Peter Bucklitsch: A voice for the many?

Since posting an open letter (email, in fact) yesterday, I have been trawling my way through threads of comments on largely followed Facebook pages concerning the migrant crisis.

Since I was quick to infer that Bucklitsch does not provide a voice for the masses, I thought I would be greeted by heartwarming humanitarianism; words invoking altruism and care. How wrong I was; some of the comments on these threads boiled my blood, pushing me to share yet another opinionated blog. Sorry.

So, Save the Children shared the following sponsored Facebook post: “Refugee children are fleeing bombs, bullets and torture in warzones like Syria, only to drown in European waters. We must stand together to stop this: donate now.”, followed by a link to donate and an image of a child crying, face in hands.

The responses were repulsively bigoted, and had very little humanity to be extrapolated. Here are some examples of these comments.

Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 18.01.00

Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 18.01.08

Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 18.01.16
Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 18.01.21

So out of these comments, one of them commented on the bigotry of the overall thread (Kudos to you, Cat Hepple!). A few others commented on the charity’s processes of providing aid, and others on the earnings of the charity’s CEO. Overall, however, there is an overwhelming level of hate and anger towards the poor souls fleeing from war-torn Syria.

This made me question: Was the outrage against Peter Bucklitsch really as overwhelming as I originally thought?  Or were people scared to voice their support for him on the mostly-Liberal platform of Twitter? Or even, did those who support this side of the debate not see the tweet? Who knows.

Either way, I almost feel some kind of pity for Bucklitsch; he was voicing these opinions on a soapbox provided by an already-sneered-at political party. I feel as though this kind of opinion hides, cowardly, until they can strike on a large thread of comments and go nigh undetected. Or, wait until surrounded by those who agree with their opinion, and engage in groupthink tactics. Before I go on, I do not feel pity for Bucklitsch for his word choices, or even for his opinion being the opposite of mine. (His subsequent apology suggests he was sorry for himself, and not for those suffering, anyway!) I feel pity for him for being framed as the solo voice of disgust towards the migrant crisis. Maddeningly, and sadly, he is not. Those who support him are just not as vocal as he is.

These folk posting these comments are truly angry and hateful towards the migrants and the Muslim community. They do not feel any empathy, nor do they want them in ‘our’ country. Stick yourselves in these migrants’ shoes, you angry little humans. These migrants are angry little humans too – they too feel they are suffering through no doing of their own! The anger they feel, however, is not one borne of the want to protect what they already have. Instead, their anger comes from the loss of loved ones; the stigma attached to being a migrant; the war they have no part in pushing them out of their own homes. If you found yourself in that position, would you flee, and find your family a better life? Yes. You bloody well would.

The people who are so keen to support closed borders often pull out the WW2 card. Let me argue, that if these kind of bigoted opinions circulated in the 1940s, we would never have risen against Fascism. The hundreds of thousands of Jews that the UK took in as refugees, fleeing the persecution of Nazis, were all in a similar state of terror as the Syrian migrants.

Peter Bucklitsch may not be such a rogue voice afterall. Maybe he has the guts to share his opinions more widely, and several people with public platforms available to them are not as willing to share their similar views; we don’t know. I believe that after seeing these comments on Facebook, maybe the cries for humanitarian aid are louder than the sickeningly dangerous rhetoric, simmering away in the background. I am concerned for the atmosphere the migrants will face once they reach safety in Europe.

Loss of a Generation…

“Nick Clegg, we know you, you’re a fucking Tory too”

“Build a bonfire, build a bonfire, put the Tories on the top… Put the Lib Dems in the middle and we’ll burn the fucking lot”

These are chants I took great pleasure in bellowing at the student protests in 2011 in London, when Clegg broke his promise to Lib Dem voters, and bent over backwards for JustCallMeDave. The tuition fees rose enormously, tripling in numbers, despite Clegg’s promise that tuition fees would instead be abolished.

However, I now feel Lib Dems are just tainted. The catch-all, cartel parties that the ‘Big Three’ are nowadays have merged into one ‘blob’ of politicians, all of whom nobody trusts anymore. The Lib Dems are tainted by Clegg’s pathetic apology, and to Cameron’s great delight, are tainted by their desperation to get to power.

Ideology is out the window. Principles are out the window. Pragmatism is all important, but gaining votes matters more. Representational functions are becoming ever less vital, and parties are forgetting their true functions.

Thus, we come to the title: the loss of a generation. The Lib Dems were really and truly on the rise. Their power was going to grow steadily, and they could have become a more vital player in Westminster. However, the domino effect of their spineless actions has created a new problem: a generation of voters who will never vote Lib Dem, or at least whilst under Clegg, again.

I know for one I will never, ever vote for Nick Clegg. Lib Dems really have shot themselves in their metaphorical foot, and until tuition fees drop back down or they fuck off, they will never regain any dignity in the eyes of this generation.

A further effect from their inability to keep a promise, is the rise of more ‘out there’ parties, such as the BNP and UKIP. Not for one minute am I likening the two parties, however, it is undeniable that a selection of their votes have been protest votes.

In the local elections recently, UKIP did outstandingly well for their size and historical standing. However, they should not have done. The ‘Kippers cannot argue that they do not play to some extent upon people’s lack of knowledge of politics and the EU. In spite of this, admittedly, a few people do understand it. 

And so – this generation moves forward. It may be moving away from a three-party dominated system. However, I just found it striking that one little mistake on the part of the Lib Dems could lead to such a change in the political sphere in the UK. Of course, UKIP would argue, it’s just people coming round to their common sense, of course! Silly me…

Burglar Bashing: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em…

On the 9th of October, the Minister of Justice, Chris Grayling, announced the proposal to change law which stops homeowners being able to attack burglars, or those breaking and entering into their home. In 1999, the farmer, Tony Martin, was prosecuted for shooting a burglar dead who was aiming to intrude Martin’s home. The Conservative cabinet reshuffle has brought Grayling into a promoted position to Minister of Justice, replacing Kenneth Clarke; Grayling is said to be bringing a harder stance into the role than Clarke, but how tough is too tough?

“Grossly disproportionate”. That is the phrase Grayling is throwing around, saying that a homeowner can only use force to remove an intruder as long as it is not to a “grossly disproportionate” level, which to my mind already sets off alarm bells. Should this law come into place, and this term be used as a part of enforcing said law, what is seen as “grossly disproportionate” to one person may well be changeable for another. If the judge who is ruling the case has been burgled him or herself, then this could lead to subtle cues being subconsciously fed into the judge’s decision making. They could press in favour of the homeowner more so than the burglar than, say, a judge who has never first hand experienced an intruder in their home. The risk for me, in this situation, is that there is far too much room for interpretation within this phrase, and whether the burglar has rounded up the family and held them at knife-point (as in the Minir Hussain case, 2009) or has simply broken in and nicked a camera, could change the decision as to what degree the burglar was intruding. Isn’t intrusion intrusion; black and white, illegal, end of story? Or is the mindless torture that an elderly woman with boiling water and brute force worse than someone smashing a window, and stealing something to sell on? This is where the line becomes blurred.

Let me say now: I am never in favour of harming another human being. I am against death penalty; I am against corporal punishment; I even was offended by people celebrating the death of another human being, even if it was Saddam Hussain. However, I am in favour of family’s being able to protect their homes, individuals being able to look after their belongings and loved ones, and private property remaining a safe, and enclosed area where someone can feel safe. I think the notion of ‘home’ should never be undermined, and as seen in the latest burglar alarm advert (I’m a sucker for marketing) – it’s not always what is taken, but what is left behind. Intrusion can cause huge amounts of psychological damage upon the victim, and I do not believe that anybody should be subjected to that kind of fear in their own home.

Let’s look at it another way: when a pedestrian runs out in front of an approaching car, even when the red man is shown, the driver is automatically prosecuted for dangerous driving if they are even a smidge over the speed limit. The pedestrian acting foolishly is automatically not to blame, and it is seen as should the driver have been driving at the limit, the collision may not or would not have happened. So, why should a homeowner be prosecuted for chasing a burglar out of their house with the use of force when the intruder was the one who initially broke the law? When the burglar walked into the house, they were aware of the risk of the homeowner being there to force them out physically/the driver was aware when speeding that they were putting others on the road at risk. The dilemma stands as this: a homeowner is protecting their home from an intruder, but they are prosecuted for attacking the law-breaking burglar. “No! That is unfair! They are keeping a criminal out of their home!” some may argue. However, does the law turning a blind eye to violence mean that the government is saying one wrong cancels out a consequential wrong-doing? Doesn’t this mean that, actually, beating another human being is okay, as long as they’re a burglar? Hm. Something doesn’t fit here for me.

This potential law is far too swamped in Gray(ling) (sorry) area for my mind. Yes, batter somebody who comes into your house. Does it mean it’s okay to end somebody’s life, or harm them through force just because they’ve entered your house illegally? That person has a family, friends, maybe a spouse and children; maybe money is so tough that crime is what they’ve been pushed to, or they’ve ended up in a bad group, turned to gang crimes, and have been coerced into breaking and entering. But then again, maybe they’re just thoughtless yobs, pinching stuff from your grandmother’s dresser. Yes – protect your house and family. What I really feel is, by this law coming into place however, is that a whole new gateway will be opened in which people will say that their actions in “the heat of the moment” need to be lawfully protected as well, and a floodgate will open, and unprecedented issues will arise. Human rights will be invoked, and homeowners will maybe begin to argue harassment is the same level of intrusion in terms of psychological harm to their family.

I am sooo not pro-burglar. I think that they should have all their stuff taken, or their house trashed, and see how they feel. However, I do not know still, how I feel about the legalisation of so-called ‘burglar bashing’, especially with such a loosely phrased T&C attached. My head is saying it’s fine, but my heart is saying, doesn’t this mean that the homeowner could be just as bad as the burglar? I could just be overly brain-washed by my slightly eccentric father, or I could be a child of the ‘Politically Correct’ Age. Or a total Leftie?

Maybe I need to invest in a guard dog to do my dirty work for me…

Britain: A-pathetic level of political interest

As a self-proclaimed nerd,  follower of current affairs, and newspaper trawler, I like to think I have a high level of interest in the world around me and the politics that comes with that. I definitely couldn’t name all the ministers in the paper, like one girl could in my A-Level politics class – she knew Alex Salmond’s birthday even. I’m not that keen, although I probably should be with my degree. I simply like to understand why things are the way they are, and then in turn, I feel I can moan about them without feeling like a moron, making blind statements like “I think the BNP should be the Prime Minister because of them Polish people getting our jobs”. Okay – a slight overstretch of the extent of apathy. Or is it?

I attended a family party a few weeks ago, and my cousin brought his girlfriend along for us all to meet (and my overly protective grandmother to judge – I digress). She asked me what degree I was taking, and my cousin then jumped at this chance to highlight how little his girlfriend knew of British politics. “Go on, who’s the PM?”, he smugly asked her. “Err.. Labour?”, she asked me, bemused. “See! She knows nothing!” he gloated gleefully. This led me to feel extremely disheartened that our future governments would be voted in by people who don’t know the difference between a Party and a Prime Minister; it also upset me that my cousin found it not distressing, but amusing, that his girlfriend was so blissfully ignorant, and unashamedly clueless about how this country is run.

You’d be surprised at how little people tend to know about the British government. Often, people who state regularly “don’t like them politicians, I hate them, I don’t trust none of ’em” could tell you no more than David Cameron’s name, and not actually name a policy that caused such distrust.

Worryingly, I found out that whilst at Sixth Form, the level of political awareness rose when people were let down by the government. Nick Clegg’s terrible mistake re:university fees made all of us much more aware of what the Coalition were planning, and not achieving. My school pushed for a mock election throughout all the year groups to try and get people interested in what each of the three parties could offer voters; people bunked from any assembly to do it, and even the politics students who were running for this campaign dreaded doing it because it was so difficult to stir up any enthusiasm from anyone. The problem was brought to my attention more so, however, when everyone seemed to jump at the opportunity to attend the protests organised by NUS when our headmaster permitted everyone the day off to attend. Nobody seemed interested in the positives beforehand, or even the prospect of free education at university; the real interest grew when that wretched fellow in the Lib Dems had lied to us!!

The general consensus is that all the Parties are the same. When my age group got our first vote, we mostly opted for the Green Party, because they’re the only ones who seemed to stand out and you can’t bash ’em for wanting to save the planet, really, can ya?! Maybe what needs to be done is not a lame promotion attempt by the government, of ‘DJ Dave and Nick the Nuttah’ rapping their policies and slating ‘that Ed Ball(sack) LOL!’ in an awful attempt to get today’s youth onside with the use of hoodies and talk from the ‘hood. No. What is needed is a genuine appeal from the MPs to not only the younger generation, but people who maybe find politics dull and overwhelming, to create bitesize nuggets of information, digestible by the masses. Question and Answer sessions where politicians don’t claim to listen to views, but instead actually listen, and then take these suggestions through to the Commons where people can see evidence that their voice is heard – an adjusted Question Time even!

Enough rambling and avoiding of questions – people hate you more than parking attendants when you’re a politician. Get to the point, accept that actually, sometimes, the masses (or ‘plebs’ – no names mentioned) can actually have some ideas worth listening to. Politicians are representatives – not paternal carers for the nation as a whole. Yes, they’re elected because they are more in the know than most about the workings of government. However, they are there to put across the wants of the people: henceforth, low and behold, democracy (another issue in itself… maybe another time).

Maybe apathy could be avoided, if the Government and Opposition approached the people more readily; doing a meet’n’greet in Asda in New Malden isn’t enough nowadays. People shine to Boris Johnson because, despite his Oxbridge background, he seems accessible and a ‘great guy’. No lofty, unapproachable air about him – just him, his mop of hair, and a zipwire. Conclusively, I reach the point that British interest in politics is waning, and in a big way. Let’s just stick Boris Johnson into Downing Street, and maybe we will recapture a little interest. Either that, or actually get Mr You-Can-Call-Me-Dave and his spineless henchman, Clegg, to re-think how the people should be listened to, and how their mishaps tarnish all other politicians reputations, putting them out of, to use a Ben Stiller related concept, ‘The Circle of Trust’. Actually, maybe we should just forget Stiller, and link it to De Niro.

The Shadow of the Gallows

Following the tragic events in Manchester this week, where two young female police officers were murdered after a hoax call lured them into an ambush, Conservatives are now speaking of re-introducing the death penalty for the murder of police officers. The former chairman of the Conservative Party, Lord Tebbit, and Nick de Bois, who is a member of the Commons Justice Select Committee, are two prominent Torys who are pushing this suggestion forward.

This matter is not something to be taken lightly; it opens up the risk of the death sentence being wrongly given to innocent people, and the moral issue of whether a life for a life really is acceptable. Surely, most would argue (including myself until wavering recently) that to kill somebody for killing another person makes the justice completely out of balance, therefore making the sentence just as cold-blooded as the crime. After watching the Channel 4 programme, ‘Lifers‘, I really don’t think the death penalty is the right way to handle a homicide. There was one man on the show who really struck a chord with me, who had murdered his wife in the heat of passion, fuelled by jealousy, and repeatedly stated that he didn’t know why he’d done it, and how it felt as though someone else had done it. Even his daughters had forgiven him, as they knew it was so out of their placid, timid father’s nature. In spite of this, pre-meditated murder seems to raise separate debate, and warrant different punishments.

To push for the death penalty as a way of preventing crime is telling of society today. You see documentaries where young men who have already been behind bars casually talk of their time ‘inside’, and it has almost become a status symbol – “yeah, been inside on and off for the last four years” – brilliant. I am a strong believer in the suggestion that drugs have entry level and then those gateway drugs, like weed, lead people to experiment further to harder drugs as their confidence with drugs builds. In my opinion, this is also applicable to crime. I think petty crime leads gradually up to more violent or serious crimes. I’m not the biggest fan of the Lib Dems, especially after their betrayal to us students(!), but I think their ideological belief in rehabilitation is really very important in preventing the build-up to serious crimes. I think petty criminals should be rehabilitated, or relocated to help to stop them offending in the future. I know that this is a very loose solution, and is extremely utopian – ‘where is the money going to come from!?’ I hear you cry! ‘From us innocent tax payers?!’… Well, yes. Yes it is. A worthy cause when you see how terrible the crimes such as those in Manchester are, and if they can be prevented then so be it!

If you’ve managed to wade through my waffle so far, you deserve a medal. Unfortunately, I am going to continue on about my original point. Death penalty – how often would it actually be applied? This is a question I often ponder over. Maybe just the threat would be enough, but so often, rule-breakers are aware of the emptiness of threats. This is even visible at school, when people bunked off, knowing they could talk their way out of losing their free periods. Nowadays, surely talking their way out of the death penalty could easily be done should people pull in their oh-so-sudden extensive knowledge of their human rights. Conveniently, that knowledge obviously wasn’t available to them whilst they murdered another human being with those very same rights. Right…

Anyway – be it the threat is enough to shadow over people, or that some poor soul is used as an example (leading to two deaths conclusively) to scare the living daylights out of these thugs who go around killing, the death penalty simply cannot be used as a blanket punishment to all those who end another’s life. Spouses murdering their long-term abusive partner cannot be roped into the same pool of criminals as those who planned that hoax call, and ended the lives of two of Manchester’s police force with an ambush.

The final largest point of debate that I feel is vital when considering this question, is whether or not the death penalty should be applied for the murder of police officers. Surely this just adds a value to one life over another, purely for their choice of occupation. I am supportive of the police, and will never be one of those types to scrawl “fuk da police” on a tunnel wall. They make me feel safe, and I believe it is a highly respected job to have. However, this then could open up the argument maybe that, if a police officer is protecting the nation, teachers are educating the next generation, so should their occupation be less worthy of taking their murderer’s lives as punishment, should (touch wood) a teacher be murdered? Another issue that requires much thought. 1959 saw the last murderer of the police force sentenced to the death penalty – has society changed too much since then for it to be brought back into force? Red tape enforcers and human rights activists are a real stickler for this kind of thing, so maybe that ship has well and truly sailed.

This is an issue that requires a lot more debate, and I think that Clegg needs to pipe up and put in his two pennies worth to Mr You-Can-Call-Me-Dave, and the Liberal belief in rehabilitation over punishment should seriously be considered; that or isolation for prisoners to prevent the ‘cool’ status that prison gives people – two conflicting solutions, I know. I’m not saying that this idea of rehab is going to work for everyone; I am simply saying that a preventative beats a cure. I know I’d rather have the nation avoid more murders like that in Manchester this week, than lose more lives whilst the Government yet again flounders around installing stupid examination processes into schools.

Let me know what you think.