Feudal Times

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I’ve been interested in a lot of news stories that pitch the mainstream media – seen to be the shield of the powerful… against the world of internet blogs and videos – seen to be a pit of cranks and trolls.

And it’s left me feeling demoralised.

We seem to live in a world where the rich and powerful are only ever punished when another rich and powerful person is out to get them… Where ordinary people can be driven to suicide by journalists but celebrities call the police over mean words on twitter… Where women are mistreated and its their abusers who get the sympathy… Where children go missing and it requires a government P.R. to work for their parents… Where horrendous things are written just to get clicks.

Truth is not being told to anyone… And I’m officially tuning out to write book reviews and bits and bobs on glorious fiction (for about a month anyway).

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Reeva Steenkamp

UPDATE : I haven’t found anyone in the real world – male or female – who agrees with this… Journalism is turning into a weird world all of its own.

Male celebrities shouldn’t go to prison – according to Simon Jenkins.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/21/oscar-pistorius-jail-sentence-imprisonment

Not just for hard-to-prove things like sexual assault and rape – but for murder.

Looking a bit sad… having a trial covered in the media… and your career being (only possibly) ruined – is enough.

Non-celebrity women can go through lives of torment and misery… they can live in fear and pain… they can lose their jobs, reputations, friends and family… they can be harassed on social media… made to flee their homes… called liars… slags… or simply ‘the dead girlfriend’ but that’s as nothing to the terrible horrors of sliding fame and public accusation.

Celebrity men should go free – while we work out why they feel entitled to commit crimes against people with less power. And we prevent future crimes by having absolutely no consequences for committing them.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/kat-lister/reeva-steenkamp-simon-jenkins_b_6021076.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

Anoraks!

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The suicide of Brenda Leyland – after a media monstering – took me back to 2007 when I used to comment fairly relentlessly about the McCann media coverage on the website Anorak.

http://www.anorak.co.uk/

I wasn’t interested in the true crime aspect – but I did chat to commenters who were… They were nicer than me – even the ones who thought the McCanns were murderers. They had the ability to empathise with the missing child at the heart of the story whereas I could never get past the ludicrous press coverage. I was the first one to label us pro and anti McCann while trying to explain why we were slagging each other off so viciously to a confused newbie.

I was very fond of whoever we all were – even the trolls, flamers and sock-puppets. We were essentially Live Tweeting Martin Brunt and Kay Burley on Sky – the first time I was aware of rolling news. We had no narrative consistency and no spin… if Martin looked tired, we said he looked tired, if Gerry was playing tennis we wondered why he was playing tennis…

I was intent on deconstructing the press, others were intent on solving the disappearance, some were caught up in the soap opera, some felt their opinions weren’t being reflected in the newspapers, some were already steeped in establishment conspiracy theories and after the McCanns hired Labour Party media monitor Clarence Mitchell they were added to a list that even in 2007 included Jimmy Savile and Elm Guest House (I thought the theories were entertainingly loopy – but it seems half of them were grimly true).

The McCanns were famous on an unprecedented scale for a crime story. Their life stories were serialised in The Mirror. They went on lecture tours.  They met the Pope. A lot of us tried to pin down the hook. Was it class? Was it Kate’s beauty? Was it religion?

It was probably just the mystery. Not just the mystery of Madeleine. But the mystery of Kate and Gerry – as people they’re hard to read. Even harder when they come packaged by a P.R. machine.

When the first wave of intense publicity started to wane (after about a year) I had nothing left to say… I forlornly moved on to digital spy… but the true crime fans and the hardcore pro and anti factions moved on to private forums, YouTube and finally twitter – arguing about the case and everyone involved in intricate detail… It’s not sad, lonely, sick or twisted. It’s sociable, crusading and less damaging than a red top screamer.*

But it’s also libelous and contested… It appears that some pros (who may be paid) gave a dossier about the antis (who have many threatening and insulting tweets aimed at them) to the police and Sky News… and this led to Martin Brunt door-stepping Brenda… which led to her suicide… Because she’s nicer than me… She wouldn’t think he was merely chasing ratings and filling time with hypocritical hyperbole… She’d feel humiliated, cornered and in danger.

*The tabloids are still claiming she sent 4,220 hate tweets to the McCanns in one year… She tweeted on the subject 4,220 times… Behold the taste and sensitivity here :

 http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/son-madeleine-mccann-troll-defends-4393728

Trolls!

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British Journalism has hit a new low-point.

Yesterday Brenda Leyland died by suicide after being hounded all day on Sky news for tweeting negative things about the parents of missing UK child Madeleine McCann.

Her suicide is still being reported in the context of her being a ‘twitter troll’.

Her tweets are critical – they might even stretch to libel – but there are no death threats or direct addresses. Plunge in to the true crime tumult here :

 http://greptweet.com/u/sweepyface/sweepyface.txt

And this is ‘non-evil troll’ Carole Malone on Brenda Leyland in The Mirror (when – as far as we knew – Brenda was still alive) :

One of these trolls, Brenda Leyland, is a church-going 60-something divorcee who lives in a pretty village in the Home Counties. She looks like a perfectly respectable woman. But of course she isn’t.

She’s a cowardly bully who hides behind her smart front door and spews her bile in secret because she doesn’t have the guts to do it in public.
This piece of work was sending up to 50 texts a day to the McCanns. But when Sky News cameras approached her she wasn’t quite so brave.
She looked like a frightened rabbit (typical). But as she was running away (also typical) she said she thought she was entitled to do what she’d done.
Really? She thinks she’s entitled to threaten, hound and bully the innocent? Is that because her own life is so lonely, so miserable, so poisoned that she wants others to suffer the same. Or is she just a twisted, fecked up bitch who gets her kicks from hurting people.

Well, newsflash for these sickos – you guys aren’t the worst thing that’s ever happened to Kate and Gerry McCann. The very worst thing that could ever happen to them already has. And they will for ever have to live with that. I truly hope all the people in that dossier are prosecuted and I hope Sky continue to confront and identify every one of them. We should all know what a black heart and a twisted mind looks like.

These idiots need to know they can no longer hide behind false names to peddle their bile.

Let’s see how brave and opinionated they are when their evil is made public alongside their names and their faces.

The rest is here : http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/madeleine-mccann-internet-trolls-devoid-4379575

Carole feels entitled to call someone a ‘fecked up bitch’ in a national newspaper while raging about unquoted ‘texts’.

It’s true that people need to think more before they publish online. It’s not a private chat – even a direct message could end up public – but the press needs to stop using ordinary – often vulnerable – commenters to fuel a big crime/sport/celebrity story… especially when their own comments are just as hate-filled, misinformed, inflammatory and ‘possibly’ criminal.

Exhibit B

Photo : Murdo MacLeod

Photo : Murdo MacLeod

I’m back in controversy corner again.

Exhibit B by Brett Bailey (a white artist) is an art installation involving black actors re-imagining a Human Zoo (a place in the olden days where Europeans came to gawk at non-Europeans in their tribal garb… a bit like an amalgamation of travelling tourist traps) in a modern ‘subversive’ way.

The work is intended to provoke white audience members into feeling guilty about our Imperial past, white supremacy and the treatment of immigrants, but recently, after touring extensively, it was shut down at The Barbican in London by a ‘baying mob’ of black protesters who felt anger and hurt at the way they had been represented… The ‘baying mob’ say they were no such thing and The Barbican over-reacted.

There’s three immediate problems :

is it ok to use black experience when you don’t have any?

is it ok to assume it will have a guilty-feeling white audience?

The Arts Industry doesn’t seem to have many powerful black collectors or curators – does it have the right filter?

**I’m slightly obsessed with representation power – I think it’s because I’m not sure what I represent… and I’m not sure if anyone would be interested even if I did know.**

Brett Bailey’s attitude doesn’t help – he’s reacted huffily to the suggestion that he might not be entitled to express himself… That doesn’t show any great insight into the millions of ways that minorities and non-elites are denied a voice. In the 1980s this would have been countered by serious debates on television and radio – but the news-value of the arts has depreciated – so no one has an adequate platform for airing grievances or deeper meanings.

To me any form of shutting down or censorship feels wrong – although it has to exist. Not only can we not allow hate-speech or child porn or other morally suspect things… there isn’t enough professional public space for everything to be seen. Galleries select work. There is a process that supports Brett and hasn’t supported countless others.

I wouldn’t ban Exhibit B.

It’s obviously powerful.

But I don’t think it’s anti-racist.

Anything with nudity and shackles isn’t going to purely incite pity or shame… or at least not always for the thing we’re meant to be atoning for – the strongest images are things we fear but desire…  It’s also wrong not to factor in a black audience’s reaction. And if that reaction is one of feeling demeaned and humiliated then it can’t just be anti-racist.

I think it belongs more in the Punk-Goth-Cabaret-Harlequin bracket – where vanity and thwarted expectations take refuge in the abject corners of past marginal cultures – the freak shows, the Weimar Republic, haunted Victorian nurseries… A narrative space that Art with its conceptual jargon about light and stillness and found objects is struggling to explain.

Some links  for more info :

http://www.barbican.org.uk/news/artformnews/theatredance/barbican-statement-cancellation-

https://www.change.org/p/withdraw-the-racist-exhibition-exhibition-b-the-human-zoo/u/8242960?recruiter=92186919&utm_source=share_update&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=twitter_link

http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2014/sep/24/slavery-exhibition-black-actors-cages-shut-down

http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2014/aug/12/exhibit-b-edinburgh-festival-2014-review

Ewan Morrison – YES: Why I Joined Yes and Why I Changed to No

K:

UPDATE : Presented without comment

Originally posted on wakeupscotland:

 Ewan Morrison is an award-winning Scottish author and screenwriter.

how one word silencedFour months ago I joined the Yes camp out of a desire to take part in the great debate that the Yes camp told me was taking place within their ranks. Being a doubter I thought maybe I’d failed to find this debate and that it was exclusive to the membership of the Yes camp, so I joined hoping I could locate it and take part. But even as I was accepted into the ranks – after my ‘Morrison votes Yes’ article in Bella Caledonia, I noted that 5 out of the meagre 20 comments I received berated me for either not having decided sooner or for having questioned Yes at all. Another said, and I paraphrase: ‘Well if he’s had to mull it over he could easily switch to the other side.’ That comment in Bella Caledonia worked away…

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Left Cheers Own Death – Again.

The past - having a revolution - that can't fail to bring perfection....

The past – having a revolution – that can’t fail to bring perfection….

For a mainstream socialist these are dark days in Scotland… the left seems about to out-wit itself… again.

Back in the 1970s Trade Union agitation brought down a Labour government and convinced the Tories that there was no point in even talking to them if even Labour couldn’t appease them – they decided to destroy them instead. The Unions went from being one of the most powerful forces in Britain to being absolutely powerless and all this was accompanied by an excited arts industry singing songs, writing plays and having beautiful meetings full of hope and comradeship.

They still happily blind themselves to their mistakes by demonising Thatcher – a woman so dim her handbag became a star.

And now we have a radical left that sees Scottish independence as a vehicle to social justice. Any word of caution about transition costs, declining oil production, alienating our biggest market – England – whose institutions, which we helped build, would become next to closed to us, our ageing population etc are dismissed as media bias, Brit-Nat Imperialism and fear… The chances are that radicals will be ditched and we’ll end up with a low-tax economy dependent on enticing foreign investment, with high emigration and only National pride and the occasional half-decent subsidized novelist to keep ourselves warm with.

The Greens are a lifestyle as much as a political party and can be happy anywhere on earth civilized enough to sustain at least one organic grocer.

But a tiny government is no defense against a global capitalism that carries no ethnic or religious baggage and can flow through any barrier… we can’t even be sure it won’t morally implicate us in some future Super-power shenanigans… Canada has been berated for funding the Tamil Tigers and prolonging a violent division that was finally crushed by China, and Sweden has been characterized as a CIA-stodge / fascist state for wanting to try the Wikileaks founder for rape.

So – stay and fight on several fronts with the Scottish parliament now a permanent sword of Damocles over our heads and a Tory-Unionist resurgence our only other deliverance. Or accept that supporting our ultimate doom is the fate of the British left wither our family of nations are on speaking terms or not?

We can always console ourselves by demonising Nicola Sturgeon.