Monday, 24 September 2012

Pop: Defending your right to disagree


I cannot help but wonder, as I watch the news and therefore the anger that has been directed towards the Tory Chief Whip, when the hypocrisy of our democracy is going to be dealt with.  For those of you uneducated on this matter, a member of the conservative party wasn’t allowed to ride his bike down downing street and subsequently let rip at the police officer who had stopped him, reportedly swearing at him and calling him a pleb.

I like the word pleb, I think it’s highly appropriate when dealing with the type of person regularly met in Macdonalds. But my appreciation of the word has nothing to do with it, the issue I have here is the hypocrisy. The labour party are, naturally, calling for his resignation. But they do this in the same breath as calling the conservatives toffs, posh, or snobs.

If there were a scoreboard of class-based insults, the conservative party would be on one, and the labour party would have surpassed countable numbers. Why is it okay to insult the upper classes but not the lower classes? What is it about the situation that makes one group of people attackable and another not. The answer is very simple.
Majority opinion. We have hit a state in our democracy where minority opinion is victimised and abused (John Stuart Mill warned that any democracy had the capacity to reach such a state, where minority opinion is utterly suppressed.) We have hit a point where you can be arrested for stating a mildly offensive opinion on twitter or be told to resign simply for having an opinion on rape that isn’t approved of. Diane Abbott has made repeated sweeping racist remarks and yet she has not been made to resign, her party didn’t even seem to consider it. All because majority opinion is that racism is only a bad thing towards non-white people. The view that we should be actually equal is a minority one.

So with this news story, it becomes blindingly obvious that minority views are to be suppressed. The government will always be hated for being posh simply because the majority of us aren’t. They can’t help being born into rich families but there are more of the rest of us, so it is okay to bully them while complaining at them for minor infractions towards us. But there is another level to this story that I feel it is important to mention. Members of the police service, like soldiers, seem to get some form of special treatment. The moment 2 police officers were killed, there were calls for the return of capital punishment. This was purely because the people were labelled police officers, the deaths of the rest of us don’t matter. The chief whip dared insult a police officer and that seems to be worse than any insult aimed at a normal member of the public, so much so that Boris Johnson has now called for swearing at the police to be punishable by arrest. This is the same thing; majority opinion has been swayed by the same propaganda as the rubbish that we hear about soldiers so these people have now been elevated to an untouchable level by society. Majority opinion holds that the police are above us, by having the small training course and no qualifications that it takes to get the label of police officer these people now matter more. And as part of the voice of majority opinion, it is all of our faults.

We are all responsible for the mob state of our society, where the fingerpointers get their views heard louder because they have more of a tendency to travel in herds. Everybody’s opinion is important, not just the one that is agreed with by the nearest person. Whatever the opinion, whether we personally agree with it or not, as much effort as can be spared should be put into defending the right of that opinion to exist. Defending the right of the person next to you to disagree with everything that you say. 

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