Mercer's Poems
You Are The Thought Police

Apparently I’m not allowed to offend you. It’s wrong to cause offence don’t you know? Allegedly, at least according to some, it is your human right to say what you like about anything, to hold any opinion you so wish…So long as you do not express it lest it offend others. Likewise, it is a human rights violation for you to offend me! You can think what you like about me, just don’t say it, or I’ll take to you the European Court of Human Rights and have your backside dragged over the coals! 

Wow…Where does that leave us? Well, think about it. You’re allowed to have any opinion you like so long as you don’t say it and, thus, offend someone. But anything you say could offend anyone else in any number of ways. And thus, why not just keep your mouths shut!? That’s where it is heading! A nation, nay a WORLD of silent people who can’t say a thing in case they cause offence!

The whole situation that inspired this blog was Jeremy Clarkson recently coming out and doing his usual thing of being very loose-tongued and absent minded. After saying he wanted public sector workers who strike to be brutally murdered with fascist abandon in front of their families, he went on to slate people who commit suicide as being selfish and made fun of individuals who throw themselves in front of trains. In a casual tweet about this, I said that sometimes he should “just shut the fuck up!” And in my opinion, HE SHOULD! But that is my opinion and I do not try to initiate draconian measures to actually shut him up! Should he be careful in what he says? Well, yes but only in the measures that we all should, i.e. by educating ourselves about the issues before speaking wantonly about them. But do I expect him to shut up? Will I take measures to shut him up? No, he can say and do what he likes. But what most shocked me about my response of telling him to shut the fuck up was people accusing me of being some kind of fascist, elitist censor! People tried to censor me for my opinion that he should shut the fuck up, because it seemed I was for censorship! WOW! Doublethinkometer is going in fucking warp-speed on that one!

And this is how the world is at the moment. A plethora of groups of people with certain beliefs playing off against each other in some kind of game of offense-chess! “Oh you offended me so I’m going to take you to tribunal…” “Well your tribunal offends me so I’m going to take you to tribunal about this tribunal.” “The tribunals between you two offend me massively, I shall take you to tribunal!” WHAT FUCKING GOVERNMENT IN THE WORLD NEEDS THOUGHT POLICE WHEN WE DO IT OURSELVES!

I believe I may have mentioned before the poster campaign by Stonewall, the gay rights charity, that said “SOME PEOPLE ARE GAY! GET USED TO IT!” and I had to highlight that…yes, this is true. But likewise, some people don’t like gays, and you should get used to it! Yes, there are wide implications to the prejudice against those of the homosexual, bisexual or transgender community. But trying to preach tolerance whilst showing intolerance yourself rather misses the point. It is me telling Clarkson to shut the fuck up, only, instead of it being one individual who is powerless merely stating an opinion, it is an organisation with power trying to enforce their opinion. I have no problem with homosexuality, indeed I have known many gay individuals and, well I didn’t even think of them as gay, merely human, thus some of them were exceptionally lovely and some of them are absolute arseholes as per the rest of humanity. I understand too that they are subject to persecution, sometimes violent, of their lifestyles and this I do not agree with, and does need to be combated. But combating it with slogans that preach intolerance is the wrong way to go about it, at least in my opinion. After all, where does it stop? If this kind of intolerance to intolerance becomes the norm, how long before there are groups of homosexual individuals going around beating up homophobes!? In order to preach tolerance, you must, at first, be tolerant. 

We are bordering on a world where, eventually, through fear of offending anyone and the potential social or legal implications of it, we will merely be uniform people. Uniform in thought, speech, behaviour and opinion. This is not something that is being enacted through powers that be, this is not something being orchestrated by global elites out to get you. This is something we are doing to ourselves! We need to stop! My opinion on free speech is thus, it is a state of communication where I am free to call you a cunt, and you are free to call me a cunt, with both of us in disagreement with each other, but with neither party having the right to complain.

This manufacture of uniformity has started with this control of our words. Words are our communicative mechanisms. We think, predominantly, in words. So the suppression of certain ones as being ‘offensive’ does not merely shape the way we speak, but likewise, the way we think. This is dangerous and incredibly subversive. This kind of covert, self-enforcing mind-control is being bandied about under this blanket term of ‘political correctness’ and you have some people (I won’t blame political ideologies (especially so since they’re all bullshit) although they are certainly more prevalent among particular ones) who find everything offensive, and subsequently wish to complain about it, or if they have some form of political voice or power, of bringing in LAW to make it ILLEGAL to say or do these ‘offensive’ things. This is not right! The fundamental basis of freedom should be you should say, do, think and feel however the hell you like so long as you do not attempt to forcibly or covertly indoctrinate others to your thinking, nor intend to cause harm to others with it. And yet some people would have you believe that freedom, as a fundamental concept, is not offending anyone and merely skipping silently through a field of daisies humming “What a Wonderful World” to yourself, and in uniformity with everyone else.

Let me tell you this, I have an inalienable right to offend you, and you have an inalienable right to be offended; you too, have a right to offend me, and I a right to be offended; and we each, also, have a right to shut the fuck up if we wish. And I take that right as a liberty, if you read my words and find yourself cowering in shock, BRILLIANT! Do you know why? Because being offended is challenging, it is intellectually stimulating, it breeds debate and education, and indeed, in the case of satire and dark humour as most of my offense seems to come from it has a magnificent ability to make you think different. 

Fuck this ‘what you’re supposed to say’ bullshit. If everyone still said what they were ‘supposed to say’ the world would be a shitty and boring place. I want people to say what they shouldn’t and if I don’t like it I’m going to tell them to shut the fuck up, because I can, and they too can come back at me and say “No, you shut the fuck up!” and I will laugh and enjoy the moment that two people, married by their freedom of speech told each other through “shut the fuck up”s that they disagree! We don’t always have to agree! We don’t always have to please everyone. It would be nice to, but there is no pleasing some people (particularly miserable bastards like me!) so what the hell is the point? Say, think, feel and do what the hell you want just don’t harm anyone with it.

"But some words can cause harm…" say some people. And indeed they can. But it’s a harm that can easily be combated through education. Learn about the person so offending you. Learn their thoughts, their ways, their teachings, and use your own to fight back! Words are a battle of wills and wits which is wholly preferable to a war of weapons! Shit, could you imagine how all these wars in the Middle-East would pan out if it was just two sets of people having a slanging match across the desert! I give it about half an hour before they start having to come up with some ridiculous insults and all end up laughing together over it! Because at the basis of words comes an interconnectedness of humanity; they are not about, nor should they be about, exclusivity, for language, even if we speak in different tongues, unites us all. Within minutes of a heated personal debate it becomes quite obvious that the people involved are as stoic and ignorant as each other and so should merely share a giggle and an embrace at the fact that they’re each only human and just as ridiculous as each other. 

This is what it all comes down to. We are all only human. None is perfect. So some people are going to say some stupid things, and other people are going to disagree with them and we should leave it at that. You, too, have as much right to offend, as others have to offend you and we all do it! We share different opinions, it is natural variation in human thought. There are few situations in which there is a right and wrong when it comes to speech, and thought. It is in action that things get nasty and it is actions, more than words, that we should worry about. “Beware of wolves in sheeps clothing” as the old mantra goes. An individual unashamed to offend you through speech is unlikely to wish to do you harm, and even if they do, you can prepare yourself against their intentions. An individual who does their best not to offend you may well be harbouring ill intent anyway. That’s why I’ll take an insult over a compliment any day. 

Let’s stop policing each others thoughts and opinions and words. Let’s stop being so damn easily offended by everything! Christ, we’re all going to die one day! Lighten the fuck up and enjoy some freedom! I don’t want to live in a world where I have to stay my tongue for fear of offending another’s ears. Especially not when, in this world, there are still humans brandishing weapons against humans. Which is the real danger? An idiot like me speaking his mind, or an idiot behind the sights of a rifle enforcing theirs? 

The Boys In Blue

With the growing number of protests in countries that have operated under the illusion that they are ‘free’ we are also seeing a rise in oppressive, underhand police tactics and poor treatment by officers of the law. This has resulted in a lot of hate, and negativity for the police that I feel is often misguided. While ‘they’re just doing their job’ is a little bit of a cop out as far as an argument for tyranny is concerned, we would to well to remember that there are numerous factors that influence the mindset of an officer. After all, as the protesters at Occupy Wall Street were only too quick to point out they ‘are the 99% too’. But understanding must be mutual, if we are to get the police on the righteous side, and ensure they do their job of protecting us, rather than oppressing us. 

In terms of the psychology of an officer, we would do well to note the Stanford Prison Experiment (you can read all about it here and I would urge you to do so, because it is fascinating.) What this experiment did was take a group of ordinary college students (If I remember correctly) and simulate a prison experiment with them, and literally with the toss of a coin assigning a role of either prisoner, or officer to them. What is most shocking about the experiment is how quickly, despite our individual personal identities, these roles can be adopted. ‘Prisoners’ who had previously been activists very quickly resigned themselves to a lowly state, and ‘officers’ who had previously been normal, social human beings exhibited behaviours of what could only be described as sadism. This is the blurring line. As dissidents, individuals such as myself will often look at the police as ‘the enemy’. As individuals not to be trusted, people who are trying to oppress us. As Police, they will look upon us as ‘the enemy’, as trouble-makers who wish to oppose the order they protect. In the midst of all this, both sides neglect the fact that they are, at the most base and fundamental level, just human beings. And that all should be treated with respect, fairness and dignity befitting that. 

The other psychological experiment it is good to consider is the Milgram experiment (wiki page here ) This was an experiment into the notion of obedience and authority. It examines the very heart of the ‘just following orders’ idea. Subjects were given the role of a ‘teacher’ and asked a ‘learner’ (who was aware of the experiment) arbitrary questions. For each ‘wrong’ answer the ‘teacher’ was asked to give the ‘learner’ an electric shock (although no shocks were administered and the ‘learner’ merely acted), with an incrementally increased voltage per each incorrect answer. A meta-analysis of this experiment and its repetitions found, quite remarkably, that 61-66% of individuals would be prepared to inflict a fatal voltage to a subject if ordered to do so; regardless of their own morals or ethics. Such power has the notion of authority that over half the population would make themselves murderers under orders. Thus is the power of the hierarchical systems in place in the world. This must be taken into account when thinking about the police. Given that up to 66% of the world would make themselves murderers for nothing more than experimental authority, how must it feel for a police officer being given orders to oppress when his or her livelihood is on the line? And when this is put into context with the Stanford Prison experiment you can see how a role of protector with a badge and a night-stick can easily become corrupting.

So what can we do? Well the first thing is challenge your own perceptions. By looking upon the police as an enemy you are automatically dehumanising them and this will affect your actions. You should respect the police as human beings just as much as you expect them to do so with you. The worst thing you can do is confront or antagonise. This will only further the dehumanised belief within the officers that you are ‘the enemy’. If you are in a situation where there are police present, introduce yourself to them. Shake hands. Shaking hands is a sign of mutual respect; which could be hugely powerful. It shows the officer that you respect them, but also shows you demand the same respect too. Engage in dialogue where possible. I know sometimes police have a habit of merely being silent, particularly if a situation is heated. But before it gets heated, talk with the officers. You do not have to go into detail about your protest, but merely start small talk and even, if possible, thank them for being there to protect you. This will possibly be a reminder to the officer that it is their duty to protect you and not oppress you; and again it is a show of respect, that you are aware they have a role and you are thankful. It also takes away the myth that you are ‘the enemy’ and establishes one whereby you are someone who needs protecting. You will find that if an officer is chatty enough they may ask you about your reasons for protesting. This is a good chance to be intelligent, and educational; and this is a good time to highlight the areas of unfairness that apply to officers as well as yourselves. Particularly here in the UK where many officers are facing terrible pensions or even being made redundant. By establishing common ground you again tear down the barriers between authority and humanity. Most of all my advice to you would be do not hate. Understand the psychology that comes with being an officer and how it can manipulate the humanity. Understand that behind the badge and uniform is a human being who has been manipulated by a system that empowers them beyond their human natures. And do not generalise. There are many officers who are doing a fine job. Who do not commit acts of brutality, who do not wish to cause trouble and who want everything to go peacefully just as you do. 

In our fight for freedom, understand the underneath every uniform is a naked human being. We fight for them just as much as ourselves. It is our job to educate officers, and make them recognise that so that we may live under a rule of law and humanity, and not a rule of oppression and tyranny.