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.





Endangered level: not that critical at all

Endangered level: not that critical at all

I had to laugh when I saw Tesco’s chairman, John Allan, stating that white men were becoming an “endangered species” on the board. Absolute nonsense.

While more companies are diversifying the range of ethnicities and genders on the board, I don’t think companies should be doing this because they need a non-white person as a director. That completely overshadows the objective of being on the board, which is to lead a particular area of the company. Next, it’ll be that ‘redhead directors’ are becoming endangered. That’s how ridiculous John Allan’s claim is.

If you are the CEO of a company and are choosing between a woman and a man to be the next CFO, the woman should not be picked for being a woman. If she were to get the job, it should be out of skill and ability. To deliberately choose a non-white, non-male director to be appointed is basically implying they are alike to a trophy wife, there for status and maybe a PR stunt that customers can trust this company is ‘open-minded’ and ’embracing change’. You can envisage the marketing techniques already.

Of course, for hundreds of years, white males have led the country, led companies, led wars, and have been the ‘heads of the household’. In the UK anyway, it is now a redundant concept that men are superior, especially that 26% of women hold board positions in some of the UK’s largest companies. My only hope is that if we ever reach 50% male and 50% female board representation, it has resulted from genuinely wanting these people for their skills. I also believe that women are only becoming less inferior to match men, not that women are becoming superior to them. That would undermine gender inequality to condemn men in the name of women.

As well, in 2011, 86% of the UK population were white. I can only imagine that this figure has dropped significantly, what with the settlement of refugees from various countries and general globalisation. But, to call white men “endangered” and having to “work twice as hard” is almost outrageous, coming from the chairman of a company with eight other white men and just three white women on the board.

I would like to see more ethnic minorities and women on company boards, but to choose them for purely not being white males is undiplomatic.

John Allan did later clarify what he meant, that his statement “was intended to be humorous, a bit hyperbolic”. Well John, your sense of humour is just as frivolous as the state of your company’s finances.



The sensitised snowflakes

The sensitised snowflakes

You may have come across the live feed of a giraffe in a very long period of labour. While humans are entitled to a right to privacy, we somewhat extend this right to animals. For instance, animals in captivity should have an area from the gaze of onlookers in a hidden away den or shelter area.

Does a live video of an animal giving birth encroach these rights at all? I don’t think so – for birth is a miraculous and beautiful act, whatever type of animal. If the owner of the zoo in New York had kept the giraffe displayed out in the open for hundreds of onlookers to watch, this would be cruel. The giraffe’s unawareness of technology is blissful ignorance in this case.

Many animal rights activists also complained that the live video was ‘sexually explicit’ and ‘contained nudity’. Before I become a keyboard warrior, I will just take a deep breath and list my annoyances:

  1. Animals don’t wear clothes, therefore they cannot be nude if their natural appearance is their norm.
  2. Even a human woman must expose her genitalia in order to give birth. We don’t think of this as erotic or distasteful when it is wholly to give life into the world. Nudity does not correlate with sex. Just like the naked body or a short skirt does not mean you are ‘asking’ to be raped.
  3. In conjunction to the above, there is nothing sexual about birth. Women have already been subject to the ridiculous perverted comments about the sexual connotations with breastfeeding, which is purely to feed a baby.
  4. As such, how can we sexualise an animal? It is the same with sexualising a 6 year old pageant queen singing to Ariana Grande on stage. If you perceive there to be a sexual association, that is due to the workings of your mind, not the actual subject matter.

We really are living in a snowflake generation, where the smallest of comments cause a mass population to be offended. I was reading an interview with Stephen Merchant yesterday, who even admitted that The Office wouldn’t have been so successful if it were released today. I completely agree. The outrage on social media would never stop, completely deflecting from the light-heartedly offensive comedy which the show intends to be.

When the time comes that I am welcoming life into the world, I would hate for my child to be submerged in a prolonged snowflake culture. Children need to be taught to toughen up, so to speak. As a child playing on my bike and accidentally winding myself from crashing into a tree, that did not stop me from riding a bike and it certainly did not cause me to slander cyclists and curse those who played outside.

Setbacks are opportunities, whether you’re a child or an adult. We cannot live in a society which becomes horrified at something we slightly disagree with or have been hurt by.

At one point, I was certain that we were becoming desensitised to the media – sex, violence, general crime. Maybe in fact we are actually becoming sensitised, or perhaps just afraid to accept controversy.

For a humorous take on the politically correct generation of millennials, see Bryony Gordon’s article on the Telegraph here.





More love and less hate

More love and less hate

Love actually is all around, which not only is a quote from a spectacular film but a truth that should not be overlooked. We can all somewhat agree that we are living in an age of disenchantment and disenfranchisement; wishing to be free from the corrupt systems we are shackled to. Such attitude can pave the way for even more loathing and despair, which makes us somewhat hypocritical to protest at the system itself.

The term ‘love trumps hate’ that has been coined recently, does not mean that we should be angry with those Brexiteers or Republicans, or MPs who voted against something you were really passionate about. Love does conquer all, and when we are surrounded by positivity, we are more prosperous and productive.

I have extremely mixed views about Trump’s presidency but I also have mixed views on liberals who shout ‘hope not hate’, in an attempt to frighten and intimidate Trump’s supporters as if they are an incarnation of evil. I clearly did not exist when Germany was governed by the Nazis, but such behaviour is no different to the hypnotic scaremongering that Hitler and his propaganda minister was known well for – being able to sway public opinion rather than allow citizens to make informed decisions from a range of sources.

But hey, Valentine’s Day is just days away, and I am treating it as a 24 hour period of bliss by not reading the news and turning the notifications off for my news apps. Yet, I will then have to deactivate every form of social media too in order to distance myself from global affairs. Maybe even barricade myself in my room all day to avoid any one-sided information being transmitted to me.

Maybe that’s too far to have a sound mind nowadays when global communications are so abundant. My only hope is for people to be open to love and care, rather than searching for a way to complain about anything and everything that is generated by the media, which is then spun subjectively to form these ‘alternative facts’ which become ‘fake news’ for those who do not surround themselves with objectivity.

2016 was a slimeball of a year, but then again so was several years in the 1300s when the Black Death took tens of millions of victims. 2017 has been personally very positive for me albeit the occasional setback, but from a global perspective, the last few weeks have just been like any other 21st century year with its own problems amounting. World peace may never happen, and nations have always and will continue to have internal and external clashes.

I guess we, as human beings, feel almost superhuman and untouchable that nothing bad could ever happen to us, what with the advancement of technology, medicine, and general wellbeing. When misfortune makes an appearance, we want to run for the hills believing that the apocalypse is near because how could this world be so scary and brutal.

We are too susceptible to setbacks which we perceive as mountains rather than the molehills which they really are. The media does not help in its exaggerations and sensationalism, making its viewers and readers jump to ridiculous conclusions which they then share on social media, causing a snowball in skewed opinions of world events. A very good recent example is the headline by The Independent: ‘Germany elects ‘anti-Trump’ candidate as president’. While Steinmeier has openly stated his distaste with Trump, why should this be a headline? The answer is most probably to make money.

I am not declaring that the refugee crisis, the Syrian civil war, the Iraqi war, or the insurgence of Boko Haram are simple events spun by the media to generate revenue. But when it comes to small affairs such as Trump pretending he can understand Japanese because he has too much pride to admit he does not have his earpiece on him, it’s seen as almost scandalous. If it had been Obama, I’m sure everyone would deem it utterly hilarious and YouTubers would have made a parody of it.

I hate to use this phrase, but we should all ‘stay woke’ by being objectively informed of what’s really going on around us. This also means respecting other views and actually being open to listening to very contrasting opinions. There’s nothing loving about being somebody who only surrounds themselves with subjective, dangerous opinions. I am left-wing, but I know that to only interact with those with a similar political agenda to my own would result in being hostile to those with different opinions.

My simple request is that on the 14th February, accept love and be open to it. Do not let hyped-up versions of real events from the biased media affect your emotional capacity.


Law of the people or of the government?

Law of the people or of the government?

I am a law student, so I do pay a lot of regard to the law with a deeper understanding than others. However, when you break a law down reductively, it is merely a creation of somewhat objective thoughts to maintain social order. An intangibility which can allow you to end up in prison for a stretch of years if you don’t adhere to an abstract order. I don’t recommend breaking the law. But we should all question certain laws which are in existence. Yet, not just laws, but social practices and our own biases.

Today, while browsing my feeds on Twitter and Facebook, two news stories coincidentally appeared one after another.

The first was rather amusing and let me indulge in my pure hatred for our country’s transport system, where two friends met up for a catch-up in Spain rather than in the UK because flights were cheaper than catching the train. Full story here.

Following on was a much less humorous piece all about over 100 refugees tragically dying in the Med. Similar harrowing stories have been told all too often over the last few years, but the situation never seems to improve. How many more innocent lives, fleeing a warzone, have to die before change and positive revolution is achieved?

My uncertainty is to do with how we decide what is law and what is not. I can say with some confidence that the general conception is that refugees are not ‘illegal’ nor are they ‘aliens’. At least I hope a good majority feel this way – for everyone to think so liberally would be sensationalist.

It isn’t unlawful to cross a border when you have relevant and legitimate visas or exemptions, that is a fact. But why have we decided that borders factually exist? Humankind has never been faced with any concrete walls (probably of the kind Trump desires so much) to separate countries from one another. Yet, when our existence is randomised in sperm and an egg which begins a rough nine month journey into creating you, you are, by chance, born into Country X. Nobody chooses to be born where they are, yet by coming into legal existence as a human being on certain soil we are of a certain nationality. We could have been born 100 metres west in Country Y and be a completely different nationality, subject to different laws and regulations.

We are all human beings, our race, nationality and sex are all due to chance. A Syrian man seeking refuge from his war torn city of Aleppo, or a Nigerian girl fleeing the crisis of Boko Haram are humans who not only desire, but require sanctuary, comfort, and basic necessities. Two women can catch a flight to Spain for a quick reunion all too quickly, but the extent that refugees have to go to, after having suffered enough, to purely reach safety should make anybody question their own sense of morality.

But, it is not our fault that the legal system of pretty much any country makes it difficult to enter without adding something to the economy. There is definitely no free for all in England, that’s something we can agree on.

I understand why different countries must exist. To have a world leader would always end disastrously, as everyone has conflicting interests. Breaking the world down into several hundred countries is easier management – it’s like delegation. And yes, I understand why border control is important to prevent criminals, warlords, those with a thing for genocide – that kind of thing.

Governments must work together to establish a better situation for refugees. The crisis is not confined to the countries involved, but it is a global issue that requires the humanity in each of us to respond. If I had a spare room, I would gladly offer it to a refugee like an Airbnb sort of situation but without the payment. But if refugees can’t safely reach the other country to begin with, that’s not something I can be of help with.

We do have an asylum seeking service which you can see here, but probably due to the lack of funding, the displaced person must wait for a maximum of six months for a decision to be made. This is too long. God forbid if the UK had a similar crisis and many citizens were displaced across the world – we would be outraged if we were waiting in temporary accommodation for any longer than a week in a foreign country. But that’s due to how much of a grumbling nation we are. Temporary accommodation to someone in need is something to be grateful for.

The government must be held accountable, but we must thank other organisations like the vast amount of NGOs who are of tremendous help, and reinstate humanity by being of aid to a person in need and at their most vulnerable.

I guess this blog has been food for thought on laws and customs we have in our countries. I just ranted over Twitter about how humankind has some carnal desire to have to ‘own’ everything. I suppose having ‘aliens’ in your country contrasts with this concept of needing to own everything in your country, and anything not yours must either leave or also be owned. #throwback to the British Colony, I guess.

If you can take anything from this train of thought, please ensure it is impartiality, being open to critical thinking, and not taking the world for what it is, but what it should be. You don’t end up in most careers to then do the same work over and over, but you challenge and revolutionise the system, process, whatever you may be working on. Without positive change, we get nowhere as a society. Without critical thinking, laws will never develop and adapt to a growing society.

Ok – I can slot in there that laws will never develop because they’re so damn intangible, but you get where I’m coming from.


Honey G: sickly sweet or plain sticky?

Honey G: sickly sweet or plain sticky?

Ahh, the rise and fall of Honey G. That is a retrospective spoiler alert, by the way, pointing out that the Marmite of X Factor was voted off the competition last night.

Personally I detested the aura about Honey G. If Honey G had been truly passionate for rap, she wouldn’t solely stick to ‘cheese rap’; that is the catchy, pop-esque side to the genre. Salt n Pepa’s ‘Push It’ may be a banger, but it isn’t difficult to rap, even for a middle aged white woman. Personally, I would have liked to see some Busta Rhymes ‘Look At Me Now’.

One day.

There is then of course, the whole discourse about whether Honey G is a genuine rapper. In my view, she’s found herself loathing her dead-end job and wants to try out something new. Maybe it’s a sign of a midlife crisis. Either way, everyone should be entitled to creep out of their comfort zone and try something which steps over socially constructed boundaries. Even if that does involve making a t*t out of yourself on national television.

There always seems to be an ‘entertaining’ contestant in X Factor though. Having a controversial contestant makes people watch the show out of agitation which boosts viewing rates, which in turn makes people vent and rant over social media – increasing their prominence on the web. It’s meticulously crafted PR.

I’m not implying that the X Factor is a fix, but there has to be an element to a broadcasted competition which eliminates all seriousness and integrity from time to time. Rather well-aligned, Ed Balls, the MP, was voted off Strictly Come Dancing. As a result, of course people like Wagner or Stavros Flatley will not win such shows. Their presence keeps up the viewers until it hits the near-end, like semi-final or quarter-final.

But hey, that’s my hypothesis.

I guess we should watch this space as to what Honey G will do next. I bet my next student loan that she will end up doing guest appearances at student unions across UK universities by this time next year, however.




The persecution of women isn’t just about ‘everyday sexism’; it’s life or death

The persecution of women isn’t just about ‘everyday sexism’; it’s life or death

I am a relentless feminist, believing that both men and women should benefit from the same opportunities. In this sense, I think that both men and women should receive the same punishments too. I understand that traditionally, society is patriarchal and the belittling of women causes outrage because many generations of women have already been subject to this. But then again, because of such order, men still think they can get away with objectifying women for their own means and pleasure. I also believe that a woman should be able to feel powerful, which is akin to masculine energy, and that’s ok. But it is then somehow wrong for a man to feel effeminate and ‘frightened’ of strong-minded women.

Yet, sexism still occurs, and it is entrenched in laws across the world, even if you are merely a tourist, you still pay respect to the customs of the country you are visiting, and these laws will still affect you. Therefore, if you intend to smuggle drugs into Indonesia, I hope you appreciate that you will most likely receive the death penalty. But to have a law affect you from something out of your control isn’t just, especially when it concerns you being a woman who has been raped by two men.

A British woman reported that she had been raped while in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The female tourist could face a prison sentence for extramarital sex if the claim of rape isn’t proved.

Rape is not sex. Sex is a consensual activity. Rape is a form of violence. Just because your weapon is a penis doesn’t engender it any different to a gun or a bread knife.

Of course, there are people who make false allegations of rape. I sympathise with the falsely accused, as such an allegation has far-reaching consequences on all areas of their lives. But to make a false accusation in a country whose laws are notoriously indifferent towards women and sexuality seems outlandish. Only a traumatised, attacked woman would make such a claim if it were serious. Just eight years ago, Alicia Gali was jailed for eight months for having an unlawful sexual relationship, despite that she reported being drugged and raped by three co-workers. The medical proof of sexual activity doesn’t even seem to be required in order to make a judgement, after Roxanne Hillier was jailed for three months after being alone with a male employer with no sexual activity having taken place.

In the United Arab Emirates, for the man to be convicted of rape, the accused must actually confess or alternatively, four adult men testify as witnesses. The rigidity of the laws for female victims compared to that of a rapist is horrifying. I genuinely could not imagine living in such a backwards-thinking country; one where skyscrapers are abundant and brands are always modern, it doesn’t make sense for women to still be so persecuted.

I get incredibly passionate and angry about sexism in my own country, the UK, until I realise that being cat-called or groped is a small price to pay for men to believe they have control over a woman’s body. I have the advantage of taking such vulgar individuals to court, knowing that as the victimised claimant, I will be protected by the safety blanket of our judicial system.

NB: I realise that women can rape men. Men can also rape men, and women can rape other women too. I don’t actually know if sharia law prevents a woman from raping a man…would the rules completely reverse in this situation? Well, I assume so, anyway.

For an interesting article and comment feed on this sensitive subject, see here.