Students Vs Sweeping Generalisations

I support the student protests.

Dun dun dunnnn!
It’s a statement that will instantly draw so many to make snap judgements of me.
By saying that, many will assume I agree with the trashing of Millbank, that I agree with the anarchists on the roof, the trashing of the police van, and it will mean a number of people will completely dismiss my views.  I’m just another idealist who refuses to live in the real world…

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The Rarest News Of All

They’re out!

Oddly, yesterday reminded me of 9/11.

All those years ago, I – and a couple of close friends – sat and watched in near silence as the world changed.  There had been no point since then that I have been glued to the news.
But ’10/13′ (even though I’m British so I’d say 13/10. ahem) was a day that saw me – and many others around the planet – glued to the news.  Awestruck.  In tears.
But – for once – with good reason.

Lives saved. On national television.  The news, no less – the home of tragedy, misery and unveiled lies. But for one day, the news was overtaken by such rare sentiments as hope, love, loyalty.  Bravery that didn’t land the hero in hospital, prison or a coffin.  Heroism.  Families reunited, not torn apart.

I equate it to that most horrible of dates, because no day since then has seemed so unbelievable.

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Progress

Wow.  There’s good news.

I don’t watch the news. It’s depressing, despair-cultivating garbage where ratings take precedence over reporting.  But right now I’m glued to it.  Not satisfied with turning my head from the PC to the TV, I’ve got the live feed on the screen alongside this window.  I’m of course watching the Chilean miners being rescued.  I hope you are, too.

This wasn’t what I was supposed to be blogging about, though.
There was good news here, too, you see.  Yesterday, we lost the zimmer.

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Reaper vs Rock

Just what the hell is going on?

Seriously now.

In the last few months, members of the rock and metal world have been dropping like flies.

Top left: Ronnie James Dio – died 16/05/10
Top Right: Paul Gray/#2 from Slipknot – died 24/05/10
Bottom Left: Jimmy ‘The Rev’ Sullivan from Avenged Sevenfold – died 28/12/09
Bottom Right: Pete Steele from Type O Negative – died 14/04/10

That’s a bit of a pummelling for the world of rock, with iconic figures as well as contemporary future legends.
The latest I just discovered was ex Stereophonics drummer, giant nose and daft hair owner, Stuart Cable.

I didn’t particularly like the guy, not that I knew him, but on the occasions I encountered him as well as various interviews and TV appearances, he didn’t seem particularly likeable.
But I can’t help but feel a little gutted because it’s another known name in the rock world to meet an end way before their time is really up (that goes for Dio too, as he was supposed to be immortal). And another member of a band that have had a considerable impact.  I’ll certainly notice this more here in Wales!

Really beginning to wonder if the Grim Reaper has it in for the rock world.

He’s probably really after Bret Michaels, but the dude just keeps soldiering on.
Perhaps he’s behind it all and it’s all going a bit Highlander.
He needs to keep taking the essence of rockstars to fight his own mortality.

Seriously though, Rest In Peace the lot of you, and Reaper – stop swinging that scythe in music’s direction, please.

Is That It?

So I just voted.
How anti-climactic.

All that reading and watching, all that time weighing up the options about which party will f*ck up the country the least, it all ends by walking into a room – an old school room to be exact – and putting an X on a piece of paper. Fold it, put it in a box. Done.

I guess it comes in watching it unfold on the news.
ESPECIALLY NOW FOR THE FIRST TIME YOU CAN WATCH IT IN GLORIOUS HD!!!!!!
Yeah, that was the real reason I voted, because it’s in HD.
What could be more exciting that watching an ex town council member counting bits of paper, and no swingoimeter has meant much because the picture quality hasn’t been good enough.

Basically if there was a party who’s policy centered around reducing the amount of ads for HD to less than seven an hour, they’d have my vote.

Also, to confuse people, today I’m wearing my Glassjaw tee, because everyone will wonder if I’m campaigning for the green party…

Where To Put that ‘X’

So here we go.

I’ve watched plenty of TV, read plenty of newspapers, blogs, articles and manifestos.

Tomorrow I will make a decision based on what I have learned.

What have I learned?

Um…

  • That to truly know enough about a party’s policies, I should have started reading after the last election.
  • Politicians are desperate, smug, bickering children.
    Not that you don’t all already know this.
    But when I see arguments in the house of parliament, my heart sinks at how pathetic they seem.
  • Nick Clegg is very likeable, but policy > personality, and though I’m tempted, there’s a few things I don’t like.
  • David Cameron surprised me, for all the talk of Clegg’s charisma, the TV debates showed him passionate and confident – take a look how often he looked at his notes.
  • I also learned that David Cameron has met someone for every convenient situation, and seems to repeat himself.  If he rolled his sleeves up every time he said the party will, he’d have severed his arms.
  • As with every general election I can remember, you cannot aim for the best, but for the least worst.

So what the hell am I going to do today?

Environment is an issue I keep coming back to, leading me to consider voting Green. But will that be a wasted vote? I’d like them to get MPs, to have a voice in parliament, but will it just be another bickering voice in the childish, squabbling, one-upsmanship we always see on BBC2

But if not them, who? Each of the main three have policies I… hmm, believe in? But others that I don’t. I don’t trust any of them.

I think from all that I’ve taken in, there’s only three things I’m sure of about the whole debacle:

1) I won’t vote for labour. After the four thousand years they’ve been in charge, they haven’t done enough. they’ve failed this country. People spit hate at them as if they should have saved us from an economic crisis and all the other crap that puts our country in such a state. They couldn’t have. Neither could any other party, and neither will whoever takes over from them. But they should have done better. And nothing I have heard from them has inspired any confidence. Every debate and quote sounds like polish on nothingness. Spiel and sound-bites to gloss over the status quo. Their complete refusal to admit fault to anything means they cannot appear remotely passionate about doing right by the UK. Anyway.

2) It’s going to be a hung parliament. – I’m certain of it. Lib Dems as king-makers. Arguments and lack of action to follow.

3) An argument between Jeremy Paxman and Andrew Neil would be the most amazing argument in the world. ever.

I will vote for someone, if not to say I stand for a party, but that I stand against the BNP. I feel that strongly about it.
I didn’t vote in the European elections. Now our country is represented by racist scum.

So I will have to sleep on it and decide where I put my X. Enjoy standing up and being counted.

Must take the election seriously…

From the clearly excellent Mortydraw

Blind Vote

So I’m still pretty undecided as far as to who I will vote for.

I’ve decided that environmental policies are very important to me, but will the Green party offer realistic ideas?

And is voting Green a wasted vote?

A big effect on choice can simply come down to the reputation of the party behind it; Labour have currently fudged things up for the UK, can we really trust the Tories, is there any point voting Green, Lib Dems are always the third choice, BNP are a bunch of c*nts…

So a few websites have their own survey pages who give you policies without the parties attached, only revealing at the end where your opinions lie.

One – Vote for policies not personalities, choose which set of policies you most agree with

Two – Telegraph online, asks if you dis/agree with policy points

And how did mine end up?

Interesting differences there, but the Vote For Policies seemed far more in-depth.
And when it comes down to it, neither site is going to give a spot on representation of the parties involved, so I’m no closer to knowing who I’ll vote for.

It was a nice way to kill ten minutes, though!

Election Fever

So I’m going to vote on Thursday.

Election fever has grabbed the country like never before, largely thanks to three televised debates giving politicians access to an audience that would never normally give a damn.
But let’s not dismiss the fact that more people than ever will want to vote through dissatisfaction with – how do I put this intellectually… everything going tits up.

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From the Archives: The comic strip presents – Freedom of Speech

From my ancient MSN Spaces blog.
It’s been interesting re-reading how I thought a few years ago, and the unsettling feeling of ‘the more things change’.

—————————————————————————————————————–

Welcome to a mountain.  Whether it’s a giant mass dividing the masses, or something built from a molehill, is up to you.  Though intrinsic factors have grand implications, to me it’s… well it’s all a bit silly, really.

Yet again it comes down to people’s view of things being black and white.  And I’m not talking about skin colour.  On one hand, the reaction to the cartoons is a surprising lack of a sense of humour.  On the other, the prophet of a religion has been lampooned.

No sense of humour.

They’re cartoons for fuck’s sake.  The pictures are likely in poor taste, but these are not the in depth assault by a renowned intellectual to open the eyes of non-Muslims worldwide.  They’re a sketch for a few sniggers before breakfast and to keep food on an artist’s plate.

The violent reaction is appalling, it would be pathetic were it not for the frightening scale with which it has spiralled out of control.  What began with pelting eggs went to burning a flag, went to sacking an embassy building, racism towards entire nations as produce is cleared from retail shelves and threats are made against Europe, to death.  People have now died in clashes over this.  I can understand the offence in question

The reaction is as pathetically attention seeking as the ‘controversial’ cartoons themselves, but with a horrifyingly more gruesome outcome as each pathetic, arrogant human attempts to prove they are the best, the most outraged, the most important voice that should be listened to. Over a cartoon.  Buildings have been set on fire and protesters have been shot dead.  For a cartoon.

If it is that wrong, how about rising above this kind of humour? How about Letting the blinkered have their sniggers and working for equality?  No, instead, let’s play into the hands of those pricks that would brand all Muslims war-mongers.

Christianity is lampooned often; I have such a cartoon on my wall.  After a bishop claimed melodramatically that Christianity was defeated, the picture has an elderly vicar leaving a church with suitcases, and a proud new vicar standing at the gates next to an ‘under new management’ sign.  The new vicar is Satan.  Is this kind of lampooning any less offensive than some of these pictures?

Other situations have arisen within western religious culture.  The Jerry Springer Opera, for instance.

A religion insulted

The pictures themselves are pretty shit really, the ones I’ve seen aren’t very funny at all, and the much maligned picture depicting Mohamed with a turban as a bomb is too far, a poorly thought of racist portrayal of the Muslim faith as a terrorist insurgency.

Muslims live their faith, whereas in the west, especially here in Britain, the following of faith is not always as strictly adhered to. (Henry VIII, anyone?)  Religion is still and will for a long time be very important, but it hasn’t stopped these and similar rows being described as ‘the West vs. Islam’ rather than ‘Christianity vs. Islam’.

Media reaction is unsurprisingly biased towards free speech.  The mere mention that journalism has stepped over the line in regards to free speech will bring them rallying together.  And rightly so?  Possibly.  To compare, it is like that friend you know – we all know at least one – that proclaims to all the world that they say it how it is.  This person comes across as blunt but honest.  But that person can also be a bit of a prick.  Insulting people when s/he didn’t really need to.  If that person is saying all Muslims are bomb wielding monsters, it might be tolerably tongue in cheek, but on repetition it also makes him/her a racist.

Much like the comment about Jerry Springer, the feathers of Western Religions can be just as easily ruffled.  Robert Fisk’s fantastic comment points out that had the bomb/turban picture been of a rabbi, the papers would have been condemned as anti-Semitic.

Misguiding the people

I had intended this blog to be as even sided as possible.  But its coming across a little one sided.  If so that’s not how its intended.  I find the scale of the reaction ridiculous, but do not scoff in the face of those whose religion has been offended.  I can see perfectly well why many are offended by it, but it is not worth violence and bloodshed.  If any eye for an eye has to be made then surely the cartoonists and those who laugh at what really isn’t that funny should be ridiculed.  Not be fearing their lives may be taken by an extremist.

And that is what much of this is.  Yet again, the radical-aka-rabid minority stirring up anger in pretty much the same intention as cocks like Nick Griffin, aiming at the disgruntled masses (and lets face it, discontented people will never be a minority).  This in particular has been ideal for the more radical, in that it has been able to draw the anger of more central minded but still fervently religious Muslims into the web of hate through the offence taken.  What will be perceived as the majority of protesters will really be masterminded by more radical minded men who will rely on the mob rule that sucks in all humans regardless of their religion.

In addition: on the western front (heehee western front) the media is doing its thing and highlighting these appalling incidents and repeating them en masse.  Making what has largely been a non-violent reaction seem like the first step to the end of the world.  These incidents are few, but make no mistake about it, they’re as overdramatic as a bad drama student’s production of Hamlet.  When lives are endangered, what is pathetic becomes appalling.

Freedom of speech.

The over-reactions and generalisations we now have are that the media is attacking in a racial and anti-Islamic manner.  Whereas the Muslim world is now seen as being against freedom of speech.  Both = bullshit.

Freedom of speech should be allowed, but should also not be immune from repercussions.  You have a right to believe Islam is a force to destroy the world.  But you should also be prepared to be perceived as a blinkered racist.  I’m sure many are and don’t care, but far more are not.

I’m not saying the artists in question are the new Hitler, but should put more thought into how they portray their work.  Being controversial may get you a promotion or an erection for your ego, but haven’t put enough thought into the repercussions.  Because you don’t have a particularly strong view on religion doesn’t mean the rest of the world is the same.

Then, of course, on the other hand.  Just because a handful of cocky satirists have drawn the prophet, doesn’t mean the entire media world laughs and goads Islamic society.  It certainly doesn’t justify burning flags, or buildings, or people.

What really makes me laugh is some of the placards waved by protesters.  Freedom of speech can go to hell, and my personal favourite; “down with free speech”

Protester:  “DOWN WITH FREE SPEECH!”

Policeman: “Excuse me sir, you cannot protest here”

Protester:  “You cannot stop me! Im exercising my rights as an individual!”

Er. Yeah.

Prejudice

The sickening extremity of some of the reaction is appalling.  Embassies sacked, threats of beheadings and violent attacks.  The boycotting of produce I find smacks of a childish reaction to fight fire with fire.  Assuming that whole countries are united against Islam will justify blatant racism of clearing Danish produce from shelves and cutting off ties with embassies while protesters scream “death to Denmark”.

Apologies have been made… and unaccepted.

Hate the person who created the cartoons.  But an entire country? Racism.  The same prejudice that the protesters accuse the west of.

Whereas before, the blundering bull in a china shop of the Western military action played directly into the extremist’s hands, now the radicals are pushing more central Muslims directly into the hands of the racist quotient of the western world.  Offended Muslims angry at the lampooning of their religion are being penned into the blinkered but rising view of Islam as a religion with a ‘jihad’ against freedom itself.  It’s a pathetic way to breed hate, but it’s proved highly effective as this molehill rises ever higher.  If this is the reaction to a few cartoons of little wit and poor taste, then how easy a step will it be to have that molehill blot out the sun.

How’s that for melodrama?

Thoughts and feelings please!

John Simpson

The row Q&A

Aftermath in Lebanon