Fascism in the Mainstream Media 

OK so this morning Abi Wilkinson was asking on Twitter what we should do about tabloid newspapers like the Express, the Daily Mail, the Sun & the Star, when we see them peddling out and out racism. Personally I don’t buy any of them, and I’m very ambivalent about the Mirror too. The worst in my estimation is the Express, which gives its support to UKIP. Its headlines are always screaming about asylum seekers “vanishing” or “NEW MIGRANT RUSH TO BRITAIN” or “HOW MASS MIGRATION MAY KILL OFF CORE BRITISH TRADITIONS SUCH AS CHRISTMAS”. 

Newspapers like these, in my opinion, are at the heart of why we idiotically voted to leave the EU. They’re at the heart of the rise in racist violence. They’re the ones fueling the kind of hate that sees hijabs ripped off the heads of girls and women just going about their daily routine, going to school or work, and that sees a frail old Muslim man get stabbed to death, like Mohammed Saleem 3 years ago in Birmingham or kicked and stamped to death like Muhsin Ahmed in Rotherham last year. 

In Liverpool you can’t buy the Sun. You can’t buy it because in the 80s the Sun started a campaign of demonising the working class beginning with the miners’ strike in ’84-’85, blaming miners for their horrific beating at the hands of mounted riot police while trying to picket Orgreave colliery, trying to save their industry which Thatcher threw under the bus in the name of globalisation & free market economics. This continued with the demonisation of Liverpool fans at the Heysel stadium disaster in 1985 and the Sun’s relentless condemnation of Derek Hatton’s rebel Liverpool city council who stood up against rate caps & restrictions that would have meant vulnerable people dying (as they are now under today’s Tory austerity), and then finally in 1989 the Sun broke the camel’s back by blaming Liverpool fans again, this time for their own deaths at Hillsborough. You can’t buy the Sun there, and if you could, you’d be vilified & rightly so. 

We’re seeing the same crap coming from all the tabloids these days. Xenophobia & racism. This affects us all. There have been Polish people stabbed and beaten for speaking their own language among friends. We as a society are turning into 1930s Germany. The Germans look at us and see history about to repeat, I shit ye not. 

So what can we do?  I think we can learn a lot from the “Don’t Buy The Sun” campaign. Billy Bragg did a song about it. People made stickers, and still do, and you can see them on lampposts & bus shelters. Get the word out. Talk to people. Challenge them. Assume that they’re reasonable & don’t want to be labelled a racist. Granted, a few might, but I’d lay odds that most wouldn’t. Have a friendly, non-threatening word with newsagents. Lastly,  maybe we need a poster campaign. We might need images of death camps – because that’s where these papers are leading us. Alan Kurdi is what happens when we swallow the Express’ shit. 

White feminists, now will you listen? (Trigger Warning)

Reblogging this from my mate Sam cos frankly it’s bloody important. TW: Rape

Left at the Lights

The more I think of the way she suffered, the more I feel an anger rising up amongst the bile. My stomach twisted as I heard of the ways in which she’d been savagely assaulted; having been violated with an iron rod, her intestines had to be removed. She was raped for over an hour by a group of men who did this only because she was a woman.

She could be one of my friends. She could be me aged 23. The rapists didn’t think about her family or her career as a paramedic. They weren’t bothered by her male chaperone. She wasn’t a person to them, just a thing to use, an object. While she lay fighting for her life in a hospital bed, another young woman ended hers. Oblivious to India’s extremely negative profile on the world stage, police officers in the Punjabi region of Patiala advised…

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RIP Pterry

I think I wrote about this before, but I’m not sure where I stashed it. It was some months ago, & I said something along the lines of, that although we’ve had plenty of warning, that when Sir Terry Pratchett finally shuffles off this mortal coil how bereft I would be. I wrote that this lovely old chap, who as Neil Gaiman says, burns & seethes with barely contained righteous anger & who isn’t really that avuncular old chap many perceived him as, this amazing fellow had been so much a part of my life since as far back as I can reliably remember, that his passing would leave me like the passing of a dear family friend. His books have made me laugh & cry, & above all made me think. And he wrote SO MUCH, and SO WELL. 40 Discworld novels, 70 books all told. I think I probably said that I was glad he was handing off to his daughter Rhianna, that she was a pretty darned excellent writer in her own right, and that anyone whose first & favourite old school game was MAZOGS on the ZX81 couldn’t be bad or wrong.

Well, it’s happened. I expected it, but yeah, that. It’s fucked up that he was ripped away from us at 66, that the disease that took him was one that attacked the very things that his identity was built upon – his imagination & his way with words. This gets me more than losing Leonard Nimoy. Leonard was special of course, but I never met Leonard. I did meet Sir Terry, and he was great – he signed not just my book but also a couple I’d got for friends who couldn’t make it, and he dedicated each one with a personal message to that person. A lot of people would be just *bosh* *scribble* there you go, generic squiggle, that’ll be a tenner, but no Sir Terry asked about my friend’s unusual name & when I told him its meaning nodded approvingly – it was a girl’s name, and it meant “rage”. Being the awkward aspie I am I got nervous & took my books & hastened out but I’m glad he took the time.

I first read “The Colour of Magic” in the early 80s after reading a review by Dave Langford in the old-school White Dwarf magazine before Games Workshop went all “in house games only”, back when they had Thrud the Barbarian & Gobbledigook as their regular comic strips, and published scenarios for all kinds of round the table RPGs like traveller & D&D, Call of Cthulhu and so on. Dave was spot on of course, and so from about 13-14yo I was hooked. My wife will tell you similar, and my brother in law’s shelves are festooned with not only Discworld books but also DW memorabilia – a resin sculpture of The Luggage for example, and Death.

Since his passing earlier today, it seems from Twitter that he was indeed universally loved. It’s not just me & my geeky family. It’s hundreds of thousands of us. We all lost someone significant today. My thoughts in particular are with those who knew him better, and especially his family & close friends. If I, a mere reader & fairly lazy collector of his books, can feel this bad that he’s gone, you guys… We all knew he was going, we knew for ages, but…

So anyway, before I start sobbing, I’ll raise another glass of wine & say “Here’s to you, Pterry!” – if you want to honour his memory, there’s a justgiving page here:

https://www.justgiving.com/Terry-Pratchett

Statement of intent

I’ve made a break, of sorts. It’s a sort of break that’s happened before, and I daresay it’ll happen again.

I got into the Internet in a big way when I was at university, in around 1993 or so when we had JANET, the Joint Academic Network, and we’d use command line IRC clients & Telnet & the like to get into *nix talkers, MUDs, MOOs and so on.

Then there were web-enabled chatrooms where we’d use graphics as signatures & spam up the whole chat with pictures of Dana Scully in PVC & think we were awfully clever using Japanese pseudonyms.

Then usenet, uk.people.gothic, alt.gothic and so forth. Whole scenes revolving around usenet. And then we all moved en masse from upg and ag to Livejournal. And that was good for a few years. And then they were sold to the Russians, who wanted to monetise us, so we went to Facebook & Myspace, and left Myspace for Facebook.

And for a while, Facebook was The Thing, and Livejournal was uncool & covered in Miss Havisham cobwebs, and she still sits in her Russian wedding feast festooned room, weeping at our loss for all we know. Myspace was barely my anything before we left.

So anyway, lately, Facebook took bad against us, and banned us because our names didn’t meet with their approval. Google Plus had been a thing, briefly, but they burned our trust thinking it was the coal in their boiler room. I’m still kinda half-heartedly there a bit, but that’s in lieu of having anywhere solid for us to coalesce around, we nomadic net.goth ghosts.

Currently the thought is this: distribute. Don’t put too many eggs in one basket. Be everywhere, and yet nowhere. If a site proves untrustworthy, cut it out. Facebook is now in my hosts file. It redirects to “NO”.

Different things for different things: Twitter & to an extent Tumblr for random, often political shit. Here, will be dragons, and pirate ships, tank battalions & aliens. I’ve decided that here will be for creative writing and hopefully mostly positive blogging about writing. G+ will be my pseudo-Facebook for now, though I reserve the right to uproot that yurt & trek off to new steppes with my horde – or my dribs & drabs as they’re becoming. Many remain on Facebook yet, but I feel like being a pioneer.

Anyway, so mote it be. Papa Legba – Ouvri barrière pour nous!