Stick & Stones May Break My Bones But Names…

…Get you reported to the police…

Then again…there is this

Which is what happens when you conflate free speech with abuse and couple it with the ill-defined Orwellian phrases like “hate speech” and “hate crime”

 

It’s a short post, you know where I stand, its part of a larger problem and something I might dig into over time like so many others but for now.

 

Reals before Feels…

 

A cunt is a cunt regardless…

 

Thanks for reading.

Advertisements

Samuel Smiths – What a Fucking Rotter

I was late to getting the news that Samuel Smith’s brewery has issued a decree across its entire estate of pubs that anyone found to be swearing should be turned out of the premises, whether they will be barred seems to be up for debate but seeing as ever news piece I’ve read on this links to another article, which links to another and another and another, it is pretty hard to guess what the exact truth of the matter is.

I’ve read precisely one blog on this, saw a few comments on the #hopinions thread that Beer O’Clock run every Sunday

 

 

and I saw CAMRA’s response to the news

 

On this matter I don’t particularly care in one instance; if a private business wishes to enact its own policies about what is “good behaviour” then by all means go ahead.  People cheer when the private companies that are Facebook and Twitter remove members that are abusive (within their own definition of what abuse actually is) but heaven forbid a private company should refuse to, for example, make a cake saying something they disagree with, oh no.

It is rather odd that Sam Smiths has chosen to focus purely on swearing, I can only assume that they are OK with someone in their establishments saying nigger or faggot so long as there isn’t a four-letter word in amongst said possible drunken diatribe but what constitutes a private conversation in a public place?

Then again the current state of the world is pitted against itself in what exactly is and isn’t a “bad idea” what is and isn’t “hate speech” and more pertinently, what is or isn’t “offensive.”

Within the beer bubble itself there are points of view on certain subjects (for example pump clips) that go against the new orthodoxy and while all these little games and battle of wills are being played out, governments world wide are monitoring and recording their citizens communications under the pretence of security and protection.

 

The last thing anyone needs to be protected from is words, rude or not.

 

Thanks for reading

 

On a separate note, here is why some people actively boycott drinking Sam Smiths beers and so for some a swearing ban is neither here nor there…

 

Identity, Offence and a Hitler Clock…

140ji6

 

This is my Hitler clock…

WP_20160625_024

Much like Nazism, it doesn’t work but is certainly striking to look at.  It was made by a French man so I think we can forget about puns about German efficiency…that comes later in this piece.

Of course if you are offended by this because you think it glorifies our little toothbrush-moustached Austrian (by birth) dictator then that is your business, I’m of the opinion it mocks him.

Then again some people are offended by the Swastika without appreciating it’s history and significance to others completely devoid of any relation to the Nazis.

 

I never knew either of my granddads but was always fascinated by the story of one of them and its relation to personal identity.

Walter was from Bohemia and he was fluent in 4 languages; German, English, French and Czech.

Bohemia (where the Rhapsody is from) is currently in the Czech Republic (formed 1993, or as Sporcle now insists its referred to as, Czechia), though during my grandfather’s birth it was part of Germany (making him German by birth) but then, from 1918, part of Czechoslovakia following the carving up of Europe after the First World War.  It was then part of the Sudetenland that was annexed back to Germany in 1938.

 

Then the Second World War happened.

 

Apart from being in the midst of the Nazi Empire my grandfather and his family also had the rotten luck of being Jewish.

 

Papers, please.

WP_20160627_001 WP_20160627_002

 

Being of some standing and right before they were stripped of all their possessions, they were at least given the chance to get away with their lives, provided they could prove that someone (I assume in a then neutral country) was willing to support them and prove that they could, hence the document below.

WP_20160627_004

 

How and when my granddad left Bohemia I don’t know, I’ve heard via Italy but it isn’t really important other than the fact that rather than getting to America he wound up in England and joined the British Army.

Fun Fact: he helped teach media-baron in-waiting Robert Maxwell how to speak English (apparently Maxwell had a very good ear).

 

“As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazism or Hitler approaches 1″.

– Mike Godwin, 1990 (Godwin’s Law).

The above “law” doesn’t just apply on-line, it is a go-to comparison of the mentally lazy who not only report & comment on the news but also those that lead countries.

We are currently living in a world where people are obsessed with defining themselves; be it gender, race, religion, sexuality, political leanings, class, nationality, diet, weight, height, general appearance, the list is as endless as the list of people ready to get offended at the slightest utterance of anything that seemingly disparages any of these things.

It is a world obsessed with itself, a world of narcissism. People so desperate to identify as something end up creating divisions in their own minds, thinking themselves open-minded, they really are as narrow-minded as those they think they are the antithesis of.

 

 

What you drink probably makes you Hitler too.

 

Hitler is/was, sadly, neither the be all or the end all of all that is or has been evil in the world.  These modern despots and murderous terrorists are so much of a world away from the person with an opinion or a comment you disagree with and the choice language that may come with it, that it is a sign of how laughable things have become that this distinction even needs to be made.

 

My grandfather was lucky in a way, reaching the UK and being able to start a family and have a relatively normal life up until his death.

Emma and Amalie lives however ended in Auschwitz, their names now in the list the adorns the walls of the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague.

 

For the record, my other grandfather was, at the very least, a descendant of an Orangeman, but that is probably another story.

 

Thanks for reading.

Wes Craven – A Projectionist’s Tribute

I’m writing this piece having just got back from FrightFest 2015 

It seemed apt that following the news of the death of Wes Craven that the final film of the night – the entertaining Tales of Halloween should be a horror anthology featuring 10 individual stories directed by current protégés of Wes Craven and was dedicated to his memory.

For those of us that grew up during the 80’s we were to be intrigued by a new bogeyman – his name was Freddy Kruger and he came into being in 1984’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”   Now it wasn’t just the creatures under the bed or in the closet that would frighten you but you now couldn’t even escape when you fell asleep.

I watched that particular film as a child of about 13 while recovering from my first dental filling – it still scared me watching it in the daylight and filled me with dread come night-time.

As I grew up I became fascinated by Video Nasties and the bods behind FrightFest have done two quite excellent documentaries about this censorious Spanish Inquisition-like moral panic that came about in the early 80’s in the UK.

One of the films on the list was Last House on the Left – a film that was only fully released uncut in the UK in 2008.  I was fortunate enough to meet the now sadly late lead villain of the piece (David Hess; along with Gunnar Hansen, the original Leatherface from another banned movie “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”) at a horror all-day event in Welwyn Garden City some time around 1999.  That film itself set a standard of the “home invasion” genre that is popular these days while also being a fore-runner of the “torture porn” subdivision.

But before that I had become a film projectionist at my student cinema.  I saw Scream there for the first time as a punter (on a day off) and it was a very effective horror thriller.  The open set-piece with Drew Barrymore having quite a most profound effect on me.  It proved so popular that we regularly screened the film and I projected it twice.

On my first projecting mission of Scream I not only the spliced the film together (this is way before DVD’s) but also had to set-up the screen, the sound and do various technical checks.  The cinema was a big hall with a stage and it was built in a wind trap.

Stupidly I hooked up the sound and the speakers first and while testing projecting the first 30 minutes scared myself shitless as the torment of Barrymore’s character played out this was accompanied by the emergency exits opening and banging closed, the various ropes and pulleys clanging in the rafters and then, once the screen was down, being blinded by the light from the projector and having to run like a mad man out of the wide open hall hoping I wasn’t set upon by some unseen fiend lurking being a seat or the various curtains.

I never made that mistake again.

The second projecting mission of Scream requires a bit of Projecting 101:

The films which I projected came in reels.  These could either come “head” or “foot” first.  Head is the start of a reel, foot is the end of it.  You may have seen old countdowns like this:

We take out these but there is a test frame to let you know you the reel is the correct way around so they can be spliced together in the correct order.

See also Fight Club

 

I state now I have never edited any genitalia into any film I projected.

This time I had left some trainees in charge of the splicing and they’d informed me that there were no test cells, so it was blind luck if it was edited together correctly.  A quick test projection showed the first 3 reels were OK so it should be assumed everything else was going to run smoothly….

Everything was going fine during the screening, audiences were jumping out of their seats, screaming and laughing in the right places then, just as the anxiousness of every cigarette burn signifying a new reel has subsided, of course the last reel had to be the problem.

No sound and Courtney Cox’s feet were where on top of her head.

A loud “FUCK” echoed around the hall as I ran into the projection booth, shut down the projector, ran the film back and re-spliced it together.  The hopefully now corrected film was re-looped onto the projector and the film was restarted after about a 10 minute break, but then something even more strange happened and a very important lesson was learned…

This little break and return “to reality” had not impacted on the audience one iota, the still jumped and screamed and laughed as the last act of the film played out and the end credits rolled.

That is the magic of film.

That is the beauty of horror movies.

That was the genius of Wes Craven.

The Hypocrisy of the Dancing Man

Yesterday (25th Many 2015), the ‘Dancing Man’ Sean O’Brien did a great many things, borne out of a ‘positive’ reaction to ‘trolls’ on the internet.

Basically a fat man was body-shamed on the internet (4-chan, the absolute ultimate in free speech sites) and the reaction was so sympathetic that a great deal of people and celebrities needing extra kudos jumped on the story with nothing but praise for Mr. O’Brien and hatred for said ‘trolls’.

Fast-forward to today (26th May 2015) and we again have numerous health stories linked to the subject of weight

The talking-head panels that review papers and news ‘stories’ of the day moved from ease to the uplifting story of an clinically obese man and his holiday in the USA to the you’ll-be-dead-by-50 health scare stories the continue to be trotted out by ‘experts’ on a daily basis.

But there is no over-reaction of the Twitterati and celeb-heads over this.

Granted one man’s plight and public embarrassment is not really comparable to a story the generalises about being obese but all these stories published about public health are designed to create divisions.

But the under reaction is that the public tolerate being ‘trolled’ by the state.

In fact in the UK, where health care is ‘free’ – it is all ready on the slippery slope that those who are fat, or smoke, or drink alcohol, or eat salt, or eat sugar are not worthy of said ‘free’ treatment.

Those that don’t do 30 minutes of exercise a day, or eat 5 portions of fruit and veg, or those that sit for too long or drive everywhere, they are the next group in the sights of our health moralists.

Mr O’Brien is a man who clearly loves life, food, dancing and anything else that makes him happy.  He achieved his notoriety by being in the ‘wrong place at the wrong time’ and yet when he comes back to the UK he will sit in front of his TV, open up a newspaper or even go to his doctor and be continually told that he is too fat.

Maybe he is too fat.  Maybe his weight will have negative impact on his life and its future quality and while we get hypocritically riled up about some people pointing and laughing at those who don’t fit into a standard we happily let certain others do exactly the same thing.

Know the consequences of what you do, take personal responsibility for them and learn to tell everyone to fuck off.

Till next time.

Eat, drink and be merry.

 

Cancer, Terrorism – It Is All Just Bad Luck

Most cancer types ‘just bad luck’

That was the headline at the start of 2015.  To be fair, most people with any sense of reality will have known this is pure logic.  You can do some things to lessen your chances of getting some forms of cancer but in the end it is still the equivalent one of those late night roulette and poker shows.

You pays your money, you takes your choice.

We can only go so far in keeping ourselves cancer free.

Likewise we can only go so far in keeping ourselves from being dead from terrorist attacks.

In many attempts be state officialdom to ride the typical hysterical reactions to terrorist murders in the West; following the Charlie Hebdo shootings, the current boss of UK spook agency MI5 came out with many “No.Shit.Sherlock” comments.

The public are quite aware you can’t stop every terrorist attack, we also know they are trying to kill us and we are also aware they will probably never stop, killing as many as you can and there are many waiting to replace them and they will always be thinking of new ways to carry out their violence.

All this while obviously calling for more powers of surveillance.

Peter Fahy, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, popped up on the BBC to talk about the arming of regular police.  Granted he said it would be measured, but it plants the seeds that we the public should expect more guns on our streets, used by people who still haven’t mastered how to discharge their ‘soft’ weapons like pepper sprays and tasers in the correct manner.

We are always in danger, not from cancer and terrorists but from knee-jerking ourselves into more state control.

Our rationale lost in hysteria.  Our fear of the uncontrollable leading to giving up freedoms for the illusion we will be safer.

There is a Benjamin Franklin quote – overused but none the less true.

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

It is a cliché, true though it is, to say that terrorism is a cancer that needs to be faced down and fought with as much vigour as one can muster when diagnosed with the actual disease.

But where as 1 in 3 people will likely have cancer at some point in their lives, the chances of being a victim of terrorism are far smaller.

In the fight against terror and against cancer it is worth taking a look at what legislation has been brought in to combat these threats, or what facets of our lives are now being carved open and pried into and most importantly what is being restricted, if ever so subtly.

Then ask yourselves if you actually feel any less vulnerable to either threat.

You Don’t Need Guns To Massacre Free Speech

After the murders comes the debate about satire, free speech, free thought, censorship.

Last night and this morning #JeSuisCharlie was trending as a way of showing apparent solidarity for the victims and by inference free speech and as some oddly misappropriated “Western values” – which are a big an anathema as “religious values.”

But I’m not writing about religions or the religious, I’m writing about people’s proclaimed intent for upholding freedom of speech.  Though seeing the dead illustrators near deified by some (which must be odd if you were one of the atheists amongst them) was typical over sentimentalism.  By all means mourn the passings, but honour what they stood for more…

Freedom of Speech is an absolute.

Words can and do inspire people to do acts of good and acts of, for want of a better word, evil.  But the words aren’t to blame for the actions, even if the outcome is positive.

The image below represents some of the front covers used in Charlie Hebdo…

charlie

I’m not French so I have no idea what the words roughly translate as for each article, or the context for their use, but as you see by the pictures, the art of satire at the magazine didn’t just solely lie with “attacking” Muslims.

Some of the front covers were republished all over Europe apparently – except in the UK.

On Wednesday’s Channel 4 News reporting on the deaths, their story was marked by the on-air admittance “It is Channel 4 policy not to show previous cartoons of the Prophet.

There is nothing brave or noble in self-censorship.

Today’s (Thursday’s) UK newspapers led mainly with the traumatic image of the injured Muslim cop about to be executed by one of the gunmen.  Yes violence sells and newspapers love terror-porn but they missed a trick; about the absolute requirement in an open society to have a free press.

This actually comes as no shock.  When violence about pictures of Muhammad first occurred, the seemingly obviously pact between newspapers not to print the offending cartoons was formed.

There was seldom any outcry from the UK press when Salman Rushdie had a fatwa put on his head for his book The Satanic Verses.  There was more outcry when, after Rushdie was knighted in 2007 (regardless of what you think about royalty), that this was wrong and an antagonistic thing to do.

But this should contrast with speech that doesn’t even feature Muslims as a “target.”

A Sky News (Murdoch Press) poll was trending today – last I saw 70% said “Yes” to the question “Should the media publish satirical religious cartoons?”

The worry is – and this is the crux about free speech – some will see that as a reason to publish only the pictures related to Islam.

Free Speech isn’t selective, but sadly people are.

If that ends up being the case then that is all on whatever person or publication does that.

This is what people are bothered about, that extremists also get to say what they want, but free speech isn’t only there for those with, shall we say “regular moral compasses.”

There are people who get offended at the burning of flags or armistice day Poppies, calling for arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators.

There are people now arrested and jailed for posting views online that are also deemed offence, because offence is taken whenever something goes against the status quo.

Last night BBC1 screened detective series Silent Witness, the plot revolving around a sniper.  Cue those taking to social media harping on about the offence caused that it was screened on the day of the shootings.

Thing is, to paint with very broad strokes; we would have it that those “offended” by portrayals of Muhammad, those that aren’t Muslim, are wet-liberals of the left; whereas those offended by poppy burnings are knuckle-dragging nationalists of the right.

We live in a world where a virtual lynch mob can be arranged in minutes because someone said something that people found offensive.  This is met with an equal response by those laughing and questioning the reasons of the offence.

The Sun (Murdoch Press) was vilified for phone hacking a few years back, with calls to curb press freedom led by many famous celebrities.  And because the Murdoch rag is viewed as right-wing by liberals (of which the celebs were many) and their acolytes, then the sound of the press losing their freedom was music to their ears, because giving Murdoch a bloody nose was more important that the possible long term impacts.

Of course, that the Sun decries its own persecution for spying on people, but actively supports state spying acts like RIPA and DRIP, highlights the human hypocrisy of free speech and free thought.

The flip side (again more broad strokes) is that an attack against art, music, films, etc. is viewed as a pursuit of the right against the left.

We are only human; prone not only to hypocrisy but to inconsistency and Schadenfreude.

But these things should always be trumped by the freedom to think and the freedom to say what you feel and what you like.

And if something does offend you, don’t shoot people, or threaten people, or ring the police and hope for an arrest, or start an online petition to get the offender removed from you comfortable little world.  Either debate with that person or put it behind you and go for a pint in the pub…or another pub.