Posts Tagged ‘Zelo Street’

Zelo Street Mugs Mad Nads Dorries with Reality over Liverpool Council and Beeb

October 5, 2021

Great piece today by Tim Fenton, the sage of Crewe, demolishing some of the massive untruths told by Nadine Dorries, our new Culture Secretary. He starts off by reminding us all the Nads is no stranger to telling porkies. In 2006 she wrote a piece for Conservative Home containing the remarkable fact that every member of Liverpool council in 1955 was Tory. Did I say fact just then? Well, it was in the sense of Donald Trumps ‘alternative facts’. The real composition of Liverpool council at that year’s elections was 53 Tories to 65 Labour. She also said that there were eight MPs for the city at the time, all of whom were Tory. This is another falsehood. Liverpool had nine MPs, three of whom were Labour.

Now she is telling falsehoods about the BBC. The Corporation, she insists, must take action over breaches of impartiality. But former Groan editor Alan Rusbridger points out that Ofcom have found zero breaches of impartiality. He then says he has too much respect for her to accuse her of lying, and hopes she will produce some hard evidence to back up her assertions.

Steve Barnett of the University of Westminster also put the correct figures for the proportion of Beeb staff who went to private school. Nads has said that it’s 50 per cent. The actual figure is 11.5 per cent of all staff, and 17.5 per cent of the leadership

Zelo Street also quotes Peter Walker, again of the Groan, who said that Nads complained that those criticising her appointment as culture secretary were mainly people who benefited from nepotism. She also believes that the ‘groupthink’ at the Beeb excludes northerners and people from the working class. As the Street points out, this is a bit rich coming from the woman who employed two of her daughters at taxpayers’ expense. He also compares the Tory cabinet with the backgrounds of two of the Beeb’s favourite personalities:

“Meanwhile, the Tory cabinet is two-thirds privately educated, the BBC’s leading news anchor (Huw Edwards) was state-educated and his parents weren’t employed by the Corporation, and its leading sports presenter (Gary Lineker) began his working life helping his late Dad Barry – who ran a fruit and veg stall on Leicester Market.”

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2021/10/nadine-dorries-bbc-and-reality.html

In actual fact, I think the Beeb is biased. The Kushners pointed out in their great book, Who Needs the Cuts?, that the Beeb uncritically assumed that Austerity was justified and gave ample space to those economists and politicians who supported it. Dissenting voices, especially from the trade unions and other groups, were excluded or, if they did appear, shouted down. Analysis from the media monitoring groups at Edinburgh and Glasgow unis found that Conservative ministers and figures from industry and the City were far more likely to appear on the news than Labour politicos and trade unionists. And the Beeb showed massive bias in its treatment of Jeremy Corbyn, in which it supported the actions of the Thatcherite plotters and staunchly pushed the lie that the party was institutionally anti-Semitic. As, of course, did the rest of the media. If Ofcom didn’t find any breaches of impartiality there, then it probably doesn’t say much about the organisation’s own lack of bias. But whatever, the watchdog hasn’t found any bias against the Tories.

These figures also undermine mad right-wing YouTuber Alex Belfield’s own attacks on the Beeb. Belfield claims he was forced out of the Beeb through a mixture of jealousy – certain star broadcasters were envious he got more listeners than they did – and contempt for his background. Belfield says he’s a working class lad from a pit village. As opposed to his former colleagues at the Beeb, who were all middle class and university educated. Well, they may have been. Not having gone to private school doesn’t necessarily mean that you are working class. Many of the peeps who are state educated are lower middle class. And possessing a university education doesn’t necessarily exclude members of the working class. Way back in the early 80s the student grant was still around to support students from poorer backgrounds. That’s been ended, but higher education has been massively expanded to include 45 per cent plus of the population. Which must surely include members of the working class.

But since before the days of David Cameron the Tories have been trying to pose as the real representatives of the working class, as against the university educated, left-wing elites. Tweezer opened her first cabinet meeting by saying that none of them were members of the elite. In fact, damn near every single one of them was a millionaire. As for attacks on university education, there’s a massive streak of anti-intellectualism amidst the parties of the right. The attacks on university education are there to inspire prejudice against anything a university group might say criticising Tory policy. But it ain’t just universities that the Tories hate. Some of us also remember the remark of a Tory MP about opera: ‘What’s opera? A fat Italian, singing in Italian, dressed as a woman.’ Well yes, a fair number of the great operas were written by Italians in Italian. But not all are exclusively sung by Italians of a certain weight, despite Pavarotti. And I don’t think all of them involve crossdressing. But it shows the prejudice of a certain type of Tory towards high art.

But once again, the Tories have been caught lying again. And unfortunately, once again it’s no surprise. It’s a pity Keef Stalin is trying to copy them in his leadership of Labour.

Helen Pluckrose on Combating Postmodernism and Critical Race Theory on GB News

September 15, 2021

As Zelo Street and others have pointed out, GB News appears to be heading down the tubes fast. Andrew Neil has departed and viewing figures continue to be dire, despite the broadcaster taking on Nigel Farage. They have tried and failed to entice Piers Morgan to join them, and are considering taking on Ann Widdecombe and Martin Daubney, both from the Brexit party, and the Conservative blogger Mahyar Tousi. The Street points out this is hardly likely to inspire more people to start watching, as Widdecombe is a joke and Daubney ‘a dishonest whacko’. The channel also seems to be losing younger staff, who wanted it to be a mainstream channel with a right-wing slant not the British equivalent of Faux News. These employees are particularly upset that GB News has been discussing culture war topics. I have to say that I’m in two minds about the channel’s demise. I’m not particularly unhappy that the right-wing alternative to the ‘woke, wet’ BBC looks like it’s in terminal decline. On the other hand, it is providing a valuable service by tackling the culture war and issues like Critical Race Theory and the trans ideology. At the moment its one of the very few people willing to broadcast interviews with Graham Linehan, the writer of Father Ted, the IT Crowd, Big Train and co-creator of Black Books, and allow him to explain why the trans ideology is so dangerous and harmful. Much of the media is determined to deny him and other gender critical activists space, or smear them as ‘TERFS’ and transphobes. It similarly appears to be one of the few British broadcasters willing to interview Helen Pluckrose, a feminist scholar who is a bitter critic of Postmodern ideologies like Queer Theory, which underpins the trans movement, and Critical Race Theory. Yesterday I found this video of an interview of Pluckrose by presenter Andrew Doyle.

Pluckrose’s background is in medieval literature. She first became alerted to the damage Postmodernism was doing to genuine academic research and scholarship when she was studying 14th century women’s religious writing. She was interested in how medieval women used the Christian narrative to empower themselves. However, her approach conflicted with that of her supervisors, who wished to see her pursue a postmodern approach to the topic. She also encountered the same opposition when trying to study Shakespeare. There is considerable interest amongst some academics in searching the Bard for racism. But she points out that the 17th century was the period when colour racism was only just emerging. Shakespeare, whom she considers to have been a Humanist with Roman Catholic elements, was behind the times. He belonged to an age when religion was still more important than race. She got into particular trouble when discussing why Desdemona was attracted to Othello. She believes it was because the Moor was a hero. She was, however, told that she couldn’t say that, because it would offend certain Black religious communities in America. So much for trying to see the past on its own terms.

As Pluckrose describes it, Postmodernism is a form of philosophy which rejects empirical science and debate in favour of viewing the world through the use of language. There is no objective truth, and what is considered knowledge is socially constructed, expressing and maintaining power relationships. Hence western science is fundamentally about maintaining the social status of elite White men. It’s based on the philosophy of Foucault, although she states that Foucault would not have been a fan of what his successors have made of his theories. She discusses intersectionality, and how it sees power in terms of the privileged relationships between distinct groups. Intersectional postmodernists, for example, would see her as possessing heterosexual privilege against Doyle, who I presume is gay. At the same Doyle has male privilege over her. Critical Race Theory developed from legal scholarship and sees race relations through the same lens. As I understand it, it sees White people as privileged and racist, without exception. These new forms of Postmodernism emerged with a new generation of activist scholars in the 1980s.

She describes the real intolerance at the heart of Critical Race Theorists like Robin di Angelo and Ibrahim X. Kehindi. These two see the world purely in black and white terms. You’re either racist or anti-racist. Anti-racist means you agree with them. If you’re race neutral, you’re still racist. You’re also racist if you disagree with them. And from what I heard here, some of their doctrines seem designed to cause racism rather than cure it. In one of her wretched books, for example, di Angelo claims that White people being nice to Blacks is also a form of racism. Doyle looks astonished and says, ‘She can’t mean we must be…’ He is met with a silent, rueful nod from Pluckrose. Pluckrose goes on to describe how, when she was reading the book in which di Angelo argues this nonsense, she found herself checking herself when she met a Black woman and her little girl out walking. The little girl was lovely, and so Pluckrose smiled at her. She then started worrying about that simple gesture of ordinary humanity in case she was perpetuating racism. I realise Black people have complained about being patronised by Whites expressing friendship, but attitudes like di Angelo’s make genuine good relations between people of different races extremely difficult.

At the same time, the Postmodernists’ concern with language also causes difficulty. They don’t regard something as existing before a word was invented to describe it. Thus, despite the existence of bisexuality in ancient Greece, they don’t believe homosexuals existed until the word was coined sometime in the 19th or 20th centuries. They are also extremely fragile and do everything they can to silence their critics rather than engage with them, and react with extreme rage to any criticism. Pluckrose states that it is because they really do believe that counterarguments are a form of violence comparable to physical attack. Doyle states that he has had personal experience of this. When he was debating someone from one of the Postmodernist groups they burst into tears, complaining that by advancing his arguments Doyle somehow wished to harm them.

Pluckrose herself has founded an organisation to help people, who have become victims of this nonsense, and describes how it can be combated. She describes herself as a liberal, who wishes issues to be settled by the Enlightenment methods of science and rational debate. She wants Postmodernists to engage with liberals, who believe in individualism, science and universalism, as well as Marxists. But they won’t. She’d like there to be a conversation between trans activists and gender critical feminists, but this isn’t happening. While she’s not aligned with the extremists on either side, she is more worried about the gender critical feminists as they are being denied their right to speak. She also talks about the fundamental disagreement between the two groups. Gender critical feminists see everything as determined by biological sex. The trans activists stress gender, socially constructed sexual identity. Thus the two aren’t talking about the same thing when it comes to debate, hence part of the failure to find a common ground for agreement. When it comes to racism, she advises her viewers on the way to reply to any communications from HR departments about being put on anti-racist courses. She believes that one of the reasons Critical Race Theory has made such deep inroads is because most people genuinely don’t want to be, or to be seen to be, racist. At the same time, anti-racist activists have become more intolerant because the legislation designed to combat racism is unable to remove other forms of racism. She genuinely wants to see racism and other forms of bigotry fought, and objects to Critical Race Theory and Postmodernism because it is actually extremely poor at doing so. She advises her viewers that if they get any messages about anti-racism training from their employer, they are to reply congratulating them about doing something to tackle racism. However, they are to follow this up with other messages asking for assurances that this training will not require Whites and Blacks to feel a particularly way. In the case of Whites, this is guilt for their institutional privilege and racism, and in the case of Blacks, to feel they are victims of White privilege and racism.

This is important, as the BBC, NHS, Oxfam and various big companies have all bought into Critical Race Theory, while it also seems supported by left-wing newspapers like the Guardian. Oxfam and the NHS have demanded their workers fill questionnaires about how they see White privilege, for example. And some of those promoting Critical Race Theory could themselves be seen as racist. They discuss Priyamvada Gopal, a professor of colonial and post-colonial literature at Oxbridge. Gopal talks much about ‘Whiteness’, but its clear that sometimes she’s not talking about ‘Whiteness’ but about White people. A few months ago she tweeted that ‘White lives have no value’ adding underneath ‘as White lives’. They state that she maintains she wasn’t being racist, but she would have been well aware how her comments would have been interpreted. At one level, Critical Race Theory’s assumption that all Whites are racist is nothing new. My mother was told she had to be racist back in the 1980s by a group of anti-racism activists sent in to her school. She must be racist, she was told, because she was White and middle class. This says volumes about the unacknowledged racism of these activists.

Postmodern doctrines like Critical Race Theory are seriously damaging real scholarship while at the same time propagating their own forms of racism and intolerance. Pluckrose and her fellows are to be applauded for doing what they can to combat them. And while GB News really is a terrible right-wing broadcaster, it is actually doing immense good by providing an opportunity for the critics of such irrationality and intolerance to speak.

Zelo Street Demolishes the Lies About the Churchill Charity’s Name Change

September 10, 2021

Excellent article once again by Tim Fenton utterly refuting right-wing lies. Two years ago the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, which awards fellowships to students and academics wishing to study abroad, in consultation with its trustees, changed its name to the Churchill Fellowship. This went unremarked until earlier this week, when the Scum got wind of it and immediately started a tsunami of right-wing lies. The Scum, the Mail and Nigel Farage on GB News immediately leapt to the conclusion that the name change was due to ‘woke’ politics and was an attempt to erase the great warleader from history. Unnamed volunteers were cited as telling the papers how outraged they were, and that the name change was due to the charity’s chief executive, Julie Weston. Except that the Churchill Fellowship doesn’t have any volunteers, so any quotes from non-existent volunteers are obviously fabricated. Zelo Street concludes

“Fortunately, the Churchill family has put the record straight, as reported by the Guardian: Nicholas Soames, Churchill’s grandson, asserted “I and the rest of my family, fully and unreservedly, support the remarkable work of the Churchill Fellowship”. Also, “The changes were overseen by the charity’s trustees headed by Jeremy Soames, another grandson of Churchill”. But the lies have already taken hold. And that’s not good enough.”

I was particularly interested in this tale as History Debunked did a piece about it yesterday, showing that he too had been taken in. I’ve reblogged a number of his videos, but always with the caveat that he’s a Torygraph-reading Conservative and so some facts may need to be checked. When he cites his sources and its about history, I think he’s usually correct. But this shows that on other issues, his opinions may be far less based on fact.

Zelo Street Destroys Blair’s Latest Speech about Weapons of Mass Destruction

September 8, 2021

The former prime minister Peter Hitchens calls ‘the Blair creature’ crawled out from under whatever rock he and his millions hide under this morning to give a speech to the Royal United Services Institute. This warned that Islamism was still a threat, and that in the wake of the Covid pandemic there was a horrific possibility that such terrorists would use bioweapons against the west. He suggested that ‘boots on the ground’ may indeed be needed again to help countries overseas tackle the terrorists on their soil. Of the Islamist terrorists themselves, he said

This ideology – whether Shia, promulgated by the Islamic Republic of Iran or Sunni promoted by groups on a spectrum from the Muslim Brotherhood through to AQ, ISIS Boko Haram and many others – has been the principal cause of de-stabilisation across the Middle East, and beyond and today in Africa”.

To which Zelo Street asked rhetorically ‘Hasn’t he missed someone?’

Yes, yes, he had. Saudi Arabia. 17 of the 19 perps of 9/11 were Saudis. The Street reminds us

“The majority of the 9/11 terrorists were from Saudi Arabia, and if you were to select one country that practises strict, even militant, Islam, that would be it. But Saudi Arabia buys weapons from us. It’s got a lot of oil. So, despite its export of terrorism, brutalisation of its own people, and subjugation of women, we are invited to Look Over There.”

Quite. There is considerable evidence to suggest that elements within the Saudi secret services were responsible for it, and that responsibility for the attack goes to the very highest levels. Saudi Arabia was firmly behind al-Qaeda and its infiltration into Syria and Iraq and I don’t think they had any real problem with ISIS. Not until Daesh went and issued a call for the faithful to rise up and overthrow the Saudi monarchy. Then the Saudi regime changed its attitude.

The Street concludes

“This will not do. Tony Blair could have set out some kind of vision; instead, he showed that he hasn’t moved on from 2003. He brings us no credible solutions. No change there, then.”

I don’t believe Tory Tone has anything credible to say about the Middle East. He may well be right about bioweapons, though I’ve heard rumours that we used them against the Iraqis. The rumour goes that scientists have developed pathogens that are so lethal they burn themselves out within a short time so that they don’t infect anyone beyond the limited number they were launched against. And the South African security service, BOSS, was supposed to be developing gene-tailored germs that would only infect and kill Blacks. Bioweapons may well be a real threat, but I worried that it’s not only our enemies who may be developing and using them.

As for Blair, he lied about weapons of mass destruction as part of the whole tissue of lies he and his mate Dubya constructed to justify an illegal war of aggression against Iraq. This war was really about seizing the Iraqi oil fields for the American-Saudi oil industry and Iraqi state industries for multinationals like Haliburton. These malign clowns sent brave men and women to fight and die, not to give the country democracy and freedom from tyranny, but so the corporate elite could loot it.

A few days ago I drew this sketch setting down in pictorial form precisely what I think of Bush and Blair. It shows them and Saudi oil magnate clutching oil wells with the names Aramco and Haliburton behind them. Also behind them are my attempts to draw warplanes from underneath. In front of them are the bodies of a Middle Eastern family.

The caption is ‘New Labour, Old Imperialism’.

This is the leader of the Labour party Starmer wants to drag us all back to. He needs to go for the sake of Britain’s working people and the safety of millions in the Middle East.

Spectator Promoting French Anti-Immigrant Writer

September 8, 2021

Zelo Street put up a piece yesterday reporting and commenting on the Spectator raving about a French anti-immigration author, Eric Zemmour, whose views could fairly be said to be far right. Zemmour has been prosecuted three times for racial hatred. He has described young male migrants from Africa and the Middle East as ‘killers and rapists’ and written a book, The Suicide of France, lamenting the abandonment of traditional French values to Islamism. He also laments the great replacement of the indigenous White French by Muslim immigrants, rails against the foreign powers he sees dominating France, from the EU to Germany, and defends the collaborationist leader of Vichy France, Marshal Petain. The ‘great replacement’ is the vile conspiracy theory that holds that the Jews are deliberately importing non-White immigrants to destroy the White race. If Zemmour was anyone else, he’d probably be denounced as an anti-Semite. But he’s of Algerian Jewish descent, and according to the Speccy a hatred of Muslims is ‘hardly unique’ among Algerian Jews, who were forced out of the country when it gained independence. This still doesn’t mean that a respectable magazine should be publishing him then.

Zelo Street concludes

“What Jonathan Miller means by comparing Zemmour to Tucker Carlson is the amplification of mere bigotry – in both cases, explicitly or implicitly against Muslims – into the Great Replacement theory. The only novel element of Zemmour’s take is that he is Jewish, and the child of immigrants – but still riding a trademark white supremacist bandwagon.

On being called out for promoting such bigotry, Andrew Neil will tell his critics that they should consult Nelson, as he’s the editor, and decides what goes in the magazine. Nelson, in turn, will snootily brush off any criticism as “just something on Twitter”.

Once more, the Spectator has been caught promoting bigotry. And that’s not good enough.”

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2021/09/spectator-promotes-foreign-criminal.html

All the French peeps with whom I’ve talked about Petain cordially and absolutely hate him and his vile regime. This was a regime that collaborated with the Nazis and their persecution of the Jews. There do seem to be problems with some immigrants and rape. Earlier this week Alex Belfield reported that the course immigrants are given on integrating into British culture includes training them against sexually assaulting and raping British women. But obviously that does not mean that all Muslim and African immigrants are such a threat.

Zelo Street describes the Spectator as ‘increasingly Alt Right’. I don’t think you can doubt it when it promotes someone like Zemmour, who is planning a ‘piratical’ challenge next year in the French presidency campaigns, and who would also like to be on GB News.

But we should also be asking where the Board of Deputies and the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism are about this issue. They’re nowhere to be seen. With his views on the Great Replacement, Zemmour could be regarded as genuinely self-hating. But they’re silent. Yet when someone on the left criticises Israel, they fall over themselves screaming that they’re an anti-Semite, especially if they’re Jewish.

The Spectator is promoting people with extreme right-wing views, views which the Board of Deputies seems to feel is acceptable because he’s not attacking Israel. Which shows that the Board is not only biased, but completely unfit for purpose for defending Jews against real anti-Semitism.

Zelo Street Destroys the Lies about Biden Abandoning Equipment to the Taliban

September 3, 2021

Yesterday I put up a piece about mad right-wing YouTuber Alex Belfield suggesting that Biden may have deliberately left billions of dollars worth of military equipment, including planes, to the Taliban in order to form the pretext for another war. Belfield and his supporters seem to have bought wholesale a pack of lies about the value of the military equipment left behind, This originally came from Donald Trump and his supporters, but has since been spewed up again by Nigel Farage. Farage also seems responsible for the comparison between Biden’s abandonment of military equipment and the British at Dunkirk, who, he claims, spiked all of the military equipment they left behind. But this is also untrue. Zelo Street has put up an excellent piece demolishing this falsehoods. First of all, there’s this piece from Historic UK about the abandonment of military equipment at Dunkirk:

Between 27th May and 4th June 1940, nearly 700 ships brought over 338,000 people back to Britain, including more than 100,000 soldiers of the French Army. All heavy equipment was abandoned and left in France, including over 2,000 pieces of artillery and 85,000 motor vehicles. Also left behind were more than 440 British tanks that had been sent to France with the [British Expeditionary Force]”.

As for Farage’s estimate of the value of the equipment Biden left behind, the true figure is $82.9 billion, and that covers all expenditure since the invasion, according to a fact check by the Washington Post.

The $83 billion figure – technically, $82.9 billion – comes from an estimate in the July 30 quarterly report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR)”… “For ALL SPENDING on the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund sine the US invasion in 2001”.

And the equipment left behind was spiked. Zelo Street quotes CBS News

 “In the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the U.S. ‘demilitarized,’ or rendered useless, nearly 170 pieces of equipment in Kabul, according to the head of U.S. Central Command”.

General Kenneth ‘Frank’ McKenzie in a press briefing Monday announcing the completion of the withdrawal from Afghanistan said the U.S. on its way out of Hamid Karzai International Airport destroyed up to 70 MRAPs and 23 Humvees – military vehicles – and 73 aircraft … ‘Those aircraft will never fly again,’ McKenzie said. ‘They’ll never be able to be operated by anyone. Most of them were non-mission capable, to begin with, but certainly they’ll never be able to be flown again’”.

As for the helicopters,

A video posted on Twitter Monday showed members of the Taliban walking into the airport looking at the defunct equipment left behind … ‘I would tell you that they can inspect all they want. They can look at them, they can walk around, but they can’t fly them,’ Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby told CNN in an interview Tuesday morning”.

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2021/09/nigel-farage-afghan-lies-busted.html

Farage has been lying again, and his and Trump’s lies have been swallowed by peeps like Belfield, who are starting conspiracy theories. I am not saying that the military-industrial complex won’t start looking to find ways of starting another war with Afghanistan. I think it’s all too likely. A left-wing Labour online rally a few months ago against imperialism warned that the neo-Con warmongers were trying to come back, and they do have their sights set on a few more countries. I’d say that one of them is definitely Iran.

But Biden leaving intact military equipment behind isn’t part of these schemes.

Tokyo Bans Sale of Comics ‘Subversive of the Social Order’ to Children

August 28, 2021

It seems to me that there’s a real war going on in ostensibly democratic countries against freedom of speech and conscience. I don’t think this is confined to either the left or right either. In Britain we have had a successions of governments that have been determined to limit the right to public protest from David Cameron to Johnson with his wretched Criminal Justice Bill. And before then there was Tony Blair and his attempts to control what was being said about him and his coterie on state broadcasting, just as Berlusconi was doing to the Italian state media. John Kampfner wrote a rather good book about it, Freedom for Sale, a few years ago, arguing that governments from Blair to Putin were trying to bargain with their peoples. They got material prosperity in return for severe infringements on their ability to protest against their governments. Well, Blair was wretched, but he did at least tackle poverty with no little success. Cameron, Tweezer and Johnson are simply increasing it.

On the other side of the political aisle, the right are complaining about the imposition of curbs on free speech as part of the campaign against hate crime and the ‘cancel culture’. Some of this is exaggerated. Zelo Street demolished some of the claims Toby Young, Douglas Murray and the rest were making about right-wingers being prevented from speaking at universities by giving the precise statistics. These showed that, while it had happened, the percentage of speakers cancelled was minute. But I do think they have a point. For example, it should be accepted that trans people should not despised, persecuted or suffer discrimination. But I think there are legitimate issues and questions voiced by gender critical feminists about trans activism and that there are spaces that should only be reserved for ‘cis’ women. But to some people, simply voicing what to many people are reasonable questions and criticisms constitute hate speech. There are similar problems regarding the reporting and discussion of racial issues. Nobody should want to empower real bigots and Fascists, but it does seem that legislation put in place to protect minorities from real hate has now expanded into Orwellian thoughtcrime.

And these attempts to limit freedom of speech have got into what is permissible in comics. One of the astonishing snippets I found while flicking through Paul Gravett’s Comics Art yesterday, was that in 2011 Tokyo municipality expanded its ban on the sale of certain comics (manga) and animated movies (anime) to children under 18 by including materials ‘excessively disruptive of the social order’. (Page 72). I realise that Japan is a very conservative society. The right-wing Liberal Democratic party were in power for fifty years or so after the end of World War II. The country is very Confucian in that one respects one’s elders and superiors. Gender roles are very traditional, as are conceptions of nationality. I don’t know if it’s still the case now, but under Japanese law at one time a person could only be a Japanese citizen if both their parents were ethnic Japanese. I gather that there are ways you can become a naturalised citizen, but it’s extremely difficult. It’s also supposed to be a very conformist society, in which children are taught at school that ‘the nail that stands up must be hammered down’. But this attack on comics is extreme.

Such attacks on the four-colour funnies and related media haven’t been restricted by Japan by any means. In the 1950s there was a moral panic in America and the United States against comics, one of the major figures in which was the Austrian psychiatrist, Dr Frederic Wertham. Wertham was one of a number of left-wing, emigre intellectuals who believed that popular culture had assisted the Nazis into power. He believed that American youth was being corrupted into crime and sexual deviancy by comics. He accused Superman of being a Nazi, despite the fact that the character’s only similarity to Nietzsche’s superman is the name, and that the Man of Steel’s creators were American Jews. Batman and Robin were an idealised homosexual couple, an accusation that has continued to plague attempts to reintroduce Robin in the strips. Oh yes, and Wonder Woman was a sado-masochist feminist lesbian. I doubt any of these accusations would have been recognised by the kids who actually bought and read the strips. But Wertham’s denunciations were taken up by a variety of groups, from the religious right to the Communist party and led to the passing of laws across America banning or restricting the sale of comics to children. The ban led to the collapse of particular comic genres, specifically the horror and true crime comics, which were particular targets of the legislators’ ire. It also affected the SF comics, because some of them strayed into politically dubious areas. The superhero comics survived, not because they were the most popular, but because they were the type of comics least affected by the new regulations.

One of the SF comics singled out for censorship was a story in which an astronaut from Earth travels to a world populated entirely by robots. His face hidden in his spacesuit, he tells the robots that they’re being considered as candidates for joining a galactic federation. Shades of Star Trek’s United Federation of Planets by a slightly different name here. However, the robots are divided into two types, blue and orange, and there is hatred and conflict between them. At the end of the story, the astronaut informs them that they have been rejected because of these divisions. It was only when the people of Earth rejected their differences and united, that real progress was made, he states at the end of the story. In the last panel he removes his helmet, and reveals that he’s Black.

Shock horror! An anti-racist message! This was too much for one New York judge, who wanted the strip banned on religious grounds. He believed that God had only given speech to humanity, and hated the idea of talking robots. But the underlying issue is obviously its attack on racism at a time when Jim Crow was still very much in force. Eventually the judge had to back down, and the issue degenerated into a fight between the publisher, EC, and the authorities over how many beads of sweat they could show on the Earthman.

Well, at least there were comics creators in America prepared to deal with the issue. Pat Mills, the creator of zarjaz British comic 2000 AD, says in his book about British comics and his career in them, Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave! that even in the late 1960s, the policeman heroes in British comics were making quite racist comments about Blacks. Part of what made 2000 AD’s predecessor, Action, so controversial was that Mills and the other creators there had been determined to make it as relevant as possible to contemporary British youth culture and deal with the issues and stories affecting and demanded by the young readership of the time. It was originally going to be called ‘Boots’, after Dr Martens’ distinctively rebellious footwear, followed by the years. So ‘Boots 1977′, Boots 1978’ and so on. But this was too much for the publishers, and the name Action settled on instead. In the end, the comic only lasted a couple of years because it was so controversial, with the major criticism that it was far too violent. 2000 AD was its successor, but here, unlike Action, the violence would be done in support of the law. This led to Judge Dredd, who was deliberately designed as a Fascist cop. The strip’s founding artist, Carlos Ezquerra, was Spanish, and so incorporated into Dredd’s uniform the style of the Fascists then making life a misery in Franco’s Spain, the helmet, the shoulder pads and the eagle badge. And I don’t think it’s an accident that the light reflected in Dredd’s visor looks like ‘SS’. Dredd was thus partly a comment by Mills and Wagner on some of the authoritarian trends in contemporary policing. Other strips tackled issues of racism and religious bigotry – Strontium Dog and Nemesis the Warlock, for example, and sexism, like The Ballad of Halo Jones. There was also a strong anti-war message in the ABC Warriors. Mainstream American comics had been tackling some of these issues for a decade or so previously. There were issues of Spiderman, for example, that tackled racism, and the Blaxploitation craze of the 1970s led to the appearance of Black superheroes like Powerman, Brother Voodoo and the Black Panther. Since then, and particularly since the collapse of the Comics Code Authority in the 1990s, comics have become an accepted and critically respected medium for the discussion of political and social issues. This has reached the point where Conservative and more traditional fans and comics creators believe that the medium and related forms of popular culture, such as SF and Fantasy film and television has become too politicised. In their opinion, contemporary comics writers and artists are too concerned with pushing overt messages about racism, sexism and gay rights at the expense of creating good, likeable characters and engaging plots and stories.

Martin Barker describes how comics have always been the subject of suspicion by the left and the right, going back to the Bloods and Penny Dreadfuls of Victorian Britain, and the cheap, popular novels being read by ‘the democracy’ in his Comics, Ideology and Power. Girls’ comics seem to me to have come in for a particular bashing. They were attacked by conservatives for being too radical and challenging traditional female roles. The left attacked them for being too conservative and not teaching girls their proper, traditional place. Barker shows how these attacks were way off, tearing to pieces specific criticisms of various strips. He argues that children actually subtly negotiate the content of the comics they read. They accept only those elements of the strips which appeal to them and ignore the rest. They do not simply accept everything they read. Barker’s final chapter is a passionate attack on those, who were trying to censor comics at the time he was writing. This included Thatcher and the Tories, but he was also angry at his own camp, the left. Brent and Lambeth councils were also leading an attack on popular literature through their zeal to purge their municipal libraries of anything they considered racist.

And they attack on popular literature has carried on. I remember the furore at the beginning of this century against the Harry Potter books. American Evangelical Christians accused J.K. Rowling of leading children into Satanism and the occult. Well, I admit I’ve only seen the films, not read the books, but I must have missed that one. It’s always seemed to me that the Harry Potter books actually were part of a long tradition of supernatural fantasy in children’s literature going right back to E. Nesbitt and beyond, and including The Worst Witch and Gobbelino the Witch’s Cat. Their attacks on Potter contrast with the Pope’s, who praised them and J.K. Rowling for encouraging children’s imaginations. There was also a rabbi, who wrote a piece praising Potter as a kind of model for Jews.

I’m not a free speech absolutist. I believe the promotion of certain opinions should be outlawed. Obvious examples include anything that encourages the sexual abuse of children or real hatred and violence towards minorities. I have no problem with the law banning the incitement to racial hatred. This was introduced in the 1920s or ’30s with the aim of combating the rise of real Fascism in the form of Mosley’s British Union of Fascists, Arnold Leese’s The Britons and other violent, deeply racist and anti-Semitic outfits. I also believe that parents have every right to exercise concern and control about what their children read or listen to, or are taught at school regarding certain highly controversial issues.

But I am afraid that the rules against certain types of hate are being used to silence perfectly reasonable criticism. One of the quotes that my accusers have cited to show that I am an evil anti-Semite is a statement where I say that every state and ideology should be open to discussion and criticism, even Israel and Zionism. There is absolutely nothing anti-Semitic in that. Even the wretched I.H.R.A. definition of anti-Semitism states that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic only if it is applied solely to Israel. But that sentence makes it very clear that I don’t single out Israel and Zionism for especial criticism. I simply state that they should not be above it. But to the anti-Semitism hunters, this is obviously too much.

I am very much afraid that freedom of speech, discussion and conscience and true liberty of the press is under attack. The Conservatives want to close down any view that isn’t their own, all while arguing they’re simply standing up for free speech against the censorious ‘woke’ left. And there are forces on the left trying to close down reasonable debate and criticism under the guise of protecting people from hate.

We have to be careful, and defending freedom of speech and publication from attacks, whether by left-wing councils like Brent and Lambeth in the 1980s, or right-wing local authorities like Tokyo and its law of 2011.

This should not be a partisan issue, but should stretch across the political spectrum. But my fear is that it won’t. And as both sides struggle to establish the kind of censorship they want, real freedom of expression will die.

Musical Satire: Bush and Blair Sing ‘Gay Bar’

August 24, 2021

Tony Blair crawled out from under whatever rock he’s been hiding himself under recently to give the world the benefit of his informed opinion on the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. He wasn’t in favour. In fact, he described it as ‘imbecile’. Zelo Street has put up an excellent demolition of Blair’s arguments over at https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2021/08/tony-blair-imbecile-yourself.html

It is massively hypocritical of Blair to present any kind of criticism of the efforts of contemporary politicos, such as President Joe Biden, to deal with the mess in Afghanistan. It was Tory Tone who, with his best mate George Dubya Bush, was responsible for the invasion and the following 20 years of occupation and nation building. Which really wasn’t about liberating the Afghan people from a viciously repressive Islamist regime and creating a stable society based on democracy and human rights. Bush and his backers in the New American Century wanted an opportunity to invade Afghanistan so they could build an oil pipeline that was being blocked by the Taliban. Yes, they were justified in attacking Afghanistan in reprisal for harbouring Osama bin Laden and 9/11, but that wasn’t the reason for the continuing occupation.

Just as the liberation of the Iraqi people from the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein also wasn’t the real reason Dubya and Tone invaded that country. The real reason was to enable Aramco, the joint American-Saudia Arabian oil company to seize Iraq’s oil industry and reserves, and for Haliburton and other multinationals to get their grubby mitts on the country’s state enterprises. The result was the destruction of what had once been one of the Middle East’s most secular states into political and religious anarchy and violence. Two hundred thousand people have been killed due to the invasion, and a further million or more forced into exile as refugees. For many people, Blair and Bush are war criminals who should be prosecuted, not indulged and fawned over by the media. They sent our highly trained, courageous and patriotic young men and women to their deaths, and murdered and mutilated a million or more innocent Iraqis.

Well, to mark the return of Blair to the media, I’m putting up this highly satirical piece I found on YouTube. About the same time Bush and Blair decided to invade Iraq, the Electric Six had a hit with their song, ‘Gay Bar’. Someone with a wicked sense of humour and master of video editing took footage of a joint press conference by Bush and Blair, and edited it so that the two appear to be singing the Six’s ditty. This was at a time when the momentum for gay marriage was building. In America an increasing number of American states were legalising it, and Blair had passed laws providing for civil partnerships, an alternative form of marriage that was mainly intended to cover gay couples. But the song’s also relevant to their invasion of Iraq and the other wars, containing as it does the line: ‘Let’s start a war. Let’s start a nuclear war. In a gay bar, gay bar.’

Well, I don’t know of any bars, gay or otherwise, that have nuclear weapons, although some have a reputation for violence. But Bush and Blair certainly started wars, the consequences of which are still plaguing us.

And Blair has absolutely nothing to tell present politicians about ending the debacle he started.

Hooray! Murdoch’s Sun Is Now Worthless

June 13, 2021

The Sage of Crewe at Zelo Street posted a very encouraging piece yesterday about the value of the Scum as a going financial concern. The good news is, it doesn’t have one. It’s worth priceless nada, zip, zero. News Corp Holdings UK and Ireland, which oversees Newsgroup newspapers has posted its annual accounts up to June last year. And the company made a massive £201 million loss, despite cutting sales and marketing costs by forty per cent, and purging staff from 605 to 546. More than 80 per cent of the loss were one-off payments made to the phone hacking victims to stop their cases coming to court and costing Dirty Rupe and his gang even more. The wretched newspaper also made a payment to the Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes last Thursday, who felt he had been illegally targeted by reporters wishing to out his sexuality.

The Groan, reporting on the Scum’s parlous accounts, as quoted and amended by Zelo Street, also said that

[News Group Newspapers] wrote down [the Sun and Sun on Sunday’s] value to zero. The £84m non-cash ‘impairment of publishing rights’ essentially means the publisher does not believe the titles will return to positive growth”.

Zelo Street commented

The Sun is no longer worth even publishing. Its continuing presence on news stands serves only as clickbait for other Murdoch group enterprises, and as a right-wing propaganda sheet. Many of those 546 staff are not receiving the obscenely inflated remuneration enjoyed by those at the top. But all are now candidates for the dole queue.

He also concludes that it raises questions about the viability of the rest of Fleet Street, as many of them were also involved in the phone hacking. He states that it may not signal the end of Britain’s free and fearless press, but you can see it from here.

See: Zelo Street: The Sun Is Worthless (zelo-street.blogspot.com)

This follows what Lobster and others have said about Murdoch’s other British title, the Times. It’s readership has fallen far beyond the figure at which any other paper would have been wound up. But because it’s Britain’s paper of record, it allows the grubby smut merchant a place at the cabinet table with our politicos. And so he keeps it going. I also suspect that the Scum and the Times will be kept going as tax losses for the rest of the Murdoch empire.

But this is highly encouraging, if alarming for the old media and the lamestream reporters, who lament the passage of the days when they could form public opinion and who are now complaining that public opinion is more fragmented and polarised than ever. Yes, there’s a problem there, but the lamestream media is responsible for maintaining a corrupt and highly exploitative neoliberal economic system which is ruining our country and driving its people further into poverty and despair. And there has been no greater supporter of the Thatcherite consensus than the Scum. It’s run, written and edited by post boys pretending to be working class to get Britain’s working people to vote against their interests. And it has always been extremely racist. About two decades or so ago Private Eye carried a piece about yet another judgement by the Press Complaints Commission as was about the wretched paper’s racism, that said that there had been 19 such judgements against it. And this is quite apart from the attacks on Scargill and the miners’ during the miners’ strike and the smearing of the Liverpool fans after the Hillsborough stadium disaster.

The Scum always was morally worthless. Now we know its financially worthless too. If you want real news, start looking at Novara Media, the Canary, the Skwawkbox and other left-wing news sites. And if you want informed comment, then it’s Zelo Street and Mike’s blog over at Vox Political, as well as Another Angry Voice. You know, all the people the Scum and its mates would describe as evil Commies or anti-Semites because they supported Corbyn or otherwise challenge virtuous capitalism. They’re worth reading.

But the Scum is worthless. It’s time it was wound up, and the rest of the right-wing press likewise.

See: Zelo Street: The Sun Is Worthless (zelo-street.blogspot.com)

Daily Mail Estimates Libel Trial Against Mike Could Cost Riley £1 Million

May 16, 2021

As well as the I, the Heil also wrote a piece about Mike’s appeal court victory yesterday. It was briefly on the net, but I haven’t been able to find it today. So I’m afraid you’ll have to rely on what I can remember about the piece.

As well as reporting the basic details of the case, the Heil’s article also featured the opinions of a lawyer specialising in libel cases. He guessed that Riley had already spent £60-70,000 on suing Mike, and if she took this to trial this could end up costing her £1 million. The lowest cost for such a trial is £500,000, according to the expert, and most start at £1 million.

Zelo Street has also put up a great article about Mike’s case and the latest victory. The Sage of Crewe notes that Riley’s case is undermined somewhat by the fact that she hasn’t gone after the author of the original articles Mike also drew on for his. Shaun Lawson, the author, lives in Uruguay, and Riley and her team estimated that he didn’t have enough assets to justify suing him as they would not recover their losses. This conflicts with a statement from Mark Lawson, Riley’s lawyer, that this wasn’t about money.

The article also notes that Riley’s case against the barrister, Jane Heybroek, for retweeting a comment by Shaun Lawson linked to one of his articles, collapsed after Riley had spent £80,000 on it and was unable to show that that the tweet had caused her any reputational damage. See Zelo Street: Rachel Riley’s Court Case Conundrum (zelo-street.blogspot.com).

It therefore looks like any further action Riley carries on against Mike could be extremely expensive for her.