Takin’ Liberties

I was considering a break from the news after the election, but then the new government went and announced new laws I’m not sure about and since I didn’t vote for them I feel like I’ve got a civic responsibility to moan talk about it…

These laws are aimed at reducing and/or preventing radicalisation by banning groups and individuals who use or promote hate speech. My first thought was ‘does this mean we can ban Katie Hopkins?’ because if there’s ever been an individual in this country with a penchant for stirring shit, it’s her. And on the surface, banning ‘poisonous’ extremism sounds like a great idea. Nobody likes listening to extremists stand on a soap box, whether they’re radicalised Muslims or the Westboro Baptists… Extremists prey on the vulnerable, stoking people’s fears and encouraging them to take violent action instead of peaceful protesting or legal change, and everyone with sense understands that extremism exists in all religions, ideals and lifestyles (case in point: Hitler was a vegetarian atheist).

Thing is, not everyone has sense. Some people will use the laws to try to ban anything they deem hate speech and some people may try to use it to stop civil rights advances – kind of like how in Russia the anti-gay propaganda law was marketed at protecting children. But who’s qualified to decide what counts as hate speech? Is it violent and graphic, like calls to exterminate cockroaches, which was the rhetoric that preceded the Rwandan genocide? Or is it an expression of anything that’s different to your own point of view? Because there is not a person in this country who shares a point of view completely with another person and the moment we’re told we can’t express ourselves we’re risking 1984 territory. Like what if homophobic groups tried to ban the discussion of homosexuality, or what if an atheist group wanted to ban public sermons?

The other problem with the proposals is that by banning extremism one is both admitting it’s a problem we can’t solve and is not actually helping to solve it. People don’t wake up one day and say ‘I think I’ll go fight for ISIS’ or ‘I think I’ll bomb an underground train’. Their beliefs and fears were stoked over years by other people who sensed them as a target. Similarly, the Suffragettes didn’t start out throwing bricks through windows or stepping in front of horses – they resorted to drastic measures when the peaceful options were exhausted.

I’m not suggesting we sit with the leaders of al Qaeda, link hands and discuss our hopes and dreams, but just banning extremism will not make it go away. We have to stop it starting in the first place, and I don’t think there’s a law that can do that yet.

Which means we as citizens should probably try to do that ourselves, by teaching our children tolerance and empathy, and attempting to learn those traits ourselves.

But that’s going to be way too easy, isn’t it?

International Women’s Day ft. Men

Happy International Women’s Day! I spent ages looking for a GIF of Mary Elizabeth from Perks of Being a Wallflower saying “thanks for the crumb” but I couldn’t find one, so I’ve decided to not be too cynical… apart from to say “thanks for the crumb, we’ll go back to not existing for the next 364 days!”

Wait, I’ve changed my mind. I just glanced through the #HappyWomensDay tag on Twitter and Christ almighty, there are things to say.

This is an MCR reference that's actually relevant (well it had to happen sometime). from sunshinethekatt.tumblr.com
This is an MCR reference that’s actually relevant (well it had to happen sometime). From sunshinethekatt.tumblr.com

I almost wrote a blog yesterday about Selma and MLK’s I Have a Dream speech, but it felt contrived partly because I hadn’t done a lot of research but mostly because I haven’t been on the receiving end of racism to the point where I feel qualified to write about it. And that feels weird, because if, as a women, I read an article by a man which thoughtfully and carefully discussed women’s rights and sexism, I’d be delighted.

I recently stopped calling gay rights ‘LGBT rights’ and started saying ‘civil rights’ instead, because civil rights are people rights, and we are all people… right? At the risk of sounding like Tumblr, we all have something that makes us less-than citizens in the eyes of the law and society – unless we’re incredibly wealthy, straight, white men who have been highly educated. But that doesn’t mean wealthy, straight, white men who are highly educated can’t be just as passionate about civil rights as everyone else. Maybe they have a direct link with a minority group through their family or friends, or maybe they just have the capacity for empathy. Some of my favourite civil rights rants and gestures have been by the MCR guys – remember Frank’s homophobia is gay t-shirt? Or when Gerard did that Q&A and talked about gender fluidity?

I’ll probably end up writing something about MLK or Selma, but not until I’ve got the time to make it a decent piece of work. I’ll still get really nervous, though, that black people are will say “fucking white girl has no idea what she’s on about and just made things worse.” I don’t want to step on toes, I want to show that we are all people who deserve the exact same rights and treatment regardless of the characteristics we can’t control.

I’m going to stop talking before I ramble my way into a hole. Does any of this make sense to you guys? I mean, I’m definitely more eloquent than those people on Twitter, but it wasn’t hard…

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.