A Magna Carta Retrospective

Do you think any of the onlookers at the Magna Carta signing actually thought it would be celebrated eight centuries later? Like did any watching peasants have a debate?

Steve the Peasant

Dude they’re signing that peace treaty so we won’t have to pay stupid taxes and the barons can’t get away with everything.

Jimmy the Peasant

Yeah we can’t even read that, it’s in Latin. And it only applies to free men. Which we aren’t. And it says women can’t accuse men of murder and I, personally, see that as sexist.

Steve the Peasant

Dude it’s a start. Maybe future generations will polish it up, take out the stupid bits and use it as a foundation for declarations of independence or bills for human rights!

Jimmy the Peasant

Whatever, man, we still have to pay our fucking taxes.

They head off to herd cattle and fight dysentery. 

Should’ve placed our bets with Steve, huh. Although it really didn’t let women accuse men of murder… it wasn’t much of a peace treaty either.

Still, I like to think they had no clue at all that a cramped, slightly ugly, almost completely incomprehensible peace-treaty-that-wasn’t would be remembered as the start of something wonderful… or as something less shit than a megalomaniac king and war-funding taxes, anyway.

Happy Monday!

PS check out that link and the video about half way down. It reminded me why history is brilliant if you let filmmakers get hold of it.

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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?

The Six O’Clock News: a Quick Lesson Borrowed from an Actual Lesson

As I hauled myself out of bed this morning the newsreader bloke mentioned that some higher-up in the EU had spoken out against the British government for spreading “myths” about immigration. I thought a few swearwords that are usually too foul for that time of day except I was late and did not need to hear about it before I had found my slippers (remind me to write a post about slippers). I thought “I better do something on Indifferent Ignorance on the EU because no one knows what in the [swearword] is [swearwording] up with it hey I forgot to draft the Six O’Clock News EU time!” and went to find some Oatabix.

Or something.

Fast forward to fourth period and my Politics lesson was about the history of the EU! So since it’s fresh in my memory and I need to be academic for the betterment of my brain and career prospects, here is a lesson on the EU with some vague relevance to today’s news.

Fun Facts With Frank

  • This thing’s been around almost as long as the papers that ridicule it. First known as the European Coal and Steel Community, it was established in 1951 as a method of rebuilding Europe, which looked something like this when the war ended. It was generally agreed that a good way to prevent another war would be to get bickering neighbours to share wheelie bins, by which I mean that West Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy and the Netherlands all signed over a bit of power (supranationalism, snowflakes) to the ECSC. With no political involvement, it was just a free market for coal and steel, so that war would be, to quote French foreign minister Mr Schumann, “materially impossible”. Basically if countries rely on one another for resources (interdependence), they are less likely to invade one another. Cool huh.
  • Like a decent band, the ECSC evolved over the next few years. NB: Britain hadn’t wanted to join because racism xenophobia miners didn’t want to relinquish control of their mines. In 1957 the organisation’s remit expanded, creating the European Economic Community and the Atomic Energy Community. Ten years later they did (made? Signed?) the Merger Treaty and called the whole lot the European Commission. Still with only six member states, there was growing reticence – word of the day, means ‘wary’ – about states giving up their power. Sound familiar? Good.
  • In 1973 Denmark, Ireland and the UK joined. Having not consulted the public about joining, a referendum was held in 1975 to see if people wanted the UK to remain in the EC. Sound familiar? Good.
  • 1979 saw the first elections for members of European Parliament, which had not previously occurred because who needs democracy an every governmental level. Interestingly, Spain and Portugal weren’t allowed in until the eighties because until then they had dictatorships…
  • Allowing more free and standardised trade, the Single European Act was passed in 1986, expanding the process of the easy peasy wheelie bin sharing with the neighbours. Germany unified in 1990 and in 1992 the Maastricht Treaty was signed, which further expanded the remit and lead to that shining example of excellent currency, the euro.  It also made the whole organisation more political and renamed it the European Union.
  • As of 2014 the EU is home to 500 million people (that’s more than in the entire USA, folks), 28 states and 24 official languages.

Here is a mildly inappropriate loop video of politicians dancing to help you digest that information.

Now, you will all hopefully be aware that lots and lots of people like to say “what in the name of Mr Johnson’s dancing does the EU do for us absolutely nothing those immigrants just want to take our jobs and cash and housing and they don’t even integrate let’s send them back where they came from who cares if they came here smuggled under a coach we don’t want them taking up our school places and giving the kiddies Eastern European ideas blah blah etc. etc.”

But ladies and gentlemen, Vivian Reding is totally right about political rhetoric! I’m not sure how right in terms of legal stuff because I’ve only done one lesson, but if you can’t see past the political hand-waving or tabloid crap pertaining to immigration then a) you need to learn how and b) you probably shouldn’t have read this far because I probably can’t change your mind. But have a wee look back at that list. The EU was formed in order to help Europeans prosper. Or at least not kill each other. The recent influx of Eastern European nations is due to the fact that for the majority of EU history they were part of the USSR, which wasn’t really pro-Western trade. In terms of GDP, EU is the richest area of the world, so the prosperity idea seems be if not succeeding then not failing. Plus the migration thing works both ways. Imagine you were to go on holiday to, say, Greece. You meet a nice guy and decide to stay and open a bar there. You could. Unless you were a convicted serial killer or something anyway. Remember those E111 cards you’d get on school trips to the trenches? They give you access to free or almost free healthcare in the EU, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, Iceland and Norway. So if you get sick from a dodgy cocktail in Marbella, you don’t have to pay through your vomit-filled nose to get your stomach pumped.

Fun.

Okay, that’s enough politics stuff for one day. Just do me a favour: when you are next watching the news and some white dude in a suit says something about the EU, think about this: three Members of the European Parliament are Nigel Farage the UKIP guy, Geoffrey Bloom the other UKIP guy who called women sluts and got thoroughly ridiculed by Victoria Coren on Have I Got News for You and Nick Griffin the  bankrupt BNP guy who is possibly even more racist than the UKIP guys. They have been elected because the majority of voters (and there aren’t too many to start with) hear the rhetoric or read the papers, believe the words and vote in someone who will cause a ruckus in Brussels. Which doesn’t accomplish anything except embarrassment.

Happy first week back! If I never blog again it’s because Sherlock broke me.

Occasional Tea and Rarely-Spotted Cake

Lately I’ve been having a bit of a problem with starting posts and not finishing them so I’ve made a cup of tea to help with the old creative juices. I’ve consumed more today than I usually do in a month (tea is for socialising and coffee is for work; I have at least one coffee at least six days a week) although I was drinking it in a Politics lesson under the guise of working… Although to be honest, Friday Week A last period has always been a bit of a guise, especially when we did voting systems and had to count.

Today was a tea and cake lesson, because it is correct, when one reads a newspaper, to drink tea – especially if one is in a class with twenty other people and international relations needs to be taught. It was also my teacher’s last ever lesson in my school because it’s more fun/intellectually stimulating for him to finish his PhD and work in Malaysia instead of sitting in a classroom in deepest Essex explaining the history of the Liberal Democrats to seventeen-year-olds. Can’t think why. So instead of discussing international relations we gave him presents. Ah, summer.

This hot drink thing really is conducive to work… When I said tea is for socialising, I temporarily ignored my reasonably frequent coffee shop stops with Ellen and/or Isobel when we huddle in a corner of Costa and discuss everyone we’ve ever met in great detail. I do think, however, that if there were a tea shop in our high street we’d go to that instead. Actually there is a tea shop and I’ve been there once. Well, Ellen doesn’t like hot drinks anyway; maybe we should spread our custom around a bit.

Eeyore in Costa

There’s actually a great building just off the main shops that part of me wants to buy, do up and convert into a bookshop and tea and coffee place. I think it’d specialise in second-hand books, and there would be a ‘bring a book, take a book’ system for people with cash flow problems (which is everyone). The teas and coffees would also be suitable for those with special dietary needs (which isn’t everyone but I flipping miss eating those almond biscuits you sometimes get on your saucer). There would maybe be a space for art shows and one for people to just sit and read for as long as they want as long as they purchase a beverage.

I think I may have just invented the library.

AS Standards IV

I have Politics and English on Friday I had Politics and English on Friday so I needed a way to blog about the two… and I’ve found one, in the shape of Basil Hallward:

Whitewashing

  While we’re on the subject of Dorian, here are some pictures I’ve been trying to post since October:

Happy Dorian

Sad Dorian

  Well, his face wasn’t as pretty as it is in the book.

Gay Marriage and Ice Cream, or Something.

So, the tomorrow House of Commons is going to have a vote on whether everyone should be able to get married. Or rather, whether people who are not already married should be able to get married (let’s not legalise polygamy. Sherlock Holmes has taught us what happens if you join that slippery slope… or is that if you join Mormonism?).

For the record I’d like to say, just in case I forgot to mention this during Homophobic Twat Rant #384747: if you don’t like gay marriage, don’t get gay married. No, gay marriage will not undermine straight marriage. The only thing that will undermine a straight marriage will be divorce papers, or perhaps an affair. In fact, it’s not ‘straight marriage’ or ‘gay marriage’, it’s just ‘marriage’. Yes, gay people may get divorced after six hours/a week/two years/twenty years, in the same way that a straight couple might. No, you can’t catch gay. No, God does not hate gay people (one reason for this may be that God does not exist. Or another may be that God created humans in his own image, therefore would be an idiot to hate LGBT etc. people as he is an LGBT etc. person). Yes, the only thing making a gay person different from a straight one is their sexuality. Just like the only thing separating someone who likes ice cream from someone who doesn’t is their taste buds. No, one does not choose to be gay and no, one cannot be cured of being gay. This is because being gay is not an illness, it is a characteristic, like whether or not one enjoys ice cream. Yes, you will be undermining ‘traditional’ marriage if the Act is passed – just like how divorce and non-religious ceremonies undermined marriage when they were introduced. Yes, gay people make good parents. Or they might do, in much the same way that straight people might make good parents.

Go here or search the archives for some funny pictures. Just don’t tell me who I can and can’t spend the rest of my life with.

Oh, and please don’t out any closet Tories who vote ‘no’ to spite their choice. Their vote is their choice, just like whether or not they want to eat ice cream or not discuss who they sleep with is their choice.

Oh, and this isn’t relevant but I’m posting it in case I forget in Racist Twat Rant #4746447:

Tory Pieces of Shit
From IndyMedia.org.uk/Google

But you get the gist.

Drama School Homework

  The world is more messed up than I originally thought.

  This is because I recently came to the realisation that the politicians that ‘run’ this country do not, in fact, run this country. They are a soap opera. Seeing a speech made by our dear prime minister is not inspiring or life changing. It does not make me want to start a rally or convince my parents to vote Labour. It makes me laugh, cry, scream, throw things at the TV and get depressed.

  Around the same time as this epiphany I listened to Green Day’s current album 21st Century Breakdown. Shortly after this I was plugged into my MP3 and heard My Chemical Romance’s anthem I’m Not Okay (I Promise). As I often do, I was daydreaming about my aforementioned favourite bands. They make me  laugh, cry, scream, throw things at the TV and get depressed.

  They also make me want to do something with my life.

  Here it is then: Artists, musicians and writers aren’t simply entertainment. The ones who know their crafts well are the people who change the world, save the galaxy and inspire children to make something of themselves. The middle-aged, rude, dishonest men and women who sit in Parliament telling us how to live our lives are the ones making the headlines for stealing, swearing, exploiting  and losing their trousers.

   I’m glad I have come to that understanding.