On the way back, I was told that the Heathrow Express had been cancellled because of a suicide and trekked to Terminal One and the Piccadilly Line with many curses playing on my lips. It was a very hot day in London today, and I hadn't come with anything much to read - because I thought I was going to be on the quarter-of-an-hour return train trip, rather than on the tube for an hour.
I got home and was talking to fastfwd who told me that the suicide was a woman who had taken her two children, one a babe in arms, with her under the train. And then, of course, I felt guilty about all my uncharitable thoughts, even though in fact I had good grounds for being even more angry with the dead woman, who had made choices for her children that no- one should make for anyone.
This reminds me that we should always hold off anger and blame, for a while at least, because that way we don't feel guilty and foolish and over-react in the other direction. I have been getting worried at the prevalence of conspiracy theories about Iraq and the insurgency, as if it was necessary to believe in a lot of utter nonsense in order to oppose the war and occupation. Ian Henshall, who is an old friend of old friends, is one of the main 9/11 conspiracy theorists and part of the issue is that he feels the need to blame the USA and Bush for everything, as opposed to all the things it is quite legitimate to blame President and country for.
You just know that someone is going to claim that the US deliberately caused the stampede in Baghdad in order to foment civil war. Except, of course, what possible interest of the US would civil war serve?
Crazy people might do something like that, and there are crazy people in the equation. People who go around shooting barbers because their invisible friend likes bears - those are crazy people. People who obsess with the differences between their religion and the exact same religion practiced in a mildly different way to the point where they will kill their neighbours as apostates - those are crazy people. And so, yes, if it was more than a cockup - and cockups should never be ruled out - I do think the insurgents probably did it.
On the question of which Muslims and other religious believers should be talked to as sensible moderates, and which should not, I propose a simple test. If they want to kill all queers, they probably aren't moderate. If they just believe that all queers will burn in hell for eternity, they probably aren't moderate either.
I was reading a piece in the Guardian yesterday by a Muslim woman who was caught up in the contradictions of her life style and her faith. The Koran condemns homosexuality, she said, but she has nice gay friends at college. Well, bully for you, sister, but that isn't good enough. While people are killing people like your friends in the name of your religion, it seems to me that some hard choices and hard intellectual work are incumbent on you. I wouldn't presume to tell her what her answer should be, but she needs to think things through in a lot more fear and trembling.
And yes, I do write from the position that every single active Christian and Jew needs to think very hard about everything that their co-religionists have done to queers in the name of religion down the centuries. Of course everyone has many other sins to their account, for which we are all going to have to pay, but these are the sins that affect me personally, so screw it, I am going to ask for MY reparations.
As ellen_kushner said at Interaction, sometimes we need to do what her grandmother used to do at dinner, and say 'how is this good for the gays?' like Ellen's grandmother used to ask 'how is this good for the Jews?'
Which is me drifting away from the sweet reason I started with, but I feel entitled...And don't get me started on people who think their invisible friend doesn't like music. I happen to know that their invisible friend likes music a whole lot, because I am writing a lot about him and I know what my characters think.