Category Archives: Bullying

For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Bullying And Corruption?

 

The real ‘enemy of the people’ is The Daily Mail

First, a confession, I adapted the title of this blog article from an album by post-punk band, the Pop Group. But it’s a serious question and it’s one that only a few people seem to ask, while even fewer seem to want to do anything about it beyond putting an ‘x’ against a candidate’s name in a distant general election. Yet, the problem that confronts us is one that must be dealt with now before it’s too late. This cruel and corrupt Tory government, which seems to delight in each death caused by homelessness or its callous cuts to benefits, continues in power as if immune from criticism. Worse, perhaps, is the way government ministers like Mark Garnier, who was recently accused of making his assistant buy sex toys for him and whom he also called ‘sugar tits’, are allowed to continue in their posts as if nothing has happened. If this had been a Labour or SNP MP, the media campaign to force him to resign would have been relentless. Instead, there was nary a peep from the Tory press and practically silence from the BBC.

Yesterday, Labour activist and blogger @Rachael_Swindon, was doorstepped by a ‘reporter’ from The Daily Mail, who apparently wanted to confirm her gender. Apparently, the Tories and their media pals couldn’t believe that a woman was capable of blogging and tweeting for herself. But that says more about the Tory mindset than they would care to admit. And there’s something else: it would appear that the Mail’s campaign of bullying and intimidation has moved from print to IRL (in real life) harassment. This is a new and worrying development. In what other country would you find a national newspaper intimidating people on their doorsteps?

The claim that Rachael was a man has been doing the rounds among simple-minded Tory hacks for a couple of months or so. One of leaders in this endeavour is Jane Merrick, a “freelance reporter” for the Telegraph et al. Make sure you look at the thread too.

We are often told by the defenders of Britain’s newspaper industry that there is something called a ‘free press’. But is a free press supposed to act as an auxiliary attack-dog for the government? It does here in Britain.

At today’s Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour’s Dr Rosena Allin-Khan asked the following question about the rise in homelessness:

In 2009, the Prime Minister said it was

“a tragedy that the number of children falling into the poverty cycle”was “continuing to rise.” Every child deserves to have a roof over their head and food on the table, yet on her watch, in Wandsworth alone, the number of families forced to survive on food banks is continuing to rise, and 2,500 children—yes, children—will wake up homeless on Christmas day. So my question is simple: when will this austerity-driven Government say enough is enough and put an end to this tragedy?

Theresa May offered, the by now, characteristic but ultimately mendacious response:

The hon. Lady should note that, in fact, this Government have lifted hundreds of thousands of children out of absolute poverty. But it is important for all those who have heard her question to be aware of this: she talks of 2,500 children in Wandsworth waking up homeless on Christmas day; anybody hearing that will assume that what that means is that 2,500 children will be sleeping on our streets. It does not. [Interruption.] It does not mean that. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker

 Order. Hon. and right hon. Members are accustomed to these exchanges taking somewhat longer. So be it. The questions will be heard, and the answers from the Prime Minister will be heard. I am in no hurry at all.
 Prime Minister

It is important that we are clear about this for all those who hear these questions because, as we all know, families with children who are accepted as homeless will be provided with accommodation. I would also point out to Opposition Members that statutory homelessness is lower now than it was for most of the period of the last Labour Government

You’ll notice how May resorted to her default line of attacking the last Labour government instead of accepting responsibility. This happens at PMQs week in and week out. We hear claims like “absolute poverty has fallen” as if poverty itself had been eradicated, and yet, this is nothing more than a corrupt method of measuring poverty, which then allows the government off the hook for failing to deal with a growing social problem. In this alone, its tendency to social Darwinism is once again laid bare.

We are being ill-served by a government that puts its own party interests above those of the country. This is a government, so shot through with venality, that will do anything to cling to power and that includes smearing political opponents. This deviousness and bullying are like twin threads that have been running through the Conservative Party since 1924 when it used the forged Zinoviev Letter to bring down Ramsay MacDonald’s weak minority government.

Chris Grayling appeared on Newsnight on Tuesday evening and took the opportunity to gaslight viewers with his warped take on online abuse. Diane Abbott has received 45% of the abuse dished out on social media and yet, here’s Grayling claiming that the abuse is coming from the Left – particularly Momentum.

Bullying is second nature to the Tories and, as we saw in the case of RoadTrip2015, it resulted in the suicide of a young party activist. Others were blackmailed. Some were sexually assaulted. The internal party inquiry was roundly dismissed as a whitewash (as it was in the case of Aidan Burley and the Nazi uniform controversy).

The Conservatives have become so corrupted by their own lust for power that they have ceased to function as a party of government. Its constant refrain is “if you don’t vote for us, you’ll let Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street”. This is not only a form of blackmail, but it also shows a deeply-rooted disdain for democracy. Tellingly, the media also adopts the same spiel when it engages in character assassinations against Corbyn and left-wing Labour MPs like Laura Pidcock. It has smeared Emma Dent Coad for daring to ask questions about the government’s attitude to social housing tenants – especially the victims of the Grenfell Fire. What kind of people do that? Tories.

But we also have a corrupt national press that feels it has the right to hack a dead girl’s phone, intimidate political activists, smear the government’s opponents and undermine both the democratic process and the judiciary. Tell me, where else does this happen?

So, I ask again: for how much longer do we tolerate bullying and corruption?

Edited  21/12/17@ 1108

To add content from Newsnight

 

 

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Filed under Bullying, Conservative Party, Government & politics, Tory press, Yellow journalism

Free Speech Warriors And The Free Speech Illusion

I call them ‘free speech warriors’ but you may know them as the ‘alt-right’ and/or as neo-Nazis and neo-fascists. Whenever they’re challenged on their racist and sexist views, free speech warriors will complain long and hard that their right to free speech is being limited. They may even whine about ‘political correctness gone mad’. What they refuse to understand is that if they should utter ill-informed opinions or hate speech, then people have a right to challenge them. That’s not closing down free speech, that is free speech. It’s the right to reply. For the free speech warriors, freedom of speech means “I say what I like and you shut up” and if you challenge them, they may even utter the juvenile “you hate free speech”. The free speech warrior’s concept of ‘free speech’ is nothing more a form of bullying, and by being over-sensitive to criticism, they are little better than the authoritarians they claim to hate.

What British free speech warriors have consistently failed to understand is that free speech is an illusion. Why? Because there is nothing on the statute books that enshrines the right to free speech. Even a first year ‘A’ Level Media Studies student knows that. Let’s just take a look at three ways in which free speech is limited in Britain.

  1. The Official Secrets Act: Everything the state does is subject to the OSA and when I say ‘everything’, I mean everything. Even the brand of toilet paper that’s used in government departments is covered by the act. Breaching the OSA can land you with a massive fine, a prison sentence or both.

This section provides the penalties and mode of trial for offences under the Act.

Section 10(2) provides that a person guilty of an offence under section 8(1) or 8(4) or 8(5) is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months, or to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or to both.

Section 10(1) provides that a person guilty of any other offence under the Act is liable, on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to a fine, or to both, or, on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both.

The words “51 weeks” are prospectively substituted for the words “three months” in section 10(2) by paragraph 39 of Schedule 26 to the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

  1. DSMA-Notices (Defence and Security Media Advisory Notices), formerly called D-Notices are official requests from the Ministry of Defence to media editors advising them to not to publish or broadcast certain items for reasons of national security. The committee that oversees the DSMA Notices is always chaired by a retired senior military officer (a general, admiral or air marshal).
  2. Defamation Laws are used by the rich and powerful to silence dissent. Private Eye magazine has been subject to more libel suits than any other British publication, because it dares to ask serious questions about the powerful people that govern this country. Yet, defamation laws, when properly used, protect people whose reputations have been traduced in the public domain. Sadly, for the ordinary person on an average income, they don’t have the financial means to make use of the High Court to challenge the defamatory allegations printed about them in the tabloid press, which routinely makes up its ‘news’ from lies and smears. The LM network, being the contrarians they are, want to abolish defamation laws altogether. That’s not a surprise, given the fact that ITN successfully sued LM Magazine for libel in 2000.

If you go around thinking that free speech means having the freedom to racially or sexually harass people online, or saying the first thing that comes into your head, then you have a lot of growing up to do. But do these people actually go out of their way to insult their friends, family and work colleagues? Probably. They would claim that they don’t want to be censored and yet, we censor ourselves all the time. How many people tell white lies in order to spare the feelings of a partner, spouse, child or parent? Plenty. Do free speech warriors tell their boss how much they hate them? If they want to keep their job, then they’ll keep schtum until they’ve found another job. However, it is unlikely that the likes of Brendan O’Neill would ever find himself in that position but would he tell his paymaster, Rupert Murdoch, to fuck off? Unlikely. He loves the money he pays him to recycle the same old articles he’s been writing for the last 10 years.

In Excitable Speech (1997), Judith Butler argues:

Language is thought of “mostly as agency-an act with consequences;’ an extended doing, a performance with effects.

Free speech warriors aren’t cognizant of causality; they think they can say what they like, when they like and without consequences, but actions – including verbal actions –  always have consequences. Those who believe that certain kinds of speech don’t hurt people should be locked in a room and subjected to hours of insults and taunts. Let’s see how they deal with it. The chances are they will suffer same kind of psychological trauma they’ve inflicted on their victims on social media and elsewhere.

The free speech warrior is a person that has refused to grow up and accept the fact that they have responsibilities. Free speech has, therefore, become the last refuge of the bully, the racist and the misogynist. Personally, I blame the parents.

References/further reading

Bourdieu, P. (2011). Language and Symbolic Power. Cambridge: Polity Press

Butler, J. (1997). Excitable speech: A politics of the performative. Psychology Press.

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Filed under Bullying, Language, Society & culture

Clarkson, Cameron, The BBC And The Great British Art Of Bullying

I’ve written about bullying before on this blog and once again, I find myself writing another blog on the subject.  Bullying in Britain is a national institution. The nation’s leaders and the captains of industry, many of whom were educated at Britain’s top public (independent) schools, learnt to bully others at an early age through the institutionalized regime of fagging. Yet the rest of us, in other words, those of us who didn’t go to an independent boarding school either become victims of their relentless bullying or internalize it. This internalization often finds its outward expression in the ridicule of people for the colour of their skin, their sex, their gender, their occupation, their disability or their social status. Whether we want to admit it or not, Britain is a nation of bullies.

When Jeremy Clarkson told the viewers of The One Show a couple of years ago that public sector workers “should be taken out and shot in front of their families”, he apologised but brushed it off as a “joke”. He is not the first person to do this: Bernard Manning and the other club comics of yesteryear, used a similar excuse: “I can laugh at myself, why can’t Pakis, nig-nogs and poofters do the same”? The issue here isn’t humour itself, but the racist and sexist discourses that are couched in humour, which has the effect of legitimizing such discourses. These jokes chime with the joke-teller’s inner world. For jokes and humour, unless I am very much mistaken, are not created in an ideological vacuum; they are affected by discourse, and the joke-teller is very much aware of this. Brushing off something as a “joke” convinces no one but the joke-teller.

Yesterday, David Cameron’s feeble, almost jokey, defence of Clarkson saw the latter being recast as a children’s entertainer (sic). Cameron claimed that he “was a great fan” of Clarkson and that his children would be “heartbroken” if he was taken off the air. “He’s one of my constituents”, Cameron added. Yes, and the rest of it. Others lined up behind Cameron to repeat the same spiel: Clarkson is a national treasure; a favourite with children. Laughable.

But what about free speech? What about it? The Clarkson incident wasn’t about free speech. Clarkson punched a producer because he couldn’t get what he wanted. In the vast majority of workplaces, it’s a sackable offence to use violence towards your work colleagues. When Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand made prank calls to actor, Andrew Sachs, they were dismissed. No questions asked.  Yet, Clarkson is seemingly in a different league to other workers. He punches a producer and 300,000 people sign a petition (that was started by Guido Fawkes) to have him reinstated. If you or I punched a workmate, we’d be told to leave the premises immediately and we’d be threatened with prosecution. Not Clarkson. In the end, the BBC merely suspended him,  which effectively amounts to little more than a slap on the wrists.

The Cat thinks Clarkson should be sacked with immediate effect and Top Gear should be cancelled and replaced with a new show. Preferably one that isn’t hosted by bullies and their mates. By allowing Clarkson to return after a period of suspension, the BBC sends out a message that bullying and violence are the legitimate means to get people to do what you want. Indeed, the BBC’s record when it comes to dealing with pederasts in its own ranks is woefully inadequate. It is, after all, run by members of his class who attended the same kinds of educational institutions. I’m not holding my breath for change.

UPDATE 24/3/15 @ 1940

Well, Clarkson’s been given the boot and already Brendan O’Neill has penned a paean to the man. In characteristic style, O’Neill has claimed that Clarkson’s sacking was because of “the dogmatic liberal elite”… now prepare to suspend your disbelief because I’ll repeat that, Clarkson’s sacking was because of “the dogmatic liberal elite”. A question: is O’Neill for real? What’s this really about? Look, Clarkson punched his producer after verbally abusing him for 20 minutes.The producer, Oisin Tymon, was taken to a local A&E for treatment for a cut and swollen lip. There’s no “liberal elite” involved here… unless you’re talking about the BBC’s management and even then, you’re barking up the wrong tree. The only people who believe the BBC is [coughs] “left-wing” are Tories, Kippers and assorted far-right knuckledraggers. But then, they’re fantasists and drama queens, so they make up stuff all the time.

This is O’Neill’s [ahem] argument in a nutshell.

Their main interest is not in protecting a BBC producer’s face from Clarkson’s fists — it’s in protecting the public’s ears, and our allegedly putty-like brains, from Clarkson’s words, from his consensus-pricking, fast-car loving, two-fingered salute to modern liberal orthodoxies.

Say what?

So, Clarkson’s on his way out. His former co-presenter, Quentin Willson, is less than flattering about the Repton Reptile, saying he was “difficult to work with”.

“If you’ve got a global audience of 350 million people hanging on your every word, then that makes you detached from your sources. It’s so sad that this is his requiem, if you like.”

Yeah, I’m all choked up.

However, that’s not the end of the story. Apparently North Yorkshire Police may want a word with Clarkson. Stick that in your pipe, O’Neill.

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Telegraph blogs and the normalization of anti-Ziganism

The Roma Holocaust Memorial in Berlin

The Roma & Sinti Holocaust Memorial in Berlin. Pic courtesy of the BBC

A couple of years ago, I wrote how anti-Ziganism (racism against Roma, Sinti and other travellers) is still socially acceptable in Europe, while anti-Semitism is now seen as unacceptable (with certain exceptions – Hungary, for example). Since then, we’ve had the trashy Channel 4 series, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, where viewers were invited to gawp and poke fun at travellers. We’ve also had the mass eviction of travellers from the Dale farm site outside Basildon. This prompted a rash of anti-Ziganist comments from the usual quarters. “If they’re travellers, then why aren’t they travelling?”, was just one of the many bigoted comments made.

So today as I’m reading one of Damian Thompson’s blogs, I came across these two comments.

Anti-Ziganist comment on Torygraph

“Palfreman” talks about “real Romanians”. I wonder if he knows anything about Romania other than the drivel he’s read in the Tory-supporting press?  He/she/it talks about “repatriation to India”. Does that sound familiar? People said the same thing in the 1970s.  It’s the language of the National Front and the Monday Club. But “Dalek_1963’s” comment uses the same language as the Nazis used about the Jews and Roma in the 1930s and talks about them as a form of contamination. He/she/it describes them as “third world savages”. The real “savages” are the knuckle-draggers who want to create a “pure” British nation; a limited gene pool in which they can cling onto their congenital defects.

I reported both of these comments and wasn’t surprised to see that both of them were still there. This is free speech, Torygraph-style.

But here’s what prompted those comments.

How much of our anxiety about Romanians flooding into Britain is actually about Roma gipsies? It’s a sensitive topic, as I discovered at a seminar devoted to it at the LSE. The lecturer deplored the obstacles faced by illiterate Roma in Britain. I suggested they should learn to read. It was one of those “I’ll get my coat” moments. Luckily the Government agrees with me and is taking radical steps to address the problem. Roma are now exempt from library fines for overdue books. And if they borrow a book from one library they can return it to another. Which, when you think about it, definitely makes sense.

You will notice how Thompson universalizes illiteracy with the Roma. There are plenty of Britons who cannot read and many of them are in our prisons.  Does Thompson know this? If he does, he won’t let on. This fear of a “flood” of immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria is not about those people per se, it’s about a disgust of the Roma; a people who have been persecuted for centuries.  Many perished in the Nazi death camps during WWII but there’s little mention of that in the Torygraph or elsewhere.

Last year, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, opened a memorial in Berlin to the Roma and Sinti victims of the Holocaust.  It has taken over 70 years for some kind of memorial to be built.

Meanwhile the abuse and persecution continues.

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Britain’s libel laws and You Know Who

He’s innocent. He was nowhere near Wrexham, save for a flying visit to a Wimpy Bar with a Conservative Party Agent. He doesn’t know Steven Messham and no doubt he’s never met Dr Julian Lewis, the Tory party’s fixer and dirty tricks specialist either. Furthermore, You Know Who has  never set foot in Dolphin Square and has never worked as treasurer for the Conservative Party. That last part was true but I’m worried that I’ve got it wrong and I’ll get threatened with a libel suit for claiming that You Know Who was party treasurer when he was, in fact, the party’s teaboy and bog cleaner.

In fact, You Know Who is the man who never was. It was his dead cousin who is the guilty party and we can’t ask him questions but rest assured, if he were still alive, he would probably threaten us with libel suits too. Why? People with lots of money and power can shut people up – even if they are speaking the truth or being satirical. Ask any number of whistle-blowers and satirists and they’ll tell you the same thing: free speech in Britain is a myth. UK libel laws are possibly the most exacting in the world, but as is the case with many things in Britain, only the rich have access to defamation suits. Those of us on meagre incomes cannot even afford to defend ourselves in a libel suit, let alone sue someone who defames us. We just have to put up with it. This is one of the things that makes Britain such a brutal and unjust country.

McAlpine doesn’t need the money but he’s quite happily taken £185,000 from the BBC for not naming him. He lives in Italy, where he is out of reach from HM Revenues and Customs and thus pays no tax in this country. He operates a blacklist of construction workers whom he (and others) believe are Bolsheviks and his construction sites are some of the most dangerous in Europe. Yes sir, this is a man who believes in freedom and justice but only on his terms. But I don’t suppose the blacklist has anything to do with milord. He’s probably never seen it and will probably sue anyone who dares to contradict him.

Seriously, if McAlpine was that concerned about his good name, then why haven’t his solicitors served a writ on the Cheshire Constabulary for showing a photograph to Steven Messham when they knew it to be wrong? And what about David Icke, who’s been making allegations against McAlpine for the better part of 20 years? Then there’s Scallywag, whose 4 page article named You Know Who along with several others. No writ there.

Simon Kelner writing in The Independent says,

… Kevin Clash, who was the voice of Elmo in Sesame Street, was falsely accused of having an affair with an underage boy. Again, a similar Twitter storm, but Clash has not threatened any legal action against anyone who shared the incorrect story on Twitter. This is because, in America, the burden in libel cases falls on the claimant to prove the defendant knew the information was false, or likely to be false, or at least was not acting in good faith.

In Britain, the defendant must demonstrate that the accusation is true, nothing less. This is a huge difference, which many have argued has led to an imbalance in Britain in favour of the rich and powerful, who have used our libel laws to suppress information and thus restrict freedom of speech. The British system is overly protective of reputation, they say.

The only reputations that are protected in this country are those of the powerful, whose reputations are often questionable at the best of times.

Such is McAlpine’s arrogance that he thinks he can sue every Twitter user who tweeted or retweeted allegations about him. When this was announced the usual suspects in the Tory press began to cheer and egg him on.  The same people started working overtime to produce smear stories about Tom Watson and Messham. These are the same people who lied about Leveson and demanded an end to the enquiry. At any rate, if McAlpine wanted to sue every Twitter user (there must be thousands), it would take years, possibly decades. Does he really have that many years left in him? His solicitor told people that they should come forward, confess one’s sins and settle to avoid a lengthy and expensive court case. Is McAlpine now the 21st century equivalent to Chaucer’s Pardoner? If so, it is an odd role in which to cast one’s self.

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The Great British Institution Of Bullying

Rugby School, where tyrants are trained to rule

It’s as British (for that read English) as drinking warm flat beer on a summer afternoon, while watching cricket on the village green. Bullying is deeply-ingrained in the cultural psyche of this nation. It’s institutionalized in the nation’s public schools where it was once called “fagging” and because of the seamless transition from the public school to Oxbridge to the Palace of Westminster, the baggage of bullying is carried from one place to another. It becomes the norm.  Nicholas Ridley, the architect of the Poll Tax and the closure of the nation’s coal mines, went to Eton. His fag was the future Labour MP, Tam Dalyell of whom he is reputed to have said “I wish I’d have beaten him more”.

From the Telegraph,

As late as the 1950s, senior boys in public schools were entrusted with beating their fags. John Betjeman, at Marlborough in the early 1920s, described the horror of Big Fire – where 16 senior boys sat in huge armchairs beside a roaring fire or played indoor hockey, while the fags, Betjeman included, sat on benches around a smaller fire.

Once they’d finished their game, the fags picked up the senior boys’ scrap paper, apple cores and darts, and put it in the bin. Whenever a senior boy shouted “Fag”, a fag ran to their study to make them toast, and woe betide you if you messed up. Then you were “basketed” – stripped to your shirt and pants, stuck in a huge wastepaper basket, had ink and treacle poured on you, and strung up by a pulley system to the ceiling. Even in his mid-50s, Betjeman remembered the pathetic sight of the basketed fag staring down through the slats of the basket at his tormentors below.

At Westminster, it was the particular duty of the most junior fag, nicknamed “Light-the-Fire”, to get up at 3.30am, to light a fire, boil a kettle and wake the senior boy every half an hour until he chose to get up; like a mini-alarm clock. What a blessed relief for Louis Theroux, me and a thousand other modern fags that these rituals gradually faded away, at Westminster and other public schools, through the 20th century. What’s left – the fag-end of fagging – is fairly harmless stuff, a watered-down version of Light-the-Fire; or Wake-the-Clegg, as it is now known.

The system of fagging encouraged boys to see the world in terms of slaves and tyrants (Nash, 1961). We should also remember that bullying is an accepted part of prison life and is tolerated by staff as an unofficial means of discipline.

But there are other criticisms of the prefect-fagging system
whose implications are more serious. For example, although it
admittedly produces competent leaders, they are leaders of an
autocratic type.

1961:18

Those running the country went to such public schools, they emerged from them safe in the knowledge that they were destined to rule (this is where colonial administrators went to school). For them, bullying is both a means of getting things done and keeping people in line. Manifestations of this Tory-led government’s bullying includes but are not limited to, getting the those in work to attack those on benefits (which also include those in work). Telling those who own their own homes that those who rent are less deserving. Announcing that council housing will no longer be for life, removing security of tenure. The use of phrases like “hardworking families” is designed to create an artificial distinction between those people who earn decent salaries and those that rely on benefits to supplement their meagre incomes. When the coalition took power in 2010, they immediately set about pitting private sector workers against public sector workers.

When Diane Abbott told the world that “divide and conquer” was the common tactic of white people, she expressed this point inelegantly. Divide and conquer is a tactic that is taught at public schools; it is the way the British ran their empire and we still suffer from its consequences. The Middle East is the best possible example of how the British, along with their junior partners, the French, carved up vast swathes of land along ethno-religious lines. We continue to live with the prospect of the Middle East going up in flames because of Britain’s penchant for divide and conquer.

Flogging was once a common punishment in public schools and was replaced with other forms of punishment in the 20th century.  The fagging system remained more or less until the 1980s. The punishment regime has been transformed into other forms of punishment: the removal of benefits, forcing the disabled and long-term sick into work (some of whom have died as a consequence) and taking away workplace rights.

But bullying isn’t confined to those who went to public school, it has percolated through the layers of British society where it finds expression in the shouting of abuse at red-haired people or the mocking of the disabled on street. You can see it in the so-called comedy of Ricky Gervais and his “Derek” character, whose feeble defence was “it’s just comedy”. Channel 4 liked it so much, that it commissioned a series but then C4 knows all about bad television.

Tanya Gold writing in The Guardian said,

These are woeful times for the disabled in Britain – 20% mandatory cuts in disability living allowance, government plans to coerce disabled people to do unpaid work, a 75% rise in disability hate crime between 2008 and 2009 (the last year we have data for) – and the satire of Ricky Gervais.

Satire, my arse. It’s a form of abuse. She continues,

But the real evidence against Gervais’s satire is what he says when he is not being satirical, or speaking to journalists. Consider his infamous stand-up routine in 2010, where he talked about Susan Boyle. “Look at Susan Boyle,” he says, “if you can. I don’t think she’d be where she is today if she didn’t look like such a mong.” He then inserts a fictional critic: “He said mong! You can’t say mong.” “You can,” Gervais comes back. “It’s easy. It’s one of the easiest words to say. You just needs lips. Even mongs can say it.” Back comes the critic: “Why does he get away with it and no one else can? Ban him from the telly!” Gervais smirks, “good luck”, and that bellicose child is, I think, his dominant self. He apologised later; of course he did.

You see, Gervais believes it is perfectly acceptable to refer to someone as a “mong”. In September, Gervais was accused of Internet bullying when he asked his followers to troll his critics. New Left Project has other examples of cruelty as comedy here.

Thanks to Britain’s culture of bullying, cruelty has become the new comedy. No more do comedians attack the powerful, it is much easier for them to attack those who are under increasing attack from this government’s cuts. Gervais and those like him, work as proxies for the bullying politicians at Westminster. They help to circulate notions of Otherness and perpetuate the cruelty that has become such an integral part of British culture. By using the disabled, for example, as butts, Gervais helps to legitimate and rationalize the cruelty as ‘humour’.  “What’s the matter? Ain’t you got a sense of humour or something”?

Comedians like Gervais can dismiss criticism of their bullying with a simple “It’s a joke”. The Tory politicians who inflict misery upon the poor and the disadvantaged have no such line of defence.

Workplace bullying has also become, sadly, all too common.  With the government removing the right of workers to take their employers to court for unfair dismissal, it is unlikely that bullying will be  fully eradicated from the workplace. Indeed, it will become more entrenched.

Essentially, we have a situation where the government see themselves as prefects and the rest of us as fags. The only way to deal with bullies is to stand up to them, for underneath all that bravado, they are nothing but cowards.

Reference

Nash, P (1961), “Training an Elite” in History of Education Quarterly, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Mar., 1961), pp. 14-21 Available via JSTOR.

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