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Thursday 19 July 2012
Letters: Open your mind, Mr Lawson
Month in, month out, the readers of The Independent are subjected to the monotonous, constant, unremitting pounding of Dominic Lawson's economic hectoring.
Some describe it as "like a form of torture", and it is, because as you read it each week "your brain and body start to slide" as he clearly tries to break your will.
While some might wish (Opinion, 17 July) you pulled "the plug more often", we realise the importance of editorial balance.
London lays claim to being one of the world's great cultural capitals. In addition to the Proms, so loved by Mr Lawson, every night we are privileged to have access to the most stimulating drama, opera and world-renowned orchestras.
But the thrill of any great cultural centre is the breadth it encompasses, not excluding but certainly not confined to the narrow tastes of Mr Lawson.
Last weekend, we were privileged to have playing in one of our great parks a varied collection of some of the world's finest modern musicians.
Had Mr Lawson been willing to open his ears and mind he would have discovered not an "amplified din" but rather the subtle, driving rhythms of township jive, quietly reflective Americana, glorious intimate vocals, soaring brass and the stark, majestic passion of the E Street Band.
Most importantly, he would have encountered 80,000 people relishing breathtaking music together while collectively combating the elements. This should surely be a cause for celebration not derision.
Forest Row, East Sussex
The central argument in Dominic Lawson's anti-rock tirade is spurious. The people phoning Radio 5 Live to complain about the "constant pounding bass" were nowhere near the event but in "various parts of the country... who had suffered from proximity to such events". Unlike the 80,000 fans in Hyde Park who would presumably have relished a unique opportunity to hear Springsteen and McCartney jamming on a Saturday evening.
Shame that many supposed music fans are so sectarian, and the harrumphing fogeys so snobbish and intolerant. A condescending British reporter once asked Duke Ellington exactly what sort of music he played. Well, said the Duke, there are two kinds of music: good and bad.
Three cheers for Dominic Lawson for his attack on the ubiquity of deafening junk music. And two cheers for Westminster Council for pulling the plug at the previously agreed time.
It would have been two-and-half had they agreed a 9pm ending and three for refusing to license the event at all. This stuff is environmental pollution and should be treated as such.
Why does every issue of your paper have a couple of reviews devoted to "pop"? In fact, why do you waste any of your valuable space on this ephemeral tripe?
G4S reveals the real problems of privatisation
The G4S affair is a prime example of the problems with "privatisation" and we have to ask the obvious question, "Why do we do it?"
The answer that the posh boys would like us to accept is that private enterprise is more efficient and saves money. Really? The first is certainly true; private enterprise has a simple goal, namely to make as much money as possible, so it is not difficult to be "efficient" in this endeavour.
But there is no reason to suppose that this efficiency will be applied elsewhere, especially if it is contrary to the main goal of making money. As for saving money, the basic costs are likely to be the same, mainly pay for doing a skilled job, but with the added costs of profits for the owners and huge bonuses for the top executives.
Any efficiency obtained by cutting wages (for example, employing young and inexperienced students) just adds to the owners' and managers' take-home pay, not to the government's account. So we must conclude that it is just a way of moving money from the public purse into the accounts of Cam and Ozzie's buddies.
As a result, our governments (not just this lot) have become a flock of sheep bleating "private good, public bad" without the slightest trace of evidence to support their position.
Port Solent, Hampshire
Contract negotiations allow G4S to receive up to £284m from public funds apparently without any penalty for performance failures. Then we read of the terrible blight on disabled people's lives arising from savage cuts in public expenditure (letters, 10 July).
What is it that allows our "developed" country to crush the vulnerable because we can't afford to provide them with the basics of a decent, dignified life while we can afford to fling money at incompetence, tax breaks and sheer greed?
Something is rotten at the core of our society and that must be confronted by all of us, in whatever way we can.
Creationist school will teach trouble
I was deeply worried by your article "Creationists to open free school" (14 July). Blair's creation of faith schools was in itself a divisive move. One only has to look at the history of Northern Ireland to witness the consequences of teaching young children that their religion is right and that all others are wrong.
At least the Coalition admits that it is unacceptable to teach creationism as an alternative to evolution by natural selection, but it is a matter of concern that a government which claims to be committed to raising educational standards should allow such views to be part of the syllabus of any subject.
Inevitably, many pupils will leave RE lessons in the Exemplar Academy believing that evolution is untrue, because their teachers will ignore the views of zoologists, biologists, botanists, microbiologists, paleoanthropologists, geneticists and geologists, all of whom place importance on evidence.
Surveys show that 28 per cent of British people believe the earliest humans lived at the time of the dinosaurs and 19 per cent of Britons think it takes a month for the Earth to orbit the sun. Creationism has no evidence to support it, other than the superstitions of a group of Bronze Age desert tribesmen.
Merkel protects rites of religions
After the German court ruled that circumcision of boys could become a criminal offence (letters, 18 July), Chancellor Angela Merkel promised to bring in a law to protect the rights of Jewish and Muslim German citizens to circumcise their children.
Merkel emphasised the need to restore the right to circumcision urgently, adding: "It is well known that in the Jewish religion early circumcision carries great meaning."
Despite the issues raised by the court against circumcision, Merkel highlighted the importance of circumcision to Jews and Muslims, having been practised for 4,000 years, and representing a fundamental part of their religions.
There is also something to be said for her suggestion that Germany could become a "laughing-stock" for banning the religious practice. One could suggest that Merkel's comments show Germany's sensitivity due to its past, and Germany banning religious rights and targeting Jews and Muslims sounds uncomfortably familiar.
Unfair to compare Muslims and Jews
Owen Jones makes comparisons between Jews and Muslims in the United Kingdom (letters, 13 July). Jews in the UK have numbered approximately 300,000 for the past 80 years and that number has been stable. The Muslim population, over the past 20 years, has grown to 2.8 million and is expected to rise to five million in the next 20 years. One has to ask why the Muslim community is "considered", as Mr Jones says, fanatics, extremists or a community somehow "harbouring" dangerous extremists.
Perhaps he could tell us to which other religion is attributed the burning of churches, car-bombing mosques, destroying Budhhas, blowing up buses, planes, Twin Towers, airports and machine-gunning civilians in shopping malls.
These events have been seen around the world but, to my knowledge, none has ever been attributed to Jews.
Bivouac an insult to our soldiers
Your picture of young soldiers sleeping in a bivouac near the Olympic Park (16 July) could happen only under a Conservative-dominated government.
I do not know if these men had come from Afghanistan or another combat area, but such conditions are an insult to them. I feel sure that many local residents, if asked, would have offered these men some more civilised sleeping accommodation in their homes.
R G Beech
Chilcot proves a costly charade
I enjoyed Matthew Norman's article on Tony Blair and the Chilcot inquiry (18 July) but he failed to mention the huge costs involved: for the two financial years 2010-11 and 2011-12. A total of £3,860,100 has been spent, with nothing new being found. The best thing Sir John could do would be to resign in protest at the conspiracy to withhold key documents from him and bring the whole expensive charade to a timely close. For Sir John, this would be his lasting legacy.
I've been strung
Last month, on my East Coast journey from London up to the Northern Chords Festival in Newcastle, I was charged £5 for the liberty of storing my cello in the luggage rack above my head. It was in no one's way and not a danger to anyone. It could even have easily been safely placed in one of the many free seats. Why are cellists charged for carrying their instruments on board trains?
Artistic Director, Northern Chords Festival, Newcastle
The misuse of the English Language by banks is not confined to Bob Diamond referring to his outrageous emoluments as "compensation". Anyone who has managed to squeeze a sum out of the banks in exchange for their incompetence will know they refer to it as a "goodwill gesture" rather than what it is: compensation.
N C Walker
Clown's last laugh
My 10-hour unpaid days as an Olympic volunteer loom next week, so I am happily getting my Nike underwear and t-shirts ready to wear behind the Adidas-branded clown uniform we've been issued. In the same way, I shall enjoy a visit to Burger King after my shift. I realise that mocking manipulative corporate overlords is shallow, but I will get a smile from it.
I think comedy has more in common with Christian theology than Darwinian evolution: death and resurrection, the purgatory of the comedy panel show and an eternal afterlife of repeats on Dave.
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