It seems ironic that none of the mainstream press reported Tommy Robinson’s march yesterday (Sunday, May 6th).
I err. One did, and you’ll never guess which one. The actual Guardian.
Not the BBC, Sky, ITV, the Times - in fact, it would be much easier to just say the only other paper that mentioned it was the Evening Standard. (I say this only after a somewhat perfunctory search so do please correct me, etc.)
Why is that ironic? Because the protest was all about “Free Speech,” which the protesters (mainly critics of Islam) see as currently under threat from the increasingly totalitarian ‘hostile atmosphere’ they sense. Twitter accounts closed down, scary knocks on the door by representatives of the law and suchlike. Well, we all sense it. And the fact that a considerable number of people were moved to rally in central London wasn’t reported by the BBC seems kinda careless of the most respected news organ in the world.
One particular feature of this event attracted my attention because it showed me how easily one’s sensibilities can turn one into a massive hypocrite. (That’s me.)
By a strange coincidence, this matter is also related to a dog. It concerns the man who was recently fined £800 for training his dog, a pug, to raise its paw in the gesture of a Nazi salute on the command: “Gas the Jews”.
He undertook this training, into which, I imagine, must have taken considerable time and effort, in order to annoy his girlfriend. (Why, was she Jewish or something? ) Sorry. Facetious thought.
Again, he made the unwise decision to put this feat of canine obedience into the public domain. On Youtube, I understand. Bad decision.
The ensuing pursuit by the police, the courts, and the press appear to be quite horrendous. Now, let’s look at the offence itself. Was it a joke? Supposedly. Not a very good one in terms of wit. Was it a hate crime? Hmm. Perhaps posting it on Youtube amounted to inspiring similar Nazi-related ‘jokes’ and therefore could be said, potentially to be at risk of inciting hate.
Now I couldn’t see any humour at all in using the phrase “Gas the Jews” as a command. It showed crass insensitivity. However, the speech made by this man at the rally went beyond the issue of the dog to make some significant points on the danger of the “totalitarian” threat to freedom of speech. What if the power was in the hands of a different political ideology?
So my own hypocrisy is exposed. I’m all for free speech but I don’t like people training their dogs to behave like Nazis and I certainly don’t find “Gas the Jews’ remotely excusable as a command to a dog. Neither do I think this stunt had wit on its side. But I do see his point and I do understand now, having listened to his speech, why Tommy Robinson supported the principles he cites and uses to defend his actions. (Before I heard it I did think Tommy Robinson had made a big mistake aligning himself with this individual)
Now, there are lots of Hitler-related ‘jokes’ out there. There are cats that look like Hitler. There’s even a house that looks remarkably like Hitler. They’re not exactly funny, but it is a bit weird that these images resonate so vividly. It verges on ‘the piece of toast that looks like Jesus’ territory.
So I’m more offended by Hitler-saluting-dog-gate than by the racist joke I wrote about yesterday, (and by the way it disappoints me to reiterate that I said in that post: I'm not justifying the tweet, the joke or the lady, by the way. Just pointing out the way it has been, to use a fashionable term, ‘weaponised', which I fear might have been overlooked) So, if that makes me a hypocrite, so be it.
We hypocrites must stick together, especially when we’re forced to hang our coats on shoogly pegs.
It’s always risky to try to make a nuanced point, which can all too easily be misconstrued, but I have to trust (hope) that most readers out there have sophisticated comprehension abilities, which they engage to the full whenever I do risk it. Very interesting thread on Harry’s Place (H/T for the vid) do catch it before the comments evaporate.
Must go, someone’s knocking at the door.