Ed West Notebook
Some anti-alcohol fanatics have told off David Cameron for suggesting that parents should drink with their children, to encourage them to be sensible about booze. I've always thought that drunken violence could be reduced if we lowered the pub drinking age to 15. as long as someone over the age of 30 accompanied the teenager, who would obviously be held responsible if they misbehaved. Still, in our sex crime-obsessed country, no doubt some selfappointed, taxpayer-funded, children's rights group would claim this would encourage paedophiles.
Drunkenness is like idleness and fatness everyone at the very bottom of society is doing it more than ever, but the rest don't have time. The Independent recently reported that "sobriety is in vogue" and listed famous non-drinkers: among them were celebrity eco-bores Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow, newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky, pottymouthed BBC comedian Catherine Tate and David Walliams from Little Britain. I hate to use the phrase "represent everything wrong with Britain", but...
Incidentally, actress Paltrow is one of several celebrities backing Barack Obama, yet even she could not stop his poll ratings plunging the week after he shook hands with Gordon Brown. I don't think there is an rational explanation for Brown's doom: he is just spiritually unlucky, a Jonah, and no amount of PR can change that. If he went out kissing babies they'd probably end up developing scrofula.
Afew weeks ago an article in this newspaper ended up being pasted on the Richard Dawkins site by one of the professor's fans. The bile and hate the Dawkinites expressed for the Catholic Church and Christianity in general was weird and bizarre, and explains why so many people find his brand of atheism so sinister and off-putting, even if they think he is talking sense.
Prof Dawkins is certainly right to point out that racismophobia, the fear of being called racist, is preventing teachers from combating Islamic creationism. At university I was taught in social anthropology class that the heart wasn't necessarily for pumping blood around the body. Australian Aborigines believed it was there to house our spirit animal, or some such rubbish, and this was just as valid as our western imperialist idea. I thought at the time that stabbing my teacher in the heart would have been a suitably witty and Johnsonian response, although the eurocentric courts no doubt would have deemed it "murder".
/wonder what Dawkins would make of Massab Yousef, who has swapped one "bronze age myth" for another. It is brave enough for any Palestinian Muslim to convert to Christianity, but when your father is notorious Hamas leader Sheikh Hassan Yousef, you risk more than being ridiculed by Professor Dawkins.
Mr Yousef also probably did not endear himself to his father when he told an Israeli paper "Send regards to Israel. I miss it. I respect Israel and admire it as a country.
British Christians who complain about being "persecuted" by secularists should remember that millions of people across the Middle Fast would love to fear nothing more than a Dawkins tonguelashing. The Spanish parliament giving apes human rights is no bad thing, in that no one, except maybe a Spaniard, could possibly want to harm these beautiful, disturbingly human-looking animals. But it is the emptiest of empty gestures, considering there are about five apes in the whole of Iberia, while the poor creatures face extinction across Africa. Madagascar and Asia. We could save countless species of all kinds monkeys, lemurs and rhinos by buying up Third World forests and patrolling them with our own soldiers, but we'd rather all the animals in Africa died than be accused of colonialism.