Dawn of Planet of the Cops

The essay Planet of the Cops by Freddie deBoer has been something I’ve gone back and forth to since I first read it a year or so ago. As the days grind on it becomes more and more apprent that deBoer has more or less defined where we are in the West in 2020.

The first paragraph is more applicable now than it was then.

The irony of our vibrant and necessary police reform movement is that it’s happening simultaneously to everyone becoming a cop. I mean everyone — liberal, conservative, radical and reactionary. Blogger, activist, pundit, and writer, obviously, but also teacher, tailor, and candlestick maker. Cops, all of them. Cops everywhere. Everybody a cop.

Everyone is policing everyone. Everything is polarised. Everything is either black or white. People side with tribes regardless of how it goes against their personal trust in things like science, or their own political ideology which we’ve had in some shape or form for years, especially from the right, but now the left have grabbed this authoritarianism with both hands. And I’m not talking about people being exposed as crooks and complaints going through the correct channels, I’m talking of people being cancelled because they may have Tweeted something stupid even over a decade ago.

Take the case of Hartley Sawyer who plays Elongated Man on The Flash. He made some racist and misogynist Tweets which read like bad jokes however this was back in 2012 so someone has scoured his timeline looking for something to punish him. In this case, it’s lost his job. But yet something similar happened with James Gunn when old social media posts emerged but that had huge chunks of the left trip over themselves to excuse, and demand his job back at Marvel, which eventually happened. What’s the difference? I dunno. Neither should have been sacked is the main point but a witch hunt needs witches.

Liberalism and critical thinking is under threat now from right and left, which means one can be left wondering where exactly did it all go wrong. How did we go from the potential for free speech the internet gave us even a decade ago to an online Stasi state where someone, somewhere is looking through all your social media to find one post they can declare as wrongspeak so they can get you fired. As deBoer says, is it any wonder leftish parties in the West are struggling to gain support when these parties at their core are run by small, but powerful groups more interested in maintaining political purity and identity politics over winning elections or fighting for a singular cause which may well change things for the better for so many. Solidarity, especially class politics seem to be gone replaced by this.

So we have situations where people can raise campaigns to cancel someone because they liked a Tweet from someone ‘problematic’ but put the same effort into understanding how class politics affects people’s lives or take the time perhaps to look into a situation to find the truth, is simply not going to happen as a whole. And more and more people dirft away from a left more interested in eating itself, or standing up for anti-scientific positions, or dragging up a post someone did a decade ago so they can call on the rest of the Stasi to get the person sacked.

As deBoer says…

A cop culture is one where a mob forces a company to patch its game because the treatment of video game parrots is somehow deficient. Do you buy that narrative at all? Do you think any single human being is so fucking daft as to believe that lots of children are going to be inspired by Minecraft to feed their real parrots real chocolate chip cookies? Or do people like being cops? Do they like being in a position to make demands? Do they like lazily threatening people, “nice company you have here… wouldn’t want it to get embroiled in some controversy”? People are alienated and worn down and hopeless, and so they see their opportunity to finally be the one pulling over somebody else’s car, lazily tapping the glass with their flashlights. “I’m the one in charge now,” he thinks, as he sends an email to somebody’s boss over a Facebook status he doesn’t like.

The effect of all this is draining. It is cumulative and it solves nothing but it helps polarise things more and more, as people, scared of being sacked or ‘cancelled’ go along with the mob because they know one wrong thing said and that mob turns on them.  Good causes end up ruined or easily mocked by people who don’t live their lives in the middle of all this, so for them instead of being drawn into something which they may support are alienated because there’s no discussion, no thought. Just a doctrine that one must observe or face the wrath of the mob.

I have no idea where this ends. However we need to make a stand for things like critical thinking, science and the ability to win arguments though fact & reason, instead of death or rape threats added onto the threat of getting the person sacked. Plus if we let the right, especially the hard right, dominate the fight for free speech that will not end in a good way.

Hopefully things change soon but I really do fear we’re living in a neverending Planet of the Cops.

 

Panic on the streets of London

Yesterday on the streets of London, thousands of far-right protestors took to the street to protect statues, mainly by fighting, drinking, fighting, throwing out Nazi salutes, fighting, beating up people who have nothing to do with anything to do with the protests, drinking and of course, fighting.

Oh, and pissing next to the memorial of a policeman killed in a terrorist incident. In the background to what is now a clear and outright culture war is Covid-19 which cares nothing for any cause, but it will kill a proportion of people it infects. It’s clear a second wave will come and it’ll come hard however that will play background to this as over the next few months the UK government looks for distractions for their Brexit policy.

At the same time, some protestors do have to introduce some nuance into their worldview. Some of these statues do need to go as they’re not relevant to the 21st century, but as much as I may despise someone like Churchill he needs something to acknowledge what he did to defeat the Nazis in World War 2, and there’s a number of people who may hold dubious views or were bastards but again, we need to note what positive work they did.  History is messy and nobody is pure.

But we’re in a culture war now. Where this ends up I have no idea but we should be very, very wary of the far right being able to mobilise a few thousand people on the streets of London during a pandemic. The next few months especially are not going to be especially fun ones, especially once the depression the UK is flirting with kicks in and the effects of that hurt.

 

The fall of Edward Colston

At last the city of Bristol is free of the Edward Colston statue.

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During the Black Lives Matter protest yesterday, crowds pulled it down and chucked the thing into the harbour where it suffered as watery a grave as some of the 18,000 human beings his company killed over the time it shipped slaves to the UK.

colston2

First, the Covid issue. As you can see from the second picture any social distancing there was broke down, and I’m assuming everyone there won’t be quarantined for the next fortnight so it means the virus will spread. We can’t excuse one protest because we agree with its aims over any others, so this now opens the doors for other protests which on top of what seems like lockdown fracturing means there will be spikes and this will put pressure on an exhausted NHS.  Other protests in the UK did manage distancing, and organisers did make it clear protestors have to quarantine afterwards, so that should be the basic minimum from now on.

As for the incident; good. That statue needed to go and for decades has been a smear on the city. When I first moved to Bristol and when I first found out what the statue was and who he was, it was outrageous that at that point in the early 90’s in a city which was so multicultural celebrated a man who brand human beings with his name. The problem is the name and acts of Colston are woven through Bristol to the extent it’d be impossible to purge it completely but it now falls upon institutions carrying Colston’s name to do what they can because frankly, if that isn’t going to happen now at a time when the world is focused on this, then it never will.

Bristol made its wealth through slavery, as did cities like Liverpool, Glasgow or any major city in the UK. In some cities a debate has raged for decades, in some (Glasgow for example) there’s only a serious debate starting now as to what to do with the names which hold the names of slave traders and trading, and also those institutions who are still financially benefiting from slavery even today.

Whether this moment leads to lasting change remains to be seen. We’re in a pandemic still and life won’t ever be the same once lockdowns are loosened further but there’s also a potential second wave being predicted, plus on top of that a global depression is coming so overall we’re entering uncertain times however these sort of times are hell to live through but it may end up with the sort of social change needed in the 21st century.

 

Trump’s America is burning

There’s been some awful American President’s in my time, but to see the country burn in flame and anger sparked in a large part by Donald Trump’s reaction to George Flloyd’s killing by the police, it has to be said Trump is by far the worst.  Unlike past times when the country has been gripped in protest, I can’t see a way out of it that doesn’t involve things getting worse, or further lives lost certainly not before November’s election.

ftrump

The sad thing is there’s a pretty good chance Trump will win again this year for a variety of reasons, but the fact is that if he does then what we’re seeing now is a warm-up for the main event which is breaking the US apart forever. I fear for the next few months in America and the fact the country is more or less in martial law with trigger-happy police facing off against protestors, many of whom are young and not used to the chaos of protesting.

So good luck, stay safe over there and remember, Covid-19 hasn’t went away. It is still there and there will almost certainly now be a massive second wave in the US but take what precautions you can and try to make what is hopefully Trump’s last few months in power ones where the people hold him to account.

Matt Hancock is the laughing death secretary

One of the many, many remarkable things about the UK government’s reaction to the coronavirus is how most of them look like they’re really not bothered about an estimated 60,000 dead and a confirmed 40,000 deaths. Top of the list is Health Secretary Matt Hancock who from the start of this crisis has been hopeless, but as the death toll rose he’s made himself even look worse by his complete lack of understanding.

Today he did an interview with Kay Burley, and it takes a hell of a lot for Burley to speak as a moral voice but she gave him enough rope to hang himself today.

I mean, what sort of sociopath do you need to be to laugh at perfectly reasonable questions and there’s 40,000 dead. Why make this face?

hancock1

What needs to be going through your head to think ‘ah fuck it, this is funny’ when England’s daily death toll is still in the hundreds?

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At what point does it go through a normal person’s head that this is fine, that this is a decent way to act when hundreds of people will die today and he’s sat at home having a laugh?

These people don’t care. 40,000 dead? So? They don’t care. They’re sociopaths.

Saving Dominic Cummings

By now everyone should be aware of the Dominic Cummings saga and how it is seriously interfering with the governments public health message during the coronavirus with beaches across the country rammed. The lockdown is compromised which bluntly, means people will die but Dominic Cummings has been unaccountabnle so far.

In any other situation he’d have been sacked before the start of the bank holiday weekend but we live in odd times and now he’s doing a press conference from Downing Street where he’s spun a load of nonsense which makes the situation worse. The lie about driving to Barnard Castle to check his eyesight is his ‘Prince Andrew can’t sweat’ moment.

Fact is there’s tens of thousands dead. People have made sacrifices. But Dominic Cummings can’t even say sorry because he’s so arrogant he doesn’t feel that people’s deserved anger at him breaking the clear lockdown rules is something to apologise for. So his job is saved for now, but people know a cunt when they see one and today they’ve seen a massive one lie to save his job.

Dominic Cummings hates you

Dominic Cummings has never been elected to any position of power in his life, yet as the UK government’s chief advisor he is probably the second most powerful person in government after the Prime Minister. So you’d expect him to abide by the law right? Wrong, he drove over 200 miles while displaying Covid-19 symptoms from London to Durham to his parents’ home.  This was at the end of March when lockdown was in full effect, and there have been people resigning for less but as of now, Cummings remains in a job being defended by reams of Tories who are acting as defence for him.

The issue is that Cummings did what we were told not to do. He travelled hundreds of miles while displaying symptoms possibly infecting who knows how many people because he wanted to be with his parents so they could look after his child. Yet across the UK there must have been thousands of families in the same position who didn’t risk their entire family by sticking to the rules. There’s also thousands of people who couldn’t be with their loved ones as they died hoping that a nurse or a doctor would be with them in their last moments.

But people, on the whole, respected the lockdown. They wanted people to be safe as well as their families. They respected the law in a time of crisis. Yet here’s someone advising the government ignoring laws, breaking lockdown, infecting who knows how many and now, rubbing our noses in it because he frankly hates us. We’re just shit off his shoe. The contempt for the public’s trust is contemptible and in a normal democracy would lead to Cummings being charged, as well as being sacked but he’ll survive this. Trust in the lockdown will be diminished and people will just go ‘fuck it’ and go around to see loved ones they’ve not seen in ten weeks at least.  All the hard work and sacrifices people have made since March is all gone in a moment of complete selfishness yet Cummings escapes a fine or charge.

Fact is you are treated with contempt and despised, and the elite aren’t even trying to hide it.

Boris Johnson has went missing in action

In my entire life every Prime Minister was on TV during a crisis letting us know what was going on (even in their own terms which played with the truth) throughout the crisis. Every one, apart from Boris Johnson who has been mainly invisible this week. In fact since PMQ’s last week he’s vanished. Even the likes of Thatcher or Blair didn’t shirk their responsibilities.
 
Even Trump (mostly) attends his daily Covid briefing, but Johnson it seems can’t get out of bed. We’re in the worst crisis outside of war, hundreds are still dying each day and yet, the man who is supposed to be the leader of the nation is almost invisible so instead we get stooge after stooge coming on to do the Covid briefings or appear to a media who are still mainly supportive of the UK government.
So where is Boris Johnson? Why is he being protected while he’s out of sight and just when is he intending to even remotely do his job?

Every UK government Covid briefing ever.

The daily UK government Covid briefing is at best, a waste of time, at worst it’s a desperate attempt to spin what is a public health disaster into just another bit of politics which of course, is costing thousands of lives. It isn’t helped by a week and compliant UK media only too glad to massage Tory ministers ego.

Of course we’re now at the point where no real information is being given out, and the day-to-day briefing is something to be mocked which brings me to this great video from comedy duo Larry and Paul which is exactly like every Covid briefing ever…

Stay Alert means people die

The new UK government advice for England is, well, a mess.

stayalert

It has resulted in Piers Morgan tearing a Tory MP apart.

Then ITV’s This Morning, a programme which is the visual embodiment of Middle England tearing Boris Johnson apart.

In just a few minutes on Sunday night Boris Johnson tore down all the good work which has been done over the last seven weeks, threatened lives and now risks the security of the devolved nations who remain in lockdown but now have to deal with people trying to get over the border for a holiday.

Because of the incompetence of this UK government, people will die. There will be a second wave hitting in 14-21 days which means lives will be lost that could have been saved if the Tories actually cared about saving lives which they don’t. Right now, it’s about getting things back to normal when nobody is fully prepared for what the new world living with Covid will be. Another three weeks wouldn’t have been any problem to get the infection rate down a bit further and get some actual planning for reopening done. Now everything is going to be done on the hoof in England, and again, people will die.

Never in my life have I seen such a psychotic government and that is saying a lot.