“We Teach Life, Sir.”

I have just discovered this wonderful, and very moving poem, by Rafeef Ziadeh.   It deserves to be widely heard.  Pass it on.

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We Don’t Want No Radiation.

Devonport Naval Base in Plymouth is where the UK’s Trident nuclear submarines go to be refitted.  This dangerous and dirty work is done in close proximity to 250,000 Plymouthians, and within a matter of a few hundred yards of at least one primary school.  The ‘reward’ of a couple of hundred jobs is a poor return for the risk the whole city runs of cancers and leukemia.  Never mind that under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty(N.P.T.) the UK is meant to be working “in good faith” towards complete nuclear disarmament.  But sadly the UK is intent on building bigger and more destructive weapons of mass destruction, while lecturing the world on the perils of having weapons of mass destruction.  Such hypocrisy, you could hardly make it up.  Trident Ploughshares activists today took a simple message to the base.

What would your message be?

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.

Savile Vs Murdoch?

A very good point, very well made. I agree with every word.

Pride's Purge

(It’s not satire – it’s Rupert Murdoch)

I’ve not pulled any punches in my criticism of the poor handling by the BBC of the Jimmy Savile scandal and I’m not going to stop.

But I can’t stand the hypocrisy of the Murdoch press taking the moral high ground against the BBC any more.

Murdoch’s clever. He’s already managed to reduce the phone hacking scandal to one of a battle between ‘scumbag celebrities’ and a ‘free and open’ press.

But we’re in danger of allowing Murdoch’s spin to erase the memory of the abuse that was meted out to innocent people, in one case a murdered child, by his own press.

The phone hacking scandal isn’t about ‘scumbag celebrities’. It’s about the abuse by Murdoch of a murdered schoolgirl – Milly Dowler – and her family.

And while Murdoch and the rest of the UK tabloids drone on and on…

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Jail For Offensive Slogans? I Am Spartacus.

*WARNING – This Post May Contain ‘Offensive’ Material.

People are being jailed for Facebook postings, tweets, and t-shirt scribblings.  Some guy got the jail today for writing “offensive” slogans on a t-shirt.  So much for freedom of speech in jolly old Britain.  I work every day with old people who think they fought in a war to protect things like freedom of speech.  Am I alone in thinking something has gone far wrong?  I used to share a flat with a guy who wore a Cop Killer baseball cap.  It was some US hip-hop artist’s song, Ice-T maybe.  Changed days now.

And so I have launched a counter offensive on Twitter 😀   Care to join me?  The right to free expression is an important one.  It should not be restricted and defined by the Powers-That-Be.  How long before they round up and jail Frankie Boyle?  The writers of Family Guy?  Are we going to start banning books and records cos some people find them ‘offensive’?

I hardly use Twitter, but for this I thought, fuck it, it might as well be useful.   Join me at @johnthegasrobb.

Maybe it’s just me and I’ll wake up in the cells in the morning…..

“8 months in JAIL for “one less pig, perfect justice’ on a t-shirt? How much for tweeting #NoMorePigsPerfectJustice? #FreedomOfSpeechTweets”

“8 months in JAIL for “one less pig, perfect justice’ on a t-shirt? How much for tweeting #FuckYouYouFuckingCunt? #FreedomOfSpeechTweets

“8 months in JAIL for “one less pig, perfect justice’ on a t-shirt? How much for tweeting #SavilesShrivelledKnob?”

Jail 4 ‘one less pig…’ on a t-shirt?? How much for #nomorepigsperfectjustice or savilesshirvelledknob? #freedomofspeech #IAmSpartacus #bbcqt”

Jail 4 ‘one less pig…’ on a t-shirt?? How much for #hairyfannysandballs? or #gofuckachicken? #freedomofspeech #IAmSpartacus”

Jail 4 ‘one less pig…’ on a t-shirt?? How much for #YourMumTakesItUpTheGaryGlitter? #FreedomofSpeechTweets #IAmSpartacus”