The tradition of the politico-media whipped-up lynch-party is a long and undistinguished one. In the past we have seen examples such as the Dreyfus affair in France, Krystallnacht and Book burning in Germany, the McCarthy era in America, and more recently the unjustified vilification of the entire Greek nation.
I have already posted about how I’m fairly sure – in this, the age of exploding news volumes across many different media forms – we are seeing the emergence of an attempt to destroy Britain’s most famous media institution…by falsely flagging systemic criminal sexual perversion within its ranks. But this increasingly appears to be part of a broader campaign to try and slip horrendously illiberal legal instruments through Parliament in order to “legalise” the silencing of columnists and bloggers far beyond the BBC…either by making it easy and free to sue them, or by arresting them on the grounds of smears that, when interrogated, simply don’t stand up.
A classic example of this is to be debated imminently in the House of Commons. It is a catch-all permission to arrest under the heading of a sexual offences order.
Basically, what we have here is a vague and atrociously drafted Bill which gives every pinched goblin (in search of imagined terrorists and other enemies) carte blanche to accuse, charge, try and then bang up anyone whose current criticisms and past actions suggest they’re sympathetic to sexual psychopathy….even if the opposite would be nearer to the truth. It represents, effectively, a disguised Emergency Powers Act under which all of us could easily be thought a danger to public safety on the basis of nothing more than hearsay and long-gone youthful indiscretions.
In my own case for example, it would not be hard to put together some convincing slurs to render me history. An innocently inherited and entirely self-regarding medical condition could be used to shut me up permanently: I often joke about it (because I think honesty about mental issues is vital from every angle) but I have a genetic depression condition which – while it isn’t bipolar – did at times cause me intense anxiety, making it impossible for me to function. Now I take an SSRnI to control it, and it does just that.
But this makes me a person with a history of mental illness.
In the past I have written the following: I knew Jimmy Savile slightly when I was young, and never saw anything other than eccentric about him; I think Stuart Hall was fitted up for the abuse of a nine-year-old girl; I think Dave Lee Travis was a silly groper, not a paedophile; the sex charges against Jimmy Tarbuck and Paul Gambaccini are risibly unbelievable; and there is very strong evidence to suggest that Rolf Harris is more victim than perpetrator.
And that lays me open to charges of being a paedo appeaser.
I could write the Sun headline for you right now: HOW NUTCASE BLOGGER DEFENDED CHILD-SEX PREDATORS.
I have a close friend who, until recently, was one of the top UK bloggers. Her blogging name is Anna Raccoon, and she isn’t the easiest person to get on with: indeed, we have crossed swords in the past. But what sets Raccoon apart from the mass of blogosmear loons is her unique capacity for forensic examination of every cause and scandal – without owing the slightest loyalty to either side, but – as her blog always maintained – with a jaundiced eye on the media.
Anna has taken the contrarian view on everything from Hillsborough to Savile to Miliband to Jonathan King. But unlike those who yell and swear, she deals only in evidence…and her dealings are driven solely by a fear I share of the ill-informed, media-driven Mob. I do not always agree with her, but what she is going through at the moment is totally unwarranted. She is a fearless seeker after truth who now finds herself the subject of vile telephone and email abuse because she values facts more highly than tribal factions. People are quick to judge, but too lazy to read the Court records and study the data. Anna Raccoon is a hounded victim of that hypocrisy at a time in her life when she is in the grip of a life-threatening illness.
There is one intrinsic tyranny within the democratic ideal, and that is the Will of the Majority. It is the flaw in a system which nevertheless remains the best construct yet developed for keeping open the lines of feedback and accountability between citizenry and legislators. Unfortunately, now that the undemocratic ownership of mass media can influence the under-educated electorate to an extent never imagined in even Plato’s worst nightmares, the fragile tolerance of the opposing view – the real libertarian fulcrum of democracy as we understand it – will always be under threat.
All the instances I outlined at the start of this piece are examples of mob mentality morphing into the rightly feared Witch Hunt. In our contemporary media context, dark practices are increasingly at work to act as cynical catalysts in the process of converting positive, concerned disapproval into destructive, self-righteous accusation. This ranges from the American President paying professional trolls to write lies on Republican websites (as indeed the GOP tricksters wrote about him during his first election) all the way through to what we have today in the UK: a politically motivated attack on the integrity of the national broadcaster. The process Blair and Campbell started to get their war in Iraq going is now being polished off by the likes of Boris Johnson, Grant Shapps, Rupert Murdoch, Jeremy Hunt, and Michael Fallon.
As a result, in Cruel Britannia today there is a lynch-mob, evidence-ignoring bigotry being orchestrated by the Conservative gargoyle wing. It has three obvious aims: to acting as a distraction from the snail-like progress of the Fernbridge enquiry into alleged Elm House atrocities, to make the Met look good in a series of celeb arrests, and to so comprehensively smear the BBC that some ghastly combo of Fox News and Sky can take its place.
Anna Raccoon is nothing more than a truth-seeker caught in the crossfire between right and left wing ideological snipers. The Left sees Elm House as emblematic of Tory depravity imposed upon the innocent, and the Right depicts the BBC as the very quintessence of sexual evil. Both views are of course utterly ridiculous: but Raccoon has committed the ultimate thought-crime of daring to point this out.
The Infamous Five I listed above are the dominant movers; but behind them, in a regiment of discreet approval, stand David Cameron (irretrievably mired in a Newscorp connection) and George Osborne (mysteriously feted by the Barclay Brothers).
The Labour side of the House is no more inspiring. Miliband’s track record of enthusiastic, last-minute conversion to populist causes is suspect; as is Balls’s complicity and reprehensible public silence on the subject of the Co-op bank rape. Last Friday I watched enthralled as Austin Mitchell (a fine man whose politics I don’t share) tore into the asinine denials of G4S on the subject of compliance with Parliamentary demands for more information about its dealings with government agencies. But Mitchell represents a past Labour Party typified by the likes of Kate Hoey and Frank Field. Soon he will retire, leaving the field open to yet more goggle-eyed technocrats whose certainty is exceeded only by their votecentricity.
None of the coming men and women in British politics display much respect for the maverick opinion, however erudite its evidential base might be. Their view tends to be that a directionalised swing in votes is worth a million firmly-held principles. But the process-obsession of such people (and their utter lack of insight regarding consequences) fails to discern what the best bloggers see: the imminent death of freedom of speech based on fact not fallacy.
In a world where fallacy gains credence through lack of context, all of us face a future in which our past renders us dangerously vulnerable to kangaroo-Court conviction. I have watched too many partisan Bills introduced into this Parliament to feel safe with democracy in the hands of this version of the Conservative Party. But equally, I have listened to so much disturbingly fascist (and often irrelevant) aspiration from Harman and Dromey, I wouldn’t trust them to preserve our liberties either.
Astonishingly, there is in the air in 2013 a complete memory block about the ends never justifying the means. This is in many cases the result of only a superficial understanding of philosophy among today’s middle class, and general ignorance among the rest; but among the Establishment it is directly related to two insistent features: the intolerance that results from total belief, and sheer undiluted greed. And these latter symptoms of fanaticism are what is driving the move in Government to ensure that the mass of voters are proactively misinformed…rather than just passively uninformed.
What began in 1979 as the process of depoliticisation is become a form of media nose-leading. Zero attention to education, more home ownership, longer working hours and poorer pay have produced an electorate too tired and distracted to think about what’s happening. While long-term unemployment, tabloidism, easy credit and the celeb/fame/game show morass that is television have delivered unto us an enormous class of people so dependent, defeated, selfish and cruel, they’re ideal recruits to the social army of bully-boys.
Except today, there is no Stürm Abteilung as in Weimar Germany. There is only a media set hell-bent on commercial dominance, and a blogosphere in which the pig-ignorant feel able to make their “case” via venomous phone calls, vitriolic emails, and truly pathetic posts about everything from Holocaust Denial to bonkers conspiracy theories. This serves only to let the likes of Levenson smear everything responsible bloggers write and research.
For me, in summary the landscape looks like this. An autocratic and thoroughly dishonest political executive; an Opposition blathering on about dated ideology and opportunist vote-catching tricks; an MSM biased towards globalist commerce; an apathetic electorate rapidly losing hope, or enthusiastically welcoming the Barbarians into the inner suburbs; an economic model and population size that will never work together without massive misery for the vast majority; and a blogosphere that prefers brainless accusation to solid evidence.
My analogy for the blogging community today would be that of a rapidly dwindling regiment of scruffy and blunderbuss-brandishing backwoodsmen who find themselves surrounded at The Alamo….and so have decided that the best way out of the mess is to kill themselves.
It’s time for The Slog to move on, try other things, use other media, and present a moving target. And for those who still have both the brain cells and the stomach for the fight, I suggest you focus on the Now of reality and the real Enemy.
Good luck. We are all going to need it.