Saturday, 18 June 2016

Expressing a view on the death of Jo Cox


Over the following days, it's entirely predictable what people will say about the murderer of Jo Cox. He'll be a bad apple and mentally unstable, no real connection to anyone. It'll be important that nobody attempts to draw larger points from such a tragedy, in much the same way that the same people notably don't take that view for Islamic extremism. Well, my view: it is incredibly hard to separate what happened from the day to day rhetoric of the right-wing tabloid press and various people prepared to make racist claims to gin up their vote or revenue figures.

It's hardly a stretch to say that political violence rarely takes place where a murderer wishes a society to be more politically liberal. It's not driven by the demand for increased tolerance and understanding. It is, as today showed, often undertaken in the cause of religious and nationalistic ideals and against those perceived as traitors; the perceived creators of a grievance against both the attacker and the wider groups they often see themselves as the avengers of. It's not exactly hard to see who creates the racist thoughts that this probable mental illness grows in, and it's hardly a defence to say that it is mental illness. If someone listens to poison again and again, it is little help to say that they couldn't have been expected to act on the basis of the poison poured into their ears day after day. It's very predictable that someone will; the nature of mass media is that someone will always be listening that is unstable. One can choose to cheaply stoke that racist fire and give people false facts to buttress prejudice, or one can choose not to. It's just utterly disingenuous for the people that have stoked that fire to then attempt to remove themselves from the responsibility for the outcome of the rhetoric that has been employed.

The above is a set of headlines from the Express. It's one of many that sells fear of the Other, but it is one. Other papers have done so, and other currently elected and non-elected politicians exist who have played the same game. It has led to killings before, although it's a while since it's been an MP. The occasional stabbings of immigrants are from the same root, although they garner less attention from the press. The very fact that the killer does appear likely mentally ill is actually an incitement rather than an excuse; if the undertone of one's assertions about the world and explicit false claims can be re-purposed *at face value* by the mentally ill to fit in the kind of conspiratorial mindset that can justify fascist political violence, maybe it's time to face up to the fact that they were a completely morally abhorrent tool to use in the first place. It's exactly the time to point the finger at that much wider narrative.

I hopefully await the commitment by various right wingers to avoid racist stereotypes and boiled over fascism...but I'm 99% sure I'll be hearing about the utterly unpredictable action of a mentally ill person that bears no relation to anyone's expressed views.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Mirror of SurfTheChannel.com: A Very British Miscarriage Of Justice

Since SurfTheChannel.com has been taken down, I provide a mirror of the Vickerman statement taken from before the Google cache dies. I do not claim copyright over the following, and will remove it at the request of Anton Vickerman (or, more possibly, a C&D by FACT). I very much doubt Vickerman wants it removed.


A Very British Miscarriage Of Justice

The real story behind the conviction of SurfTheChannel´s owner Anton Vickerman
The story that follows is backed up by evidence available as a download at the end of this article.
My name is Anton Vickerman and I am the proud owner of the now dead video search engine SurfTheChannel.com (STC). By the time you read this I will be starting my new life behind bars after receiving what is expected to be a “loony sentence” from Judge John Evans of Newcastle Crown Court for running my site from 2007 to 2012.


Sunday, 22 April 2012

My heroine of the day

“That women are joining in the ongoing disassembling of my appearance is salient. Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate. It privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women. It is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it. This abnormal obsession with women’s faces and bodies has become so normal that we (I include myself at times—I absolutely fall for it still) have internalized patriarchy almost seamlessly. We are unable at times to identify ourselves as our own denigrating abusers, or as abusing other girls and women.”
—Ashley Judd, The Daily Beast

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

On the 2012 Boat Race Protest


I rowed for Wolfson College at Cambridge. Captained my own boat, even, and my name is (currently) on the club web page design footer. I'm from a state school, and moved around several during my education. I didn't find Cambridge or rowing exclusionary.

I love rowing, and I'm glad that I spent the time that I did working on it. I also realise the insane degree of work that moving up to the CUBC level involves; it's around 35 hours a week training whilst doing full time academic studies. While I was there, a rower gained a full blue for rowing in the Boat Race and got a first at their undergrad degree in medicine by reading up notes even whilst in between reps on the ergs. I would disagree strongly with the idea that he could be called the idle rich.

Even knowing that I look at the protest this year, and I have to say that the NHS being broken up is absolutely worth swimming in front of the boats for. Millions watching on TV, and access to worldwide press. Call it what it is: a privatisation of areas of health care that will kill people while money that could have been spent on their health care goes to private shareholders. That is certainly more important than having to rerun the race, more important than Zeng's moment, and I'd even say further protest and discussion of that issue is clearly more important than a crew member requiring temporary hospitalisation.

The NHS has protected me several times during accidents, and provided me with free asthma medication and care when required. It provided free of cost care and medicines for my grandfather after he fell out of a window during a two year coma, in-patient rehabilitation while he learned to speak and walk again, and nursing support for the rest of his life. It provided free medical care and prescriptions for my aunt whilst she died of AIDS as a heterosexual woman, but also gave equal support to homosexuals in the town I lived in without regard for economic circumstances or sexuality. It has touched the lives of almost everyone I know, even setting aside that almost to a person the first hands to touch them at birth were those of an NHS nurse or doctor.

It also supported the Oxford rower Alex Woods after his collapse via health care provided by the NHS at Charing Cross hospital, and I'd like to remind Americans that this would be the same as Harvard being prepared to take a rower to free-cost but well funded and run Medicare. Socialist medicine provided by the state for all and good enough to be used by those written off as the ultimate elite. That is a supreme achievement for a society, and something worth the risk of dying to protect.

For publicising the risible suggestions for protest such as delivering cold food on the protester's web page? The most heartbreaking thing is that the protection of effective provision of health care and social services is so worthwhile and the message he delivered is so indistinguishable from self-parody.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Easyjet, you make me roll my eyes

Easyjet have just made a surprisingly paranoid change in their terms and conditions.
12.2. Unless we give our express prior permission, you are prohibited for reasons of safety from operating on board an aircraft any electronic equipment or similar devices except hearing aids and heart pacemakers. The equipment and devices which are prohibited from use include, but are not limited to, portable radios and recorders, mobile and cellular telephones, laptop computers, cassette and CD, DVD and MP3 players, electronic games or transmitting devices (including radio controlled toys and walkie-talkies).
This also arguably discriminates against diabetics with electronic injection kits, and indeed anyone with medical equipment not listed. All for a purpose that can be defeated merely by having a subtly concealed battery and two cables. Or, indeed, a non operated laptop, two cables and a laptop battery. Or merely puncturing the laptop battery, dropping water on it, and holding it against the wall in the toilet. I shake my head.

I realise this may contrast with the barbarian story... :)