Tag Archives: sexism

Read The Independent? Don’t Look At The Comments Threads.

Most online versions of British newspapers moderate their comments or will close threads if they know they’re likely to attract bigots. Not so with The Independent, which has now overtaken the old Telegraph blogs comments threads as a magnet for racists, xenophobes and neo-fascists. Only comments that use words like ‘shit’, ‘cunt’ or ‘fuck’ are flagged for moderation and deleted; anything else is ignored and the bigots know this, hence the reason why they flock to The Independent. Therefore, it would seem that comments are not moderated in any meaningful sense and the website uses algorithms to weed out comments that use the aforementioned swear words. If you flag a comment for moderation for its racist content, it is always ignored. This tells me the website doesn’t employ moderators and if it does, they’re not doing their job.

A year ago, I wrote to The Independent to complain at the lack of moderation. I have received no reply and no action has ever been taken.

This article written by Biba Kang about Diane Abbott is typical.  In fact, any article that mentions either her, black people and Muslims attracts swarms of bigots. The article opens with these two short paragraphs.

After today’s Good Morning Britain aired, viewers have been criticising Diane Abbott for her use of the N-word, live on TV.

On Twitter, many have decided it’s their right to chastise the MP, berating her for using such “foul language” on air at 7.20am.

Some viewers were apparently offended by Abbott’s use of the word ‘nigger’ on Good Morning Britain, which was entirely in context with her description of the abuse she has been subjected to on Twitter. Many, if not most, of the comments on this article are from racists, who demand to know why they can’t say the word themselves. It’s a stupid question posed with a sly grin and a knowing wink.

This one couldn’t resist the old “you’re making it up” line that was a favourite of bigots in the 60s and 70s.

2 hours ago
DebG9999
when things go badly for Diane Abbott she always raises the subject of racial discrimination – funny that …..
The contributor below thought if the word was used as the name of Guy Gibson’s dog in The Dambusters, then it’s fine. What’s good for Guy is good for us. Worse still is his claim that it’s only a shade of black. Such notions are disconnected from the reality of history when it was coined by whites to denigrate black people. It acts, therefore, as a linguistic means of oppression.
6 hours ago
dingdong
Restricting the uses of certain words to specific races is in itself racist. I don’t have a problem with the word, or it being used by anyone. It was the name of Guy Gibson’s dog, an Agatha Christie novel and a “shade” of black. A word is a word, you can only be offended by it if you choose to do so !
The Oxford English Dictionary says that it began to be used as a hostile pejorative in the 18th century. To those white bigots who say “well, black people say it to each other, so why can’t I use it?”, I have this to say to you: “why do you want to use it”? Furthermore, not all black people use it. Richard Pryor, for example, used it in his comedy routine, but after a trip to Africa, he stopped using it, because he could see the corrosive effect the word had on others. The white bigots who ask why they can’t say it themselves are most likely already using it.
Like many others, this contributor thought it was all about free speech, which has become the battle cry for racist, sexists and homophobes. I mean, why can’t I just go around insulting people if I feel like it?
10 hours ago
Aykarralyu

Any point of view that states a group of people have no right to their own opinion is inherently wrong.

No one may deny any other person the right to think or the right to speak.

Yes, but “Aykarralyu”, this isn’t about “opinions, this is about ethnic slurs.Perhaps this contributor should go up to a black person and say it, just to see what happens. 
This comment, expressing more faux outrage got 14 up ticks.
SilentScream
Another black writer displaying her contempt for white people and the Indy laps it up

18 hours ago
Traffyman
No one is free in the uk. We are constantly meddled with. Being told you cant say that, kids are not aloud to sing barbar black sheep anymore. How pathetic. It has nothing to do with skin colour. We are constantly being kept in line so we have no fun, just work, sleep eat repeat. That is what they want from us. Oh yeah and die young so we never see our pensions. That is why no one has any respect for the government or takes no notice of them. Politics in the uk is a complete joke now.
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Filed under Media, Racism, Society & culture

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

Racism And The Bullying Of Diane Abbott

We’ve been here before.

I woke up this morning to discover that Diane Abbott had been taken ill and has withdrawn from the campaign. Her place has been taken by Lyn Brown. Furthermore, the recent attacks on Abbott, so close to polling day, can only have originated from the foetid mind of Lynton Crosby, whose reputation for dog-whistle racist campaigns is well known.

Few people, except those who have a blind spot for such things, can deny that the recent bullying of Diane Abbott has been not only disgraceful, but smacks of racism and sexism. The Cat has seen numerous people, many of them claiming to be Labour supporters, complaining about Abbott’s ‘competence’. When pressed to provide salient examples of her ‘incompetence’ the best answer these people can provide is “well, she had a car crash interview” and that is the sum total of their argument.

In all of her shadow roles from Public Health to the Home Office, Abbott has performed well. Yet few people when asked if she’s made mistakes in those roles, can’t answer the question, so they start flailing and splutter “I don’t like her”. Well, okay, that’s fair enough but once they’ve spluttered those words, they usually return to their original non-point of Abbott’s presumed incompetency.  Mention the word “racism” and they’ll get agitated. Why? Is it because they refuse to see it?  Of course, it is.

In the last week or so, we’ve heard May and her Tories say “Would you want Diane Abbott as Home Secretary”? Such a question is predicated on the knowledge of the Other. The idea that the Home Office will be run not only by a woman, but a black woman is too much to bear for our crypto-racists. Better to have a white woman or a white man in charge, eh? Where are the black faces in May’s cabinet?  There are none. There are a couple of Asian millionaires but no black people.

Diane Abbott has been attacked precisely because she is black and because she’s a woman. Boris Johnson is allowed to make as many gaffes as he likes and get away with it. He’s given plenty of latitude when he indulges in racism and his thuggish behaviour is regularly overlooked, even laughed off.  He’s a clown, so we’re told.

When you base your competency argument on a handful of gaffes rather than a person’s record, then you play the bully’s game. If you can’t see the obvious racism that underpins the bullying of Abbott and prefer to focus on her presumed incompetency, then you need to have a word with yourself.

 

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Filed under General Election 2017

Telegraph Comment of the Week (#4)

The competition for Telegraph Comment of the Week has been fierce with as many as four contenders. These right-wingers really know how to produce the laughs.

This comment from “Spirit_of_Godfrey_of_Bouillon” is the best of the bunch. Hat tip Suusi M-B for this one, which was found on this Telegraph article by Iain Martin.

Godfrey of Bullshit

In case you were wondering, “Godfrey of Bouillon” was one of the Frankish leaders of the disastrous First Crusade. It is highly likely that “Godfrey of Bullshit”, as I prefer to call him, is a nutty nationalist and an idiot Islamophobe.

What I find amusing about this comment, apart from its glaring medical inaccuracy, is its tick box list of right-wing pet hates.

Godfrey of Bullshit, you’re a winner!

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Filed under Media, Telegraph Comment of the Week, Tory press

The Top Four Weasel Words Used By Racists

Michael Howard’s “Are you thinking what we’re thinking” backfired.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen the statement “I hate it when people use the word ‘racist’ to shut people up” or something like it when racists are challenged on their abhorrent views.  I often see statements like this on the comments threads on Telegraph blogs or Huffington Post. The funny thing is, the ones who use that statement will often say something really racist in the next sentence.

Racists don’t like to be called racists. That’s understandable. It’s a pretty horrible word but then racists are pretty horrible people; there is really nothing nice about them. Scratch a racist and you’ll likely find a sexist, an anti-Semite and a bully underneath.

Then there are those who use weasel words to claim they aren’t racists but actually succeed in achieving the opposite of what they’d intended to do.

Here is my Top Four.

  1. “What’s wrong with loving my own people”?
  2. “I’m not a racist, I’m an ethno-nationalist”
  3. “I’m concerned about immigration, that doesn’t make me a racist”
  4. “Anti-racism = anti-white”

The first one attempts to refute the charge of racism but fails to work, because when the phrase “my own people” is used it refers to a specific ethnic group. It also implies that the speaker loves every person who shares their pigmentation regardless of never having met them and regardless of their ideologies. The speaker fools no one but him/herself.

The second one uses the compound word “ethno-nationalist” to claim that the speaker isn’t racist but some kind of nationalist. But the construction of this compound informs the reader or the listener, that only one ethnic group can have citizenship bestowed upon them – in other words, the ethnic group of the speaker.

The third phrase is fairly common and was used by Michael Howard when he was leader of the Tory party (“Are you thinking what we’re thinking”?). The trouble with this innocuous looking phrase is that it is used to deflect attention away from some pretty unsavoury notions. More often than not the phrase will be accompanied by revealing remarks like “swamped” or will make a reference to hygiene or contamination.

The fourth phrase is a favourite of Telegraph commenter, “danoconnor” and has been adopted by others. There are two things about this phrase that interest me. First, there’s the insistence that anti-racism campaigners hate white people or that anti-racist efforts are directed against whites. No, we hate white people who are racist. There’s a big difference.  Second, it suggests a well-developed sense of victimhood on the part of the speaker who will also make the claim that most violent crime is committed by blacks on whites.

Perhaps the worst excuse that I’ve heard is “racism is natural”. Yes, someone actually said that on Telegraph blogs. He then proceeded to compare the entire country to an enormous village where they’re suspicious of strangers and lynch them upon sight. “Us simple folks don’t take kindly to yo metropolitan Fancy Dan ways ’round here, fella. Now git yo ass outta here or git it lynched”.

If you’re the sort of person who uses racist language and insists that certain ethnic groups leave the country, then you’re a racist. If you think Enoch Powell was “right”, then you’re a racist.  If you think that by saying “Islam isn’t a race, it’s a religion” lets you off the hook, then you’re most likely a racist.  There’s an old saying that can be applied in all cases: “If the cap fits”.

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Filed under anti-Semitism, Anti-Ziganism, racism, sexism, Society & culture