Free speech or outright extremism: where to draw the line

Free speech or outright extremism: where to draw the line

Society is not equal. It never has been. Yet, we strive for its possibility. Companies with over 250 employees must now report on the gender pay gap within their organisation. We don’t talk of a mandatory racial or ethnic gap pay report, however.

Pew Research suggested last year that Hispanic women earn 58% as much as a white man does in an hour, with this figure for black men at 73%. Possible causes could be because black and Hispanic individuals are less likely to obtain college education (university), allowing them to progress into a high-paying career. But even with a college degree, the racial pay gap still persists.

A fair society would pay individuals the same amount of money for the same work. Therefore, we are not thriving in equality.

Would the clash in Charlottesville, Virginia have happened if society was equal though?

In U.S. law, freedom of speech and expression is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution, and the former is a human right recognised by the International Declaration of Human Rights. Free speech is strongly protected, as the nation is a democracy.

As my grandfather would call me, a leftie, I am strongly opposed to the alt-right, fascism, white supremacy, and plain authoritarianism. I know for a fact that this works the other way round too, having browsed through the neo-Nazi followers of Daily Stormer’s Twitter account, a website advocating for white supremacy.

When Trump warned of ‘fire and fury like the world has never seen’, I did not expect this to materialise in the violent clashes between the civil rights activists and the fascists, resulting in the death of one activist. The aftershock sees Google and GoDaddy expelling Daily Stormer’s domain. As I predicted, banning the website to be viewed legally has now moved underground to the dark web, according to Motherboard.

But does the alt-right movement poses more of a threat now it cannot be surveyed?

Just like the failed war on drugs, closed doors and barriers do not always work. We should not feel the need to protect one’s ears and shut one’s eyes from views and opinions we disagree with or feel disgusted by. I know for a fact that I am against racism and fascism, but the other view should still be talked about and discussed critically in an open space.

Today’s culture seems to impose restrictions on views and freedom to the point that I believe our opinions probably did not matter to begin with. I am not an apologist for white supremacy or neo-Nazism, as I do think it is more objectively incriminating than being subjectively aligned to your moral compass.

The post-WW2 legality of the Nazi swastika extends to the U.S. by yet again, the First Amendment. Legally, we must accept that conflicting views to ours are going to take place. Or we can act with moral hindsight and we can protest, like the activists did in Charlottesville, in wake of the neo-Nazi’s idolisation and adulation of Trump.

Trump had a duty as POTUS to condemn the violence that was carried out by the Nazi sympathisers, whatever his personal opinions (which clearly aren’t all too aligned with mine). As a white, privileged man, he should stand up for all races and allow his citizens to feel protected. It is upsetting to see this is not the case. By his overt racism and denouncing of illegal immigrants, he is effectively giving a platform for people to debate and critique, but there is danger in freedom too.

We cannot eradicate or suppress history. Future generations should learn of the tragedies of the millions of Jews who lost their lives in the Holocaust by the name of evil that is Nazism. We cannot tell children how to think either, but trust that they will make up their own mind and make morally unambiguous decisions. Unfortunately, the Internet is a playground for a rainbow of opinions, and children can be easily manipulated by propaganda.

The success of driving Daily Stormer underground is to ensure that children do not become radicalised. Islamic extremist websites are also found in the dark web, so this relieves some equality. Yet, white supremacists who do have children may still bring the whole family to rallies and meet-ups, where children are then submerged with one, overbearing opinion, giving them the means to become just like their KKK-associated parents.

Without sounding defeatist, it merely appears that these abominable views will still live on, particularly under a President who does not see achieving equality as a priority.

I worry as to how this movement will transpire in the U.S., and feel somewhat grateful that the far-right who have advocated for a hard Brexit aren’t all too bad. Well, until they start coming at Parliament with small torches anyway.





The frauds of humanity: rail fares

The frauds of humanity: rail fares

There are some things we encounter in our lives which we will disagree with. But to be a dissident is not seen as the norm, because such practices are ingrained in our daily lives, societies and cultures. There are a plethora of human frauds which exist and which I will be writing about every so often. The first one which seems entirely relevant this week is the notion of our country’s rail fares.

I am not in the minority for feeling anger at the inflation rate. But it is easy to feel robbed when wages are not rising in the same way.

It was only yesterday that I read on the Telegraph that a watchdog recommended passengers to split their train tickets for a single fare to save money. A lot of us have probably been doing this for some time through various websites, but it is almost farcical that this is now an official recommendation.

Of course, it has now been revealed today that rail fares are rising by 3.6%, in line with July’s Retail Price Index (RPI). For how incompetent and unreliable this country’s rail system is, we still have the most expensive rail fares in Europe. Further inflation just adds to the pockets of the private owners. Back in 2013, it was revealed on the Guardian that for every £1 invested, £2.47 is received by the “railway barons”. I cannot even imagine what this return may be today.

Personally, a savings account which had the same effect would make me go straight down to the bank to set one up.

Unfortunately, the inflated fares just do not work for the ordinary people – the commuters, the passengers visiting their family, those who cannot obtain the means to their own car, those who must visit a sick relative or friend last minute.

Just this morning too, I saw on the BBC that London Waterloo should be avoided as a South West train had derailed. While an £800m refurbishment project is ongoing, this station makes up one of the busiest for commuters, with an average of 270,000 journeys made daily.

Increased fares may be worth it if passengers are reassured that delays can be reduced to a set target, or engineering works are kept to the minimum necessary without disturbing daily commutes to and from the workplace.

However, it seems that most of the investment into rail engineering is concentrated to London, and the rest of the UK, particularly the North, is disregarded. This is more than opinion, it is a fact. The government already favours London when allocating how much money is to be spent throughout the country. It is the question of spending money where it is most needed (up North) or where it will have the most impact (London) – due to the density of commuters in London and how expensive it will cost to replace the old Pacer trains prevalent in the North. The government are then obviously going to prefer making small engineering works to one of London’s up-to-date trains, saving much more money.

It remains to be seen what effect the rising fares will have on train refurbishment and replacement. Perhaps it is in line with the HS2 developments, aiming to bring the high speed train service across the country, sponsored by the government? Of course, London to the West Midlands gets the priority in Phase 1 of the plan.

As Manuel Cortes, Transport Salaried Staffs Association leader, describes the inflated fares, “Dick Turpin [exploitative highwayman from the 18th century] had the decency to wear a mask when he robbed his passengers. Today train companies, with the Government’s blessing, hide behind the Retail Price Index as a method of legitimately fleecing more money from hard-pressed passengers at the start of each new year.”

In a country like ours, the disparity between the rich and poor grows wider at the expense of those in employment, – already forking out substantial percentages of their salary just on transport, and at the benefit of the greedy, private owners – supported by our very own government. Is this not a human fraud?

An update from me

I apologise I have not been the most active on my blog for some time, the past several months have been pretty busy for me.

In May I had my final law exams, before graduating in July with a First Class Honours and even somehow getting the best result in the year! I have also been working part time for a charity this summer and spending a few days in Warsaw for a very rainy city break.

I’m going to Budapest next week but I will continue to blog for the foreseeable future. I start my Masters in International Relations this September which can only aid my interest into writing about current affairs.

I have a notebook full of ideas to write about, so please keep active by reading my posts, it means a lot.