Poppy Pride and Prejudice.

It never ceases to amaze me at this time of year how bigoted, ignorant, and intolerant people can be to those, such as myself, who decide to wear a white poppy instead of a red one.  Just this week for example, someone I know very well posted a picture on Facebook that had the caption “if the red poppy offends you pack your bags and Fuck Off!”  Rational and civilised discussion are just not on the agenda it would seem.  There are none so deaf and blind, or dangerous, as those who willfully refuse to see or hear an opposing point of view.  We are not allowed to be heard.  It is their way, or the highway, which is sorta reminiscent of the fascism our ‘heroes’ apparently vanquished some 70 years ago, funnily enough.

As a long time anti-war activist, I have often heard variations on the theme, “but those soldiers died for your right to protest/freedom of speech”.  If I had a pound for every time I had been told that, I would be a very rich man indeed.   More than once I have been told, in effect, that “these soldiers died for your right to speak, so shut your bloody mouth…”

Though, of course, the Freedom of Speech claim is utter nonsense, especially in light of recent cases in the UK, where a man was prosecuted for something he had written on a T-shirt, disabled women are having their doors knocked at the dead of night by Police over Facebook postings, people being arrested for Twitter postings, and folk being arrested for heckling the Prime Minister.

Freedom?  Aye, for the rich and their peado friends maybe.

Lest we forget, Remembrance Sunday was originally called Armistice Day, to commemorate the end of The Great War, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.  Those who fought and died in the trenches thought they were fighting ‘The War To End All Wars’.  The Great War was supposed to be the Last War.  And this war was so horrific, so brutal, so pointless, that the general sentiment afterwards was of NEVER AGAIN.  That we have done it again, and again, and again and again, is a huge slap in the face to the millions who thought they were fighting in the last ever war.   Those that died in the mud of Flanders Field did not do so in the belief that their war was the first in a sequence.  The last 100 years have shown that they fought and died for nothing.  And that is not something to be proud of.

It seems obscene to me to take “pride” in events that have left millions dead and injured, and whole nations crippled and scarred.

Remembrance Sunday glosses over the details of various British military adventures, as if there is no distinction between WW2, Iraq, Kenya, WW1, the Falklands, Afghanistan or Ireland.  Ironically, Remembrance Sunday is not about remembering that our politicians regularly lie about war, or that war is mostly unnecessary, and evil.  It is only about remembering what is termed the “glorious dead”.  Details like causes and consequences can be forgotten.

And it is phrases like the “glorious dead” that also make me refuse to wear a red poppy.  Calling the dead ‘glorious’ serves only to glamorise and romanticise dying in war to our young.  It says, in effect, that it is a great, noble, and honourable thing to die in war.  Wilfred Owen railed against that thinking in his poem Dulce Et Decorum Est, and Harry Patch, the last UK survivor of the trenches, went further, calling war nothing but “legalised mass murder”.

I wear a white poppy to show my distaste with war, with the misery it causes, with the lies that cause it, with it’s utter futility and pointlessness.  War is terrorism writ large, and nothing about it should ever generate pride.  I shall wear my white poppy with sorrow, sadness, and a fair grasp of what war has meant for generations, from World War One to Iraq.

… The white poppy is a symbol of remembrance for all those who have died in war, not just one nation’s dead, or one nation’s fallen soldiers; but all deaths in all wars, civilian and soldiers, past conflicts and present. The death of one individual in conflict has the same worth and sadness attached to it as any other, and the white poppy promotes that.

The red poppy does not. It promotes one nationality, it promotes one profession, it ignores civilians, and worst of all it encourages collective silence in questioning British involvement in current conflicts that continue to see casualties week in week out, from all sides.

And if you don’t like that, argue with me, politely 😉

Further reading –
Lest We Forget 2012, by John Andrews.

The Cult of The Fallen Soldier by Matthew Vickery.

White Poppies Are For Peace.

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Thoughts on October 20th Anti-Cuts March, by John Frugal Lakey.

A posting by John Frugal Lakey.  Re-posted with permission.

“A couple of thoughts on yesterday in London.
Although it was a great day out, it was also a long day.  Up at 4am , drive to Plymouth to pick up Steve, and blag a free lift on the union bus to London.
The bus…, well, I think they sussed we weren’t union members, but put up with us, as we were there to support the protest and oppose the cuts.  They handed out blank banners and pens so we could make our own protest signs with prizes for best designs.   Needless to say we won the prize with our “yes Dave .. the peasants are revolting”  sign.  The prize was a xxl purple unison / union tee shirt.  Ah well, at least i can use it to wash the car.

Once in London we arrived a little too late to meet up with UK Uncut – as this was the plan – and a shout-out on Facebook for info didn’t return anything, so we went along with the march, and it was massive!!  I was quite impressed and easily 150,000 people attended.

The problem was, well, they seemed happy…?  And i questioned myself why they were there ?  It all seemed like a, well , a sponsored walk.   All the signs seemed to be the same.  Everyone seemed to dress the same,  all the same chants from the last few years, lots of use of the word `comrade`, `brother`, `sister` etc.  No one smoked, everyone was polite.  Even the police ??!!??   And, to be honest, it was a little, may i say, boring.. ?
We searched in vain for a little action, someone to do something a little out of the norm.  Maybe just a little little naughty, but, zip, nothing.  No-one stept out of line.   No sit in protests – nothing – it all seemed robotic.

As soon as they got to the end of the march at Hyde park, they turned around and went back to the buses.  Some stayed to listen to a few speeches from the likes of  Ed Miliband( who attended an austerity speech in a Rolls Royce !! i shit you not !) – but to be honest of what little i caught of the speeches it was more of the same, comrade, brother sister speeches going over recycled crap with no real positive outlook to the future.

Now, I like what the unions have done for the working person in the past, but i honestly think if they seriously want to be a voice in the future they need top step things up,  and BIG.  This government and the Labour party are not listening to you, they think you are pussies.  And yesterdays  march proved that to them.  While you marched the Tories held a day out at Ascot for the boys.  Ed rubberband turned up in a Rolls-Royce and you allow this shit to happen???  I think someone is taking the piss.

What I did come away with was a bigger understanding of apathy.  At the end of the day, people don’t really give a shit until it effects them personally, and then it will be too late.  We have 3 main parties in the UK and, well, there is no real difference in any of them.   All 3 will fuck you over in the interest of the corporates that pay them.

Would i go again??  Well maybe.   Just in the hope that a few of the people there might actually be a little pissed off and inspired enough to do something other than a sponsored walk.
In fact,  I’m tempted to try and go up for the 5th November action, so if anyone is looking for car-share and is up for it, give me a shout…..”

Joke Police.

I was unfriended on Facebook the other day, by a lass I have known for over ten years, and all because of a joke I posted about Jimmy Savile.  Here is the joke in question –

“They have just found Jimmy Savile’s diary.

His last entry was about 10 years old.”

According to the lass who found this “appalling”, I am “laughing at child rape”.  And this from a girl who studied journalism and, presumably, knows a thing or two about the English language.  If you take the time to actually read the joke, you will notice the butt of the joke is the child abuser, not the victim.  I am guessing this nuance is lost on the professionally offended.  Still, never let the facts get in the way of ones self-righteousness, eh?
I find it kind of frightening really that people trained in, and preparing for a career in journalism are prepared to insist on censorship.  I find it unbelievable that the joke is more offensive than the decades of silence by mainstream journalists on the “open secret” that was Jimmy Savile’s alleged fondness for pre-pubescent girls.

In my humble opinion there should be no topics off-limits for comedy.  The topics that are deemed taboo, I suggest, are the very subjects that need broached the most.  Comedy has a long and noble tradition of tackling difficult subjects.  Take Bill Hicks on Iraq, or abortion for instance.   Near the knuckle jokes and comedians, at their best, help test and define boundaries, and consequently help progress or redefine the moral code of society.  It is also informative.  After all, who else, during the last ten or twenty years was informing people about the suspicions about Jimmy Savile?  It certainly wasn’t journalists who were too scared of Savile’s “fame and power” to report on it.  There is always a place for comedy, particularly when the media is such an embarrassing failure.

The Boy The Girl Forgot.

I wrote in the last post that my ex-girlfriend had said that I would forget all about her when I met someone else, and how I took that to mean she would forget all about me when she met someone.  Well, tonight I got wind of my erasure from her memory banks, and the consumation of her relationship with another fella.  A fella she first started chatting to when we were still seeing one another too.  Sadly the quote from Bob Marley I referenced previously isn’t working it’s magic anymore.

It’s half past one in the morning, and I am unable to sleep, and unable to rationalise my feelings.  I don’t feel good, that’s for sure.  And I am annoyed by my own inability to ‘man up’ and just ‘get over her’ as a few well-meaning folk have tried to encouraged me to do.

That’s easy for them to say.

Some say that love is “the highest form of energy”, but if this is so then it cannot be destroyed or diminished.  It can only be changed into another state.  And a tempestous energy like love can likely only be changed into something equally as tempestous.  Which is why it is said love often turns to hate, and vice versa.

Not that I am anywhere close to hate.

And I feel this way despite the fact she has met someone else.  I feel this way despite the fact that her love was always conditional and mine was not, and despite the likelihood that she is in the process of forgetting me.  Despite my suspicions that I was a stopgap til something better came along, and despite the fact I am a no good bum, undeserving of such wonder in my life, I FEEL this way.   Despite the fact there is no hope, I feel this way.  Despite the fact she even advised her family to remove me from their friends lists on Facebook, I feel this way.  And despite her desire to remain friends after ripping my guts out, I feel this way.

Maybe one day I shall generate some ill-feeling that will help me get over her.  Just not tonight.

Feelings, they are a pain in the fucking arse.

“It’s Rape, Jim. But Not As We Know It.”

*NOTE* – As has been pointed out to me by a few people, my wording here is far from ideal.  Rape does not necessarily need to be accompanied by violence or the threat of it.  I shall be writing a further post to clarify in due course.  Thank you to all those who took the trouble to offer constructive criticism.  I really do appreciate it.  *END*  1.9.12
My response to feedback received can be found HERE.

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Rape.  Such an unpleasant word that it should have it’s own sentence, so as not to contaminate the words around it.   For me it has always meant forced sex with violence, or the menace of violence.  I see the victims as battered and bruised, crying, often abandoned.  And more often than not this is compounded by a judicial system that doubts, fails, and ultimately humiliates those seeking justice.  Ask any woman, the society we live in does not move heaven and earth to provide justice to victims of rape or sexual assault.  Very far from it in fact.

But it would appear things are rather different if the alleged perpetrator is called Julian Assange, the Editor-in-Chief and founder of WikiLeaks.

Suddenly it seems heaven and earth will indeed be moved in order for justice to be done, what with the UK government threatening to storm the Ecuadorian Embassy in order to arrest Assange and have him extradited to face questioning over allegations of rape and sexual molestation.  There are those who deny this was a threat, but one has to bear in mind the language that diplomats use with one another.  Threats are couched in the most banal terminology.  Here I think is the killer sentence –

You need to be aware that there is a legal base in the UK, the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987, that would allow us to take actions in order to arrest Mr Assange in the current premises of the Embassy.”

Quite a change from 1998 then, when the UK refused to extradite General Augusto Pinochet to Spain, to face charges of genocide and terrorism.  And also quite a change from June this year, when the UK refused to extradite to the US a man suspected of raping children.

Which kind of throws into serious question William Hague’s claims about Britain’s “blinding obligations” under “international law”.  You’d think if William Hague was so concerned about ‘binding obligations’ and ‘international law’, he’d also be an advocate of nuclear disarmament and the prosecution of Tony Blair for war crimes.  But no.

When Jack Straw, the Labour Home Secretary, denied the Spanish request for the extradition of Pinochet, he cited the unique circumstances, saying the case was “unprecedented”, and that he was “in uncharted territory”.   Jack Straw in this case used his wide discretion and was said to have been obliged to “consider the personal circumstances of the alleged offender and any new evidence since the committal.”  Which is a considerable distance from Hague’s strict adherence to “binding obligations”.

So why the different approach to the extradition of Julian Assange?  For many, including activists from Women Against Rape, and the feminist author Naomi Wolf, there are good reasons to be suspicious of the uncommon zeal being shown in the efforts to get Assange extradited, and the “glaring aberrations” in the handling of the case.

It is widely believed that Assange’s ultimate destination is the USA to be prosecuted for his political work with WikiLeaks.  And this is the number one reason why he is in the Ecuadorean Embassy today, to avoid the terrible fate of Bradley Manning, namely torture, solitary confinement, and the possible death penalty.  Assange has stressed repeatedly he would readily travel to Sweden today and face the allegations if he could be assured there was no risk of him ending up in the hands of the US authorities.

Yet to mention these issues is to run the risk of being labelled a “rape apologist”, as George Galloway, Tony Benn, John Pilger, and even the ladies from Women Against Rape have found in recent weeks and months.  Galloway, in particular, has been slaughtered for calling Assange’s behaviour nothing more than “bad sexual etiquette“, and saying that even if the allegations of the two women “were 100% true” they would not constitute rape.

My guess is that Galloway based these remarks on the leaked Police transcripts of the interviews with the women involved.  Another aberration in the pursuit of justice, but very interesting nonetheless.   Here is the account of the incident –

They sat on the bed and talked and he took off her clothes again.  They had sex again and she discovered he’d put the condom only over the head of his penis but she let it be.  They fell asleep and she woke by feeling him penetrate her.  She immediately asked ‘are you wearing anything’ and he answered ‘you’.  She told him ‘you better not have HIV’ and he replied ‘of course not’.  She felt it was too late.  He was already inside her and she let him continue.  She couldn’t be bothered telling him again.  She’d been nagging about condoms all night long.  She’s never had unprotected sex.  He said he wanted to come inside her, he didn’t say when he’d done it but he did it.  There was a lot running out of her afterwards.

She told him what happens if she gets pregnant.  He replied that Sweden was a good country for raising children.  She told him jokingly that if she got pregnant then he’d have to pay her student loans…….”

Personally, I agree with Galloway to the extent that the above does not describe “Rape” as I have understood the word most of my life.  There is no violence, no hint of it, and no expressed refusal of consent.  In the circumstances above, I think one can be forgiven for thinking there would be a “reasonable expectation of consent”.   As I wrote on my Facebook page this morning, “If initiating nocturnal sex with a sexual partner who is half asleep is rape, then every girl I have ever slept with is a rapist, and so am I.”   I guess this makes me some kind of prehistoric, misogynistic rape apologist too.

But still, the allegations need to be tested in a court of law.  Everyone wants that.  I have read no serious commentator suggest otherwise.  While Sweden and the UK refuse to use their ‘discretions’ in this particular ‘uncharted waters’ to assure Assange of no forward extradition to the USA, the pursuit of justice will stall.  If the UK and Sweden are really interested in getting justice for these two women, then all it will take is a few little words – “No extradition to the US on Wikileaks related charges.”  It really is that simple.

*Further article responding to criticism of this post – HERE.

Further reading –
Debate between Women Against Rape advocate and Bonnie Greer.
In Defence of George Galloway, Huffington Post.
Glenn Greenwald on extradition myths.
Ruth Hull – The Persecution of Assange is a Persecution of Women Worldwide.
Greenwald again, on the Media contempt for Assange.
Seaumas Milne, Don’t Lose Sight Of Why The US Is Out To Get Assange.
US intends to chase Assange, cables show.
Craig Murray – America’s Vassal Acts Decisively and Illegally
John Pilger, The Pursuit of Assange is an assault on freedom.
Guardian, leaked police reports.
Bradley Manning Support Network.

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