This is dreadful.
A man who is a candidate for the British House of Commons calls gay people:
“fucking disgusting old poofters” and referred to a woman with a Chinese name as a “chinky”, saying he was on sedatives for pain relief at the time.
I suppose there’s an off-chance that the painkillers were to blame: the thing is, drugs can often have unexpected side-effects. Perhaps they didn’t only serve to kill the pain this gentleman was caused by illness; perhaps they also served to kill the perception of the pain this gentleman clearly caused others. Had he been closer and more in touch with the the effect of the rank and unpleasant prejudice he manifested, maybe he wouldn’t have manifested it.
Meanwhile, for those of you who don’t know, here we have another demonstration of the calibre of Westminster politics these days. This time, the declarations of a Tory MP – a certain Philip Davies – who finds much to protest about as he rejects the idea of allowing prisoners to read books such as “War and Peace”. Apparently:
Davies: What about material that’s been changed in books for the benefit of paedophiles? What about certain things that have been underlined that have got codes in there for prisoners? These things happen in prisons.
[Andrew] Neil: Are you telling me that War and Peace is coming into prisons with secret codes in it?
Davies: Absolutely, this is what happens in prisons I think you’re not giving the prisoners the credit for how ingenious they are.
So. Let’s just put some conversations – floating seemingly randomly out there – together, shall we?
Recently, we’ve heard the need to control and censor the web – in the main, because of the increasing challenges of cybercrime (challenges which are, of course, undeniable); and in particular, with relation to both apologias for terrorism and online paedophilia (never mind that offline paedophilia seems to be OK with the establishment). It’s going to be more and more necessary, so we are told, for our security services to breathe permanently down everyone’s necks, in order that baddies don’t continue doing what they do.
I hope they’re right (the goodies I mean). That is to say, I hope they achieve their goals. But I’m more interested in how the storylines are coming together. Whilst up to now we’ve had the GCHQs of our world arguing that online activity is a class above the offline, and therefore in need of particular investigatory privilege, we haven’t as yet had it suggested that simple paper-based material might pose the kind of threat the electronic ether currently offers us. (That is to say, coded messages to paedophilia-tending criminals of a particularly ingenious nature.)
But Davies, clever man that he is, is clearly here to help out. It’s obvious that in his ways of seeing, and perhaps in those of others with whom he has had relevant conversations, the particular danger the Internet is becoming will one day translate into all offline media too. Much as we’re getting to the point where burning (ie censoring) webpages and websites is acceptable, so one day it’ll be much easier to begin to burn (or at least make disappear in a puff of illogic) uncomfortable books.
Uncomfortable meaning, I suppose, anything that might make you think.
Meaning, I suppose, anything which is bound.
Too long ago now, the pain that was caused us by 9/11 led us to begin by sanctioning the extra-judicial killings of terrorists – and as a collateral instance in pursuit of a re-establishment of reason and sanity, the innocents around them too.
Ultimately, we’ll be arriving now at the place both UKIP and Davies are defining for us: not only the killing of the pain we feel when we hurt others but the destruction of the right for others to share their pain with the rest of us.
If you can only write a book but not be read, what’s the point? Does an unread book actually gain an existence at all?
What’s hurtfully an even bigger issue, if you can’t read what others have experienced before you, aren’t we cutting the roots of all future civilisation? And isn’t preventing those who’ve fallen the lowest in our society from having the opportunity to redeem themselves through a diligent self-education quite the unkindest act an elected representative can commit?
Oh, how we not only stop ourselves from feeling but also prevent others from duly sharing the increasing hardship we’re causing each other …
This is how empathy is excised from our society. These are the real dangers of painkillers.