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…

 

Brewdog – If a dog barks in a forest and no-one is around…

…do only foolish sycophants easily parted from their money hear it?

 

So the obvious nature of this blog is “pointless, small-time beer blogger tries to make name for himself by having a go at THE ‘craft’ brewer in the UK.”

I’ve been loathed to write articles about said brewery in the past due to the fact that their Modus Operandi is to create controversy and any kind of mention, good or bad, is extra advertising and recognition for their brand.

I have nothing against the beer that they make.  I’ve had a lot of it in the past, I’ve got glassware and even a t-shirt.  I’ve got quite a few emails from a lovely woman called Angela who apologised every time I placed an order because it was always delivered incorrectly.  They were professional and went above and beyond in correcting the order and even providing additional beer by way of an apology.

I stopped buying their beer around the time they started shoving bottles up the backsides of taxidermal animals.

It wasn’t because of that, it was because around that time Brewdog apparently fell foul of the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) for using naughty swear words.

Which enable them to generate more “punk” advertising.

Only the ASA had receive one complaint and that was from Brewdog themselves.

There are few things I like more than beer but one that stands clearly above the booze is freedom of speech.

So by all means do market you product however you feel and use whatever language you want I’ll support you in that quest, I just won’t necessarily contribute financially.

The problem I have is it freedom of speech (and more worryingly, freedom of thought) is under attack from all quarters.

The crusade for morality that I grew up with in the 1980s led by Mary Whitehouse and her merry band of religious and conservative (politically & morally) nut-jobs that lead to the banning of films and stickers on albums has now been flipped on its head that now it is generally the politically liberal who seek to curb any speech or thought that anyone may get offended at.

One term is called micro-aggression.  Look it up, to have a mind-set like that is not only closed to ideas is not only unevolved but is also just plain dangerous.

What does this have to do with Brewdog you might ask?

Well to me complaining about your own language to generate more hype and then to use this to play the victim is not only just typical of spoilt bullies who are used to getting their own way but slowly chips away at free speech, a speech that the marketing department at Brewdog rely on heavily.

This was brought into stark reality a few weeks ago when the article below appeared in the Guardian.

UK craft beer: taking over the world one pint at a time

It featured a quote from the well-respected blogger Melissa Cole who said of Brewdog:

“A lot of their stuff is disingenuous, dull or mildly offensive…”

Which it is.  They are indeed disingenuous and dull but offence is up to each individual, I personally don’t find anything they do offensive other than chipping away at free speech…

…so on cue, James Watt plays his victim card with the bullying tone…

He then witters on about something completely unrelated…

Good use of advertising a new beer launch…

If you read the full conversation you can clearly see Miss/Ms/Mrs Cole defends (not that she has to) her position very well, in clear and simplistic terms that even the most dull and disingenuous fuckwit could understand, addressing both Watt and some of the more insalubrious adherents to the Brewdog cult fanclub crowdfunding shareholding.

What is actually most gratifying is that most of the comments of Watt’s tweets about this incident do point out that the emperor does indeed have no clothes but squeaky wheels do get the grease and boy are they greased well.

The problem with Brewdog and their marketing MO is that their prime audience is composed of the easily offended (as well as the easily pleased) and they are the exact people who chip, chip, chip away at the foundations of free speech and I’m less bothered about them not buying Brewdog products or starting up po-faced petitions as am I about the impact it has on everyone else’s ability to think and speak how they so wish.

Long may they continue to brew the good beers they generally produce and long may they be called out on their bullshit which, like the boy who cried wolf is every time they open their pie-holes.  This may seem like bit of an over reaction and it may well give Brewdog too much credit, but like water dripping on concrete, every little whine about things that offend someone erodes these freedoms I and many others hold dear.

 

Please whine below if you need to, I’ll field all (or most likely only the 2 I’ll receive) of your comments.

 

Thanks for reading.

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.