By John Keeble
This is an age of hate and fear and anger. And, for many, it will be getting worse over the coming months. Of course, for others it will be a way to cash in on political support and profits. And, for some, it will be yet more incentive to vent their hateful natures.
The language environment is saturated with opportunities for the hatemongers and dangers for its victims and the unwary caught up in it. If ever there has ever been a time to beware unregulated and uncontrolled “free speech”, it is now – that is, consider carefully what you view, read or hear; and, especially, what you write, say and repost.
Some people want “free speech” to be uncontrolled. They claim the right to say anything without any limits or retribution. That is a system for the bully boys, the extremists of verbal and physical violence. And our modern media, both mainstream and social, megaphones it in the name of news.
After the recent uproar over a racist article in CuencaHighLife, it is easy to think of this in terms of only race, but hatefulness and the wish to hurt others use many targets to achieve their destructive psychological, physical and political violence. And make no mistake: this is a form of violence designed to damage and dominate others.
There are many victims and tactics: the demeaning and disempowerment of women, the demonising of migrants and refugees, the hatred of millions of people just because they have a different religion or skin colour, the disrespect of the poor without adequate work or medical care, the appalling lies about political opponents, the marginalising of people with disabilities, the discarding of armed forces veterans, the disregard for the elderly, and so on ad nauseam.
Unless you oppose this and actively reject it, you are condoning it and helping it to flourish. What kind of post-covid world do you want to live in?
Of course, it does not help when our leaders turn out to be the most powerful liars and manipulators in the world – they create an atmosphere of “say what you like” to the worst kinds of people seeking to damage, divide and dominate rather than unite and build fair and just societies.
In this era of political and economic elites plundering nations for their own gains, discrimination and division are being intensified in our populations for the benefit of the rich and powerful and the domination of the rest of the people.
Unregulated “free speech” is just the semi-visible tip of a sinister iceberg. It points the way to the rot in our societies and the vicious stupidity of so many twitching to the sly dog-whistle words, the wretched use of self-interest to turn people against each other for political gain, and the misleading of good people with professionally-made social media videos designed to cultivate hated.
Beyond even that, it is about having a fragmented society of trained consumers who will fight with each other on any subject to be vocally right and, thankfully say politicians and big business, never agree enough to form a cohesive force for change for the benefit of themselves, the people and the nation.
The big players of social media and some of their supporting advertisers are finally paying lip service to some customers’ outrage. Some mainstream media, like The Guardian in London, have long had strict editorial policies to eliminate discrimination from their pages. Others, like Fox News, fan the flames of hate and division.
A major problem, which slips the stiletto of hate propaganda into even good and careful people, is the rise of social and internet media. Anyone, from destructive inadequate to trained specialist, can find ways to rip apart our societies – often anonymously without personal repercussions.
They are scoring successes, too. Look at the political impact of manufactured hate figures and manipulation in the political elections in the US and UK in the past five years. British and Northern Irish citizens will be paying a high price for falling for xenophobic and nationalistic manipulation in the Brexit votes, and the US has been turned into a seething cauldron of conflict.
At the grassroots, we see the so-called “jokes” and sly campaigns popping up in our social media and email inboxes. One very professional British video, complete with an exceptionally good presenter, was sent to me recently after I circulated a report of a hidden horror from the British Empire. The video undermined the Black Lives Matter campaign with underhand psychological jabs and lies, and reinforced white supremacy.
You have seen this kind of video. Do not be lazy or careless – try pulling them apart to see what they are really trying to fool you into thinking. Look for the lies and manipulations. Look for the true statements bent to serve their hateful ends.
Those same bully-boy interests have been working hard for many decades to undermine pressure for restraint and legal controls to tackle inequality and the hate attacks on minorities. The cancer of the “politically correct” term has undermined the clear message of fair and neutral terminology for traditional targets of the bully-boys – women, ethnic minorities and especially people of colour, religious minorities, sexual minorities, disabled people, migrants, and refugees.
We can add to that list now with science and scientists, the environment and environmentalists, animals and animal campaigners, any disadvantaged people and their advocates, other countries and their leaders… it is all grist for the hate mill for those who profit from it and for those who find sweet music for their illusions of superiority.
There is little doubt that these campaigns, social media and political malice, will reach hysterical levels as the US goes into its final presidential elections phase and the UK hits the brick wall of Brexit’s cost.
Are you eager for your worst emotions to be jerked around by the politicians and other manipulators – or are you ready to fight for a world without hatred and division?