Bigotry is not the mark of an independent mind

Perhaps one of the worst things about Brexit is that it has given a green light for the worst, most idiotic views to be expressed. We now get all these loudmouth idiots like Farage in the media, saying all kinds of bigoted bollocks, and fools listening to them think they’re political rebels speaking repressed truths. Whereas a few years ago any form of bigotry was frowned upon, to some listeners, guys like Farage are breaking the bonds of oppressive political correctness. The utter knob Piers Morgan seems to see it as a way of getting attention, deliberately restyling himself into what he thinks is a figure of controversy, but mistaking hatefulness for rebellion. They seem not to realise that ideas like political correctness are designed to protect rights, guard against discrimination and ensure fairness. Instead, these right wing nutjobs on talk radio frame political correctness as something which holds people back, and by breaking its rules they’re being heroic rebels. The listeners then think it’s ok to spout all kinds of bigoted shit, thinking not that they’re being discriminatory or hurtful, but independent minds rebelling against a form of left-wing oppression. All of a sudden it has become heroic to spout all kinds of nastiness, and the more people object, the more in the right they feel.

This strikes me as very dangerous indeed. These fools would have their listeners believe that the whole of the mainstream media is some kind of clandestine mob intent on controlling our thoughts, and that by spewing the right-wing nonsense they do, they are valiantly rebelling against it. That, of course, is tripe, and these scumbags should just be seen as the hate-spewing bigots they are. The danger is, it will go too far, and people will start to mistakenly believe bigotry and discrimination are acceptable; hallmarks of independent minds rather than outdated stereotypes and simplicities rejected by wiser, more learned minds.  Unfortunately this is the stupidity the eu referendum has unleashed: the outists now think they have free rein to spew all kinds of obnoxious views, which they frame in the guise of fighting against politically correct oppression; and the sheep who don’t see these bigots for what they are will just emulate them.

The Queen and James Bond drop into Blackpool

I knew it was only a matter of time before we began to see riffs off Happy And Glorious, and last night I came across this fascinating little film. It’s obviously made to advertise a hotel up in Blackpool, but what strikes me  is the effort, time and money which must have gone into making it. They obviously couldn’t get Daniel Craig or any James Bond actor (or indeed the Queen) to be in it, but the hotel and production  company must have spent quite a bit playing with and paying homage to the film in the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony. I  like how it doesn’t take the piss, but plays with the original, making the film a nice little tribute.

Cutting Trump down to size

I think this is too amusing not to link to. There’s a new trend online of photoshopping Donald Trump’s head or face onto kid’s bodies, so he looks like a child.  It’s very fitting I must say: he is, after all essentially a child: a spoiled moron labouring under the mistaken belief that he is somehow an alpha male, but without the foggiest idea about politics or how to run a country. The same can be said of Farage, Robinson and the buffoon currently inhabiting Downing Street. The thing is, while playing with pictures might be good fun, what we need is a way to put these children in their places

The Lion King and A Midsummer Night’s Dream

I suppose you could say it has been a weekend of rewatching things I was familiar with anew. It has been a very interesting weekend certainly. I decided to go to the cinema last night: having heard so much about the new version of The Lion King, I decided it was time to go and get it watched. Suffice to say, I wasn’t disappointed; just a few minutes in and my jaw was on the floor. The graphics are amazing. I have never seen a film so visually stunning. I was drawn in immediately, and must admit I was whisked away with the rest of the audience: the plot, the characters, the songs were just fantastic. I also really liked the self-referential flourishes in the film – the nods to the original, as though the film was playing with the fact it was a remake. I drove back from the cinema last night in awe at what I had just seen. It’s the type of film which can only be truly enjoyed on the big screen, so my decision to go was certainly a good one.

Today, though, I was in for another, even bigger treat: John and I went up to The Globe to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream. John suggested it a week or so ago, and, while J isn’t the type of chap who I thought would be into the Bard, it had been so long since I had been to the Globe that I took the offer up enthusiastically. Indeed, it must have been seven or eight years since I last went there with Lyn, Andrej and Natalia. As soon as I entered the theatre this afternoon, though, I began to ask myself why I didn’t go far more often. It really is a magnificent place, one of the jewels in London’s ever-growing crown; and with groundling tickets only five quid a pop, there’s no reason why it can’t become one of my regular haunts.

I had been slightly worried that, among the standing groundlings in front of the stage, I wouldn’t be able to see much sat in my powerchair. I needn’t have worried: I was escorted to a special platform at the front of the audience, from which I had an excellent view of the action. As for the performance itself, it really was a treat. I was roughly familiar with the play having studied it back at school, but this was something else. It was a thoroughly postmodern performance, to put it mildly, and while it stuck fairly hard to the script for dialogue, everything else seemed open to be played with, with lots of contemporary references and songs. It was a bit like something my friend Ricardio might have directed at university. There was even a reference to the Lion King, probably cued by the recent release of the remake, but giving me a nice link with yesterday. In a way, though, the postmodernity of the production felt like it suited the original text, which, after all, is quite abstract in itself, with its talking donkeys and meddling fairies. I left eager to find out more, and the website offers quite a bit of info, but I really want to delve deeper into what that company has done. That sort of contemporary production wasn’t the type of thing I’d automatically associate with the Globe, yet the actors used the space magnificently, and I left curious to know who the director was (perhaps I knew them from university). It was a really interesting new take on Shakespeare, and for the second time this weekend I came home glad that I had gone.

JRM and language

While I wouldn’t go as far as calling myself a philologist given I only know english (well, and a bit of french, as well as a smattering of Klingon and Sindarin), I have always had an affinity for language. I see myself as a writer: writing has always been my primary outlet, and I can express myself much more eloquently in writing than using my natural voice. (Saying words like ‘juxtaposition’ or ‘vainglorious’ isn’t easy with athetoid cerebral palsy). I also love the way language changes over time, and how one morphs into another. It is far from stationary, with no iron clad rules; that is part of the beauty of language.

It therefore sickens me to hear that some arrogant Etonian p’tahk has taken it upon himself to try to dictate what words and phrases can and cannot be used in Westminster. Just who the hell does Jacob Rees-Mogg think he is? Such arrogance really, really annoys me: it’s as if he assumes his class makes him superior to the rest of us, and that he can arbitrate what form of language is correct and permissible.

The buffoon is not, of course, superior to anyone. For one, he is not that remarkable academically, only having got an upper second bachelors on history. While that might be a fair enough achievement, it does not qualify Rees-Mogg to become Lord of The Symbolic. He is trying to place himself on an intellectual level which he has no right to: in trying to set these pretentious rules down, Rees-Bogg is stating that the way he says things is correct, and the rest of us are wrong, asserting a social superiority he just does not have. In trying to dictate what people say and how they say it, he’s asserting himself as master of the Symbolic, and the Symbolic, in Lacanian Theory, underpins and structures reality, shaping our Imaginary and how we perceive the Real.

For anyone to assume they have the social authority to do that is, of course, the height of arrogance. Some of the most incredible people I have ever known can’t ‘speak’ in the conventional sense, much less use a snooty, pseudo-aristocratic accent. Many, such as the young people at school or at Onevoice, used forms of language and grammar which were unconventional, but that did not matter in the slightest, as long as they could express themselves. And I truly believe with every fibre of my being that any of them would be far, far better qualified to run the country than an overprivaleged moron born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He might not be a moron on the level of his education (a degree is, after all, a degree); but for Rees-Mogg to assume that that degree, combined with a concept as outdated as class, automatically gives him the authority and expertise to decide how people should speak and write, betrays a naivete about how the world works so severe that it can only be called moronic. An upper second can, after all, be bettered, so Rees-Mogg clearly isn’t the intellectual  giant he seems to want to portray himself as. What matters is what we say, not how we say it; language should be used to build bridges, not set people apart. And it certainly shouldn’t be used as a tool for claiming utterly unearned social authority.

L, C, E and J

A week or so over ten years ago I wrote a quick little blog entry entitled ‘L, C and E’. It was about three of my favourite people and best friends: Lyn, Charlotte and Esther. Looking back over it, I still value my relationship with all three women a great, great deal. Of course, an incredible amount has happened in the decade since I wrote that entry: most prominently, my relationship with Lyn blossomed, but has now wilted. Charlie is now married and working as a teacher, but is still the exuberant, dizzyingly energetic party animal I knew at university. Esther I hear the least from, but I often think of her and her family. She has been going through some dark times of late; far darker than she rightly deserves. I would really like to pay her a visit soon. Ten years on from writing that entry, these women are still three of my favourite people, and I still think all three are absolutely incredible in their own way.

I wrote that entry on the cusp of change, a few months before I moved down to live with Lyn in London. I could never have known what wonders the following decade would bring, or what life with Lyn would teach me. I have done things over the past ten years which I could never possibly forget, and which will always rank among the highlights of my life. Yet I now find myself on the threshold of another change: one chapter again turning into another. Who knows what this new chapter may bring, but I could never have reached it without the two preceding it, or without the friendship and support of people like Lyn, Charlotte and Esther. Just as I was able to thrive at university thanks largely to Esther and Charlotte, it was through Lyn that I got to know and came to love London. Because of these three women, there is no doubt in my mind that life’s possibilities are endless.

Naturally that list of three perhaps should now be added to. For one, I think John definitely now ranks beside them. I will never forget our trip to India, and the efforts he went to there deserve my highest esteem. On our adventure there, our friendship grew so much and John was so incredible that, as with Lyn Charlie and Esther, I resolved to regard him thereafter as something akin to a sibling: Perhaps the list should now be L, C, E and J. But then, such lists force one to decide between and rank people, which is rather childish. What ultimately matters is that I have many, many great friends; and that because of them I know that, whatever the future may hold, it will be truly awesome.

Uga Uga indeed!

I think this just about sums up the current state of affairs perfectly

uga uga

Two countries with two leaders: both men who think they were born to rule, yet neither realises how little they actually know or how unsuited they are for the task at hand. The only question is, which man will fall first?

A comment about not commenting

I’m not even going to bother to comment on what happened in the political world today: it’s just too idiotic to dignify, even with a rant. I’m sure most people are as frustrated as I am with what’s going on. All we can really do is hope that this current farcical episode does not last very long.

Disability seems to be becoming broader

The Guardian is reporting that budgets for special needs education are just about at breaking point. ”County councils across England are warning that the cost of covering special needs education is breaking their budgets, with local authorities overspending by more than £100m last year to meet the sharp rise in demand.” This is an issue obviously an issue very close to my heart, but what I’m most curious about is, what caused this  spike in demand? It can’t be simply because there are more kids around with disabilities these days.  I suspect the reason is a lot more complex, and I now want to look into it. The whole notion of being a disabled person now seems to be opening up, and the disabled community is becoming much broader. That, as a guy with what you could call an old fashioned physical disability, interests me, and I think it’s worth deeper investigation.