The Tabloid, The Councillor & the Oppression of Murdoch

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Somebody put newsprint in the standard refuse bin!

On the morning of Friday 28th Oct, I had occasion to be in the vicinity of the foyer of the Odeon cinema.  A strange foyer it is too.  Chatting with a member of Odeon staff a while back, I was told that the reason for it’s oddly chasm-like appearance and unused ticket desk is funds shortage.

In this cinema foyer there is a newspaper stand full of the oft-vilified Sun newspaper.  I’d noticed it before, gleaming red as it does next to the rubbish bin and the tiny notice of the show times.  The stand offers the passer by the following temptation:

ODEON THE SUN

PICK UP YOUR

FREE COPY

OF THE SUN

Previously I had disregarded this.  Something about the way the wind was blowing on Friday 28th Oct made me feel differently this time.  I was with our son, and as he is never one to shy away from acting impulsively, I made a suggestion.

From the get-go, I should state that I am not a fan of The Sun.  I wouldn’t buy it.  I find that if someone is reading it, loud sirens go off in my head about that person.  To be perfectly frank, I am in hate with The Sun and all that it stands for.

With that knowledge floating around in your mind, you are now ready to hear that I had suggested emptying all the free copies into the recycling bin – handily just outside the Odeon.  I can’t claim this as a completely original idea.  I had see video of a big burly guy in an airport I think it was, taking out the entire pile in one and dumping them wholesale into a nearby bin.  I can at least claim innovation – I wanted this paper recycled.  I care about the environment.

So young Master Colcestrian and myself set about shifting the whole lot of papers, in batches, from the red stand offering “Please take a free copy” to the council recycling bin outside.  At one point a couple of young girls stopped us and one of them said “You can’t put all those in the bin.”

“It’s ok,” i said. “We’re recycling them.”

“Oh, no problem then!” she replied, and we carried on.

We carried on until there were none left, and the recycling bin was groaning after it’s equivalent of a Thanksgiving Feast and Christmas dinner all rolled into one.  My son and I parted company when his friends arrived , we congratulated each other on a job well done and I began to walk home, putting together a little tweet using some pics I’d taken of our handiwork.

Little did I expect than within half an hour there would be around 50 RTs.  What was going on?  It didn’t stop there – more and more RTs, likes, comments from people all over the UK – not just my wonderful home town of Colchester.  It was going bananas, and I sat back not knowing what to think.  I thanked a few people, made a few comments and just absorbed the viral nature of it all.

It had been very much a spur of the moment thing; a sudden urge to remove what I viewed as a scourge of the mainstream media from the level of children walking in to watch Trolls.  It was done as a throwaway thing and I hadn’t thought more of it.  I didn’t expect the response I got.  As of writing this blog, the tweet has been seen by just over 65,000 people, it’s had over 8,500 people press the little pictures with their fingers or mouse (that gets me the most for some reason!) and it’s been RTd 633 times and Liked 829 times.  Considering most of my tweets get ignored and if I get one like or RT I’m surprised, you can picture the slack-jawed guppy walking around Colcestrian Manor…

I have to say that the overwhelming majority of response this tweet received was favourable, bordering on frantic enthusiasm (see below).  But, a small percentage seemed to come at the ‘stunt’ as nothing more than a childish prank to attack free speech and the freedom of the press.  One particular lonely voice amongst the congratulatory public was a councillor for the local area (also see below) who made it very clear over and over to me and other voters that free speech was being trodden on here and I was taking away the common person on the street’s choice.

I know, I know what you’re going to say… isn’t there a newsagents just next door to the cinema that sells all colours and flavours of the news chronicles that the lovely people of this fair land like to get informed by?

Yes, yes there is.  Any Colcestrian – not just the one badly hitting these keys at the moment – could freely walk into Jane Bloggs Cinema Newsagents and purchase The Sun, The Guardian, The Financial Times and stroll off happy.  I question whether the two Colcestrians in the body of myself and my son were really harming the choice of news material for the local area.

And this is where we get to the crux of why I’m writing this blog.  Why pick this point?  Why did the councillor and some other people (a couple of whom I knew) take such an opposing view point and feel the need to point it out repeatedly?

Is it ideological?  Were they making a point of principle?

I kind of hope so, because the other reasons are petty vindictiveness, and plain cranky lack of finger on the pulse of the people.  There are so many other things to get on your high horse about, both locally and further afield.  Why decide to go after one man and a boy staging a peaceful protest against the machine?

I didn’t harm the right to free speech by recycling a bunch of Sun papers.  That implies a level playing field where the common person’s voice is as loud as that of an oligarch.  I think Newscorp might have more influence over the spread of news than me.

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I wonder whether these people would have stayed the arm of Winton from 1984 when he wished to rail against Big Brother.  “Come on mate, I’m no fan of BB, and I know he controls all that we see, say and even think, but freedom of the press and all Winny!”

It has really made me question if I’m living in the same reality or world-view as some other souls that I walk the Earth with.

At the same time as I was handing a nice bit of pulping revenue to the local council, not far away a homeless man had made it to safe harbour having been set upon viciously by an anonymous gang.  His injuries were so severe that he required immediate medical help and was concerned to be seen by those helping him.

The Sun plays a huge part in feeding the kind of narrative that leads to divisions which make us fear ‘the Other’.  It’s a nasty, sexist, misogynistic, racist, inciting, vile war-mongering piece of tabloid filth, and the sooner it and others like it disappear into the heart of the actual sun, the better humanity will be.

This is the reason stores around the country are refusing to stock the publication.  Why there are groups like Justice for the 96.  This is why millions of people get behind Lily Allen and Gary Lineker, rather than side with the press.  I’m not in the minority, wanting to see the back of Murdoch’s populist rag.  The minority are those shouting ‘Free Speech oppressor’ at me for recycling some papers from the foyer of the Odeon.

I know I’m not damaging The Sun’s readership by removing a hundred or so copies from circulation.  In fact, I may well have given them the impression their free ‘sales’ were up.  This in turn could lead to more advertising revenue for them, and so on and so on… but!

And it’s a big butt!

But, i’m not just recycling papers.  I’m also tweeting about it.  I’m getting into arguments with local councillors.  I’m one of many people raising the profile of #DontBuyTheSun.  I’m calling out The Odeon for entering into the uniquely monopolising stance of giving just one newspaper away in their foyers.

If the people vociferous against this kind of action were as vocal about the things The Sun did, I think things might be slightly better.

So have a go at people doing this if you must, and say we’re wasting our time – that’s fine.  Say these acts will have no effect, by all means.  But don’t call it censorship, when clearly it isn’t going to quiet the voice of multi-billionaires in any way.

I will leave you with something a wise woman once said to me:

How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.

This F***ing Referendum

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I have thought long and hard to come to my decision on how to vote tomorrow.

 

These are the words trotted out, and I have researched and fact-checked…

But, in reality it is a no-brainer for me.

Just as in The States, a deeply divisive and sexist man has been allowed to dictate the nature of the debate.

We shouldn’t be in this place.

….

A wise person once said “Never make a decision when you’re angry, because when you’re angry you’re an idiot version of yourself.”

I would say that, as a nation, we’re pretty angry right now.

And that is why I’m voting for REMAIN.

Please consider your votes with care and see you on the other side. I’m off for a ‘sabbatical’ to study feminism, so I’m going to be a bit more quiet for a while. 

 

The Colcestrian 💗

Sexism & Europe: Why I’ve been quiet of late

portrait-of-little-girl-crying-and-sobbing_vj8jawaqf__s0000I’ve been very quiet on the Twitter since the recent Colchester elections.  To be honest, they burned me out.  I got so drawn in that I lost focus on actual human thoughts and was found babbling about Greenstead Ward in the lean-to, hovering over litter trays.

My regular life, outside of doing Colcestrian stuff, is quite complicated and of course includes everything that matters more to me than local or national politics.  I have a family who rely upon me and despite being very socially-involved themselves (even the 9yo boy) still suffered politics-itis over the month I was churning out Q&As with the Council Candidates.

It was a very worthwhile event, and though I won’t say it was responsible for changing the face of local politics, it engaged a lot of people and became a topic of conversation in itself.  It surprised me.

But now, I am burnt out.  I’m still subjecting myself to politics, but I’m not having to battle getting some sleep with pushing the next blog out.  In fact, there’s the rub in a way… I don’t want to blog, and there are two reasons.  These two reasons are more linked than at first they appear, and you saw them in the title above.

1 – Sexism.  Twitter is dominated by men.  In that sense, it does of course reflect the rest of the known universe. I’ve seen women on it.  Therefore I know they exist in the Twittersphere, but boy is it a different experience for them??!!

2 – Europe.  The EU Referendum is driving me into a rage.  I knew it would be bad, but my oh my, this is beyond bad into the realms of badddddddddd.  That’s 10 ‘d’s and something Michael Jackson would have been proud of.  But The King of Pop would be shaking his fascinating head in bewilderment at what we’ve got ourselves caught up in if he were with us still.

 

BUT

 

I am going to blog.  I’m going to put out one little thing.  I think.

So, see you soon!

 

The Colcestrian

 

It Couldn’t Happen Here…

Bloody Immigrants.

Coming over here, stealing our jobs, filling up our schools, clogging up our NHS, taking our council houses, congesting the roads…

 

And so on and so on.

 

Even if you buy into the myth that most of these humans are so-called ‘economic migrants’ moving to a new bit of land where the living conditions are better, rather than fleeing war or horrors beyond war…

Even if you think that, then so what?  Who hasn’t moved their family from one place to another to improve their lot?  Did you consider the socio-economic ramifications of your move on the area you were entering?  Did you worry about crossing any arbitrary borders set up over millennia of tribal wars of societies past?

If you think that suddenly, despite the fact that 28 countries having to agree on new members joining the EU, Turkey is going to begin pouring its population through the channel tunnel, then you really need to reconsider your approach.

Moving house is a huge pain in the backside.  Often quoted as one of the most stressful things in existence.  Imagine moving country.  Imagine what that involves.  It’s not popping to see a movie one evening.  My other half moved countries and I can tell you it wasn’t a walk in the park, and it remains with her to this day, and always will.

Imagine moving country not through any kind of real choice, but because your home has exploded.  Having mingled with actual escapees from war, I can report that resettling after that is not like checking out the location of the nearest post office or convenience store.

Take this interactive test… Let us all know how you got on…

https://impossiblechoices.org/


But it couldn’t happen here!  Phew!  It only really happens to brown countries…

Imagine Trump getting the US presidency…

Imagine Johnson becomes PM…

Imagine Brexit causes a domino effect and the collapse of the EU…

Imagine Putin expands his Ukraine campaign…

This isn’t fear-mongering – this is a study of history and how people react to actual fear.

It could happen here.

The Missiles Are Flying – Hallelujah!

This has been a long time coming.  I acknowledge the huge gap in time since my first main blog. This is not due to lack of ideas, but rather a glut which I am finding hard to cope with. 
There is so much to write about, so many news stories and local issues, most of which have already been covered so well by some great minds. I don’t really know where to begin, so I think I’ll probably do a series of mini blogs and apologies if I’m retreading ground already sufficiently covered!!

For today, Trump… Lord help me…

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I am aghast that this joke candidate from previous years, this self-promoting toddler of a man, has become the Republican front runner for the US presidency.

Compare and contrast with the last couple of presidential elections – it is incredible.  It is so unfathomable, that the Democrats are pretty much leaving well-alone until such time as they may have to admit they are running against an open fascist with no moral centre.

In previous years at least the Democratic candidate had an idea of the Bible-thumping, war-mongering, oil-baron types they were up against.  This time all bets are off.  If Cruz can’t pip Drumpf at the final count then they are going to have to come up with a way to deal with surreal during the campaign proper.

Trump really is a different beast.  His awful rise to prominence has in turns amused, shocked and then worried millions of people around the world.  I myself feel as though I’m living through a nightmare dystopian 1980’s movie (Martin Sheen as Donald Trump – Dead Zone).

I’ve seen jokes over the course of a few months change from slightly light-hearted Back to the Future‘s Biff Tannen being the Mayor in a terrible version of the future (Biff/Trump), to a more uneasy chuckle of Twelve Monkeys style lunatic asylums full of time travellers coming back to kill the actual Donald Trump (12 Monkeys/Trump).

People are genuinely becoming worried, and with reason.  This person may very well become the Republican choice to go up against (very likely) Hillary Clinton.

In recent times the US has tended very much towards the Democrats, and you would hope to see this trend continue – in that sense, then Trump is no threat to whichever Democrat candidate stands.  The engagement of the black vote, the youth contingent, ever more American women voting – largely consequences of the Obama years – all these factors point overwhelmingly towards Democrat leadership… however, in this uncertain fear-based political climate, where many in our internet population seem to have forgotten cause and effect, I can almost see it happening.

Can you just imagine the shame, though?  Think of it – looking back at those US presidential coin collections (Real Now!), commemorative booklets or even flipping Wikipedia entries in future years where the long line of presidents is listed…

Can you even contemplate what that would be like?  Can you stand to see that face staring back out at you from 45th position on the list?  It makes me feel bad enough that old George W is there, not to mention Nixon and i’m sure you have a few others, but at least they were actual politicians.

Don’t think this couldn’t happen here either!  Farage, Johnson and others like him employ the same rhetoric, spout the same lies, raise the same fear out of people. They just have less cash.

They lie big, and repeat. We don’t care. We vote on single small issues kidding ourselves it’s a protest against the man. We vote for personality. We fear THEM.
We like to think we’ve learned from the past and that we are distant from it.
This is how to sleepwalk into a fascist state.
Argue and you’re a loony, lefty, communist layabout.

Trump won’t win.

He has virtually the same politics as Cruz, without the politeness filter on. There’s a fair chance that Cruz will be chosen instead as the GOP candidate.  In the end it doesn’t really matter.  The damage is done.  It’s been shown to be acceptable to act in the way Trump does and still think you can hold, arguably, the highest office on the world stage.

We have a lot of work to do.

So, I’ve vented now and that is that.  I’m going to think happy thoughts about going from the first ever president of African American heredity to either the oldest ever president or the first woman president.

Anyway, Trump means Fart, as my Dad used to say.

 …
The Colcestrian
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