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The absence of a political choice

"George Osborne got up at his party conference last month and declared that to cut the deficit further he needed to find another £25 billion of savings, and that he’d get them from cuts to welfare. You don’t have to be a Harvard-trained economist to know that the last people to have a spare £25 billion sloshing around are the poor. Yet no one seemed that bothered by the Chancellor’s economics."

Armando Iannuci published a powerful piece in The Evening Standard this weekend. I suggest you read it, "Why politicians of all parties are kicking the poor". The leader of the opposition Ed Milliband also comes in for criticism for "restricting his public pronouncements to 'tough' decisions to limit child support payments and to put a cap on welfare spending". Partly as a result of this the UK is "now in the middle of a shocking rise in poverty in all its forms".

The main theme of the piece is that this is being allowed to happen because large groups of people have been switched off the idea of voting:

"I’ve had one senior Labour shadow minister tell me that, if you’ve got a choice between canvassing students or old folk’s homes, you visit the pensioners, since they’ll vote. Hence, students get tuition fees while Osborne in his conference speech assured pensioners they’ll be protected from cuts."

He never mentions Russell Brand's infamous "don't vote" stance but as a subtext it's obvious. He offers no solution though, concluding with the line, "Socially, there can be no hope of cohesion in our communities if politics is now By Special Invitation Only".

It's a brilliant piece, even if he does reference "Lord" Owen Jones.

As someone who happens to agree with Brand's current "don't vote" position the paucity of answers to the above tweet only strengthens my resolve.


The first highlighted response is a reference to Paul Dacre, editor of The Daily Mail. Essentially it's a "blame the media" post. I'm tired of this attitude because it lets politicians off the hook. People are not stupid, they think for themselves. They choose to read The Daily Mail, it's not forced upon them. Blaming "the media" because people don't agree with you means you dance to the tune of those in Her Majesty's Government who want to control and censor it. Their intent is to avoid criticism. At worst the mainstream media acts, perhaps willingly, as a distraction[1]. However, "the media" didn't cause the banking crisis, or declare war on Iraq.

Then there's the other highlighted response, again urging politicians to "challenge" the media's demonisation. Some of the other comments further down are more are interesting but I've written this post as a clear response to this theme that political disenfranchisement is some kind of PR problem.

There are large numbers of people like me who do not vote. I don't think it's because they are apathetic or led by "the media". My reasons are everything to do with the fact there are no politicians or parties with whom I agree. The political system, "Her Majesty's Government", is sick and rotten to the core. It needs massive reform. There are no signs this will ever come because people vote for it. So I, like many others, choose to remain outside of the process. We pay our taxes so we still have the right to criticise it. In fact given that we don't willingly support it I'd argue we have even more of a right to point out its failings.

If a revolution is coming in this country it will only have meaning if it's one of consciousness. A change in the way we think. The appointment of a new "leader", "Prime Minister", "King" or "Queen" is not something I will ever celebrate, or support. The reason I don't vote is because the question I am being asked is meaningless. It changes nothing and only ever brings more of the same.

The sooner people realise this, the sooner we will have real change.

Nick Margerrison



[1] The Hillsborough disaster seems like a good example. Failings by the police seem to have been the main factor there. However an ill judged and factually incorrect opinion piece in The Sun newspaper about the tragedy is still a more widely spoken of concern for many. One of these two mistakes cost lives and had horrific real life consequences, the other was an opinion based upon police testimony. I think our priorities are messed up when we focus on the latter. I'm open to the possibility these priorities are encouraged deliberately because they let the establishment off the hook but confident times are changing.

Wearing my White Poppy with pride.

My Grandad fought in the Second World War. We're not a military family, he was conscripted. For that reason I donate to the British Legion fund, yet each year I'm conflicted about wearing my poppy with pride. Of what am I supposed to be proud, that we send our troops to fight in foreign lands I can't even place on a map, that there are men and women prepared to kill and be killed at the behest of halfwits like Tony Blair, or that my poor late Grandad was sent to be terrified in the face of a dictator who wanted to establish a European Union called The Third Reich? As adulthood has dawned on me all of these reasons feel hollow. I only wear one out of habit these days. That and a deep sense of sadness that there are people whose belief in the concept of our nation has led them on a path to physical and mental injury.

Born in the 70's I grew up in the 80's and 90's thinking this country stood for something good. We were on the side of "freedom" and "democracy". I thought the only problem we had was Thatcher. Then this problem morphed into "the Evil Tories" and, finally, it was solved when The Labour Party were elected. Then of course it wasn't.

Let's bomb Iraq. That way things can only get better!
While at school I remember talking some of my friends out of joining the army. Even so, as with a lot of rough working class schools, there were a large number who ignored me and joined anyway. Most of them were under the impression that a "proper war" was unlikely. I recall one of them honestly seemed to think his job would mainly involve helping people. The sense of helplessness when protesting against Blair's Iraq war was magnified by the fact I'd lost touch with a lot of these people and so imagined them as teenagers about to be herded unnecessarily into a war zone.

Recently I watched a profile of Lucy Aldridge on Sky News, mother of the youngest dead soldier from the Afghanistan campaign which Her Majesty's Government waged simultaneously. That was a war I supported at the time. She now wants an inquiry into how the conflict was handled. Without question I agree with that.

He was 12 when he joined cadets.

The report jumped out at me when she points to a beret he'd had as a kid, "he was 12 when he joined cadets, so that's very special to me". Six years later he was dead. There's nothing in the world that can make that seem ok and I can't imagine what it must be like for her. Our troops are now returning from Afghanistan, few believe they have achieved victory, either there or in Iraq. What an awful mess.

That's why I have bought a white poppy this year. It sits alongside the red one. I can't think of any other way to make it clear that this business is not ok. This is not a situation I'm comfortable with. This is not an arrangement I feel we should be forced to pay for via taxation. It's wrong. We all know it's wrong. It's got to stop.

Peace, not war.
Part of the problem is the fact our country relies upon the arms trade. That's got to stop.

The other side of the problem is the people of the UK have no say in who or why we attack bomb and kill. That seems insane when you recall that it's our taxes which fund it. One reason why I advocate referendum before war.

Until that's sorted, an unavoidable part of the problem is that people join the army. Please, stop.

There's an interview with Dr Pete Yeandle about White Poppies here. It starts 7 minutes in.

Nick Margerrison.

126 - Tim Leary profile with John Higgs and an interview with Thad McKracken


John Higgs writes an excellent blog here and he tweets here.

 

The festival we refer to is here: http://cosmictriggerplay.com/

 

Thad McKracken writes frequently for Disinfo and has a facebook page which is very active here: https://www.facebook.com/thaddeus.mckraken

 

His book is here: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1500474681/disinformation

 

I tweet here: https://twitter.com/NickMargerrison

 

The music on this week's podcast is from Quisling Meet, who tweet here: https://twitter.com/quislingmeet

 

Nick Margerrison


Check out this episode!

Andrew Laurence and the "impartial" BBC

"I'm not a political comic"
"There is a deeply ingrained militant liberal politics at every level of the BBC, despite the fact that it's tax-payer funded and supposed to be neutral. It's a biased organisation and the only sorts of political comedians that are welcome within its corridors are those that reflect it's values.

Essentially when we're watching these 'political' comedians cracking their piss-poor UKIP gags on the BBC, I think we need to be aware they are neither engaged nor passionate about their subject- but money-grubbing charlatans, toadying up to the militant liberals that pay their wages, mirroring their own beliefs back at them in an act of false flattery so that they'll feel smug and validated and keep them on the BBC tax-payer funded gravy-train."


I agree with every word of the above quote, taken from comedian Andrew Lawrence's now infamous Facebook update.

I've seen his act live. He's a comedian with a peculiar look, nasal voice and almost otherworldly presence on stage. His delivery and timing are perfect. He does surreal, apolitical material. He's won awards and had rave reviews. Now though, with the BBC being the largest single employer in the comedy industry, I suspect his career is over.

The main part of his rant which I happen to disagree with is the bit about immigration. He blames that for problems with public transport, hospitals, schools, housing and the benefits system. The country is full and the advantages are, he argues, cancelled out by the difficulties it causes. Despite not being a UKIP supporter himself he "can see why other people are, and I don't disrespect them for it". Unlike the "moronic, liberal back-slapping on panel shows like Mock The Week where aging, balding, fat men, ethnic comedians and women-posing-as-comedians, sit congratulating themselves on how enlightened they are about the fact that UKIP are ridiculous and pathetic."
Don't forget to pay your licence fee

To argue immigration is an either/or question is absurd. The benefits and difficulties are dependent upon who you are letting in and why. No nation can survive without any border controls but equally you're shooting yourself in the foot if you don't allow anyone in either. There is a common sense line in the sand which should be drawn but the issue is complicated by our post Imperial legacy. Lots of people around the world feel a link with Britain because our Empire told them to. It's an issue which is separate to our membership of the EU.

That's why, if getting out of the EU is their plan, it's a mistake for UKIP to go on and on about immigration. It'll backfire as a strategy once we're finally given a referendum because there are many like me who want out of the EU but don't oppose a reasonable level of it. UKIP are going the way of the failed Scottish National Party by confusing the issue with unrelated "left wing", or in this instance "right wing", politics. A recent poll has suggested support for membership of the EU is at an all time high.

I can only assume this is because so many people have been turned off by their anti-immigration vibe. I know I am. I want out of the EU but it annoys me people assume I therefore totally oppose immigration, or support UKIP for that matter.

His description of "overpaid TV comics with their cosy lives in their west-London ivory towers taking a supercilious, moralising tone, pandering to the ever-creeping militant political correctness of the BBC with their frankly surreal diversity targets" is familliar to me. It's precisely what the BBC has been for the last twenty years.

However, there's a trap some fall into here which is worth being aware of. On the one hand there are those who think the above descriptions of the BBC are reassuring because they identify themselves as "left wing". The BBC is on the side of the goodies, goes their logic, so all is well. Then, conscious of the fact things change, there are those who think the problem could be fixed, if only the institution replaced those smug liberals with a few "common sense right wingers".

Both are wrong. The real disgrace of the BBC is that everyone has to pay for it, regardless. Those who can't afford its £145 a year poll tax are thrown in jail. This money funds an institution which won't employ people who aren't "politically correct", a subjective term which will also change over time. Make no mistake, the BBC closely monitors its employee's social media feeds for possible signs of thought crime. Any online slip ups may cost you your livelihood. All the while it pushes the absurd idea of its own political "impartiality". This is obviously a lie, no one is impartial, all of us have a perspective. Institutions all have biases. The BBC is no exception.

Why should we all be forced to pay for it to broadcast it's perspective?


Nick Margerrison

125 - Was The Discordian Society a CIA front?


Daisy Eris features. She tweets here: https://twitter.com/DaisyEris

Everything you need to know about her play is here: http://cosmictriggerplay.com/

 

Adam Gorightly makes a welcome return. He tweets here: https://twitter.com/AdamGorightly

His excellent website about Discordianism is here: http://historiadiscordia.com/

 

The music comes from The Decedant Marsupials, a collection of the Discordian members of @QuislingMeet and @Mirrorkill

 

I tweet here: @nickmargerrison

 

All of these messages have been approved by The Discordian High Church, of which I'm the fifth Pope.

 

The Discordian International Council of Knowledge has requested that we make it clear that the answer to this episode's question, in accordance with both the law of fives and the apple of uncertainty, is a firm maybe.

 

Finally, a message from Eris D, transmitted from the very Sirius star. Discordia has insisted we make it clear that religion is a work of fiction. Names, Gods, places, and events are the product of the Goddesses imagination. Any resemblance to actual events, places, or deities are purely coincidental.


Check out this episode!

No need for new laws on trolls

Threatening behavior is already illegal in this country. If someone says they are going to rape you or murder you they are breaking our nation's laws. That's why we don't need new ones to deal with an old problem. Anyone who suggests we do should be treated with extreme suspicion. They're either stupid or they think you are stupid.

Currently in the UK a farcical debate is being orchestrated in the media about internet "trolls". The narrative runs like this, "we need new laws to sort out 'trolls' who are saying awful things to their victims online". It's implied our Police are powerless to intervene as the net is "like the Wild West". All this despite people already having been jailed for online harassment because making threats is already against the law.
The last time I blogged about Agent Hopkins I was under the impression her act had run out of steam. I'm able to admit I'm wrong, that's kind of the point of being a Discordian. Full disclosure: since then I booked her to appear on a radio show I was producing and thought her contributions were excellent. Now though she's suddenly turned into marriage material. Listen to this interview:





I've been a forum user in the past. I don't go on them so much these days, they seem a little outdated by Twitter. On forums I'd tend to use an alias. I mainly went on conspiracy forums. Above Top Secret was one of my favourites. It's there I learned the definition of a troll which I refer to in the above tweet. To "troll" for a response on one of those forums was easy for me, I'm not convinced 9/11 could only have been an inside job or that aliens have had a series of secret meetings with the US president in the mid 1950s. Bingo! I'm a troll.

However, that's not what this debate is about. It's about the UK Government continuing its attempts to censor the internet. Something I have warned about previously. The technique they are using is called "boiling the frog". The idea goes that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death.

Last year (July 2013) I wrote in "#censorshipagenda":
They will gradually increase the temperature now as other parts of this particular campaign are ramped up, including the Leveson proposals, so-called Hate Crime legislation and banning people from being allowed into the UK because they dare to think or say the "wrong thing".
That's clearly part of this.

There are some things which transcend petty left wing or right wing politics and the "cult of celebrity". Free speech is one of them. Hopkins is bang on the money.

What worries me is that there's a clear tactic at work behind the scenes here. They are announcing "problems" which we already have laws to deal with. They are not enforcing these laws and then demanding news ones. Just as they did with Leveson. I blogged about this also:

"#censorshipagenda follow up article"

Why are MPs encouraging people who appear to have been the victims of crime to campaign for a new laws?

An early example of this is the Leveson Enquiry, about phone hacking, which was already illegal:
 
Leveson Inquiry: Ian Hislop says new press laws not needed
New laws are not needed to govern the press, Private Eye editor Ian Hislop has told an inquiry into media ethics. Practices such as phone hacking, paying police officers and being in contempt of court contravene existing laws, Mr Hislop told the Leveson Inquiry. He said the inquiry should examine why the laws were not rigorously enforced

Full story from The BBC. [my emphasis]

This is an area of concern for me because for most of my adult life I've earned a coin working almost exclusively in commercial radio. Less rigidly controlled than the "impartial" BBC the format I've always thought it does best has to be opinionated talk. Aside from my old employer LBC that's a dead duck these days. The reason for that is simple, Government regulation.
The myth of media impartiality, shamelessly pushed by the BBC, is deeply corrosive. It's a lie repeated so often that otherwise intelligent people have been hypnotised into believing it. All acts of communication have an implied perspective. How you define a term like "troll" is a good example:
To think that the Government is seeking to protect you from people saying mean things on the internet is absurd to me. If you have doubts though, check this article here about the so-called "porn filters":

http://margerrisons.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/why-people-dont-like-porn-filters.html

Oh, and by the way, this blog is now classified as "extreme" by a number of institutions according to podcast listeners. Interesting times...

Nick Margerrison.

Angela Eagle #fail

Looking forward to Question Time
I've pretty much given up on Question Time on the BBC, I'm tempted to give up on news altogether. These people are so full of crap. They pull tricks which may have worked in the 1980's but now look like the machinations of a five year old. Pictured above is Angela Eagle. She was on Question Time last night debating a misjudged comment by another odious twunt called Lord Freud[1]. He thinks some disabled workers are not worth the minimum wage.

Angela had a tactic to discuss this, deploy political correctness and incite the furious mob upon the "evil Tories". Can't fail eh?

Watch the exchange here:


It was posted on Guido Fawkes:
Angela Eagle assumed she would automatically carry the Question Time audience with her as they discussed Lord Freud last night. Instead the room turned on Labour, jeering and heckling, coming down on the side of the stitched up welfare minister:
One audience member called Labour’s position “extremely disingenuous”, another was applauded by the whole room for calling out their “hypocritical point-scoring”, describing them as “disgusting”. Another said “the smirk on her face” showed Eagle knew she was telling fibs. If Labour can’t convince even the audience of Question Time, it suggests their attack on Freud may not have cut through as well as they’d hoped…
MORE HERE.

I tuned in right after it had happened, the rest of the programme was dull. I only became aware of the exchange through Twitter. This tweeter sums up the mood perfectly:

Regular readers/listeners will know this is precisely the kind of exchange I have been expecting or hoping for, as the internet works its magick upon people's consciousnesses. They can spot spin. They are not stupid. And they are finding politicians easy to outwit.

After watching the video I was curious to see how Angela Eagle's twitter timeline looked after the embarrassing exchange. During it she looked like a kid being told off after someone caught them with a hand in the sweet jar. Maybe she'd have lots of support which she'd be frantically retweeting, I thought. Not the case.

I decided to tweet her myself.

I imagine, as she read the unsupportive tweet, her face looked something like this:

Why are our Sith Lord powers fading?
Then I got into a conversation with another tweeter who pointed out Angela Eagle could have used the moment as an opportunity to "evangelise" about the advantages of employing disabled people. This was, after all, something she claimed was part of the job of politicians.
When challenged to do this I do hope her face did not look like this:
No, they're not supposed to argue back.
I'm sure there are advantages to certain disabilities in some contexts. Empathy and wisdom can be useful skills. Also, it's such a catch all term. There must be advantages. However, I'm dyslexic, is that a "disability"? If so, what advantages it brings to an employer I'm not really sure.

The awfulness of people like Angela Eagle though is that they are not interested in the answer to the question. They are interested in power. They are interested in making other people feel small because they can't think on the spot what advantages there might be. That's why she f--ked up so badly on Question Time. People could see that.

Then a very interesting thing happened. Angela, rather than answer the question, retweeted part of the conversation without comment.


Generally, if you have a large twitter account retweet a potentially objectionable comment like that you can expect a bit of grief in your timeline. Unfortunately for Angela Eagle no such thing has transpired. It appears her followers were not unlike the Question Time audience. I imagine they saw through her attempts to stoke an overexcited and unthinking hate mob shouting "aarrgh, you hate disabled people". Turns out people aren't as thick as her kind thought.

She's clearly out of touch. She's been caught using disability as a political football. And she's failing to do what she said: explain the benefits of employing a disabled person.

Resign. You and all your "honourable" mates.

Nick Margerrison.

[1] Just let that sink in. We have Lords in this country. He's a "Lord". That's not a democratic term. We don't live in a democracy. Here's the definition of the word: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/lord

Imagine someone telling you they were one of your Lords. You don't need to. That's what these people do all the time. They take your money, taxation, and tell you they are your Lords.

124 - Bit of brain food for you


After recording this I was delighted to discover an article by Russell Brand advocating an end to debt, here: http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2014/oct/11/russell-brand-revolution-exclusive-extract?CMP=twt_gu

The podcast features an interview with Dr Pete Yeandle, speaking about "White Poppies" and pacifism.

There's a rant about cannabis being legalised which features on my blog here: http://margerrisons.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/new-research-into-cannabis.html

Bruce Friedrich's wikipedia is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Friedrich

Tom Binns tweets here: https://twitter.com/tombinns

The music is from The Decadent Marsupials, a collection of all the Discordian members of Mirrorkill and Quisling Meet. It's from the session recorded specially for last week's episode.

Comments encouraged.

Check out this episode!

Question Time Reviewed 10th October

My reviews of Question Time used to regularly climb up the sidebar of my blog: 10 MOST VIEWED POSTS IN LAST MONTH. They were popular. Then, I stopped being able to do them. The reason for that was my absolute horror at the revelations relating to the CSA Inquiry. I always knew I hated politicians but the sheer awfulness of it all meant I couldn't actually watch it without getting very, very annoyed.

I suspect this is the last one I will review. It was pure luck, good or bad, that I ended up watching it. I hadn't planned to. The people on the panel are looking more and more terrible as time passes. I'm starting to wonder if I might become one of those who does not watch TV news anymore. It's a hard habit to break. A lot of my friends don't bother with it. Time will tell.

Eric Pickles was on.





An odd moment during the show came when a UKIP supporter stuck his hand up in what looked like a Nazi salute. He then held it like that during his answer. It seemed unintentional but was noticed by many on Twitter.




I think it was Jeanette Winterson, her wikipedia here, who mentioned the keywords "direct democracy". For reference this woman is an Oxbridge educated O.B.E. Unelected but powerful, thanks to the establishment. Her use of the phrase direct democracy was in reference to the debate about the NHS as I recall.
This in reference to the Lib Dem bloke who was wearing a crap pink shirt.

I could have said thumb head.
Or called him out as a Sontaran off of Dr Who

Writing this summary is worthwhile for me as a reminder, I need to stop watching BBC Question Time. It encourages all my worst character traits. All bets are off for me when it comes to politicians. The only things I don't advocate against them are lies (because the truth about them is bad enough) and violence. Normally I try to avoid being too cruel to people verbally but these characters, who live off stolen money, I feel they need to be reminded that they are held in absolute contempt by most of us

While I was producing Jon Gaunt on FUBAR radio I received an email from Owen Jones declining an interview request. It was clear from the email that he'd heard of me. I strongly suspect this is because of my blog and Twitter account. Politicians will be the same. After an appearance on Question Time there's no doubt in my mind that they will scan the #bbcqt hash tag to see how they did. Then, their egos probably drive them to read blogs like this one.
Well, in the event you do read this, any of you, let me tell you straight. You're on borrowed time. Not because a violent revolution is on the way but because the internet is going to render you obsolete. Your profession is becoming irrelevant. A revolution in the head is coming.

Which brings us to the simply awful Harriet Harmen.
I think the truth is, most people simply don't know what the PIE thing is. Many of my friends have learned, in the words of Orwell, that "ignorance is strength". They ignore the news deliberately because it's so awful.
The standard Labour line now, which all of them parrot off, is that any criticism of the NHS is therefore an attack on the staff. They always try to frame it as an attack on the lowest paid staff. It's pretty much their only response.
Then again, when you hear people who seem to think taxation and Government are not about profits and only evil coporations have greed inherent within them., you kind of feel glad you are watching it. If only to point that out how absurd that idea is.

It can surely only be ignorance that keeps the whole system going. I think that's why I continue to watch Question Time and tweet furiously, then stay up well past my bedtime writing blog posts. I keep hoping that more and more people, en masse, will realise the depths of depravity to which our political system has sunk. Then collectively we can look at why and how that has happened and fix it all. I'm probably being hopelessly naive, like all political idealists.


The picture below both illustrates my above point and acts as a link to a story which could set you on a path of discovery. Ignorance is strength to the individual but collectively it's very dangerous. The net filters information. Some of the revelations now in the public domain are still being sorted out. Harriet Harmen's days in politics though must now surely be numbered. 

Precise 45 degree angle nose.

It's amazing how "generous" these characters are with other people's money.
Cut our taxes? Nah, got to give your money away to people you'll never meet and don't know.
MPs will get 10 per cent pay rise, expenses watchdog says - Telegraph.


So there we are. That's all you need to know about Question Time. They're still awful people.

New research into cannabis


Good old Daily Mail eh?
New research into cannabis published in The Mail claims the plant is "highly addictive, causes mental health problems and opens the door to hard drugs". It was carried out by Professor Wayne Hall, a drugs advisor to the World Health Organisation[1].

I've long thought cannabis should be decriminalised. However, I despair at those who agree with me and then unnecessarily shoot their argument in the foot by going on to claim it has no negative consequences. Some stoners, through the haze of their intoxication, seem to think their drug of choice is the answer to everything, can do no wrong, or even makes them better people[2]. That seems absurd to me but even if it is the case it has nothing to do with the reason why it should not be illegal to use.

The reality, which politicians hate to admit, is every body is different. Our mechanised, one size fits all, factory built world, would love nothing more than for this awkward truth not to be the case because it makes universal legislation tricky. Life would be so much more convenient if the surfs all looked the same, acted the same and responded in precisely the same way to external stiumli. However, the evidence of my own eyes speaks to the contrary. Our only absolute commonality is we are all unique.

This seems to me to be why different people have different experiences with different drugs[3]. I've known people smoke themselves into deep trouble just as I've known others drink themselves death. There are also people who can nail lines of coke[4] for breakfast, crack on with their day, and have led long successful lives. I came of age in the 1990s. For my generation ecstasy use was widespread. Some people popped pills like you would a tube of smarties and they now live happy, well adjusted lives. On the other hand there are people who nowadays describe that drug as the trigger to long term bouts of depression and anxiety.

The only reason this could surprise anyone is because illegal drug use has to be a private affair. I believe this is why so many people get themselves into so much trouble with them. Many are afraid to ask for help because their habits are seen as criminal.

I think as a society it's time to grow up a little on this issue because the core problem here is one that affects us all. The illegal drugs market is worth billions. That money, each year, goes right into the pockets of organised crime. The trade's huge profit margins are untaxed and make some very questionable characters very, very rich. Legalise drugs and you break the back of that funding stream overnight.

When America made alcohol illegal.
That should be the focus of the argument. It's one the Daily Mail would find harder to refute. Anyone making the case for our failed "war on drugs" to continue should be reminded they are supporting organised crime. Don't get drawn in to silly debates about how weed is good for you or acid opened your third eye. Just plough on with the fact that the result of their legislation is the same as that of prohibition in America, which funded The Mafia nicely.

Keep the situation as it is and the hidden hand of British life will continue to grow in power each year. Ultimately, as our Government runs out of money and society declines, the specter of outright lawlessness will continue to grow. Criminals become "above the law" because they're rich. If we persist in this folly more and more people will occupy that position. Legalising cannabis would be a good start towards removing that reality.

Nick Margerrison

[1] A deeply suspect organisation. As the ebola crisis in Africa claimed thousands of victims they were busy tweeting about "ecigs".
[2] But it makes me more creative...

[3] Just as people are all different, so are drugs when they are illegal. In the unregulated world of cocaine and ecstasy what people are selling is often way below a reasonable quality. This means, thanks to our current laws, drug users are unnecessarily damaging themselves with a poor product alike to moonshine, a cheap and illicit version of alcohol produced during prohibition in America. I once heard a comedian summarise this neatly in a joke: "life is like a bag of ecstasy, you never know what you're going to get".

[4] I've known a lot of people with cocaine habits drop dead of heart attacks, often at a very young age. Pope Bob noticed this also, he speaks about it on "Robert Anton Wilson Explains Everything, Or Old Bob reveals his ignorance". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8e9SxoepRo

"Most People With Addiction Simply Grow Out of It: Why Is This Widely Denied?" Further reading on the subject of addiction: http://www.alternet.org/drugs/most-people-addiction-simply-grow-out-it-why-widely-denied

COMMENTS/CORRECTIONS gratefully accepted.

123 - The Aetherius Society and Britain's vilest troll Old Holborn



The YouTube video I refer to during the comments is here: http://youtu.be/_se8c-wN35M

The Aetherius Society is one of my favourite small scale religions. Mark Bennet is their representative. They are often described as one of the world's first UFO religions. Their website is here: http://www.aetherius.org

The YouTube video I refer to in the interview, and borrow a few clips from, is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GS4UEpzlAyM

Also worth a look is this excellent Jon Ronson piece from his old and incredibly underrated TV show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWjl5CDk2vs

As a side note I was delighted to discover the entire series has been posted up there, apparently by World Of Wonder, the production company that made it. In the unlikely event they read this, do another series! I'll present it if Mr Ronson's too expensive these days. Probably my favourite TV show ever.

Also, it's interesting to note that since this interview evidence has emerged that Jesus might have been clean shaven: http://www.catholic.org/news/international/europe/story.php?id=57176

We cover the sad death of a woman in the UK who posted on twitter under the name of @sweeptyface. A cache of her tweets was sent to me by a blog reader, it's here: http://greptweet.com/u/sweepyface/sweepyface.txt

Old Holborn currently tweets here: https://twitter.com/Holbornlolz


Also, I've started doing a podcast with my mate Tom Binns. He's an award winning comedian who regularly features on the television. His live stand up act is phenomenal. If you like the sound of it and want to know more, go to his website: http://www.tombinns.com/

As it's a significant edition of the podcast, episode 123, the music was specially recorded this week by The Decedent Marsupials. They are the Discordian members of @QuislingMeet and @Mirrorkill

The session was a jolly time had by all, I even had a little go on the bongos at one point.


Neophyte: Hail Eris!
Initiates: All Hail Discordia!

Rest in peace @sweepyface

Dehumanisation is often the starting point of cruelty. Nazis didn't see Jews as human, that's how they could throw them into ovens. Slavery in America worked along similar lines, people were treated as cattle because they were labelled "niggers", a word used to denote someone who was not quite "one of us", not quite a person. Religions do this kind of thing a lot, in Islam it's "kuffar", in Judaism it's "goyim", in Christianity it was "heathen".

In a modern context the word "troll" does the same. This was how @sweepyface, the Twitter handle of Brenda Leyland was described. She was "doorstepped" by Sky News who then ran a headline which implied she was 'evil'. After this she was then thrown to the infamously unjust court of public opinion as she featured in a variety of print media such as, The Independent, The Sun, The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Daily Star, The Daily Express, The Daily Mail and The Guardian. All mentioned her unpleasant tweets relating to the McCann family and, in my opinion, prejudiced any chance she ever had of a fair trial. Should the matter have gone to court, which is now impossible because she's been found dead in a hotel room not far from her house.

Imagine a picture of you there with the word "evil" above it.
The many opinion pieces since her TV appearance bemoaning "trolls" had already annoyed me. A casual glance at the Sunday papers left me with the impression pretty much every Tom, Dick and Harry with a platform in the mainstream media was moaning about how terrible it is ordinary people like her suddenly seem to think they also have a right to express personal views. In the past newspaper columnists used to aspire to be "the voice of the people". Nowadays many of them are upset by the fact that position is filled as "the people" now have a voice, thanks to the net.

Brenda Leyland never agreed to become a public figure. I don't know why she'd decided to post her thoughts anonymously but I respect that she did. And so should you, if you value hearing the thoughts of others. Many cannot speak freely under their real names in the UK because their employers or others would punish them for doing so. Anonymity protects their right to free speech.

In theory her privacy was invaded by the mainstream media because they decided the public good would served as a result. Even before her death that was obviously not the case as most of the public had never heard of @sweepyface. In practice I suspect Sky wanted some lively footage to go with their "investigative journalism". There cannot be many who think her online voice was so powerful she needed to be unmasked. Most of the newspapers concerned probably wanted to republish a cheap story which involved little effort to reproduce. Furthermore all of them will have likely been driven by a conscious or subconscious need to attack their most dangerous competitor, the online public and social media.

Some don't realise the state commercial media is falling into. They still buy this idea that The Sun can swing elections and Murdoch controls your mind. It's a convenient myth for all concerned but the reality is that many of our newspapers are facing bankruptcy because journalism is not profitable. I believe it won't be long until the so called mainstream media will be impossible to point to as its audiences are eclipsed or surpassed by outfits which are purely online enterprises.

If this happens poorly thought out "doorstepping" like this may well become routine. I can imagine a world where people are regularly confronted by strangers for daring to express their controversial views. Humiliations and punishments will also likely be meted out and recorded on camera but I suspect they will be worse than a few questions. Already people's home addresses and personal details, alongside specific threats, are frequently published online in an attempt to silence. That's a trend likely to continue. The police must start focusing on actual harm like that rather than debating what is and is not "offensive" or "politically correct" in a free speech society.

The ins and outs of the McCann case are available elsewhere. They were cleared in court of any involvement in their child's disappearance. To me their story seems so unspeakably sad that I've avoided reading too much about it. I know my limits when it comes to expressing a view and the sad story of two people searching for their missing child is one of them. Losing a family member like that is not something I can pretend to relate to.

Partly I suspect a lot of the hate aimed at them is a backlash to the huge level of press and media generated by their search for Madeline, for a while pictures of their missing child's face were ubiquitous in the UK. A new reality in our modern world though is that for every big story in the mainstream there will be a counter narrative waiting for you online, should you choose to look hard enough. In the main, what I've seen is a lot of people who go with the "well, I'd never leave my child out of my sight for even a second" line. It seems like a self-satisfied, inane way to comfort yourself with the thought tragedy only befalls those who deserve it. It's probably easier to deal with the story if you think like that. However, although unpleasant, it's not an opinion forbidden by law.

Most of the further speculation goes beyond opinion and introduces, often unsubstantiated or deeply questionable, "facts". Either which way allegations such as those, with unexamined or unsubstantiated "evidence", once published should be examined by the law of the land alongside those who are making them. This is how investigative journalism used to work. If you could prove an allegation you would publish it in the hope of taking the matter to court. Why should the internet not also work like that?

The right to a fair trial is an aspect of the UK which its citizens both have a right to be proud of and a duty to defend. In civilised societies the court of public opinion is not where justice is done. That's why we have a judicial system with concepts such as "the burden of proof" and "innocent unless proven guilty". In searching for their daughter Madeline, the McCanns have become public figures. That won't have been an easy decision to make. In a sense this has turned them into people who cannot expect to avoid unpleasant criticisms. However, there's a legal line and clearly some comments published about them appear to have crossed it. It's been reported police have been given a dossier detailing abusive remarks and death threats aimed at them on Twitter, Facebook and in online forums. That must be looked into.

Serious advocates of free speech understand specific threats and unsubstantiated harmful allegations are not covered by it. If someone is making threats online or passing on libelous information it seems right to me that the law should get involved. However, Brenda Leyland was not confronted by Her Majesty's police. Instead she was being tried by the court of public opinion and during that process she was found dead. If you think this a shameful fact you may wish to retweet her son's tragic reaction to the news on his social media feed:
As far as I'm concerned she is innocent unless proven guilty and now that's no longer possible. Her death is not being treated as suspicious. Before she died she already had my sympathy.

Nick Margerrison.

FURTHER READING:

Sky News's editorial guidelines are here.

They have this to say on "door-stepping":

"Any invasion of privacy – such as secret recording or ‘door- stepping’ – must be warranted, usually by demonstrating that the amount of public good that will be delivered by broadcast and/or publication of the story will outweigh the intrusion."

BBC guidelines on doorstepping are here.

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Previous articles of mine on free speech:

What's so great about free speech?

#censorshipagenda follow up article

Censorship in the United Kingdom

Why people don't like "porn" filters

The Tom Binns Podcast with Nick Margerrison

I'm co-hosting Tom Binn's podcast with him. This is the first episode. It's slightly more commercial than "The C.O.N.". Tom's a mate of mine, known him since I met him at Hallam FM. He's one of the best comedians in the UK. If you get the chance to see him do any of his live shows take it. Ivan Brackenbury and Ian D Montford are both characters he performs around the UK.
 
This link should take you to it.

https://soundcloud.com/user3300708/the-tom-binns-podcast-with-nick-magerrison

It'll be on iTunes soon.

NM


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