Cathartic reflex

Yesterday I had a rant
And then I felt much better:
Cathartic reflex, cant on cant,
In every naughty letter.

Later on the guilt set in:
How mean! How rude I wrote!
But quickly too, forgave myself,
For venting at the dumbass rote.

When clichés are the USP
Of Brexit motive and defence,
There can be no surprise to see
A furiously ripe contempt.

#BritishValues

[June, 2014 – Tragic pertinence needs must rework and repeat]

 

What would you have us value, then?
What passes for these British traits?

Is it the wilful diminution of democracy
That separates the people from the State?

Or maybe our incessantly insistent view
That what we do is “help” the world for its own sake?

Oh, wait!
I think I’ve got it: it’s that fair play code we think we own!
How righteously polite we are!
Perhaps we should commission us a global honour mission
Thus we won’t feel so perceptibly alone.

So, is it in our famous law and order you’ve translated into Money talks?
Our globe-anointed tolerance that shadow-stalks the local masses?
Could it be the age-old choreography between the economic classes?
Is it in our Blighty-quaint ability to wait in lines? The neoliberal culture of
I’ll only pay for mine?

Stiff upper lip, is it?
The non-complaining strategy that manifestly rhymes
Neurotic and sclerotic with our passive-born aggression?
Or perhaps it’s that amazing, self-congratulating way
We tend to trip out on our history’s big lessons?

No, wait! Don’t tell me! Let me guess:
You mean like how you cherish our belovèd NHS?

Hang on..!

Or could it even be our undeniable capacity
To finger-point with swinging lead and buried heads?
Or might it be our deep, rich, grass-root, time-was Cool Britannia,
Now, by Cowell’s ilk and cynical palaver, made an operatic lather?
Is it in the way we gush and gift a paltry nobody to unreserved celebrity
And rush to make pariahs of the stars beyond our knowing?
Is it how we gloat and glower over uncontested power?
Yes! It surely has to be the Press, with all its freedom to impress?

Or is it how we toe the line
When Lord America decides
We might be useful hand-tools, after all?
Is it our poodle disposition or our sniffy exhibition
That defines our island character?

Do Britain’s expositions make her values truly worthy
Or just pompously perfidious and small?

Well?
What the hell and where the heck
Are all these dandy ‘British values’?
Suffer me my ignorance but,
Is it in the way you favour those already able?
Is it how you keep your brother
Or the fear that looks for other
In the refugee and immigrant?
The prisoner? Disabled?
Is it how you treat the NEETs?
The homeless, sleeping on the streets?
The single parent? Needy elders?
Every worker like a serf?

Is it how you are transfixed by everybody’s patriotic worth?

Perhaps you’d like our babies stamped at birth, like eggs,
With redly roaring lions? Then, once they’re schooled and duly cloned,
Be branded with a standard – maybe tractors backed by Union Flags
To make their British value known –
For, what is value worth that can’t be shown?

Patriot schism

The heat of patriotism,
in self-deceit,
spills outright lies
upon the world;
so sins by symbolism.

Flag unfurled
in rapture
to false fealty and,
ever yielding,
wrapped in glamour,
makes alignment
under brittle banners
staked along
impassioned lines,
all hot and ready,
set to march against
all sensible expressions
of dissent.

Now come the acts
in missives, sounding
symphonies and sending
hounds of hardware,
bringing down offending
hearts and minds
until the Fatherland is primed.

 

[First posted: June 2013]

The Hordes’ Prayer

Ourselves, who art in flux,
Hollow be our game.
Our kingdom come.
Our will be done
In circuses as we are given.
Give us each day our daily threads.
And forgive us our tweets
As we forgive those who tweet against us.
And lead us not into correlation
But deliver us from weevils;
For ours is the kingdumb,
The sour and the poorly,
Forever [forever?]
Oh, man…

Post-mortem

Post-truth
Post-expert
Post-nuance
Post-fact
Post-mortem
Post-route map
Post-context
Post-democrat
Post-trust
Post-logic
Post-expat
Post-welcome mat
Post-satire
Post-hoc
Post-optics
Post-thermostat

Obama Pushing In

He came; he saw; he conquered
Bish, bash, bosh
Outrage kept its sights on the messenger

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36117907

Free Speech

“‘Men,’ said the Devil, ‘are good to their brothers: they don’t want to mend their own ways, but each other’s'” ~ Piet Hein

Freedom of Speech is an inherent extension of Free Will and Freedom of Thought, born of (call it God, biology, both – I care not) an influence, greater than Religion, Government or Society – despite an often relentless effort. It isn’t a Right to be given by some human benevolence; it can only be diminished, lost and taken away, by either our own sloth or by oppression. Free speech is just that. It is only limited by imaginative thresholds. The OED cites it as “the right to express any opinions without censorship or restraint”. What follows an act of free speech, however, are its reception and repercussions, either as tolerance or agreement or by punishment under Law (as with hate speech) or by Society’s or peer group condemnation. So, the right to speak freely is obviously not cost-free. Responsibility and consequence are tightly interwoven.

The right and responsibility belongs with the speaker/writer, who must choose whether or not to risk the possible consequences of controversy, retribution or lawful punishment. This does not mean you have no right to react; to be offended – though neither is compulsory. If you take offence it is up to you how you respond and the consequences of your response, justified or not, are your responsibility. There is actually nothing to prevent a person falsely claiming ‘”fire!” in a crowded theatre’ except for the awareness of possible legal reach, AFTER the fact and, obviously, having the common sense and some sense of responsibility we hope is felt toward one’s fellow citizens – whether the oft-used fire! analogy is an act of terrorism, public order or incitement, I haven’t yet discovered. I’ve always felt a bit uneasy about incitement, though. I understand the reasons why we have laws to prohibit it, like keeping public order, concerns about brainwashing, etc and I’m not suggesting repeal. It’s just that the line between the responsibility of the ‘inciter’ and the responsibility of the audience seems obtuse. Doesn’t the adult listener/reader/viewer also bear some responsibility for how s/he receives and responds to information? What does it say about Society and Education if s/he does not..? What happened to ‘and if (…) told you to jump off a cliff, would you do that, too..?’

So, the responsibility of choice – perhaps that is what’s really ‘free’ about free speech.

If I don’t entirely have free speech then it may be for benign reasons: because it has been restricted by, for example, a professional code to which it would be presumed that I’d adhered voluntarily; or for malevolent reasons: from because my expression is being deliberately edited or erased, to having my means of communication actually physically curbed, to imposition by some external force, such as a real fear of brutal, sanctioned punishment.

If I actively choose not to say something then I am self-censoring – I am choosing to exercise restraint. I have the right to withhold my thoughts. This might be because I need/want to be diplomatic; because I am afraid of an angry consequence or of hurting someone’s feelings; because it could be seriously detrimental to my prospects. Societal fashions, the diktats of ‘Authority’, Media and political framing and the responses of my peers might contribute to, even shape my thoughts, values and conscience but, how I perceive such influences and pressures and how I act, according to or against their direction, says as much about the character of my environment as it does about my own character.

When facts become whoever shouts loudest and longest and people cease to think independently and critically; when the world is suffering due to decades of atrocious foreign policies; when State and Society become heavy with the moralising, paranoid and hysterical burdens of invented authority, perceptions about what freedom is, occupy a dangerous, fragile and shifting space, subject to manufactured fashions, propaganda, segregation, disaffection, old sensibilities and populist reactions. Once one becomes affected or infected by this, personality, spirit and free will are increasingly encroached upon and suffocated. Then it’s getting to put up or shut up, fight or flight time. However, when such ‘authority’, whether democratically elected or self-awarded, has to suppress and micro-manage its environment and scrutinise and herd the lives of its fellow citizens, it is already a lost cause whose eventual end is inevitable.

Whilst I worry about and can understand the upset and danger in cheap, nasty, gratuitous provocations, I would be very worried, indeed, if we legislated to punish expression based on someone’s taste or manners. I think there’s a fine line, sometimes, between looking to ridicule, wound or make vulnerable to serve a wilful ignorance or ideology and finding something genuinely significant as to be worthy of comment. It’s a pretty subjective line. I accept that it’s for me to draw a line where I am. I can’t draw yours for you. Nor you, mine. I can only control whether or not I like where you draw yours. And you, mine. Independent thinking, conscience, having boundaries (and trying to respect others’), applying discernment… We all have lessons to learn and motives to check…

“Forgiveness recognises what you thought your brother did to you has not occurred” ~ A Course in Miracles

[Some of this post was transposed from ‘Manifest Thought’ and ‘On No Good Authority’]

The origin of falsely claiming ‘”fire!” in a crowded theatre’ and ‘Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes on the use and abuse of that quote.’ as told to Tim Black

 

Troll Soul

Some random pest whose
Best is still pathetic ego,
Faux outrage and disproportion:
Has to get it off its chest –
Show what a messed up
Nasty piece of work it is –
So much the jerk,
It cannot get a grip
For, nothing satiates
Quite like the hate
That spills and flows
So freely from that soggy
Mass between its ears
When it appears from
Shadows, clad in some
Hot, uninvited rage, all
Self-provoked and singing;
Seeks a public stage
For its own swill, to crow
And vent its base and
Tragic psyche – all intent
By personal appeal
To censor Will until its stunted
Little troll soul is repealed.