Category: politics

Trigger Warning

OK so let’s talk about “triggers” and “trigger warnings”. I may cop some flak for this post, but hey, stick it in the comments or something.

It seems these days it’s difficult to read anything on the Internet without seeing a “trigger warning” or people complaining that they’ve been “triggered”. I’m sure most of you know what these terms mean, but just in case, here’s a brief explanation.

There are many people in the world who have had bad things happen to them. Sometimes REALLY bad things. People have been raped, they’ve been mugged, they’ve been the victims of domestic/sexual/child abuse, they’ve lost family members to cancer, they’ve attempted suicide, a whole range of things. Naturally these events leave a lasting impression on the individual. A “trigger” is something which appears in a document, or a video, or a song, or any media, which may remind the viewer of some traumatic experience and therefore cause people to think dark thoughts about said events. A “trigger warning” is something which informs users that the content they’re about to view may contain such triggers.

So people often post trigger warnings and others avoid the content. If they don’t post trigger warnings and someone gets “triggered” by the content then an Internet shitstorm usually ensues. So Trigger Warnings sound like a cool idea right?

Well there’s something which has been bothering me about them for some time now, and that’s this: if you are constantly shielded from anything that may remind you of traumatic events of your past, you will never be able to confront that trauma, and you will never be able to move past that trauma.The world is a scary place a lot of the time, and there are few truly “safe spaces”. We overcome our fears by facing them. We don’t always have people to protect us. Sometimes we need to deal with things ourselves, and we need to build up our defences to make our own space seem safer for us.

Now of course, I’m not suggesting that people shouldn’t warn others of graphic content in videos and the like, but it’s nigh on impossible to eliminate every possible trigger from any body of text. A song may spark a memory of the time your husband got drunk and beat you. Images of the desert may trigger some memory of war. Even a single word may remind you of something that happened in the past that you think is best left forgotten. It’s impossible to predict what will count as triggers for the multitudes of horrendous events which have occurred in people’s lives.

I therefore suggest that the burden of “trigger warnings” should not fall on the creator or publisher of the content, but rather the viewer of that content. Everything you look at may contain a trigger. Every song you hear may contain a trigger, every video, every poem, every conversation. Accept it. Accept the fact that there may well be things that are difficult for you to deal with. By facing those triggers head on you learn to build up resilience to them. You learn to move forward, maybe not past the trauma, but at least to a point where you are better equipped to handle it. And through this movement, you become stronger.

I leave you with this:

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Cultural Appropriation

Let’s talk about cultural appropriation. When I was a teenager, I attended Rugby School, a posh public school (Americans – that’s a private school in your lingo) in the middle of the UK. When I was there I was treated like shit by students and teachers alike, because I didn’t come from the same rich privileged background as they did. I was never allowed to fit in, even if I tried to modify my behaviour to be more like them, I was always the outsider. Eventually I realised that I had no desire to fit in with that group of people and to this day I still despise the attitude of those people.

Skip forward to the modern day and there’s this concept called “cultural appropriation” which suggests that you’re not allowed to do anything if it’s something which is part of some culture which you were not born into (the one currently getting my goat is that supposedly I’m not allowed dreadlocks because I’m not black). this to me reeks of the same privilege and exclusion I experienced at school.

I am in favour of freedom of expression. Even in situations where that freedom causes people to become offended (It is impossible to produce anything which is universally inoffensive). The concept of cultural appropriation only serves to segregate people. Some of the best things in the field of human endeavour have come about through a blending of culture and the emergence of a new culture from that merger.

I mean, shit, if white people hadn’t used Black blues musical influences there would be no rock and roll. almost all of the music that people listen to in the west these days is of Black origin. I’d hazard a guess that the Balti would not be a thing if not for Pakistani and British cultures merging. And to quote my friend Patrick: “‘Without cultural appropriation, there would be precious little culture,’ said somebody sometime, and they were right… I for one am glad we nicked numerals from Arabs so we don’t have to work through that I, II, III shit.

So when people look down on others for appropriating their culture, my attitude is “go fuck yourself”. People are free to do whatever the fuck they like, in whichever way they see fit, and nobody owns any part of any culture.

Because hate-filled ignorance always brightens up my day

It’s no secret that I fucking despise the town in which I live. There is a plethora of reasons for this, which I have mentioned in previous blog posts. Today I added another reason to the list.

I was in the Asda supermarket today, buying some food for the next couple of days. I hate supermarkets at the best of times, and right now is far from the best of times. I drifted through the aisles, collecting a few vegetables and getting mildly irked because everything seems prepackaged on the assumption that single people do not exist. Eventually I reached the checkout.

Asda has a set of “self-service” checkouts, where you basically scan your stuff through and pay, which is supposed to speed things up. These checkouts are magnets for the slow and stupid, however, so it doesn’t always work out faster. Today was OK though, there was a free checkout and I whizzed in to use it. And then I glanced across to the adjacent checkout. And I found this note:

"go BAck To poland. TAking OuR JOBS, Doctor's, SchooLs, parking. go HOME DOBRA"

Nothing like an illeterate hate message to brighten up my day

I picked it up and read it in stunned disbelief. I mean, what the actual fuck was this? Ignoring the hate-filled ignorance of it all for a moment, just look at the ridiculous mix of upper and lower case letters. The atrocious punctuation. The bizarre claims. I destroyed it after taking a photograph.

The “you’re taking our jobs” claim is one I’ve always thought was utterly ridiculous. They’re not taking your jobs, morons. They’re taking THEIR jobs. That’s right! They applied, were interviewed, and were found to be better suited to the role than you! Are you angry because they’re more hardworking than you? That they do a better job? Or are you just angry because you’re a lazy ignorant arsehole who needs to blame others for his own failure?

Doctors next. Oh sorry, “Doctor’s”. I wonder if it was some sort of chellenge to guess which of the doctor’s possessions was being appropriated by these Polish invaders? And how DARE anyone expect healthcare? That’s MY doctor, not YOURS! You’re NOT ALLOWED TO BE WELL! I’m at a loss.

Where are the Polish taking our schools? I mean, I drove past my old high school the other day and it was MISSING! I bet a bunch of pesky pollacks came in the night to take it away brick by brick! The fiends!

And then the most laughable claim of all: parking. YOU BASTARD IMMIGRANTS, YOU’RE TAKING OUR PARKING! I mean really? Whenever the author of this retarded message is confronted with a full car-park, do you think they sit there, barely suppressing rage at the thought of EVERY SINGLE CAR being owned by a Polish immigrant?

And then right at the end, “go HoME DOBRA” – as if all of these perceived problems have been caused by one single Asda employee. I mean, seriously, Dobra, do you see how selfish you’re being? It’s entirely your fault that there are not enough “Doctor’s, SchooLs, parking” for the illiterate natives. Have a heart, will you? Just go home…

What really bothers me about this whole thing is that somewhere in this town I (begrudgingly) call home, there is an illiterate fuckwad who thinks that it’s appropriate to vent their ignorance on the back of an envelope and leave it on a self-service checkout… wait a fucking minute. On a SELF SERVICE CHECKOUT. How the fuck was Dobra even going to read this damn note, you clueless buntyman? Why not give it to her on her fucking till if you want her to read it? I hope you choke on your own fucking bile.

When in Rome

I decry the system which generates
The full collapse of everyone’s soul;
Stand up, fight back and choose the alternative:
Freedom from greenback’s ruthless control

But you sit and wait,
And you want what they’ve got,
Patiently waiting
For your time at the top.
Sure, you’re hurting now,
But you force out a grin
Never realising
You will never be them.

Assimilation, complete and secure,
Forever a slave to it all.
Surrender your free will, don’t want to be poor,
Determined to never fall down, down, down, down
Toss your ideals on the pyre of wealth, and
We’ll watch them all burn up into the night.
Once they’re gone you’ll
Never understand why you’re losing the fight.

Still you sit and wait,
You still want what they’ve got,
Patiently waiting
For your time at the top.
But you still don’t see
So let me say it again:
No matter how hard you try
you will never be them

Born into a broken system
Cry: hand to mouth scream, hand to mouth scream

We bleed red, but
You bleed green, content to
Be enslaved, to
Dreams of acquisition.

Follow the path as laid down by your masters,
Promised a kingdom of lies built on sand,
Claim you’re too deeply entrenched to be saved now,
Why aren’t you making demands?

Power concedes nothing without a demand,
Power concedes nothing without a demand,
Power concedes nothing without a demand,
Power concedes nothing without a demand,
Power concedes nothing without a demand,
Power concedes nothing without a demand,
Power concedes nothing without a demand,
But you won’t even wipe the fucking blood off your hands!

We bleed red, but you bleed green.

It’s been a hard day’s strike

I’ve just returned home from the Union march in Birmingham. What a superb day it’s been!

The weather has been phenomenal (the Goddess is smiling on us, obviously), and there was a great turnout for the marches in Coventry and Birmingham. It wasn’t just the NUT this time – a huge number of public sector unions were united in solidarity as we marched through the streets to let the government know that enough is enough.

Members of public sector unions rally at Victoria Square, Birmingham

I stood shoulder to shoulder with members of Unison, Unite, GMB, PCS and FBU, united with one cause – to stop the relentless attacks on public sector pay and conditions.

Birmingham strike union rally

For some reason, the media in this country don’t like unions. I was interviewed on the picket line for BBC Coventry and Warwickshire Radio. The presenter seemed inherently hostile towards union action, suggesting that we want a day off work. I can’t really afford to lose a day’s wages, but I know that unless I take action now, things will only get worse. I’m striking today because I’m passionate about teaching, and I care about my students; ultimately, it is the students who will suffer if teachers’ morale is hammered even further down through real-terms wage cuts and increased work load.

Michael Gove, our secretary of state for education, has repeatedly refused to come to the table to discuss teachers’ conditions, and has demonstrated that he is so far out of touch with state schooling that he is not fit for the job. He must go, if there is to be any reasonable chance of improvement in the future.

The general election is less than a year away. We must ensure that we all exercise our right to vote in order to evict the criminals who currently hold our lives to ransom.