In Which I Have Learnt About Racism in the US

I wasn’t going to comment on the Charleston terrorist because I knew that a lot of people would automatically take umbrage with the term ‘terrorist’, and more might expect a ‘not all atheists’ blog. Both of those potentials are weird and exhausting so I figured I’d just share some posts by people smarter than me. Like this and this:

I think between them they express my opinion enough that I don’t need to waste Internet space trying to say the same thing. What I would like to talk about today is what I’ve been learning about the American south recently. I have never actually been to the States and I suppose I’ve been quite lucky in that the American culture I’ve absorbed over the years is as intelligent, if not more so, than the culture I’ve experienced from anywhere. MCR, Mindless, a million and one novels, the civil rights movement et al is all really fucking smart. No racism allowed, no sexism allowed, don’t be a piece of shit to other people and what in God’s name is wrong with letting people get married.

In the wake of this Charleston murder spree I’ve learnt that I’ve been really lucky, and blinkered, to only experience the smart people. Don’t get me wrong, I knew that there are stupid laws about letting idiots own guns and letting police officers shoot unarmed suspects… and I have a Tumblr account; I read the ‘white privilege’ posts. I just didn’t fully understand them until recently. I try really hard not to be a ‘all x people’ – when the English say ‘Americans are stupid’, I’m usually the first person to say ‘maybe you just haven’t met the smart ones. There’s a lot of people in that country, statistically they can’t all be as thick as this fucker on Fox News’.

By the same token when I see a post screaming about all the white people, promoting misandry or being rude about straight people, I think ‘you’re tarring a group the way some people tar your group. Kindly look out of your fucking window and understand that being discriminated against does not give you leave to discriminate’. Judge people based on their shitty personalities for Christ’s sake… So that’s me trying to be less of an arsehole than the dregs of Tumblr.

I just had no idea that the Confederate flag flies over the South Carolina or that roads are named for Confederate generals who fought for slavery that descendants of slaves have to pass through every day on their way to work. Those Tumblr users still need to grow up, but I think I understand more about why they’re so angry. I’m angry, and I’m white and live thousands of miles away from where this shit is happening. There is an inherent race issue because it’s fucking ingrained into the nation’s subconscious. Changing laws is one thing; changing culture is quite another and I must say, American government, I can’t believe you have the gall to invade other countries to teach them how to deal with racially-motivated terrorists when you have the problem within your own boarders.

I also didn’t know that being an atheist in the South is a really huge deal. Until I saw this:

There are two schools of atheist thought? Some atheists are against feminism? Whut. I think I’m beginning to understand why Dustin Lance Black makes a point of going back to Texas… Liberals in the States are dealing with a lot more shit than I ever appreciated and they have a massive job on their hands politically, socially and geographically. (Seriously who decided Texas should be the same size as the entire UK. Scottish independence just looks like if Dallas wanted fiscal autonomy.)

So that is what I’ve been learning recently. What about you?

When Smart People Make a Boo Boo (#DistractinglySexy & Tim Hunt)

Generally speaking I think it’s a good rule of life to never engage with online debates, mostly because ‘debate’ usually means ‘people SHOUTING THEIR OPINION with NO INTENTION of EVER listening to OR learning from the other side(s).’

But  I must say I’ve enjoyed the #distractinglysexy hashtag.

For those of you who try not to listen to news about people being sexist: Sir Tim Hunt, a Nobel Prize-winning science professor at University College London, recently told a conference that when one is working with female scientists, ‘three things happen when they are in the lab. You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them they cry.’ I’ve never worked in a lab, but apparently it’s just one of those things.

I suspect someone has had a few fleeting/wonderful/awkward workplace romances in his time. Which is okay. When you’re attracted to someone, they are incredibly distracting. If I did work in a lab and liked a colleague, I would have to transfer workspaces until they moved or it blew over, just in case I accidentally spill polonium on my shoes when they take their coat off. (That sentence in itself may be why I’ve never worked in a lab.)

So it’s okay, Tim Hunt. We get it. What we don’t get is a) why you are distracted by all the girls, b) why they cry why you criticise them (the best teachers do not criticise, they merely point out what we can improve), and c) whether or not your views have ever genuinely impacted someone’s career.

I’m really not that bothered about a 72-year-old thinking a certain way about a certain type of person, and he’s perfectly within his rights to say it – although he might not be all that smart if he thought it would be a good idea to be sexist in front of a room full of women. The only really worrying thing is that people with ignorant views, whether they’re sexist of racist or homophobic or whatever, are often in positions of power and responsibility – and not everyone can separate their personal views from their jobs. I’ve no idea if Tim Hunt was ever involved in allocating grants or awarding places, but some people are and it makes me want to petition a law preventing CVs from showing anything but skills.

Still, at least the people on Twitter are making light of it all.

Enduring Idiocies Legacies

I get more and more like a middle-aged lady every year, but I’m just going to go ahead and ask how it is that it’s May already. I think it was January last week? And Firework Night?

There was a spectacular show of indifferent ignorance on the radio this morning, with presenters from the Today programme asking people if they were voting… some didn’t know who the Prime Minister is. I can’t really complain about that because they do in fact all look the same. But still, Mr Apathetic Citizen, has it not occurred to you that by not voting you have no right to complain about any sort of governmental process? You say that politics doesn’t affect you but that’s just ’cause you don’t know anything about it. Have a sniff around and I’m pretty sure you’ll discover the odd law that dictates your life.

Speaking of laws, I finally watched this film:

(Well I watched it twice because I rented it from the library and I like to get my money’s worth support local services.) It was funnier than I thought it would be… most civil rights-esque stories make me want to cry and throw things. Well I did get a bit sniffly but what was really funny – and I mean this in every interpretation of the word – was that the people who spewed homophobic bullshit in the 1970s are completely identical to the people who spew it now.

It was like when I listened to MLK’s I Have a Dream Speech and kept thinking of Ferguson. A lot of good things have happened in the last three or four decades, but it seems unlikely that the world will ever be completely rid of fuckin’ idiots.

On the plus side, this Thursday we might be able to remove a few of them from public office. I don’t hold out much hope for electing anyone better though… that shit’s stayed in the ’70s.

Election Flu: Leaders’ Debate

Have you guys recovered from last night’s debate yet? I must say I rarely finish a TV show and fight the urge to pour myself a large glass of neat spirits. Still, it was interesting for a few reasons:

  1. There were aspects of all seven leaders’ arguments I agreed with. No more zero hours contracts? Yes please. Higher minimum wage? Definitely. Quit privatising the NHS? Amen. A middle road between austerity and borrowing? Sounds like an okay compromise. I even agree that grammar schools should be more of a thing – provided, of course, that non-academic eduction is equally well-funded and respected (I know I bitched about my school last post, but ultimately it was a good choice for me. I’m just bitter and twisted about its internal politics).
  2. There were aspects of all seven leaders’ arguments that made me want to hop on a train out of the country. ‘60% of people with HIV are foreigners’, are they Nigel? Well maybe if you don’t cut the foreign aid budget you and withdraw from international politics you might find that there are ways to curve the HIV pandemic.  Motherfucker. I’m also not convinced that it’s a smart idea to keep borrowing money even if it is supposedly to improve infrastructure… how hard can it be to make stuff without borrowing three trillion quid from an international fund? Seriously, if anyone knows, we need you.

    From bitternab.tumblr.com
  3. Women are smarter than men. I was ready to loathe Nicola Sturgeon as Alex Salmond’s puppet, I had absolutely no idea who the Welsh lady was at the start and all I really knew about Natalie Bennett was that she forgot some stats on a radio show the other week. But in debating terms, they were polite, level headed and came across (let’s assume it was a front) as far less arrogant than the guys. Or maybe I’m projecting. Do you guys remember Harvey Milk? You won’t unless you’re, like, 40. He was, amongst other things, the first openly gay US politician. I have no idea how many gay people agreed with his politics (I don’t even know what they were) but he was somebody the LGBT movement could identify with. I’m not saying I’d vote for the Green Party just because it’s lead by a woman, but I felt more represented as a person by having three women on the stage than I did in 2010.
  4. Naturally I’m quite socialist, yeah? I like civil rights and the environment and equal pay and the EU. But – and I dunno if you lot think this way – I will probably never vote Labour or Liberal Democrat. I grew up in a Labour-induced recession and the Lib Dems have done a brilliant job over the last five years of proving that they’re completely spineless. My gut feeling about the Greens is that they sound like my sort of party now but at a whiff of power they’d turn into the rest of them – hypocritical, arrogant and willing to say what people want to hear to win elections.

Doesn’t stop me wanting them to make good though. So, I’ve learnt that I will probably still vote independent unless I vote Green. What stuck in your mind? Apart from the thinly-veiled racism, Ed Miliband’s attempts to atone for the last Labour government and Clegg and Cameron pretending they never worked together?

Indifferent Ignorance Awards 2014

This year has some new categories and tough competition!

Books of the Year

I’ve stopped trying to pick one.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, which I thought was going to be about whiny teenagers and is actually a lovely story about twins with great names who go to university in Nebraska. One of them writes a fanfiction that has thirty thousand hits a day. Whatever you think it will be like, you’re wrong. Read it if you’ve ever read or written fanfiction.

Or How to Talk to a Widower by Jonathan Tropper, which I read in Greece. It’s about Doug, a 29-year-old widower who hasn’t left his house in a year except to buy Jack Daniels until his sister comes to stay. The characters are incredibly real and although they’re not nice, you want to spend time with them… I wasn’t sure at first but it is A*.

Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan. Because Nico and Reyna got their airtime and it was beautiful.

And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. I tried re-reading this recently and I couldn’t because after the first page I remembered how much my stomach was tied in knots the whole flipping book. If I could write like anyone, I’d pick Khaled Hosseini. The power to make your readers cry, man..

The True Lives of My Chemical Romance by Tom Bryant. I read this the Sunday after the #revenge10 meetup in Camden, which was the fist time I’d been able to listen to live MCR since MCR ended. It was lovely hanging out with other fans and not having to explain or justify how much I love this band. The book made me sad in a lot of ways because it opened a window to the inside of MCR, and it was contrary to the image portrayed by the media (and maybe the band) at the time… But by reading the entire history, told objectively by someone who understood and respected the magnitude of MCR, I felt like I could really start to enjoy MCR again. Listening to songs didn’t make me sad any more; I was genuinely excited for the guys’ new work. So thank you to Tom Bryant! Also I met him at #revenge10 and he is a good dude.

Best New Musician

Lorde. Lorde Lorde Lorde. I ignored her stuff for ages because I was bitter and twisted that someone younger than me had a) such great hair and b) worldwide success. I am now over that. Partly because girls should support girls on their quests for awesomedom, and partly because her music is excellent.

Best New Album

Stomachaches.. Hesitant Alien. May Death Never Stop You. Come on, was I going to pick anything else? I haven’t bought anything else! I am turning into an old lady when it comes to new music. I hope to change this in 2015 buy physical copies of the music I like.

Live Show of the Year

King Lear (amateur production) in my town. Lear almost dropped Cordelia. Unlike the Sam Mendes production, there was a little room for audience participation – mostly because there was all of 50 people watching and you could make eye contact with most of them.

Most Interesting TV Event

Eurovision… Conchita winning was pretty brilliant in itself, but I think this part of the show may have been the most entertaining for the viewer:

Rudest Person on the Internet

Either most of Tumblr, the person on DeviantART who told me they’d ‘just print’ my artwork instead of buying an official copy, or the people featured in @TheDMReporter’s screen shots.

Indifferent Ignorance Homophobic Dick Award

This was such a hard one to choose I was wondering if you guys would like to suggest any examples? I mean, there’s the usual US-pastor-saying-something-offensive, and recently a UKIP MEP who is actually gay called equal marriage “false bollocks”. I dunno, I feel like we need to expand our horizons. Anyone got any horror stories

Indifferent Ignorance Ignorant Fuck Award

It was very hard to narrow the nominations down this year. So I haven’t.

The purportedly Muslim group calling itself Islamic State. You sirs are giving Islam a terrible name and you ought to be ashamed. My knowledge of Muslim theology is not as thorough as my knowledge of Christianity (A Levels, huh) but I’m pretty sure the Quran is not telling people to behead aid workers and use people as slaves.

Vladimir Putin and his inner government group. (I am not sure what the Russian name for that is.) Do you actually think no one minds or has noticed that you’re rebuilding the Iron Curtain? Please stop. I would like to go to Eastern Europe and Russia in my lifetime without feeling like I’ve stepped into 1965.

The citizens of America who think it is 1965. It’s not. Shooting people is not even remotely a good thing. Shooting them based on their skin colour is even worse. You’re embarrassing your country.

Okay I think that is enough for one post. Does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions for different winners or new categories? I couldn’t think up a category for Chantal Claret’s Pledge campaign, for example, or one for Lola, the chimp who does Gerard Way’s PR. 2014 has been an action-packed, sometimes-hilarious-but-mostly-depressing-news-stories year!

Want to Send UKIP a Christmas Gift Without Crapping in an Envelope? Let Me Help You.

Snowflakes, last week I made an important discovery: UKIP has an address to which you can send mail. Unlike their now-defunct Freepost address, it’s a regular address for which you have to purchase a stamp, but they also have an email contact.

As a citizen concerned at the rise of UKIP, I felt it my civic duty to draft a letter informing them that they are by far the biggest source of indifferent ignorance in the news at the moment. Then I thought, why shouldn’t I share these addresses with everyone I can so they too can write a letter or email, or perhaps send a Christmas card or gift? But the more I considered my message, the more worried I became. Was I going to fully convey the seriousness of indifferent ignorance by myself? Would an email be lost in a spam folder or a printed letter be discarded without much thought?

So I’ve decided to share my letter with you, so that if you’re reluctant to spend money on a Christmas card or do not have the time to write a letter of your own, you can print off mine and send it, or copy it into an email. That way, well, there’s a chance that the administration department at least might begin to comprehend the full horror of living with such a dangerous case of indifferent ignorance.

To email UKIP, use mail@ukip.org.To send them a physical letter (or anything you like, really), use:

UKIP,
Lexdrum House,
King Charles Business Park,
Newton Abbot, Devon
TQ12 6UT

To the members of UKIP,

I am writing to you out of moral duty, to inform you that in recent months and years it has become clear that you are suffering from a chronic illness called indifferent ignorance. A largely unrecognised complaint, indifferent ignorance renders its victims almost impossibly narrow-minded and with little desire to research or reconsider their opinions.

Judging by the public conduct of former members such as Godfrey Bloom and David Silvester, your party is a magnet for sufferers of indifferent ignorance – and evidence gathered from observation of tabloid press consumers shows that the illness is contagious. UKIP’s policies were clearly written by people under the influence of severe ignorance; for example your website’s ‘Safeguard Against Crime’ policy “make sentences mean what they say” lacks both eloquence and factual basis, implying the author has not fully considered the policy. The general UKIP attitude that European Union-sanctioned immigrants are ruining traditional British values also displays a magnitude of indifferent ignorance, as most British schoolchildren can tell you that Britain has been populated by foreign nationals since roughly 43 C.E. when Romans forces arrived from Europe. Many schoolchildren can also explain that the last four centuries of technological growth has resulted in such a vast increase of economic, political and cultural globalisation that no political party could achieve ‘Britain for the British’, to paraphrase your ideals, mostly because there is no peaceful way to return to a global state of total isolation. With respect, the most drastic attempt of a state to achieve complete sovereignty in modern times has been North Korea, and even your most fervent supporters are likely to be reluctant to elevate Nigel Farage to a god-like status.

There are simple methods to combat indifferent ignorance, no matter how serious the case. Proven remedies include: cutting the tabloid press from one’s consumerism, questioning one’s long-held beliefs (especially those picked up in one’s youth from one’s elders) and venturing past one’s front door into the 21st century.

I do not write to condemn you to the trappings of indifferent ignorance, but to educate you as to the seriousness of your condition and to the steps that can be taken to combat the epidemic before it becomes a pandemic.

Yours faithfully, ___________

Don’t forget to put the date in the top-left corner if you want to post it – but maybe don’t include a return address if you don’t want to make yourself a target for a purple-and-yellow leaflet. Keep it anonymous if you’d like… whatever happens, if you do in fact message UKIP and especially if you get a response, let me know. I’m in the mood for some Christmas cheer.

A Simultaneous Piece of Art and Indifferent Ignorance

I’m still trying to get over the awfulness of Sunday’s blog title. I was very sleepy that day and struggled to think of anything smart, but still… I feel like the rockstar in that Private Eye sketch, and it’s icky.

Anyway, back to good vibes.

I noticed today that Indifferent Ignorance has had 1200 comments. About half of those are mine, because I try to respond to everyone, but that’s quite cool, especially because as of Sunday I had written 400 posts (wish I’d known that at the time).

I’ve also got about 100 drafts.

Cool huh.

Right, onto a simultaneous piece of art and indifferent ignorance! I’ve been thinking that I should share more art on here, and as it happens this piece is perfect. Basically I saw The Imitation Game on Sunday and it is brilliant and blew my mind both in terms of this dude pretty much invented the computer and civil rights were fucking bullshit back in the day.

'The Imitation Game' by Francesca

Just a thought.

PS At least i improved my watermarks.

Accidental Achievements: Having Something in Common With Bob Geldof

I’m not sure how many of you are on DeviantART, but I go online there quite a lot because it’s an excellent place to share and find fan art. My latest finished work is a set of Greek mythology-inspired posters. I’m pretty pleased with myself, because a) I actually finished making a set of designs and b) a lot of people have said they made them laugh, which is nice to hear.

A few people have said that they’re going give them to their friends and/or loved ones.

“Yay, that’s great,” I say,  “you can buy postcards or download them here!”

“Ah no,” they say, “I’m just gonna print them off myself.”

I’m not an expert on etiquette, but if I’m going to download somebody’s work and go to the trouble of removing the watermark and/or printing it myself instead of paying a less than £2 for the official download, I’m not going to tell them.

Maybe I should improve the watermarks to discourage viewers.

Polite Notice

When the latest Band Aid single was announced, I almost sent a snarky Tweet  asking if anyone had told Sir Bob that no one pays for music any more. If a bunch of teenagers are of the mindset that they shouldn’t pay an artist less than a cup of coffee for a download and are comfortable enough to tell them that, what are the odds that enough people will pay for the new Do They Know it’s Christmas? to really help Ebola victims?

I’m glad I didn’t send it.

Update: this post’s title is really poncy. I was assuming neither Bob nor myself are capable of much. I think I meant that people are cheapskates. I’m going to drink more coffee before posting in future.