to share this news.)

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Heather
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Just my two cents: generally, what I do when I'm writing a political piece is just write it out first, so all my feelings are on the page, and then revise and tweak it as needed for mt audience.

Not the way y'all have to do it, obviously, but when it's a group effort, it can be particular hard to just get the thing out there and done if and when people get too hung up on the particulars right from the start, rather than adjusting those later.

(That said? I've had pieces of my own influence people in power, so I also want to put in a little cheer and a nudge to support that that most certainly is possible.)

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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bump on a log
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quote:
Originally posted by Heather:
(That said? I've had pieces of my own influence people in power, so I also want to put in a little cheer and a nudge to support that that most certainly is possible.)

Didn't want to imply it's never possible. I've been charging round fighting the current UK administration for a while, so I know that they pay not a blind bit of notice to letters and such. As I say, I belong to the British hard left tradition and speak from that. Since before I was born the British left has been seeing the modest gains which were made under Keynesianism during the heyday of the welfare state disappear as the neoliberal consensus takes over. I'm sure other situations are rather different. [Smile]
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Karybu
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quote:
I've been charging round fighting the current UK administration for a while, so I know that they pay not a blind bit of notice to letters and such.
Just a reminder that it may be your experience that letters don't have a lot of impact, but you never know what's going to happen, and while a letter may not have much influence, doing nothing is guaranteed not to have any influence, y'know?

It also may not be just a letter that comes out of all of this - it could be a more widely-published piece, and regardless, putting together something like this can be a really valuable experience. So, let's make sure this thread stays positive.

[ 06-08-2011, 08:37 PM: Message edited by: Karybu ]

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"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy

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bump on a log
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I get politically nervous about letter-writing, because it is not an end but a beginning. And if all people want to do is write letters, that is just fine. But I have been in rather too many political infights in which the people who write letters inform the rest of us that we are giving them a bad name. So if you mention letters to me these days, I start jumping around like a scalded cat. None of which has anything to do with you nice people, it's my private reactions. [Smile] I am also seriously and, I think, legitimately concerned that people will believe that Michael Gove is going to change his mind because of a letter, and then when he doesn't figure there's nothing we can do and go home. I've seen that too.

What you say about a more widely-published piece is kind of what I've been trying to say, perhaps not very clearly. It may not affect Michael Gove, but it can affect ordinary people, bring them together, at least make them mull things over. It's an organising tool. And it can certainly be a valuable experience to write stuff down, which is what I meant by "make your thoughts clearer to yourselves".

Let me then make a concrete and constructive suggestion: if anyone is in London and can make it, come to Friday's Slutwalk, which promises to be good fun. 13.00, Hard Rock Cafe, Picadilly. But don't come if you'd rather not. Any effort at all IS valuable, and I should have made that clearer (why do you think they don't have me do public relations? [Wink] )

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Heather
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So, maybe working on this letter and piece-to-be-published isn't the thing for YOU to be doing if it doesn't feel right for you?

(Not saying don't do it, just saying that it sounds like this isn't up your alley, and that simply deciding not to do this yourself might be a sounder choice than suggesting to others they shouldn't if it's what they want to do. It'd just be a real bummer to see people organized to try and do something together -- something I do have the ability to get out there widely, so there is help with that -- and wind up feeling like there's no point because one person just doesn't really want to do it themselves or is jumping to conclusions about what this group of people may or may not do based on what others have or have not done. Know what I mean?)

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bump on a log
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In other words, I shouldn't have opened my mouth, which I shouldn't. My only excuse really is that I am really quite socially awkward, and my intelligence and high verbal ability will mask it often, specially on a forum like this, but sometimes it comes out. Also, I've had a trying few months, during which I've been charged by horses and seen friends beaten and arrested.

I apologise, and feel free to delete what I've said, and/or to start a new thread. Go ahead with your project. Please don't let me spoil it.

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