Sunday, 23 December 2007

Bigotry: A Necessary Evil thought process on this subject started when this whole pointless Pogues debacle started with the BBC. Short story if you can't be bothered to read the article, BBC Radio One censored the Pogues "Fairytale", bleeping out the word "faggot" and "slut". The problem stems from the fact that the song had been played for years and years but has never been censored, so why now? Also, Radio Two was playing the song uncensored.

To me, the whole mess (now resolved, leaving an uncensored song), was totally pointless, but revealed an interesting truth about our society. In our enlightened search for "tolerance" for all the people in this world, in our desire to uphold the tenants of free speech, human rights and social acceptance for everybody, we are slowly stripping away said rights from a group that, while dwindling in size, still makes up a sizable proportion of people.

The problem with the "right" to free speech in this enlightened, 21st century society is that not everyone in the world will always agree on what can be deemed as "free speech". There are a large group of people in the world who are bigots. Nowadays the "pc brigade" (that is often made up of two groups; ultra vocal loudmouths from minorities, and middle class, married white people who feel they should be offended), that is so often mentioned and demonized by the media, espouse that everyone has the right to free speech or equal rights - particularly those who don't have them, such as poor Iraqis (so we invade and help destroy their country so they can have them).

Now, coming out of this push for free speech and equal rights for everyone, comes the logic that there are certain words you can no longer say; nigger being an oft cited example, faggot being another (for the most part it is words that are used to descirbe some kind of minority group that are the words that shall never be uttered). The popular line to toe nowadays is that "you have to be responsible with free speech" which, I suppose is okay, but kind of turns free speech into limited speech. Moreover, this does away with the rights of bigots.

I posted a transcript of a sketch George Carlin did a while ago that was based around the notions of language, which I would like to reassert here: "For instance, you take the word "nigger". There is absolutely nothing wrong with the word "nigger" in and of itself. It's the racist asshole that's using it that you ought to be concerned about. We don’t care when Richard Pryor or Eddie Murphy say it. Why? Because we know they're not racist. They're niggers! Context! Context! We don't mind their context because we know they're black. Hey, I know I'm whitey the blue eyed dough boy, honkey, patty ass motherfucker myself. It don't bother my ass. They're only words.You can't be afraid of words that speak the truth, even if it's an unpleasent truth about the fact that there's a bigot and a racist in every living room, on every street corner of this country."

I think that this is the crux of the problem with free speech and equal rights. The more vocal the outspoken sections of a minority become, the more they emphasise how we MUST accept gays or blacks or asians or handicapped and how important it is to celebrate all our diversity, the more people who don't buy into that idea dislike these minorities. I am all for the removal of bigotry in the world, but it is very important that we all recognise that bigotry and bigots do exist. We cannot cocoon ourselves from the problem and hope that it will disappear. Just as much as minority groups have a right to jump up and down scream about how everyone is equal and wonderful, bigots have a similar right to jump up and down and scream about how everyone is not equal and not wonderful.

Bigotry reminds us minorities that not everyone thinks it's great to be gay or black or disabled. It reminds us that not everyone likes "us". And you know what? That's fine. If we want to espouse the values of equal rights and free speech, then it has to be applicable to everyone, not just those who didn't used to have them.

So say nigger, say faggot, say whatever you want. I will never agree with you if that is a view you have, but you have a right to have it. Just as I have a right to disagree with you. Invariably the people that are most vocal about how such words must never be used are the ones causing people to hate the above mentioned groups; the ones that think that you can ram your own special culture down everyones throat, while preventing them from ever disagreeing with you because that would be racist or homophobic or sexist. That causes as much hatred for minority groups as anything else. Emphasizing the differances between staights and gays, blacks or whites, Muslims and Christians only serves to widen the gap between the two co-existing peacefully.

In building this culture of free speech, eqaul rights and total acceptance of everyone, the architects have created a world where we are becoming more and more distant from one another than ever before. The closer we move towards actually getting along with one another, the more the "pc brigade" demands that many of the unfashionable lot that don't share the same views give up their rights to free speech, so that we will not be bothered by their views or opinions. Our world will never be without bigotry, it's a simple fact, so we have to learn to understand it in order to combat it. Sweeping it under the rug so that everyone feels better about themselves is unrealistic. If you think that the word nigger should be banned, or that homophobes should all be done away with, then the only bigot around here is you.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Heading Down The Primrose Path

I've noticed a growing trend over the past eighteen months for our leaders, our politicians, our military and the all powerful news media to continually refer to the threat to our way of life that exists today. The threat of terrorism. The threat of extremist Islam. The threat of brown people in deserts across the world that "Hate us for our freedom" and other equally catchy slogans.

Am I the only way that is beginning to view the coverage of this growing threat as something very, very similar to the way that communism was portrayed in the west during the '50s and '60s? The threat to democracy, to freedom, to what is good and right in the world. How long will it be until we start seeing McCarthy-esque witch-hunts? Here in Britain we've already seen a woman convicted for the crime of writing poetry.

Think about that. Convicted for writing poetry.

Her work sympathised, some might say glorified, the actions of the insurgents/terrorists/freedom fighters/threat to democracy/whatever you want to call them over in Iraq. While I disagree with the woman’s desire to view the acts in such a positive light (doing so through those ever present faith based glasses that everyone attached to this conflict seems to be wearing nowadays), I am shocked that she has been convicted for writing them down. I mean, think about it, what this conviction means is that, essentially, your opinions are not safe anymore. You may not write poetry about something that doesn't agree with the official party line. Taking it a step further, it indicates that one may not produce a play sympathising with the enemy’s plight, or create a sculpture showing the true horror of the war that the politicians want to forget.

That to me seems to scream out as a precursor to the return to McCarthyism.

We have our Prime Minister telling us he wants to turn our city centres into concrete barracks, our lives to be monitored, observed and watched every day for our own security. Well, call me crazy, but I want to retain my individual freedom to choose how to live my life. I want to see glass windows in shops; just because a bomb might turn the material into dangerous flying shards does not mean that they have to be done away with. A boiler blowing up could demolish a building full of people, should we get rid of them as well? We cannot bubble wrap the entire world and make everyone live indoors just because of the "threat". If that was the case then no one would ever leave their house for the "threat" of being hit by lightning.

If we were able to survive thirty years of the IRA bombing us from an island less than half an hours plane flight away then I'm sure we can survive the "threat" of freedom endangering extremist Islam. Of course, we all know that the last thing that the governments of Britain and the United States want to keep their citizens from realising that. Keeping the populace afraid makes them easier to control. It makes their opinions easier to mould when the threat to their territory is always in the back of their mind. It keeps the wheels of Government constantly greased to surrender new powers to the leader of the day so that they may better help us fight terrorism.

That's how Hitler got started.

I do not mean to be alarmist, but after yesterdays bombing of the U.N in Algeria, I am sure we will once again see the scaremongering of our overlords put into full effect, telling us that no one is safe! Just remember that sometimes risk is necessary. Sometimes it's necessary to have principles and opinions that fly in the face of prescribed opinion. Mark Twain once said "Patriotism means supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it." Well, the bumblers and botchers that are currently in power do not deserve it, let me tell you. They have the gall to try and impose on the spot street searches, fifty two days of detentions without charge, or arrest a young woman for her opinions, citing that they are doing nothing more than protecting us from the threat of terrorism when THEY STILL HAVEN'T CAUGHT OSAMA BIN LADEN.

The threat of communism was real, but the world kept turning. The threat of the IRA was real, but the world kept turning. Do not let the threat of extremist Islam be blown out proportion as an excuse to stop the world turning. In this technocentric age, all we have that is safe is what is inside our heads. And I would rather retain that and live under the threat of attack than surrender it completely and not ceasing to really be living at all.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

No Choose We Lose

NEW RULE (Yes I love Bill Maher and you should to): Religious people have to stop campaigning for protection from "religious hatred". It's not enough that the rule only applies to brown people anyway, but there's a reason why no rational person should give a shit if they upset someones religious sensibilities: They chose them.

Unlike the laws that protect against racial hatred, sexual or minority discrimination (otherwise known as the George Bush happy hour), religious people deserve absolutely nothing of the same sort. The simple reason is that they chose to believe in whatever supernatural spook is their cultures flavour du jour, and therefore have to deal with it when someone pokes fun at them, says they're idiots, bigots, intolerant, extremists, fascists and general nutjobs.

You see there's a common misconception that Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and the rest are some kind of race of people, like someone might be oriental, black, middle eastern, white or aborigine. Or that they're some kind of nation people Chinese or Kenyan or French or Brazilian. Or that they're some kind of minority people like the handicapped, the transsexual or those that don't blindly support causes they don't understand just because the papers tell them to. There are no religious children. If you were born in Tehran, chances are you would be raised as a Muslim. If you were born in North America you'd be raised as a Christian. Why? Not because you were born that way, but because your parents chose to raise you that way. Irrespective of belief, you would still be brown if you were born in the mid-east, and Caucasian if you were born in North America. You can't change that.

But you can change your beliefs. And the reason that belief deserves absolutely zero protection in the eyes of the law is because people CHOOSE to follow whatever religion it is they're into. Do lawyers get legal protection defending them from lawyer jokes? No, because they chose to be a lawyer, no one forced them. Should dustmen get protection from having to work with waste? No, because they chose to be dustmen (though they seem to be trying their damndest to change this). So Muslims or Christians shouldn't get any protection from someone calling them on their intolerant bullshit because THEY CHOSE TO FOLLOW THAT RELIGION. You can't argue otherwise, because if you had any proof for your belief, it would be fact and not belief.

So stop whining when someone shows an image of your prophet, or when someone slaughters one of your TB infected sacred cows, or when someone puts Jerry Springer The Opera on television and a judge laughs you out of court when you try to sue the producer on the grounds of blasphemy. You chose to follow that particular fiction that talks about talking bushes, men floating into the sky, six thousand year old earths and babies surviving attempts on their lives which end up shaping their destiny (the last one was actually from Harry Potter, but it's a similar load of absolute fantasy), so stop complaining when rational people disagree. Also, stop complaining when your employer tells you (or should if they had any spine) to shut the fuck up when you whine about having to handle alcohol, not wear your cross (and what is the point of wearing that by the way? If Jesus does come back the last thing he's going to want to see is a cross) when on company time or when logical people, the establishment or the mass media tell you to stop discriminating against women, gays, liberals, the poor, or other religions. Using the old "God says..." trick is a cheap way to disguise your hatred. You chose to believe in first century belief system in the twenty first century, so stop whining when the rest of the species decides to try and get along with one another for who we all are, and ignores you crying out that your crumbling papyrus pile of bullshit tells you that women should subservient to men. Or that gays should be executed. Or that rape victims are to blame for tempting their attackers.

You chose to live in a framework of myth, superstition and fear of change and the unknown. You'd learn that the modern world is a far more interesting place when you choose not to.