Monday, 8 August 2011

media snobbery

The media should be treading warily of disgusting us, lately. How much deeper disgust can there be than when a columnist, with a public platform herself, uses it to write blatantly against public platforms for everyone, for you. Rarely as they as blatant as Joan Smith was in the Independent yesterday, in what is supposed to be a progressive paper, in directly arguing that free speech is bad for us and leaving all the thinking to a nasty elite is better.

The new e-petitions site at British government level catches up with a modernity we already have years of experience of at Scottish level as part of the reform push that came with devolution. Smith paints both the whole e-petition idea, and blogging and all political debate online, as actual perpetrations of bullying and prejudice. She openly blatantly suggests, using her own free speech and public platform, that it proves free speech in a public arena is not good for us and only our nobly responsible political class should be trusted with public voices. Knowing this gagging will not happen to herself, and knowing she already has more platform to attack our liberties than we have to defend them.

Her point comes from how much oppressive and far right sympathy there is among the e-petitions, reminding more intellectual readers of Independent columns miserably what the barbarians at the gate believe in and are petitioning for. Capital punishment, bread and water in prison, anti-immigration, repealing the Human Rights Act. Even leaving the EU is naughtily listed and made to sound as bad as those other items are. I'm pro-EU but that was a mischievous spin to constrict what her readers can feel allowed to think.

It should be agreed that it would be dangerous to have a system where just public support for a measure actually enforced its passing into law, the uncurbed form of "citizen's initiative and referendum", INIREF, as in Switzerland. The government should be entitled to give as human rights defence against enacting any measure that violates human rights, no matter how majority supported it is. But that is the safeguard needed, concerning what is actually enacted - not to suppress what is debated. INIREF should be used to guarantee the claims to enact any issue a hearing on their merits. so that things are aired and not hidden, but with a human rights safeguard to block the actual enactment of evil measures, alike whether it is people or government who want them.

What Miss Nursemaid here is not explaining, is how a petitioning system that gives ideas a hearing can result in having to implement them. There is a total difference between folks saying they want racist and far right measures, and having the means to make them happen. Also she is reading actual social persecution into the presence of any bad ideas among the petitions at all, despite the presence of at least as many and more petitions that are progressive. As other media have identified, a petition against capital punishment has more signatures than the for. She is reacting to the existence of any petitions like that at all, not to the absence of any more decent ones. She says not a word about where the folks behind the nicer petitions are supposed to get noticed instead.

So what is this threat Smith asks us to feel? She is just expressing snobbery that voice for real people is so uncouth don't you know, and so beneath our natural leaders' noses. Bloggers and online debaters are all knee-jerk anger, journalists reflect more on what they write than bloggers, she ludicrously writes right in the face of all the recent events. If any perspective is knee-jerk oppressive from lack of reflection, that is. Who is her own writing accountable to for its reflectiveness? Does this Edenic picture include the tabloids, Joan?

She gives us a lesson she did not intend, that to have politics's content kept limited and filtered by an elite is indeed a squashing of free speech, knowingly, calculatedly. She thinks that is good, despite all the history that unfree societies do exactly the things in the petitions she dislikes !! A clanging contradiction.

The same elite filtering of thought is what Salmond and the SNP have done by selective refusing to issue in public some of their national conversation's responses, hiding what they like from us. Hiding the court change which abolishes judges' power to take wilfully bent decisions and call them final, and hiding the issue of the state being racist to returners to Scotland from the diaspora. Hiding those makes us all safer, does it Joan?

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