The Shout

Heads up, sensitive topic/moral grey area being covered here on the topic of abortion, not a subject I’ve given much coverage before but with the rise of the #shoutyourabortion hashtag, it’s hard to bury my head in the sand on this one. Needless to say, this isn’t going to be pleasantries over tea and crumpets so if this is a subject that makes you uneasy then this is your opportunity to go read one of my articles about comic books or science fiction shows or for you to say sod it altogether and carry on scrolling through your News Feed on Facebook to find a cute picture to comment on. Ok, weeded out all the sensitive sorts then? No easy way of doing this, let’s just go for it.

So last Saturday, whilst I was busy watching Doctor Who, Lindy West was busy starting a Twitter trend to stand in solidarity with the Planned Parenthood clinics of the US, who are apparently due some budget cuts courtesy of the House of Representatives. “Shout Your Abortion” works on the premise that these changes are approved because we as a society still cling to this notion that abortions are sinful deeds we must commit in secrecy if at all and a potential mother giving up a potential child is somehow morally defunct. Therefore, to fight back against this oppression, women are being encouraged to divulge in the details of their abortion and come to terms with what they did, not so they can repent but so they can realise they shouldn’t have to, it was their choice to make and they chose what was right for them. Obviously, you can tell from my wording where I stand, I’m with the shouters here – there shouldn’t be laws on what you can and can’t do to your own body, it’s perfectly legal to pierce every inch of yourself and tattoo swastikas all over what remains, why should it be illegal to carry out a medical procedure to terminate a ball of cells in your womb?

“Pro-life” and “Pro-choice” are terms that are thrown around a lot, the former coming across as ironic when they defend a potential life over an existing one, which is akin to pushing people over on the street so they don’t get hit by a car whilst having a blind eye to the kid who isn’t looking before he crosses. Anyway, point here is more about the Planned Parenthood clinic, who have defended themselves by saying that only a small percentage of what they do is actually related to aborting children and that they’re not some murder mill but a place of learning for young potential parents that happen to offer the morally questionable possibility of abortion. I’m not happy that this is how they defend themselves and evidently, I’m not alone in that unease, why they should have to stick up for their line of work by saying “But we don’t even do it that often” is atrocious and I’ll explain why.

Make your clinic a murder mill for unborn children if you must, put big signs up and everything because abortions are important, crucially important. You might say “Oh but they’re knocked up teen sluts who didn’t use protection, serves em right hurhurhur!” but you’d be dead wrong and even if you were, how does that serve them right? They fucked up their life so give them MORE LIFE to be responsible for?! What? You don’t give an arsonist matches! A CHILD is not a punishment for questionable choices in life, a child should be a planned decision and the next step in a relationship, not some sort of karmic rain. Abortions are vital, abortions are what allow a victim to not have to carry the child of their assailant, abortions can save a life that can’t endure the suffering they’d go through in childbirth, abortions are what stops girls from savaging themselves with wire hangers to desperately hide their pregnancy. You need to leave that choice open to people, if it is a choice that will save their goddamn lives, you offer them that choice, to withhold it is to allow them to die!

The shame surrounding abortion is the idea that pregnancy is a woman’s fault, like it were a conscious decision but then America does genuinely have politicians who think the womb has anti-rape hormones, sperm blockers, Wi-Fi hotspot capabilities, mustard dispenser, Siri voice search etc. A dangerous lack of sufficient sexual education has led to unnecessary finger-pointing, fused with traditions and outdated ideals, this means women who don’t want to go through childbirth are seen as demonic sperm-receptacles. I wonder if the fact we don’t just tell our kids where babies come from means there’s a mysticism and magic surrounding childbirth that is as dangerous as it is lovely. Sure, it’s nice when a child is born and you hold it and d’awwwwwwwwwwww but it also means people put it on a pedestal so when you become pregnant, people expect a child of you and if you willingly terminate that child, they hold you with the same regard as someone who swipes candy on Halloween and burns it or smashes Christmas gifts with a giant hammer, taking that mysticism ans destroying it for them. Heaven forbid your body be about you, the moment a woman is pregnant she suddenly becomes lesser, all attention being on that growing bump in her belly, even to the point of them prioritising it over her. Well on behalf of women, let me get my hammer…

Pregnancy is a process of nature, it is about as magical and awe-inspiring as taking a dump. I mean no harshness, I’m not saying if you’re pregnant and happy about it your child is worthless but stop referring to it as a miracle, a miracle is an act of God and we know that’s not what pregnancy is (Or at least we should know that by now). A sperm fertilises an egg, or two, the egg divides and cells multiply and so on and so on until a baby arrives. Abortion is a means by which to step in before that egg resembles a baby and just stop that process. There is no ‘death’, no ‘soul’ is harmed, no ‘miracle’ undone, you are literally just destroying an egg cell, you destroy cells all the time when you scratch an itch or pull a hair out. Comparing pregnancy to miracles adds a layer of religious fanaticism to it that is dangerous to consider when this should be a process of science by now, one we can track WITH SCIENCE and stop WITH SCIENCE if it is so required. Abortion is the only medical procedure we seem to actually say “No, you know what, this isn’t right, maybe we shouldn’t do this, maybe let those cells live?” about, you wouldn’t spare a second thought for the spread of cancer but pregnancy? We want to protect something that doesn’t even have a face yet over someone who has had dreams, memories, lovers, failures and potential yet untapped. I’ll tell you something, I will save someone who is alive over someone who might be alive one day.

Oh, another thing, this whole “The cure to cancer is in the mind of an aborted baby” argument? Horseshit. You think that’s how progress works? Only one person can have an idea ever and if that person doesn’t invent what they were ‘born’ to invent we just do without? You think we’d never have electricity without Franklin? Never have the Internet without Berners-Lee or computers without Babbage? No, if it is ever going to be invented, it will be invented someday by someone, it’s not like we’re only without holodecks because the prodigal holodeck child isn’t alive yet, someone has had the idea and people are working on it, multiple people. If Benjamin Franklin hadn’t discovered electricity, someone else would have, it might have been a while longer but it’s not like God said “Damnit Ben, you had one job on Earth, what happened?”
“My mother was pro-choice you see..”
“Oh those fucking liberals, ruining my schemes. Ah well, guess humanity will never have electricity. Shame, Netflix was going to be a big deal…”
The ‘babies’ aren’t heaven-sent prodigies, they can’t scream or cry or protest, mainly because they don’t have lungs or brains and also because they wouldn’t know what was going even if they did. How do you think an abortion works? A flamethrower up the foof?

Shout those abortions ladies, shout them without fear or shame because there is nothing wrong in saving your own life or realising that you cannot provide for another. I would rather children not be born than be born into poverty, you want to protest they should let these ‘children’ live? Well you better pay their expenses then! What’s that? Oh you won’t? Didn’t think so. Truth is, if we have the ability to do this for people, let that choice fall to the people who have to live with the consequences and don’t put bills or laws or cuts in place that take that choice away from them because as we’ve seen from third-world countries, the necessity isn’t taken away with the facility, people will attempt to do these things at home and they will do it wrong. Please, please, if you are “Pro-Life”, save the lives that have lives to lose! Women, keep fighting for your right to own your own body, let it be known I’ll fight too!

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Patriots and Nationalists

Trigger Warnings – Strong language in some places.

I remember when I first heard the word ‘patriot’, it was in school, I must have been about ten years old and my teacher said it meant someone who was proud of their home nation, to put it simply. I thought this was true of most people and indeed it is but it was a word that I rarely heard being used, even in a country like Britain, for most of my life I never heard people refer to themselves as patriotic because it was just a given but now? Patriot is one of those words you just can’t escape any more and the problem with a common place word is that it is open to being used in the wrong context, this is the fate the word irony suffers at the hands of hipsters, or the word random suffers at the hands of those sorts of girls who shout out their love of dinosaurs and cheese and pink hair. I think we need to define the difference between a patriot and a nationalist, they are similar but not the same and so many people I encounter claiming they are ‘British Patriots’ are in fact, nationalists – nationalism being an irresponsible and selfish viewpoint whereas patriotism being perfectly fine and commendable.

Here’s some food for thought to start the discussion:

Patriotism is proud of a country’s virtues and eager to correct its deficiencies; it also acknowledges the legitimate patriotism of other countries, with their own specific virtues. The pride of nationalism, however, trumpets its country’s virtues and denies its deficiencies, while it is contemptuous toward the virtues of other countries. It wants to be, and proclaims itself to be, “the greatest,” but greatness is not required of a country; only goodness is – Sydney J. Harris

That’s a good quote but that was just the appetiser, here’s something to really sink your teeth into:

The difference between patriotism and nationalism is that the patriot is proud of his country for what it does, and the nationalist is proud of his country no matter what it does; the first attitude creates a feeling of responsibility, but the second a feeling of blind arrogance that leads to war – Sydney J. Harris

Now, do you notice a recurring theme here with his quotes? Granted, same guy said both quotes but this man was no fool, he was a widely respected columnist and author, as well as an advocate for women’s rights, pro-choice stances and bringing an end to the death penalty, which might land him in the eyes of a lefty-tosser to some of you but this man held honorary doctorates, awards from the National Conference of Christians and the Chicago Newspaper Guild, I think that earns him some merit. Even without it, he makes a good point about patriotism and nationalism, one that reminds me of something a friend of mine once said in that patriotism is rooting for the home team and turning up at their matches, nationalism is believing the team to be infallible and destroying the stadium at away games. A patriot feels a sense of responsibility to their country and even love has the ability to step back and tell someone they have failed or done wrong, you do not truly love someone if you blindly agree with everything that comes out of their mouth. You have to take pride in their achievements and feel the shame of their shortcomings, encouraging them to do their absolute best.

I hear some people speak of a foreign threat, this was what UKIP appealed to and it’s what Republicans appeal to in America, making people cautious and wary of those that are different in colour or religion or way of life, accusing them of stealing from your country’s resources or trying to bring their culture into your home and ruin your old traditions for you with their strange new ways. Ok, straight away, no white person alive has the right to say “You come over here with your foreign ways and try to make us change? Fuck off!”, that’s what our ancestors did to three quarters of the globe, I think we can overlook building a mosque when we had them baptised and decapitated once upon a time. If you are proud of your country and it’s traditions, you needn’t feel threatened when these changes come, the traditions will live on through you and all traditions need to adapt anyway, that is how we advance as a society from traditions of sacrificing lambs to idols into gathering in churches on a Sunday, someone has to say “Actually, how about we don’t do that any more? It seems a bit primitive/cruel/unfair/silly”. As for patriotism, well, you should be proud that your country is growing and attracting more people and encourage everyone to work together, but it becomes nationalism when you expect them to become like you to be allowed to live amongst you. I remember my stepmother taking her citizenship test to live here, the stuff she had to know was more than nine out of ten Brits actually did know about the country but even so, just because someone has moved to a new country, they haven’t left their heritage for dirt, what they must adhere to in order to live somewhere is the law, they don’t have to adopt the national stereotype to prove themselves worthy.

I’m mostly speaking to Britain here, I was inspired by a UKIP MP actually tearing down his own party for their racist views and that they need to avoid thinking about isolationist views because Britain became ‘Great’ through its allies and neighbours, we didn’t get given the prefix by God as if to say “Yep, you guys are really on the ball with that society you’ve got there, top job, God is British too, keep it up lads”. After all, that term in its most basic form was coined almost two thousand years ago and literally just meant “The bigger bit of the British Isles”, with Ireland being called “The smaller bit of the British Isles”. Don’t get it twisted, I love Britain, I really do, but it is because I’m proud of these isles that I don’t want it become a hive for hateful ignorants telling people to go away and never bother trying to change anything. I know some may strive for the traditions of old but as I said yesterday, that includes bear baiting, where do you want to draw the line? Britain, before it gained friends overseas, was a struggling little island with an infant mortality problem and an 80 hour work week in some instances, is that what we want to bring back?

Charlie Brooker made a good joke about this a while ago about how he liked Britain before the Romanians and the Poles and the Irish and the French and the Normans and the Vikings and the Anglo-Saxons and the Romans, that was proper Britain, clearly exaggerating nationalism to the most radical extreme but perfectly valid. Nationalism is a related philosophy to tribalism when you think about it, it is not a love of the British public as a whole, it is a love of their allies. I mean think about it, really think, could you imagine Nigel Farage calling the left-wing political parties his brethren and respected allies, or even addressing them as good people? Boris Johnson called the left-wing party ‘tossers’, and admittedly I refer to my fellow Brits of wealth and status as entitled pricks, which is a tribal view point, a sort of “If you’re not one of us, you’re against us” mentality more befitting the Great Khans of Fallout than a political party. If you dare speak against the tribe, you’re disloyal, you’re disrespecting your great homeland, you’re a sympathiser with an imagined foe and should be shunned and loathed. Nationalism is essentially thinking your tribe or country deserves the status of the best, which is silly, we’re not in competition, not really, we all share a planet and at the end of the day, countries are invented concepts and if God exists, he won’t gather us all together in a thousand years and say “So it turns out the USA did the best at being a good country, all Americans shall get to go to VIP Heaven and hang out with Jesus, the rest of you get to go to Commoner’s Heaven and polish halos for a living!”

I know there’s an air of ridicule in this post but we need to be clear, you are not a patriot if you support a nationalistic party or believe you live in the best country ever or that your current society is what people should aim for, there is no set guideline as to what a country is supposed to be, a lot of people say we all want to be America really but that’s because it’s a rich nation and everyone wants to be rich. Support your nation, by all means, love it and wear the colours, but respect that people aren’t obliged to take part, even if they’re your next door neighbour, and if you ever start dismissing people for having a different cultural background to you or a desire to practice their own religion or language despite living in a place not reflecting that background, take a step back and imagine it the opposite way round. White people fear a white minority because they’re worried we’d be treated the way we treat them – racism, intolerance and ignorance bordering on being abused simply for existing. In time, maybe we can live in a world where no minority need ever live in constant fear, where every man and woman is a valid peer as should be true of democracy, and lord knows we all love a good democracy.

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The Debate About Debates (Originally Published – 7th November 2012)

Well folks, it seems that in the end of it all, Barack Obama managed to hold onto his position for four more years and personally, I’m looking at the fella and thinking ‘You got lucky this time round, now you’ve really got to pull your finger out your ass and fix America or they may well take up lynching again’ However, I suppose Obama worked hard to get re-elected and Romney presented him a real challenge in the early stages of the debate (Not so much of a challenge after the 47% statement and the Republican’s response to Hurricane Sandy) So now America is looking towards Mr Obama and hoping, with what they have left, and in all honesty, I’m really not sure what’s gonna happen at this stage. To be honest, this win for Barack Obama will either mark a new age of hope and happiness, or reconfirm the fact we’re all up shit creek without a paddle.

The democratic systems of the western world have forever been flawed concepts, having been based on flawed predecessors and though perhaps a better alternative to a single dictatorship that some countries have or had, we essentially see the same thing each time round in every country. America falls into a two horse race between Republicans and Democrats then get to choose the shiniest of two turds to make decisions for them for four years. I have no right to judge, being a Brit commenting on the entire thing, but America essentially got to choose between the world’s greatest optimist who lacked substance or a religious tycoon with an ego bigger than the United States themselves, whoop de fucking do. I mean, Barack Obama essentially bleated on about ‘Gimme another chance, I can make a change’ like he was desperately clawing back his ex-girlfriend, the USA, and eventually the USA gave in with rosy red cheeks and open arms, whereas Romney just based everything on being rich and powerful and whilst he probably had the ability to dig the country out of debt, he’s more messed in the head than Charlie Sheen’s nightmares. I don’t even know where to start with the earlier candidates, like motherfucking Vermin Supreme and Sarah Palin… yeah, less said about them, the better… Though running for president on the basis of giving away ponies and dressing like Gandalf survived an explosion in his garden shed is impressively bizarre.

So you’re probably wondering what I am actually ranting about? I can’t really be specific this time round; I’d say politics but that’s too vague and a true rant about politics would take me forever to write. I guess I’m just being my usual cynical self and looking at the world of politics as steadily getting more and more shit. At least America has some interesting characters over there they can vote for, the beloved soul-singing, hoop-shooting cool guy or the unashamedly brass mega man of money and Mormonism. Americans amongst you, let me tell you what Britain has to show for their political leaders.

Firstly, there is current Prime Minister David Cameron, a rich and posh imbecile who reckons he’s a man’s man, but doesn’t even sniff a common sausage roll without travelling across the country to find one to prove he’s just like everyone else, only he has money and we don’t.  Apart from the fact he loosely resembles a featherless penguin’s abortion, David Cameron is a man so monumentally out of touch with the real world, he thinks that £65 a week (In the region of $50) is enough to buy a house, pay the bills, have all the latest technological gadgetry available and have a HDTV with satellite. Excuse me but I’m pretty sure that’s not the case. £6500 a week, maybe, but £65? Really? Scarily enough, this fantasy land fucktard runs the nation and thinks he’s made it all better. If he has, anyone living in a house and not a mansion has yet to notice.

Second to David Cameron is his trusted sidekick Nick Clegg. Nick Clegg was supposed to ushering in an age of liberty, freedom and happiness but in the end, Cameron beat him but not by enough to be the sole party in charge and so Clegg joined with him to form a Coalition. The combination of these two is paramount to seeing Lucas and Spielberg work together on a film, the world is gonna suffer through a contorted mess that might have been great once upon a time, but never again. During the debate prior to our last election, Nick Clegg was the only candidate not focused on slagging off his competition and actually sounded promising but I suppose a bright future is too much to ask for this grey country. Nick Clegg is now only known by the reputation he has as David’s lapdog and the most charismatic thing he’s done in ages is become an auto-tuned parody on YouTube, courtesy of disappointed university students (Who are probably bankrupt and in massive debt thanks to his inability to keep a simple promise. You had one job Clegg, ONE JOB)

And the third horse in the race actually resembles a horse, Ed Milliband. You know it’s a shame his teeth can’t just bite through the heads of his opponents or he’d be the Emperor of the Universe. Gordon Brown finally melted, having looked like dripping wax during his time as PM, and they replaced him with one of the Inbetweeners. Ed is the photo perfect image of a nerdy stereotype but with none of the Star Wars trivia and an addiction to repeating his previous sentence at least twelve times in slightly different ways. For a long period of time, this man faced a career in which none of the general public quite remembered his name or knew that he was leader of the Labour party but now, he’s fairly easy to point out to anyone, bar the odd hermit and floating voter. Ed Milliband completes Britain’s terrible triumvirate of gormless faces that will be trying to run the country, each one an expressionless, mindless drone that wasn’t born from their mother’s womb but rather, assembled by suicidal elves.

I worry about the future of modern society all the time but the most worrying thing about the world is the people who run it. To me, the entire planet is controlled by people who know fuck all about the places they live in and the people they represent. I suppose politics is such a complex business you can’t have the people represent themselves, they wouldn’t understand how to do such a thing. By the same token, I don’t promote anarchy because we do need a government, sadly. However, I feel like the higher-ups need a reality check, a reminder that the people of the world are relying on them to serve the greater good. A radical move here would be to do away with the lot of them and start over fresh, including the economy, but that would take forever to do and is most likely impossible. I won’t pretend to know shit about economics, other than; I’m poor but probably better off than a Greek housewife. I hope to God that one day, there is a politician who genuinely stands up for the common man, isn’t in it for money or power, and says ‘Look, this is a fucked up system. Too much money for too little people, how about I even that out and make some changes’ I won’t be that man in my lifetime, haven’t got the ability, and no doubt if ever there was a man who would genuinely make life fair, he’d be shot in the head by a man with more bullets than brain cells. I’m surprised Obama wasn’t shot in 2008 to be honest, thought his dreams of change would be his death warrant. I think it says a lot about this world that we want things to improve but without too much change or by despising those who can make our lives genuinely better.