A Balloon Won’t Save Free Speech

President Trump’s recent visit to the UK was riddled with backlash. Whether it was due to his immigration policies back across the Atlantic or his more controversial remarks whilst visiting, he brought out protesters in massive numbers. According to the Evening Standard, as many as 250,000 people turned out in London alone to protest. (1)

The centre-piece of the resistance was a long awaited balloon of the hot-headed President. Having cost £5,000, the balloon was undoubtedly a visual representation of the protesters’ opinion of Trump – a infantile, enraged simpleton. (2)

It goes without saying that mocking leaders is absolutely a free speech issue. If we weren’t able to satirise our leaders, it’d be the twenty-first century equivalent of blasphemy laws. So long as nobody’s life is being threatened, we should have the right to protest leaders however we see fit – whether that’s through a balloon or otherwise.

What struck me as interesting however, is how the balloon was represented on social media and in the media. The Independent hailed it as a sign of ‘Britain’s commitment to free speech’. (3) The writer even included the line, “What better way to show that England is the home of free speech?” (4)

Did we finally get a First Amendment?!

Oh…no, never mind…

I’ve written about free speech issues in the UK before, so this article could be considered the equivalent of beating a dead horse with another dead horse. However, I think the issue is increasingly relevant and worth writing about – particularly in light of all the steps our government has taken to censor unpopular opinions.

The UK is granted freedom of expression in Article 10 of the Human Rights Act. However, it carries multiple exceptions – some reasonable and some not so much. Of course, any speech that threatens the safety of a individual must be taken seriously. But I still can’t buy into the idea that ‘sending any article which is indecent or grossly offensive with an intent to cause distress or anxiety’ is really worth police time. Anything can make you feel anxious or distressed – hell, Twitter does that for me on a regular basis.

It’s all well and good to say we have freedom of speech simply because we’re not carted off to jail for insulting Theresa May’s shoes. But freedom of speech must extend to cover the opinions we’re not too fond of.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan gave the protesters’ permission to fly the balloon, which I absolutely agree with on the grounds of freedom to express political opinions. However, in saying that, “We’ve shouldn’t curtail freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom to protest, simply because it may offend somebody”, Khan comes across as a massive hypocrite. (5)

In April 2017, he launched The Online Hate Crime Hub, which would work to stamp out online abuse. That sounds all well and good – nobody wants death threats online to become acceptable behaviour. But let’s face it, a lot of people are going to land in trouble for saying things that couldn’t be perceived as threatening behaviour in any sane society.

We’ve  already seen it happen.

Mark Meechan was arrested for teaching his girlfriend’s pug to do a Nazi salute – as part of a Youtube prank (Read my article ‘Freedom Of Speech-Under Attack?’ for more on that). (6)

Chelsea Russell was convicted of a hate crime after posting lyrics to a Snap Dogg song that included the N-word. I’m not kidding… (7)

Between 2010 and 2016, 2,500 Londoners were arrested for online hate speech – thanks to The Communications Act 2003, which defines illegal communication as “using public electronic communications network in order to cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety”. Breaking this law results in a six month prison term. (8)

But England is the home of free speech remember! The Independent said so!

The article I just cited seems to also imply that ‘whore’ and ‘slut’ should be considered hate speech. Meaning that somebody could be arrested for calling a woman a slut – the haters on Kim Kardashian’s Instagram better watch out!

Aren’t you glad police time was spent on this? You know….instead of tackling knife crime….child abuse….terrorism. Nope! Chelsea Russell and her rap lyrics on Instagram were the real societal threat!

Ultimately, the balloon is a symbol of free speech. But just as it won’t dent Trump’s mammoth size ego, it will do virtually nothing to save freedom of speech in the United Kingdom. 

  1. https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/donald-trump-london-protest-news-nearly-250000-protesters-march-against-presidents-visit-a3886941.html
  2. https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/donald-trump-london-protest-news-nearly-250000-protesters-march-against-presidents-visit-a3886941.html
  3. https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/trump-visit-inflatable-sadiq-khan-protest-satire-freedom-of-speech-a8434866.html
  4. Ibid
  5. https://twitter.com/PA/status/1017770568140062725
  6. https://curiousskepticblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/28/freedom-of-speech-under-attack/
  7. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-43816921
  8. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/arrests-for-offensive-facebook-and-twitter-posts-soar-in-london-a7064246.html
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The Age Of Extremes

I was hesitant to even write this article.

Whenever a man voices his opinion on abortion and it’s anything that deviates from the pro-choice rhetoric, he’s told to “Shut up and leave it to women”. Interestingly, abortion ceases to be a woman-only issue whenever men say they’re pro-choice, but I digress.

This article isn’t going to be about the legality of abortion, or even the morality of it. That’s a whole can of worms that I won’t be opening.

I’d rather talk about a disturbing trend I’ve noticed among more vocal pro-choice advocates. It seems to me that abortion is seemingly being normalised and made into an almost mundane, even positive experience. I’ll give you a few examples where pro-choice advocates have made me tilt my head and go “Wait…what?!”

  • Actress  Lena Dunham commented in December 2016: “Now I can say that I still haven’t had an abortion, but I wish I had”. She later apologised. (1)
  • Comedian Sarah Silverman used Jesus Christ himself to argue in favour of lax abortion laws. In one sketch from 2014, Sarah asked Jesus, “When does life begin?” to which Jesus snarked, “Fertilised eggs aren’t people…people are people”. (2)
  • Actress Martha Plimpton appeared at a #ShoutYourAbortion rally in June 2017, and bragged, “I also had my first abortion here at the Seattle Planned Parenthood! […] Notice I said ‘first’…and I don’t want Seattle — I don’t want you guys to feel insecure, it was my best one.” All of this was said in front of a crowd who laughed and cheered. (3)
  • Comedian Michelle Wolff recently dedicated a segment on her Netflix show to abortion, quipping, “Abortion shouldn’t be a luxury…it should be on the dollar menu at McDonalds!” She followed this up with a ‘Salute to Abortion’, complete with a marching band, American flags and a concluding “God bless abortion!”. (4)

Of course it’s easy to say, “Okay, they’re just dumb celebrities looking to get noticed”. I would have said the same myself – having written many articles on celebrities being all too keen to lecture the ‘little people’ on any given social issue of the day.

But even for people who identify as pro-choice, the pro-abortion rhetoric can be alienating. One comment on Michelle Wolf’s video said, “Politically, I’ve always been pro-choice, but this is repulsive on so many levels”.

This raises the question – is there no common ground on this issue anymore?

As long as I’ve observed this debate, I’ve been able to see that both sides agree on one thing – that abortion is an extremely unfortunate and tragic thing. It’s not pleasant but it’s something that may be a last resort, or indeed inevitable.

But with this new wave of pro-abortion championing, it’s almost been made into a fad. Apparently, it’s perfectly acceptable to make abortion into a fashion statement – as Martha Plimpton did with the charming t-shirt you can see in the featured image.

Even Planned Parenthood got in on the act in 2004 with this doosy.

abortion_pride_1

Odious rhetoric isn’t absent from the pro-life side, mind you. In my article ‘The Decline of Decency’, I discussed columnist Kevin Williamson who argued that women who had abortions should be executed by hanging. I said then, and I’ll stand by it forever, that this is a hideously evil thing to say. Any decent person who calls themselves pro-life wouldn’t stand by such garbage.

But Williamson was rightly punished for his behaviour and was fired from his job at The Atlantic. Though many free-speech advocates came out to protest his dismissal, very few people came to defend the message he was delivering. He didn’t have the shrieking crowds that Michelle Wolf and Martha Plimpton have. There was no ‘Hang Women Who Had Abortions’ t-shirt.

I believe in open conversations and compromise. On this issue, the solution lies somewhere in the middle among the nuances of when life begins and when it’s acceptable to terminate a pregnancy. It is not to be found in fanatical calls for hanging or sickening love-fests over abortion.

 

 

 

  1. http://ew.com/news/2016/12/20/lena-dunham-abortion-comment/
  2. http://ew.com/news/2016/12/20/lena-dunham-abortion-comment/ [SARAH SILVERMAN IS VISITED BY JESUS CHRIST]
  3. https://theseahawk.org/13434/opinion/martha-plimpton-and-her-best-abortion/
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5w955V6ULd4 [The Break with Michelle Wolf |  Salute to Abortions | Netflix]

A Nation Of Patriots?

After England’s recent victory over Colombia in a World Cup match, the streets of my city erupted in celebration. As I was walking through, I couldn’t help but smile to see so much jubilation. Even as somebody who’s not interested in football, I inevitably felt like I was part of the collective celebration.

It’s often said that World Cups and other sporting events are a rare opportunity for people to express pride in their country and celebrate their nation.

This may be the case in the UK, but in other countries, there’s varying attitudes to patriotism.

If we were to measure patriotism by a willing to fight and die for a country, then the UK would be judged to be extremely unpatriotic. A Gallup poll revealed that only 27% of Britons would fight for their country – higher than figures from Japan or Germany, but still far below Morocco, Pakistan and Vietnam. (1)

If we were to judge patriotism based on whether or not we believed our country to be the best in the world, then the UK would also come out with meagre results – with only 13% of Britons agreeing with that statement. (2) Not surprisingly, America topped that list with 41% of Americans flying their stars and stripes proudly.

For the sake of this article, I will judge patriotism on whether an individual feels proud to be part of a nation.

From my own experiences, I feel like patriotism isn’t a big part of our current culture. It’s clearly on the decline – only 15% of young Brits consider themselves patriotic, compared to 49% of senior citizens. (3) A lot of understandable circumstances have contributed towards this in my opinion.

The UK’s foreign policy decisions in recent years have brought a feeling of regret and remorse upon the general population – especially the invasion of Iraq in 2003, which a majority of the public feel was a huge mistake. Even beyond the recent errors is the years of the British Empire, in which we ruled over large swathes of land in Africa and Asia. Looking back on those ‘Glory Years’ gives many people reason to halt before proclaiming that they’re proud to be British.

However, I would argue that it’s certainly possible to take all of this into consideration and remain patriotic.

Consider for a moment that we live in a country where we can examine our past, our history and our mistakes. Many countries would consider such analysis of the darker aspects of our history downright treasonous – think about how the Armenian Genocide and the massacres of Mao Zedong are handled in Turkey and China respectively. It’s remarkable that the UK is open to looking back and reconsidering aspects of our history that aren’t going to fill us with pride.

The UK is indisputably one of the best places to live in the world. It is so easy to take for granted, but it is truly a blessing to live free from genocide, civil war or the various afflictions that haunt other nations.

Ultimately, I don’t see patriotism as something to shy away from. I think on some level, a majority of people are patriotic in a sense – they want what’s best for the country (Regardless of how their opponents view their intentions).

In wanting the UK to be better than it currently is, we are exercising our rights to strive for improvement. Whether that means petitioning for more funding to the NHS, campaigning for freedom of speech or simply serving our communities through volunteering, we’re showing that we want the country to flourish.

Of course, there are the uglier sides of ‘patriotism’ which manifest in xenophobia – which is arguably why the England flag has taken on connotations of racism. But ultimately, I feel that having pride in your country is perfectly reasonable. If you truly love something, you can acknowledge the flaws and believe in the potential to do better.

This is true of other things also….namely the desperate hope that ‘The Walking Dead’ will one day be watchable again.

 

  1. https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-most-patriotic-countries-in-the-world.html
  2. http://uk.businessinsider.com/yougov-19-most-patriotic-countries-in-the-world-2016-11
  3. Ibid

Got Pride?

If you’re a gay man, it’s expected that you’ll be interested in Pride Month. By your sexuality alone, you’ll be expected to be a ticket carrying attendee at your city’s Pride Parade.

Pride has traditionally been celebrated in June, to remember the Stonewall Riots of June 1969. These riots – in response to police shutting down gay bars in New York City- are considered to be the starting point of the modern gay rights movement.

Obviously, I’m behind any movement that advocates for the legalisation of same-sex relationships, and works towards protecting  communities from violence. However, I can’t help but look at modern Pride Parades and think “Is this something really expressing Pride over?”

I’ve already written in the past on the over-sexualised nature of the gay community. My point still stands  – we need to take more responsibility for ourselves.

Gay men are disproportionately represented in statistics surrounding the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. In London alone, gay men represent 25% of new infections in London, representing 9 in 10 Syphillis infections and 7 in 10 cases of Gonorrhoea. (1)

You would think from statistics like that, people within the gay community would think “Maybe our next Pride event shouldn’t be so explicit”.

Nothing is further from the reality. Pride Parades manage to attract hedonistic behaviour in all it’s glory – men dancing in their underwear, phallic imagery everywhere, women grinding on each other – all whilst children are in attendance.

pride

What’s not to be proud of?!!

What about any of this is worth being proud of? Am I missing something? I thought you’d be proud of yourself for overcoming personal obstacles in your life to be successful? Not for gyrating in public or acting like a dog in heat.

It seems the more I see, the more reason I’d have to avoid being associated with the whole thing. Videos have gone viral showing the conduct during certain parades, and frankly, it’s disgraceful.

One video showed an eight year old boy twerking in the middle of a parade (I’ll link the video, but I wouldn’t recommend watching by any means) and another which showed a young girl standing beside a man  who was gyrating in a speedo. (2) (3)

I’m sorry, but why the hell should this fill me with pride? If anything, it’s disgusting and sick. I know most gay people wouldn’t abide by this behaviour (At least I HOPE they wouldn’t, otherwise I’ll happily be the odd man out on this one).

It’s the personal freedoms of western nations that allow for these antics. Freedoms which are only a fantasy for the gay men and women of nations like Uganda or Saudi Arabia. An i#pridemage that always struck me was one from Uganda, where a group of men marched through the jungle in defiance of the country’s vehemently anti-gay laws. That’s true courage, that’s bravery that I couldn’t even fathom.

That’s something worth having pride for!

 

Matthew Todd’s book Straight Jacket (Which I thoroughly recommend by the way) theorises that the partying lifestyle of gay men is a primary reason for why many struggle to be happy. The fact that ‘chem-sex’ and ‘cruising’ are terms floating in the ‘gay lexicon’ says it all. And to me, Pride seems to embody that lifestyle of reckless living.  Something we need to move away from before it destroys more lives.

I like to have a drink and dance as much as anybody else. But for now, I’ll pass on the indecent exposure.

  1. https://www.letsgetchecked.com/articles/highest-rate-of-stis-in-the-uk/
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcKEej9N8xw [LITTLE BOY TWERKS AMONG GAY CROWD, IS THIS RIGHT OR WRONG?]
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIAfQUOwKYs [This is what little children are exposed to at Pride Parades]

The Oldest Profession – The Newest Trend?

‘Someone once said that politics is the second-oldest profession. I’m beginning to think it bears resemblance to the first.’ – Ronald Reagan

 

Before taking it down shortly after, Manchester Evening News ran a story about a former prostitute named Kat. Having worked in the ‘business’ for fifteen years and finally walked away, Kat – who claims to have had a million clients – was arguing against suggestions that laws on prostitution should be softened in the UK. She felt that it would lure women into a lifestyle that was demoralising.

As it stands, it is legal for a woman (Or a man, for that matter) to be paid for sex in Great Britain. However, running brothels, soliciting for sex in public and pimping all remain criminal offences.

Personally, I think the laws  are suitable. It’d be wasteful to try and  arrest people for consensual sex that takes place in the privacy of their rooms or a motel. However, I do think it needs to be kept off the streets for the sake of decency, and the laws should enable any prostitutes protection from third-parties looking to exploit them.

There’s even been shifts in public opinion within the UK on this issue. Polls from 2008 suggested that 44% of respondents believed prostitution was both morally wrong and deserving of criminal status – compared to polls in 2015 which suggested 54% of respondents felt prostitution should be decriminalised. (1) (2) Interestingly, men tend to be far more supportive of lax prostitution laws compared to women.

I personally support the law as it stands. But that’s not what I want to talk about in this article. Instead, I’d rather spend time analysing this developing culture of soliciting sex and whether it empowers women.

No longer is being paid for sex an activity restricted to ‘Ladies of the night’. Sex workers are now seen to be from every walk of life – and of both genders. Their motivations are varied – some are doing it whilst they’re in University. Others are essentially taking on ‘Sugar Daddies’ – richer, older men who pay younger companions for their company and often sexual intercourse.

The stigma behind paid sex has gradually been eroded over time. Apps now exist that serve to connect rich men with young and willing ‘sugar babies’ – essentially a platform for prostitutes by another name.

Of course, as long as a person is consenting and of age, I wouldn’t say it deserves police attention. However, I do personally feel uneasy about the glamorisation of sex workers and what sort of message that sends to people.

sex workers #3

Case in point…

Social media regularly shines the spotlight on young women who make lots of money out of older men. People applaud them, often vocalising their envy of the money they’ve received. As such, it is made desirable to be paid for sex.

I’ve even seen images that emulate Anna Nicole Smith (Who serves as the featured image #sex worker #2of today’s article). The idea that anybody who would wish to follow the example of a woman who lived such a hedonistic lifestyle and died at 39 is baffling to me. But seemingly, getting rich quick is some people’s idea of an end-goal.

That might sound all well and good, but I find it hard to believe that it won’t come back to haunt them in the future. Studies have shown that casual sex often causes feelings of loneliness, shame and regret in the individuals after participating. (3) (4) This could go a long way in explaining why so many people struggle with self-esteem and their emotional well-beings whilst living on a college or university campus.

I think the behaviour that’s being glamourised is going to be disastrous in a few years time. It may be fun to roll around in the money acquired through an activity that may give you fleeting moments of passion or confidence. But I am almost certain that you’ll look back in regret at how you traded in your own respect for a quick buck.

Three-quarters of women involved in prostitution have been physically assaulted, with over half having been raped (According to Hester & Westmarland Home Office statistics from 2004). (5) Women involved in prostitution will have a mortality rate twelve times higher than women in their age group, and are eighteen times more likely to be murdered than women of a similar demographic background. (6)

Sex work is not glamorous or desirable.  Women who end up doing this are often in desperate, entirely sympathetic circumstances. Most have no options but to turn to sex work – whether it’s to provide money for food, shelter, their children or drugs. (7) (8) It’s nothing to emulate.

Maybe I do sound judgemental? But it’s only because I would want somebody to caution me if I were to enter into that sort of lifestyle, and save me from the almost inevitable consequences. I just don’t believe that the temporary feeling of ’empowerment’ will equal long-term happiness.

  1. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/20_01_08_ps_sexsurvey.pdf
  2. https://yougov.co.uk/news/2015/08/13/majority-support-decriminalising-prostitution/
  3. https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201303/how-casual-sex-can-affect-our-mental-health
  4. https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/promoting-empathy-your-teen/201301/link-between-sexual-promiscuity-and-depression-in-teens
  5. http://www.toynbeehall.org.uk/data/files/Statistics_on_prostitution.pdf
  6. Ibid 
  7. http://en.hesperian.org/hhg/Where_Women_Have_No_Doctor:Why_Women_Become_Sex_Workers
  8. http://sciencenordic.com/what-drives-prostitute

The Ethics Of Eating

Whenever they’re not arguing over Brexit, Donald Trump or the Katy Perry-Taylor Swift feud, the denizens of Twitter like to devote their time to squabbling over another divisive subject – Veganism.

Recently, a woman was slammed on Twitter after she ran over a group of ducklings in her car. (1) One viral tweet even bluntly responded to the story with, ‘No offence, but I hope she dies in a house fire’.

I’d like to note that all the papers that ran the story – The Daily Mail, The Mirror, Metro, etc. – cited one woman in a car behind the driver as a witness. This source has no sure-fire way of knowing that the woman in front drove over the ducks on purpose, and is painting the scenario with malicious intent with no proof. The Mirror even ended their article with the words – ‘Do you know the driver who killed the ducklings? Email us at webnews@trinitymirror.com’. (2)

It wasn’t long before vegans came to criticise the original tweeter – pointing out that the woman was driving into a McDonald’s at the time she killed the ducklings. They observed that nobody objected to the consumption of chicken nuggets.

This obviously didn’t go down well with the general populace of Twitter, and a war of words broke out. But this whole debacle brings back a topic that I’ve long been interested in – the double standards we hold regarding animal welfare.

I’ve been a vegetarian for a year now, and what pushed me to make the change was a constant feeling of being a hypocrite. I care about animals, and often used my Twitter to draw attention towards the plights of Whales, Elephants, Tigers and other endangered species. It was something I felt passionate about.

But after getting to know somebody who practised a Vegan lifestyle and was regularly involved in activism, I began thinking more about my own moral standards. Why did I constantly draw attention to other animals and their suffering, whilst regularly consuming chicken, beef, pork and lamb?

Where was the consistency?

The truth is that in Britain, we do have a double standard. We revere our dogs and cats, to the point where 34% of Brits would rather donate to charities that look after animals, than they would to charities that look after people. (3) We view animal abusers with similar levels of contempt as we would towards child molesters.

Yet, we are generally indifferent to the plights of pigs, cows, chicken and sheep on the many farms around our country. Many will protest documentaries that show the barbaric practices inside slaughter houses – “That’s putting me off my food!!”

Why is that? Yes, it’s disgusting – but is there a guilt in seeing how that animal ends up on your plate?

We’re regularly told that our farms are humane – which is debatable – and that we should strive to eat animals that are killed in a humane way. Interestingly, we never push for this with the practice of eating dogs in East Asia. Campaigns never advocate for humane slaughter methods – they want dog meat to be outlawed.

Honestly, there’s a lot I could write on this topic, so I won’t beat a dead horse (If you pardon the pun). There will likely be more articles on this topic to come, but for now, I invite you to watch a harrowing documentary called ‘Land Of Hope And Glory’, and take these three facts into consideration.

‘Land Of Hope And Glory’ – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvtVkNofcq8

  • If piglets are not growing fast enough or are sick and injured they are seen as unprofitable to the industry so are killed. This is done in the most cost effective manner, meaning that often piglets are slammed against walls, concrete floors or bludgeoned with metal poles. (4)

  • 150,000 dairy cows are slaughtered whilst still pregnant in the UK each year. (5) 

  • Male chicks are useless to the egg industry, so are killed immediately after birth. It is estimated that up to 40 million day old male chicks are killed each year in the UK by being either gassed or thrown into a macerator – this practice occurs in all egg farming systems, including organic. (6)

 

  1. https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/world/2018/06/heartless-woman-runs-over-ducklings-at-mcdonald-s-drive-through.html
  2. https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/family-watch-horror-evil-driver-12629924
  3. https://yougov.co.uk/news/2018/02/26/what-kind-person-would-rather-donate-animal-charit/
  4. https://www.animalaid.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Pigreport.pdf – pg. 11
  5. https://www.viva.org.uk/what-we-do/pregnant-cow-massacre/briefing-notes
  6. https://www.viva.org.uk/resources/video-library/hatchery-investigation

 

Time To Retire Uncle Tom

Originally, Uncle Tom was the central character of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 novel ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ – a adamantly anti-slavery novel. But with the obscenely racist Minstrel shows – that had white men perform in black face – Uncle Tom was transformed into a pro-slavery argument and presented as a fool.

Ironically, the original Uncle Tom character was a free-thinker, and performances of stage versions of his story alarmed pro-slavery figures.

It wouldn’t be until 1919 when being called a Uncle Tom would have negative connotations. George Alexander McGuire, a black nationalist, told the Universal Negro Improvement Association that the “the Uncle Tom n****r has got to go, and his place must be taken by the new leader of the Negro race … not a black man with a white heart, but a black man with a black heart.” (1)

The reason why ‘Uncle Tom n****rs’ were hated by the black community was because of their supposedly submissive nature. At a time when black people were standing up to the injustice of segregation in a post-slavery America, anybody who was seen to be weak willed was cast aside.

It’s for this reason that Uncle Tom is now synonymous with treachery and submissiveness.

In contemporary debate and political discussion, the term is often carted out to insult the opposition. Usually it is to degrade a black person’s position by insinuating they are ‘ashamed of their own race’. People who have been branded with this term include Barack Obama, Condoleeza Rice, Clarence Thomas, Colin Powell, Ben Carson, Tiger Woods, Stacey Dash, Kanye West and Candace Owens.

In speaking to my friend Moises about this topic, I found that though he would hesitate to use the term, he thinks it can sometim apply. In his view, some black people who are wealthier may abandon their principles and forget the troubles of the wider community. As such, their opinions will make them appear as if they’re living in a bubble.

The ‘Uncle Tom’ term is also applied to members of the LGBT community, women and other ethnic minorities.

The Log Cabin Republicans -a group of gay Republicans – were infamously branded ‘Uncle Toms’ by Barney Frank in 2012. (2)  Andrew Pierce, David Starkey and Rupert Everett, have been ridiculed as Uncle Toms for opposing gay marriage – despite the fact that most gay men didn’t like the idea of it up until a decade ago. (3) Hell, Andrew Sullivan wrote in support of gay marriage in 1989 – when nobody supported it-  and he’s a Conservative. (4)

I despise the term in all of it’s modern uses. Effectively it’s a personal attack – which I hate seeing in debates to begin with. Pulling out the ‘Uncle Tom Card’ demonstrates nothing more than a desperate appeal to identity politics to win an argument. Ethnic minorities and LGBT people are expected to be left-leaning in all circumstances for reasons that escape me. Any deviation from this narrative (Even veering to the right of Chairman Mao) is treated with suspicion and disgust.

Surely there’s no reason for them to have views that are right-of-centre! Being gay and pro-life is apparently a oxymoron, and being such makes you a ‘traitor’. I guess I must have missed that fine print in the contract when signing up to be gay…my bad.

I jest, but in all seriousness, it’s high time that the Uncle Tom rhetoric was retired. It does nothing but confine people to ideologies based entirely on identity labels. Rather than disputing somebody’s ideas, all you’d really achieve with this tactic is push somebody further away from your side. Surprisingly, being told that you’re a ‘race traitor’ is not  exactly endearing  or engaging.

People on both sides see the issues, they just have different ideas about how problems in the community should be resolved. For example, I strongly support the implementation of HIV disclosure laws to halt the spread of HIV. But other people might see it as furthering the stigma of the disease. Regardless of our differences of our opinion, we still see that HIV is a problem in the gay community that needs addressing.

So whether you believe in small government or the welfare state, you should never be made to feel like a inferior within your own community. How naive would we be to expect uniformity on all issues, based on our race or sexual orientation?

Uncle Tom is well and truly redundant in modern debate, it’s time to send the outdated and restrictive idea into retirement.

 

 

1) https://www.theroot.com/when-uncle-tom-became-an-insult-1790879561

2) https://www.huffingtonpost.com/rep-barney-frank/why-i-called-the-log-cabi_b_1875245.html

3) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22758434

4) https://www.vox.com/2015/6/26/8851503/gay-marriage-andrew-sullivan