Sunday, 31 December 2017

Rabbit Island - the Mission for 2018.

Evening - hope you're all doing well.

I appreciate the irony of what I am about to tell you, but the truth is the truth. We are constantly being told by either side of the tribal joust of a menace, a threat to our very existence that needs to be removed by whatever means necessary. Everybody is scared, apparently we're all under attack, we're all gonna die at the hands of 'devils' on the other side of the proverbial road who wish us personal harm. Nobody merely disagrees with us, these are 'bastards', our 'enemies' who need to be stopped from whatever it is we've got into our heads that they intend to do to us. We're in a state of war and any means necessary, understood?

This is the psychology of extremism - my good mate John Priest prompted some activity round my grey matter last time we spoke when we discussed this powerful requirement most of us have to construct a narrative in which we are the good guy. Everything good in the world is down to people like us and everything less good is the work of our enemies who are not just mistaken but loaded with ill-intent. Now if only those enemies could be removed from the picture (by censorship, demonisation, incareration or, if needs be, murder) then the damage they have done can be repaired and all will be right with the world.

Extremism isn't a question of right or left, it's a question of right or wrong. It boils down to how you look at 1) power and 2) people you might profoundly disagree with. Sane, liberally-minded people accept that power is temporary and sometimes in life you lose. Extremists refuse to accept the result of votes that go against them and yes, I am of course referring at least in part to the post-referendum Remoaners. Let's be clear that there's a difference between saying "look, I still think Brexit is a mistake" (absolutely fine and I wish some Brexiters would stop saying otherwise) and throwing the proverbial toys out of the pram in an attempt to sabotage the thing (go away).

Their 'protest' was  nearly as hysterical as that which followed the result of the 2015 General Election. It's worth repeating that rather than accept that we lose sometimes, these (mainly young, it should be said) people protested the result of an election for no other reason than because their side hadn't won.

Wow. Just wow.

The non-retarded amongst us also accept that a person who takes an opposing view on something (even a radically opposing view) is just, er, a person who takes an opposing view on something. They don't 'hate' us, they're not our 'enemies' who want to break our legs or anything like that. Unless...we manage to either 1) project our anger at not being validated onto the person refusing to do the validating or 2) genuinely 'convince' ourselves that they ARE a menace to our life and liberty. Now we're in a state of war, so peacetime rules can go out of the window. All in the name of self-defence since, well, they started it didn't they? See how this game works?

Off the top of my head - serious attacks on freedom of expression and association, the use of all range of smears in political discourse from racist/misogynist/homophobe on one side through 'race traitor' and 'fifth column' on the other, imposition of 'safe space' in higher education to protect young adults (it's worth remembering they are supposed to be adults) from opinions which might offend them. Ridiculous and casual uses of significant words like Fascist, Nazi and genocide. The cultish use of 'climate change' to raid people's pockets by and the cries of 'conspiracy' by the other who issue not inquisitive scepticism but equally cultish denial. This is 'state of war' stuff.

And I don't think I'm scaremongering here - if enough of us keep acting as if we are in a state of war then that is exactly where we will end up. Disagreement is morphing into dehumanisation, genuine nastiness and restrictions on the personal liberty of those deemed to be 'against' us on the other side of the road. That they might be against our ideas rather than 'us' seems to have gone over so many heads I'm concerned that this might have now become a permanent state of mind. Winning, and then persistently keeping your foot on the throat of your 'enemies' until the life is squeezed out of them appears to be absolutely everything.

Maybe the most frustrating aspect of this is that I know many people who are genuine, honest and intelligent in every other respect, while happening to possess nasty, dishonest and utterly retarded politics and views of the world. Whether it's on the toddler left or the toddler right, there's an inability or wilful failure to recognise that person A's Utopia is person B's living nightmare, and that person B's freedom (both economic and personal), let alone their ability to breathe, are not 'a price worth paying' for the construction and maintenance of that Utopia. Not only is this selfish and cruel, it's bound to come back on you and be reversed at some point. And you'll deserve it.

Those of us on 'no side' (i.e. the sane, rational and reasonable) in this pantomime might have varying worldviews of our own. Whether you're a small c Conservative, small l Liberal, a mix of both, a moderate Civic Nationalist, a Christian Democrat or a Social Democrat really doesn't matter in the context of what I'm saying. I'm willing to leave those differences at the door, at least for now, while we take on the real battle lines - questions on which if the wrong side wins, we are truly in a world of pain. And no, I'm not scaremongering. Let's have a look at those battle lines now and make sure we're all on the same page:-


When you use sophistry, linguistic dexterity or flat out lie/cheat to win, everyone suffers.

Losing is part of life and a highly necessary one.

In time, more is gained in honourable failure than will ever be in tainted victory.

And once you've had that 'fuck it' moment in your own head then you really can't blame other people when something similar happens in theirs.


Being beaten up, bullied, harassed, abused, people stealing your possessions etc. gives you a legitimate claim on some sort of grievance and I'm sorry to hear about it.

Having 'a sense of persecution' simply because 'the other lot' won the election and you don't like some of the things they're about to do cheapens and demeans those who have had real shit done to them in real life.

Meanwhile, blaming 'the rich' and 'bloody immigrants' are two sides of the same toxic and authoritarian coin.


A person who disagrees with you is attacking your ideas, not you.

Attacking their person (verbally or, god forbid, physically) in response to them attacking your ideas is pathetic.

And calling someone a Nazi or Fascist when you know they're not isn't very clever. In fact it's ever so slightly, er, Fascist. See what I did there?


You are not under attack. We are not in a state of war.

What makes you think 'they' would target you anyway?


Groups are a construct - there are no 'group rights' and advocates of 'group rights' on all sides of the road need to be told where to get off.

Rights are for the individual - protect the individual and groups take care of themselves.

At the heart of collectivism is the pursuit of the unearned (Ayn Rand).

Just because there are 51 of you and 49 of them doesn't make you, or anything you do, right.


Every last one of us (well, apart from psychopaths) has feelings and in 'real life' we should strive to be as sensitive to the feelings of others as we reasonably can.

However, feelings are subjective and so you cannot make important decisions which effect others on that basis.

If you reward the angry and hysterical you'll just create more angry and hysterical people. Who wants that?


Wishing harm on others for the crime of 'being on the other side' is the fuel of totalitarianism.

Power is temporary and if you use it to punish your 'enemies' then you can't complain on the day they turn the tables on you.

If you always agree with me, you should get a mind of your own. If you never agree with me then then you've probably set yourself up in opposition to whatever. Tribalism is for overgrown toddlers.

If you're on the right side of the line in these key areas of territory then straight away we have more in common than either the toddler left or the toddler right (which, rather like conventional Fascism and conventional Communism, have rather a lot in common with each other - oh, the irony). Besides calling this stuff out when we see or hear it, and writing/talking about the subject as often as we can, I'm interested in any peaceful, lawful suggestion as to how we can flush this toxicity out of our public discourse. While both 'sides' in this wargame wallow in passive aggressive victimhood and claim that 'the other lot' attacked them, the reality is that both are attacking the rest of us.

Whoever 'wins' here, those on no side will not be treated any more favourably than those who were on the losing one.

We need to find a way of ensuring both 'sides' lose.

Anyway, that concludes the last installment on Rabbit Island in 2017.

Thanks to every last one of you for reading and I hope 2018 becomes a significant year in your lives for all the right reasons.

Please share on Facebook and Twitter if you like our output.

Here's some relevant music and I'll catch up with all of you in the New Year.

Friday, 29 December 2017

Why I Spoiled my Ballot in the EU Referendum

Afternoon - hope you're all doing well and thanks in particular to all of our new readers (of whom there are many, the statistics demonstrate this).

I first became convinced that Britain would be better off out of the European Union in the late 1990s (I was still a teenager at the time if you're being nosy). At the time it was strange because the EU was being presented by the mainstream media as this shiny, modern exciting and progressive organisation while those who opposed further integration into it were depicted as xenophobic Little Englanders who were still suffering from some post-imperial form of PTSD. For the benefit of our younger readers, the debate back then was about whether or not we should adopt the Euro as our currency. Wanting what has become known as Brexit was regarded as full-on extremism.

This blatant bias in favour not just of continued EU membership but further integration, the enlargement of the EU and British entry into what's now the Eurozone probably stiffened my resolve. Like many young people, I deeply resented being told what to think and whenever I came into contact with EU-enthusiasts I found that they insultingly conflated scepticism about the EU as a political organisation with a general hatred of foreigners. The term 'Eurosceptic' (which came into currency around that time) was a sneaky and pernicious extension of that conflation. Knock it off. I'm EU-sceptic, let's have a discussion about that and don't accuse me of xenophobia again.

Of course a few of those who were sceptical about the EU did have 'issues' in this regard but I'll return to that later on.

In reality they never wanted that discussion, not really. The thing that I always noticed was how dated the EU looked and came over, even back then. It may have been perceived as futuristic and exciting by some in the 1970s but by the turn of the millenium it was obvious to me that it was the EU's little fanclub within the media and the political parties who were guilty of time travel (in the case of political parties both had financial reasons to support continued membership, as well as their MEPs' job security being reliant on it). It was a relic cemented in the mindset and mentality of the 1970s, as if the political and economic changes of the 1980s had never happened.

It also occurred to me that although the Conservative Party sometimes presented itself as an organ that was sceptical about the EU, its stated position was disingenuous both in absolute terms and the long-term plausibility of that position. The Tories had taken us into the EEC, that great 'sceptic' Margaret Thatcher happily signed the Single European Act. The Major years saw Maastricht and a cabinet that included the likes of Heseltine and Clarke, who would gladly have taken us deeper into the EU and adopted the Euro in a single morning had the opportunity presented itself. The Tories were and remain pyrite sceptics taking good people for a ride.

Hypothetically, there were other political options out there but most of them (BNP, National Front etc) were pretty revolting and not even worth having a conversation about. The one exception was UKIP, who I did once have a look at joining - note that this was before Farage really went to town on them, kicked anyone with a brain out and turned the personal cult that remained into the political wing of Breitbart magazine. The Alan Sked/Michael Holmes incarnation of UKIP was rather different (and altogether more moderate) than the 'Frankenstein's Monster' that Sked later completely distanced himself from. Perhaps it's for the best I didn't bother.

Over the years the climate and landscape shifted somewhat. Talk of joining the Euro subsided when it turned out to the the 'New Coke' of currency launches and membership plunged several countries into economic crises they then lacked the levers to get out of. The pendulum swung in the opposite direction, particularly after UKIP (initially inspired by Robert Kilroy-Silk and not Farage, how often is that forgotten?) started getting decent results, albeit almost exclusively in European elections. All of a sudden the question of 'in or out' was on the table as almost nobody argued openly for further integration or Eurozone membership.

So you would presume that I was delighted when the offer of a referendum was made ahead of the 2015 election, equally so when we got the promised plebiscite and euphoric when 'we' won? Well, somewhat appropriately given what we're talking about, the answers are no, no and no again. First up, the referendum 'pledge' was made by an arrogant Prime Minister who calculated that he would need the support of the Liberal Democrats (who would helpfully 'block' him) to stay in office. The reason for it was actually Dave's hysterical over-reaction to the maverick Douglas Carswell and a complete tosser called Mark Reckless defecting to UKIP.

Dave cacked his pants and decided this was the way to stop further defections, completely blowing the departure of Carswell (self-styled 'mavericks' tend to pull strokes like this) and Reckless (good riddance, surely?) out of proportion. Though Farage called his bluff by claiming he was in constant discussion with whatever number of Tory MPs he felt like making up that day, the prospect of 15-20 of them jumping ship somewhere near simultaneously was never seriously going to happen. Nor do I necessarily think Nige ever wanted it to - any MP with a bit of clout might be inclined towards leadership ambitions of their own.

Then there's the referendum itself.

I'm going to open up with something that nobody ever seems to talk about. One Sunday morning I was watching the Andrew Marr show when he told us that the Electoral Commission would be "deciding that week who the official Leave and Remain campaigns would be, and that they would get broadcast time along with State funding". Now read that bit in italics back to yourselves again and, here are the questions nobody asks:- who decided that there would be a single 'official' Leave campaign and a similar one on the Remain side? Who decided to give them taxpayers' money and why? And why was everyone else deliberately excluded from the conversation?

And...why was basically nobody asking these questions at the time?

Look, even if you can demonstrate to me that my 'side' actually benefited from all of this then I don't care. I don't cheat to win at Scrabble or Monopoly and I don't cheat to win at politics either. In what is supposed to be a free country you and me might disagree on a particular issue. We should be free to campaign on opposing sides, get like-minded people to help us and argue our cases with energy and drive while keeping it clean and respecting each other. The media should then be free to report on this if they want, rather than being told which campaigners they can and can't report on, and 'corporate welfare' given to those campaigns to eliminate 'the competition'.

This 'management' of the process was a State attack on pluralism which transcends the result and I wish more people were pissed off about. Straight away I was apathetic and didn't really care, nor could I give two shits about which 'side' Boris Johnson was on. After months of 'suspense' which was killing precisely nobody, the Oscar envelope is opened and Boris 'comes out' as a Leaver. He had apparently 'agonised' over this and written alternative pieces for the Telegraph which argued for either side (er...what?). Then this fly-by-night convert by a margin of 51-49 in his own mind gets to be the de facto 'leader' of the Leave campaign. How the hell does that work?

During the campaign I got sick of hearing about celebrities who had come out for either side, along with the prominent people who had 'swapped sides' at some point in the process. You're going to have to explain that one to me as well - as a sceptic towards the EU, I always had two realistic choices on this thing, namely voting Leave and abstension. If you're inclined towards leaving but dislike their campaign then stop working for them, spoil your ballot paper or stay at home and that's the end of it. Just because you disagree with how 'your side' was campaigning (and we'll go there) isn't a reason to fundamentally change your mind about the subject being discussed, surely?

It all felt fake or contrived in some way I couldn't put my finger on.

Another low point was the bizarre debate a couple of nights before the vote where the likes of Ruth Davidson, Boris and Gisela "I'm a mother and grandfather" Stuart battled it out. The crowd whooped and cheered while the 'contestants' waved to that crowd like they were on Wheel of Fortune rather than discussing a very serious constitutional issue (why have we got a compulsion to turn these things into entertainment?). The biggest highlight was Stuart accidentally 'confessing' to being a hermaphrodite on national television, the next biggest was 'quitting' this infantile crap to switch to the Spain vs Croatia match on the other side. It was just surreal.

If 'Project Fear' surprised you then I've no sympathy whatsoever. The Remain crowd were always going to resort to this stuff - especially as they had the bum end of the argument, although they did manage to excel themselves on a few occasions. I laughed when Gideon threatened us all with an austerity budget (he seemed to suggest this as a punishment rather than out of necessity) if we dared to vote Leave and it was a genuine 'face hurts' moment when it was suggested that if Britain left the EU, the rest of Europe would all start fighting each other and World War 3 would break out - tonight we're gonna party like it's 1939, or something like that.

A few intelligent people have got this when I've explained it to them - stop obsessing with the other side, you can't hurt them as you were never going to vote, campaign for or support them in any way - ergo, there is nothing for you to withdraw. Focus on whether or not your own side is fit for purpose. In this regard, Leave was a disaster which genuinely deserved to lose and in reality very nearly did lose something they should always have walked. In the end, Leave got over the line for all the wrong reasons and had already lost millions of ordinary people well before the final bell. They were just fortunate that 'the other side' contrived to be even worse.

Overnight we went from "people call you racist if you talk about immigration" to a campaign that saturation bombed people with constant anti-immigration white noise, blatantly appealed to the pub racist/soccer hooligan crowd and would spend several days at a time going on about precisely nothing else. Then there were the election-style giveaways like the pledge of additional cash for the NHS, which was both irresponsible and rank dishonest. This wasn't an election and whatever savings might have been made by leaving, it was not the Leave campaign's money to throw around like confetti. Whether people believed the £350 million number or not is beside the point. It stank.

The last straw was when it came out that Leave had accepted a significant amount of money (somewhere around £900,000) from a prominent former BNP benefactor. Having spent the previous two months essentially 'being the BNP' this does make a sort of logical sense on the surface but I wasn't prepared to hold my nose anymore. Knowing that they would have to count it and could never lazily label me 'apathetic' for having done so I resolved to write 'NONE OF THE ABOVE' at the bottom of my ballot paper come the day of reckoning. If you want to essentially abstain but avoid the 'apathy' label then this is just about the only way of doing so.

I never wanted a referendum in the first place as it was obvious this would inevitably leave the process of leaving in the hands of people bitterly opposed to what they'd been compelled to do. Although it was more like hard work, surely a smarter option would have been to allow the Conservative Party to die of neglect and replace it with something fit for purpose? That's one for another time, but we had our chance and blew it. What I didn't anticipate was the squalid and foul climate that would emerge from the whole thing, with respectful disagreement, reason, recognition of an objective truth and common decency collapsing on both sides of the proverbial road.

We really shouldn't have bothered.

Look, I've regarded the EU as a crappy, declining outfit for years and wanted us out but it's not an 'evil' organisation led by devils and there were benefits to being a member, it's just that on balance they were clearly outweighed by the disadvantages in my view. If you look at the same evidence and reach a different balance that's entirely your call and maybe Boris Johnson genuinely did 'agonise' over this, but then someone closer to 51-49 than, say, 80-20 had no business being involved in the campaign did they? For a while I thought 'the sting' was going to be Boris 'changing sides' fairly close to the vote and taking a truckload of this strange 'cult of personality' he has with him.

Referenda by definition don't allow for balance, but present two competing, false and rather silly threads of good vs evil in which 'your side' is right about everything and 'their lot' have to be wrong on all questions at all times. Imagine trying to live your life like that - in fact, a lot of people seem to be living at least one aspect of their lives entirely like that if you open your eyes and ears. It's one of the most poisonous aspects of Brexit, the emergence of little one-man or one-woman Leave and Remain campaigns everywhere - flinging mud, telling lies, playing the victim, 'crybullying', depicting those who disagree with them as devils, psychopaths, traitors or baby-eaters.

It's absolutely pathetic and I sincerely hope we never have another referendum in the Uk.

I'll be back on New Year's Eve and returning to one a week from January, it's just the additional free time over the festive period has given me opportunity to get a bit done.

Thanks again for reading and spread the word if you feel the inclination. Take care.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Victims Opposing Institutional and Cultural Egalitarianism (VOICE) - join today!!

There now follows a public service announcement...

During the previously mentioned afternoon out my good friend Kirk and I figured that that there was something in the old saying "if you can't beat em, join 'em". We may be men of honour and principle, but in this day and age that will only take you so far - the reality in 21st century Britain is that if you want to get on in life there are precisely two ways in which you can do so. One, to put it bluntly, involves not being frightened of a bit of hard work. Alternatively, you can portray yourself as a victim of some sort of historical 'oppression' and form an advocacy group to lobby the government for handouts and special treatment.

After much deliberation, we chose the second option.

Having decided that we were victims, Kirk and I now needed a reason to explain our inate sense of being persecuted. After about ten minutes, we realised that some of our teachers in formal education were clearly believers in culturally Marxist ideas and had taught us in a way that made very little serious attempt to conceal it. This, we decided, was brainwashing, an assault on our consciences that had left us traumatised and unable to cope in the modern world. The only way to seek restitution was to form Victims Opposing Institutional and Cultural Egalitarianism (VOICE) and ensure that the cause of our fellow Voicers was fully represented.

VOICE has three basic demands, which form our reason for existing (until they are met, at which point we will simply make new demands). Firstly, there will be compulsory political studies classes at high schools up and down the country, with the content regularly reviewed for bias by the Political Information Subject Specialists (PISS). Their own institutional integrity will be overseen by the Working Arbiter for Neutrality of Knowledge (WANK). This body will hold regular meetings with VOICE, with whom their reports and findings will be shared. However, they will not be disclosed to the wider public.

The second requirement is for the State to tackle Voxphobia, which has no place in 21st century Britain. Governments of all persuasions as well as the Church of England have persecuted the Vox community over several decades, and we will not rest until a symbolic and utterly meaningless apology is made by a sanctimonious and self-seeking Prime Minister and Archbishop of Canterbury. Voxphobia needs to be recognised as a form of prejudice, prosecutable under 'Hate Speech' legislation and regarded as an aggrevating factor when sentencing for attacks in court. Judges need to make an example of all who commit Voxphobic violence.

Our third and final demand (at least for now) is reparations. Yep, hard cash. Lots of it. All that hypnosis to 'de-program' ourselves won't pay for itself.

Without doubt the highlight of the Vox calendar is our annual NOISE festival, which takes place in towns and cities throughout the Uk. Funded by ratepayers in exchange for the closure of their local Leisure Centre, NOISE involves us stuffing a milkfloat full of the works of Karl Marx and setting the offending literature on fire. This mobile inferno then moves down the high street (whose businesses are forced to close that day on Health and Safety grounds) behind a bunch of blokes in military uniform while the onlooking crowd whoop and cheer. Those who 'don't get it' or fail to participate will be branded 'Voxphobes' and arrested for 'Hate Crimes' accordingly.

So...are YOU a victim of Institutional and/or Cultural Egalitarianism?

Were YOU suspended from school for refusing to wear a dress on 'Trans' Day?

Alternatively, do YOU want to appropriate the suffering of others at the hands of Institutional and/or Cultural Egalitarianism despite never having suffered it yourself?

Would YOU like completely unmerited levels of attention and money from arms of the State for no apparent reason?

Would YOU like to become a 'celebrity' campaigner against 'injustice', appearing in all forms of media, usually with people asking "who's that stupid cow?" afterwards?

Well, what the hell are YOU waiting for? Join VOICE today and hashtag #V2 on Twitter to register that you're a victim too.

If you've just done the #V2 thing on Twitter, or googled VOICE with a view to joining then as much as I appreciate that (actually I really don't) the joke is of course on you. Much as starting the advocacy group equivalent of Spinal Tap sounds like a laugh, I have neither the time or the inclination to deal with the utter wankstains who would think such an organisation were serious and join it. That said, a few of our tutors were decidedly 'red' in their outlook on life, of that there is absolutely no doubt. Nor was any serious attempt made at presenting both sides of arguments with equal weight and for equal lengths of time. Still, we'll file it under 'shit happens' and crack on.

The serious point is that advocacy groups (such as trade unions and any 'rights' campaign) will tell you that their principle aim is 'equality' or 'fairness' when in reality that tends to be the complete opposite of what they end up campaigning for. Where was the 'equality' or 'fairness' of Trade Unions in the 1970s and first half of the 1980s, whose leaders behaved like thugs, often using actual violence against 'scabs' and dissenting members who urged caution? How can years of inflation-busting pay rises for union members (including news print workers being in the top 2% of earners in the country) be fair on the consumer (or the taxpayer in the case of nationalised industries)?

Advocacy groups are there to look out for their own and could not give two shits about 1) what's right or wrong or 2) non-members of their own group. Unions care about their members' interests and the consumer/taxpayer can go hang. Group 'rights' campaigns will lobby for 'free stuff' or extra 'rights' for themselves and their own with zero regard for the difficulty, expense, or genuine sense of inequality this might impose on other people. If you are free to withdraw respect towards me for whatever reason or none, but I am 'forced' to respect you solely on the basis of some 'group membership' then is that not a rather Orwellian take on this whole 'equality' thing?

We're all equal, only it would seem that some are more equal than others...

What we have an objective reality about is equality before the law and a degree to which equality of opportunity exists. It goes without saying that any instance of people being deprived of basic and civil rights given to others simply on the basis of their colour, gender, sexual orientation or whatever is just plain wrong and it's actually in all of our interests to equalise the law on this level as far as is humanly possible. If we don't defend the rights of others (especially those we aren't that keen on) then we can't moan when one day it's our turn to suffer (copyright Martin Niemoller). Inequality before the law is never, ever a good thing, only an authoritarian tyrant would think otherwise.

Of course there are situations where people might have legal rights on paper that in one way or another they are actually being deprived of in reality. A good example is blacks in the Southern states of the U.S. who for many years had the legal right to vote but were being prevented from doing so by contrived (and often unlawful) practices from those who wanted to sabotage them. In this case the rights abuse owed as much to de facto lawlessness as it did to racism, aided and abetted by members of law enforcement who were Klan members themselves. When discussing rights, the rule of law, consistently and dispassionately upheld, is absolutely vital.

Once you have protected that then at least some degree of equality of opportunity takes care of itself. However, equality of outcome is harder to measure and can be explained by a whole number of factors, many of which are benign. Men and women often have different work-life balances and many women take 'career breaks' to start families, which explains the 'gender pay gap' to a significant extent. Immigrants (who make up a significant profile of any ethnic minorities measure) often take low paid jobs that our indigenous workshy can't be bothered doing. Citing sexism or racism as the sole reasons for these salary gaps is, to put it politely, an over-simplification.

Besides which, it's individuals and not groups who live lives and have unique existences. I can certainly think of a few lines of work where some of these designated 'minority groups' are distinctly over-represented. Maybe we should start an advocacy group to get a minimum number of white players into Premier League football teams? Or more heterosexuals in the arts? Of course, either suggestion would be absurd just as all group advocacy is. Ayn Rand once correctly identified a thread at the heart of all forms of collectivist thinking namely the pursuit of the unearned, a stubborn refusal to succeed or fail on one's own merits and accept the outcome.

Faced with the pressure of getting elected, politicians have to listen to these advocates, take them seriously and promise them either 'free stuff' some new 'rights' involving state legislated 'forced respect', a State apology for some historical wrong, or a change in the law. In a constitutional republic this would not happen. In a system where our representatives were chosen by random selection (sortition) rather than election, reps would be free to tell group advocates that we would be giving them exactly the level of respect they merited (i.e. none). What a dictator would do is obvious. Only representative democracy actually gives these idiots a voice (pun intended).

Advocacy groups will continue to exist as long as 'oppressed group status' is worthwhile in some way and as long as we have representatives who have little choice but to allow themselves to be lobbied by those advocates and take them seriously. Like most reasonable people I'm a passionate believer in equality before the law, no fear no favour and extending equality of opportunity as far as is possible without using coercion or force that limits the personal liberty of others. Conflating unequal outcomes with some sort of 'institutional bias' is reckless as is 'forced respect' by threat of punishment. We're all free to dislike whoever we want, for whatever reason or none.

Whether it's radical feminism, LGBT bullshit, the quite ridiculous Fathers 4 Justice or the English Defence League (a rather warped advocacy group all of its own) I refuse to demean myself by listening to this crap.

Hopefully those of you who care about liberty and the rights of the individual will be reaching for the mute button as well.

I'll be back on New Year's Eve to discuss something uncontentious like immigration, the Northern Ireland situation or Islam (wink).

Until then keep calm and here's the late Adrian Borland. RIP.

This was Never Supposed to be Fun

On Sunday I was discussing philosophy and the meaning of life with a fellow author and good friend of mine. We agree on much and disagree on enough to keep things interesting - most importantly, despite having a slightly different worldview to me, he's grown up and left any notions of tribalism or 'team sport' at the door. I genuinely consider our interactions to be part of my ongoing education, something far more beneficial than anything I experienced between the ages of four and eighteen. A formidable intellect, sense of honour and a ruthlessly consistent commitment to the truth rather than some sort of 'victory' makes him a challenging and engaging fella to deal with.

He's still alive, you can relax I was just giving my friend his due. Something we disagree quite profoundly on is the concept and importance of Nation States, the need for some sort of national identity and character to act as a unifying force and hold societies together. In short, he's basically 'for' all of this while I fail to see how the construction of any such 'identity' or 'character' could be achieved without big government authoritarianism, conscripted 'pride' in one's place of birth, a hell of a lot of coercion on the part of the State and the subsequent erosion of personal freedom on a significant scale. Someone has to 'play God' to make all this 'national character' stuff stick.

My alternative? Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with most of it - a smallish (but not Minarchist) State limited by a written Constitution as well as lower levels of taxation than we currently have. Matt Kibbe is correct, there is no such thing as good government, only limited government. Entire State departments would be closed and others (like the NHS) part-privatised. Rights and entitlements would be dealt with at the level of the individual, any notion of 'group rights' would be rejected. A controlled and limited level of immigration would continue but 'multiculturalism' is dead. All are equal under the rigorous application of one law.

No national 'identity' or 'character' would be imposed on anybody, patriotism (or lack) of is a personal choice in which the State has no business, just as it has no place attempting to stop you from drinking or smoking (whether that's 'herbal' cigarettes, which should be legalised or the other kind). If you want to walk round your house in the nude while waving a Union Jack and singing the national anthem then that's entirely your business. Equally, if the notion of' nation leaves you thinking "oh my gawd, that is so, like, 1914" well nobody has the right to force your participation in any 'patriotic' activities against your will.

Nationalism (political patriotism) is an authoritarian concept by definition.

Now my mate's taken this in and noted that the difficulties presented by Multiculturalism could be dealt with by consistent and indiscriminate application of the law rather than doing anything radical, making us all adopt a set of contrived and cartoonish 'British Values' or whatever. If there are really Sharia Law courts operating in the Uk then shut them down by the end of the week. Anybody on the wrong end of a decision in one of these 'courts' can ignore it and will be backed up by the law of the land if necessary. FGM (and Jewish circumcision for that matter) lies somewhere between GBH and assault with a weapon. It stops. Immediately.

His reaction to that has been on my mind for the few days since "yeah fair enough, but what's there to get excited about in all that? It's all well and good saying that the rule of law will dispense justice based on individual rights but where's the passion or the reason for anyone else to have any?".

I've written about this before. Part of the problem with our public discourse is this concept of 'politics as a team sport' where the aim is to be on the winning side, hurt and punish your 'enemies', make them suffer and get some 'free stuff' for yourselves and whatever 'group' you associate with, be it hard currency or favourable treatment in the eyes of the law. This is highly Statist stuff, something that only someone seeing the world through an authoritarian/group lens could deliver. What I've just described to you above (soft libertarian, individualist, flat out rejection of 'group rights') is the polar opposite of that. No class war, no race war, no battle of the sexes. Nothing.

You're right - the square root of zilch to get excited or passionate about. 

What we currently have is two highly Statist and authoritarian tribes, the toddler left and the toddler right, the 'Feminista' team and the 'embittered MRA' team, the 'cry racism at every turn' team and the 'actually racist' team, the 'support LGBT or we'll arrest you' team and the 'We hate gays' team. Both have an unequivocal and complete commitment to 'group rights' their associated tyranny and at least neither insults the intelligent amongst us by pretending to care about individual liberty in either the personal or the economic sphere. Both want bribes (either cash or validation) that only an authoritarian working in a representative democracy can give them. I certainly can't.

In a narrow sense I don't necessarily blame anyone for taking part in this 'endarkened' nonsense. Better to be on the winning side, and being on 'no side' will be no better than being on the losing one come the day of reckoning. That's the trouble with us sane, rational, reasonable sorts - we tend to see government and decision making as something that should be as dull, boring and passionless as possible. After all, the main function of government is to collect a sensible level of tax from law-abiding people, use those taxes to pay for their defence and then leave them well alone. We don't go on marches or smash windows, we register our disgust by writing books instead.

I've come to the realisation that whoever 'wins' this battle currently being played out, I along with people like us are in a world of pain. Anyone proposing peaceful, lawful action that opposes both of these mad tribes is more than welcome to post a comment to that effect.

In the meantime, take care and ciao for now.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

A quick note re:- the curious case of Damian Green

Evening - I'll keep this as quick as I can. I couldn't care less if Damian Green likes looking at pornography when he's supposed to be at work. Were I a constituent of his then maybe I'd be annoyed at having an MP who spent as much time checking out porn as he did helping his constituents but then he's not my MP so I'll leave those constituents to make up their own minds. Whoever advised Green along the lines of 'deny everything' needs to be taken out back and given a bloody good kicking on the basis of sheer stupidity - this was the politcal defence equivalent to that old excuse for why a kid had not done his homework - i.e. "the dog ate it" or something.

FFS Damian, the game was up and we all knew it was you who'd been looking at porn when you should probably have been focusing on more serious matters. While it may indicate a bit of a 'self-control issue' that the bloke couldn't even wait until clocking off time before cracking open the scantily clad, most of us are mature adults and would hope that the sheer embarrassment of the whole thing would snap Mr Green into some sort of behavioural modification. Sometimes that is how all of us (myself included) have corrected our own mistakes. Going down the Ted Baker "Satan hacked me" route was just a crazy 'defence' doomed to end in worse than failure.

But here's the thing with the Damian Green 'scandal' that everyone seems to be tittering like schoolgirls about. I keep hearing the words 'legal pornography' coming up in relation to this story, that Green had what some rozzer deemed to be too much 'legal pornography' on his computer. Well, firstly the pornography was depicting consenting adults doing things that consenting adults do, so there is no question of the law being broken. Had there been anything depicting the abuse of, say, animals or kids then that becomes a completely different and, well, altogether more criminal matter. But absolutely nobody is suggesting that is the case.

Secondly, the question of how much pornography constitutes 'too much' on a hard drive is by definition a subjective one and quite possibly a trick one. Moreover, it is not something for 'the police' to be involving themselves in, let alone making value judgements about, especially as the (unfounded) allegations against Green that prompted the raid on his house were nothing to do with porn of any kind. What next, raids on people's houses where they find 'excessive' amounts of legal alcohol or legal cigarettes, then report it to the media as if it was some sort of stunning Escobar-style yield?

This strange case poses way more questions than answers, namely:- given the security alerts around MPs is their browsing not monitored and has nobody had a word with Damian Green about this in the past? Why did he subsequently become de facto Deputy Prime Minister given his bosses almost certainly knew about this problem? If he's amended his behaviour accordingly and no longer spends half his working day looking at porn then does the campaign against him not seem wholly unnecessary? The data involved in this is very, very old and it's quite possible his habits have changed, perhaps after a friendly but firm word in his ear from the boss.

Look, I'm not a fan of Damian Green or his politics and think he's a mediocre, somewhat over-promoted minister who happened to be in the right place at the right time under the right leader. By all means criticise him on that basis and for being stupid enough to tell the lies he told, but the hysteria over a bit of 'legal pornography' on a computer is just silly, especially as most of those engaging in it have probably checked out a fair bit of 'adult material' themselves in their own lifetimes. I know I have and might tell you that 'Millenium Eve' story on some other occasion. What I do know is that very, very few of us have the right to judge someone else on that basis alone.

I'm off to listen to my mate's significantly above average radio programme then maybe indulge in some 'legal pornography' afterwards - please promise me you won't call the filth and have them raid my house.

Take care and I'll try and squeeze another in tomorrow morning. Failing that. have a great Christmas, take in some highly appropriate music and I'll catch you soon.

A quick note re: - Liam Allan and Danny Kay

Morning - seeing as someone asked me about this...

I hope that Liam Allan and Danny Kay can have as good a Christmas as they could reasonably expect. In the case of Kay, he at least won't be spending the festive period behind bars as would have been the case had rather substantive evidence not come to light. It's now clear as a bell that neither raped anybody, the crime that Kay had been convicted of and Allan most likely would have been given the way the cards were being stacked against him at trial. To steal a line from Supreme Court Judge H Lee Sarokin, that the case was reliant on concealment rather than disclosure tells you everything you need to know regarding the safety of any conviction.

In both cases, 'disclosure' has become something of a contentious issue. Allan and Kay's accusers both had significant correspondence with those by whom they were subsequently accused of rape, the mere existence and timing of which (that's before we get onto the content) shreds any semblance of credibility that their stories might have had when viewed from a certain angle. Let's not have this wrong, these were not 'misunderstandings' or 'mistakes', these were outright malicious and knowingly false accusations against innocent men. If this can be demonstrated to a degree that might stand up in court then by all means turn the tables on their accusers and get them on trial.

Another worry for me is that 'disclosure' of evidence that would have cleared both men appears to have been deliberately kept from the Defence by the police. Fair play to Jerry Hayes, the former Tory MP and prosecuting barrister in this case, who insisted on the full disclosure of all relevant material, parts of which in his own words "blew the case out of the window". At this point Hayes advised the judge that the prosecution would not be attempting to present a case to the court and Allan's two year ordeal was over. Kay was cleared when an amicable 'morning after chat' between he and his accuser was fished from the 'deleted' archive of a social media account.

Now this has been dressed up as industrial scale 'incompetence' or 'negligence' or whatever and, to be absolutely honest with you, I'm not buying it for a second. This is politically motivated policing, a drive and determination to secure as many convictions for this type of offence as possible, with the destruction of the lives of people like Allan and Kay regarded as little more than collateral damage. Perhaps under some political pressure, the filth have abandoned any pretence at supposed neutrality (their job is to gather evidence indiscriminately, it's the CPS and court's job to make judgements) and flipped the presumption of innocence on its head.

Speaking of the politically motivated, I wonder where all the radical/militant feminists are at the moment to comment on cases like this? People who falsely 'cry rape' undermine, trivialise and disrespect genuine victims of the crime, making it a whole load more difficult for those genuine victims to come forward. Sadly, I appreciate that some will continue to believe that Kay and Allan were actually guilty and have 'got off', or that because they participated in 'laddish' casual sex that they somehow had it coming to them. On Feminista Island, sex is something that wicked men 'do' to poor, defenceless women.

That said, there are another group of people I'd rather had nothing to do with this conversation either. These self-styled 'men's rights activists' or MRAs quietly celebrate cases like this in the same way that ultra-nationalists actually celebrate some deadbeat blowing himself up, the slaying of Lee Rigby or whatever. They'd rather get the warm glow of 'being attacked' than the perceived injustice go away, and they clearly couldn't give two shits about the welfare of their 'poster boys' - rather like their femininst counterparts latching onto and appropriating real rape victims for their cause, I'd hate to see dismal MRAs using these poor lads as a cause celebre.

They've been through more than enough already.

If cases like this serve as the cue for us to drop 'Battles of the Sexes' and start dealing in straightforward right and wrong then perhaps some good can come of them. "The world is full of rapists who got away with it" is a false narrative. Equally, "the world is full of women who make malicious rape accusations" remains absolute rot. Genuine victims of rape who never see their assailant brought to justice are of course victims, as is anyone who is falsely accused (let alone convicted) of any crime against a person that they did not commit. There are no 'sides' here and seeing anyone as 'collateral damage' is toxic and dangerous.

Just stop it. Please. Holding people personally responsible for their actions would be as good a place to start as any - blaming 'men' or 'women' lets wrongdoers off the hook while dragging wholly innocent people into it.

One more from me tomorrow morning and then I'll be done until New Year's Eve. If you've got any suggestions for topics of discussion then please reply here or drop me a line on social media. Thanks for dropping by and catch you soon.

Friday, 22 December 2017

Why Safe Space is Bad for Your Health

Afternoon all.

It's true enough that none of us like being challenged, criticised or disagreed with. We all prefer the warm glow of being told that we're right, that we have hit upon some searing point that is very rarely exposed or illuminated, that we're a rare voice of sanity in an increasingly mad world. Being challenged and cross-examined about your thoughts or ideas can be bloody hard work, a trip outside your own comfort zone into the 'real world' of someone else. Rather than recalling things sequentially from the card index in the brain, we're forced to slalom at someone else's instruction, perhaps answer questions we'd never considered, from a perspective that isn't really ours.

This is why I'm inherently suspicious of 'ideologically pure' people - having spent a bit of time on the Libertarian wing of politics a few years ago, I found it to be something of a 'filter bubble' and 'warm glow society' (dare I say, its own type of 'safe space') for like-minded ideologues who preferred stroking each others' egos on the internet to anything more substantial. Whereas totally 'pragmatic' people who believe in precisely nothing are dangerous because they are prepared to believe in anything for the sake of personal gain, the purely ideological present their own malevolent threat, refusing to be tempered by context, the need for gradualism or even decency.

The trouble with these 'filter bubbles' is that they can very easily descend into a game of who can 'outpure' each other on the ideological front, leading to real silliness. A massive flashlight regarding the 'batshit insane' wing of Libertarianism came one morning when a fella started arguing quite loudly on the old LPUKE website for the legalisation of child pornography, on the basis that, well, watching it wasn't the same thing as doing it and didn't amount to a violation of the non-aggression principle - ergo, it should be filed under the "I'd rather you didn't but I'm not going to have you arrested for it" category.

Whatever the arguments for and against (and no, I don't think we should legalise child porn before you ask, although a few people seemed to be in agreement with him) there's a more important point here when I look back at that morning a few years ago. This is where the occupation of such bubbles ends, in an obsession with marginal issues and a total detachment from what it palatable to people of a different socio-political denomination or none. I got sick of telling my fellow Libs that banging on about how great it would be if we could legalise crack and heroin next week was not a bright idea. In a room full of people who support at least some drug legalisation that's an interesting conversation, but be assured, just about everyone else is off down the fire escape.

A couple of Christmases back I remember getting in a discussion with a friend of a friend on social media, who was genuinely arguing that a person involved in and benefiting from theft from their place of work is not doing anything 'all that bad' and should be treated with some degree of leniency. Now that falls down rather rapidly on three levels, 1) if the theft is on any sort of scale then that could lead to other people losing their jobs in cutbacks, or not getting pay rises etc. 2) the person benefiting from the theft did it for personal gain rather than as some form of protest against 'the man' and was highly unlikely to have been in abject poverty or anything like that, 3) once you defend this then surely you're consenting to him or her nicking your stuff if he or she feels like it?

Thought not.

Now this fella was a 'younger person' in his 20s and I looked forward to hearing his response, seeing as I'd raised these points in a respectful way. His actual response was to shut down anyone disagreeing with him, myself included, and essentially non-platform them. It also became very clear that he'd 'discussed' this subject with a raft of like minded people and received the personal validation of a "well said" from at least most of them. As for the matter in hand, it's a straightforward Marxist way of thinking - poor, oppressed worker gets his own back on evil, exploitative bourgeois boss (who should have been paying him more in the first place) by helping himself to a few quid out of the till. All to feed his starving and malnourished kids and absolutely not for his own gain, promise.

Of course it's completely off the wall, but yes, I understand the 'logic' of this completely.

This proletariat vs bourgeoisie concept is a good example of what is probably the most tragic consequence of a lifetime spent around people agreeing with each other, namely the dehumanisation and demonisation of those who are not considered to be on message. One of the most destructive and dangerous elements of any one-party state, one of the biggest single reasons they end up in poverty, human rights abuses and mass murder, is this depiction of all who are not in complete agreement with the regime not simply as people who are opposed or agnostic, but as traitors, the fifth column, racists, fascists, communists, whatever the appropriate label happens to be at the time.

Once you have stripped your 'enemies' of their humanity, then anyone who wishes to inflict sub-human types of treatment on them is free to do so. See Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia or basically any other hellhole for furher details on how propaganda can be used to get 'the people' to sort your enemies out for you.

With that in mind, the notion of 'safe space' within educational establishments in particular is one which I'm deeply alarmed about and genuinely believe not just to be wrong-headed but potentially dangerous, particularly as it brings with it a hefty wedge of the 'one party state' thinking I've just outlined. While it used to be 'edgy' views on social topics that led to some sort of non-platforming, it seems that the regressive left (who control most student unions these days) have moved into 'economics' as well. Arguing for lower public spending would see someone like Milton Friedman likened to Hitler or Slobodan Milosevic, and almost certainly non-platformed from most universities.

I'll repeat it because we know it's absolutely true - the quite brilliant (and not remotely dangerous) Milton Friedman would be widely non-plaftormed these days. Please, please reflect on that and if you're inclined towards believing that 'safe space' does more good than harm, think again. I can see a situation in about ten years time where Conservative, classical Liberal and Civic Nationalist groups are banned altogether from further and higher education campuses. As for the dubious contender on the charge, the 'alt right', it's clear as a bell that they would simply have different proscribed groups and different sacred cows if they got their hands on the machinery of the state.

Anyone who suggests that their ativists should become teachers so they can indoctrinate kids (as was suggested at the UKIP conference a year ago) is absolutely terrifying and clearly no lover of freedom of expression either. Now we also have groups like the President's favourite, 'Britain First' and the shiny new 'for Britain', led by the 21st century Joan of Arc, banging on about the day that the boot is on the other foot and how they're going to use internment on their enemies. Sorry, I meant 'terrorists', but then who would get to decide who all the 'terrorists' were? The stupidity of the small number of sane, reasonable people who join such organisations never ceases to amaze me.

They claim to be persecuted and in a narrow way yes, they probably are, but then do they stand for an altogether different way of doing things? Or would they impose their own version of political correctness, a 'safe space' for themselves and people who think like them, while that space became deeply unsafe for everybody else? Let's just say I wouldn't trust them to prove me wrong. My good mate Stuart Heal commented to me last week "y'know Daz, I never thought we'd get to the point where people like us were considered the sensible, moderate centre ground". I laughed, but of course Stuart is correct as he normally is. Sanity, logic and reason are lonely vocations these days.

In short, time spent talking and listening to people who disagree with you is not simply good for your spiritual and emotional health, it's highly necessary if you want to avoid the risk of turning into a warped, nasty and narcissistic little bastard. When I first set about writing this I was going to focus on something along the lines of "your opinion does not have an automatic claim on a certain amount of respect in the way that your personal dignity does - an attack on what you think does not and should never constitute an 'assault' in the true sense that needs to be stopped from happening". My good mate Chris Coey quite skillfully blew me out of the water on that front the other night, said that more conciesely than I ever could.

So,,,here's something you rarely hear. Safe spaces, people spending time only amongst people who agree with them, leads to worse tribalism, the dehumanisation of those who see things differently and, ultimately, is largely responsible for the squalid and nasty public discourse we currently have to endure. Someone who disagrees with me is, well, they're someone who disagrees with me - they're not 'scum', a 'traitor' or part of some 'fifth column' which wishes me personal harm. If he or she is giving a speech about a contentious topic on a night I'm free then I might go along and ask some awkward questions afterwards, it's only words after all.

Horrors, I might even change my mind about something - stranger things have happened before.

The alternative is to sit in a cave (cyber or real) with my like-minded pals, lamenting this individual and banging on about what a 'bastard' or 'bitch' they are, stripping them of their humanity, hoping they're involved in a motorway pile-up (copyright Morrissey vs Johnny Rogan) and giving a veneer of legitimacy to someone who might engage in some form of politically motivated violence. Meanwhile, we disappear up our ideological sphincters and try to be more Conservative/Socialist/Libertarian than each other, end up chatitng complete shite amongst ourselves. I'm not surprised that political parties are as useless and inept as they are, they are essentially 'safe spaces' on a national scale.

It's clear as a bell what 'the right approach' is and, as I seem to be saying rather frequently these days, we need to recognise that it's not about 'us' and get over ourselves somewhat. The Brexit 'debate' legitimised the branding of all in favour of leaving the EU as racists or xenophobes, while the mud being flung from the other side of the road was and continues to be about 'traitors', which includes anyone who voted Remain, judges doing their job and upholding the law, or members of parliament remembering the 48 per cent who voted Remain and asking questions of the government rather than engaging in jingoistic tubthumping.

Both 'sides' have dehumanised the other and both seem to have convinced themselves that they are being persecuted, that the other side is getting favourable treatment. Everyone involved needs to drop this petualant crybully modus operandi, get over themselves just a little and grow up before we sleepwalk into an altogether nastier form of tyranny. The state of public discourse post-Brexit has reached a foul new low from which we show no signs of recovering anytime soon - a low we have reached as a result of having too much 'safe space'  among members of our sad little tribes, rather than too little.

It's incumbent on all of us to reject the comfort of an unearned warm glow, dismiss the temptation of 'safe space' for ourselves and respectfully welcome those we profoundly disagree with. If we refuse, then we lose the right to complain when that process of tyranny is turned on us at a later date, along with the built-in auto-correct of the thuggish and unpleasant making utter fools of themselves and standing out like a sore thumb in a different climate. Once you resolve to respect those who think differently to yourself, you earn the right to walk away with honour when that is not reciprocated - to paraphrase the song, opinions don't hurt people, knobheads do.

I'll be doing one more about a topic I was asked to cover on either Saturday or Sunday, so here's some music and have fun in the meantime. Thanks for reading and I'll see you soon.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

How a Gay Pride Rally Changed my Life

Afternoon. I've been away for a while - please don't worry I wasn't enjoying a spell at her majesty's pleasure or anything like that. To be honest, I got a tad bored of the blogging/writing thing, which often serves as a mechanism for synchronising one's own ideas and presenting 'random thoughts' in a more linear way. In the absence of a mass readership of thousands who really wanted to digest this stuff and take it in, a lengthy break from that kind of writing seemed both necessary and the right thing to do.

In the last couple of years I've spent quite a lot of time trying to discuss serious issues on social media, which actually forms the main thrust of what I'm going to talk about at length in a minute. In between photographs of people's lunch, narcissistic parents showing off their kids like they're fashion accessories and tales of 'off again, on again' relationships, you might find the occasional exchange of ideas that was actually worth having. If the cap fits, well, thanking you kindly.

You might also find shouting matches, tribal nonsense and idiots who essentially participate in a rather strange team sport called 'politics', where everything is an argument as opposed to a discussion and the aim is to win, humiliating their 'enemy' in the process if at all possible. Disagreement is met with personal abuse, ad hom attacks and the general mentality of an oversized toddler as opposed to logic, reason and some sort of coherent explanation.

Don't shout 'bullshit' or call me something unrepeatable (especially seeing as I didn't do that to you), please actually tell me why you think I'm wrong, be a part of my education if you will. If you can't express such disagreement without turning into the evil clown from the Child's Play movies then I'm not sure I want much to do with you anymore.

Social media is an interesting mirror to general society and, while I found if fascinating I eventually realised it was making me impatient and prone to losing my temper with people. I don't want all that narcissism and childishness to turn me into someone I really don't like, so it was better to cut all ties with Facebook. I occasionally re-tweet music videos and stuff like that from Youtube, but spend zero actual time on there. It actually strikes me as quite insulting to think that you should stop what you're all doing and read my incredibly profound 47 characters, then re-tweet them.

If I want you to take me seriously then I should meet you halfway, make a bit of an effort and write something meaningful, surely?

Speaking of which...

During the summer I had an eye-opening trip to deepest darkest Wigan to watch a resident comedian who enjoys a sort of 'local cult' status. Now the show itself rather resembled time travel, with most of the gags being the sort you might hear while watching an re-run of  'the Comedians' from the 1970s. If that's your thing then knock yourself out, but to be honest I found it rather dated and not especially funny at all. That said, I was there with and on the suggestion of a friend so we ended up having a brief chat and becoming 'friends' on social media.

A few short weeks later my comedian friend made some comments on Facebook regarding a Gay Pride rally in his hometown. Now I never thought I'd hear of Pride coming to Wigan and I laughed momentarily just because the place always struck me as a tad, er, provincial in its outlook and the sort of town where "get your head down" might be as good an instruction to a 'person of difference' as any. Perhaps things have really changed in the decade or so since I used to visit regularly, I dunno.

Anyway, my friend's posting was to the effect of (and I'm paraphrasing, but sticking faithfully to the spirit of what he said) "look, I've nothing against gay or lesbian people whatsoever. If you're gay then good for you and get on with it, but your sexuality isn't an achievement or cause for celebration just as my being straight isn't. If you write a great piece of music, or come up with some inspired architecture or painting, then that's worthy of loud celebration. Standing on a milkfloat wearing leather pants and waving to the crowd just doesn't cut it"

I distinctly remember the bits about the milkfloat, the pants and the references to art or architecture as alternative sources of pride, and am happy with that as an accurate enough representation of what was said. Absolutely no threats were made, no really nasty or derogatory language was used and while it might have struck some as a tad on the abrasive side, I struggle to see how any lasting offence could have been caused. You might not agree with his point of view and that's fine, but that should really be the end of it.

However someone, somewhere decided that they were going to be 'offended' by this, perhaps on behalf of him or herself or perhaps this was a heterosexual 'trendy' deciding that poor, pathetic gay and lesbian people needed protecting from anything that might 'offend' them and that they were also incapable of turning their computers off, or shrugging it off as one of those things, muttering 'wanker' under their breath and getting on with something more important.

And..the thought that there might be real gay or lesbian people out there who don't participate in these rather infantile 'Pride' marches, who might actually think "to be fair, this guy has a bit of a point doesn't he?" never occurs to this metro crowd at all. Well, that actually happened - once our friend's Facebook account had been restored after a brief 'suspension' a gay man joined the discussion to add that he was sick of militant campaigners trying to define him by a single aspect of his life, that being gay wasn't the totality of his existence. Well said.

It was during this conversation that I had quite a profound shift in thought, a moment of epiphany at least to some extent. I'm generally loathe to putting people in boxes or groups, but in the broad sense there seemed to be three different types of response to what our friend was saying. The first was the irritating 'respecting diversity' bullshit you hear from that pink rainbow crowd which I mentioned earlier and will return to. The second was basically the nastiness of people who, regardless of what they claimed, were quite blatantly homophobic.

And the third, well, I think there weren't that many of us but we seemed to be the ones who actually got the point and the essence of what had originally been said. Surely the question about whether or not I approve of gay, lesbian or bi (we'll discuss transgender later) people is a bit of a trick question? In reality, is there no approval for me to give or refuse to give? Am I not being a bit of a self-obsessed tosser simply by thinking my 'approval' of other people's harmless and legal behaviour is either significant or necessary?

This is the thing - both of the other 'sides' of this 'argument' that we should not really have been having in the first place are totally self-obsessed, they think it's all about them. Homophobes clearly think that their view of other people's lifestyles and choices are oh so important and most would introduce new laws to make it more difficult (potentially impossible) for people to either be or continue being gay/lesbian going forward. That people bitterly opposed to others having anal sex could be so far up their own arses has an amusing irony to it.

But then...the metrosexal 'trendy' crowd, hopping aboard the pink rainbow bus with their 'I LOVE LGBT' badges annoy me just as much and perhaps slightly more. In the last few years I've been heavily involved with a spoken word event which I hope brought enjoyment to all involved. That said, my own enthusiasm waned slightly (and perhaps permanently) when one month they decided to attach themselves to the local 'Pride' festival. I vocalised this and certainly felt like I was being regarded as a potential bigot to be treated with suspicion.

Firstly, I'm no bigot and anyone who's known me for any length of time will surely confirm that. Secondly, attaching yourselves to an overtly political rally like 'Pride' without consulting people first strikes me as a slightly authoritarian thing to do. Thirdly, the non-sequitur that you are either an enthusiastic LGBT campaigner or some sort of vicious would-be London nailbomber is ridiculous and absurd. When I tried to explain my "surely it has nothing to do with me?" stance on the subject I got some rather strange looks and realised the scale of the minority I was in.

This Facebook row got me thinking about the subject again and an interesting question pops into my head. Suppose Karen from Telford, a married heterosexual woman, comes out loud and proud as an enthusiastic supporter of the LBGT community. Good for her. However, like all 'support' for any cause Karen is free to change her mind and withdraw her previous goodwill, state that she no longer supports the LGBT crusade and has now crossed to the other side of the road, for whatever reason or absolutely none.  Let's say Karen has that change of heart at some point.

What then? One of the god-awful consequences of representative democracy is that people start to believe that their personal opinion, or even just a binary expression of which side they are on, should somehow be considered significant and worthy of discussion. It conjures up a mental image of a gay man ringing his partner and saying "sorry Ray, but Karen in Telford doesn't approve of our lifestyles anymore. I suppose we're going to have to end it". Karen in Telford, and people like her, really need to get over themselves and realise they're not that important.

Now we're having the same conversation about 'trans people' and the same self-obsessed nonsense is being spewed by both 'sides' just as they have on issues like gay marriage for years. One tries unsuccessfully to hide its nosiness and its bigotry, the other uses the historical suffering of others to hop aboard the train of some trendy cause and give themselves a self-congratulatory pat on the back. And both are absolutely pathetic. Rather like Henry Kissinger discussing the Iran-Iraq war, I hope both sides lose.

This and other musings about what democracy does to people have formed the basis of a book I'll be working on in 2018. I'll be back with a weekly piece most Sundays going forward, so please feel free to suggest and nominate subjects for discussion and I'll get round to those that might be of interest to a wider audience. However, next week's has the working title of 'that Islam thing' so I'll leave that dangling for now, depart with some appropriate music and catch you soon. Thanks for reading.