Pasta la Vista – If there is a more unamusing Internet subculture than Pastafarianism I would hate to see it. The enterprise is fuelled by an undeserved smugness – the puerility of which is evident in its supporters’ replacement of God from The Creation of Adam with their carbohydrate Christ. The decision of the Southbank University student union to ban its atheist society’s posters bearing the image, though, is one more step in our long march from a being a society to a clutch of tribes united by passive aggression. To accept this would be especially dangerous in a time when it enables Islamist propagandising and intimidation.
These debates are growing ridiculous. In the 1990s one could at least defend a novel from censorship. Nowadays it is cartoons and Internet memes. Can we agree to accept mild irreverence and get on with restoring our cultural discourse to a level above that of the average episode of World Wrestling Entertainment?
That Showed Them – Graham Linehan, the co-creator of Father Ted, claims that writers “tend to the left because writers tend to have compassion”. This certainly tells Dostoyevsky, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Kipling, Eliot, Waugh, Frost, Tolkein, Lewis, Belloc, Jünger, Powell, Larkin, Amis, Percy, Ballard, Stoppard, Borges, James and Naipaul.
For Richer, for Poorer – I have criticised the progressivist enthusiasm for the decline of traditional marriage, which ignores the harm that the growth of single parenthood has done to children, as well as the damage that marital instability has done to adults. Marriage is, of course, no ideal institution but I think it is of great value and so, in practice, do progressives. Stable marriages have been found to be most common among the educated middle classes, who, indeed, tend to be less promiscuous and less prone to out-of-wedlock childbearing and abortion than poorer people. One might call growing up in a stable home a privilege.