Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Feeling hurt and confused at the number of Facebook friends who have kicked your arse this week? Let me help.

Honestly, I'm going to at least try to be nice about this. I'm nice to the people on my own timeline - I call them racist dickheads but I don't ban them, or go round their houses to administer a slap or anything. And it's not at all unreasonable to have been upset by the murder of Lee Rigby. It was pretty fucking horrible that a young man was hacked to death in the street, in broad daylight. He had a family and friends who loved him and who are going to be in terrible distress.

But if you're handling your understandable upset by showing yourself to be a racist dickhead, then your arse is going to get metaphorically kicked on Facebook. It probably won't get kicked in the pub or at work or while you're walking down the street, because the vast majority of people still don't actually feel that it's OK to launch a physical attack someone they disagree with. The majority of people, whether or not they have religious beliefs (and whether that's Jesus, Allah or the Tooth Fairy), prefer to get on with their neighbours, love and be loved and just enjoy their lives without starting pointless fights about nothing. However, people are a little happier to be a little more assertive when it comes to online discussion. So, naturally, after the incident in Woolwich, everyone with internet access has been squalling at everyone else. And an awful lot of people who previously posted about nothing more alarming than their cats/dogs/hamsters and their delicious lunch suddenly found themselves getting unfriended.

So here's why unfriending might have happened to you.

1) You are whining about immigration.

This automatically marks you out as a lazy, complacent moron. Go and look up the actual facts and figures.

2) You are whining about Islam.

Religion is, as I previously stated, bullshit and frankly ludicrous. So is football. Look at it this way - if people wearing shirts that announced their allegiance to your favourite football team went out and committed a hideous crime, would you think it was fair and reasonable for anyone who knew that you supported the team in question to blame you for the actions of the nutters? That's what you're doing when you start insisting that 'Muslims' apologise for Lee Terry's death.  If Fred West, Harold Shipman, Ian Huntley or Stuart Hazell professed allegiance to a football team, should the players be expected to make big public statements dissociating themselves from murderous individuals, or is it just understood, because the players are predominantly white heterosexual men, that they are not responsible for a crime committed by individuals who happen to be in the same labelled box.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

'Culture,' violence and prejudice

Predictably, the bucketheads are out in force all over the internet, following the murder of a squaddie in Woolwich yesterday. Along with the usual sentimentalism of candles and poppies cluttering up Facebook, aside of the blatant racism of EDL wankstains, the two main themes are 'Stop being nasty about religion' and 'I'm not a racist, but...'.

Religion is quite simply the biggest mistake humanity ever made: a way of allowing bullies to seize and retain power over whole groups of other people in an unending game of 'My imaginary friend says you have to do what I say because my imaginary friend has chosen me as a Special Person'; they just change the rules every time it looks like they might be about to lose. This doesn't stop plenty of people who subscribe to one or other religion from being perfectly lovely, decent, kind, non-violent, ordinary human beings. They've imagined a friend for themselves who might be a bit funny about diet and dress sense but generally expects them to be nice to their neighbours, fair in their dealings and happy in their lives. The existence of subdivisions in all the myth systems demonstrates that plenty of people are happy to remake their imaginary friend in a kinder, gentler style and interpret the myths in a broadly pro-social fashion, though unfortunately plenty of others are just as fond of reinterpreting the tropes to justify a revolting, bigoted, dangerous worldview. Think Westboro Baptist Church for an easy, obvious example. 

As to the racism, the more details of this ghastly incident emerge, the more it looks like a couple of psychotic crackheads rather than an organised, politically motivated attack. It seems like it's only 'terrorism' (and an excuse for attacks on whole groups and classes of other people) when the murderers are, well, Not White. White loners weren't investigated or abused-as-a-group after the revolting David Copeland planted his nail bombs in the late 90s. Even though Copeland was in fact a neo-Nazi, there was no muttering and sideways looks at any young man with a shaved head, or suggestions that all white people needed to denounce him or be labelled BNP supporters.

But if we're going to start going after pressure groups and people with unpleasant opinions that could be said to incide others to murder, then what about Fathers 4 Justice? Where are they when, as has already happened two or three times this year, a man murders his own children to punish his wife for leaving him? Strictly speaking F4J could be and perhaps should be described as a terrorist organisation. Several of their members have convictions for violence, and the stuff that their members like to spout on discussion forums can be seriously frightening due to their blind, frenzied hatred of women. Yet misogyny is still seen as not terribly important. Well, unless you want to air a bit more Islamophobia and remember to tack it on at the end of your rant about foreigners...