7 Feb 2011

On the EDL

"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."-Article 19 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This quote pretty much sums up my whole mentality towards freedom of expression. 

There are people who hold views which, to be frank, are reprehensible, the infamous twit wearethebritish being just one example (of many, he was literally the first person I came up with (it was going to be the EDL, but I'm inclined to believe at least some of the membership believe the line that it is against radical Islamism), not even necessarily the best example (maybe crutchbender would have been better...))), however I believe that they have the right to mouth off whatever views they may have, and protest (peacefully) to that effect (I think the pressure of being out in public tends to deter people from not doing so (largely due to accountability/social norms; hence why the police tend to be rather violent), and that any law against protesting is probably more to do with governments being scared of people realising that there's an alternative to what's going on, which is another reason why freedom of expression and thought is important). I believe this regardless of their views, although I do believe that anyone who spouts bile about how people who don't adhere to a certain thing should be killed also should have an eye kept on them (largely because the other rights are also pretty damn important).

Discriminatory and fascistic views are reprehensible, but banning them -in my opinion- isn't the answer, even from a non-moral standpoint; banning people from expressing such views only breeds resentment, it won't stop people having them and may very well result in racists/sexists/homophobes/islamophobes/any other type of discriminator I may have missed claiming the moral high horse. Considering what we're dealing with, this is probably not a good thing. Furthermore, whilst the Right to freedom of Expression is a right, being listened to is rather less so*. This said, I don't necessarily think that ignoring them is the best policy, since I think that quite often people listen to them simply because it seems like the speaker is on their side when no one else is. I'm technically just re-saying what has already been said of this subject, but demonising the EDL and the like, whilst it does make us feel oh so very morally superior and may be justified, will do nothing but enforce the (mistaken) belief that groups like the EDL are the only ones who are sticking up for them (the 'chav' stereotype, as pointed out by Lisa Ansell, and the nose-look-downery that results not helping here (this also being pointed out by Lisa)). This is also why the (popular, mainstream) media has such a right-wing bias, and the despite such politics not being good for humanity (this being in my opinion, and I'm not arguing that the right-wing media needs to be banned), and especially the sort of people who said media is aimed at; they manage to keep up a plausible pretence of supporting the working-class, whilst the mainstream left has the image of being a bunch of detached posh people (or 'Guardian readers' as it were (and I speak as a Guardian reader), and the far left are just 'anarchists' (media definition, basically people who want to ruin this fine country). Just like how 'we' (as in lefties, and I'm making another gross generalisation here) demonise the working-class as 'chavs' and thugs, thus alienating them from both the mainstream political discourse (which focuses entirely one the 'squeezed middle' class of Daily Mail readers (and there's another generalisation)) and left-wing politics (to paraphrase the Wikipedia page for fascism, liberalism is bourgeoisie (or, at least is seen that way), and (not paraphrasing the Wikipedia) socialism (and, as mentioned before, anarchism) is treated pretty badly by the popular media) so along comes the EDL claiming to stand for the working class against the Islamist threat (and indeed I think that a sizable chunk of the people who clicked 'like' on the page for them believe this) and of course people follow them. Then the EDL is demonised, which results in an almost reflexive response of defence and further alienation, especially when you consider that the EDL is basically just spouting off what the right-wing press says in response to immigration, results. The crux of the issue is not the beliefs of the far-right, but the social attitudes and structures which lead to people joining up with the far-right (and quite possibly religious extremism (right down to the demonization, although please note that this is pure conjecture here)), and, more critically, the belief that no one is sticking up for the white working-class. 

Marginalisation, division, and demonization don't help anybody, except maybe those who want us divided. Countering fascism is very good, but going on about how all members of the far-right are scum is not the best way to go about it, consider how the press (and the right) treats us and bear this in mind. Mass tarring of people with the same metaphorical brush may make us (again a generalisation) feel good (and, admittedly, is convenient), but it won't get us anywhere.

I sincerely hope the preceding post makes sense, Lissy.

tl;dr: Yes, racists are bad, no we shouldn't take away their rights. Yes the EDL are not good, but the reasons behind its low-grade popularity are what we should be targeting, not the members. So we should probably stop trolling them (I'm including myself in this) and focus on targeting the factors which (indirectly) caused  its formation. And this has probably been said in a better way before.

*note: I'd like to take this opportunity to say that, apart from suspected spam-bots (and even then, with spam followers, I have a mini argument with myself), I've decided that I don't actually believe in blocking (not that I've really had anyone worth blocking (I've only interacted with wearethebritish, and he blocked me (presumably on the basis of me being a teenage girl and my opinions therefore not counting), and bodderick), so I might very well change my mind on this) even if they're idiot and/or insult you (although I do tend to get rather indignant when I'm told that I'm stupid, trolls be warned.).

No comments:

Post a Comment