Petitions and political correctness (Jeremy Clarkson)

Tell the BBC not to renew violent racist Jeremy Clarkson's contract.

Tell the BBC not to renew violent racist Jeremy Clarkson’s contract.

UPDATE #3: After being contacted by The Argus on 24th March, Facebook revised the reports of the post harassing me, and removed it in its entirety… Bittersweet.

UPDATE #2: Clarkson has reportedly threatened legal action for Jimmy Savile comparisons. “The presenter is said to be seeking a retraction of remarks from the “BBC source” which claim that politicians were ignoring Clarkson’s bad behaviour in the same way that people once did with Savile.”

It’s about the cover-up & mishandling of Savile’s vile criminal behaviour and absolutely boot all to do with Clarkson himself.

*DESPAIRS*

UPDATE #1: I’ve even been honoured with a post dedicated to me. It appears that “Jeremy Clarkson’s Army” is a hair-obsessed clan, and one that thinks laughter can cure cancer, among other things.

Feel free to laugh along with me here.

One of the great dividers of opinion, Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear fame, was recently suspended for allegedly punching a producer. This suspension, which is in accordance with employment law, has caused somewhat of an outcry among the UK’s population, with a petition being launched demanding his reinstation.

In response to the petition, which as of this moment has gathered one million signatures, I set up my own, asking for him to be dismissed. I cannot fathom how the petition calling for his reinstatement has gained more traction than petitions such as those calling for the prevention of cuts to life-saving cancer drugs, which you can read all about here. I urge you to read that post.

This is not the first time Clarkson has been found to be violent – whatever your feelings towards Piers Morgan, Clarkson punched him, causing a scar. He has also been alleged (for the most part) to have made pejorative racist, homophobic, anti-workers’ rights and sexist remarks at various intervals. I do believe in freedom of speech but I do not agree that it should include hate speech. There are ways to disagree without marginalisation, bullying or incitement of hatred.

To those who started the petition and those signing – you are completely entitled to do so, and hold your opinions. I am exercising that same right. The UK government is trying to prevent a multitude of human rights granted by EU law, including our right to protest. The democracy we live in is a sham…but that’s for another blog.

Since discovering just how corrupt the BBC is, since the Jimmy Savile et al scandal, and the fact the coroporation has shown complete and utter political bias in recent months, I have found myself despairing (even more than usual) at the state of our corrupt media. Furthermore, it really does seem that entertainment is king, above all else.

My petition has thus far gathered 50,000 signatures. This may seem paltry by comparison, but it provides a little hope to me, that all is not lost. It’s not a numbers game. Thank you to everyone who has signed and shared it; your support is gratefully received. If you would like to sign, please do so here.

I will now share the tweets, email responses and private Facebook messages I have received from people who disagree with my stance. Obviously I have views on them, but they don’t require commentary – they speak for themselves. I have included all responses, not just those that are inflammatory or harassing, although there are only a handful that aren’t. Speaks volumes, doesn’t it? I have included names, real or otherwise – my identity is not secret, and I do not feel duty-bound to protect theirs. No doubt this post will open the floodgate for more abuse, but while that will not be tolerated, I welcome all opinions on this subject.

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Unsurprisingly I’m most aligned with the Party I was previously tied to since I held any political views (c1992). That doesn’t mean they have my vote though! http://eng.votematch.eu/#.U1-VG04YenU.twitter #votematch

STRIPPING THE FEMALE PROGRAM

Thought food of the day.

THE TRANSFORMATIVE STATE

The  year was 1998, I was a newly emancipated teenager, having left my parents to attend my first year of college. For years I had played the good girl, I didn’t do drugs or drink, I didn’t lie, I was an honor roll student, I followed most of the rules, and I only found a minimal amount of trouble to get into in my small, mid-western, home town. The interactions I had had with men up to that point had been emotionally confusing, socially baffling, and, where sex was involved, often awkward or uncomfortable. Why did guys treat their relations with me so casually? At the time, I assumed these experiences were reflections of my own shortcomings as a woman, but in most cases, at least when the guys were my own age, I think they were just as confused as I was. The older men who thought that they…

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An Open Letter to Peter Tatchell

Dear Peter

Initially this letter came from a place of heightened disbelief and anger, but after some time and deliberation, and subsequent to reading the full article you wrote for the Daily Mail, it comes from a less fraught perspective.

You will no doubt be unsurprised to read that I am writing to you in response to your recent comments about Whitney Houston (RIP). When I first read your tribute, I was utterly incensed. Not because I was shocked by the knowledge Whitney Houston had previously enjoyed a relationship with a woman, but that you felt it necessary to mention it. As a person of sexual diversity, this news (although not wholly new to me) had little to no impact on my thoughts of Whitney.

Taken from Divamag.co.uk, this is the comment I refer to: “Whitney Houston RIP. She was happiest and at her peak in the 1980s, when she was with her female partner. They were so loved up and joyful together.” He added: “It’s important to tell the truth about this aspect of her life. Colluding with the cover-up of her same-sex relationship is not right.”

Interestingly, I could no longer locate the original comment – I wonder if you have since removed it? If so, I’m eager to learn your reasoning.

I am one of many people who have challenged you on Twitter about this, and my tweet was “Whose truth? Just because you knew her once doesn’t mean you KNEW her. Even if it is true it doesn’t make it yours to tell.” This was in response to your insistence that all you have done is tell the truth. Admittedly, I hadn’t read the full article at the time of tweeting, but I still believe you should have omitted these comments.

You state that earlier sources had also ‘outed’ her, but I do not think this gives anyone free reign to continue – there’s a whole world out there, and masses of people who previously had not known this ‘truth’. You surely realise this? Moreover, the key point in all of this is that Whitney herself never made this information public. Do you really think it fair or just, to release such information mere days after her sad passing? You could have equally paid tribute without such comments, and without assigning blame for Whitney’s demise to homophobia and her own unhappiness about ‘concealing her sexuality’ – which you yourself say she hasn’t fully done, in dedicating albums to her former partner.

My opinion on your reason for making these comments is this – you wanted to highlight your own cause, which is indeed extremely worthy. You released the bite-size comment knowing full well the backlash you would receive, and subsequent dialogue regarding sexuality and homophobia. This is a shrewd move, but nonetheless, I find it callous. It may, of course, be that you hadn’t expected any such response, but as you are such an educated and intelligent person, I struggle to believe this is in any way down to naivety.

Can you honestly say you know completely that Whitney’s ‘destructive behaviour’ was down to ‘hiding her sexuality’ (again, you say she in part, didn’t)? Furthermore, do you think it appropriate to highlight her alleged sexuality so close to her untimely death? This, Peter, is what I have issue with, still. Regardless of truth, judgement or otherwise, there is no justification for releasing information of such a personal nature when it is not already common knowledge and without the express permission of the named person. I find it self-serving, insensitive and irrelevant, and to be frank, I believe that you of all people should know better. Of course there is nothing wrong with the fact itself, but its delivery is another matter. In fact, I believe it could be negative to your cause to have said these things.

I ask you this – would you ‘out’ someone who is still alive, simply because it’s true?

Yours faithfully

Nicole Healing (Miss)

Readers, you can read the article here and decide for yourself: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2103164/Whitney-Houstons-REAL-tragedy-giving-female-partner-Robyn-Crawford.html

When does exclusion become discrimination?

In 2010 I suffered redundancy; and long-term unemployment is an on-going issue. Whilst I am technically unemployed, I am trying to carve out a new career for myself in the world of digital media.

Far from resting on my laurels, I have been fortunate enough to be able to spend some time travelling (in the vain hope things would improve), and since my return to the UK have been toiling away at finding a new job in a new career. Alongside the ‘dreaded job hunt’ I have been carving out a small, but consistent client base for whom I am consulting on their social media and event management requirements. Add to that a bi-monthly live music night and my work calendar is bulging healthily (unlike my bank balance). It is useful to mention to the reader, at this juncture, that the work I am undertaking is all pro bono – for now at least.

I understand that job market is it an all-time low, and that whilst it’s the perfect time for me to change career path, I have relatively little work experience in the field I wish to migrate to (approximately six months communications and website management experience at the end of my last role as a PA), and therefore working purely to portfolio and for free, is necessary. Although this is unsustainable in the long-term, for now, it serves my purpose (not to mention keeps me from climbing the walls in boredom!).

Whilst this post is essentially about the struggle for employment, I want to focus on one key area – the obstacles faced by the out-of-work-force in battling social and professional exclusion.  It’s certainly not the first time this has come to my attention, but recently it has become more relevant than ever.  I’m certainly not alone in my current predicament, and with over two and a half people unemployed in the UK, it’s hardly surprising we’re having to become more creative and giving of ourselves.

This is why it seems ludicrous to me, for certain bodies/companies not to offer discounts to benefit claimants, alongside the discounts given to students, retirees, and often, disabled.  I’m not suggesting this should be legislative or adopted by all, but those within the employment and training sector could really benefit those seeking new avenues into employment, and themselves, by including a discount for benefit claimants. With public funds being cut so severely, many back-to-work initiatives, such as travel assistance, have fallen by the wayside, and housing benefit levels have reduced, meaning many people have to also use part of their weekly living allowance to supplement their rent. This is no mean feat given the prescribed benefit entitlement for over job-seekers over 25 is £67.50 per week – there is precious little room for manoeuvre within such a tight budget.

There are various free networking events in my local area I am fortunate enough to be able to attend, but every now and then an event pops up I would immensely benefit from, but is out of my reach for financial reasons.  I’m not talking about great, expensive corporate affairs, but smaller, perhaps local events, that offer discounts to all but the unemployed. The fact the pricing is so fair to begin with is fantastic, of course, but when trying to carve out a new direction, learn new skills, and/or gain a great understanding of the field you’re in or wish to become part of, but are not considered, is a real blow. Especially when it’s so tantalisingly close, yet still out of reach – we’re talking a difference of tens of pounds, which to me, at this point in my life, is the difference between feeding myself vaguely healthily, or living off noodles (which I can’t eat due to the wheat content), for a week!

Am I splitting hairs? If I had a job that paid me any semblance of a wage, I’d say yes, I am, but the fact remains there are so many people unemployed who truly want to return to work, and improve their skills and understanding of different sectors, that are being blocked again and again by not being able to afford to do so. I don’t believe the onus is solely on the government; the private sector must also rally to improve the chances of those two and half million people, of which I am one. Of course I expect my social life to fall by the wayside whilst on benefits, I don’t expect anyone but myself to fund that, but to be denied opportunities into employment? Where’s the logic in that? The business world seems intent on polarising, or perhaps they simply haven’t thought about it. Either way, I can tell you from the 99%’s perspective, exclusion feels very much like discrimination.

I already feel socially excluded; I don’t want to be excluded from my career too. Like many others, am doing everything I can to improve my situation, sustain my life (in the most literal sense of the word) and continue towards my goal with as little damage to my CV as possible. I’d just like some encouragement, you know?

Future changes to local housing benefit and housing allowance (UK)

I’ve just read up on the changes to LHA, and my findings are, frankly, more sickening than I originally thought. I’ve listed the main points of my ire below.

1 .Only 30 percent of properties will be affordable

From 1 April 2011, maximum local housing allowance rates in all areas will be reduced so that only three out of ten properties for rent in any area will be affordable for people claiming local housing allowance. Affordable properties may be concentrated in certain places, and some places may have none.

– this seems to be an incredibly low percentage of affordable rental properties. For some people this will force them into ‘undesireable’ and potentially dangerous areas of the UK.

2. Reduced LHA if you have non-dependents

If you share your home with any adults who are not dependent on you – for example, adult sons or daughters, parents, relatives or friends, your local housing allowance may be reduced – it is assumed that they should pay something towards your rent, whether they actually do so or not.

– this is a ludicrous assumption. The cost of living is already so steep, and many people, of varying ages, share accommodation, either because they want to reduce their outgoings, or simply cannot afford to live alone. To expect strangers, or even friends to pick up the shortfall of a housemate is both unfair and improbable. This could easily lead to more people being forced to move into yet cheaper accommodation, which we have already seen will be a mere 30% of the rental market.

3. Reductions in LHA if you are under-35

Currently, if you are under-25 years old and renting in the private sector, you are probably only entitled to enough benefit to cover the cost of renting a single room in a shared house, even if you occupy self-contained accommodation. If you are over-25, the maximum amount you can receive may also be restricted if you are living in shared accommodation.

From January 2012, these rules will apply to people aged up to 35 years. This will mean that, unless you are already in shared accommodation, you will see a cut to your LHA payment if you are aged under-35. You may no longer be able to afford your current property as a result. You may have to find shared accommodation, or a cheaper alternative.

– this is a gigantic leap – a full decade between the current and future single-occupancy age. If a person has been living alone for a number of years, the forced move into shared accommodation is going to be exceedingly stressful, not only because of the lack of available or suitable house-shares, but also the mental difficulty of such a life adjustment. There are also many people who live alone because they suffer mental illness; how are they expected to cope, when frontline services are also being cut, or having their already disturbingly low funding cut?

There are a few positive changes being made, such as the abolition of the excess HB payments that a few people currently received, and the increased payments to disabled people. However, these are small victories. The majority of people claiming HB, not forgetting those who have been made redundant due to the CSR and public sector cuts, are going to be backed into a very tight and expensive corner, all fighting for a poky room on the wrong side of the tracks. It seems it’s not only the police kettling protesters, but the government too. I assume the government believe private landlords will have no choice but to reduce their rents, but it could easily swing the other way, with landlords capitalising on people’s desperation, and thus adding to the problem.

In high-cost, low income areas such as Brighton and Hove, for instance, there is already a premium on rents, which HB does not currently cover (after I was made redundant from the local council, there was a shortfall of £20 between the HB I received and my portion of the rent on a two-bedroom shared flat). The other benefit I received, JSA, covered my essential bills alone, leaving no money even for food.
I simply cannot fathom how the government can justify these reductions, when it seems patently obvious that all they will achieve is an increase in homelessness, nationwide poverty, and ultimately, death.

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