Father of the Nation

For KK’s Flashback Track Friday prompt.

Having brokered career in law,
Let it go,
I could see things were unfair,
Let if go.

When the odds against were stacked,
Let it go,
I could see I had to act,
Let it go.

Took away my liberty,
Let it go,
When you threw away the key,
Let it go.

World expected to forget,
Let it go,
But I come back stronger, yet.
Let it go.

For all those years, neglected,
Let it go,
Yet released and then elected,
Let it go.

When I gained emancipation,
Let it go,
Became the Father of the Nation,
Let it go.

The thing I liked most about Nelson Mandela was the “truth and reconciliation” aspect. That he could turn around and say “you have done all sorts of evil against me, yet I am willing to put that to one side, because I have a more critical priority of sorting out the mess you made”. I think it shows the sign of a great man, and indeed many, many people, South Africa of today, and other countries, cannot see further than the “revenge” ticket, cannot see the end game.

But to be honest I found this prompt quite difficult, because I tend to admire views, but get less hung up on people. Plus, I think we all come with flaws. My favourite politician, I thought similarly on many issues, but not on others, Musically, I was influenced a lot by Bob Marley. To me, he was sound on racial issues, but was he so sound on other inequality issues? Same goes for something like the suffragettes and their focus of gender issues.

Anyway, just to illustrate my point, I’ll include one of my favourite anti-apartheid songs. See? It’s the issue, not the person. Nelson was probably the most important individual person, but that we changed the society is a far bigger thing.

No, thank you

There was a very interesting article on the News just now. Leicester is pretty much slap bang in the middle of England, It has a large proportion of Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority residents (BAME). It also got hit quite badly by COVID. They were one of the first hotspots way back last summer, and they never really calmed down.

Now that the vaccine has arrived, they’re starting to see an interesting statistic. Uptake among White residents is high – it is high pretty much everywhere in the UK. However, uptake in the BAME population is significantly lower.

Okay, some of us could maybe put that down to education. BAME people do not understand the benefits of the vaccine in the same way that White people do. But this argument is nonsense because they also surveyed the sectors in which people worked, and BAME *doctors* were also a very low uptake. I’d have thought a doctor would be savvier about the benefits of the COVID vaccine than most, wouldn’t you? And yet they still refuse the vaccine.

Where there was a correlation, however, was in trust. As in, how much these people trust the system.

It’s funny, because we have people who quite eloquently, and very vocally, point out how BAME people are treated differently to Whites. From what I have seen, everything they say is true. And it is only 10 years since our government was found out – trying to forcibly repatriate people back to the Carribean, because they didn’t have the correct documentation, which they had never been given in the first place. Hard-nosed politicians seem to have, for years, felt that they can take these steps with impunity, they could do whatever they want without repercussions. But I wonder whether what we are seeing is the payback?


I read one of Melanie’s Share Your World posts the other day. One of the questions was hypothetical, along the lines, would you be in favour of suspending rules for the day?

I also follow several bloggers who take part in this prompt, and so one by one I saw the responses come in. I think it was unanimous -nobody wanted to see them suspended.

It’s funny (well, sad!), because one of the things I toyed with as an adolescent was which system of government would be best. And, anarchy, was right up there. Which, of course, means “no rules”. That notion of doing as you pleased certainly had attractions. It is certainly a better system than some.

Of course, there had to be strings attached. You had to think in terms of a colony (i.e. someone joins willingly) rather than a nation (which you “join” unwillingly, based on your birthplace). And, one of the conditions is that nobody screws over anybody else. Beyond that, you do what you want. No rules. Anarchy – as long as everybody agreed to it.

This was quite a real concept maybe a hundred years ago. Back in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-9, one of the Republican factions was the Anarchists. They marched under a plain black flag. So there were people willing to stand up and fight for this ideology back then.

When you think about it, Anarchy falls short. It is that tendency to act as an individual. Looking after Number One is good up to a point, but if we think in a more “social” way we can pool our resources and have buildings, schools, roads, hospitals etc. that we’d be unlikely to have if we acted individually. Even battleships, if we’ve a mind. I’m sorry to anybody who has been conditioned to think that socialism is evil, but every time we leave our houses, we enjoy its benefits. Even the mechanic who is able to fix our car because of the education we, as a member of society, afforded them.

And certainly in the context of something global, like climate change, it is even more obvious. You can’t really afford to be an anarchist. We need to pull, together, in a certain direction and anarchy means the exact opposite.

Anyway, I thought it was an interesting question, that and the spinoff about how you could make a “no rules” society work. That’s one of the ways in which it might work. But everybody would need to agree up front to behave themselves and that, of course, is why it couldn’t work.

Speaking Your Mind

I saw a post fly past last night by Fandango, the subject was a post he had read on freedom of speech / hate speech. He’d commented on a post and been asked some more questions in return.

I’m not sure how best to describe what I thought, but it all felt a bit skewed, as though questions were not even on the same playing field. That description, in itself, probably sounds daft, so it is probably best that I jump in and provide my own answers to those same questions. Maybe in that way I can at least illustrate what I mean.

What do you consider “hate speech?” When can something be described as inciting violence?

What do I consider…? Hang on. Straight away I’m being asked for my opinion. In the UK, at least, it isn’t an opinion. Our parliament has helpfully described several types of hate crime – discriminating against a person on the basis of their race etc. So, all of our police forces work to that common definition, and happily publish it. Those are the consistent standards.

It is also a sufficiently-accepted definition that it appears in dictionaries, even, for example the Encyclopaedia Britannica or the Cambridge English Dictionary.

Even the USA has a standard definition, which will be used in a court, provided courtesy of the FBI. So, another reasonable answer to the question of what do you consider to be hate speech? would be the same as the FBI.

There’s very little wriggle-room, here – these are pretty standard definitions – Feel free to disagree with it if you like, but it’ll land you in court.

So, the reason I thought that question was skewed is because it is soliciting an opinion, on something which is already defined. It is like saying “what is your opinion of the sky?” It doesn’t make sense.

Do you see the Terms and Conditions as black and white rules, or with a lot of gray area?

They are a contract. Like any other contract, the amount of grey area depends how well-written it is.

That there will be a large variation, because contracts are written to different standards… well, isn’t that par for the course?

Do you yourself block others? Why/why not?

Of course. Because I have Terms of Service, too, although I don’t tend to label them as such. But why would my site be any different to another site which invites user-participation?

Why is it that you limit your social media use to only WP?

I’ll miss this one because I don’t really understand the relevance. Maybe Fandango provoked it by something he said in his comment. But either way, the platform we use is not relevant to our general freedom of speech.

Do you see now why I thought it was skewed? It’s really that “hate speech is an opinion” thing. It isn’t. As a result, possibly a lot of things which appear obvious to me are not so obvious to others?

The Bottom Line

Did you ever find yourself watching an interview on TV and just end up wishing that the interviewer would cut to the chase?

During the pandemic, we have had some politicians advocating opening all businesses and shops again. In effect, to take the virus on the chin, but to keep on making money. Trump over in the US was probably the loudest exponent of this theory, but we had them too and I suspect everywhere did.

And I’d watch them dancing around on TV, all the while wanting the interviewer to ask, how many deaths are acceptable here? Because we all know that the virus can be fatal, but any answer other than zero here is not really acceptable. Not for somebody seeking re-election.

You know, all that faffing around, but there is a clear, incisive question at the end of it which, if asked, would force people’s hand.

I felt a bit like that the other day. I happened to be chatting to a teacher, who was bemoaning how sad it was that children were losing so much by not being schooled. I agreed with them, but the bottom line, if I had to choose between somebody’s education being disrupted for a year, and somebody’s life, it’s a no-brainer.