The all singing, all dancing blog of Alex Guite

Monday, November 07, 2005

Angry music: leads to bad programming habits

Had a fairly busy time last week: mostly working on my computational physics project until 16:50 on Friday (deadline Friday at 17:00). For some reason Pete and I decided that the best way to rest after getting about 4 hours sleep between us on Thursday night was to go to Kings Union. I think Martin might have had something to do with it by suggesting the idea to us. Anyway, it was awesome. Thank you Red Bull.

I managed to catch Battersea Park Fireworks last night from Battersea Bridge after coming back from Jazz Aid at Imperial. The Big Band played some new stuff and although playing in the Great Hall was more formal than in the Union it was quality stuff.

I had an article in Felix this week in response to a column the week before. Neither of the articles are online as the website hasn't been updated since the start of term. Absolute disgrace. Mine is pasted below. Enjoy.

There are worst things than missing Neighbourghs

‘Foreigners should be sent back to their own countries for their own governments to deal with them as they fit’ urged Iain Heaton on these pages last week as he took a break from his characteristic whinge that he had not been able to watch Neighbours since graduating. His column started innocently and inanely enough by offering us his candid opinions on the latest Darkness album, before taking an inexplicable right turn into a full on collision with the rights of asylum seekers.

Heaton highlighted the case of two Albanians and a Lithuanian convicted of trafficking Eastern European girls into Britain and forcing them to work as prostitutes. Expressing more outrage that previously two of the men had been granted asylum from persecution than at the crime itself, he went on to outline his solution to crime in Britain: deport all asylum seekers who have committed a crime.

Never mind that only a tiny fraction of crime is committed by asylum seekers, a fact that even Heaton grudgingly admitted later in his column, his remedy is dangerous and prejudiced. The right to asylum from torture, unjust imprisonment and execution is an inalienable human right common to all people. It should never just be abused in a crass attempt to fill up column inches. As with every other nation, we have an international responsibility to welcome asylum seekers, not greet them with Heaton’s contempt. The choice they had to make was between staying in their own country, facing persecution and possibly even death, or leaving everything they had to seek asylum.

Disturbingly, Heaton swapped loosely between writing about asylum seekers, immigrants and foreigners as if the terms were interchangeable. The reality is that they refer to very different things: there is a huge difference between the political activist seeking asylum from persecution and someone seeking to immigrate for economic reasons. Whether Heaton would deport ‘foreign’ tourists he didn’t make clear.

When Heaton argued that asylum seekers should be sent back to their own governments to be dealt with as they see fit he conveniently glossed over any consequences. In countries from which asylum has been granted, being dealt with as the ‘government sees fit’ means being sent back to torture, persecution, unexplained disappearances and death.

Glibly repeating that old calling card of hysterical journalism, that Britain is somehow ‘at bursting point’ unable to accept anymore asylum seekers, Heaton demonstrated a remarkably loose grip on facts. In Britain we take fewer asylum seekers per head of population than our European neighbours; and although we cannot hope to welcome unlimited numbers, the reality is that we are not being swamped or inundated. In truth it is developing countries, close to the world’s flashpoints, which host the greatest share of asylum seekers; 8 million alone in Africa with uncounted numbers internally displaced.

Asylum seekers do not come to Britain out of choice, indeed many desperately want to be repatriated to their country as soon as it is safe to do so. South Africans and Chileans who fled to Britain during the 1970s left to return home as soon as they were able, more recently Iraqis and Zimbabweans have been heading back to their countries.

For Heaton a bad day might be missing Neighbours, but Iain out there around the world things can be a lot worse than not getting your daily fix of the classic Australian soap.


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