We have reached the pinnacle of communication in our civilization and this is where it got us. From when I started in March, to when I finished here on May 4th, so much has happened since.
A fascinating display of how low in regard free speech in the UK has become has to be the case of CountDankulaTV. It’s a guarantee that 99% of you reading this know what I’m referring to already, and there’s no need for me to explain the start of that fiasco. Guy decides to play a practical joke on girlfriend by teaching her beloved pug dog a nasty trick. One where the animal reacts to “gas the Jews” on command. Everyone with a bloody ounce of common sense found the humor in the situation when Dankula uploaded the video to YouTube. Everyone but the Scotland police who arrested him.
The Dankula story itself is a spectacle. But the nail in the coffin of dignity came into play for me when I found out Hitler’s Germany was more lenient when dealing with a similar situation back in World War II. Some guy named Tor Borg had a Finnish dog that raised their paw and barked in a similar fashion akin to Adolf Hitler. The German authorities caught wind of this, according to a BBC article about the situation from January 2011. Nazis attempted to sabotage the guy’s business. The Foreign Office spent three months in consideration of trying to bring the case to trial for insulting Hitler. But it never came to pass. The man living in WWII Germany with a dog who did Hitler impressions was not punished.
Consider the following bit from that piece:
“But in March 1941, the Chancellory decided that “considering that the circumstances could not be solved completely, it is not necessary to press charges”. It was unclear whether Adolf Hitler had been involved in the saga himself.”
Couple that with the fact that Dankula went through two years of court proceedings. That’s twenty-four months with the threat of jail-time taking up space in Dankula’s mind. The minds of his girlfriend and family, too.
So to say the Scottish (and UK by extension) government is “worse than Hitler” wouldn’t be hyperbole, here.
And that’s fucking terrifying. If the point of this piece was to make a “things have gone too far” statement, I could stop here. It doesn’t get more cut-and-dry than this, in that regard.
This photo is technically impossible in the United Kingdom right now. That’s because the United Kingdom government has decided that those two lovely girls in the center of the picture there are terrorists or something.
The way things are at in the United Kingdom? We’re going straight down the road of eventually not being allowed to question why people are detained anymore. People are getting kicked out for not being cohesive to British values. Reader, I want you to take a moment and try to define what that is. British values. Go on. Ponder it.
Yeah. We’ve fucked up. At the core of everything in this mess, there’s three phrases.
- Extremism: At the beginning of May 2016, it was revealed David Cameron’s countering terrorism strategy was stymied on a fundamental level. What exactly they would define as extremism. The challenge was making something not too broad or else it would be immediately flogged in the courts. As it turns out, simply saying “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values” is too vague of a phrase in the realms of freedom of speech. Keep this in mind when you’re reading throughout this entire essay. It casts a shadow over a majority of everything.
- Islamophobia: In December 2016 while giving oral evidence to the Home Affairs Committee about hate crime and its violent consequences, Fiyaz admits (at the bottom of page 8) that there’s no universal definition of Islamophobia or what constitutes anti-Muslim hatred. As of April 24th, 2018, the UK government is still trying to figure this one out. The implications of having no official definition, and the breakdown of the de facto ones floating around out there, is explored in this paper from the ICLA.
- Hate Crime: This comes from the 140-page long Hate Crime Operational Guidance from the College of Policing. In 2014 the UK injected identity politics into their police system. It boils down to “any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a person’s race/religion/sexual orientation/disability/transgender status or perceived race/religion/sexual orientation/disability/transgender status.” Yup. You don’t even need to be a minority. Anyone can be a victim of a hate crime. “Telling a victim that a crime is not a hate crime could be deeply offensive to them,” the document says.
The lack of objective boundaries is what makes stories like “Woman guilty of ‘racist’ Snap Dogg rap lyric Instagram post” possible.
“A teenager who posted rap lyrics which included racist language on Instagram has been found guilty of sending a grossly offensive message.”
Let that sink in.
I’m writing about this topic of free speech and the state of affairs within the United Kingdom for another reason. A personal one. Three of my dear friends: Brittany Pettibone, Lauren Southern, and Martin Sellner were detained by UK border authorities on outrageously baseless claims.
I never trusted Europe beforehand, in terms of possible dangers and overall stability. I let Brit know that too. Before the UK incident, I felt like an over-exaggerating worrywart. It’s one hell of a moment to have the absurd fears I had harbored actually come to pass. It’s one of those times where I wanted to be wrong. Then came March 10th 2018. Doomsday nightmare apocalypse.
I still can recall the feeling of how stressed and worried I was when I first found out. The emotional reaction leaves an impression in one’s memory on such occasions. Nobody under any circumstances whatsoever should be in a position where they ask “will I ever see my friend again?” and not know the answer. Definitely not like this.
The call signal miraculously held, most of the time. The volume from her end of the line was extremely quiet though. Had to find a quiet place without noise in my house to compensate. It carried us through the day. For like, two hours of conversations altogether. I served as one of the relays that helped bring information about Brit and Martin’s detention situation to the outside world. Their lives depended on it for all I knew. The spotlight of the public eye has a tendency to cause authorities to behave. Drawing attention to what was going on, worked as a short-term life insurance policy for the both of them. Brittany and I made contingency plans in case things turned out bad. Then backup plans in case that fell through. Then back-ups for the backup plans.
I still remember the last of these calls from the Detention Center quite well. Brit told me she’d call when the guards were planning to transfer back out of Colnbrook to take her back to the airport for her flight back to Vienna. Given the time zone differences involved, this happened to be at 4 AM. We managed to get in touch one last time before the crack of dawn. It may seem trivial to anyone reading this, but back then when this was all happening? Totally and most definitely worth being tired in Church for. When I wasn’t nodding off to sleep in my pew, I prayed like crazy Brit and Martin would make it back to Austria in one piece.
You don’t know how relieved I was to see the video of their return. It was the moment they were officially free from this nightmare. At least, that’s what I thought.
Little did I know, the people going after my friends were just getting started.
Between that moment back in March up until right now, has been a journey of me trying to make heads or tails of the United Kingdom’s political power system. Nearly two months on. Even looking at the finishing touches of my work makes me think this will still go on for a very long time.
Waking up the next morning to discover a similar nastiness from the UK authorities had happened to Lauren Southern (I helped her do stuff with her South Africa documentary) helped solidify my decision to undertake such an ambitious subject matter. It gave weight to the argument this was all more than mere coincidence.
I spent the final few weeks of March rallying people on Twitter to sign a petition on this whole situation. It passed the 10,000 signature threshold to make it warrant an official UK government response.
“Freedom of speech, freedom of worship, democracy, the rule of law, and equal rights define us as a society. The Government is committed to upholding free speech, and legislation is already in place to protect these fundamental rights. However, this freedom cannot be an excuse to cause harm or spread hatred. UK legislation values free speech and enables people who wish to engage in debate to do so – regardless of whether others agree with the views which are being expressed. Everyone has a right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). This is a qualified right however, which means that it can be restricted for certain purposes to the extent necessary in a democratic society.
The Home Office is unable to comment on individual cases. On the whole the Government takes a robust stance against individuals whose presence in this country might not be conducive to the public good. Any individual whose presence in the UK is deemed not conducive to the public good will be refused entry, on a case-by-case basis.”
I have to admit my shock could come from the fact that I’m an American citizen. I came into this unfamiliar with the barbaric violations of personal liberties practiced by the UK authorities across the pond. However, given recent headlines indicating a societal descent into A Clockwork Orange ultra-violence going on in Sadiq Kahn’s London? I have to thank Amber Rudd for saving the lives of my friends, lest they walk into such a chaotic circus.
Let’s look at what an actual terror plotter looks like, and not what the Home Office paints my friends to be. In December 2015, a crazy individual named Mark Colborne was detained indefinitely as a result of his activities. These included possessing books and notes about making lethal poisons (police found ingredients for making cyanide in his house), and writings where Colborne fantasized about assassinating Prince Charles. Mark is a disgruntled white male who hated “non-Aryans” and admired extremists like Anders Breivik. Mark’s writings disclosed his aims to carry out a “mass terrorist attack.” So yes. Right-wing extremists exist. You’d hear more about them if the media wasn’t obsessed with giving exclusivity of that label to Tommy Robinson.
The contrast between Mark Colborne’s case to Martin Sellner reveals the mile-long world of difference here. Why is the UK government using this broad of a brush in what they consider extreme? It’s a detriment to their own cause of pushing “community cohesion” on the public. Moreover, I’d have no reason to explore the subject in the first place if it weren’t for this incident. My general intent for this piece is exploring what went wrong with the United Kingdom, as to have caused the fiasco that happened to my pals. A deep dive of personal curiosity. I carry no hatred or animosity towards any particular party mentioned.
In addition to that, I want to state outright that I acknowledge right-wing extremism exists. This isn’t an essay of denial in that regard. I hate the Nazis of the world too. The actual ones. Yet when people mob up against people like Martin Sellner online and accuse him of that, that’s another story. I highly disagree. But that’s the side-effect of the leftists in today’s society sucking all meaning from the English language. Yes. Words have meaning and power. They can also lose that power when used too generously in order to describe political viewpoints that people dislike.
The fact that I’m an American citizen actually puts me at a noticeable advantage, when taking into account the latest Reporters Without Borders assessment. They say the United Kingdom is one of the worst for freedom of the press, among all of Western Europe. Their evaluation of the UK is a damning one, indicating a “climate of hostility towards journalists threatening media’s ability to hold powerful institutions to account.”
The United Kingdom is punishing itself enough as it is. On the one hand (and when it comes to the treatment of the press in particular), UK media outlets have to worry about backlash from politicians and the police. What for? Their headlines. Word it the wrong way like this newspaper did, and you’re vilified as someone who “causes community tension.” Uttering the phrase grooming gang can get you branded Islamophobic. The air of obsession over cultural sensitivity couldn’t be thicker. The Daily Mail published a political cartoon and people got outraged because it looked similar to another one. The fact that their 2015 picture had similar styling to an “anti-Semitic” one from 1939, was enough to have the social media mobs lash out at the Daily Mail for “racial hatred.”
This contrast of priorities is best demonstrated by those at the top. Like the Mayor of London, Sadiq Kahn. It’s concerning that British leadership is willing to sacrifice people’s safety in the name of adhering to political correctness. Is too little, too late to turn things around?
Sadiq could’ve acted sooner if he wasn’t too preoccupied bemoaning how mean the internet is. But I have to say I’m glad he realized it’s impossible for the people of London to enjoy that oh-so–glorious cultural enrichment if they’re all dead.
“Political correctness has directly led to @SadiqKhan’s mess in London. Bring back stop and search,” said Nigel Farage on April 5th, 2018 via Twitter.
Yet nonetheless, I cannot lay the whole blame of the stop-and-search matter on Sadiq Khan’s shoulders. No matter how easy he makes such an opportunity seem. Indeed, if I look upward on the giant pedestals the UK political elites place themselves on, Theresa May sits amidst the clouds of delusion. As Home Secretary back in 2015, May’s bloody fingerprints are all over the reductions to stop-and-search.
Therein lies a part of the UK question. Following along the trails of the people in power. Retracing their administrative steps in order to find the mistakes. But generally speaking, there’s another layer of problems going on overall in terms of the country’s reputation. When an aspiring candidate decides to run for London Mayor jokingly at first, yet still manages to inspire hope from the public anyway? Mistakes were made.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE BRITISH?
Everyone has a different answer to that. But it’s precisely that answer that defines what makes a person “radical.” To have ideas that go against the grain of “British values.”
This idea of what the UK government considers necessary and proportionate is at the center of everything. The government could be a 100% perfect Utopian ideal. But if the people don’t trust them, that perfection means nothing.
“Frames are mental structures that shape the way we see the world. As a result, they shape the goals we seek, the plans we make, the way we act, and what counts as a good or bad outcome of our actions. In politics our frames shape our social policies and the institutions we form to carry out policies. To change our frames is to change all of this. Reframing is social change.” —George Lakoff
By treating the internet the same as physical reality, the UK government has trapped itself in a limitless landscape that drains their resources.
It was at some point after that I came across TellMAMA for the first time. I still remember my bewilderment. I was looking at George Orwell’s nightmare. I didn’t even to ponder the TellMAMA Twitter account for long. It was like I instinctively understood I just came face to face with a leviathan. The most sinister thing about it was we allowed it to come to life without even noticing.
We can establish what happened to Brittany Pettibone, Lauren Southern, and Martin Sellner wasn’t an accident based on the procedures and guidelines the UK has in place. At the center of that red tape nightmare is a man named Fiyaz Mughal. He’s the founder of Faith Matters in 2006 and TellMAMA in 2012. The rise of his “civil society” organizations focusing on Interfaith and anti-Muslim hate incidents are synonymous with the encroachment of the modern dystopian culture nightmare the people of the UK are trapped in. Knowingly or unknowingly. Fiyaz Mughal’s part to play in this decline is the catalyst. He spearheaded pushing for the broadest possible expanse possible when it comes to what’s considered a hate crime. Something that allows for people’s feelings and perceptions to be a deciding factor, even if their accusations aren’t backed up by facts and evidence. Mughal’s crackdown on the online world and social media is representative of that agenda.
Fiyaz Mughal runs organizations that primarily focus on Muslim victims, yet all the meanwhile his narrative is that Muslims are oppressed. Look at how that turns out.
This is who the UK government sees as a representative role model and leader of the Muslim community. With that in mind is it any surprise that the authorities act divisive policies that regurgitate this animosity cycle?