Category Archives: Soapboxing

Winter welcome?

As long as no White Walkers turn up…

Until yesterday, I was — for very weird reasons — looking forward to winter, and the temperature going down.  Obviously January and February are always uncomfortably cold, but I recall last year’s November and December being refreshingly mild (especially compared to 2014), and I’ll be glad, for once, to see the end of hot weather.

No, I’m not an imposter, I’m still your friendly neighbourhood Dave-ros — it’s just that, for one thing, I’ve been finding it harder to sleep in hot weather, waking up itchy (apparently due to overheating) and unable to get back to sleep for ages.  Since it began cooling, however, I’ve been a lot more able to sleep, with only adrenaline waking me up during the night (after a few hours), and seldom keeping me awake.

For another thing, my new supercomputer.  Yes, that sentence didn’t need a verb — it’s going great (aside from having to re-register Windows 7 by phone, as it wasn’t working online!), and I have a good feeling it’ll pump a nice amount of heat into my room when I play intense 3D games (even if my new casing isn’t big and black like my previous ones, which my mother mistook for space heaters!).

Finally — and most spuriously — cooler weather means I can wear my new coat to and from work without sweating like a porcine mammal (especially on the crowded Underground), and this in turn means I can keep my phone in my hip pocket instead of my backpack, and thus look at it easily to see the title and artist of the track I’m listening to — necessary with unfamiliar songs, which often come up as I keep finding CDs in charity shops of bands I either want to hear more of (Jamiroquai, R.E.M.) or try getting into (Franz Ferdinand, Travis).

On the other hand, the meetup event I attended last night makes me worry about winter for the sake of others: I joined Shy London for their monthly linkup with Pavement People, who walk the streets of London looking for homeless people, in order to (a) offer simple supplies like food and toiletries, and (b) listen to their stories.  We avoided anyone who seemed to be high (or was asking for money instead of food, since they’re more likely to be on drugs), but anyone we met who was sane, we made a point of treating like human beings instead of street furniture, talking instead of ignoring.

I’m glad I took part (at least partially because I vowed I would back in June, if my mother found my dropped USB thumbdrive on the train platform), but it’s reminded me of how precarious our situation is on a daily basis — how everyone below the millionnaire class is, as they say, one paycheque away from poverty, and that you can end up homeless no matter how careful and honest you are.  I’m lucky that — for now at least — I can return to Worthing to live with my folks if London goes wrong for me, but what if they lose their home, through no fault of their own?

It wouldn’t be quite so bad if this country had a hotter climate, but it feels like we’re overdue for a genuinely cold winter (it’s been a long time since I last saw snow), and if that came to pass, those unlucky enough to have no place to stay would find it almost impossible to survive — and the way things are now, the only way to secure a hostel place in some areas (especially Westminster) is to have been there for three months or similar, without moving (even though those out-of-work are nagged to go search for jobs around the country)!  And the NHS also appears to be unable to treat people of “no fixed abode”.

It feels like our government du jour would welcome a nice cold winter, as a way to mitigate the increasing homeless problem without having to shake the magic money tree, or — heaven forfend — change policies to stop penalising people severely for honest mistakes (like missing a single Job Centre appointment, or even  clicking the wrong tickbox in an online form when applying for dental treatment).  It’s almost as though they want to be able to punish ordinary people at any time…

Sorry, I know, no sense going into an angry rant on this occasion (I’ll soapbox about that subject another time) — the important thing is that I got involved and met real people less fortunate than me, the sort of people who aren’t worried about trivial things like computers and gadgets, and while I can’t resolve all their problems (any more than I could for people closer to me), at least I can help them a little, keep them going longer — and look them in the eye.

It’s certainly better than simply claiming that the best way I can help the homeless is to not increase their number by one…

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Phobia of homophobia

“Ooh no Missus, titter ye NOT! Put your titters away!”

I think it’s about time I posted something in this blog, for the first time in three weeks — and what better to start with, than my previously-promised post about why I could never be a homophobe, and find myself unable to tolerate such people, simply because so many of my all-time heroes are gay men?

However, the event which finally prompted me to write this wasn’t the vote on gay marriage currently taking place in Australia, but rather, a dream I had the other night, that a young John Barrowman was flirting with me — and while I’m not interested sexually in men, and politely declined, I remember feeling entirely calm and feeling no sense of outrage or nausea… unlike previous occasions, when I dreamed of ugly middle-aged fat blokes trying to pull me, and ran like hell.

(Okay, admittedly JB himself has just turned fifty — and is off the market anyway — but I’ll always remember him when he joined the Doctor Who cast at the age I am now!)

Not that there’s anything wrong with fat middle-aged blokes who happen to be gay, of course: I’ve enjoyed the work of Matt Lucas (partly for Little Britain, and partly for — again — Doctor Who), and reckon he’s a cool dude.  Other fabulous individuals I admire today include Stephen Fry (he may not in reality be as intellectual as he is on QI, but he’s still charming, erudite and funny), Graham Norton (I couldn’t stand him at first, but he’s grown on me over the years), Paul O’Grady (not for his Lily Savage persona, but because he’s a huge dog-lover) and, of course, George “Oh Myyy!” Takei (not just for Star Trek, but also for his humorous activism on Facebook!).

Speaking of Paul O’Grady, I sometimes think of him as a latter-day version of the dearly-missed Kenneth Williams, a man of whose work I was aware even back when I was a child (lending his voice to Willo the Wisp and Galloping Galaxies!, as well as starring in the Carry On movies).  I still remember the day my mother and I returned from Florida the first time, in April 1988, to be told that he’d been found dead in his flat, possibly from suicide (though it may well have been a genuinely accidental overdose).  I read his diary (or rather, the published extracts) in the early 21st century, and wished he could have had a happy life, instead of feeling such self-loathing, even if it would have meant he never became famous.  He hadn’t done anything wrong, and it saddens me that he could never come to terms with his homosexuality — but unfortunately, it seemed to be the way of the world at the time.

In this, he was similar to another of my childhood heroes, Frankie Howerd (pictured above), a man whose work I first experienced in early 1991, when the Beeb began repeating his classic sitcom, Up Pompeii! — the spectacle of him making innuendo came (ooh no!) into my life when I was a thirteen-year-old.  I was sad when we lost him in 1992, just when he was on the verge of making another comedy comeback — but as with Williams, I find myself wishing he could have been happy instead of having to face depression and anxiety, even if his method of dealing with his shyness (affecting arrogance and insulting his live audiences) was a delight.

Roger the Alien’s fabulously swish voice was inspired by Paul Lynde, but he himself is pansexual, and thus irrelevant to this post

Others we’ve sadly lost from this world also include the hilarious Graham Chapman of the Pythons (I’ve been watching his shows since Christmas), and the delightfully camp American comedian Paul Lynde (who I once knew as the voice of the Hooded Claw), but of all the gay men who once lived and sadly died, my favourite would have to be Kenny Everett, whose TV series I was allowed to watch even as a young child, despite his dirty jokes and comedic violence, and whose radio shows got me listening to Capital Gold.  I remember wishing I could have met him before he died from an AIDS-related illness in the mid-1990s, but as the Interthingy barely existed back then, I sadly had no chance.  I just hope he’s happy now, whatever plane of existence he’s currently on, and that he’s found happiness — and, of course, reunited with the great musician Freddie Mercury, on whose behalf he played “Bohemian Rhapsody” on the radio many times!

(Perhaps one reason I like my old yoga teacher is that he reminds me of the dearly-departed “cuddly Ken”?)

And finally, I’ve had (no, not had, wash your minds out!) a number of male gay friends over the years — one friend at university who was a Doctor Who fan and supported me when I did a Dalek comic strip; another, who was highly camp but later came out as bisexual, is my Facebook friend to this day, and someone I’d stand up for.  I’ve also had gay friends at work, one being the “music man” at Camden (despite initially arguing with him when I joined his team), and possibly another there, who I once had in hysterics with my Frankie Howerd impression.  And even today, there’s at least one gay man at my workplace, our amiable receptionist; sadly he’s been off for a while, but he’s definitely someone I look forward to having back (no, not having in the back, stop tittering!).

So there you have it: all these friends of Dorothy that mean I could never consider homosexuality to be some kind of dangerous deviancy that warrants “curing”, or any punishment (well, leaving aside the consensual kind… ooh, Matron!), even if I myself am not of their persuasion (or bisexual).  No, if anything it’s the homophobes I can’t tolerate — because I’ve never heard a single coherent reason for condemning the love that dare not speak its name, whether in terms of outright gay marriage or simply existence.

Yes, that’s right, here’s my challenge: why is homosexuality wrong and in need of eradicating, or at least treating negatively?  No answers based on religion (“the Bible says so”) or personal taste (“I think it’s icky”) are of any importance, and yes, I mean that — if you don’t like people of the same sex as you, don’t worry, just leave the actual gay people alone and unmolested.  And speaking of molestation: gay men (and this also applies to trans women) are not a bunch of kiddy-fiddlers preying on your children, any more than all straight men are rapists — rape is wrong no matter who perpetrates it, so stop implying that some kinds of rape are somehow more tolerable than others.

(And yes, female-on-male rape exists and needs to be equally condemned, rather than laughed at or considered “payback” — but that’s outside the scope of this post!)

I think part of the problem is straightforward ignorance and paranoia: some people think that tolerating homosexuality — or, similarly, transsexuality, gender fluidity etc. — would mean they are obligated to “join in” (that it’s the new “normal”), and that by not doing so willingly, they’re being accused of holding the human race back in the dark ages.  Don’t be ridiculous, get on with your own lives and let them get on with theirs — I’m a cisgender heterosexual adult male, and even though I’m still unsuccessfully trying to start my actual love life, I’m happy and content with the way I am… even if being 100% heterosexual puts me in the 1%!

Similarly, allowing gay marriage doesn’t somehow mean marriage itself is being ridiculed, and that next we’ll be marrying animals or inanimate objects: they’re not consenting adult humans, are they?  Marriage isn’t purely about having children, otherwise childless couples (especially those who choose not to bring children into the world) would have their marriages annulled, surely?  I actually had a discussion on Facebook over three years ago on this subject (as I hinted here), with “female best friend’s” husband and his group of likeminded gentlemen, which I seemed to stop dead by pointing one thing out: if you think gay people can have the same rights as straight married couples, but can’t call it “marriage”, that’s like telling black people they can have something “like” the vote but can’t call it “voting” because that cheapens the word for white people — dividing “us and them” with petty semantics!

Some really bigoted people (especially the sort who post on George Takei’s Facebook wall, apparently meaning what they say instead of “trolling”) use their own homophobia as an excuse to bash Islam.  Yes, I know it’s stuck in its “angry teenager” phase (as I said several years ago) and needs to grow up, lessen its hold over people’s lives and become an opinion rather than a “fact”, like the other faiths, but the few Muslims I encounter in my day-to-day life are peaceful and non-abusive — they’re certainly not “throwing gay people off rooftops”, which the Trump supporters claim at every opportunity.  Even if that’s happening in oppressive theocratic countries, why would it excuse the Trump administration trying to give shopkeepers (and doctors) the right to refuse service to gay people, and treat them like second-class citizens — like some kind of Jim Crow 2.0?  Would Christianity be kinder if it was in absolute control of people’s lives, rather than just something they do for an hour on Sundays and at Christmas?

Almost all religions seem to be homophobic (even Gandhi tried to “sexually cleanse” homosexuality from the Indian faiths), presumably because they were created when the sole goal of life was to procreate, due to communities living on a knife-edge in the desert, and anyone seen to be acting against the greater good was treated as a liability.  However, I’d say our festering mudball planet is definitely overpopulated now, and I’d rather we kept our numbers down by (amongst other things) tolerating homosexuality, which can’t produce more offspring (and with gay couples becoming parents through adoption), rather than purging or “curing” it, and going back to the days of “go forth and multiply”.

All this considered, South Park once made an interesting point: rather than forcing private organisations like the Boy Scouts to accept homosexuals by law, perhaps the better way is to persuade people that homophobia is no longer relevant — to convince them of the error of their ways gradually, by good example, rather than beat them over the head with facts in the hope of a quick fix (some claim it was rebellion against precisely this which gained Trump so much support).  The trouble is, in this increasingly-anti-intellectual age, when even Flat Earthers seem to be making a comeback, would it be enough to just hope people can change for the better…?

— — —

If any of you are wondering why the hell I’m an admirer of John Barrowman (aside from him guest starring in Doctor Who and headlining in the spinoff series Torchwood) if I don’t fancy him: well, he earned my respect when he was on Never Mind the Buzzcocks in 2006 (back when it was presented by Simon Amstell — phew, nearly forgot him!), and was a damn good sport…

Losing faith in humanity

It’s bad enough Trump and his supporters making America a worse place, and Islamic State on the other side bringing misery to their own people, but right here in the UK, things seem to go from bad to worse — and it seems to be 100% down to the stubborn right-wingers refusing to acknowledge they might be wrong.

You’ve probably heard about the tragic tower block fire in Kensington today — it hasn’t affected me personally, but it was still a little jarring because I was at the Westway leisure centre in Latimer Road only yesterday, and probably looked at the tower without realising it would be a blackened ruin 24 hours later.  There’s been stirling work by the emergency services, but special commendation should go to the Muslim residents, who were awake in the middle of the night due to Ramadan, and thus coherent enough to realise the danger and start waking and evacuating the other residents.

And yet, they’re still being portrayed as the bad guys: not only were Britain First (a bunch of thugs no better than Hitler’s Brownshirts) harassing them in the street (and then pretending they themselves were the victims, despite video evidence proving them to be liars), but someone actually responded to a Facebook post I saw by saying that if so many Muslims hadn’t come to this country, people wouldn’t be crowded into accommodation like this, and so the fire wouldn’t have happened!  How’s that for a contrived accusation?

(Yes, I know, Facebook, serious business, whatever…)

Evidence is mounting that it’s the Tories who are most responsible for this disaster: in Parliament they voted down a Labour-proposed bill that would have forced landlords to ensure accommodation is safe and habitable (entirely unrelated, of course, to the fact that many Tory MPs are landlords), they’ve been cutting back on fire services much as they’ve been doing with police services, the man who was their housing minister until being kicked out at last week’s election was apparently sitting on a report about fire safety in blocks of flats like this, and if the latest bit of evidence is to be believed, the local council — which, again, was Tory until last week’s election — seemed to be less concerned with residents expressing worry about fire safety than they were concerned with making the tower block look acceptable to the rich people living nearby with what may have been a flammable variety of cladding.

The Tories themselves, of course, seem entirely oblivious to the problems they cause in this country, and don’t seem to grasp that people aren’t happy with austerity, with spying on us, with the poor and disabled being treated like parasites and criminals while the 1% get tax breaks.  Theresa May, who was either scared or contemptuous of public debate in the run-up to the election, is so out of touch that not only did she bring back the aforementioned housing minister (Gavin Barwell) as her chief of staff, and not only is she desperately trying to side with the DUP (who?  Exactly!) just to get an overall majority, but while cutting benefits to the lowest in society, she seems to think that Tory MPs who lost their seats last week need financial assistance due to her error in judgment!

(One expects it’ll come from the taxpayer, not her own pocket…)

In this election, the Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn experienced a resurgence in popularity, and this was despite the tabloid press trying their best to do him down at literally every opportunity — and even though his manifesto was costed, and contained no “magic money trees”.  You’d almost think Murdoch et al. were trying to curry favour with the Tories, whom they assumed would get back in, and yet Corbyn’s remained calm and relatively dignified throughout (indeed, taking part in actual debates), even with that idiot on Question Time saying he’d ruined the country’s future by denying the Tories a clear majority!

Yet there are still those who think he should resign because he didn’t win outright, much as previous Labour leaders have stepped down despite apparently leading their parties to lesser election defeats.  Unfortunately, “female best friend’s” husband subscribes to this view — and that the DUP aren’t as bad as people make out (being more pro-terrorism than Corbyn ever was, and anti-gay marriage) — something I only know, again, thanks to Facebook.  It bugs me: surely he can’t be completely wrong about something this important, if he’s married to my dear friend?  Then again, I argued with him before about non-traditional marriage, so maybe his crowd don’t want to hear my opinion, no matter how measured and non-insulting.

Oh, and as I’ve been writing this, another old schoolfriend (the former-RAF man) “reacted” to a Facebook article posted by a vehement anti-Labour group, about Corbyn “politicising” the tower fire.  I know the anti-Tory groups on Facebook are also full of vitriol and bad language, and that disturbs me too (not in terms of being offended, but being concerned that they’re not thinking it through properly) — but at least they’re criticising a political party who have been in power for seven years, rather than the opposition, and thus have justification for their anger.

Maybe the problem’s that people only want to hear things that agree with their views, especially in Facebook groups… but then again, I’ve never seen any intelligent, logical defence of the Trump administration on George Takei’s wall, only incoherent “hurr durr libtard snowflakes, he’s making America great again!”-style comments — and, frequently, idiotic statements that intolerance of intolerance is somehow hypocritical, e.g. if you criticise people for being homophobic, you’re no better than them.  In much the same way, I’ve never seen any intelligent criticism of Corbyn, just either ranting or smug sneering.

What I really need to do is avoid Facebook for a while, except for funny pictures and IT helpdesk stories… but don’t worry, I’ll keep being political here, in a calm, reasonable way: how about I finally write the post I’ve been planning for ages, about why I think gay people are perfectly fine, and that there’s no sensible reason to call their attempts to normalise their behaviour “evil” or “Satanic”, or that their mere existence is “anti-Christian”?

(I found that article through Facebook God tonight — how’s that for divine intervention?)

Same old problems

As you’re probably aware, there was another terrorist attack in this country last week, and once again people are saying that Muslims as a whole aren’t to be trusted, because any of them could be “radicalised” and blow innocent people up (whereas when a white non-Muslim does it, they’re just a lone psycho and not somehow indicative of a wider network… y’know, because the IRA were freedom fighters, right?).

Even aside from the resurgent racists, I fear for this country’s future — especially since the media as a whole are trying to do down Jeremy Corbyn, regardless of his actual faults, as though they’re desperate to appear on the side of the Tories, ready for when they inevitably win another 4-5 years in charge of this country.  I myself don’t want to see them win, unless it’s with a vastly reduced majority, or even a hung parliament (a bloody nose to show them they aren’t making life better for the real people of this country, only for the rich elite), because even if I’m financially sound for now, they want to spy on us all the time, and what happens if they declare me a terrorist for holding the wrong opinion, or even at random to boost their statistics?  Which is worse, being killed by a terrorist’s bomb, or being shot dead by a cop who mistakes you for a terrorist (at least, that’s the official story)?

I really don’t need more stress in my life, as I’ve been having a relapse in two aspects, though they’re almost certainly related: “brain fuzz”, which returned after a long break, and “drummer-trucker” being a total see-you-next-Tuesday to me when drunk.  It began two weeks ago, as I helped at my workplace to ensure we’d be resistant to that crypto-malware that crippled (cryppled?) part of the NHS, and faced a lot of stress; this seemed to cause one individual bout on the Wednesday, but they started in earnest at the weekend, after my dreadful housemate had been away overnight and returned, and I felt compelled to avoid him to the point that I delayed going and getting a drink of water from the kitchen, even though the weather had turned hot…

He’s been getting up at 5 every morning during the working week, ruining my sleep patterns (since he’s in the room next to mine and earplugs don’t help), and coming home around the same time as me, drinking lots of beer in the garden or lounge, making me feel like I have to creep around the house.  One night, when I decided to stop avoiding him and “live dangerously”, he was particularly unpleasant to me for no reason, even complaining about me trying to fix the Internet connection when he’s usually the one to complain about it.  I guess I know now that simply getting on with my life and trying not to rise to his bait doesn’t work — he actually had a go at me for suffering from anxiety, surely a  textbook example of victim-blaming… I responded in reasonable terms when he interrogated me, and yet he acted like I was the one being weird (and that he was the one who had suffered during the five years we’ve lived together in this house) — and fretting over this made it hard for me to sleep that night.

I’m feeling better now (after a relaxing Bank Holiday weekend), but the day after that incident, my dizziness got so bad that I seemed to be having bouts of “brain fuzz” every 15-20 minutes, whereas previously the worst had been once an hour!  It still seems to involve half-coherent memories of music and lyrics, and I’m compiling a list of songs that may or may not be triggering bouts (or at least represent what I’m half-remembering) — but in all probability, it’s just a sense of déjà vu that causes anything I happen to be hearing at the time to seem familiar in a more fundamental way than simply knowing intellectually that I’ve heard it before.  The root cause is almost certainly lack of sleep combined with stress (manifesting as pains in the neck and shoulders, which in turn cause the cerebral weirdness), and that’s what I need to combat.

Fortunately, when that bozo’s sober he just coldly refuses to talk to me entirely, and leaves me alone (a more tolerable variety of rudeness than when he’s drunk) — and his plan to move out has been brought forward to early July, on a date before I return from my holiday in Michigan.  I have to hope he doesn’t take some bizarre revenge on me while I’m out of the country (e.g. putting all my stuff out by the kerb) — and “best mate” reckons he won’t, and that he’s just getting drunk as a celebration of moving out.  The best news is that I won’t have to say goodbye to him, or pretend that I’ll miss him… as far as I’m concerned, he moved out ages ago and was replaced by a drunken douchebag.

It’s sad, but I’ve actually found myself thinking that “bad housemate” at Caledonian Road wasn’t anywhere near as horrible to live with as this guy, even though his presence made me so upset that I considered moving back to Worthing!  But never mind, once “drummer-trucker” has gone, hopefully my stress levels will go right back down, as I’ll no longer be awoken every morning and then feel threatened in my own home by an oblivious bully who thinks he’s the reasonable one.

But oh, what if the Tories win — and become the biggest bullies in the country, trying to make out that they’re doing everything right, and that poor or disabled people who starve somehow brought it on themselves…?

Standing my ground

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At least now that UKIP have achieved their aims, there’s no longer any need for them to exist… right?

Well, it looks like Brexit is going ahead after all, even though I reckon the Leave campaign should have needed more than a slender majority (less than 52%) to effect such a monumental change (albeit with a referendum guaranteed every few years).

I am worried about the future now, as it looks like we’ve got a choice now between staying in the EU (and thus ignoring the popular vote), leaving the EU but remaining in the EEA (and thus having to obey the same laws without any influence on them), or getting out entirely (and thus… what?).

I wanted us to stay in the EU, because while it’s massively corrupt and flabby, frankly so are our own government — and at least the EU is pro-human rights, instead of trying to gut the relevant legislation.  I felt there was a chance we could fight the corruption if we stayed, rather than running away from a problem that affects others as well as ourselves… but maybe we can’t, and instead we need to found a second EU, and this time do it right.

But maybe Brexit won’t be so bad, and we’ll have nothing to fear but fear itself.  I’m not going to criticise those who voted Leave for genuine reasons (including some of my friends and relatives), as I believe they had good and noble intentions; whether that builds us a highway to Hell, of course, remains (ahem) to be seen.

However, I am going to have a go at those who think Brexit gives them a mandate for racism.  The scumbags bullying anyone they even suspect of being foreign, yelling “out out out” at Muslim women, vandalising the Polish Cultural Centre, gleefully telling schoolchildren they’ll be deported — these people make me ashamed of my nation and my kinsmen.

It’s brought the National Front and English Defence League out from under their rocks, and just watch this clip from Russell Howard’s show in 2011 to understand why I consider EDL to be scum:

That’s how I view the bigots in this country: shaven-headed toothless* morons who can barely speak intelligibly or come up with a coherent reason for their hatred.  There is nothing good or noble about them, and frankly they are the ones I consider not to be my fellow Englishmen, rather than people with different-coloured skin.  Indeed, I consider them less than human.

(* Presumably toothless from getting in drunken fights, rather than because evil Muslamic tourists stole their teeth out their mouths while they slept, and sold them on to the Tooth Fairy, who’s clearly gay — not that the EDL have any problem with that these days, of course… but once all the forenurz are gone, who’ll be their next target?)

It sucks that we can’t exile them (on the grounds that it’s illegal under international law to leave someone stateless), because they’re the ones we need to get rid of — not Polish plumbers who do a decent job, not Indian doctors who work in our hospitals, not Latvian au pairs or black athletes, THIS LOT.  The accident of their birth in Britain to white native parents means we’re stuck with them, even though they are of no value and contribute nothing (except possibly to the off-licence, and that’s assuming they don’t smash it up later because the owner looked a bit Mid-Eastern).

I know I’ve long stated a desire to leave this country (due to its climate as well as its culture), but it occurred to me the other day that this kind of bigot would welcome me leaving, perhaps declaring me to be “not proper English” and a “traitor” (or drunkenly-slurred words to that effect).  And on that basis, and because I despise bullies and refuse to give in to them:

I’M STAYING PUT IN BRITAIN.

Oh, don’t get me wrong: if I meet an American woman and she asks me to come away with her to southern California, I’ll be Brexiting with only a “may this festering isle sink back into the foetid ocean whence it came” to mark my departure, but until such a miracle occurs, I’m going to do my part to sort this country out, much as I wished we could have stayed in the EU and fixed it.  Maybe it’s futile, and maybe all I can do to contribute is continue to treat “forenurz” like human beings, and vote against the right wing, but every little helps.

I’ll call out the right wing on their incoherent lies, anti-intellectualism and worn-out prejudices, and that includes both our homegrown thugs and those abroad, like Marine le Pen, Islamic State, and the monster Trump, who’s the most dangerous of all (because he’d have access to nukes).  The extreme right wing as an institution needs to die of old age, and it certainly won’t be missed — because what good does it do?

(I miss the BNP… at least when they occupied the extreme right, we knew they’d never get anything done!)

Genital Gestapo?

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Just be thankful I didn’t use a “Family Guy” framegrab of Quagmire’s dad

Sorry, folks, but it’s soapbox time again, as I’m incensed by a worrying trend in bigotry in today’s world (well, principally America, but when they sneeze we catch a cold) — and it’s reached the point that one of my oldest friends seems to agree with it!

No, it’s not Donald Trump’s Islamophobia, since he’s reneging on that anyway and claiming it was “just a suggestion” (presumably in the same way that Tony Blair’s government once dismissed an election pledge they’d failed to fulfil as “just an aspiration”).  However, it involves the same level of prejudice, or possibly brutal dismissal of “collateral damage”, and could end up punishing innocent people while completely ignoring the actual problem that it was trying to resolve… oh, you already guessed from the title that I was talking about the new wave of transphobia in America’s public restrooms?  Well, let’s get on with it then…

Trump’s putative plan to prevent Muslims from coming into the United States “at least until we know what’s going on” is fundamentally stupid, but leaving aside the abhorrent notion that all Muslims are terrorists (or that the ones who aren’t are “no great loss” anyway), the question that needs to be asked is: how do you know who’s a Muslim?  If you judge by people’s declared religion, you’ll only weed out the honest Muslims (because al-Qaeda and Daesh wouldn’t balk at covering up their religion if they’re on their way to martyrdom, would they?), and the only alternative is to ban “anyone who looks a bit Muslim-y”, which would likely include Hindus, Sikhs, and anyone else from the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent (possibly even the guy who plays Raj in The Big Bang Theory), even if they’re Christian or aetheist.

(This is, after all, the country that once banned The Artist Formerly Known As Cat Stevens because they apparently couldn’t tell the difference between one Yusuf Islam and another…)

Similarly, all the thugs who say they want to stand outside the female toilets and knock the teeth out of any “trans” people trying to go in: how do you know?  Do you include anyone you even remotely suspect of being male, such as “butch lezzers” (perhaps thinking that they’re ugly and of no value to society anyway), or do you pull down people’s underwear to check their equipment?  And if the latter, who are you to assume bad faith and say that anyone with a penis who tries to go into the ladies’ is clearly up to no good?  Do you automatically assume anyone biologically male is a rapist of women and girls?  Are you?  If you’re not, why is “he”?

This is the side of the debate that prompts one of my old school friends to keep posting offensive images and “tooth fairy” jokes on Facebook (yes, I know, serious business, whatever).  He’s a decent guy, a family man who served in the armed forces, and so I’m almost afraid to ask him whether he just wants to protect his daughters and doesn’t care if innocent people suffer, or if he thinks trans people are “freaks” anyway, so even if they weren’t going to do anything wrong, they still “deserve” to get beaten up… hey, maybe it’ll make ’em choose to be normal, right?

Anyway, why focus on trans people with male genitalia?  What about people who are physically female going into the men’s room (which, after all, actually has naughty bits on show at the urinals instead of hidden in the stalls)?  Are little boys not worth protecting… or, indeed, would they actually be lucky to get molested by women (as long as they’re hot)?  And if you are worried about them, are you also looking at beating up gay men who have the temerity to walk into the gents’… or have you at least moved on from assuming “all gays are paedos”?

(Frankly, anyone who uses “think of the children!” as an argument in favour of oppression or mob rule has already lost the debate!)

drill_sergeant

Would Trump have men with depression or anxiety put into camps and bullied until they “grow a pair”, a bit like beating people with broken legs until they stand up?

Obviously this issue doesn’t affect me directly because I’m (full disclosure) a heterosexual cisgender male, but it still gets to me that the bigots seem to think all trans people are either straight men wearing drag so they can sneak into the ladies’ and commit rape, or else “wimps making a fuss about nothing” — i.e. that even the genuine trans people should just shut up and live with whatever gender they were born with, like their nonconformity is too much trouble for society to deal with.  As you know, I’ve gone through depression and anxiety; the experience has left me truly sick of the way society tells guys like me to “stop moaning” and “man up”, and I hate to see the same thing, and the threat of even worse, happen to people who have done nothing more than “be different”.

Of course, all this could be resolved by doing away with the dreadful shared toilets most places have, and instead having unisex single rooms with doors that actually go all the way down to the floor — they have these in the Castle, and some restaurants I’ve been in.  There is nothing remotely good or pleasant about most gents’ toilets I’ve been in (I loathe urinals and troughs due to the proximity of other blokes, and so use a stall even for “number one”), and the entire rooms are often filthy and smelly, especially in places that serve alcohol; I’m reliably informed that the ladies’ are also frequently disgusting (so much for the “fairer sex”).  Maybe we should be threatening to beat people up for making a mess, rather than going into the “wrong” room?

It seems the bigots just want someone new to have a go at, now that they’re forbidden to discriminate against women, gays and black people (at least overtly).  I can’t help but wonder if there’s any significance in the recent untimely deaths of both David Bowie and Prince, two excellent musicians whose gender and sexual identities were somewhat fluid: would they have spoken out in favour of tolerance for trans people, and did they thus need to be “put out of the way” lest they ruin the fun…?

(Ooh, have I created a new conspiracy theory?)

The enemies within

They got money for wars, but can’t feed the poor.
—2Pac, “Keep Ya Head Up” (Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.)

wtc

This terrible attack in 2001 resulted in mass surveillance of innocent people and anti-Muslim sentiment… plus ca change?

Just when I finally seem to be getting my life together, doing a job I enjoy and feeling happy with how, the world seems to be going to Hell in a handbasket.

Yes, I am of course on about the Islamic State attacking innocent people in Paris last week (not to mention Beirut, Mali, the Russian plane etc. etc.), but I’m more concerned with the inevitable backlash against, er, well, pretty much all brown people, by the looks of it.  I know, I had my own anxiety on the subject earlier this year, but remember that (a) I knew it wasn’t related to terrorism at all, and (b) I came to the conclusion that I’m actually sexist rather than racist, in that I can’t stand most blokes of any ethnicity!

I don’t believe Islamic State represent anyone except themselves.  They’re not making the world a better place, they’re not liberating oppressed peoples or fighting “the man”, they’re just creating chaos and destruction in the hope of turning the other races of the world against Muslims, in order to drive more people into their arms so they can brainwash them into becoming killers — and, of course, get funding, which they certainly don’t spend on feeding the poor.  They have no redeeming qualities and, much like al-Qaeda in 2001, I would see the lot of them burn in Hell — but I fear for the innocent people who will undoubtedly get caught in the crossfire, and their kin in Western countries who seem to get blamed for the actions of this minority.

You may have heard the news that potential US Presidential candidate Donald Trump wants all Muslims to be registered (you know, like convicted sex offenders), though it’s unclear how he’ll differentiate between Muslims who haven’t got ID cards, and people who “look” Islamic but aren’t (such as Hindus, Sikhs, people from Asia who don’t follow any religion…).  Perhaps he’ll tell them they need to carry “not a Muslim” ID cards as well?  And the really depressing thought is that plenty of people in America would vote for him if he became a Presidential candidate, and some of them because of this insanity!

I truly despise the kind of commentators calling for refugees to be sent home (seeing as they were actually fleeing Islamic State, it’s like sending Jews back to Nazi Germany as some idiotic form of retribution for the Blitz), but that sort of brain-dead thug has been around for years anyway.  I remember the feckless EDL member in this clip from Russell Howard’s Good News, who seems to think “Muslamic” is a word, and I’d much rather see him kicked out the country, since he has absolutely no value whatsoever as a human being, and is nothing but an irredeemable parasite in our society.

(Oh, I’d love it if he’s reading this and wants to start a fight — bring it on, you alcoholic bully, I’ll knock out both of your remaining teeth!)

And, of course, there’s the blanket surveillance of everyone’s e-mails and Internet browsing habits, which the UK government was already trying to force through even before the Paris attacks (and indeed, they were already planning to increase funding and employment in the secret service).  Since the Paris attackers were already known, and there was simply no will to stop them, I believe that Big Brother-style spying on the entire populace will do nothing to prevent terrorism… but then, I doubt it’s why they want to bring it in anyway.

Let me put it this way: you don’t find a needle in a haystack by adding more hay; you just have a much, much harder job finding the needle.  And to justify the expense of increasing the amount of hay, you end up having to, shall we say, broaden your definition of a “needle”, or try to work out which pieces of hay might potentially become needles.  To further clarify: I know I am not a terrorist, so if the government spies on me, at best they’re wasting resources (which could mean a real terrorist slips through the net), and at worst they’ll find some other pretext to feel my collar.  Indeed, as a famous Frenchman once noted:

“If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.”

 

Of course, with the current government’s determination that the poorest in society should face the brunt of the “austerity” cuts, food banks, unemployment (and sanctions), cutting of local government services (even in Cameron’s own constituency, shock horror!), fuel poverty (with blackouts on the horizon) and homelessness while at the same time mysteriously finding a few extra billions to spend on another war, and continuing to feather their own nests, I wonder if we’re building towards the British equivalent of the French Revolution.  Perhaps this is precisely what Cameron’s cabinet are really afraid of, rather than a bunch of brainwashed faux-Muslims (who would only endanger the peasantry anyway).  I reckon they want us to be afraid — initially of terrorism for as long as it takes for us to allow these new laws to be brought in, and then of them, the future being their smart shoes stamping on our faces forever.

It actually seems like Islamic State and our increasingly-puritanical government are cut from the same cloth: they both want to control and dominate us, taking away anything that gives us pleasure and making us feel worthless, and that they do so entirely for their own ends, not because they think it’ll make our lives better to be micromanaged and punished for the slightest infraction.

So yes, I hate Islamic State… but I also hate the Conservative government.  But which is more likely to kill ordinary people in this country?  There’s only one way to find out…

Harry Hill Fight

Yes, I’d much rather see the Islamic militants fighting our government directly in a battle royal, while the ordinary people of the Middle East and the West get on with our lives peacefully… it’d save having to build a B-Ark in order to send the whole damn lot of them into space!