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Thursday, 2 August 2012

Where is Gore Vidal when you need him?

Once, village idiots threw clods of earth to show their displeasure. Now they have Twitter – a medium that allows a level playing field for all. It is causing all manner of confusion. One village idiot tweeted a thoroughly crass comment about the British Olympic diver, Tom Daley. 


The Dorset constabulary, with thousands of unsolved cases, and perpetrators of real serious crimes yet to face charge, found time to knock on the door of said village idiot in order to enforce The Malicious Communications Act 1988. Who knew such an Act existed, or its enforcement so inconsistent – in this case a sledgehammer against a very small nut. 

The Malicious Communications Act 1988 makes it illegal to send an electronic communication that conveys a grossly offensive message designed to hurt or induce anxiety. Since this particular tweet thousands of far more vicious tweets have been directed against the immature youth from Dorset. Should police forces be knocking on doors up and down the country in the name of consistency and justice? 

 They won’t, but it does highlight the stupidity of the state trying to enforce ‘acceptable’ behaviour through legislation.  It also highlights also a new and sinister force in the land - the techno-enhanced herd encouraged by media and state to enforce a collective outlook.

I didn’t enjoy every aspect of the Opening Ceremony, but I thought it a brilliant piece of theatre, and I was cheered that Danny Boyle stayed true to his vision. Well, one hapless Tory MP put his head over the parapet and said something different. He called it left-wing crap. You’d have thought he’d pissed on the Vatican altar, judging by the collective outrage this contrarian view aroused. Well why shouldn’t he say it? Is one man’s vision automatically right and another’s automatically wrong? Yes - but only in totalitarian states, theocracies or those cocooned in a ‘liberal consensus’. 

Gore Vidal experienced consensus condemnation in the late 1950’s when his book The City and the Pillar depicted homosexuality in a non-judgemental way. A conservative ‘consensus’ sat on him. Vidal's next seven novels were studiously ignored by Time magazine, Newsweek and the New York Times. In Vidal’s words:
 “I was carefully erased from the glittering history of American Literature. . . . Twenty years ago, there was an academic study of the five hundred — or was it five thousand? — truly great American novelists since the Second War. I was not of their company. I had slid down the page to a footnote.”

 In such a climate, people learn without thinking to keep quiet. It is is a benign intolerance compared to a gulag culture, but intolerance it is. Storm-troopers, Red guards, or mobs brandishing pitchforks and BlackBerries - all righteous in ‘group think’ – they have no place in a grown-up culture.
In Gore Vidal’s words:
 The corporate grip on opinion in the United States is one of the wonders of the Western World. No First World country has ever managed to eliminate so entirely from its media all objectivity — much less dissent. It is no less true in Britain today.


Angela Brown said...

The one thing I've found true, whether the "group think" has liberal or conservative leanings is that the one consistent thing is inconsistency...and that ideas are much better, even if they are actually the same, when proposed by the "group think" in stronger, louder numbers at that moment in time.

Maria Zannini said...

I've given up on the media. They haven't been objective in decades. It used to be they'd deliver the news without opinion, extrapolation, or judgment. Now everything is veiled in agenda.

I did think the opening ceremonies came off a little political, but it didn't outshine the cast or the spectacle. It was terrific.

As for enforcing behavior--I was brought to believe that it was my parents' responsibility to teach me proper manners when I was a child.

Hopefully, I retained some of those lessons.

You pushed all my buttons today, Mike. LOL!

Claudia Del Balso said...

It's so sad that people resort to Twitter, Facebook, and other social media networks to besmear people. Yes, to be fair, some criminals have been arrested thanks to FB, but that's a minority of the cases. RE: Gore Vidal (R.I.P)I think literature should be treated as such and not as political agenda. Shame on conservatives!

Mike Keyton said...

Angela, not too sure ideas are better if they come from group-think. Stronger doesn't make better. Holy Church condemned Galileo.

Yup. Maria, we might well be singing from the same hymn sheet.

Claudia I think that should be shame on bigots. Bigotry comes from the left and the right

Misha Gerrick said...

I know exactly what you mean. Especially on the topic of censorship. You can't imagine the looks I get because I refuse to say it's okay to ban books.

Or when I point out that no writer can control how a reader will respond to/act out what they've read.


Misha Gerrick said...

PS. The worst is this: people think that screaming the loudest with the most sheep bleating with them make them right.

It doesn't. It means they befriended sheep, which I don't think ever was a thing to be particularly proud of in previous generations. :-/

Mike Keyton said...

Misha, Befriending sheep's not the problem. It's the herdsman you have to worry about.

Mike Keyton said...

Or should that be Shepherd?