Your da’s writing for The Herald again

Brian Beacom caused online outrage recently when he wrote a column in the (Glasgow) Herald dismissing Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer win in the music category. To paraphrase: black people’s music isn’t proper music.

Today, he’s marking mental health awareness week by saying that the cure for mental illness is to “grow a pair”. If you need further evidence for the prosecution, he warmly references right-wing dingbat Jordan Peterson.

I’m not linking to it because that’s the whole point of the piece. It’s an attempt to monetise outrage, to say something horrible in the hope it’ll get traffic and therefore generate ad revenue. Beacom has previously claimed that alcoholism isn’t a disease; I can’t wait for next week’s piece when he explains that people in wheelchairs are lazy.

It’s a business model that’s becoming much more common in our brave new ad-funded world. The online business world used to call its model “clicks and mortar”. Now, it seems, it’s adopted “pricks for clicks”.

(“Your Da” is a Scottish social media meme; it’s our equivalent of “gammon”.)

Update, later that day:

The Spectator lives down to its reputation again. The headline has since been changed.

Tired and emotional

The writer Tess Stenson posted something to Twitter earlier that really resonated with me.

When I first joined Twitter, many moons ago, I pointedly decided not to turn my feed into a trans feed. I joined so I could promote my upcoming book, and franky, I didn’t want to bore people with those issues.

As Tess goes on to explain:

With the rise of the alt-right, and right wing politics dominating the political discourse, and an increased awareness of trans people (that part being a very good thing, mind), the more transphobic elements in our society have only got louder.

Factor in the bullshit being spouted about Gender Recognition Act reform and the dread hand of the religious right using trans people to try and divide the LGBT community and trans people are under attack constantly.

I’m aware that I post more trans stuff here and on Twitter than some people might like, or be comfortable with. But Christ, it’s a drop in the ocean compared to the stuff I wade through each and every day.

I see more than most because I’m a news junkie. Every single day – and I really mean every single day – my news reading app delivers dozens of anti-trans pieces published in mainstream US and UK publications. The vast majority of them are either misinformed or misrepresenting easily verifiable facts, and some of them are downright hateful. And the news app also gives me lots of the more right-wing publications, which are even more hateful.

This stuff comes to me. I don’t go seeking it. Algorithms decide that because I’m interested in trans rights, I want to see a gruesome, uncensored photograph of a trans woman hacked to death with a kitchen knife. That because I’m interested in legal protections for trans people I want to read endless news stories about trans women murdered in North and South America. That because I’m interested in LGBT issues I want to read right-wing columnists calling me subhuman. I block, and I block, and I block, and the tide just keeps on coming.

And then there’s social media. Going on social media while trans is electing to pour an enormous bucket of shit over your own head. When I follow a Twitter link to, say, a Sky News piece about an upcoming documentary about a trans person I know not to look at the replies or the comments under the video. It’s just an ever-growing litany of bigotry and hatred.

So I switch off. Take a break. Try to make myself look nice, pick out something I think makes me look good. Head for the pub and after just twenty metres I’ve been mocked in the street by four shaven-headed, overly muscled lads because while most people are great, some people are pricks.

Sometimes they mock you in the street, sometimes they stage whisper “that’s a MAN” in the pub, sometimes they call you perverts in national newspapers and sometimes they dedicate their life to trying to deny you healthcare (this NHS consultation was deliberately targeted by anti-trans activists promoting quackery such as discredited and dangerous conversion therapy; the report [pdf] makes that clear).

Back to Tess’s Twitter:

The strain of it all is immense. Pretty much every trans man, trans woman, and non-binary person I know has felt it.

If you think it’s a slog to read about a tiny proportion of it, imagine what it’s like to live it.

One of these things is not like the other

Much of the media – including people such as Brendan O’Neill, who you may recall has bad opinions for money; he was defending anti-semitic dog puppeteer Count Dankula a few weeks back – is exercising itself over whether it’s okay to call angry white men “gammon”, which of course it is. Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson explains it very well here.

Meanwhile, Professor Tanya Bueltmann shares the everyday reality of social media for women who speak out against Brexit. The language is not remotely safe for work. Each example is from a separate message and there are 200-odd more that she hasn’t posted. I can provide countless other examples of women receiving this kind of shit for the grievous offence of Using The Internet While Female.

One of these issues is considered more important than the other and is generating hundreds of column inches. Can you guess which one?

I ham what I ham

There’s a completely manufactured controversy brewing over the term “gammon”, which was first used to describe the angry, red-faced, right-wing men in the Question Time audience and has since become a catch-all term for the kind of people who wear MAGA hats, complain about immigrants and rant about Political Correctness Gone Mad in the comments underneath Daily Mail articles.

According to Brendan O’Neill of The Spectator, who has bad opinions for money, it’s “typical of Corbynista intolerance.”

That’s hogwash.

It’s simply a pejorative aimed at the people who call anyone who isn’t an angry, red-faced, right-wing man a snowflake, libtard, cuck, cucktard, remoaner, trot, social justice warrior, traitor… you get the idea. People who revel in how un-PC they are.

Anyone who tells you gammon is a racist or classist slur is telling you porkies.

Related: These days, right, if you tell anyone you’re English, you get arrested, and thrown in jail.

Talk is cheap

The death of Scott Hutchison has lead to a lot of discussion about mental health on social media, which is good and important. But what talking doesn’t do is fix an underfunded, overwhelmed health service.

So you’re sad, and you talk to your friends, and you make an appointment with your GP. That’s all good.

Now what?

If your GP takes you seriously, and some don’t, you wait. You wait for months, sometimes years – my own mental health was tied in with the gender stuff and I’m currently 19 months into that system without any treatment; the various general mental health services have long waiting lists too.

And when the wait is over, sometimes you still don’t get the help you need.

The drugs didn’t work. Your counsellor is incompetent, tells you there are black babies in Africa who have worse lives (that happened to me), tells you they’re not going to record that you’ve been seriously considering suicide because it makes everything more complicated (that too), signs you off as sane and healthy because your six sessions are up and there’s no availability for any more. You’re not any better, but boxes have been ticked.

And my experiences have been better than many people’s.

It’s crucial that people aren’t scared to ask for help. But it’s crucial that when they do, the help is there. All too often, it isn’t.

As Stephen Butchard points out, Scott Hutchison wrote very beautiful music that sometimes talked about his mental health issues, and he did so for two decades. But those issues still killed him.

Talk is cheap, and doesn’t fix the cracks people are falling through.

As I’ve written before, we need to do better, be better.

“Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable, let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.”

douglas adams inspired “Hitch hikers guide to the galaxy” H2G2

I started re-reading The Salmon of Doubt, a posthumous collection of Douglas Adams’ bits and bobs, a few days ago; I didn’t realise it was so close to the anniversary of his death (May 11, today).

I can’t overstate how much of an influence he was on me. Chances are if I make a joke, I’ve nicked it from him. I’ve definitely borrowed huge elements of his writing style, as have many of my writing peers. If you work in media or tech and you’re around my age, you’re a fan of Douglas Adams. Not being a fan is just unthinkable. And eventually you get old enough to have children, and you get to see those children absolutely howling with laughter at the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.

I could post Douglas Adams quotes all day long but I’ll just link to 42 of them.

“Please, hug your loved ones”

It appears that the missing Scots singer Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit has been found dead. He posted this to Twitter two days ago.

Be so good to everyone you love. It’s not a given. I’m so annoyed that it’s not. I didn’t live by that standard and it kills me. Please, hug your loved ones.

I didn’t know Scott or follow his band, but I saw him play once and thought he was an extraordinary talent.

He posted one more thing.

I’m away now. Thanks.

Help is here, if you need it. It’s okay to say you’re not okay.

After the ‘quake

I wrote about Channel 4’s Genderquake debate a few days ago, and it’s safe to say the programme has caused a lot of controversy.

The people who refused to take part were proved right: Channel 4 was trying to start a fight.

Here’s a piece by Pink News on how the audience were told to behave.

Audience members at a controversial televised debate about gender claim they were “encouraged to heckle” panellists, including transgender activists Caitlyn Jenner and Munroe Bergdorf, by the programme’s producers.

That’s an interesting contrast to the programme as it was pitched to potential panelists. CN Lester:

I was one of the dozens approached from March onwards by Channel 4. An email from the production company explained that it would be: ”nuanced intelligent discussion around gender, identity and society. We aim to shed light on such complex issues and ask important questions in a safe environment.”

Lester declined to take part, guessing – rightly – that the programme wouldn’t be remotely like that.

This is what the so-called trans “debate” looks like: people shouting “you’re a man!” and “penis! penis! penis!” at people who thought they were there for a “nuanced intelligent discussion around gender.”

These are the “mums”. The women with “legitimate concerns”. The ordinary people who just want to have a “respectful debate”.

It’s not just the fact that they heckled. It’s that they were specifically invited so that they would. Channel 4 appears to have deliberately invited bigots – some of whom are currently under investigation for hate speech, some of whom have been suspended from their political parties – and given then prominent positions in the audience. When they did what they were asked to do and heckled the panelists, they were allowed to remain in place for the rest of the programme.

Imagine for a moment the programme was about the experiences of an ethnic minority and Channel 4 sat members of Britain First and the EDL at the front, letting them shout racial epithets throughout the programme.

Jenny Boylan, a writer I very much admire, in the New York Times:

This is what happens when we act as if the humanity of vulnerable, marginalized people is up for debate.

The people doing the shouting are the same people you read about in the Sunday Times and other papers. They say they aren’t bigots, that they want the chance to have a reasonable debate.

And when you put them in a studio they shout “Penis! Penis! Penis!”

Boylan again:

At the end of the “Genderquake” program, Ms. Jenner said, by way of conclusion: “We have to create a more loving society. We have to celebrate the differences in people. Show love toward one another.”

The audience booed.

Not the whole audience. You can guess which section.

I’ve been asked by a few people why I post about trans things here. That’s why. Every day we are libelled in print, slandered on social media, accused of unspeakable depravity and evil by people who question our right to exist and who repeat long-discredited bullshit.

Here’s just one example, from the supposedly LGBT-friendly Guardian this week. Gaby Hinsliff linked the issue of trans women being able to change their birth certificates with the vile attacks by Canadian sex offender Christopher Hambrook in 2012.

It was discrimination law, not the recognition process, that came under scrutiny in Canada after serial sex attacker Christopher Hambrook attacked two women in domestic violence shelters in Toronto, which he’d entered dressed as a woman. (The state of Ontario had previously passed a bill prohibiting discrimination against trans people.)

The law Hinsliff mentions wasn’t passed until six months after Hambrook committed his crimes. The non-existent link between Hambrook and anti-discrimination legislation was invented by religious conservatives to try and prevent the so-called “Toby’s Law” from being passed. It’s a favourite of the “Penis! Penis! Penis!” shouters too.

Hambrook wasn’t trans, incidentally. He was a serial sex offender who’d been incarcerated for child abuse and who was freed despite being an obvious danger to women: other inmates complained about the violent fantasies he made them listen to. Yes, he dressed as a woman to access a women’s refuge; had it been a disabled person’s shelter he’d have rolled up in a wheelchair. The judge who finally sentenced him to indefinite imprisonment said that nothing – “no other measure” but permanent incarceration – could protect women from such a dangerous man.

The number of trans women who’ve sexually assaulted people in toilets or refuges, worldwide, is zero. That’s why people keep bringing Hambrook up: if they had actual examples of trans people being evil you can be sure they’d use them.

The Hambrook case is about many things: lax sentencing of dangerous men, sexual assault against women not being taken seriously enough by police, and so on. But it had nothing to do with trans people whatsoever.

But, you know, another day, another insinuation that if you see me in the bathroom I’m there to rape you.

We are getting tired of this shit.

Lester:

The question I’m left with: how much longer can this script play out? Is this still enjoyable for anyone apart from the fanatics who want to spew hate at trans women?

…I don’t have a choice about living in a culture shaped by such a regressive, dehumanising script.

Boylan:

…transgender people don’t need any more think pieces about the legitimacy of our lives. What we need, and what we deserve, is justice, and compassion, and love. What we need is freedom from violence, and protection from homelessness, and the right not to lose our jobs, or our children, or our lives.

That’s the sinister transgender agenda right there.

A bunch of mindless jerks who’ll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes

The New York Times has published a glowing profile of “the renegades of the intellectual dark web”, an “alliance of heretics” that is “making an end run around the mainstream conversation” to an audience “thirsty to discuss subjects that have become taboo.”

In other words, they’re controversialists, a bunch of white people with bad opinions pandering to massive YouTube and social media audiences. YouTube is hardly a “dark web” site, what with it being the world’s biggest video site. And many of the people profiled have palled around with conspiracy cranks, racial purists and various other assholes, if they aren’t actually conspiracy cranks, racial purists and various other assholes themselves.

The NYT asks: “should we be listening?”

Of course we shouldn’t.

As my writer colleague Mic Wright put it: “We’re talking next generation shock jocks here, not Martin Luther.”