Swimming in poisoned water

This week is both anti-bullying week and transgender awareness week, so some newspapers have chosen to celebrate both by, er, bullying transgender people (see my previous post). I’m not going to get into the arguments or unpick the bullshit — Alex Sharpe does a superb job of that here.

I’m just going to share a trans person’s tweet I saw yesterday.

So I’m sat on the train and there are four people reading The Sun and two with the Daily Fail in my eyeline… I’ve moved seats! No wonder trans people feel bombarded. #caniliveonthemoon?

Imagine starting your day by seeing six people in the same carriage as you holding newspapers that are doing their damnedest to stir up prejudice against you.

LGB people, muslims and non-EU citizens will recognise the feeling.

And the supposedly grown-up papers aren’t any better: The Times appears to be obsessed with trans people of late, often taking the side of religious evangelicals, while the Telegraph gives space to people like Norman Tebbit, who claimed that gay marriage would lead to him marrying his son.

It’s disproportionate, it’s relentless and it’s causing a great deal of distress for no good reason. And it’s getting worse.

To be trans in the current media climate is to constantly swim in poisoned water. No wonder so many of us end up feeling sick.

It’s about time we all stood up to defend, er, bullying

There’s something very strange happening in the UK media. It’s defending the bullying of children.

Last month, Peter Hitchens claimed in the Mail that banning smacking would “come back and slap us in the face.” The state has too much power, he said, noting that “Fathers, once kings (or despots) in their own homes, have been declared officially unnecessary.” As he explained, mistaking correlation for causation:

In the days of smacking, police walked around alone in tunics with no visible weapons. Now they make their rare public appearances in pairs or squads, clad in stab vests, clubs, pepper sprays and handcuffs.

Because of course absolutely nothing else in the world has changed politically, socially, culturally or economically.

They also roped in Jan Moir to opine, after detailing the barbaric discipline that used to be commonplace in schools and telling the hilarious story of her mum using a kettle “to ding my brother on the bonce”:

we all lived through an age of crime and home-grown or class-based punishment. And it didn’t do us any harm.

Imagine! Some people think whacking a child with a kettle is bad!

Today, to mark anti-bullying week, the Church of England has updated its anti-bullying guidelines for nurseries and primary schools. If a three-year-old wants to play with toys or clothes associated with the other gender,the guidance says, they shouldn’t be told not to or mocked for it.

Here’s the key phrase:

‘A child may choose the tutu, princess’s tiara and heels and/or the fireman’s helmet, tool belt and superhero cloak without expectation or comment’

The Daily Mail’s front page headline? No, of course it isn’t “let girls wear hard hats”. It’s “Church: let little boys wear tiaras,” because while nobody’s bothered about girls playing with boy stuff a wee boy in a tiara is clearly Satan’s work.

The article notes with disdain that “Schools are also told they cannot use the Christian faith or Bible teachings to justify behaviour that is considered to amount to bullying – for example, identifying a transgender pupil by a sex other than the one they have chosen.”

“Behaviour that is considered to amount to bullying”. So, bullying.

In an interesting coincidence, over the weekend the Mail on Sunday described how a teacher was suspended over allegations about, ahem, behaviour that is considered to amount to bullying.

“I called a trans boy a girl by mistake… and it may cost me my job as a teacher: Maths tutor suspended after praising pupil using the wrong gender,” the headline says.

He’s an evangelical pastor and the complaint against him alleged ongoing inappropriate behaviour, such as trying to shoehorn his religious beliefs into his maths lessons, and concern that he was picking on a trans child by deliberately and frequently misgendering him as well as detaining him unnecessarily. He denies “inappropriately” talking about religion in maths lessons. The word “inappropriately” is doing a lot of work there.

From the article:

He added, however, that he did not feel that he should be made to use the pronouns ‘he’ or ‘him’ and that to force him to do so was a breach of his human rights.

Like many people who find themselves represented by the Christian Legal Centre, whose dread hand is behind this story, the tutor in this story appears to be an arsehole.

The Mail on Sunday – and today, the Sun – has also dragged up (pun fully intended) a story from back in June:

Drag queens are being brought into taxpayer-funded nursery schools so that children as young as two can learn about transgender issues.

The cross-dressers are reading nursery rhymes and singing specially adapted songs ‘to teach children about LGBT tolerance’.

The performances, which are being trialled in a grand total of one nursery, are so newsworthy that the Sun has made them its front page story.

There’s a really horrible final sentence to the Mail’s version, too. Noting that the nursery in question decided to trial the performances in response to increasing hate crimes, it says:

Reported hate crimes rose 29 per cent in the last year, Home Office figures show, although only one in six was considered serious enough for a suspect to be charged.

If you find yourself defending the beating of children and campaigning against anti-bullying initiatives, this video may resonate.

This is a low flying panic attack

From the wise owls of MetaFilter to the comedians of Twitter, I follow a pretty diverse bunch of interesting people online. It’s generally a pretty left-of-centre bunch, because I’m a pretty left-of-centre guy. So you can imagine the howls of despair in my various feeds over the post-Brexit landscape, the outright hatred being peddled by the UK tabloids and now, President-elect Trump.

In most cases those howls aren’t coming from armchair warriors or the professionally offended. They’re people who see the world becoming nastier, more selfish, less tolerant – and in many cases they’re people who are experiencing that nastiness, that selfishness, that lack of tolerance first hand. Scared trans kids. Married gay couples. Pro-choice women. People with the “wrong” skin colour, the “wrong” accent, the “wrong” sexuality, the “wrong” gender, the belief that, hey! Maybe sex offenders should be punished rather than celebrated!

It feels rather like a bunch of straight white old folks are burning down the house to prevent the kids from inheriting anything.

And, well, they are.

But there are more of us than there are of them.

Or at least, there are if we celebrate what we have in common rather than what divides us.

If we challenge intolerance in whatever form it takes, even if – especially if – it’s directed at someone who’s not part of our own little bubble.

If we remember that we’re all here to get each other through this thing, whatever it is.

Whoever we are.

#leaveoutthetout

Fascinating and appalling statistic in this article about Adele’s anti-tout plans:

approximately 1.9% of the ‘first wave’ of Adele tickets ended up on secondary ticketing sites – with some today being sold for prices in excess of £1,000.

1.9%. It’s a percentage that’s much lower than the touts would have liked to have achieved, with experts telling us the average arena gig sees closer to 20%.

I knew it was a lot, but nearly 20%? That’s an astonishing amount of tickets, a huge pile of money and a bloody scandal.

In the absence of any legislation, the only way to stop this is to #leaveoutthetout (hashtag courtesy of Chvrches, who retweet fans’ last-minute ticket availability): if you’ve got spares or need them, there are ethical ticket exchanges such as Scarlet Mist and Twickets. The big-name resale sites are despicable, as are the people that sell on them.

Prince is right about ticket touts

Tickets for Prince’s UK shows were supposed to go on sale today, but he pulled the sales before they started. The reason? Listings were already appearing on secondary ticketing sites such as GetMeIn.

There’s something seriously wrong with the way UK ticket sites and touts operate: tickets for Jeff Lynne’s ELO went on sale at 9am this morning, and by 9.20am there were 4,264 tickets listed for resale on GetMeIn alone.

The government is currently consulting on the ticket resale market in the UK. If you think it needs reform or regulation, you’ve got until next Friday to make a submission. 

Return of the son of ID Cards

It turns out that the national political parties don’t have a monopoly on bad ideas: ID cards, something the SNP were very much against when they were planned for the UK, may appear in Scotland as a result of a minor NHS amendment. Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group:

in Scotland, the idea is alive and well, and the idea of giving everyone a unique identifier – and placing every citizens’ name and address into a single database – has not been given up by civil servants.

There’s a detailed analysis of it here (thanks to Heather at Idea15 Web Design for the heads-up):

The intention is to transform the current NHS Central Register (“NHSCR”) so it can be accessed by more bodies, to increase the number of individuals recorded in the Register, and to use a Unique Citizen Reference Number (“UCRN”) for each citizen.

The NHSCR can then be accessed by well over 120 Scottish public authorities (including police, prison, national security, visas and immigration) and certain publically owned companies.

It’s well worth a read. There’s a public meeting about it in Glasgow next week, too.

Another victory for the ticket touts

News I’d missed: online ethical ticket exchange Scarlet Mist has shut down.

Richard, the owner, writes:

I’ve been running it more or less single-handledly for the past eleven years, as a part-time hobby whilst doing my day-job as a hospital doctor. It has been fun to run it, and it has been a useful service.

Unfortunately my wife is now disabled and I need to devote more time to caring for her and my family.

Ticket touts and the secondary ticket market is here to stay. There is very little political will to address it, money talks in this world.

He’s right. My local MP is one of very many politicians who voted against proposals to crack down on the legal-tout market. Personally I don’t think gigs should only be available to the rich.

That’s not really funny

One of my favourite jokes: a kiddie-fiddler and a child are walking through the woods. “I’m scared!” cries the child. “You’re scared?” retorts the kiddie-fiddler. “I have to walk back alone!”

Like many such jokes, the sheer awfulness of it is what makes it funny – but would it still be funny if I tweeted it because a real child had gone missing?

Last night, as six people lay dead in Glasgow’s George Square after a terrible accident, a parody account on Twitter ( @hackneyabbatt) tweeted a joke about the lorry crash causing £3 of damage. It wasn’t very funny, but more importantly the timing was crass and insensitive: people searching Twitter for news of the deaths in George Square, a situation that was still ongoing – the bodies hadn’t been removed at the time and as I write this, their identities haven’t been revealed yet – would see it.

I was one of a few people who replied to the poster – “shame on you”, in my case – and hoped they might realise they’d been a bit of a dick; it’s easy to post something on the internet thinking it’s funny without thinking of who it might upset. The poster deleted the tweet and went off in a huff.

But I think somebody called the police. According to The Drum:

Northumbria Police have announced that they are investigating a crass joke published on Twitter, since deleted, poking fun at yesterday’s bin lorry crash in Glasgow in which six people died and eight were injured.

If it’s the same post, and I’m assuming it is, that’s all kinds of wrong. The post was insensitive, yes, but the poster wasn’t responding to anybody or hurling abuse: they were just making the kind of off-colour joke they’d make to friends in the pub, posting something they thought was hilarious. There are lots of things online the police should take more seriously, but that isn’t one of them.

Even better than the real thing

If nothing else, the referendum campaign has produced some genuinely funny stuff. I’ve been particularly enjoying the spoof news programme Dateline Scotland. Here’s the latest one.

“Austerity is a lie, and remaining in the UK will continue to feed it.”

An angry and passionate pro-indy post:

No voters are not evil. Voting No is not evil. But voting No is voting toallow evil to continue governing our lives. It is a vote that ensures every millionaire who received a tax break while pensioners freeze to death in an oil-rich country had their pockets lined, in part, by us. It is a vote that ensures every person who died within six months of losing their disability benefits was facilitated, in part, by us. It is a vote that ensures that every bullet that takes an innocent’s life was paid for, in part, by us. 

Stirring stuff.