Camden New Journal: Buskers set up new ‘religion’

Camden New Journal: Buskers set up new ‘religion’

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Published by Pavan Amara on 27th March 2014 in the Camden New Journal.

BUSKERS in Camden Town say their “religious freedoms” are being threatened by the Town Hall after forming a new religion that deifies “the humble kazoo”.

The move comes after the buskers lost a High Court battle over Camden Council’s new licensing policy for street performers.

The rules, which came into force on Monday, demand they have licences, ban amplified music and set a 9pm curfew for performances.

Signs have gone up in Camden Town warning buskers they need licences.

Instruments can be confiscated under the new rules, which the Town Hall says it introduced to protect residents from disturbance.

In the latest protest, musician campaigners say the council cannot ban their “religion”, which does not have a name yet but centres around music and instruments.

On Monday, around a dozen buskers performed close to Camden Town underground station without a licence. They then called police, the council’s noise service, Town Hall leader Councillor Sarah Hayward and community safety chief Councillor Abdul Hai to alert them to the performance. They said that an attempt to remove them would be a threat to their religious rights.

Neither police nor the council responded, and both councillors failed to answer their phones.

Busker Jonny Walker told a crowd of onlookers outside the HSBC bank branch in Camden High Street: “We are forming a religion. You do not have to drop out of your own religion to join. We are welcoming everyone from atheists to Christians, to Muslims and Jews, Hindus and every other belief you may already be a part of.

“We are very open. But we are a religion that respects music and our right to perform in the borough of Camden with freedom. We have hymns, and we believe in the holy triad of kazoos. We want to practise our religion in peace.”

Comedian Mark Thomas, who is campaigning for buskers’ rights, said “out of all the things the council could have done, they chose to criminalise busking without a licence”.

He added: “Talking with us to find the best code of practice would have been the way forward. Instead, we have this stupid law. Labour particularly has a habit of passing laws when they are not needed. This is not a good enough reason for a law.

“Camden is the London borough of music. Why would they do this, unless they want to change that? It could be that they are trying to change the tone of the borough, and want to gentrify it.”

A High Court judge ruled earlier this month that Camden’s policy – and the way it was introduced – was not unlawful.

Licensing committee chair Councillor Maryam Eslamdoust said:  “I am pleased with the judgment handed down by the High Court.  We had to adopt this regulation to address ongoing nuisance suffered by residents and to prevent public spaces from being monopolised.

“The court has affirmed that regulation is not prohibition and we look forward to a responsible busking scene living alongside our residents.”

This post was written by
Singer-Songwriter/Professional Street Performer/Campaigner/Wandering Minstrel

17 Comments on "Camden New Journal: Buskers set up new ‘religion’"

  • FAO – The less religous minded ‘freethinkers’ out there and simple believers ( not worshipers! ) in the philosophy of liberal education.

    *Essential Reading – The Father Thing by P.K Dick

    See Synopsis ( below )

    The Father-Thing is a 1954 science fiction short story by Philip K. Dick. The story, written from a child’s point of view, concerns the replacement of a boy’s father by a replicated version. Only the child sees the difference and has to recruit other children to help him reveal the truth. The story is typical of Dick’s short stories of the period, and also reminiscent of some of the short fiction of Ray Bradbury.

    The premise was widely used in fiction of the time. Works like Who Goes There? and most famously Invasion of the Body Snatchers, especially popular in the 1950s, expressed the fear that people are not what they seem to be. Dick’s story is typically more personal because it is not about the invasion of a community, but of a family.

    ( The Father-Thing is the US Underwood-Miller (1987) and UK title of the third collected volume of Dick’s short stories (retitled Second Variety after “Second Variety” was moved from Volume 2 by Citadel)

  • On the topic of Street ‘Evolution’. Spread the word. How to deal with annoying Street Pastors and the like. See You Tube Video
    ‘Street Pastor Gets Owned’.

    See what you think of this and then again on the extended subject of how religious street activists tend to provoke frustration, anger and violence rather than anything like public peace or indeed love see the You Tube Video ‘Christian Preacher Loving the Moslems That Punched And Hated Him’ .

    The above two are ‘international’ videos. The former filmed in the USA the latter illustrating how the genie of supposedle rising Australian Christian type Activism is being put back in its bottle. Again so called Christian Activism being exposed here as far from improving race-relations, protecting the rights of Assylum Seekers etc as it claims to do being in fact a rather obnoxious, blatantly provocative, ‘racist’ threat to good community relations

    I witnessed a similar scene in Birmingham a few days ago. A typical case, what with a ranting, petty minded fool with a loud haler and amp trying to harrass a relaxing crowd on one of those ‘rare’ sunny city-centre afternoons.

    Again the crowd did’nt take to his crazy notions of Birmingham now becominga city of ‘mongrels’, one angry sunbather lept up grabbed his amp/loudhaler and and threatened to smash it on the ground if he did’nt ‘f..k off! ‘ . Which he did with much cheering from the crowd and despite police threats etc

    What is it with Christian activist/street types and such blinkered stupidity concerning race. I’ve even noted that even Jonny Walker ( self-described Street Activist and founder of the ASAP ) in one of his commentaries on the Liverpool Street Busking debate described the place as being a city of ‘mongrels’ etc.

    I respond ( as an Anglo African, a man of duel heritage myself ) with the words :Why all the dog and horse imagery in relation to human-beings ?. So offensive to one as a person! What is it with the culturally crude, racially nonsense ‘Eugenics’ language?. Echoes of half-caste laws and Fabian Socialism ! ( with its half-baked legal tripe on race, children and dual heritage marriage etc ).

    I tell you this if anything like a surge in Christian Activism like this did arise in Birmingham ( which of course regardless of whats happening in Australia it won’t, the elements are there but on a larger scale, all pie in the sky Christian/media fantasy ) like all other groups with such stupid petty-minded racist agendas before them they will not only be challenged I suspect they will be driven out of the city.

    You see the truth is, in this area of the country, the ‘genie’ won’t even get out of the bottle. As I’ve mentioned before, nobody goes to church on a Sunday any more, not in this neck of the woods.

    Nigel

    (*Further reference. See Guardian Article. ‘ Is It Time For The Rebirth Of Australian Christian Activism ?’ 20/5/14 )

  • Some over-arching words of wisdom for both theocrats and play-actors alike;

    ” Theology is like being in a
    dark room and
    looking for
    a black cat
    that is’nt there
    and shouting
    ‘I found it!’ ”
    ( Courtesy of the Twitter page of Emily Lee Singer/Songwriter, Ex-Camden now London Thames SouthBank Busker )

    • Byetheway I think it both pertinent and ‘honourable’ to mention that the above quote is ‘not’ the actual words of ‘Emily’ herself, nor for that matter, are the deep ( and honest! ) sentiments substantially expressed by such a profound statement, in anyway her own. So I state here quite unequivocably that this is passage, I’ve simply lifted it, for rhetorical purposes, from her Twitter page.

      At that, as they say in that time honoured ‘game of life’, I think I’ll take my leave, and ‘ Buzz Off Buster! ‘ , alas, I say, adieu!, and not without a taint of melancholy, and indeed with a feint melodious echo of that show tune classic running though my head, you know the one, Julie Andrews ( or is it Mary Poppins? ) ‘ The hills are alive with the sound of music…etc etc etc ! .

      No hold on is it ‘ Down by the Riverside, Down by the Riverside…..etc etc etc !, no hold on my imagination seems to be running away from me, its ‘ All Things Bright and Beautiful….etc etc etc !, no hold on ‘ Kumbaya My Lord, Kumbaya, Oh Lord, Kumbaya!!! ‘ thats it ‘ Kumbaya My Lord ‘ – yeah!, reminiscences of my early school days even, you know, the infant school morning assembly, good girls and boys, everyone just sitting there, patiently, cross-legged, gazing up, benevolently, at the Deputy Headmaster. Ohhh I don’t know though!, I really don’t!, my imagination, it just seems to be just running wild today – what a rotter!.

      Anyway enough of that, I’m off, yes I’m off straight away, I’m off right now, so see ya, see ya alllll, Byeeeeeeee!.

  • Bon voyage !

    Safe return :)

  • ”Violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism and tribalism and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children; organised religion ought to have a great deal on its conscience. There is one more charge to be added to the bill of indictment. With a necessary part of its collective mind. religion looks forward to the destruction of the the world. I do not mean it ”looks forward” in the purely eschatological sense of anticipating the end. I mean rather that it , openly, or covertly wishes that end to occur. Perhaps half aware that its unsupported arguments are not entirely persuasive and perhaps uneasy about its own greedy accumulation of temporal power and wealth, religion has never ceased to proclaim the apocalypse and the day of judgement….”
    ( from God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens )

    * A good reply in the context of your recent quoting of ‘mystic’ leaning Irish Poets WB Yeats ‘ The Second Coming’ too Jonny!
    ( * Cross reference – Your Twitter page )

  • And yes Gods speed to you too Jonny, Gods speed!

  • Is that the same Christopher Hitchens who was a vocal advocate for the Iraq War which reigned death upon 500,000 Iraqi civilians in the name of the perverse religion of Western ‘liberal values’?

    Or perhaps that other religious atheist Sam Harris who justifies military action against Muslim states on the grounds that they are backward because of their religious beliefs?

    Much as I greatly enjoy the bombastic rhetoric of Hitchens and his command of the English language his analysis of the impact of religious thought upon mankind is hopelessly one-sided, like yours, and elevates fundamentalist religionists into the sole representatives of what is a wide and varied tradition.

    For most thinking people the devastation of World War 1 and 2 shattered their ‘faith’ in the enlightenment dogma of inevitable progress. There is much room for humility amongst atheists and theists alike in the face of the immense challenges facing mankind at the dawn of the 21st century.

    It is naive to think that the melting away of religious belief would solve the conflicts in the world many of which have more to do with the struggle over scare resources, tribalism and imperialism.

    A true ‘rationalism’ would acknowledge this.

  • Bombast? Liberal values as a perverse Religion? What on earth are you talking about Jonny, on this display of puerile rhetoric, I thinks its you who should stand accused of really going off on one here my boy, its you who is guilty of that.

    Hitchens providing a one-sided view of all religion as fundamentalism? No certainly not, complete and utter nonsense Jonny!. What he does in his best-selling book ‘God Is Not Great’ is make the ultimate case against religion based on acute readings of all the major religious texts.

    In the book he demonstrates the ways in which religion is man-made, dangerously sexually repressive and distorts the very origins of the cosmos. Above all he argues that the very concept of an omnisceint God has profoundly damaged humanity and proposes that the world might be a great deal better off without him.

    ” The anti-religion case has never been put so well, so comprehensively or so definitively as in this razor-sharp book…
    Hitchens accumulates a devestating case….Outstanding! ”
    ( A. C. Grayling Independent On Sunday )

    I ‘ve read the book Jonny, and I agree with the preface his writing is beautiful, turn of phrase awe-inspiring, and his arguments mature *See Ed West The Catholic Herald. I also very much agree that Hitchens is a grand rhetorician, and his double barrelled shotgun of a book is high entertainment.

    So be warned Jonny, and just a little trenchant advice for the future; ” If you are a religious apologist invited to debate with Hitchens, decline!” ( Richard Dawkins University of Oxford Professor for the Understanding of Science, Fellow of The Royal Society of Literature )

  • Now we Theists and Atheists ( or indeed non-theists as I call myself ) are not necessarily compelled to always ‘work’ together ( there are ‘concrete’ ideological differences on many issues ) however we are quite capable of ‘living together’ and that is under a ‘liberal democratic’ framework.

    In fact it is the ‘liberal consensus’ that has enabled us to achieve the kind of ‘peace’ that we currently enjoy together in this country. And we should’nt be complacent about this hard won ‘peace’, it is the result of a long historical struggle that has successfully led to the political separation of State form Religion ( in the practical sense ) whilst maintaining freedom of religious expression.

    Now I as a ‘Non’ Theist I am willing to leave Theists alone, but are they willing to leave the likes of me alone. The truth is, they won’t will they Jonny, they just wont!, hence the hassle we get on the streets as Street Performers, as Shoppers as we go about our everday affairs in our city centres, as tourists or whilst simply relaxing, in our leisure time even!.

    • By hassle I mean from the solipsistic, blindly onesided, in many cases blatantly crazy so called Christian Street Evangelists we get parading themselves in places like Birmingham on the weekend.

  • Byetheway Jonny you should check out the the Christopher Hitchens & Stephen Fry v Anne Widdecombe & Archbishop John Onaiyekan Debate. Its on You Tube and the issue Q. Is the Catholic Church a force for good in the world?

    Check the stats ( below ) as well Jonny, I’ll think you’ll find the audience response very enlightening!.

    Audience Vote:
    Motion: The Catholic Church Is A Force For Good In the World.

    ( Before Debate)
    672 For 1102 Against 346 Undecided
    ( After Debate )
    268 For 1876 Against 34 Undecided

    The motion was overwhelmingly rejected with a huge swing of 34% against the idea that The Catholic Church Is A Force For Good. Christopher Hitchens & Stephen Fry gain the majority backing of the public audience and end up clear winners.

  • *English Pen

    ” Religion, a medieval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms. This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutuation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today. I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity. ‘ Respect for religion ‘ has become a code phrase meaning ‘ fear of religion ‘. Religions, like all other ideas deserve criticism, satire and yes, our fearless disrespect ”

    Salman Rushdie

    • I hope you won’t be surprised to find out that I agree with every word you have written there Nigel!

      • In hindsight, perhaps you’ll agree with this too?, first a brief introduction?. An announcement came out of the Hague this week that the UN’s highest court, ‘The International Court of Justice’ has ruled that neither Croatia nor Serbia commited ‘war-crimes’ against’ each others populations during the Balkans War that followed the collapse of Yugoslavia in the 1990’s. The Judge concluded the case by urging the 2 countries to move on from their earlier conflict and start building more peaceful relations between themselves for the future.

        As a self-styled peace campaigner, all well and good you might say, as a sympathetic anti-war activist, all in all a positive conclusion you might add. However I would argue that this verdict regardles of its ‘good’ outcome, should nevertheless detract from the fact of ‘atrocities’ having taken place, including ‘genocidal’ acts of ethnic cleansing targeted against eg Moslem men and boys during the Bosnian War 1992-1995 by Christian Orthodox Serb Militia. And it should not escape our memory that it was in the context of terrifying acts of brutality: murder, rape, severe mistreatment that Military intervention ‘ a humanitarian war ‘ was supported and carried out by Nato Forces during the Kosovan War 1998-1999.

        Its in this context and given your previous statements ( above ) that I think it timely to respond more fully to what I regard as your ‘hyperventilated’ attack on writers and religous critics Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. The fact that you describe them either being full of ‘bombast’ or somehow Moslem haters or Islamaphobic – a quite outrageous suggestion and far, far, far from the truth – I’d say given your Radical Christian Evangelist leanings and consequent tendency to ‘rant’ that ,’your’ statements are more accurately evidence of a form of psychological projection.

        The more truthful ‘biography’ is that both Harris and Hitchens, a Neuroscientist and Literary Journalist/Reviewer are 2 of our most respected contemporary critics of religion. Furthermore both follow in a long traditon of ‘humanism’ including the likes of the poet Shelley, Charles Darwin, Mark Twain, Albert Einstein, the list goes on. ‘ Bombast ‘ ?, how ridiculous Harris is the winner of the PEN Award for First Non-Fiction 2005 eg. his book ‘ The End of Faith’ and Hitchens, who should need no introduction, is a George Orwell MemorialPrize Winner.

        Hopefully that thats an education for you, I don’t mean to be too patronising but it is clear that when you made the above statement you knew little about these 2 authors and not ‘truly’ familiar with anyone of their books. You certainly had’nt read anyone of them closely. ( I say that until now because I understand that you are currently studying a Religious Studies Module with the Open University – a course that does at least touch on the work of these 2 writers, both of whom youreself hopefully now know are ( and others need to be aware ) are both ‘anti-theists’ on the grounds of reason ie. lack of evidence not racism or bigotry!).

        Anyway I put this to you Jonny who I am now beginning to suspect is more ‘anti-Moslem’ than you perhaps might be willing to admit and perhaps given your obvious lack of education on this matter in the more ignorant, bigoted sense rather than on the grounds of real familiarity or reason. In this context I put these 2 questons to you:

        Firstly who would the ‘ordinary’ Moslem be more inclined to ‘trust’ eg lets say a Palestinian Moslem. Would they feel more safe with you Jonny who in August/Sept on your Twitter page following the invasion of Gaza by Israeli Forces stated to colleagues that as far as you were concerned ‘the creation of Israel was a ‘moral’ imperative?

        Or would they feel safer siding with Christopher Hitchens of ‘jewish’ ancestry himself yet a life-long anti-zionist and critic of Israeli Nationalism and who has described Zionism as ‘ an injustice against the Palestinian people’ and a ‘ethno-nationalist quasi religous ideology’ and Jewish settlements as ‘ appalingly racist and messianic ‘ by nature and intent ?

        Again, secondly, who would the Bosnian Moslem, sufferer and survivor of the Yugoslav Wars most trust, you Jonny with your ‘anti-war rhetoric’ and opposition to military intervention or Hitchens who was an outspoken critic of the ‘genocidal’ actions by Orthodox Serb Militia of Bosnian Moslems and who called for alongside many other concerned ‘voices’ for NATO ‘intervention’?. ( *Please note consequently, Serbian Leaders such as Radavan Karadzic and Slobovan Milosovec were indicted in the Hague for War Crimes )

        As for the Iraq war you cite many 100s of thousands dead but what you fail to mention is that Sam Harris ( who you allude to as Islamophobic ) was not a supporter of the war. As for Hitchens a long-time Socialist he was not in favour of the first 1990 Gulf War following the invasion of Kuwait by Sadaam Hussein but was in favour of military intervention the second time aound to topple his ‘dictatorial’ regime for reasons post 9/11.

        On this issue I urge you to check his ‘various’ videos on You Tube for more detailed explanations, as you will see he quite abley defends himself. What I can state here is that his motives ( as far as I can see ) were not those of Bush/Blair similarly neither were his vision for the future of Iraq nor the strategy for military intervention.

        Remember you cite statistics of 300 odd thousand killed during the Iraq campaign Hitchens cites more reliable sources of 100 odd thousand dead. All these kinds of casualties sicken me, as does the ‘numbers’ game, but what Hitchens does point out is that under the ‘absolute’ brutal reign of Hussein 350 odd thousand were dead ( incl the ‘gassing’ of Kurds ) and that figure was rising!.

        As for Sam Harris he defends himself quite convincingly against absurd attacks on him for Islamophobia, again for verification of this see his videos on You Tube. Check out his response to Reza Aslam a typical detractor of Harris. Aslam, an Iranian/American Religous Studies Scholar at the University of California is typical of the kind of ‘oddball’ accuser you find on the American ‘debating’ circuit or Christian Evangelist TV. Honestly scrutinize his views, and you clearly find that there is nothing too them, save ‘hollow’ rhetoric.

        Jonny I put it too you again, I wonder if you agree with all this so far , I know for one Salman Rushdie would. Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris guilty of ‘ high sounding language with little meaning used to impress people ‘, no that defintion of ‘bombast’ fits your particular brand of ‘rant’ Jonny, the ignorant humbug of a characteristically ‘dogmatic’ thinker, a man prone to arrogant flippancy.

        Who would one ‘trust’ on issues of politics and religion, who would you ‘truly’ place your faith in delivering a carefully reasoned, non racist, non bigoted judgement of the Islamic faith ( whether you agreed with it or not ) ?.

        Would it be you Jonny, who when challenged and put on the spot for your defense of the state of Israel rather pathetically retorts ” well what do you expect from someone who was educated in an American ‘right-wing’ Christian school ? ” ? ( the American Christian equivalent of a fundamentalist Islamist Madrassa some might say !)

        Or would you have more ‘faith’ in campaigning Journalist Christopher Hitchens, not only a prizewinning author but also following his tragic death from cancer in 2011 postumously awarded the Lennon/Ono Grant for Peace ? ( * It was received on his behalf by his wife Carol Blue in Oct 9 2012. ). For me Jonny, its clear-cut and there are only 2 winners in the ‘reason’ and trust stakes and thats unanimously Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens ( Check out ‘God Is Not Great – How Religion Poisons Everything’ Atlantic Publishers )

  • Jonny says

    Thanks for a typically thought provoking comment Nigel, though you do commit the fallacy of ‘arguing from authority’ by listing the various impressive credentials of Hitchens and Harris as if these alone validated their combined output. Of the two, I have much more affection for Hitchens then Harris. He was a true man of letters with an immense grasp of world affairs and an irrepressible wit.

    I enjoyed his book ‘God is not Great’ more than the ‘end of faith’ and ‘the God delusion’ all of which I read at the time they came out. I have watched him in countless debates against religious apologists and his superior powers of rhetoric always made mincemeat of the opposition, none more so than against Anne Widdecombe in, what I hope you would agree, was a hopeless mismatch.

    When Tony Blair spelled out his ‘Chicago doctrine’ on the case for liberal interventionism, I found his arguments compelling. Blair was a champion of intervention in Kosovo, and in Sierra Leone, both examples of where a Western foreign policy initiative has had a moral imperative behind it.

    However, in the case of the second Iraq war, I believe that Blair was deceived and in the process deceived himself and the British people because he aligned himself with Hawkish neo-Conservatives who were driven by a mixed confluence of motives, including rapacious greed and disregard for human life and a total failure to imagine the post-war consequences of succh an intervention in an unstable region.
    Hitchens sides with the neo-Consevatives and accepts the implicit logic of a ‘war on terror’ which he frames as a war between civilisation and its enemies, an unhelpfully dichotomous worldview.
    In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo murders the need for intercultural dialogue and understanding is greater than ever. The murderous actions of the Algerian terrorists should not blind us to the milions who died in the Algerian war of independence against France and that many Muslim communities in France are blighted by poverty, soicl exclusion and state backed repression under the banner of Laicite.

    The myth of the secular state as a neutral space is pervasive but unrealistic. All social spaces are constructed to privilege certain interests, in our day the interests of transnational capital can have a much bigger bearing upon outcomes than liberal, Enlightenment ideals.

    On Israel I was a fierce critic of the actions of the Netanayu government in the summer which were a grotesque and gruesome spectacle. It is possible tto support the right of Israel to exist whilst criticising its unjust policies in the stronget possible terms (As Hitchens was unafraid to).

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