Let’s Just Give the Idiots What They Want

Another day, another piece of surrealism emanating from the clusterfuck that is the incoming President-Elect of the soon-to-be former most powerful and admired nation in the world. Today’s wonderful news (as in, you were probably shaking your head and wondering “what the fuck” as you read it) is that neurosurgeon Dr Ben Carson has been appointed as Trump’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. This is a man who wanted to run for president, but then demurred when asked if he was willing to serve in the Trump administration due to his lack of political experience. Apparently, lack of political experience alone is a disqualifying factor (for anything other than the presidency itself – obvs) but that disaqualification is nullified by the vast experience in housing one gets as a neurosurgeon…I guess?

This follows on from a string of quality appointments, like the Attorney General who was refused a judgeship back in the day for being a little too racist (amongst other sterling qualities, presuming you’re a right-wing Evangelical nutjob), and an Education Secretary who is an avid Creationist. And let’s not forget that bulbous wankpuffin (thanks for that one Sally) Stephen Breitbart, who now fawns shock and horror every time somebody even suggests that his website is a cesspit of white supremacist spew and bile, even though it is exactly that (no, I’m not linking to it, in addition to the horrible content it’s just…bad). None of this is surprising though, it’s 2016, which is probably foretold in some ancient Mayan scroll we haven’t yet found as “The Year Which Ran Out of Fucks to Give” and has brought us the Brexit and Trump. The Austrians have just voted for civility, but 2016 quickly realised that some of us might take some small joy from that, and as a result gave us Italy overwhelmingly voting for populism. In France Marie Le Penn is licking her racist lips as she contemplates what might be coming her way next year. And of course, all the good creative artists are dying out in droves, leaving us with a swamp of a talent-pool that I actually would support being drained by Trump or anybody else.

Ideally we wouldn’t find ourselves in such a deleterious position, but unfortunately every time Idealism picks herself up, proudly thrusts her chest out, and defiantly hoists her flag of rational thought, civil discourse and general decency aloft as a beacon to those who love and long for her, the 5 year old toddler-terror that is Reality runs up and sucker punches her in the groin with a manic cackle. And it’s our fault – to continue the metaphor, society has been that parent who’s let their little darling tear up and down the aeroplane aisle because they’re the most important, special, unique little hell-raising piece of shit snowflake in the world.  Democracy as we’ve implemented it is a horribly flawed thing. I know Churchill said that it was the worst system, except for all the others, but that’s like saying having an anaesthetic-free leg amputation is the worst thing ever, except for having a double anaesthetic-free leg amputation. Objectively true, but the first one is still shit. And quite simply, the problem is that we’ve taken that idea that “all men are created equal” and misread it as “All men are equal.”

No. No, all men are definitely not equal. Neither are all women, in the event that somebody is offended at my exclusionary pronoun usage. We might begin that way, but we definitely don’t end that way. The truth is that there are people who are shittier than others, but we’ve gone and taken human rights to the end of the spectrum, and refuse to acknowledge this because we don’t want to hurt their feelings or something. We want everybody to feel they have a legitimate contribution to make to society – technically that’s true, except sometimes that contribution involves somebody shutting the fuck up because they’re an idiot. But we don’t want to admit this, and as a result, we have the situation where western democracy gives everybody’s opinion the same weighting. Believe the earth is flat? You get exactly the same amount of voting currency as Dr Neil DeGrasse Tyson.  Think that it’s ok to blow up innocent people because your impotence has found an outlet in an extremist version of a make-believe ideology? No problem, your vote still counts as much as Richard Dawkins and Nelson Mandela’s did when he was alive. Giving heroin to kids to “help them sleep” the sort of thing you subscribe to? You mean as much to democracy as the struggling, honest, hard-working parents sacrificing and going without just to give their kids a single chance for a better life than they had.

I could go on, but my head might explode, and I’ve run out of the bleach I’ll need to cleanse my soul. The point is that this idea that everybody is equal is bullshit, and we need to acknowledge it before it’s too late. Stephen Fucking Hawking is warning the world that it’s on the brink of species-wide disaster from climate change and asteroids, and Trump’s highly considered presidential-as-all-fuck response is to announce the  defunding of NASA climate research because “it’s political”. Jesus.

The best way to fix the problem is a licence to vote. This is as popular a sentiment as advocating a licence to breed. Still,  I don’t understand why we need licences for everything except having kids and voting. People should be made to sit an exam that tests them on the different political party manifestos and platforms, and if they fail they don’t get to vote. Or perhaps their vote could be proportionally weighted – the higher you score, the more your vote counts. That way, people who believe that £350m a week is vanishing off into the EU’s savings account simply because it was written in big white letters on Boris Johnson’s Big Red Bus (aside: that’s not a euphemism, but it would make for a great one) wouldn’t have the destructive power they do now. People who don’t understand the very real danger their blind acceptance of fear-mongering and lies actually poses would be nicely neutered by this system. People will say “it’s not fair” and it’s a violation of human rights, but what about the rights of those of us who actually care enough to understand the issues, and approach things with an open mind in case we’re wrong? What about our right not to be subjected to the tyranny of the “I found an article on the internet which confirms my biases and prejudices because I lack even the most rudimentary cognitive ability to think critically” masses?

Alas, this is a battle that will not be won. It’s a shit-ton of fun considered impolite to actually tell a moron they’re a moron – we’re supposed to let them believe they’re actually really valuable to the world at large. Quite clearly they’re not, but if near-total ostracism (self-imposed or otherwise) isn’t your thing, we need to find a way to force people to live in accordance with their political philosophies, or at least the philosophy they profess. You know, be accountable (shocker!). So I say – let’s just give the idiots exactly what they want. You voted the way you did because you’re tired of experts? Wonderful, thank you for your fucking stupid equally valid opinion!. However, now, no more doctors for you when you’re sick. Nope, they’re “experts”, and we were tired of experts when we voted remember? No more tax accountants helping you out at year end. You, my armchair-warrior-touting friend get Google and “alternative” ideas that all the wisdom that the non-experts out there have to offer. Anti-vaxxer who believes “Big Pharma” is evil? Welcome to the polling booth my friend! However, I hope you never, ever get something like cancer, because we know who makes the treatments for those as well! Maybe try this lunatic equally valid non-scientific alternative source. Anti-immigration? Perfect – but you’re no longer procuring anything from anywhere that isn’t 100% local owned and operated. And if you own a business, you’re only hiring locals – so what if they demand wages and benefits at much higher levels than the other guys? And of course, you’ll only be buying goods that contain 100% non-imported ingredients – no more late night kebabs from the Turkish kiosk on the corner for you!

I know it’ll never happen – the fringe right are lunatics, but unfortunately there is a fringe left as well, and they’d collectively implode if anybody even tried to suggest personal accountability might be the flip-side of human rights which needs to be enforced a bit more robustly. The middle has become a wasteland where only the most foolish venture, upon pain of virtual crucifixion by both sides. But Christ it would be fun to watch some small-minded bigot buying groceries with only 100% non-imported local ingredients, or one of those Food Babe type-idiots trying to fend off diabetes-induced gangrene or HIV/AIDS with an assortment of nuts and berries. It would be natural selection at its finest. Might even encourage a few of them to join the dark side, or as it’s sometimes referred to by decent, rational people, not being a complete knobhead cunt. What a Christmas gift that would be.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

So, I’ve been watching with a mixture of fascination, despair and vodka martinis over the last couple of days as Trump has pivoted on virtually every major position he held running up to the election (and simply avoided talking about the ones he doesn’t know what to do with). Every day the press runs another story which seems to only strengthen the idea we’re actually living in some sort of whacky computer simulation who’s operator keeps having some sort of spasm and mashing random keys. You literally could not make this shit up. To summarise off the top of my head:

  • Dr Ben Carson, impeccable neurosurgeon and erstwhile contender for the Republican nomination to be the fucking president of the USA, declined to make himself available to serve in a Trump administration…on the basis that he has no political experience. Seriously. Is it just fucking easy is it to become a neurosurgeon in the US or does having a palpable disregard for irony just earn you a couple of extra credits?
  • Trump is no longer going to prosecute Hilary Clinton. This is a small deviation from his original campaign promise to prosecute Hilary Clinton, a campaign promise which engendered much enthusiastic frothing at the bung by those tired of being forced to contemplate being led by anybody other than  a crusty old orange white guy.
  • The wall isn’t going to get built really. Well, maybe parts of it. But those parts will be more fence-ish and less wall-ish. And the US will probably pay for those parts. To badly paraphrase the legendary Murray Walker, the current position is identical to the former one, except that it’s almost totally different.
  • Trump sees no issue with continuing to be involved with his business and running the largest economy on the planet. Then again, given that apparently “no political experience” is a negative when working for the president but not apparently being the actual president, maybe he’s not wrong. Also, there’s no conflict of interest between owning a hotel in Washington DC and being the president based in Washington DC – that would almost be suggesting that profiting privately from your public position is unethical!
  • People aren’t allowed to criticise him or his administration at all, especially in theatres. He’s won, and people need to shut up and accept this now. Free speech is a thing that Donald Trump seems to think doesn’t apply to people when they’re talking about Donald Trump.
  • His 35 year old son-in-law with no political experience is perfectly equipped to bring peace to the Middle East. Every other career diplomat and politician just weren’t trying hard enough it seems.
  • He doesn’t really like the alt-right after all. It would have been nice for him to disavow their anti-semitic, racist, sexist misogyny before the election, but, you know, fuck it – they were rooting for him after all.
  • Breitbart is just like the New York Times in that they report the news. Much like rape and consensual sex are the same thing in that they each involve at least two people.
  • Poor old Barry has had to agree to a longer than usual transition period, due to the President-Elect’s “surprise” at the “scope of the job.” Um, what the fuck did he think it entailed?

And so on. Now, I’m still not about to hit the panic button – again, the US administration is a behemoth, with a plethora of checks and balances that go a long way to limiting what Trump can do acting alone. But that’s not the point. The point is that this clown got voted in to office sailing on a pack of outright lies and bluster that were never ever feasible in the slightest. And now he’s there, he feels absolutely fuck-all shame in straight up turning around and say “Nah, come on guys, I didn’t really mean that shit – like, I had my fingers crossed behind my back the whole time!”

And the most incredible thing is that there is no discernible backlash from his supporters. Seriously. Nobody . Nothing. Instead of noting that their beloved saviour has zero fucking clue about anything, and is rapidly backing down from every major platform position he held, his supporters are busy confirming that they don’t understand what the freedoms to speech, assembly and protest mean, berating anybody who dares to protest Trump’s victory. Remember how absolutely no racist, Confederate-flag waving, life-was-better-before-the-Civil-Rights-movement pieces of shit protested when a black dude won election? Definitely not looking at you, Republican establishment and your minions.

We’ve seen the same thing happen with Brexit. The £350m  payment that was evaporating off to the EU weekly suddenly wasn’t quite that much at all, and what was being sent to the EU wasn’t actually available to be ploughed back into the NHS anyway. Suddenly nobody had ever promised anything that had, in fact, been very explicitly promised prior to the referendum – at least themselves. Boris Johnson, who I used to be a fan of as Mayor of London, blamed Nigel Farage for promising things that were now, seemingly obviously, unworkable. He also seemed genuinely surprised that anybody would vote to leave the EU because they didn’t like immigration, having ostensibly immediately forgotten this was actually one of the very pillars around which the referendum was built.

Farage in turn grew a fucking horrible moustache in what I must presume was an attempt to emulate a randomly selected European hero of his from the 40s, and blamed the “Leave Movement” in general, further twisting his slimy torso out of the grip of accountability by  clarifying that the Leave movement wasn’t, in fact, a single thing, and he couldn’t be held responsible for what it had totes not promised, his enthusiastic embrace of all things Brexit as head of the UKIP (the “I” standing for Independence, ahem) nothwithstanding.

And now, as it becomes blatantly apparent that the UK will – shock, horror, gasp – not be allowed free access to the common market without allowing free movement of labour and capital in spite of repeated assurances to the contrary which were based on nothing more than straight up fucking conjecture and were in direct contradiction to what EU leaders were saying at the time as well…nothing. Nobody is being held accountable. Boris fucking Johnson drove around in a bus with £350m  plastered on the side of it in big white lettering and then literally turned around the morning of the results and claimed that was never a thing, and in return he got appointed as the  fucking Foreign Secretary.

I’m going to keep saying it until we admit it – it’s not about making America or Britain great again, it’s about making them white and exclusive again. It’s not about taking back control from the establishment, it’s about making sure the establishment reflects an unthinking and emotional segment of the population’s bigoted, nasty and narrow-minded prejudices. “But wait”, you cry, “it’s not true! We’ve suffered for so long under the rule of an uncaring urban elite, who’ve not delivered anything to us! I didn’t want to vote for Trump/Brexit, I wanted to vote for change/to make a point/because what we had hasn’t worked since Regan/Thatcher! Arghlblarghblarghblarghblargh!”

I’ve wrestled with that argument, as it seems to be a reasonable one on the face of it, and have constructed a carefully reasoned response which I believe succinctly elucidates the contrary position: Go get fucked you pillock. That’s exactly what Hitler did (no this is not Godwin’s Law). He waved the Treaty of Versaille around and made loud, angry noises, and told the Germans how unfairly they’d been treated, and how letting the foreigners have a say in things was responsible for the suffering of the German people, and it was the status quo political establishment of the day who were to blame, and how Germany should be great again, and how it should be kept for Germans only, and the rest is history. And if you think it couldn’t happen again because we live in HD colour, not black and white newsreels voiced over by impeccable BBC accents, you’re grossly underestimating the stupidity of the human race – it will be more difficult to get to that tipping point again, I believe, but destruction will be a lot quicker and more widespread with the weaponry at hand.

So as the dust settles, and cooler heads begin prevailing, here’s the rock and hard place our Trump and Brexit supporting friends find themselves stuck between. Either they insist on a hard line implementation of everything promised before the votes were counted, knowing full well that if enough of a chorus is raised and those in power have their hand forced it will in fact come back to bite us all in the ass…or stay quiet, and in doing so tacitly admit that it was never about workable proposals, it was about supporting people who gave voice to the prejudices that they hold. An affirmation that their racism, or xenophobia, or sexism, or misogyny, is in fact acceptable – without having to be individually accountable for it. And I’m betting on the latter…it seems, from where I’m sitting, that people just wanted to get together in a large enough group so that they felt it was ok to be a dick without being accountable for changing.

The Age of Outrage

A Humble Defense of Being Highly Opinionated

Consultation with my Magic Eight ball confirms that impassioned rage coupled with a superior sense of self-righteousness manifesting as a series of overly verbose missives can only be employed finitely before one begins to sound like and morph into a pale, obese, sweat-stained fringe political talkshow host on satellite radio, or gets offered a role at the UN drafting strongly worded resolutions in response to global crises. As this is something I wish to avoid, I’ve decided to have a crack at being reasonable and calm, and avoid profanity in a shockingly unexpected attempt to demonstrate that I am not a blustering fool. Well, not just a blustering fool. Ha!

Anyway, over the last few months I’ve seen a fair number of people involved with both the Brexit and recent US election on the winning side seem to have adopted a “Now everybody shut up, we won, you’re not allowed to say anything ever again, bow to your new overlords!” type of approach to things. This is quite obviously in line with the democratic spirit, as long as your name is Genghis Khan and by ‘democracy’ you understand “military aided unilateral imposition of governmental authority, perhaps with a side of rape and pillage”. Some have gone further and told those daring to comment on social media that because we aren’t British or American we shouldn’t presume we’re allowed to have an opinion at all. Or, because opinions on social media are similar to Whose Line is It Anyway, where it’s all made up and the points don’t matter (yup, I just did that), people should just focus on their daily lives and being useful to the people who are in their immediate vicinity.

Now, I know that a large number of the sort of person who votes for things like banning immigration based on race and religion, and cancelling trade agreements, or thinks that the head in the sand approach is the ideal way forward,  very much want to believe that the world is huge and we all still live in isolated little villages a la the indomitable Gauls. However, the absence of things like scurvy,  widespread gangrene as a result of cannon-ball inflicted injuries to limbs and dramatic night-time entrances into smoke filled inns by horsemen carrying lanterns and warning of some or other impending disaster about to befall the land do, in fact, support the notion that it is not 1835 anymore. This has turned into a long-winded and overly image-laden way of pointing out that globalisation is a reality, and we live in a global, interconnected world whether we like it or not.  This, in turn, means that everybody is affected by things like a potentially insane dictator-wannabe getting his grubby little finger near the nuclear codes of the USA, or a man who looks something like a shaggy dog in a suit taking over responsibility for the UK’s foreign policy, having a few short years earlier written a poem about the Turkish dictator president shagging a goat.

I can forgo the profanity, but forgoing a good underhanded strikethrough-based insult is a bridge too far.

My point is, things just don’t happen in isolation anymore – and on top of that, news spreads fast now. And I think that gives everybody the right, and maybe even responsibility, to have an opinion about important things – whether or not they’re immediately or directly impacted. Pension funds invest in global portfolios, with global exposures to multiple currencies. Wars are no longer local in scope and location. Emigration no longer means moving to the village a couple days walk down the road. Society is more integrated and diverse than ever before in history. In a world of instant, widely available information, we are confronted more than ever before with beliefs, customs, cultures and ideologies that make us uncomfortable, and challenge us. In a global world, everything affects everybody in some way eventually.

Unfortunately, it seems that in this day and age, the lunatic fringe is taking the center, and in place of a real debate where we all bugger off to the pub afterwards and agree to disagree over a good glass of wine, we now have screaming, hand waving, frothy demagogues with bad hair and very flimsy senses of responsibility whipping up legions of nameless, faceless keyboard warriors into frenzied caps-locked diatribes, railing against anything and anybody who dares to disagree with their appointed saviour’s infallible opinion.

This used to be amusing if only for the obvious irony that this lot seems to miss every time, but things have taken a darker turn in recent years – #Gamergate is one example, but there are plenty of others as well where victims (and anybody who defended them online publicly) had personal details and correspondence hacked and published online. People’s lives have literally been ruined for simply disagreeing with a point of view. Once, it was he who dares wins, but now, it seems it’s he who shouts loudest and has the best IT skillset (this is apparently a viable election strategy as well). As an aside, if I ever have a child I dislike, I’m going to call it “Irony”, just so that I can smugly answer “NO!” and chuckle every time they come home from somewhere and ask if I’ve missed them.

Anyway, here’s my two cents for better or worse – let’s not be dicks when it comes to allowing other people to express their thoughts on an issue purely because we disagree with it. The more people who are informed and educated in this world the better. BUT…pay attention to that word “informed” – if you’re going to have an opinion, please for the love of God make sure it’s informed. It really isn’t any surprise that a website with “altnaturaltruth.org” in the URL and an article headlined “OMG GUYS VACCINE COMPANY DELIBERATELY MURDERS BABIES IN CHINA” has found research confirming that vaccines are, in  fact, responsible for a genocide far worse than Hitler ever instigated. Maybe try reading something a little more balanced and scientific – or don’t, but then expect to be eviscerated for being an idiot.

And that’s the first caveat –  you only have the right to hold an opinion respected, not the opinion itself. Don’t be that guy who screams that people have to respect your opinion when somebody disagrees with you – it’s not true, and you don’t understand things. If I was of the opinion that the odd kiddy shag every now and then was a great way to spend an evening, you wouldn’t respect it, you’d call the police. So when you have an opinion that is idiotic, don’t be surprised when it gets called out as such. And don’t then get offended and start yelling something about Hitler and mothers and libtards and neo-colonialists and privilege. If your opinion is stupid, factually speaking, it’s your own fault. And don’t go the free speech route either – the right to free speech is the right not to be imprisoned or otherwise persecuted by the government for what you say, not the right not to have your dumbass ideas dismantled by somebody who actually knows what they’re talking about.

And the second caveat, following on from that, is to have an open mind to the possibility you’re wrong. This is one that we’re always happy to apply to other people who generally are wrong, but never ourselves because we’re not. If somebody provides an argument that, on the body of factual, objective, verifiable evidence presented makes more sense than yours, have the balls to change your mind. That’s at the heart of the scientific method, and without it, I’d still be blaming myself for all of my shortcomings and giving kudos to a magic sky wizard for all of my victories. And pretending my kid was the result of immaculate conception because intercourse without the legitamacy of a signed piece of paper results in nothing but hellfire folks.

So there you go, an entire post without profanity – hooray! Now, get out there, learn things, think about them, form opinions! But please, don’t just base them on something you read on something like a random, unlinked  fucking blog.

Ah shit.

Well, Fuck.

As I write this, Donald Trump has won the US election, and is officially the president-elect of the United States of America.

Jesus Fucking Christ Almighty.

Having witnessed the internet flip its collective mind right the fuck out over the last couple of hours, let’s bring a bit of perspective back here. The world is not ending. The sun will rise tomorrow. And this is why a constitutional system has all of the checks and balances it does (if it’s halfway decent) – because people are generally fucking idiots and cannot be trusted to objectively do the right thing when it comes to important shit like electing politicians. Donald Trump may be swanning around with that annoyingly smug grin on his face right now, hair flapping in the breeze as he furtively scans whichever room he’s in for a last another pussy to grab before he has to move into the White House and at least try and be a president, but he’s not about to go and build that wall. He’s not about to deport all the Mexicans. He’s certainly not about to start infringing on civil liberties and racially profiling non-white Muslim immigrants (well, no more than the American government currently does). And he won’t be launching a nuclear attack any time soon. Because, quite simply he can’t do any of those things unilaterally.

This is not a dictatorship. And yes, the Republicans have retained control of the House and Senate, but most of the Republican establishment loathes Trump as much as the Democrats. Even a presidential veto is subject to override, given enough of a majority. And even though he is a misogynistic, chauvinistic, populist buffoon, he still ostensibly has enough of a brain to realise that if he doesn’t pull his shit together he’s going to be impeached long before 2020 (still, hope springs eternal – but I digress). So stop crashing the Canadian immigration website, put the ashes and sackcloth away, and let’s focus on the real problem with the outcome of this election: a much, much larger percentage of our society are straight up first class bellend fucking cunts, and they get the same say in things as those of us who can actually pull our heads out of our arseholes every now and then and take a look at the bigger picture.

Seriously, what the actual fuck America? (And fuck off Britain, you don’t get to weigh in here either.) Why on God’s green earth is there no licence to vote? You need a licence to own a gun (ok, maybe a weak example for America), you need a licence to drive a car, you need a goddam licence to own an animal, but wanna vote? You don’t even need to bring an ID for that shit in most states.

This system presupposes that “the reasonable man” will prevail. This, however,  is not the case. History is littered with examples of this not being the case. Most recently, the Brexit. So why the goddam fuck have we not instituted some sort of test to weed out people who actually understand the general issues and economics at hand from the people who, in spite of having never actually lost a job to an immigrant or met a muslim in their life before, still get the same weighting applied to their opinion? Some people are just dumb, and it’s time we started accepting this, and adjusting accordingly. If you honestly believe that a candidate can simply build a wall to keep people out of a country, in a global world, then you don’t deserve to be let into a polling station, because you are an ignorant simpleton who doesn’t understand how the world works.

It’s embarrassing. It’s depressing. Maybe Hillary wasn’t a great candidate, or maybe she was just portrayed negatively, but either way, if you think that a rapey, racist fraudster is better than somebody who’s worst crime was sending emails off her personal phone, then you simply don’t deserve to vote, because your ability to evaluate the facts is clearly being clouded by something irrational and subjective – be it your bullshit faith, or prejudices against other races, or fanatical desire to tell women how to treat their bodies, or hatred for people who choose a different lifestyle to you. Again – and I can’t emphasise this enough –  because this means you are a cunt.

But that’s not the worst thing about it.

It is the fact that we seem to have such a seemingly large proportion of our world who are so bigoted, and blinded by irrational ideologies, fears and hatreds that is really the most galling and wretched thing about Trump winning this election. We’re apparently  a majority bunch of small-minded arseholes who live in a fantasy of fake nostalgia, when men were men and fucked women whether they liked it or not, where Muslims rode camels and lived in tents in the desert, where blacks and Hispanics knew to shut up and be grateful for the scraps thrown to them from the tables built and bought with the scars of their real and de-facto slavery, when the West was “great”, where immigrants were grateful for the squalid lives they were allowed to live and knew their place was amongst the sewerage running through their ghettos, not amongst those who dared to dream of and aspire to better lives. More of us are apparently scared at best and downright awful and bigoted at worst than are not.

So I guess we have democracy to thank for showing us that much at least. Still, the kind of person who votes for Trump is generally not the kind of person whose mind will be changed simply by looking at the facts, so the next best thing is a voting licence. In the interim, it’s vodka for the pain.