Thursday, May 9

Fear and loathing and the mob.

I haven't blogged in a very long time. I've had plenty of things to say, but can't face writing them in public. The reason, quite simply, is fear.

A lot of us had high hopes of the new media when it was born. Blogging was a revolution as big as the printing press, they said. The barriers to publishing your opinion worldwide became negligible. Experts in all sorts of fields gave their knowledge and commentary to the world. Dan Rather lost his job.

Had Rather knowingly presented false evidence to the world ten years earlier, he'd have got away with it. Instead, hundreds of experts tore his "news" to shreds, for free. And a news media that had held a monopoly on received opinion for decades suddenly discovered that they could no longer control the narrative.

So it comes as no surprise that the old media do all they can to undermine the new.

I can't say I'm happy that Rather was sacked. Cynic though I am, I believe in redemption. Everyone should be given a chance to recognise that they were wrong and to improve. To be fair, Rather preferred to double down, do-you-know-who-I-am-ing like a dowager duchess. And, of course, lying to the pubic when you work in the news is a bit of a big deal. TV being what it is, he probably had plenty of money put by. But a livelihood is still a hell of a thing to lose. Rather was fine, of course. But most of us wouldn't be. What better threat to wield than loss of livelihood? It was the successful test case that set a horrific precedent. If the new media can take the scalp of one of the most influential men in America, what chance does some schmuck from Coventry have?

So it comes as no surprise, sadly, that the old media have so enthusiastically embraced the new model of enforcement: public shaming by the social media mob.

I'm not going to waste time discussing whether Danny Baker is a racist, partly because anyone with the remotest acquaintance with his career over the last forty years knows damn well he isn't, but mainly because that's not even the point, and, there being so many other victims of this same vindictive spiteful shit, he's not even the point. Right now, the media, old and new, contains literally millions of people picking apart and analysing the details of a simple glib unsophisticated joke. Why? Because the stakes are so fucking high, that's why.

The question isn't one of guilt; it's about process and punishment. The Labour movement was founded, above all else, on the need to protect people from capricious punishment by their employers. Still today, we have idiot libertarians spouting the mantra that a private company should be free to employ or to cease employing anyone it chooses for any reason, as if providing someone's ability to live — and thereby wielding the power to destroy their life — carries with it no responsibility whatsoever. The power to destroy livelihoods is huge, and it is that massive imbalance of power that led to the creation of the Labour movement, who rightly stopped bosses sacking their minions for getting uppity, for not voting the way they were told, or for being female and married, and who gave those minions the power to appeal such life-changing decisions.

And now here we are. The "progressive" identitarian Left that grew out of that Labour movement aggressively campaigns to get people sacked, with no due process, no impartial judgement, no right of appeal: just the angry mob, the Horde of Squealing Shitheads that is Twitter. Then, when they succeed — which they usually do — they gleefully crow over their victim and, of course, their victim's dependents. I'm pretty successful, but, if I lose my job, my kids will lose their home. No matter what you might think of my opinions, is that not taking things a bit far? Apparently not: I've yet to see evidence of the mob experiencing any moral qualms. The New Left are using the threat of destitution and poverty as a weapon to enforce ideological compliance, right down to having the correct approved sense of humour. And they're somehow proud of this, of what they're doing to the world.

Well, fuck that. I don't want to live in that world. And, sooner or later, its cheerleaders will realise that they don't want to either. Saying something that some other people don't like will eventually happen to them all — how can it not? And, whilst I may believe in redemption, they will find that my sympathy well has run dry that day.