Monday, 3 July 2017

Speak Your Mind

We used to say that – speak your mind – with the general understanding that inflammatory and prejudiced thoughts expressed would be recognised and denounced as the bigotry they were. The speaker of unsavoury views would effectively condemn himself by his own words. As a system it worked really well. We used to also say ‘It’s a free country’ but as surely as the human rights movement has an oxymoronic monicker your rights to free expression are slowly being restricted to your own perimeter. Say anything against the orthodoxy and you are a Nazi.

At work, we Nazis had to seek each other out, slowly, cautiously feeling the way with the odd comment about current affairs; trial statements to see how they would be received. It took months, years even, until we could freely pose in brown shirts, doodle swastikas on the noticeboards, click our heels, grow Hitler moustaches and make homage to the Führer. It’s almost as if fascism is frowned upon, these days. But one day somebody went too far; in outrage at another atrocity committed by the religion of pieces, somebody said... the ‘W’ word. Can you imagine?

For any irony-deficient readers, that last paragraph just isn’t true. We use the ‘W’ word all the time; it makes us laugh and laugh because, you see, nobody is actually offended. Kids need to be taught that there is no need to be offended, that this is, indeed, within your power. It’s a choice. You can also choose not to instantly block people on Twitter, because otherwise you will never hear dissenting points of view, thus leaving you unprepared for the world outside your own tiny world of revulsion and self-loathing.

Instead, you should actively expose yourself to things you find painful to hear. You can challenge those opinions, those crusades, by all means, but expect to get a little resistance.
Me? I’ve been hearing shit from all sides all my life. And like you, I nod along to the stuff that sounds true and scoff at the stuff that is an obvious fabrication. On balance the measured response of people who have quietly got on with their lives rings far more truly than does the frenzied sloganizing of the marching classes.

Because, you see, the problems with mobs, with ‘movements’ is how awfully easy it is to demonstrate group-think. It’s ironic that it is usually Joseph Goebbels who is credited with the line ‘Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth’. I’ve been hearing a lot of lies of late. For instance, the crowd lapped it up on Saturday when Jeremy Corbyn told them that poor kids were not getting to university, against all the evidence that they are, in fact, attending in record numbers.

Let me tell you what you think...

Of course, if you only listen to what you want to hear, attempt to silence anybody who doesn’t share that view, empty-chair speakers of whom you disapprove, turn up en-masse to disrupt demonstrations contrary to your superior position and general lobby for the charge of hate crime to be levelled at whomsoever upsets your delicate sensibilities, it may not actually be they who are the Nazis.


  1. Fortunately the real people who we interact with on a daily basis seem much more capable of being able to deal with the differing opinions we raise than those on social media.
    The social media people are, of course, real people, so is it something to do with the lack of body language, not seeing the raised eyebrow, not recognising the conspiratorial whisper that gives rise to the extreme outrage on social media, notably Twitter.
    This might be funny if it weren't for the possibility that as children are using social media more and more rather than spending time with people in 'real life', are they in danger of never learning the ability to have reasoned conversations in real life.
    Are we creating a society who will spend their time conversing on social media to the detriment of their social interactions in real life?
    I think we may be doing just that.

    I have to pause here to text my mother (upstairs) to see if she wants a cup of tea .....