Tunnock’s Teacakes: traitors to Scotland!

January 9, 2016 at 3:24 pm (Beyond parody, comedy, conspiracy theories, cyberspace, scotland)

By Dale Street

Tunnock’s teacakes are the latest victims of the super-patriotic wing of Scottish nationalism: Along with all other Tunnock’s products (caramel wafers, caramel logs and snowballs), they should now be boycotted by all true Scots.

The trigger for the call for a boycott is an advertising campaign on London Underground which Tunnock’s launched in the New Year. According to the Facebook page “Boycott the Companies That Scared Scotland” (21,360 likes):

“Tunnock’s are ditching the lion rampant from their branding, stating that they are not a Scottish biscuit, they are a Great British biscuit. This is the second time this company has pissed on Scotland, after funding a ‘No’ vote in 2014. What’s really petty is a millionaire interfering with a country’s democratic decision so he can sell more biscuits.”

The company was duly added to the list of companies to be boycotted for having “scared Scotland” in the 2014 referendum. The list already included the Daily Record, the BBC, BP, Marks and Spencer, B&Q, Sainsbury’s John Lewis and USDAW.

(Yes, USDAW is a trade union, not a company. But the difference between a trade union and an employer seems to be lost on many nationalists: If they’re British, everything else shades into insignificance.)

An SNP-cybernat definition of “Tunnock” quickly did the rounds on social media:

“Tunnock: A person who is embarrassed by their Scottish heritage; one who prefers their country to be ruled by another; an individual who betrays someone or something, such as a friend, cause or principle; a dick. See also Dobber and Bawbag.”

Nationalist enthusiasts took to social media to express their support for a boycott:

“Tunnocks can get to fuck. Turncoat traitor wanks.” “I hope not one person in Scotland buys your products after abandoning the lion to appeal to England.” “Will not be buying any more fk tunnock.” “Established 1890. Sold out 2016.” “Rebranding is one thing. What Tunnocks did was a brazen rejection of Scotland.” “Let’s hope it cost him millions. We can only hope it puts him out of business.”

In fact, it turned out that some “Yes” supporters had been boycotting Tunnock’s ever since the referendum, some fifteen months before the launch of its ‘unpatriotic’ advertising campaign:

“Why is people only just (now) doing this? I’ve not bought anything from them since they came out as ‘No’.” “Never bought another Tunnocks product since Indy and never will again.” “I’ve never eaten anything made by Tunnock’s since the referendum.” “They supported a #No vote. That’s all you need to know.”

But other Scottish nationalists felt that calling for a boycott of Tunnock’s products did not really make sense. According to an editorial in The National (which pretends to be a newspaper but is in fact something you wave while your Saltires are away at the dry cleaners):

“What the whole episode really shows is how pro-Unionist campaigners moved quickly to condemn those who called for a boycott and made it not about those fringes but the whole pro-independence movement.

The truth is you never hear Yes campaigners calling for a boycott. Not really. You hear the crazed loons on the fringes of social media.”

Unfortunately for The National, comments posted beneath the editorial revealed that a fair number of its own readers were Tunnock’s-boycotting “crazed loons on the fringes of social media”. And they did not like being called “crazed loons”:

“Those ‘crazy loons’ you are referring to will soon see that ‘The National’ is just another unionist newspaper dressed in a kilt. I have till now bought Tunnocks, I won’t from now on.” “How about that? I’m a ‘crazed loon’! And proud of it!”

“I have been told I was being extremist for boycotting all papers except ‘The National’. Now ‘The National’ is saying I am on the lunatic fringe for boycotting a confectionery product. Hmmm.”

“If ‘The National’ thinks I am a loon because I choose to no longer buy a product, their product is now also one I no longer wish to buy.” “Be very careful who you call ‘crazed loons’. We are AT THE MOMENT supporting this paper.”

“Wow. This is bizarre from ‘The National’. I will boycott Tunnocks as is my choice. I can justify this in a completely rational way(!!!) and I would encourage others to do likewise. I am not a crazed loon on the fringes of social media because of this. However your opinion piece is more deserving of such a description.”

It is doubtless true that only a minority of Scottish nationalists support an actual boycott of Tunnock’s. But the call for a boycott is certainly a microcosm of the overall nationalist mindset and method of political ‘argument’:

– Ignore basic facts: The lion rampant has not been “ditched” by Tunnock’s. It is very visible on the Tunnock’s packaging in the advert. And the expression “Great British teacake” is a humorous take on “Great British Bake Off”, not an assertion of national identity (insofar as teacakes have a national identity).

– Ignore inconsistencies: Such as denouncing millionaires who donated to the ‘No’ campaign for interfering with a country’s democratic decision, but not making the same denunciation of millionaires who donated to the ‘Yes’ campaign.

– Ignore reality: 55% of the electorate voted against independence in 2014. 45% voted in favour. “55” is a bigger number than “45”. (And the current price of a barrel of oil is $35. “35” is considerably less than the SNP-promised figure of “117”.)

– Invent an insult to the Scottish nation (in a particularly aggressive and self-righteous tone – because, although you lost in 2014, you are the ‘real’ spokesperson of the nation): A self-confessed Tory millionaire who voted ‘No’ has dared to remove the symbol of the medieval Scottish monarchy from his teacakes branding!

– Invent a conspiracy theory: Too tedious quote verbatim, but it runs as follows: Tunnock’s has not Britified its teacakes as an advertising gimmick but in order to make pro-Unionist propaganda. (“The reality is that Boyd Tunnock was quite explicit about the packaging changes being intended for the purpose of promoting a unionist message.”)

– Sacrifice workers’ interests on your nationalist altar: A boycott of Tunnock’s, if it ever took off, would cost workers’ jobs (“We can only hope it puts him out of business.”) And unlike many SNP employers, Tunnocks actually recognises a trade union (Unite).

Sure, only a minority of Scottish nationalists are the kind of “crazed loons” who back a boycott of Tunnock’s (although, as The National discovered to its cost, there are a quite a lot of them out there).

But the ‘logic’ of the argument for boycotting a teacake contains all the ingredients of mainstream Scottish nationalism.

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Rational, critical thought from QualiaSoup

November 6, 2013 at 8:23 am (Art and design, atheism, cyberspace, Jim D, philosophy, relativism, religion, science, secularism)

Ive only just discovered QualiaSoup, an artist and thinker whose YouTube videos present the case for rational, critical thinking and the scientific method. It’s excellent stuff, that anyone with religious hang-ups, belief in the “supernatural,” tolerance of backward ideas in the interests of “open-mindedness” and indeed quite a few people who consider themselves “Marxists,” would do well to watch and ponder. Here’s an example:

P.S: It transpires that QualiaSoup has a brother, TheraminTrees (!)

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Porn: hard cases make bad law

June 1, 2013 at 2:58 pm (censorship, children, crime, cyberspace, Guardian, Guest post, murder, Pink Prosecco, Pornography, tragedy)

Mark Bridger
Above: Mark Bridger, murderer of April Jones and user of child porn
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Guest post by Pink Prosecco

The kneejerk reaction to violent crime often seems to be a call for illiberal restrictions on freedoms.  Arguing against such responses can be difficult, particularly when the crime is the sickening murder of a small child.  But the message in the Guardian editorial (31.05.13 in print edition) does, I think, need to be firmly resisted.

“Internet pornography is usually abusive and often violent. Mark Bridger, convicted yesterday of the murder of April Jones, had compiled a store of it. Pornography is easily and freely accessible, and at most requires only a credit card.”

The editorial goes on to describe the apparent link between pornography and violence.  There are correlations between all kinds of activities and negative outcomes, but that doesn’t mean a ban is always the answer.   Pornography comes in many different forms.  Either the content or the production may be exploitative, certainly.  It would be good to tackle the factors which drive people to seek work which exploits them – which is not to say that all who are involved in the industry are exploited (or exploiting).  To claim that pornography, all pornography, is an ‘incitement to hate’ seems over the top.  (Otherwise surely there’d be a lot more hate around the place.)

Taking measures to prevent children accessing pornography is fine, and obviously child pornography should be clamped down on ruthlessly.  But measures such as those suggested in the Guardian’s editorial – such as preventing UK credit cards being used to view pornography on line – seem like a massive over-reaction.

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NB: since the print version of the Guardian editorial appeared, it has been amended online, and the following addendum has been posted:

• This article was amended on 31 May 2013 to clarify that the intention of the editorial was to propose restrictions on violent and abusive pornography, as opposed to pornography in general. The original also incorrectly stated that it was Dutch members of the Pirate party who brought down attempts to insert a proposed ban on pornography into European equal rights legislation.

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Eric Lee on global labour online campaigns

January 16, 2012 at 11:49 am (Cross-post, cyberspace, internationalism, Jim D, solidarity, unions, workers)

From the Global Labour University (GLU) website. Comments are welcome there as well as here.

Global Labour Online Campaigns: The next 10 Years

Eric Lee
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In November 2011, the military dictatorship in Fiji jailed two of the country’s most prominent trade union leaders. Following the launch of an online campaign sponsored by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and run on the LabourStart website, some 4,000 messages of protest were sent in less than 24 hours. The government relented, the union leaders were freed, and the campaign suspended. A month earlier, Suzuki workers locked out in India waged a successful online campaign through the International Metalworkers Federation (IMF) and LabourStart. Almost 7,000 messages flooded the company’s inboxes, and after only a few days, a compromise was reached.
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The spectacular success of those campaigns is the culmination of a decade-long process of building up the campaigning capacity of the international trade union movement – specifically that of the ITUC and the global union federations (like the IMF), and the role played by LabourStart in that process.
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This short essay will focus on the rather narrow topic of global online labour campaigning, to see where we have been, where we are now, and to speculate where we go next.
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The global labour movement has been doing online campaigning for a quarter of a century now. The first international trade secretariats (now called global union federations – GUFs) went online in the 1980s and have been campaigning ever since. For about a decade now, we have campaigned using a combination of mass emailing and web-based tools mostly modelled on successful campaigning websites such as Avaaz, MoveOn (USA) and 38 Degrees (UK).
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Today the ITUC and GUFs tend to campaign either using LabourStart, or using a system similar to (and based on) LabourStart’s custom-built software and model. As a result of this, LabourStart’s mailing lists have grown steadily, from just a couple of thousands a decade ago to more than 80,000 today. Those mailing lists of trade union activists are at the heart of online labour campaigning today.  They are what allow us to deliver 4,000 protest messages in 24 hours, as was done with Fiji.
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But the potential is much greater than this. The ITUC, for example, claims to represent 175 million workers in more than 150 countries. The 80,000 names of activists on LabourStart’s lists are a tiny fraction of that number — not even half of one per cent. Other campaigning organizations, which have grown up out of nowhere with no built-in membership base like trade unions, have much larger audiences. For example, Avaaz claims over 10,300,000 supporters world-wide; the UK’s 38 Degrees website claims 800,000 supporters. Unions have been slow to pick up on the importance of online campaigning, and as a result lag behind NGOSs like these.
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Why unions lag behind in the adoption of effective online campaigning technology is complicated, and varies from union to union and from country to country. As the widespread use of social networks like Facebook during the Arab Spring showed, there is no simple North/South divide here.  Some of the most powerful unions in some of the richest countries use the net poorly. And there have been extremely effective net-based campaigns run by unions in places like Brazil and South Korea. The global trade union movement is already experiencing the problems of campaign fatigue and information overload. There is a fear that the campaigning model which has worked well for a decade may be faltering. And there are questions about what comes next.
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What comes next?
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One noticeable trend is a growth in the number of languages we campaign in. For example, in a campaign launched in November 2011 in support of locked-out Turkish metal workers, LabourStart produced versions in 13 languages (Avaaz works in 14 languages). This is far cry from the days when unions would publish online in just English, French and Spanish. Almost all the LabourStart campaigns now appear in Turkish, Arabic, Russian, Chinese and Japanese – hugely important languages for the international trade union movement but ones which a decade ago were rarely seen on global labour websites. We can expect in the next decade to see even more languages used — especially the languages of countries with growing industrial working classes, such as Thai, Tagalog, Korean, Portuguese, Indonesian and Vietnamese. A decade from now, it will not be unusual to see online campaigns running in dozens of languages.
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The more sophisticated (and well-funded) civil society campaigners are increasingly targeting their campaigns, rather than creating one-size-fits-all versions. If you’ve shown interest in a particular subject, or come from a specific country, or speak a certain language, you can be targeted for campaigns you are most likely to show interest in. You can be approached for follow-up campaigns, as we know from experience that one campaign alone rarely solves long-running and difficult issues. At the very least, we will see the creation of extensive databases showing who has supported which campaigns, and global unions will be able to use these to build networks of activists focussed on specific subjects or regions.
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How campaigns are created is also likely to change over the next decade. It’s an oversimplification to say this, but basically we’ve moved through two phases in the past ten years. In the first period, LabourStart would approach the ITUC (and its predecessor, the ICFTU) and the GUFs and suggest an online component to their traditional offline campaigns. But in recent years, it’s been the other way around, with GUFs especially coming to LabourStart with an increasing number of campaigns that need to be promoted online. As the number of campaigns being proposed grows, there are increasingly issues about prioritizing — and even turning down some requests.
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A third phase could include the involvement of the campaign supporters themselves in the process — something which is already done by 38 Degrees. When there are competing issues demanding our attention, we can allow supporters to vote online for the campaigns that deserve promotion. This is admittedly quite a radical idea and one foreign to the traditions of most trade unions. Usually union campaigns are decided upon in head offices, not by a vote on the shop floor. Nevertheless, it seems likely that we will need to move in the direction of grassroots, democratic decision making — and not only because it offers a solution to the problem of prioritization. It also gives participants in the campaigns a sense of ownership, which is important as well.
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The model for today’s global online labour campaigns remains very PC-centric. We imagine thousands of trade unionists working in offices, sitting at their desks reading an email, clicking on a link, opening a website and filling in a form. But a decade from now, and to a certain degree even today, this is not how people will work. A significant percentage of those now learning about a global labour campaign via email are reading that email in a smartphone, such as a Blackberry or iPhone. If they click on a link in the message, the website that displays must render correctly on a very small screen, and the entering of data such as one’s name and email address, must be as simple and easy as possible. Few unions have taken this into account, but it will be essential in the years to come. As a result, it is likely that we will see the rise of small-screen-specific campaigning apps for trade unions. These apps will need to be platform-independent, able to work on all kinds of phones and tablets. And of course the model of email messages pointing to websites is itself fading, as more and more people come to use social networks such as Twitter and Facebook as their models for online communication. Among young people, studies show a declining use of email and an increasing reliance on other tools, including Blackberry Messenger (BBM) and SMS.
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Unions need to take this into account when deciding how to promote their campaigns, and it’s likely that a decade from now, they will need to use simultaneously a wide range of media — including social networks and instant messaging — to reach their members and supporters. Email is likely to remain part of that package, but can no longer be the only way to get the word out.
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A decade from now we will probably discover other things online protest campaigns can do beyond filling up the inbox of employers and governments with protest messages. It’s likely that we’ll continue to do that, but we need to find other ways of putting pressure on governments and employers to respect workers’ rights. One of the traditional trade union tools that has been under-utilized in recent years has been the boycott — and its opposite, the “buy union” campaigns. Both can be done more effectively online and at a fraction of the cost of old-fashioned offline versions. In a hyper-competitive market, if unions can cause a tiny fraction of sales to fall for one company, and to rise for another, this might give us the leverage that we never had in the past.
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And beyond using our power as consumers to reward and punish companies, we can be inspired by the example of the Arab Spring and consider the possibility of using online campaigns not only to apply pressure online, but as a tool to bring people into the streets.
A decade from now global unions will still campaign online, but they will do so in ways radically different from how we work today — and the result will be more powerful and effective trade unions. But to achieve that, we must be open to new ideas, and new ways of working.

Download this article as pdf


Eric Lee is the founding editor of LabourStart, the news and campaigning website  of the international trade union movement.

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Deportation and jail…for using Skype

December 22, 2011 at 7:19 am (africa, Civil liberties, cyberspace, Free Speech, Human rights, immigration, Jim D)

Yidnek Haile, a 31-year old student at the University of Manchester, is facing immediate deportation from the UK, and a lengthy jail term in his native Ethiopia.  His “crime”?  Using Skype – a freedom that millions of us take for granted every day.

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Yidnek was a student leader in Ethiopia, and came to the attention of the government in 2004 after leading protests against university authorities about the poor treatment of students.
Since that time, he has been arrested three times and suffered serious physical mistreatment.  On the most recent occasion, a police informer came into the Internet café where Yidnek works.  He saw Yidnek using Skype, and showing others how Skype works.

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Although many people working for the government use Skype with impunity in Ethiopia, the police used the country’s draconian telecommunications laws to claim that Yidnek was running an illegal phone service that sought to compete with the state’s monopoly.

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Learning that the police were going to proceed with this prosecution and would ensure a lengthy jail sentence for him, Yidnek claimed asylum while attending a conference in the UK.
While awaiting the outcome of his asylum application, Yidnek lived in an asylum hostel in Salford and has been undertaking voluntary work with his local church, with an HIV/AIDS charity, and with a refugee support charity. In September 2011, he began studying part-time for a Masters degree at the University of Manchester, helped by a scholarship that waived fees in recognition of his situation.

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He has been living on £35 per week of food vouchers; walking the eight miles to and from his home to attend his lectures because he cannot afford the bus fare.  On 14 December, he was detained by the UK Border Agency, told his asylum application (Home Office ref: H1221584) was refused, and transported to Morton Hall Immigration Removal Centre, with his deportation flight already arranged.

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Yet additional evidence is still being produced to support his claim; the latest of which was a medical examination in respect of his mistreatment while in custody in Ethiopia.
Yidnek says, “I am really distressed and scared by the situation.  I shouldn’t be sent to a country where I have experience of ill-treatment and abuse because of my use of technologies such as websites and Skype and because of my political opinion and where my life will be in danger.”
What can you do to help?

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i. Email the Home Secretary and the Home Office – mayt@parliament.uk and UKBApublicenquiries@ukba.gsi.gov.uk – giving details of Yidnek’s case (including his Home Office reference number) and asking for his deportation to be halted in order to allow all evidence in his case to be fully considered; to enable a judicial review of the case if appropriate; and to consider discretionary leave to remain in the UK in view of his fear of imprisonment and mistreatment in Ethiopia and his contribution to UK society through voluntary work and study.

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.ii. Email Kenya Airways CEO Dr Titus Naikuni – contact@kenya-airways.com – and ask that they cease transporting deportees; something which is clearly damaging to their good reputation as an airline.

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iii. Sign the petition asking for reconsideration of Yidnek’s case: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/stop-deportation-of-yidnek-haile-to-prison-in-ethiopia.html

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iv. If you are a UK citizen and your local MP is a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ethiopia – http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmallparty/register/ethiopia.htm – write to them requesting they contact the Home Office to request a stay on the deportation order.  (To check who your local MP is, enter your postcode at: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/)

H/t: Bruce

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Victory at Suzuki India!

October 21, 2011 at 7:10 pm (cyberspace, india, Jim D, solidarity, unions, workers)

Industrial victories are not that common these days, and I have heard people express a degree of scepticism about the effectiveness of online campaigns like those organized by LabourStart. So this is well noting and celebrating:

Thank you!

This is great news: the bitter strike at Suzuki in India is now over.Our 4-day-long campaign which attracted nearly 7,000 supporters, is now closed.
Shiv Kumar, General Secretary of the Maruti Suzuki Employees Union (MSEU) thanked LabourStart and the International Metalworkers Federation for their solidarity extended to the striking workers throughout their struggle.
“I want to express our sincere appreciation for making our strike known across the globe,” he said. “The timely support and solidarity boosted workers’ morale, strengthened their resolve to fight and gave them the feeling that they are not alone, that workers across the world are with them. This assurance was a big motivating factor.”
Full details are here.
Please take a minute and support our other urgent action campaigns here.
Thanks – and have a great weekend.
Eric Lee, LabourStart

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Charlie Brooker must be stopped!

November 15, 2010 at 8:52 pm (censorship, Civil liberties, cyberspace, Free Speech, funny, Guardian, Jim D, relativism, terror)

The dangerous homicidal maniac Brooker has issued a terrifying threat, menacing in its content and obviously so. It could not be more clear. Any ordinary person reading this would see it that way and be alarmed:

“The moment I’ve finished typing this, I’m going to walk out the door and set about strangling every single person on the planet. Starting with you, dear reader. I’m sorry, but it has to be done, for reasons that will become clear in a moment.

“And for the sake of transparency, in case the powers-that-be are reading: this is categorically not a joke. I am 100% serious. Even though I don’t know who you are or where you live, I am going to strangle you, your family, your pets, your friends, your imaginary friends, and any lifelike human dummies with haunted stares and wipe-clean vinyl orifices you’ve got knocking around, perhaps in a secret compartment under the stairs. The only people who might escape my wrath are the staff and passengers at Sheffield’s Robin Hood airport, because they’ve been granted immunity by the state.”

Read the entire blood-curdling communication here.

I’m sure you will agree with me, Judge Jacqeline Davies, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and , indeed, all right-thinking folk, that such bloodthirsty maniacs as Brooker, Paul Chambers and Councillor Gareth Compton must be arrested and banged up immediately. The usual “civil liberties” lobbyist will bleat on about “draconian measures”, etc, but the safety of the nation depends upon it.

Catherine Bennett, predicitably, is with the bleating civil libertarians on this.  And Dave seems to think there’s a difference between a bad joke and a death threat.

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Assange: not a rapist, but an arrogant creep

August 26, 2010 at 4:54 pm (Afghanistan, cyberspace, Guardian, Jim D, media, twat)

The rape charges against  Wikileaks boss Julian Assange have been dropped by the Swedish authorities, though a charge of “molestation” of a woman remains. Both the women who brough the claims of sexual assault against Assange have denied being part of a Pentagon plot to smear him (a claim that Assange and his supporters have, of course, been trumpeting), one of them telling Aftonbladet, “the charges against Assange are, of course, not orchestrated by the Pentagon. The responsibility for what happened to me and the other girl lies with a man who has a twisted attitude to women and a problem taking ‘no’ for an answer.”

So he’s not a rapist. But he is a vile, arrogant creep who  doesn’t appear to give a damn about putting the lives of Afghan civilians at risk at the hands of the Taliban:

“If there are innocent Afghans being revealed, which was our concern, which was why we kept back 15,000 files, then of course we take that seriously.”

But what if it’s too late?

“Well, we will review our procedures.”

Too late for the individuals, I say. Dead.

“Well, anything might happen but nothing has happened. And we are not about to leave the field of doing good simply because harm might happen … In our four-year publishing history no one has ever come to physical harm that we are aware of or that anyone has alleged. On the other hand, we have changed governments and constitutions and had tremendous positive outcomes.” (Observer interview by Carole Cadwalladr, 1st Aug 2010 – link above)

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Netting the Fringe

September 27, 2009 at 12:50 pm (blogging, Civil liberties, cyberspace, fascism, Free Speech, politics, Rosie B)

The last File on Four dealt with the rise of the violent far right, with emphasis on the English Defence League.  Listen to it here.

The English Defence League tried to push an “anti-Islamic extremist” schtick which soon enough revealed itself to be old-fashioned xenophobia.  Salma Yaqoob was interviewed and said that she would rather Muslims did not rise to the provocation, since street punch ups are, in fact, what the EDL are looking for.  This debate on confrontation v ignore it and hope it will go away will no doubt continue.

What I found interesting was the role of the internet in right wing fringe, and by extension, any fringe politics.

For the authorities it means flash demonstrations, which are difficult to police:-

“The whole new dynamic here is the internet.  All the communication and discussion goes on across the internet.  At the last minute people can come together and form up and do whatever they choose really anywhere.”

That from the West Midlands Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Rowe who argued that the laws on public order need updating.   She’s looking for more powers of course, to ban the EDL from protesting and also to ban the counter protesters.

(According to today’s Sunday Herald the Strathclyde Police are going to ban the newly formed Scottish Defence League from demonstrating in Glasgow.)

For the far right the internet brings together and politicises the disaffected who would once have moaned quietly in twos or threes in pubs.

Allan Urry (the presenter):-  “The web is a big factor in how those on the right organise and speak with each other, validating their viewpoint.  And it’s not just the EDL.”

Edmund Standing, the author of The BNP and the Online Fascist Network, was interviewed:-

“The internet has opened this stuff up to a wider audience.  Anyone can get hold of this stuff and you don’t even have to join a wider group.   You don’t have to know a single person.  All you have to do is go on there and the ideological and intellectual justification for carrying out attacks, terrorist attacks, racist violence. . We don’t live in a society where people would tolerate people openly walking round the streets and tolerating Nazi ideas, race war and that kind of thing, so the Internet is re-invigorating it cos it’s easier getting it out to a wider audience, making it easier to connect to each other in a way that you couldn’t do in the past. . . ”  

Edmund Standing went on to talk about how websites with recommendations for violence create an atmosphere encouraging the lone wolf would-be terrorist, which he thinks more dangerous than organised groups as they are harder to trace.   Neil Lewington (possession of explosives) and Martin Gilleard (four home-made nail bombs)  were both caught by chance.

The beauty of the internet is that it puts the like-minded in touch with each other, even though they may live in different cities or different countries. But the like-minded includes racist nutters, and racist nutters united are stronger than racist nutters alone.  Racist nutter speaks unto racist nutter in cyberspace, then meet in the real world for a little aggro, or a solitary racist nutter has fantasies of himself as a hero cheered by websiters if he leaves a home-made explosive by a mosque.

Another feature of the internet is that as in places of recreation for wearers of gimp masks with safe words you can disguise your identity and get up to things you would rather other people didn’t know about.  There is a fair amount of social stigma for Kevin Smith being seen to leave a Fascist meeting. On the web you can call yourself Akitsaws or Battle88 if you like, and bang slogans and diatribes from your keyboard.  You can even get something of the excitement of being in a whipped up crowd as you hammer your keys, as is evident on many blog threads.  In the 1930s the far right were famed for their quasi-military style marching and mass meetings where hecklers were chucked out with kickings and beatings.   That sort of mass meeting has been replaced by the vituperative comments thread with abuse and counter-abuse, shared bigotry and violent fantasies.

Disseminating propaganda (yours) and information (mine) has become much cheaper. Statements like this one from the introduction of Steve Cohen’s book  (1984) That’s Funny You Don’t Look Anti-Semitic will soon sound archaic:-

Even in draft form, the book has been attacked by individuals on the Left and the Right. However, what has made it possible and worthwhile has been the tremendous encouragement from so many different people (many of whom I have never met). Not least are those who have donated the entire cost of the production. . . .

That’s Funny is pamphlet size and prints out comfortably as a PDF.  It was as a PDF that I read Edmund Standing’s The BNP and the Online Fascist Network.  Costs of production and distribution hardly come into it now every person is their own publisher.  (I would recommend Standing’s report if only to read the selected ravings of Lee John Barnes, who is given to obscene violent fantasies, sub-sub-sub Neitzschean abuse of Christianity and soft humankind in general mixed up with an Odin-worshipping paganism.  Barnes is also a legal adviser to and occasional spokesman for the BNP.  Having such an embarrassing loon in a position of power would be destructive to any mainstream party, but this all seems to be water off a duck’s back as far as the BNP crowd are concerned.)

So the internet has opened up debate to a far-flung audience and made disseminating information easier.   But its anonymous nature presents difficulties, eg gauging how much of what is expressed on blogs is fantasy, wind up merchants, mischief makers, trolls, or infiltrators. In Canada the Human Rights Commission used to send out pseudo-Nazi provocateurs to see what they could elicit on Nazi hate sites by being more Nazi in their comments than the Nazis. Counter far right activity could include infiltrating their sites and spreading a few scurrilous rumours around, with some misdirection thrown in.  If nothing else, it would piss them off. 

Another aspect of anonymity is how to turn diatribes on threads in cyberspace to action in the real world, which includes keeping pressure on backsliders. BootFoot and HeadSkin swear to smite the foreigners then are no shows. An EDLeaguer who was one of the few who turned up to the 11th September Harrow protest complained (comment 155):-

“we had an almost non-existant turn out on sunday from the EDL, many of us were left with our dicks swinging in the breeze. Thanks to everybody who couldn’t be bothered to get out their pits and shout for the cause. i’m begining to think this is just an armchair warrior organisation. If you can’t be bothered to turn out to help us, go and join Granny Murrys kniting forum. With so few of us on sunday it was dangerous. Once again, Thanks.”
 

How the blog and the password-for-initiants forum will affect politics is still in the early stages, but as a start authoritarian governments try to control the internet and arrest bloggers as they have always seized printing presses and arrested writers.  Advances in communications technology affect the dynamics of politics as advances in weapons technology affect the dynamics of war.  The invention of printing, the growth in literacy, cheap pamphlets, photographs from the frontline of the American Civil War, the radio, the televised beatings of Civil Rights protesters and the napalm in Vietnam – all of them affected the politics of their times.

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Oh, that is just sick!

July 5, 2008 at 11:26 pm (cyberspace, deviants, internet, voltairespriest, wankers)

And I thought the internet had sunk as low as it could go. I was wrong. That is, right up until yesterday when the following search was made, which (inexplixably) led the intrepid googlenaut in question to this site:

best sex with ian donovan

Gospel truth, I swear on me dead Granny’s grave, someone really did a search on that. It’s so wrong, on so many levels, that I may never sleep soundly again for knowing s/he is still at large.

Sir/Madam, I can only suggest you seek treatment. Immediately. Preferably somewhere a very long way away from the rest of us.

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