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.

Goddammit, Christianity

Preface to my Christian friends who I know personally…you’re potentially going to be offended reading this. Potentially highly. Don’t say I didn’t tell you.

The 2016 US presidential shitshow election has come and gone. The world now waits with bated breath to see whether or not Donald Trump will, in fact, be replacing all of the porcelain toilets in the White House with solid gold ones. And whether or not he’s going to make it through his first 100 days without getting impeached for grabbing stray pussies that inadvertently wander into his cruise-ship sized ego’s sphere of sentience.

As the dust settles though, can we just talk about the bloody Christians for a bit? Because Jesus H. Christ did they only come out in full fucking fundamentalist beast mode over the last few months…I’ve not seen so much frothing at the bung by a group of people since…well it’s 2016 and the Age of Outrage, so everybody is always frothing at the bung about something. Anyway – the Christians.

As a prelude, in case you don’t know me and have accidentally found your way here hoping that “Subtlety” was the name of an amateur pornstar and this was her website, it’s salient to this piece that I was, in fact, a born-again Christian for a good 13 years – worship band, creative ministry, the whole bang shoot. So I’m not talking out of my arsehole when I talk about Christianity – I lived it. I was fucking miserable, but I did it. The point is, I when I give Christianity shit, it’s from a first-hand perspective, not a preconceived notion based on an inherent bias and no actual knowledge.

So, with that out of the way, can I get an answer to a simple question – why the goddam hell is Donald Trump the candidate of choice for the Christian right? I’ve literally spent the last day exhausted after a mammoth Facebook debate with a fellow who was abso-goddam-lutely convinced that Trump was a saint and Clinton the devil incarnate. The best part about it was that all of Trump’s negative attributes were simply excused and explained away using the same bits of the Bible that he used to condemn Clinton to the pit of Hell. Sadly, this impossible position was lost on my sparring partner, who eventually called me an ape and told me I love evolution (in fairness, I do). I’ve seen a lot of comments about how Trump is the right choice because Clinton has “destroyed the family structure” and “she supports abortion.” A lot of those comments have been made by friends who I genuinely love and respect. But bigotry, sexism and blind misogyny cannot simply go unchallenged. This isn’t about supporting either Trump or Clinton, it’s about calling out bullshit. So let’s fucking have at it.

I’m not going to point out the obvious hypocrisy of supporting a man who thinks sexual assault is ok because he’s famous, who believes that the building he named after himself serving tacos makes him not racist even though he thinks that everybody from the land of tacos is a rapist and murderer, and who won’t take women seriously because they menstruate, whilst condemning a woman who did not do any of those things but did have the temerity to support peoples’ rights to live and love freely – in the name of Christianity. Well, I might get there. Not now. But what I do want to do is ask another simple question:

Where on earth do you Christians get off thinking that you’re more important than everybody else?

Seriously, I think Christianity is a load of horse-shit. Well, that’s not fair to horse-shit – at least you can see and touch the fucking horse, unlike Christianity, where the horse is a magical invisible deity who, in all honesty, is a bit of a cunt based on both his alleged actions and inactions over the last 6,000 years (according to Biblical chronology at least). But, if that’s your thing – and it was mine for a long time, so I get it – I’ve got no problem with that. Enjoy it. Be absolutely denialistic and miserable free in the warm, tender embrace of your faith.

But please, please stop expecting people who believe differently to also pander to your fucked up whims because you possess some sort of self-ascertained God-given monopoly on the truth and are entitled to enforce it. I know you believe that is the case, but we don’t. So seriously, stop.

Clinton has destroyed the family structure by supporting gay marriage. Really? Fucking really? REALLY? If you honestly believe according to your faith that a family should comprise a male father, a female mother, and offspring, good for you. Not for one goddam second do I want to force you to believe otherwise. Not everybody believes what you believe  though. So why do you think you have the right to demand they acquiesce to your belief  anyway? Donald Trump has been married how many times now? Is Dad, mom, step-mom and ex-step mom an acceptable family structure then? Should single folk not be allowed to adopt kids? Or do you just find the idea of gay people icky and not want to admit that your religion that claims love and tolerance is actually kind bigoted and cunty?

Now, I know that Christians love to cite completely, totally, definitely-not-aiming-for-a-specific-outcome objective research carried out by other Christians  pertaining to the negative effects of being raised by wolves gay couples. For some reason, this research is fixated on the apparently uncontrollable and rapacious sexual appetites of those naughty naughty gays, and tends to conclude that children raised by same sex couples are absolutely going to be sexually abused, and in turn grow up to be abusers, addicts and leeches on society themselves. This is important because no sexual abuse has ever occurred in a traditional home you guys. That’s why kids from heterosexual homes are always so well-adjusted and successful. Also, think of all those gay couples chaining their kids up and locking them away in basements for years on end, or injecting them with fucking heroin to get them to sleep, or committing incest. And we’re all getting pretty sick and tired of all the mass shootings that kids raised by gay couples keep on perpetrating.  Right, straight Christian folk?

The other issue that seemed to cause the collective explosion of Christianity’s head was abortion. Clinton supports abortion. Firstly, no, she supports a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion or not. That’s a subtle, but important difference.  Secondly, would you please, please, please stop fucking bleating on about how abortion is murder? Murder is always taking a life, taking a life is not always murder. Kill a man in self-defence – not murder. Apparently a large number of Christians are unaware of the New Testament, and feel that the death penalty is definitely not retributive justice of the type that the Bible is clear is God and God’s alone to dole out, and totes not murder either. So why do you think you have the sole right to decide whether or not abortion is murder?

What happens when a mother’s life is endangered by the pregnancy? Just let her die? Is that not murder? And if you fucking tell me it’s not because it was God’s will I will mail you horse-shit in a box every month for the rest of your life. Ok, I won’t, but I wanted to make a point, and the italics weren’t punchy enough for me. What about where a foetus is going to live in pain and suffering for all of a day or two before dying due to some birth defect – did I miss the verse where Jesus said “Verily, I say unto thee, be cruel to tiny helpless babies because that’s what this shit is all about yo.”?  No? Still haven’t updated the Bible to include that one? Where do you get off demanding that women don’t get to decide what’s best for them and their baby in consultation with medical professionals, but you do in consultation with a book that makes a lot of completely unproven fantastic claims about things like turning water into wine and feeding large crowds with starvation rations? The Bible rails against arrogance repeatedly and here you stand smug and secure in the knowledge that you are right because, like,  the Bible –  and the good ship Irony sails right on by up the river Ignorance, buoyed  by the ever-incoming tide of No-Facts-Needed-For-Faith.

I could go on and on about Christianity, and maybe I’ll write another post another time unpacking my general dislike for it and all organised religion really – this post was presaged by the US election specifically, and so I’ve focussed on the two issues that really grated my carrot as I read what people I respect, know and like were writing on social media. But I will make one more point.

If you’re reading this and are Christian and have made it this far, I hope you are by now offended. Potentially with a side of disappointment.

Because now you understand exactly how I feel when I see you stand up and unthinkingly attempt to defend the indefensible purely because you believe some book tells you to do so. When society condemns your bigoted beliefs, words like “Freedom of Speech” and “Freedom of Religion” are tossed around with, ahem, gay abandon, and then the moment society backs off  and leaves you to it you turn around and start doing exactly the same thing. So please, for the love of Christ, stop.

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.