Culture, Musings

Justine Sacco & Phil Robertson

The latest “freedom of speech” battleground is the Duck Dynasty / Phil Robertson and Justine Sacco brouhaha. Should people be allowed to say whatever it is they want?

There’s a good reason why rhetoric was a key discipline in ancient Rome. Talk of “freedom of speech” and “rights” always come down to where we set boundaries since no society permits “absolutes”: freedom of speech or “rights”. If the Prime Minister of Britain calls all Scots “dogs” and that’s his personal view can we prove that would get in the way of his job? But most sensible people would find it unwise and unacceptable. Yet no doubt some folks will say something akin to this in private. But who cares about their private party views.

The reason why we fret so much about what people say in public is the naivety and gullibility of a large class of people to run with not just “offensive” but “dangerous” views. If views are merely “offensive” then people should get a life. But when views are dangerous then they inspire a large number of people to justify actions that are incompatible with social progress: equal rights and considerations for women, LGBT, ethnic minorities etc. [Cases in point: Russia’s hardening conservatism; Africa/Caribbean where people are emboldened to call for gay lynchings; here in the West where some think women who are raped must have been asking for it).

If the overwhelming populace were rational and sensible and not easily corrupted then yes, “freedom of speech” to everyone to say whatever they want, knowing fully well that the ill effects will be close to zero. Unfortunately we don’t live in that world. l agree with some people that one might expect a redneck to say the most outrageous things about blacks and gays. But then again last night I watched for the first time Paul Mooney an American black comedian who thinks Jesus was black. Some of what he said about white people was uncomfortable (even offensive?) and true. Some of what he said was offensive and complete bull. There were people in the audience nodding as if he was a prophet. But how many people listen to him? If he was the president of a country or a very prominent figure with the ability to influence a large number of people: whoa! I would think the man should be called to account.

The case of Justine Sacco. If she holds these views (and especially as a white person born in South Africa) is she likely to employ black people of any distinction in any job better than a servile one? That surely will get in the way of her working effectively for an “equal opportunities” employer.

Culture, Musings

Miley Cyrus: Retro Black

Wow. Miley really crossed the line with some people. There she was on stage twerking like a black woman, slapping big black booties and doing “black” songs. Talk of white people riffing off black music goes as far back as Elvis at least. Eminem famously rapped about this (Without Me). When I was young the joke was that white people couldn’t dance and all the best music was black. Well, so I thought as I hadn’t seen Gene Kelly et al and I hadn’t heard the likes of The Eagles or Steely Dan. In any case Michael Jackson came along and black music went global.

So Black music has come a long way since the 70s/early 80s when they wouldn’t play us on MTV. Now it’s the dominant urban style. You can hardly hear what used to be “white pop” anywhere and the days of rock guitar gods seem as over as the mythical giants of Mount Olympus. Boy do I miss that finger snapping 80s pop from Billy Joel to Hall & Oats and Huey Lewis; from Tears for Fears to Wham etc etc.

There are those who cry that black music is being “taken over” what with white acts (Macklemore for example) winning best Hip Hop bla bla. But this is what happens when you go global. Witness the English language now the world’s lingua franca but no longer shaped in any decisive or meaningful way by the English. That’s the price of success.

That said it’s a bit disconcerting that some black women (see article) think twerking is something to celebrate and to hoist up as a flag. (I may be reading this the wrong way). Miley’s act apparently objectified black women. If black women don’t want to be objectified they shouldn’t have been on the goddamn stage in the first place. Even accounting for the premise/fact that the black women on that stage only did it for money the unfortunately reality is that the predominant dance style people associate with black people nowadays is twerking or something similar (my heart bleeds when I see old Soul Train clips) and whose fault is that? Certainly not white folks.


Fear Of A Black Something Pt.2

I think I may now be beyond exasperation at always observing white people clutch their handbags every time I’m near. It has become so ridiculous that if I’m near a white person I have to position myself in such a way that it’s certain to them and to Heaven that I could not possibly steal their belongings even if I was Kali, the Hindu goddess with ten arms. I am toying with the idea of openly protecting my personal effects every time a white person approaches. It’s farcical, I know, but let’s see how much they like to be suspected a thief on sight.

Musings, Politics

Ms Brown And Mrs Barnes

The British conservative government, led by Prime Minister David Cameron, is pretty much like conservative governments anywhere. A thousand words of puff about being tough on public waste while leaving intact tax loopholes for rich friends. And by all accounts the British government in its latest budget is determined to make us swallow an austerity pill. Yes, we know one can’t borrow one’s way out of crushing debt but we sure can inflate our way out of it.

The second item on the agenda of conservative governments is war/crime/war/crime … it’s all the same to them: war without (war) and war within (crime). George Bush epitomised this in recent memory along with the jokers who run Iraq and North Korea; all cut from the same cloth. Youth crime is a big issue here in Britain especially given last year’s riots. So one Police Commissioner, Mrs Ann Barnes, decided to appoint a youth police commissioner to help Kent police tackle youth crime. The new youth czarina is Paris Brown, she’s 17 and earns 15,000 pounds for providing invaluable insight and advice on wily young Britons. This is what our youth police commissioner has got to say on Twitter.

‘I really wanna make a batch of hash brownies.’ (Drugs)
‘Been drinking since half 1 and riding baby walkers down the hall at work oh my god i have the best job ever haha!!’
‘i want to f****** cut everyone around me.’
‘F****** hell why are the people from Direct Pizza so difficult to talk too!! IT IS CALLED ENGLISH. LEARN IT.’
About the male actors in a reality show: ‘Everyone looks like a f****** fag.’
On violence: ‘I don’t condone violence but im so pleased that my brother thumped the fat little ****.’

And my favourite tweet is about herself: ‘im either really fun, friendly and inclusive when im drunk or im an anti social, racist, sexist, embarrassing a****** often its the latter.’

brown and barnes

OK,OK I hear she’s only 17. Mmmm, sorry cuts no ice with me. There are people in history who did amazing things by age 17 and dare I say some people today even in Britain. Heck, it was only two weeks ago that an enterprising 17 year old sold an app to Yahoo! that reportedly made him a millionaire (link). If at seventeen one is as clueless and stupid as Paris Brown then one has no business being a police commissioner. If the police condone this behaviour and allow it to stand then what kind of demented society are we building? Isn’t that just saying to kids, “hey, be racist, be homophobic, be a bully and we’ll pay you for it!”?

Ms Brown’s boss, the ridiculously naive 67 year old Ann Barnes and Kent Police Commissioner has fended her appointee: ‘There is no way I would think of removing her from her post and I am sure Paris will learn from this mistake and be able to move forward to making a success of the role like I know she will.’ That is insane. Ann Barnes is only out to protect herself and not look like a fool for appointing someone whose anti-social rants were known even before she was appointed.

The only person who’s made a mistake is Mrs Barnes. She should either sack the teenage twerp or resign herself so someone else can.