Political Filter

Staying with the topic of the recent tragedies, one thing I noticed people saying about people like me pointing out the “what-aboutisms” of places like Baghdad, Syria and Mexico was an accusation of politicising a tragedy to preach a liberal agenda and of disregarding etiquette and decency in our pursuit to make people listen. To that I say, quite simply, bupkis. You politicised it, we all did, political agendas are an immediate reaction from all of us to any news, any issue immediately forms an opinion within all of us – some of us see a shooter in the news and think “Probably crazy, couldn’t have been helped” and some of us will say “This is why we need better gun control” or “This is why I don’t want my children attending a state school”. You are capable of grieving and thinking simultaneously, the world does not stop and pause at each tragedy in the news and we are sometimes perhaps even desensitised to the real tragedies. So, let’s look into this shall we?

Firstly, the filters, you’ve perhaps got one on but I don’t and neither does my Facebook page. Why? Well you’ve perhaps heard the reasoning in your own news feed – Paris did not suffer alone so why is it only a French filter offered? Sure, could go for the red, white and blue and call it close enough to doing something but that doesn’t sit right because whilst I do not mean to belittle the tragedy of Paris, it hasn’t had the roughest week out of us all, Syria is still getting bombed, Lebanon had just had a day of mourning themselves beforehand and in Palestine, earlier this week, Israeli forces opened fire with ‘intention of lethal force’ on unarmed protesters. Baghdad, Beirut, Mexico, Japan, the world as a whole suffers and each life lost is just as sad as the last, be it in a bomb blast, a shooting, a car crash or whatever other means. So why then has Paris become the symbol of these tragedies, the one we stand in solidarity with above the bombed ruins of Syria or the persecuted peoples of Palestine? I have some thoughts.

My scary gut feeling tells me that perhaps ISIS wants to reveal the selective horror of the Western world, crying tears for the white faces that died in the city of Paris and somehow shrugging when you mention thousands of non-white Syrians fleeing from battlefields. Muslims being the dirty word again, but there are Muslims on both sides, ISIS calls the Christian a heathen but calls their fellow Muslim a traitor for not being ready to die for their cause. Could ISIS be playing right into the “us and them” mentality that permeates the west? Turning against each other as we nitpick which tragedy was the worst and most deserving of attention until we angrily close our borders to each other and shout from a distance at one another? If you mention the deaths outside Paris, you get branded a tactless liberal, a left-winged tosser and so on when this shouldn’t be left-wing versus right-wing, this should be good decent people against terrorists, it serves no merit to us to argue in amongst ourselves. Alternatively, perhaps the argument for why Paris is so tragic is that it is closer to home and hits us harder than deaths in Baghdad and Lebanon, it is in a location you can point out on a map without trying all that hard, a city of culture and repute and that scares us for geopolitical reasoning (If they can do that in Paris, they can do that in France and spread out. Suddenly places like Germany, Spain and England are all within reach and from there, spread further west like a horrifying plague). This could explain the Middle-Eastern mess to some extent – they get away with it in one place and we don’t really care all that much so the radicals move out and suddenly an entire section of the world is dismissed as a war zone full of extremists and bombers.

At a time like this, I cannot stand people taking offence and saying this is too soon for the discussion. No, it is not, it is exactly right – we have a short attention span in our modern world, we either act fast or not at all. If not now, when? When is it ok to discuss things from a rational standpoint? I was pleasantly surprised when I posted on here about 9/11 needing to lose the pedestal of the worst tragedy in recent history that I didn’t get grilled into submission and apology but I can perhaps chalk that up to a small reader base. 9/11 needs to lose that by the way, currently the ‘worst’ tragedy in recent history is the Syrian crisis, there are more refugees fleeing Syria now than ever fled their homes in the entire Second World War. The Syrian Crisis is having a worse fallout than a World War! Put away national security and identity and solidarity with ‘allies’ (Like Americans saying “The French were Americans on 9/11, we are French today”, you’re not, you put a filter on your profile pic, well done for your political instagramming) and realise that this is all of us, terrorism can succeed anywhere it is not opposed.

No more sombre-head hanging, no more immigration clampdowns, no more floral tributes and blames games, now is the time to say enough is enough because this is a problem we all face. Until we have crushed this terrorism that drives us to fear and hatred of one another, we need to stop being divided within our own ranks. Realise that you are not an American or an Englishman, you’re not a liberal or a conservative, you’re not a Christian or a Muslim, you’re a human being and somewhere out there is a group of people thinking that it is okay to execute your fellow men in droves. Stop them. Stand together as a species and stop them before they win because if we don’t, we’ll hate each other, we’ll cut our connections and then a few strategics here and there can bring each of us down one by one and nobody will help us. Mourn the lost but let that grief motivate you to save the living and fight the fight against the wicked.

Advertisements

Do Not Close Those Gates

I shouldn’t have to inform you of what happened on the 13th November 2015, certainly at least, not what happened in Paris. In Paris alone 128 killed and many more injured in a series of shootings and bombings in various locations across the city. Of course, that same day; a tsunami hit Japan, there was a day of mourning following the death of over 40 people in suicide bombing attacks in Lebanon and a bomber killed 18 people by blowing themselves up at a funeral. ISIS has claimed the responsibility for all these attacks (excluding the obvious tsunami which was caused by an earthquake) believed to have been motivated by the news that Jihadi John, a figurehead of their establishment, was revealed by a mole in his inner circle and soon after, killed.

I’m not here to say any of these tragedies are more deserving of recognition than the others as all of these attacks are carried out by the same people for the same reason, hatred and vengeance. However, I am here to address what we should do in the wake of these events, as some of us have responded to it with blind anger and prejudice, playing right into the hands of the terrorists that seek the destruction of our way of life.

Let me get this out there, I hold no sympathy for ISIS, they represent their faith just as well as the KKK represents the white man or Westboro Baptist Church represents Christianity, they are a splinter group of radicals, willing to sacrifice moral integrity and the blood of the innocent to satiate their thirst for vengeance against the world. You might want to pin the blame on Muslims, calling it a religion of violence but that’s simply untrue – there are over a billion Muslims in the world, if they wanted the destruction of the human race, they’re already in a good enough position to bring it about, truth is, less than 1% (0.003% to be precise) of the global population of Islam is actually interested in terrorism, you’re more likely to die falling down the stairs or getting hit by a bus than a crazy bastard running at you with a bomb strapped to his chest. The awful generalisation of the Muslim faith as violent extremists is inexcusable ignorance spewed from the mouths of those who do not care enough to learn the truth. To this end, let me further state my outrage at some of the genuine responses I saw to this news.

Firstly, there is a petition gaining ground in my home country of England to ban all immigration to this country after what happened in Paris, claiming that until the world is a safe one to live in, Britain should have no part in its affairs and as such, welcome nobody from outside our isles. This is ridiculous, you do realise the people turning up on our shores are running away from the same people we all hate right? ISIS isn’t politely queuing to get in, it’s not as if those refugees are sat waiting in airports like “Gee, I sure hope I get to blow up something significant. I was thinking like maybe I could blow up a bus station or whatever”. No. Closing the doors to the outside world means turning a cold shoulder to those who are suffering and whilst you might be callous enough to look the other way as a recently widowed mother and her baby die at the end of an assault rifle, I cannot and I urge our country not to adopt this “Not my problem attitude”. It is our problem, it is a problem the world must band together to face because it affects us all and turning away from it won’t excuse us from the wrath of these terrorists, they won’t give us a break, if they want to get into this country they will – people have snuck in and out of this country, recruits get out, extremists get in, they didn’t all have clever disguises and paperwork to do that – so closing the door will only shut out people with legitimate reasons to come here such as, say, their home was blown to smithereens.

Secondly, some of us have now become suspicious of those different to us in our own community and to that end, if that’s you, looking at every man in a turban with a stink-eyed glare and never trusting a man who introduces himself as Achmed, then the terrorists won against you. Terrorism isn’t just blowing stuff up, it’s scaring people into extreme paranoia and prejudice so they destroy themselves and make irrational decisions based on that. Muslims are as much a part of our community as Christians, Atheists, Sikhs and all other faiths, they have every right to exist and they are not somehow responsible for what happened – they probably watched the news just like you did and looked on in horror and just as your local vicar won’t say “Good lads those Westboro lot, kill all gays I reckon!”, your Muslim taxi driver or shop clerk won’t approve of what ISIS did. We need to cast aside prejudice, fearing of others and treating them with suspicion and hatred won’t fix this because hatred doesn’t defeat hatred, it fuels it and supplies it. You want revenge on some Muslims for what happened? ISIS wanted revenge for what happened to them, which we did to them because of what they did first, do you notice a pattern here? Hatred begets hatred, you want to end that hatred then you stand against it with understanding and care and solidarity.

Nationality and countries and defending your borders needs to stop, each nation needs to stop prioritising keeping their own safe because what ISIS is doing is a tragedy against humanity – they aren’t simply picking on one country or one creed of people, they attack without discrimination and they hate all that are not like them. Our anger at Jihadi John was for what he did but more than that, some people were furious it was the fact he was British and killing British people. WHY? British people kill British people, people kill people, national identity should not come into it. We’ve always wanted a clear cut conflict since World War Two, the last war in which there were good guys and bad guys, since then it’s been a murky shit-show of suspicion and here we are, a common enemy in ISIS for the world to band together against and yet we still prioritise selfishness over the desperate plight our planet faces. Enough is enough, you will not rescue anyone by cowering away from strangers and treating them with disdain, they want us scared and angry, scared angry people are stupid and easy to kill. If you want someone to hate, don’t say “Those fucking Muslims” or “Don’t trust those refugees”, hate ISIS, hate those that do not flinch at killing innocent people, hate such injustice and take that hatred and channel it into doing what is right and helping your fellow man. Humanity, I beg of you, stand together, realise that this is a problem that affects the whole world and do not let it be what divides us any longer.

That’s So Gay!

I’m taking a break from the blog until December to reconsider a few things, the dwindling interest from my reader base and lack of feedback has had me really down in the dumps as I’ve considered my latest material my best work yet and somehow it is completely overlooked, even by people I know personally. I won’t bitch about it much more beyond that but just letting you all know; I will be back for Christmas to upload some festive posts and the Facebook page will be getting another game playthrough in the spirit of the season but after today, no more stuff for this month, unless I think of something I just have to blog about.

Growing up in a state school environment, there was one word that was something of a slur to use and even those perfectly okay with the intended meaning of the word still used this word as a synonym for crappy or rubbish. Yes, the word ‘gay’, an archaic term for being happy now applied as a label chosen by homosexuals as a means of identification and yet at the same time, a word used by people to mean something that is the opposite of good. Someone won’t come clubbing tonight? Gay! Trod in dog muck? Gay! Hideous pair of shoes? Gay! I want to talk about where this use of the term perhaps stems from and why we need to work on our fixation with using the word as a means of calling something shitty.

Well, obvious conclusion could be that the use of the term is homophobic, which in some cases is true – there are misconceptions some cling to that being gay is somehow being lesser, being weaker (especially in the case of being a gay man) so the use of the word gay to mean bad is likely rooted in that. However, I know people who are not homophobic and yet use the word gay constantly in an inappropriate context and whilst some modify their behaviour when I point out to them “I don’t see why the fact that 50% off sale ended is all that homosexual”, some cling to their use of the term, calling me a PC arsehole and saying that it’s just a habit they can’t break out of and I should cut them some slack. Well, slack shan’t be cut, not now, not ever because whilst the use of the word might not be rooted in homophobia, it suggests ignorance and a failure to consider the feelings of others. Let me bust some of the reasons people think it is okay to say gay in this way wide open.

1. It’s just a habit

It was a habit for me in my school days, I’ll admit it, I heard it used that way and you soak up your idiolect from your peers. I used it to mean something that wasn’t very masculine (A pink shirt on a guy? Bit gay isn’t it?) or something that displeased me (Extra maths homework? Gay!) but when I came to realise it wasn’t fair, considering I had gay siblings for starters who didn’t much like me using the word that way, I snapped out of it. Any habit can be broken by willpower, just shrugging and saying “Eh, it’s a habit” is no excuse, we modify our habits when they are bad for us or others, that’s how we grow as people. You were a baby once, you had a habit for sucking your thumb and chewing on plastic dinosaurs, you stopped at some point because you thought you had to stop doing it and you did, this is no different. If you feel yourself about to say ‘gay’ and not in reference to a homosexual, pause, think of a different word. Here’s a few:

That’s rubbish/crap/shitty/pants/stupid/ridiculous/cack/dumb

And that’s only a few! There are so many words that can mean rubbish and you choose the word ‘gay’? That, to me, suggests a lack of effort in your vocabulary, especially if it was a habit you picked up when you were twelve and didn’t fix in the years afterwards – I’m pretty sure I sound very different to my twelve year old self!

2. I have gay friends, it’s ok!

This is the logic people use when they say the n-word in casual conversation, claiming they have black friends so all cool right? No, not cool, if the word doesn’t have hurtful connotations to you, it is not okay when you use it – you don’t have the right to use the n-word because it was never applied to you, you don’t have to rob it of its power over you, you were never offended by it. If you think you can get away with using a word as a slur just because of your association with someone who is gay or black or whatever, try asking them, try asking ten people like them and see how they feel. If you’re unprepared to modify your behaviour even then, that’s just not fair on them and I’d be concerned as to how good a friend you are to people like that. One gay friend isn’t a free ticket to say whatever you want about the LGBT+ community in the same way one black friend doesn’t exempt you from being called a racist if you start calling people n-words.

3. People shouldn’t get so upset about this

Maybe not but they do, it is not your place to decide who should get offended by what and when. If what you’re doing offends someone and they tell you that, talk to them about it and figure out what is fair – sometimes there is a compromise, sometimes there is a guilty party who needs to shape up and sometimes, sadly, maybe you’re better off apart. I find the only people strongly complaining about a politically correct world are those who are used to getting away with saying anything. Change with the times, some words are okay to use now and some aren’t, if you refuse to adapt and use fair language, you’re on the same side as people who still black people ‘darn negroes’ or call Mexicans ‘beaners’, society evolves and as such, so should people functioning within it. People who refuse are almost always on the wrong side – the people who called women dumb broads got to see a world in which they could vote, the people who called black people sub-human saw one become President of the USA and the people who call gay people faggots will one day see a world in which sexuality is no longer a topic for crude comedy and discrimination. You have no right to tell people what they shouldn’t be offended by, I’ve criticised the offense over the Starbucks cups here but I did so with reasoning, it wasn’t as dismissive as “Suck it up, you know I don’t mean any harm”

4. FREE SPEECH!

Ah yes, this inevitable gem. Free speech, free country, yadda yadda yadda, does anyone ever cite this argument in a positive context? Personally I only hear the mention of it being a free country when someone wants to do something really shitty. Free speech, as a right, means you cannot be arrested for saying something out of place, usually as in criticising one’s government. For example, free speech is not a right in North Korea, the people there are fed a modified version of history wrongly attributing many historical deeds to Kim Jong Un and his forefathers and if someone says “This is a load of crock!”, they get bunged in a van and hit with sticks or something worse. Free speech means you’re allowed to speak freely but your words still have consequences – if you call a surly biker gang “a bunch of shit-stained pansies”, you can expect a rightfully deserved punch in the chops, no matter how often you cite your right to speak freely. Offensive material can be censored, apologies can be demanded for thoughtless comments and the right to speak doesn’t mean people have to listen to you and tolerate your nonsense if they don’t want to. Just as it is your right to shout out that perhaps, say, bananas are the best fruit in the world, I’d be within my rights to suggest that apples are better and everyone else would be within their rights to either agree, disagree or tell us both to shut up.

5. Oh come on, it’s a harmless laugh

Harmless to you, perhaps, harmless to others? Less so. Comedy shouldn’t be lazy and reliant on stereotypes and tropes, the only reason there have been a large number of comedians lamenting a PC world is swathes of their material has been based on these tired old jokes about gay people or whatever. Sure, you can’t avoid offending people, whatever you do will cause upset but is that an excuse for not trying to think of more inclusive material? No. With new information and new views as a society, we have to change and adapt and try out new things. Some of you may be old enough to remember a time when Eddie Murphy’s stand-up routines included jokes poking fun at homosexuals for checking him out and possibly giving people AIDS by kissing them and passing it on, “suddenly, your gay friend gives your wife a kiss, you kiss her, got AIDS on your lips, you’re a straight man who got AIDS”. Turns out, at the time, hilarious for people but looking back we can see how crude and misinformed the performer and his crowd were and Eddie Murphy doesn’t much venture down the whole poke-fun-at-gays avenue of comedy anymore and more the animated donkeys and being a tiny space adventurer inside a giant robot version of himself avenues. If you can’t think of good jokes that don’t rely on a racist or homophobic or discriminatory punchline of some nature, I’m sorry, you need help if you think comedy is your shtick. You can be so much better if you try, comedy should be an observation of life retold with humour and understanding, not a put down of the minority to appeal to the majority – that is called bullying.

CONCLUSION

I realise this has been a bit long but these things need to be said. What I hope you’ll take away from this is not that I’m calling you homophobic, I’m just suggesting that your comments are rooted in an ignorance of the past I know you are capable of leaving behind. If you’ve read thus far, you’ve clearly got intelligence, patience and understanding, is it such a hard concept to grasp that maybe using a label some proudly identify with as your word for calling something a pile of shit is unkind? I know people fear the PC world, so far as to tell people to stop holding out hope for it but it’ll never happen if we’re not prepared to change and we’ve made many changes thus far, imagine where we could be in ten or twenty years if we tried our hardest! Please, there are so many better words for rubbish than ‘gay’, better words for an idiot than ‘retard’ and better words for a weakling than a ‘pussy’ – such words only promote their further usage and hold back the hopes of a better world. How will we ever have a fair society if we insist on teaching people that weak people should be called vaginas and things that are ridiculous and crap are ‘gay’? It needs to stop and that starts with you, please, I know you can do it.

Seeing Red This Christmas

The content here has delved into some deep matters so here is something so stupid to blog about it that you’ll either laugh at the fact it is deemed blog worthy or cringe and moan at the depths humanity has sunk to in its ignorant rage. There is genuine talk in the news and on social media of Christians urging people to boycott Starbucks for their new Christmas cups. Why you ask? Do the cups have Pagan images on or Satanic verses? Nope, the cups are plain, the cups are just plain red paper cups. Starbucks have done away with images of snowmen and wintry trees and opted for a minimalist design so as to appeal to as many people as possible by not bombarding their customers with Christmas themed imagery and thus excluding those who do not celebrate the occasion. Seems reasonable right? Well, apparently not.

Internet Evangelist Joshua Feuerstein is perhaps the most well-known opponent of this decision, accusing Starbucks of hating Christians and Jesus, urging people to keep the Christ in Christmas and encouraging people to tell their barista their name is Merry Christmas so the barista is forced to write that on the cup. Oh, very clever, well-played – the cups have never had those words upon them, even when they had snowflakes on. A lot of people are calling this a “war on Christmas”, I’d call it the exaggeration of the year but today the Sun published a two page spread on why Jeremy Corbyn is a dick for not bowing down and weeping for the fallen at a remembrance parade (Even though he attended two separate parades in two different areas and passed up on a VIP party to meet some of the veterans face-to-face). Starbucks has never claimed to be a Christian company and if you want to keep the spirit of Christmas alive, pushy Evangelists and whatever, there are more Christian things to be doing than protesting about cups. This same Feuerstein fellow protested the anti-second amendment rule (In the USA, Starbucks do not permit open-carrying of firearms in their stores) by waltzing in with a weapon on show and calling it his patriotic freedom. To recap then, we have ourselves a zealous gun nut defending his faith and freedom by waving a gun at a hapless barista and ‘pranking’ the unassuming customer service worker into writing Christmassy messages on a cup because the cup doesn’t have a picture of a snowflake on it… do you realise how stupid that sounds? This is what God allowed Jesus to die for is it? Paper cups with pictures on?Sure, I remember that passage – the Lord gave His only son that we might have decorative receptacles for our warm beverages.

If you ask me, the red cup is the perfect happy medium, it’s Santa’s sleigh red so it’s Christmassy enough but without being over the top and pushing the images of angels and baubles down our throats. Starbucks has never been all about the Christian market, they’re neutral on political and religious stances so as not to offend people – they only join in on Christmas because everyone does, it’s Christmas, it’s fun and you make a shit ton of money when you put out those festive deals. Christmas has its fair share of issues, a Christian hijacking of a time dangerously close to the Winter Solstice celebrated by Pagans, the imagery of Santa’s sleigh is taken from the Vikings and as a Christian celebration goes, this time of year is becoming more and more about throwing bigger parties and spending more money to get more ridiculously expensive gifts than it is about actual goodwill and charity. Therein is my biggest problem with this war on Christmas idea about the cups, the cups are not what is ruining Christmas, we are.

Put simply, if you’re outraged by these paper cups but not by some people spending Christmas face down in a gutter or soldiers fighting in a foreign land rather than gift wrapping a PS4 for their kids, I have serious beef with you. If you need a coffee shop chain to represent Christmas spirit FOR you, take a good long look at yourself and your relationship with God – rather than getting some barista to scrawl Merry Christmas on a cup, why not do something to keep the Christ in Christmas that has meaning? Soup kitchens always need volunteers, maybe give that red cup of hot choc to someone freezing in the cold and rain, maybe you could get less caught up in some trivial bullshit about a coffee shop packaging design and do something selfless that Jesus himself would smile if he witnessed. Life is much too precious to waste it on boycotting a shop for not selling the right design for you, is the biggest and brightest thing you can think to do this year for Christmas to be the guy who encouraged people not to buy coffee from some place? That’s your impact is it? That is what God wants people to remember in their hearts this time of year? I may not be of faith but if there is a God, he expects us to be good people at Christmas and all throughout the year, whatever our cups look like.

The spirit of the season is one of inclusiveness and togetherness, of spreading joy and happiness to all, friend and stranger alike and Starbucks has done so by offering a neutral stance at a time when some of us get a little too crazy for angels and babies in mangers. God sent his son to preach to us the importance of love and community, not snowmen and trees covered in tinsel. Maybe it’s easier for you to get upset over a cup than it is for you to show genuine concern about how many of us will spend Christmas in poverty or in a hospital bed or possibly won’t even see Christmas at all but that tells us only volumes about you. The Christ in Christmas is in loving one another, not in loving Christmas.

Anti-War Sentiment

Spoilers for Doctor Who first of all, tying in with today being Remembrance Sunday and yesterday’s Doctor Who being all about pacifist messages, I want to talk to you about why THAT scene of last night’s episode was spot on and why the message rings true of pretty much every war in the history of mankind – from the World Wars to the ongoing Syrian Crisis. Without further ado, let’s explore the sentiment and how true it is, no doubt you’re well aware but I feel it merits discussion.

The scene I am referring to of course is the ‘scaled down model of war’ in which humanity and zygonity(?) stand in the same room, opposite ends of a table with boxes they have been promised will either slay all their enemies or slay all their own people and they have no idea which button to press to do which. The Doctor supervises and tells them that this is how war works, you can fire the first shot but you can never guarantee who will die from it, in a war anyone can die, friend or foe, guilty or innocent. Of course, the Doctor knows this all too well, it’s revealed previously he ALMOST destroyed his home planet to save the universe with a similar device but we know how that worked out (Which I have mixed feelings about but let’s discuss that some other time). Both sides think there is no hope of peace and forgiveness and the Doctor tells them to stop being petulant children and just try to forgive one another, which he manages to make happen by erasing the memories of the human representative and telling the Zygon one they now have a chance to make amends, which they do. The Doctor’s speech is very important to this turning point, in how war achieves nothing and those who wage it never see past the ‘kill the bad guys’ stage, so rarely is the peace at the end given much thought and that pain does not justify the infliction of pain, it should instead inspire someone to be better and channel that suffering into making a better world. Very true, lest we forget that this is the sentiment Robin Williams held close to his chest in life, he suffered in silence because rather than unleash his pain in angry outbursts and scorn, he made people laugh constantly so people could see him and feel better, not worse.

I think perhaps Remembrance Sunday is often seen as hero worship, in that we pay our respects to the fallen and the brave deeds they achieved  but we forget that war is not glamorous, it is a terrible folly that claims the lives of soldier and civilian alike. Beyond the war poetry and Hollywood films, this wasn’t all a tale of tragic heroism, this was a tale of a few politicians and greedy people convincing generations of good young men to go kill themselves in order to resolve arguments. Harry Patch, the last Fighting Tommy, said this on the matter:

“I feel then, as I feel now, that the politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences themselves, instead of organising legalised mass murder”

Now I think the Doctor would stand in agreement with Harry, except perhaps minus the guns but this is what war should come down to – actual discussion. If you, a politician or monarch or whatever, declare war, you aren’t bravely opposing a fascist, you are telling the world that you are prepared to sacrifice legions of innocent lives to prove a point and get your way. Ultimately, war costs us lives of guilty and innocent men and women and it is sad to think that war and aggression is what drives the advancement of technology, we are getting better and better at killing each other to the point now it can be done with a button. If you want true bravery, true bravery is being the one who lowers their weapon first and extends a hand to say enough is enough. As the Doctor says, cruelty only begets more cruelty, a vicious cycle that will go on and on until we kill everyone, it was true then and it is now – we haven’t plans for Syria once we bomb the everloving hell out of it or else the world would’ve been prepared for the refugees, the Syrian government hasn’t a clue how to restore their nation once the rebels stop, the rebels haven’t thought much further than revolution and ISIS’s train of thought boils down to “Fuck everyone”. We are achieving nothing but destruction and the people in power act like they are so brave for opposing ISIS, hardly realising ISIS was a demon of their own creation and their bravery extends as far as carpet bombing the innocent in hopes of killing the wicked amongst them. 200,000 people have died over the four years of war in Syria, 4,000,000 more have become refugees and I can assure you, those are not all terrorists that died and those are not scrounging thieves that fled.

War is the ultimate in human folly, it is the worst thing we do to ourselves and to one another, to call it brave is to romanticise the mass execution of our fellow men and women. Whilst we have moved beyond wars fought over family feuds and flags being put up where they aren’t welcome, we still wage war over political disputes and religious disagreements, things that we should really resolve through discussion, or perhaps even, leaving each other alone if needs be. I hold no power, I cannot gather the world leaders in a Doctor Who scenario and get them to settle it that way but oh how I wish I could. The greatest warrior of all is the one who chooses to end a war, rather than wage it until death.

The Letter ‘T’

Disturbingly, a petition online of about 600 signatures has been circled around the internet by gay men and women calling for the T in LGBT to be erased from all media concerning them, might not sound like much but in the same year we’ve had Germaine Greer say trans women are just demented cockless men, announcements of a thriller action movie using gender reassignment as a gimmick and the movie Stonewall turned a black trans character into a white gay character. Basically then, this petition is summing up the increasingly dark treatment we as a species are giving the trans community – urging them to disappear.

Straight off the bat, let’s make it clear that even within feminism and LGBT movements there are poisonous individuals, spoiler alert, defending equal marriage rights doesn’t exempt one from being a total asshat. Germaine Greer, case in point, equated being trans as having ear extensions and fur added to your body and calling yourself a dog – because you know, one of those experiences is a harrowing journey of self-exploration and the other is a hilariously misguided use of medical resources, please don’t make me point out which is which. There is apparently no malice intended by this petition, it isn’t saying they want the trans community to be brutally killed off but apparently these individuals feel that the T in LGBT is what is holding them back from achieving fair treatment. Funny, I remember the issue being a modern society objecting to the concept of love being love because of a book written two-thousand years ago but whaddaya know, it was those darn transitioning twatmonkeys holding back the human race, go figure.

So what other criticisms do we have of the trans community here? Oh, this old gem, the “I can pretend to be a trans woman and still be a straight cis male and thus get free looks at boobs!”. I have many qualms with this transphobic trope – one being there are zero recorded incidents of that happening and whilst that doesn’t mean it has never happened, it certainly doesn’t happen as often as other invasions of privacy such as men molesting women on trains or inappropriate same-gender interaction in a changing room (I’ve been in a changing room and had other men comment on my underwear/penis, it is not just banter, it is fucking terrifying and weird and unless I invite you to look at my dick, do not discuss it). Secondly, it’s pretty fucking noticeable when someone is sexually aroused in a changing room, if this is someone’s master plan to watch women undress, please take this person and introduce them to porn, I beg of you, it will make their life so much easier. Trans people want to use the changing room or toilet they ask to use because that is what feels right to them, they aren’t there for a cheeky nose around in the same sense you aren’t. If you see someone wanting to use a different changing room and your first response is “Ohhhh so you can stare at other people getting changed?” then what does that say about you? Is that what you’d do? Heck, stick me in a women’s changing room, I’d just get changed, I’m waaaaaaaaay too self-conscious to spend my time oggling (That and y’know, I fucking respect their right to not be stared at)

The petitioners fear a promotion of trans equality alongside gay equality gives them a bad name, like they had an easy ride to begin with, the only difference between your struggles is one group got called sinners and abominations and then became popular and trendy on television in bit parts of stereotyped characters, the other got all that plus being used as a comedic trope and being confused with drag queens and psychotic perverts by even the people supposedly looking out for them. Apparently teaching children as young as four its okay to be trans will encourage them to be trans is another issue, to which I say “Why is that an issue?” and also “Kids experiment, that’s part of growing up, they will decide who they are when they’re done undressing their dolls and poking parts of the anatomy curiously”. Seriously, we need to get over this idea that this stuff is too complex for children when kids are actually pretty on the ball, why do we treat our children like impressionable morons? If your child is going to do something dumb, that is your problem, not the media’s, parent your goddamn child but love that child whatever they want to be – be that straight, gay, asexual, pansexual, genderqueer, gender re-assignment surgery – and if they ask a question, answer it, because if you don’t then it will eat away at your child and confuse them for years on end until they get the wrong idea from a film or a reddit post or whatever. All children experiment with their gender and sexual identity in some way, we have to allow for that and realise they will decide what is right in their own time and we have to show them love and support, not shame and resentment. I had ‘girly’ interests at different stages in life – Powerpuff Girls, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, some of my imaginary roles I played were female – I’m ‘fine’, I’m not a deviant, the same is true of so many others, I merely use myself because I know myself best for an example but experimentation leads to the discovery of a true inner identity, without that chance to learn we repress ourselves and THAT creates deviants.

Lastly, tieing in with Stonewall, the petitioners felt the film appropriated their culture and tried to pander to trans audiences by including trans characters arbitrarily, which is odd because y’know, I’m fairly sure trans people were there (Miss Major-Griffin Gracy ringing bells anyone? Google it). The film is a terrible whitewashing of an event at which only a third of the people there were gay/lesbian white folk, the rest were drag queens, genderqueer, trans and a veritable assortment of ethnic origins, Stonewall was the definitive bar for that community, it was not just a gay bar but a secret sanctuary for anyone who didn’t fit the straight-white guideline. The film, if anything, did too much to make it white and gay, to make a friendlier and less diverse portrayal of the events, possibly for fear of being too far out there to attract an audience or get a positive response in the media. To want less trans people and people of colour in the film and in the media portrayal of the community in general suggests a fundamental lack of understanding of what the community is – a genderfluid asexual black woman deserves as much media attention as a cisgender gay man because both of those people are being denied fair treatment in some sense or another, both are called abominations and both of them, as if this needed pointing out, are human beings.

Division within the LGBT+ community only serves to harm those within it and whilst there are some issues in which you can’t lump the L,G,B and T in the same discussion (For starters, T isn’t a sexual orientation, it’s a gender identity) the problems faced are shared and are best faced united. I’m certain that the overwhelming majority of the community won’t buckle to this transphobic way of thinking but if you have, I urge you to take up your beef with someone else because it is not the fight for trans equality you need to be worried about ruining your life and your chances of being respected by your peers – it is the crackpot zealots in government jobs saying you cause floods and plagues, it is the misconceptions that AIDS was the fault of people like you, it is the educational system that refuses to teach children why you are not a freak – those are the problems the LGBT+ movement have to face and they must face them together because a house divided is a house that falls! Trans people are human, just like you and they deserve to be fought for, why are you exempt from that fight?

Humanism, Feminism and Meninism – What Does It All Mean?

So before we begin, I usually do a piece on the 5th November, something tied into revolutions and what not but unforeseen circumstances last night directed my attention elsewhere, I’m back today and rather than a late bit piece about the Million Mask March (If you can’t see why thousands of people are angry at the government by now, you’re part of the problem) I want to discuss some terms that are flung around in the discussion of gender equality and iron out some confusion surrounding them. I previously discussed why feminism is called feminism on another post (the link to which is here – https://oldmanwolferants.wordpress.com/2015/11/02/ugly-words/) but there’s still some confusion about feminism and how it differentiates from meninism and humanism, which are vastly different and even misused terms, as is the term feminism itself.

To recap, rather than explain in full all over again, feminism is a social movement to support the equal rights and opportunities of all genders, the focus is largely on women because women are the ones denied a lot of opportunities and misrepresented in the media. A tax on tampons but not on condoms, the idea of ‘independent women’ being a comedy trope because it’s somehow hilarious if a woman decides she is happy and single, one in five women being the victim of sexual assault during college and university education – all sure signs we live in a world where, presently, it sucks to be a woman. Feminism, therefore, is the fight to change that by constructing a more gender balanced system of authority and teaching future generations correct social etiquette surrounding woman, whilst combatting misguided concepts of the past (i.e we should teach people that shouting “Nice arse!” on the street is not paying someone a compliment because if it is, why is it only vulnerable women getting these compliments? Never heard myself getting the catcall “Hey mate, you look prepared for your interview!” or “I am being strictly platonic when I point out to you that you are an attractive fellow man!”. Catcalls are not compliments, they’re lewd cries from men asserting their dominance, they are degrading shouts that tell a woman she is little more than a fascination to him). Steve Shives describes this by equating feminism to the LGBT+ movement – it’s called ‘gay rights’ not because gay people should be made more important than straight people but because gay people (and all other sexual orientations beyond hetero) are the ones being ignored, declined and marginalised, just like women are in the world of men.

The ‘fem’ in feminism is still enough to dissuade some people from supporting the cause though and for this, these people describe themselves as humanists. I would like to point out to you reader that this is a misuse of the term humanist, a ridiculous use coined by celebrities who were unaware that humanism is something entirely different. Humanism is the belief in the value and agency of human beings, as individuals and as a species, over faith in a god or deities or a special invisible power that connects all livings thing or whatever. In simpler terms, humanists believe in a world that was created through random happenstance of the universe and is now being shaped and moulded by humans, that it is our responsibility as a species to look after this planet and the life upon it not because God says so but because we live here – a religion, such as it were, based on not shitting in the bed you sleep in. Humanism goes hand in hand with science, believing scientific research and falsifiable evidence to be the key to understanding the universe and not reliance on prayer or holy scriptures. I would like to state this is my own personal belief system – I think we are all a bunch of hyper-intelligent shaved monkeys clinging to a ball of mud and water that is spinning around an infinite void and we should be nice little monkeys because that is a nice thing to do, it is much better than killing each other. I could write reams and reams on my beliefs and I perhaps would but I fear it’d seem condescending and self-appreciative as I get VERY floral with my wording when I bust out the philosophical shit. Humanism, in terms of the gender equality debate, should therefore promote total equality and would be on side with feminism if one were true to the ideals of humanism but it would not object to the title of feminism like some seem to think.

Last but by all means least is meninism. Meninism defines itself as the social movement defending the rights of men, the voice for those who take offence to being labelled as rapists or thugs and whilst there are issues about the fair treatment of men to be resolved (i.e fixing the ‘absent black dad’ stereotype as it is a harmful trope, raising awareness of male victims of rape and domestic abuse, disestablishing the enforced standards of physical strength and dominance on all boys). Meninism, however, is as much a force for positive change as Britain First or the Ku Klux Klan – rage-filled groups of disgruntled white boys angry that the people they want to bully and harass and victimise without judgment now have a voice and even their fellow man will call them a misogynist or a cretin for their viewpoints. Meninism has yet, as far as I can see, to do anything for the greater good of their own membership, let alone the human race as a whole. Meninism is just the seedy underworld of the internet, a hovel of grumpy ‘friend-zoned’ douchebags complaining they aren’t getting women falling at their feet for them or lost out on a job to a woman or someone of a different ethnicity. Steve Shives, bringing him up again because he inspired this post, said meninists are annoyed they don’t get to see their kids after the divorce, which he trivialised and I respectfully disagree with him there – in the exception of scenarios where the father is an abusive figure, he should be able to see his children – I do not believe he should have any right over them that the mother does not by any means but divorcee dads shouldn’t be generalised as a bad lot – I’d agree a father shouldn’t be allowed to see his kids if he was likely to abuse them or fill their head with toxic meninist nonsense, but on the grounds I wouldn’t allow anyone abusive or toxic near children in general. Meninism is bitterment, it is rage against social change and a club built upon a warped love of a lost world ruled by muscle cars, beer adverts and women being live-in maids.

In summary then – believe in the fair treatment of all genders and equal opportunities for all regardless of their genitalia? Feminist. Believe in the idea that this world is shaped by humanity and we should be good people just because we should be, not because of a promised afterlife? Humanist. Believe that your female friends should just sleep with you already because you’re a great guy? Meninist. If you have a religion you follow, you can’t be a humanist and thus you can’t say “I’m not a feminist, I’m a humanist” because humanism is a belief system, it’s akin to saying you’re not a feminist and a Christian but you are a Christian and a Pagan. The fight for gender equality is feminism, the belief in the agency of humanity is humanism, the bitter resentment towards women for wanting equal pay and the right to an abortion if needed is meninism. Ok? Ok

Glad we made that clear