Abuse online

Men get attacked for their opinions and their actions.

Women get attacked for their opinions and their actions, and also get attacked for being women.

Leo Traynor was attacked by the son of a friend, viciously and horrifyingly threatened over a long time: when he met The Troll face to face, the 17-year-old boy – confronted with the human reality of what he had done – burst into tears and could only say

“I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m sorry. It was like a game thing.”

Internet TrollLindy West was and is repeatedly attacked by many men who are bitterly affronted that a woman should question whether rape jokes mocking rape victims are either funny or acceptable. One troll decided to set up a Twitter account in the name of Lindy’s father, who had recently died, to tweet his insults and threats: he used a photo of her father as his Twitter icon. Lindy didn’t block-and-report (both Twitter and Facebook are notorious for regarding verbal harassment as not a violation of their “community standards”): she wrote about how that attack made her feel on Jezebel. (Her troll emailed her the next day to let her know that it had only just occurred to him that she was a human being with feelings, that he was sorry, and that he was quitting.)

There is a living, breathing human being who is reading this shit. I am attacking someone who never harmed me in any way. And for no reason whatsoever.

One of the things Lindy West said:

One of the pillars of conventional wisdom about internet trolling is that internet trolling just happens. You hear this all the time, from even the most progressive allies: Oh, well, it’s the internet. There are trolls. Trolls troll the internet. Rape threats are like oxygen. Whatareyagonnadooooo. So, I’m just supposed to accept that psychological abuse is built into my job and I’m some thin-skinned rube if I complain about it? Easy for you to say, Señor Rando. Not only is that framework supremely unsatisfying for me personally, I’d go so far as to say that it’s a dangerous and patently false myth. Internet trolling does not “just happen.” It is not some mysterious, ambient inevitability that affects all internet users indiscriminately.

Internet trolling is a force with a political agenda.

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46 years after Stonewall

On the last Saturday night of June, 46 years ago, white New York police raided a queer bar in the Village, called the Stonewall inn, and the intended victims – black and Hispanic, trans and genderqueer – fought back.

That night and the name of the bar became a gay icon: not just the US, but around the world.

In 1969, in England and Wales, sex between two men in private if both were over 21 had been decriminalised. Police harassment had stepped up: the police now believed they had been given specific limits on where and who they could harass for being gay.

LGBT people would not be allowed to serve openly in the UK armed services until 1999: until 2003, it was completely legal for an employer to fire an employee for our sexual orientation. Last year the ban on same-sex marriage was lifted in Scotland: this year Ireland became the first country in the world to declare marriage equality by majority vote in a national referendum: Northern Ireland is the standout anti-gay land in the British Isles, but perhaps not for too much longer. (Although the Supreme Court decision overshadowed it, yesterday a Belfast high court judge granted judicial review to couples who wanted to be able to convert their civil partnership to a marriage.)

On the last Friday in June, yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that nowhere in the US can same-sex couples be banned from marriage.
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Swimming with the tide

Remember Leith Waterworld?

This was a unique facility at the foot of Leith Walk – a swimming pool with shallow areas and room to play. Edinburgh Leisure had nothing else like it. Leith Waterworld was closed in January 2012, and sold to a commercial property developer in May 2013. Nothing has been done with the site since: it’s just another greyzone area in Leith.

The decision to sell the site for a million pounds to a property developer was defended by the SNP councillor for Colinton / Fairmilehead, Richard Lewis, who is now the City culture and sport convenor, as “we had to be realistic” since a property developer will promise to develop the site as a soft-play area and generate 80 jobs [which did happen eventually…] whereas Splashback, the community campaign to re-open Leith Waterworld, was “a long punt”. (By December 2014, the main sign of that promised “substantial investment” in the area was a pile of dangerous rubbish left outside the Leith Waterworld building for over a week: the property developer, based in Glasgow, professed themselves entirely unaware of the rubbish heap.)

As I wrote in September 2012:

Leith Waterworld was a treasure: a pool designed for all children, for disabled adults, for family use. Closing it down means fewer children will be swimming regularly, learning to have confidence in the water, discovering they love to swim. It’s ironic that this should be Edinburgh’s Olympic & Paralympic memorial: closing a pool that fostered the love of swimming.

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Police accountability

Thirty years ago:

“At one point the police surrounded a coach and it stopped. A woman inside stood up and held her baby up – in a very melodramatic fashion, you wouldn’t normally hold a baby that way for fear of dropping it. But she did. She yelled at the police that there was a baby on board. “There was a pause of about five seconds, then from the back of the police ranks, whistling over our heads came a very large flint that exploded the windscreen over the baby.” Yet that was not the worst thing [the Earl of Cardigan] says he saw that day. “At some point in the crazy melee there was a heavily pregnant woman wandering around. Two policemen came up behind her with batons and clubbed her around the head and shoulders, and down she went.”

Wiltshire PoliceThese were travellers going to the Stonehenge Solstice festival in 1985, attacked by the Wiltshire Police. The police attacked the convoy using “police tactics used in the miners’ strike to prevent a breach of the peace” (such as mounted South Yorkshire Police attacking picketing miners in Orgreave, on 18th June 1984).

Ten years ago, in 2005, Tony Thompson, the Guardian’s crime correspondent, wrote with apparently sincere bafflement:

It remains a mystery why the police felt compelled to use such violence. With evidence that radio logs of conversations between officers on the day have been altered, the full story may never be known.

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Should UKIPlgbt march at London Pride?

The first Pride march in London was 1st July 1972, just three years after the Stonewall riots: the 2015 Pride will be celebrated on 27th June 2015.

Pride is not a demo and it’s not a party. Pride is a public celebration of being LGBT: lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans.

Farage on ThatcherThe UKIPlgbt group had been intending to march in London Pride. (Contrary to their own claims, they were not “invited”: they applied, as many hundreds of groups do, and were originally passed through on the nod. In response to public protest against their inclusion, Pride London reconsidered and told the group they could not march.

“LGBT* in UKIP” have gamely tried to claim they have been invited to attend “many other” Pride events throughout the country, but this has been specifically denied by Kent Pride and queried by the UK Pride Network.

(No individual is banned from marching at Pride if they behave themselves: the only question is of groups with banners.)

Pride’s origins in the Stonewall riots are important here. Irene Monroe wrote three years ago:

When I look back at the first night of the Stonewall Inn riots, I could have never imagined its future importance. The first night played out no differently from previous riots involving black Americans and white policemen. And so, too, did its being underreported. But I was there.

On the first night of the Stonewall riots, African Americans and Latinos likely were the largest percentage of the protestors, because we heavily frequented the bar. For homeless black and Latino LGBTQ youth and young adults who slept in nearby Christopher Park, the Stonewall Inn was their stable domicile. The Stonewall Inn being raided was nothing new. In the 1960s gay bars in the Village were routinely raided, but in this case, race may have been an additional factor, given the fact that so many of the patrons were black and Latino, and this was the ’60s.

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Charles Kennedy, 1959 – 2015

Charles Kennedy, 2009Charles Kennedy’s post-election statement:

“I am very fond of political history. Tonight, if nothing else, we can all reflect on and perhaps tell our grandchildren that we were there on ‘The night of long sgian dubhs!'”

On 9th June 1983 Charles Kennedy became the Baby of the House – the youngest MP to be elected, and at the age of 23, he was the youngest MP at the time of his election from 1958 to 2015.
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Labour Party leadership

I’d like to think the Labour Party’s leadership will be important to me because whoever is chosen as leader will be the Prime Minister of the next UK government.

I don’t really think that, though, which horrifies me because I don’t want the Tories to win a majority again in May 2020 – and yet: none of the Labour analysis about why they lost so catastrophically in Scotland or why they failed to win in England and Wales, looks to be on the mark: and all of the candidates for leadership seem to think that Labour lost because it was not sufficiently right-wing: which means I shall be still less inclined to vote Labour after five more years of the new leader than I was with the last.

If you are a Labour Party member and all set to snort with indignation and demand to know how I plan to get a Labour government if I won’t vote Labour, well: if you are a Labour Party member, why aren’t you snorting with indignation that your party is heading off down a path away from left-wing voters?

According to unverifiable rumour (via a friend heard from a friend who’s a Labour MP), Labour MPs don’t expect to win a majority in 2020: they want an interim leader who will get the Labour Party back on the right track after Ed Miliband’s failed experiment in steering it leftward, and then the new Tony Blair will step up after 2020 to become Labour’s next Prime Minister. If they are thinking like this I think they are hopelessly wrong: and I also think they are hopelessly insulated from the real-world problems that fifteen years of Tory governance will create in this country.
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