Tag: Politics

Are YOU a nazi?

There seem to be a lot of people worried that liberals may turn them into actual nazis simply by calling them a ‘nazi’ on the internet.

Now, at first glance, this may seem a little bit daft. My own first thought was, ‘If calling you a nazi makes you into a nazi, you were probably a nazi already.”

However, there are plenty of precedents for people being forced into beliefs they didn’t initially hold by external influences. I think we can safely discount hypnotism and gaslighting, since both require prolonged personal influence, and we’re talking about a few tweets from random lefties. But we could make a loose comparison with the effect of the media on issues like female body image, immigration, cancer scares, etc.

The tabloid media (and the evil that is women’s magazines) are able to convince many women that their body shapes are undesireable or their appearance is in some way unacceptable to society, and more ridiculously, that a size 12 is just not skinny enough. The Murdoch press in particular excel at convincing some people that when immigrants arrive in this country they are simultaneously given well paid jobs AND every benefit available, plus new homes and cars, and spend their free time imposing Sharia Law on every town and city they live in. These papers are also in touch with Princess Diana’s ghost – who is backing Brexit, and regularly have a new ’cause’ of cancer for us all to worry ourselves sick about.

Usefully, I am entirely unconvinced by any of this, even tho size 12 is a very distant memory and my hair is a right-wing-baiting shade of blue, plus I also live in a very multicultural area where most of the jobs are indeed taken by immigrants, or members of families who must have had an immigrant somewhere in their past. Mind you, so must mine…

The fact that all this tabloid bollocks doesn’t affect me is because it only works if there is an element of doubt for it to latch on to. Without that, it’s really simple to just dismiss out of hand. With it, it has something to build on; a teat to feed on and thrive. The only way to then defeat this sort of insidious reprogramming is with facts and data, to prove to yourself what the truth actually is, and restore your view of reality.

So, if you’re worried about people turning you into a nazi by calling you a nazi, you must have doubts that you might already be a nazi.

But, never fear! I have a handy way we can check this for you with facts.

You see, nazism is interestingly black and white, like their logo. You can’t be ‘a little bit nazi’ or ‘a weekend nazi’, which is why it’s ok those idiots are losing their jobs and college places and families.

So, if you do have the slightest doubt, the tiniest inkling that you might be a nazi, then there’s only one answer to this question.

You’re a nazi.

And, as internet history guy Mike Stuchbery might say, in conclusion, get fucked.

Belief in Better

Human beings work on belief. The simplest philosophy that we all understand is Descartes’ “I think, therefore I am”. Beyond that lies chaos, and we instinctively fear chaos. We are drawn to order, to control, to knowing what will happen and why, and to good things happening to good people.

We want to be those good people. Nice people, in nice homes, with nice families and nice incomes, and nice things will happen to us and everything will be fine.

Good things happening to good people. British values. Strong borders. People like us. Safe people.

I mean, why should you support asylum seekers who have just arrived here, immigrants put up at our expense, someone who has never bothered getting a job, some teenager living at home, some bloke with anxiety, a woman who’s got a job but has more children than she can feed – has she not heard of condoms? Why should you, indeed? Why not withhold the few quid from your taxes that goes to welfare, and fingers crossed you never need it.

The problem with not wanting to support minorities is that you can actually become one at any time. It’s weird, and doesn’t really bear thinking about, but there are a million ways you can end up as a minority, and several other exciting way in addition that you can suddenly need the support of the state, as well. And, we will generally all one day become old, at the very least.

A party towards the right wing, like the Conservatives (and boy, are they right, right now) are marvellous, when you’re winning, when you’re on their team. Goodness me, they’re excellent for rewarding their good people for doing their good things. But if you slip off message, if you stop being part of the team…

People have died, under this Conservative government. They have died for being poor, for being disabled or ill. The numbers of children being treated for conditions related to malnutrition  have risen sharply, as have adults, too, especially the elderly. Schools are talking about working on four day weeks to stay open, our NHS, our beloved flagship NHS is sinking. Austerity has done nothing but drive people to foodbanks and despair.

And then, in the weeks leading up to this election, terrible things have happened. Awful, senseless things. They were the acts of misguided individuals, and we all mourn the innocent lives lost on those awful nights here in Manchester, and most recently in London, too.

Now, I have quite a partisan point of view, on this. I took issue with Theresa May’s speech, after London. But beyond the clumsy ‘Islamist’ xenophobia of it, the outdated ‘cyberspace’ phrasing, and the wildly inappropriate scare-mongering, there was one point I could not let go of.

“Enough is enough.”

At first, I was just upset that now, two weeks after Manchester, this was enough. London was enough, but Manchester was not.

And after all, she had been Home Secretary for six years, so someone should have just got terrorists to stab people on Tower Bridge ages ago, since that was all she had been waiting for. We could have had this all dealt with ages ago, guys. Fucksake.

But what really, truly rankled was that “Enough is enough!” was the final shriek of the parent who has not bothered to go and check what the hell their children are doing until they smell smoke or there’s a single, horrible thud and then silence; and they know they should have gone up to check hours ago, but, you know, they had an episode of Eastenders to finish and this gin doesn’t drink itself.

Right. Enough is Enough. No more terrorism. At ALL. And no more INTERNET for ANYONE.

And we’ve all been for too tolerant of extremism, apparently. So it’s all our fault. And not hers.

That’s the final part of her speech that got me. For someone that wants us to go back to proper British values, she’s taking down one of the few remaining ones we’ve got left.

Tolerance never drove anyone to harm. Tolerance never caused anyone to murder. Tolerance is one of our strengths, and she can’t take it off us. Tolerating and accommodating all points of view, all races and religions doesn’t stop us calling out extremism if it puts our way of life at risk, either.

And that’s what we need to do, now. We need to stop tolerating Theresa May’s bare-faced fascism. She’s right not to face the public, or even the opposition. She’s right not to answer any direct questions. She’s right not to even try to defend a direct attack on the competence of the Mayor of London from the President of the United States. Because she doesn’t have any answers. She should simply step down now, stop delaying and let the people who think they are voting for her see what they are actually voting for.

Oh yes.

I’ve got a point.

Please, please remember. Whatever your opinion of Theresa May, and whatever your opinion of Jeremy Corbyn, you are NOT voting for them.

You are not voting for a party leader, you are voting for a party.

It’s entirely possible neither of them will lead the country, come Friday. In the case of Theresa May, it’s extremely likely she will not lead the country on Friday, whatever the result. The fact that she’s done less and less press is very telling, never mind this whole damn election farrago and the fact that the Brexit bucket of shit was dumped on her. She’s off, Friday morning. Odds are, if you vote Tory, you could well be voting for Boris.

Yeah. Think about that. Boris, welcoming Trump to Britain. A true meeting of minds.

This is a very real possibility.

But the other side of this coin is that if you’re not voting Labour because you don’t like Corbyn, you’re a dafty. You aren’t voting for him, you’re voting for your MP in your constituency, and beyond that, for the party that best represents your interests with its policies. Leaders change. Become a party member and you can be part of the decision making process.

Now, perhaps you look at your constituency now, and who you actually get to vote for, and it all looks a bit less exciting. I remember being a lot less excited when I first got to vote, that I didn’t get to vote Thatcher out personally. (Yes, I am that old.) Perhaps you live somewhere with a massive Labour majority, or Conservative, or LibDem, or Plaid Cymru, or SNP –  but not UKIP because nobody likes them. In that case, what difference DOES your vote make?

Look at who your next biggest party is. Look at what your individual councillors are offering. Talk to them, even. Heck knows, they’ll be keen to do so. You can also look at strategic voting and vote swapping. Your vote genuinely does make a difference. Every single goddamn vote makes a difference. Even if you draw a massive vag on it.


Our points today:

Your vote matters, use it well.

You are not voting for a leader, you are voting for a party, and principles.

Theresa May is a bad person, but Boris is much worse.

Beware fascists.

Belief is important to all of us. It is an intrinsic part of being human. Belief is what keeps chaos at bay, belief in the good in others, and that things will be alright in the end. A lot of people don’t dare believe that things will be alright, right now, however. A lot of people are afraid of the result of this election, and they have every reason to be. Five more years of Tory government will be a mandate for oppression in the same way that Brexit was a mandate for racism. I want to believe that change can happen, that it’s safe to hope, mostly because I know belief and hope are catching, and they spread, and good god, wouldn’t that be a thing?

I know it’ll be really shitty on Friday if you have hope and actually, nothing changes. But you know what, it’ll be really shitty anyway. It’s better to have loved and lost…

If people have hope, they spread hope, and people with hope, with belief, do amazing things.



Voting for Dicks

You have until midnight on Monday 22nd May to register to vote.

Maybe you think you already have, but you’re not sure. It doesn’t matter, you can do it even if you you’re already registered, and check the data that’s publicly searchable on the electoral roll about you whilst you’re there. That’s worth doing, right? Five minutes of your time. You’ve got the option to vote, then, if you choose to use it or not. Choice is important. Don’t lose the option to choose.

Okay. That’s simple. You have to register to vote. There’s no sensible argument against that.

Let’s get on to the important stuff.

Your vote matters.

It matters far more than you imagine.

Maybe you aren’t intending to vote, don’t know who to vote for, hate all the parties, don’t see what difference it makes, feel it’s a waste of time, simply can’t be arsed or just don’t care.

I can understand why you might feel that way, but let me try to explain why you need to get down to the polling station anyway, and why it’s not just important but absolutely vital.

I’m not going to try and tell you who to vote for, or why you should vote for any particular party. That is between you and your conscience, and you’ll make that decision when you stand in the booth with a pencil in your hand. Whatever anyone says to you, whatever you say you’ll do won’t matter until you look at those names and make your mark. Maybe, at that moment, what you’ll actually do is draw a massive, anatomically correct, spurting penis with the word ‘anarchy’ written down its length. Then you’ll fold your slip, walk back to the boxes, post your vote and walk out with a smile on your face and a spring in your step.

And you, my friend, will have voted and I will congratulate you on a job well done.

In the last election, more people didn’t vote than voted for any of the major parties. Maybe you were one of those non-voters. Manchester, I’m looking at you.

Because those people didn’t vote at all, they are mostly disregarded as a useful statistic. We don’t actually know who they are, why they didn’t vote, or what kept them away, so there is nothing practical done to reach them because there’s no way to know how to do so. It’s assumed they simply don’t care, so they’re ignored.

Spoiled papers, on the other hand, those are counted. Spoiled votes include penises, anatomical or otherwise, rude words, other comments on the electoral system and anything that isn’t one mark in the box against one candidate’s name.

Do bear this in mind if you aren’t intending to spoil your vote, too.

A high percentage of spoiled votes would be regarded as significant, and would raise questions about electoral reform. You can still make your voice heard, even if you don’t feel there is a party you can vote for. Don’t stay at home on Election Day.

In this country, there is no option for ‘None of the Above’, although there is a push to have one from one group. You may, if you wish, follow that lead and write NONE on your voting slip, but it is likely down to the individual teller if that is counted as anything but simply ‘spoiled’.

But however you choose to spoil it, a spoiled vote is counted, and if it gets people to the polling stations, if it gets people engaged in the political process, then it’s a start.

A start is good.  We need people to vote, for change to happen, and we need change to happen.

Do bear in mind that I will not accept that politics is all bullshit or boring as an excuse for not voting.

Oh, and you don’t get to be some sort of conscientious objector and fight the system by not taking part because they’re all bastards, either. In this election in particular, you can look at a vote not cast as a vote for the Conservative party, so well done you. Vote for a little party that has something close to ethics, vote for a joke party, spoil your paper, but make your voice heard and have some balls behind your rhetoric. Take some action whilst you have an actual opportunity to do so, or shut the fuck up.

And if you don’t care, then we’re going to have to look at exactly why you don’t care.

Not caring is a privilege, a massive, huge privilege. It means that you’ve not yet ended up with the shitty end of the stick. It means that you’ve not been genuinely poor, or out of work with bills to pay, or sick, disabled or old. It means you’ve not had first hand dealings with the justice system, or children who’ve had problems at school. You’ve never had to go to your MP, because you’ve not known who else to turn to. You’ve not marched, because you’ve felt you’ve had to, and shouted until you were hoarse.

It also means you can’t have had anyone you cared about who has had to experience any of those things. Or if you have, you haven’t cared about that, either. If that is the case, you might well be so selfish and self-centred that this is all wasted on you.

I hope that isn’t the case. I hope you think politics is boring simply because fate and fortune mean you’ve been lucky and just didn’t know why it matters so much, until now.

I’m not going to tell you who to vote for.

But, if you’ve been lucky to never be troubled by any of those issues I’ve listed above, you could say that you’ve always been strong, and stable. Which is lovely. I imagine there’s probably an ideology that prefers exactly that sort of person. I imagine that ideology really doesn’t like those who aren’t strong, or stable. I imagine that ideology would rather be rid of those people. The vulnerable. The weak. The damaged. The disabled and sick. The poor…

I’m not going to tell you who to vote for.

But I am going to tell you that five more years of Tory government will mean that people will die who would not otherwise. People with families, homes, lives. People just like you, but for a turn of fate.

So, vote for whoever you like. Draw a massive cock on your paper if that’s what floats your boat. Just make sure you don’t inadvertently draw it next to the Tory candidate’s name.

Oh, and vote Labour.

Damn. Sorry. It slipped out.

Trump is a Troll



Trump is a Troll

Donald Trump is a classic internet troll, especially when he’s on the internet. His twitterfeed is a perfect example; you will check that there’s a blue tick and it’s not actually a parody. Everyone does. It’s unbelievable, and ridiculous, and then scary – just like Trump is in real life, and that’s how you know it’s him.

Internet trolls are simple creatures, and easy to spot with a little practice. There’s been an academic study, and several more user-friendly articles on the back of that, too. But these often relate to deliberate trolling in specific types of forums, rather than that annoying person on facebook who shares David Avocado Wolfe posts, angel wishes and calls you a ‘libtard’ for not hating immigrant children – and they’re trolls, too. Try asking them a direct question, especially about something they’ve just said. All you’ll get is another question – often the one you just asked turned around – accusations, or abuse. Post a statement contradicting their point of view, even with all the evidence in the world, and they’ll just say you are lying. Then, obv, more abuse. How dare you bully them like that? You fascist*.

Unlike a lot of internet trolls, however, Trump is also a troll in real life. This is because he’s basically a narcissistic sociopath**. Lots of trolls behave the way they do on the internet because they don’t see the people they are talking to or about as real people; the text barrier allows them to easily dehumanise the people behind the comments. Trump does this to real people, right in front of him. People whose angry, hurt and frightened responses are right there on their faces and in their body language – but he still doesn’t care. It doesn’t change him or what he’s saying in any way. Even when there is direct, well-founded, empirical evidence right in front of him that contradicts everything he says.

This doesn’t stop him contradicting himself, however. But, even when you can show him direct, empirical evidence of what he himself has said, he still just calls you a liar, and moves right on. He simply doesn’t care what you think, or even what you know. For him, you are just an annoying noise on the outskirts of Trumpworld, and what you believe, think or feel is of no importance. You don’t just not matter, you don’t even exist. This isn’t just you, tiny internet nobody. This is Crooked Hillary, The Lying New York Times, senators, political experts, scientists, even those at the shitty end of the stick he carries with him to beat on his rabble-rousing drum.

So, Trump is trolling reality. Ok, we all know the advice – don’t feed the troll. Smart people are advising this as well: don’t RT his tweets, don’t respond, don’t share facebook posts about him, or articles from the press. It only encourages him, he loves the publicity, and most importantly, you’ll not change the minds of his real supporters.

There’s a core of truth, here. Trolls just say that stuff to get a response, so by giving them one, by caring, you give them more power. Trump does speak for a section of the public, and they adore him. Like with him, there is nothing you can say that will change their minds or alter what they believe – you, just by trying to do this, are part of the conspiracy against him, after all.

But, whilst there’s often no point in continuing to feed a troll, there is a point in responding. Just once, just to say, ‘No. That’s not right, and please don’t say such unpleasant things.’ On the internet, in your local facebook group, say, you can see this with clarity. If someone posts blaming the increase in littering on a particular group of immigrants, then to just ignore it and leave it without any response at all might well mean that the person who posted it will eventually get bored and wander off again. That post will scroll down, and many people will probably not even see it.

But during that time, anyone coming into your group will see that post, and see that no one has even said, ‘Well, I’m not sure that’s entirely the whole issue…’ It will seem, to an outsider, that you’re all tacitly agreeing with it. Yes, maybe you don’t want the whole awful fallout popping up on your alerts, but hopefully a group admin will step in before then, or it’ll be reported and be seen to contravene the Community Standards***. Or you’ll just block them if necessary. There are tools there designed to protect you, and to allow you to say, ‘No, thank you. You’re being rude and hurtful, and I don’t appreciate it,’ without fear of reprisals or abuse.

I’m not in any way saying you need to go full on Social Justice Warrior, and take down anything hinting at bigotry wherever you see it. Please don’t, in fact, as it can be a very unpleasant and occasionally dangerous business. What I am saying is that there is a purpose in responding to misleading posts or sharing the truth when you find it; there is a group that you can and will reach – and that group is The Lurkers.

Look at any group or forum on the internet: it’s a good way of seeing how society works in microcosm. Look at how many members there are, then look at how many actually post regularly. The average can be as low as ten percent. So, what are the other ninety percent doing? They’re enjoying the show! Sometimes they’ll sneak out for a moment to like or reshare something, but often they just stay quiet, reading along.

Huge portions of society are lurkers. Entirely passive, they see everything, but they don’t interact beyond that point. What they see therefore, matters. They either don’t have or don’t wish to use critical thinking skills to look beyond what’s in front of them, and so they are particularly easily mislead by propaganda. Our politicians know this, and so are even less afraid of telling outright lies than ever before.

There was a dream that the internet would democratise information; that one day, everything would be there at our fingertips, and no one could ever lie to us again. Instead, we have the opposite – everything is there, in our eyeline, so we don’t need to make any effort to look any further. Brexit happened because a significant number of people believed what they were told, and voted accordingly. No one can blame them for that – at a pinch, you can even not blame the people who voted for Brexit because they ‘didn’t think it would actually happen’.

Let’s not have that happen, with Trump. Let’s address the people who think he’s just ‘a bit of a laugh’, a ‘character’, just saying ‘the stuff that all blokes think’ or not actually going to win, so it’d be funny to vote for him. Let’s address the people who still think he’s a successful businessman, that he always wins court cases, that the scandals around him have no basis, that he’s not a possible rapist and a definite serial abuser of women. Let’s make sure that the people who think he might speak for them hear what he’s actually saying.

Trump is a troll, but we are going to feed him. We’re going to feed him the bitter truth, even if he spits it back in our faces like the spoilt child he is. We can’t stop Trump and his supporters from saying the awful things they’re saying, and neither should we. Instead, what we can do is to shine a light on every contradiction, every lie, every abusive and aggressive post, every call to violence, every belittling, nasty, childish comment and soundbite. Find the truth, check the truth and then share the hell out of it, whenever you get the chance.

And let’s all do it, because we are a global community now, and our words can travel across national and cultural boundaries. Let’s all do it, because we care about each other as human beings, and because those of us who do care are the majority, and will listen to each other.

And because if that isn’t true, we truly are doomed as a society, whoever the next US president is.





*What is it with idiots calling left-wing rhetoric fascist? It happens so often, and it’s really odd.

**I’m not a psychiatrist, and bandying mental health diagnoses around is not a good or smart thing to do, generally. But I make a needful exception in this case.

*** Hahaha. As if…