Honkies to the left of me, darkies to the right

By Ian O'Doherty
Thursday October 25 2007

The issue of race is perhaps the most pressing question facing a rapidly changing Europe.
As our streets change from the bland monochrome faces of the past into a more colourful array of cultures and ethnicities, we're all more aware than ever before of the need to be sensitive to the issue of skin pigmentation.
Well, nearly all of us.
A school in south London has come under some rather unfriendly fire after children were told to pose in a rather unusual manner for the school photograph -- by skin colour.
Pupils at Sandhurst Junior School in Lewisham were told to line up with the whitest kids on the left going along to the darkest on right.
Not unsurprisingly, this offended some of the pupils and their parents, with one of them saying: "The school was being racist."
In his defence, the photographer claimed he was only doing it so he wouldn't have to keep on changing his reflector screens.
That is why, of course, anytime you see a football team line up for the team shot they are always placed in accordance of colour...oh wait, no they're not.
The snapper better come up with a better excuse than that.

The massive popularity of Padre Pio has always been something of a mystery. Despite being the subject of at least two official Vatican investigations -- into allegations that he was sleeping with young women and faking his stigmata -- as well as countless scientific studies proving him to be a fraudulent old goat who was either mad or corrupt or possibly both, Pio's reputation remains untouchable for many Catholics.
So it will be interesting to see if new evidence that he caused his stigmata by pouring carbolic acid over the palms of his hands changes some people's minds.
A new book by Italian historian Sergio Luzzatto also features an interview with a woman who claims he got the acid from her and also asked her to get him some painkillers -- which, under the circumstances seems understandable, even if it appears to be the only rational thing he has ever done.
But how have the Catholic authorities dealt with the claims?
The Catholic Anti-Defamation League have hit back at the author of the book, historian Sergio Luzzatto, saying: "We would like to remind Mr Luzzatto that according to Catholic doctrine, canonisation carries with it papal infallibility."
Ah well, as long as we're being rational and scientific about it, that's all that matters, eh?

The asylum issue is a tricky one -- does our basic responsibility to help people in fear of their lives mean we have to let everyone into Europe?
According to the burgeoning human rights industry, the answer is a resounding yes.
The latest case of a daft excuse being used to stop the deportation of a failed asylum seeker is certainly inventive -- his deportation has been stopped because he is gay and fears attacks in his native Algeria.
On the face of it that seems fair enough, but it later emerged that the man -- known as B -- only developed a "homosexual lifestyle" in London after moving to the UK in 1995 and doctors said he that he is now so camp that he would be "unable to behave discreetly".
Although it's hard to see what the problem is -- as one hack pointed out, all the blokes in Algeria look like Freddy Mercury anyway.

Kerry Katona makes a genuinely interesting psychological case study -- apparently incapable of taking any responsibility for her actions, she exposes the most intimate pieces of her private life before complaining of press intrusion.
In the latest case of her ongoing battle against common sense, an outraged Katona has hit back at people who say that she is still taking drugs, spitting that: "It's sick that people are saying I'm taking drugs while I'm pregnant."
She's got form on this issue, of course.
She has furiously denied in the past that she was a coke head, before selling her story of rehab and her concern for her unborn kid doesn't stop her from still smoking.
But is she still doing drugs?
Check out Youtube.com for her recent incoherent gurning, sniffling performance on GMTV and make up your own mind.

To you and I, WAGs might seem to be the most obnoxious media creation of the decade.
Single-handedly setting feminism and women’s rights back to pre-1950s’ levels, the lesson of the WAG is simple – dress like a slag and bag yourself a footballer so you can spend the rest of your days shopping and being fabulous.
It’s a pretty dreary ambition for any young woman to have – or is it?
According to yet another ridiculous British quango, the Learning and Skills Council, WAGs are seen as appropriate role models for the drive to persuade more young people to stay in education.
WAGs? Edyukayshun? In the same sentence?
The rationale is that some of the WAGs actually finished school and therefore they are setting a good example for young female chavs everywhere.
In fairness, it is widely known that Stephen Gerrard married the appalling Alex Curran not for her, ahem, charms but because he was incredibly impressed with her GCSE results.
Honkies to the left of me, darkies to the right - Ian O'Doherty, Columnists - Independent.ie