A Justification for the Criminalization of Tobacco!

Don’t let the title fool you, I’m actually a supporter of drug legalization. However, the hypocrisy in this country has to be called out. As misguided as many may view my opinion as being, I’m of the belief that as adults, we should have the right to choose what we do or don’t put into our bodies. If it were up to me, all soft-drugs would be legalized or at the very least decriminalized. We live in a world where it’s acceptable to eat, drink, and smoke yourself to death, provided you do so on the legal, taxable substances. Make no mistake: the most dangerous thing about soft-drugs is getting caught with them. Taking the government view on these matters into consideration, I’m going to explore the legality of certain substances in order to truly highlight the blatant hypocrisy and to demonstrate that public safety is not the government’s concern.

Understanding the Law

Tobacco UK

image via Wikimedia

I’m from the UK, and so I’ll be composing this argument with the UK government in mind. Depending on the information and research available, I will occasionally focus on specific countries within the UK, mostly Scotland and England. It speaks volumes that we have to travel all the way back to 1971 in order to view the law controlling drugs in the UK.

The Misuse of Drugs Act (1971) serves to classify illegal substances into one of three categories, known as the ABC system. ‘A’ represents the most harmful drugs and ‘C’ represents the least harmful (as far as illegal drugs are concerned). ‘B’ represents some form of arbitrary middle ground. Unlike many other countries, the UK does not attempt to clearly define the “entry requirements” for each class in the ABC system. As the parliamentary website states:

“The Misuse of Drugs Act did not specify why particular drugs were placed in Class A, B or C but did create an Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) to keep the classification of drugs under review.”

Cannabis has an interesting history within the UK’s ABC system. Originally a class B, it was reclassified as class C in 2004. However, it was moved back to class B in 2008 as a result of stronger strains becoming available and the potential connection this had to mental health issues. Yet around 7.2% of adults (between 16 and 59) have used the drug, which is around 2.4 million people.

Soft Drugs vs Hard Drugs

Tobacco UK

image via Wikipedia

As I mentioned, the UK does not divide its illegal substances into categories based upon the addictive qualities and overall harm of the drugs. This distinction leads to terms such as ‘soft drugs’ and ‘hard drugs’. These are incredibly vague and don’t have a set definition, which can confuse matters. Typically, ‘soft drugs’ is used to “describe drugs like cannabis or LSD which cannot result in physical dependency.” While the term ‘hard drug’ “usually refers to drugs that are seen to be more dangerous and more likely to cause dependency such as heroin and crack cocaine…”

So, why am I mentioning the terms at all? Despite the definitions being somewhat open, there is certainly a clear distinction between the two. One group can be used in moderation without negatively impacting the induvial or society to any great extent, the other, not so much. You don’t have to have seen Trainspotting to know that weed and psilocybin don’t really compete with the harm of heroin.

My argument is formed around this simple point of view: when we explore the reasons why certain drugs are illegal (soft drugs such as marijuana, psilocybin mushroom, and DMT) and legal (such as alcohol and tobacco) we find that the justifications for each are flimsy, at best. If safety is the government’s main cause for concern, surely that must mean that alcohol and tobacco are safe to use, right?

Tobacco

Tobacco UK

image via World IP Review

The UK’s history with tobacco is a little strange. Having arrived in England in 1565, tobacco didn’t seem to take with the British public. King James I spoke out publicly on the matter, describing tobacco as:

“…loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain [and] dangerous to the lungs.”

However, it soon followed the common path that most drugs take: it became a medicine. During the plague, it was believed that tobacco smoke could protect people from “disease miasmas” (a poisonous vapour carrying disease that could be detected by its bad smell) (somewhat ironic). The connections between slavery and tobacco imports are widely known, and this was a major issue until machines took over in the late 1800s.

Anti-smoking campaigners were largely regarded as “eccentrics” and yet they are primarily responsible for the introduction of a clause in the Children’s Act in 1908 which made the sale of tobacco to those under the age of 16 illegal.

Despite a connection between ill-health and smoking being widely known, the supposed stress-relief provided by tobacco came with “health benefits” that would serve as a major selling point. Sound familiar? Only recently have the supposed health benefits of “a glass of wine a day” been shown to be inaccurate from a scientific standpoint.

In the 1950s, the first reports linking smoking to the formation of lung cancer were released. The government, very aware of the economic domino effect that would follow a decline in smoking, didn’t speak out on the matter until the 1960s. It wasn’t until the 1970s that cigarette packaging included a health warning. In the 1980s, the risk associated with public smoking was raised, but again, it took until 2007 for the government to ban smoking in enclosed public places. It wasn’t until this same year that the government raised the minimum age for purchasing tobacco to 18.

Is Smoking Harmful?

Tobacco UK

image via BBC

According to the Office for National Statistics, it is estimated that 15.1% of adults in the UK smoke cigarettes as of 2017. This number varies slightly between sources as Cancer Research suggests that around 19% of UK adults smoke. This would be around 9.4 million people (which is nearly double the entire population of Scotland). They also suggest that smoking is the “largest cause of cancer” in the UK, with it being responsible for around 15% of cancer victims. It’s also worth noting that the same website reports the significantly higher prevalence of smoking within poorer areas.

We can delve into these figures a little more. For example, we can consider the hospital admissions related to smoking. According to NHS England figures, in 2016/17 there was estimated to be 484,700 admissions attributable to smoking, which is around 4% of ALL hospital admissions.

The above graph is also from the NHS England website. As you can see, adults who had never smoked were more likely to report feeling healthier than those who were ex-smokers or current smokers.42% of non-smokers described themselves as being in ‘very good health’ compared to 26% of current-smokers. 11% of current-smokers described themselves as feeling in ‘bad or very bad health’ compared to only 5% of those who have never smoked.

It’s important for people to realise that tobacco carries a mental health impact as well. You’ll often hear discussions about other drugs and how they cause mental illness (such as marijuana), and yet the same types of studies show the exact same thing for tobacco consumption. More in-depth research paints a fuller picture of the impact of smoking on neurological processes being akin to that the government/media claim is the case for marijuana consumption.

Death by Tobacco

Tobacco UK

image via TidatBase

Given that we’ve explored the general health implications tobacco quite clearly has, does it cause death? Of course it does! Throughout the UK, there is alarming number of preventable deaths each year as a result of smoking. In Scotland, the number is 10,000 (one fifth of all deaths), in Wales the number is 5,500, in Northern Ireland its 2,300, and in England it’s a staggering 78,000 death. Every year in the UK, 95,800 people are dying from a drug that the government deems safe enough to be legal.

When it comes to passive smoking, which is arguably more horrifying given that nobody chooses to be a passive smoker, we find some pretty similar results. Research suggests that around 11,000 deaths in the UK each year are the result of passive smoke inhalation, with 20% of these being from smoking at the workplace and 80% being from home.

The impact of passive smoking is most noticeable in children, who rarely have a choice as to whether or not to be in the vicinity of smokers. Cancer Research suggests that there is overwhelming evidence to support that idea that second-hand smoke can lead to lung cancer (among other types), heart disease, strokes, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and more. Children who live in a household where at least 1 person smokes are more likely to develop asthma, chest infections, meningitis, ear infections, and coughs and colds.

Smoking and Pregnancy

Tobacco UK

image via OPTO

One shocking statistic relates to pregnant women. According to NHS England, 10.8% of mothers were smoking at the time of delivery. Why does this matter? During pregnancy, it isn’t just the health of the mother that is a cause for concern. Research suggests that smoking during pregnancy can have an adverse effect on the child’s neurodevelopment. It has been suggested that this is a result of the carbon monoxide contained in tobacco smoke which limits the oxygen available for the baby’s brain. Smoking during pregnancy can also result in tissue damage which could include lung or brain development issue, or the development of a cleft lip.

Even pregnant women who simply inhale smoke passively (as well as those who smoke directly, obviously) are likely to give birth to a child with weaker lungs, which leads to a major increase in potential health problems in later life.

The negative health impact that smoking has isn’t limited to the development of the child though. When a mother smokes, she is more likely to enter premature labour. Given that the leading cause of death, disability, and disease among new-borns, is preterm birth, this is a huge cause for concern. This issue includes passive smokers. Mothers who smoke (either directly or passively) are more likely to give birth to a low-weight child, which typically has long-term health implications.

Even if the labour and birth seem to go smoothly, babies whose mother smoked during pregnancy or who smoke near the baby after birth are three times more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). This goes above and beyond choosing to consume a drug. This is quite clearly an epidemic that is impacting the lives of those who haven’t even been born yet! What say do they get in the matter?

Cost

Tobacco UK

image via Wallpaper Up

Since we’ve already established that widespread death and disease hasn’t been enough of an incentive to outright ban tobacco smoking, perhaps money is a better approach. The problem we have here is that the tobacco industry contributes around £12 billion in tax each year which is arguably the main reason that the government would never consider making the substance illegal. But how much does it cost?

Smoking costs NHS Scotland (a public body that gets its funding from the government) as much as £300 million each year, which in the face of £12 billion is barely a drop of water in the ocean. In England, this figure is as high as £2 billion though, which certainly begins to raise the cost.

There are other costs to take into consideration that go beyond health. For example, early death due to cigarettes causes an employee’s company to lose manpower, the costs of cleaning up cigarette butts and packaging, putting out fires caused by cigarettes, the loss of time (including in hospitals) of the extra breaks that smokers typically take, not to mention the lost time when people get ill as a result of smoking-related illnesses. When you add up all the costs of smoking, you find that it comes to around £14 billion, according to Policy Exchange.

Addiction

Tobacco UK

image via ECigarette Reviewed

The final point I want to make relates to the addictive nature of tobacco (or more accurately: nicotine). I discussed earlier that the ABC system for drug classification ignores the addictiveness of drugs and instead focuses on a more arbitrary approach based on the opinions of people who aren’t carrying out any significant research on the matter.

Most smokers would like to quit, yet only around 6% of smokers are able to quit each year. On top of that, it takes most smokers multiple attempts to successfully quit, if at all. Cigarettes contain a number of different chemicals that a person can become addicted to, but the main one is a result of the nicotine and its effect on dopamine, which ultimately results in the rewiring of neural pathways until what we consider to be addiction kicks in.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, withdrawal symptoms for nicotine can include:

 “…irritability, craving, depression, anxiety, cognitive and attention deficits, sleep disturbances, and increased appetite. These withdrawal symptoms may begin within a few hours after the last cigarette, quickly driving people back to tobacco use…withdrawal symptoms peak within the first few days of the last cigarette smoked and usually subside within a few weeks. For some people, however, symptoms may persist for months”

When it comes to addiction, it’s difficult to compare one drug to another. One study from the 1990s by Henningfield and Benowitz used a set criterion for determining addiction (which included aspects such as withdrawal, tolerance, dependence, and intoxication) to rank the most addictive drugs. When it comes to withdrawal, nicotine was tied in 3rd place with cocaine, beaten only by heroin (number 2) and alcohol (number 1). Nicotine ranked first for dependence and 2nd for tolerance.

Results from more recent versions of this study support its conclusions. Other sources place nicotine as the 5th most addictive substance on the Earth, behind barbiturates, cocaine, alcohol, and heroin. The New York Times even wrote an article in 1987 about nicotine being harder to quit that heroin.

In Conclusion

Tobacco UK

image via The Truth Revolution

We often hear that you can’t compare one drug to another, which is arguably true as each drug varies from another in a number of ways. Cannabis is a class B drug in the UK which can land you up to 5 years, an unlimited fine, or both, for possession, and up to 14 years, an unlimited fine, or both, for supply/production. Could we compare it to tobacco? In several ways, yes. One causes undeniable mental and physical health issues which leads to thousands upon thousands of deaths every single year (including newborns and children). One costs the government and taxpayer and estimated £14 billion per year, which it doesn’t cover with the £12 billion in returns in tax. And one is legal and readily available in most shops to anyone over the age of 18. The other is cannabis!

The continued outlawing of marijuana and its consumers is largely a result of the government’s failed “war on drugs”. News articles use intimidating and misleading headlines to scare the populous into believing that cannabis causes mental illness (when using correlation as a justification for concluded causation) and yet ignore the far more relevant and blatantly obvious connection between tobacco, mental and physical illness, and ultimately death.

I can see no real justification for the continued legalization of this substance while still outlawing recreation marijuana use. Tobacco is addictive beyond measure, it’s harmful beyond what could ever be justified, and it costs more money to the government and the country than it makes. If life, health, and money are all being neglected for the sake of keeping a harmful substance legal, then what possible precedent could any government have for outlawing other, less harmful substances?


Thanks for reading! What are you thoughts on the legality of tobacco, particularly when compared to marijuana? Let me know down below! 

Don’t forget to follow me on here and on Twitter to stay up to date with my posts!

If you have anything to add or perhaps a suggestion for a future post, leave a comment!

Peace!

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Get your Politics Out of My Movies!

When I’d originally started this post, it was titled ‘Ghostbusters 3 is NOT a Feminist Issue!’ I was simply going to discuss why forcing politics of any kind onto a movie (when the movie itself isn’t political) doesn’t do anyone any favours: fanbase and creators included. However, I rather unfortunately found that one my favourite movie franchises has been invaded by the same political self-righteousness. So, I’ve been forced to tackle the entire reason that politics and movies shouldn’t be forced together. I’m going to start with Ghostbusters 3 and then go on to discuss Captain Marvel and the future of the MCU.

Back to Sequels and Reboots

Ghostbusters 3 and Captain Marvel

image via Science Fiction

I’m sick to death of having to discuss sequels and reboots. However, with Ghostbuster 3 being announced, I have to revisit the topic. I’ve said it once, but I’ll say it again: Ghostbusters should never have become political. Out of all the movies that have ever been made, why would anyone pick Ghostbusters as the target of anti-male propaganda? I’ve written on this topic rather extensively (unfortunately). So, if you want to know my opinions on the Ghostbusters reboot both before and after its release, then by all means click on the corresponding links. I wouldn’t encourage it though. This topic is already saturated beyond belief.

So, what has sparked me to write, once again, about the political issues surrounding the Ghostbusters franchise? Well, with the release of Ghostbusters 3 being announced, certain individuals feel that the movie carries anti-women sentiments, which is hilarious given how blatantly anti-male publicity was for the reboot. I’m going to summarise the issue before sharing my own view on the matter.

To cut a long story short: Ghostbusters is NOT a feminist issue. It never should have been in the first place, but it certainly isn’t now that we’ve moved away from the disgraceful 2016 reboot.

Ghostbusters (2016)

Ghostbusters 3 and Captain Marvel

image via Forbes

For any of you confused by the Ghostbusters franchise, here is a brief history: In 1984, the first Ghostbusters movie was released. In 1989, a sequel (imaginatively titled “Ghostbusters II) was released. In 2016, some genius decided to reboot the franchise. This reboot takes place in a separate universe from the originals i.e. the events of the original movies didn’t take place within the 2016 movie universe (that will be important in a moment). In 2020, a sequel to the second Ghostbusters movie (1989) will be released, likely starring most of the original cast and following on from the original stories. It’s likely to be a “passing of the torch” movie and will apparently star 2 males and 2 females as the new, young leads.

So, this brings us to Leslie Jones who starred in the 2016 reboot as Patty Tolan. Mrs Jones is apparently outraged and recently tweeted the following:

Ghostbuster-Reboot-Leslie-Jones-Reaction.jpg

For starters, why bring Trump into this? Suddenly, making a sequel (which as I’ve mentioned will have a 50/50 gender split anyway) to a movie about 4 men a “Trump move”? I understand that she’s trying to label the move sexist, but that brings us to our next issue. Why is it a “dick move” to make a sequel but it’s not a dick move to reboot the franchise, switch the gender of every character, and turn the movie into nothing more than a punch in the balls (quite literally, if you’ve seen the reboot)? Surely if anyone made a “dick move” it’s the people behind the all-female reboot, right?

Another aspect of Jones’ Tweet relates to the reboot not counting. She says, “We dint count”. Well, did the original cast not count when you made the 2016 movie? Secondly, the reboot was an absolute flop. You can attribute that to sexist white male misogynists if you like, but the truth of the matter is that the movie lost something like $70 million. Why the fuck would any sane person drag that shit show back for round 2? If you remove yourself from the original franchise, you can’t then be angry when the original franchise continues without you.

Ultimately…

Ghostbusters 3 and Captain Marvel

image via YouTube

What this all boils down to is nonsensical political outrage. These days, people will grasp hold of anything that allows them to feel and share outrage, at anyone, anything, or anywhere. It is a trend that is spreading like wildfire.

When researching aspects of this post, I ended up on the most weighted ScreenRant article ever, which opened with: “Ghostbusters: “Leslie Jones Is (Understandably) Mad There’s a New Reboot”, before going on to state “However, the 2016 reboot was plagued all through its production and marketing by certain folks who weren’t happy with a Ghostbusters movie starring all women.”

This sort of writing annoys me because the hate towards the reboot was NOT because it was an all-female cast. That was an aspect, a very minor aspect, but it wasn’t the fact that the cast was female, it was the fact that A) The movie was anti-male, B) The movie claimed to be some sort of feminist breakthrough and marketed itself as such, and C) Even from the trailers, it was clear that the movie was not going to do the originals justice. I can’t say this enough but Annihilation is one of my favourite movies to have come out in the last few years and it has an all-female cast. Yet people like Leslie Jones and others never raise that example when holding white men responsible for their piece of shit movies flopping!

Ghostbusters 3

Ghostbusters 3 and Captain Marvel

image via Geek Tyrant

When it comes to Ghostbusters 3, what are my thoughts? Well, I think it’s a mistake. But I think it’s a better idea that a reboot. Why? When it comes to reboots, particularly when handled like Ghostbusters, you essentially scrap the original story and replace it with a modern take. People don’t like to watch their favourite movies being recycled to suit a modern audience. Having recently re-watched the original Ghostbusters, Bill Murray portrays an incredibly sexist and inappropriate Dr Venkman. Men don’t watch that nowadays and think to themselves “ahhhh, so THAT’S how you get the woman!” Regardless, if you released a movie that glorified and laughed at such behaviour nowadays, it would be slated by certain groups.

Sequels can encounter a similar problem, but this usually relates to continuity. If you look at Star Wars or Jurassic World, the biggest issues they faced involved remaining true to the original movies. Another example would be Jumanji. Welcome to the Jungle is sort of a sequel and a reboot, but it manages to make the movie different enough that you don’t really compare it to the original, but it isn’t so different that you don’t feel a connection between the two.

I’d love to see the original Ghostbusters cast back on the big-screen, but unless the can find the right balance between the original and modern-day movies, then it’s going to fail.

Captain Marvel and Brie Larson

Ghostbusters 3 and Captain Marvel

image via Adventures in Poor Taste

Sadly, this bring me to Marvel. If you’ve read any of my other posts, you’ll find that I’ve written about Marvel more than anything else. I love discussing my hopes and concerns, my theories, and many other topics.

Prior to the release of the Captain Marvel trailer, I wasn’t that excited for the movie. Not because it’s a female character, not because I’m a sexist, misogynistic, pro-Trump, anti-LGBT demon, but simply because I don’t know the character. I wasn’t excited for many other MCU movies and ended up loving them e.g. Winter Soldier and Black Panther. Similarly, I was excited for other MCU movies and ended up having my expectations crushed e.g. Doctor Strange and Age of Ultron.

However, when the trailer was released, I found myself feeling more excited. The Skrull concept and being able to see a young Nick Fury in action seemed compelling. Not to mention that I’ve enjoyed Brie Larson in other movies, so I’ve always looked forward to seeing her performance within the MCU, even if I wasn’t all that excited about the movie itself.

Fuck the Fans!

Ghostbusters and Captain Marvel

image via YouTube

Fuck…I can’t even bring myself to write about this nonsense. So, Brie Larson made a speech at the Crystal + Lucy Awards. To sum it up: “if you’re a white male and like Marvel movies but don’t enjoy Captain Marvel, then fuck you!” Larson displayed a complete lack of understanding for how the world works. Apparently, the fact that 60% of movie reviewers are white males is evidence of the patriarchy controlling and manipulating female-led films to fail. Larson’s solution? Equality of outcome: she wants to force non-white movie reviewers into the review role, along with more white females, in order to balance things out.

This, of course, ignores the fact that ANYONE can review movies. Want to write a blog about movies? WordPress is free and easy to use. I happen to write reviews for my own blog and MovieBabble, a movie review site that takes on anyone who loves to write about movies. ANYONE can start a YouTube account and review movies, it’s free and easy to do. ANYONE can review on IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes, both of which are frequently referenced by people such as Mindy Kailing, Brie Larson, and others.

I’m not sure what percentage of MCU fans are white males, but I’d imagine that it’s a majority or at least close to it. According to one website, a survey carried out in 2018 found that males make up the majority of MCU viewers within the US. Now, it’s one thing to call out to fans of different demographics. If Larson has said “we need more women in these roles” or “we need more women to watch these movies” then there wouldn’t be an issue but saying that white male critics can essentially go fuck themselves, just alienates a large percentage of MCU fans who have enjoyed the franchise for A FUCKING DECADE prior to Larson’s appearance.

Is it really any surprise that the projected box office figures for Captain Marvel have already by dropped below 50% since the initial projections? People don’t want their favourite franchises (i.e. the MCU) being combined with the individual political ideological ramblings of one ill-informed individual (i.e. Brie Larson).

There is always a backlash to stuff like this, and we’re seeing it with Captain Marvel. According to Complex, “Misogynists Swarming ‘Captain Marvel’ on Rotten Tomatoes Weeks Before Release”. Of course, as is usually the case with instances such as this, they are ignoring the real issue. This has NOTHING to do with the fact that Captain Marvel is a female. It has EVERYTHING to do with Brie Larson launching an attack against fans.

Black Panther

Ghostbusters 3 and Captain Marvel

image via Marvel

There is a right way to bring politics into a movie, and it isn’t by alienating other demographics. Let’s consider Black Panther. This is a movie that had an almost entirely black cast, and as such it was hailed as being a step in the right direction for the representation of minorities within Hollywood movies.

On the run up to its release, I didn’t once see Chadwick Boseman or Michael B. Jordan stepping up to a mic to say “listen, if this film doesn’t do well, then it’s white people who are to blame”. The movie itself even tackled race issues within the world, but it did so in a manner that wasn’t just sticking a middle finger up at other groups and actually made sense within the movie’s storyline.

I’m not petty enough to not see a movie based on the actions of one member of the cast, but I’d imagine that there are people out there who are. Larson is a classic example of a social justice hypocrite. Does Larson really believe that decade-long fans of the MCU are going to hate a movie purely because the lead is a strong female character? The only reason I will hate Captain Marvel, is if it’s a shit movie. If it IS a shit movie, I’m still going to watch Endgame and Far From Home and other MCU movies!

My MCU Prediction

Ghostbusters 3 and Captain Marvel

image via YouTube

I’m almost done ranting, but I just want to touch on one issue that I can see happening over the next few years. Endgame, which will be the movie to follow Captain Marvel, marks the end of the road for many character arcs. Tony Stark, Iron-Man, Thor, and others may not die, but they won’t be returning in the same capacity after this movie. Here lies my worry: Fans have spent 10 years following these characters: we’ve watched them evolve, face increasingly-difficult challenges, and we’ll see them leave. For many, Endgame will mark the end of a story rather than the end of a chapter.

How will the MCU group the remaining heroes together? Will there be an Avengers 5? In my opinion, Endgame should be the last Avengers movie. Let’s face it, the Guardians won’t be returning for a 5th Avengers movie. So, the next group movie should be different, and it should be new, otherwise, people will get very bored very fast! We can’t just see all available MCU heroes regroup every 3 years, particularly when the MVPs will be gone. Why is this a problem?

Well, as we’ve seen with Ghostbusters, Ocean’s 8, the wage gap, and other such movies/ideas, people have a tendency to focus on a connection while ignoring all other factors. You didn’t like Ghostbusters? Well, you must be a female-hating Trump supporter because there’s NO way you just didn’t like the shitty reboot and its horrifically matched cast and slanted political agenda!

When we say goodbye to Tony Stark, Thor, Loki, Steve Rodgers, Bucky, and maybe more (or maybe less, I’m not sure how many actors will step down after Endgame), the viewings of MCU movies is undoubtedly going to take a knock. My worry is that people will blame this on women-hating racists, rather than exploring the real reasons. Then, the MCU will become more politicized and ultimately destroyed.

In Summary

Ghostbusters 3 and Captain Marvel

image via Stream Play TV

In my opinion, there shouldn’t have been a Ghostbusters reboot in the first place! I’m all for a sequel, provided it isn’t just a reboot disguised as a sequel, but rebooting any classic typically fails to do it justice. Look at Jumanji: the reboot/sequel was entertaining, but it just wasn’t the same as the original. Too many things change over the course of several decades and so its impossible to capture the original movies. For example, Jurassic Park, Star Wars, Blade Runner, and of course Ghostbusters.

Global politics have changed, societal attitudes and perceptions have changed, actors have died, and a million other variables can be considered as to why making a reboot/sequel to classic movies a couple of decades after the originals will never work. Do you think a Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or Fight Club would succeed if rebooted within the next couple of decades? These aren’t even good examples and they still don’t work!

When it comes to movies that are changing within our modern society, we have to remember that people aren’t watching these movies to support a political agenda. I watch Marvel movies because I love the characters and losing myself in a universe where people with superpowers exist is entertaining. I don’t watch the movies because I want to support Brie Larson’s incoherent babblings!


Thanks for reading! What are you thoughts? Is Brie Larson forcing her political views into the MCU? Is it unreasonable to do a Ghostbusters 3? Let me know down below! 

Don’t forget to follow me on here and on Twitter to stay up to date with my posts!

If you have anything to add or perhaps a suggestion for a future post, leave a comment!

Peace!

 

Free Speech: Is it a thing of the past?

I’ve written in the past about my thoughts on the UK and why it’s spiralling towards chaos. I’ve discussed the impact of limiting free speech on comedy (and the larger impact this would have), the Royal Family and why they should be given the boot, the incredibly negative effect of alcohol on society (and why marijuana legalisation would fix this), and why Scottish Independence would have been the better move 4 years ago! Some of these posts will apply to everybody, some won’t…but today’s certainly does. I’m going to walk you through the problem with free speech and why fear of being considered a troll, racist or a free-thinker could land you in the hot seat, ultimately leading to the collapse of our society. Sound a little dramatic?

Gregory Alan Elliott: Background

Censorship
If you follow my blog then you’ll be fully aware that I’m not a fan of social media. I’ve written about Facebook before and I only have Twitter as a landing page for my various followers from different sites. So it frustrates me when I hear on the news that people are being charged with crimes because of behaviour on these platforms. Before we look at the UK, I want to discuss Canada (as I feel like it’s somewhat responsible for allowing these nonsensical cases to be brought forward).

So, with that in mind I want to discuss the Gregory Alan Elliott story. This is an important turning point because it was the first prosecution for “harassment” solely through twitter. Way back in 2012, Gregory was arrested on allegations that he harassed several women via Twitter. These women had blocked Gregory but accused him of using hashtags to ridicule them and include others in his mocking of them. Such a technique has been coined “weaponized hashtagging”.

All of this stems from an entirely different issue that I don’t want to discuss in too much depth here. To cut a long story short: Anita Sarkeesian began a kickstarter campaign to raise awareness of female character tropes within the industry. Bendilin Spurr created a game whereby you can punch a photograph of someone’s face (including Anita and Jack Thomson). Stephanie Guthrie then started to contact employers and news organisations in an attempt to derail Spurr’s life. At this point, in steps Gregory Alan Elliot who highlighted that these actions carried more real world implications that the silly game that Spurr had created.

Gregory Alan Elliot: Outcome

Censorship
So this is where the GAE (Gregory Alan Elliott) case really begins. After sending a tweet to Stephanie Guthrie, herself and others blocked GAE and reported his account to Twitter. He hadn’t violated any of the terms of service and so no action followed. GAE continued to tweet about Guthrie and others until they eventually held a meeting to discuss how to handle the situation. This led to the police being notified, leading to the trial.

It’s important to note that this was not a one-sided debate. GAE wasn’t simply going online and harassing people, he had simply shared an opinion on an issue he felt strongly about and in response he got into a debate (something the judge would ultimately agree on). The women claimed that GAE was being homophobic,  inciting violence but also personally threatening them with violence (including that of a sexual nature).

Throughout the 3 year trial which cost GAE his job, his life, about $100,000 in legal fees and a ban from the internet smartphones during that time, the media largely misrepresented the case, often siding with Guthrie and her friends. As of 2016, all accusations have been dismissed by the judge. He found no evidence of threatening tweets (sexual or otherwise), no calls to violence against the women and the only tweet which was homophobic in nature has since been revealed to have been fake.

Back to the UK

Censorship
So that may have felt like a bit of a detour but I promise that it is relevant. We have to keep in mind that this case started in 2012 and ended in 2016. So how have things changed since then both in the world and specifically in the UK? Well, people being arrested for online activity wouldn’t be something new to the UK. This is largely due to Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 (we’ll touch on that in more detail in a moment).

Consider that in 2010 Paul Chambers (25) was arrested under this act for stating that he would blow an airport “sky high” after his flight was cancelled because of snowy weather. Chambers would go on to win his appeal against the court two years later but only after losing two jobs. We can also look at Matthew Woods (19) who was sentenced to 3 months in prison for making a joke about a missing girl. I don’t think that what they said was clever or should be encouraged but are either of these individuals really deserving of long legal battles and prison? I’d have to say no!

The problem that we have (that we always fucking have with shit like this) is that what is deemed “offensive” is entirely subjective. What offends you might not offend me. I think we always need to consider the context which brings me onto a more recent example: Count Dankula.

Count Dankula and the Nazi Dog

Censorship
If you haven’t heard the case of Mark Meechan (a.k.a Count Dankula) then allow me to summarise it for you: Mark is a comedian and to annoy his girlfriend, he taught her dog (a pug) to do a Nazi salute. His reasoning was that his girlfriend always talked about how cute the dog was and so he wanted to turn it into the “least cute thing in the world… a Nazi”. Outside the court he reiterated the point by saying it was comical because of the “juxtaposition of having an adorable animal react to something vulgar”. Once again the 2003 Communications Act comes into play here. In the video Mark says things like “Sieg heil” and “do you want to gas the Jews?” to which the ugly dog responds with a Nazi salute or an excited look on its face.

A GoFundMe was started in order to cover the trial costs that Mark had to pay. The goal was £100,000 and as I type this post it currently sits at £193,545. The worrying aspect of this case actually goes beyond the charge of “inciting racial hatred” and the accompanying £800 fine (plus legal fees). The real concern comes from the fact that the judge sided with the prosecution, agreeing that “context and intent are irrelevant”. Isn’t context pretty much all that matters? As far as I’m concerned anything can be said within the context of a joke.

One hilarious moment ensued following the trial whereby Mark discusses the importance of context with a reporter. The reporter disagrees with him, saying that context isn’t important as Mark was ultimately found guilty of the crime. He goes on to say “You said the phrase gas the Jews 23 times, what’s funny about that?” and Mark responds that it’s entirely about the context. So if context isn’t important, why can the reporter say “gas the Jews” but Count Dankula can’t?

Frankie Boyle and the Importance of Context

Censorship
Frankie Boyle (another Scottish comedian) would be a great example of this. If you’ve never watched Frankie Boyle then let me summarise his approach to comedy: he doesn’t care about your comfort zone. He says offensive things and his fans love it. Frankie Boyle sued the Daily Mirror “newspaper” for labelling him a racist and said himself that context is vitally important as the instance the Mirror referred to was Boyle pretending to be a person with racist views.

This claim by the Mirror ultimately led the comedian to quit the TV show ‘Mock the Week’ and as such, the payout from them was even larger (£50,400 + £4,250). Boyle has always stated very clearly both in his comedy and outside it that context is essential! During his trial with the Daily Mirror, he stated that he uses racial points of view and opinions to highlight the fact that such views exist. He isn’t approving of them and certainly isn’t supporting those who hold such views, but rather he wishes to ostracise them.

I’m not going to discuss comedians too much within this article as I’ve written a little about this before but I think it’s important to highlight one point: comedians are only considered funny if people laugh at their jokes. When you watch a comedian, you understand that whatever they say is purely to make you laugh. Sure, they may include some societal issues in there but ultimately their goal is to have you leave their show with positive things to say. Otherwise, they would fail as comedians and wouldn’t make it in the industry.

Section 127 of the 2003 Communications Act

Censorship
Considering that in 2017, it was reported that an average of 9 people are being arrested per day in the UK for “posting allegedly offensive messages online” and with the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, starting a £1.7m (over two years) crime hub for online activities, despite knife crime in the capital being at a 4-year high and with Theresa May slashing police budget left, right and centre, you have to wonder: are internet trolls really a priority?

Ultimately, this brings us back to the dreaded 2003 Communications Act. I’m not going to bore you to death (unless I have already) by copy and pasting the entire document. Instead, let me just highlight some of the important phrases used within Section 127 of this Act. What makes a person guilty of this offense? Well, if they: “by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character”.

What does that even mean? Grossly offensive…Grossly offensive to who? I’m grossly offended by the fact that the UK government wanted to go on holiday a week early despite Brexit being as far from being organised as it was 2 years ago. I’m grossly offended by the final verse of the “British” national anthem containing the line “Rebellious Scots to crush”. So who defines what is offensive? At the end of the day, we are leaning more towards some sort of system of social justice whereby we’re supposed to essentially cave into mob demands. Thanks…but not thanks!

Double Standards

Censorship
The thing that is perhaps most concerning about all of this is that there exists a very noticeable double standard. It’s perfectly acceptable for these same individuals who complain that being offended should result in arrests to do the exact same thing to other people. This in part is my problem with social justice. If you don’t agree with the mob then whatever you’re doing is essentially wrong…but if you agree with the mob then you can basically do whatever you want. Why is it acceptable to phone somebody’s work to try and get somebody fired but it’s unacceptable to send a tweet saying that that is unacceptable? Why can a reporter say that context is irrelevant while also saying “gas the Jews” in the same sentence?

In order to understand this further, I want to draw upon some real-world examples of terms like “bigot”, “racist” and more being used solely because an individual shared a point of view or comment that went against the mob.

Terry Gilliam: The Black Lesbian

Censorship
Take Gerry Gilliam for example. The legendary comedian, famous for his involvement in Monty Python, was subject to many disapproving tweets after he stated “I tell the world now I’m a black lesbian”. Out of context this may seem a little strange but it was after a comment was made against the lack of diversity within Monty Python where Shane Allen (BBC comedy chief) described them as “six Oxbridge white blokes” under the assumption of that being a bad thing. I have views on this but perhaps they are better saved for another post.

Ultimately, while Gilliam’s comment may seem offensive to some, what is he saying is a reflection of our current society. People are defining gender irrespective of their biological sex, are they not? There’s nothing wrong with that but it’s the truth. On top of that he’s simply commenting that a lack of diversity in today’s society is only ever an issue with white men. If it was a group of white women then there wouldn’t be a complaint, if it was a group of only black men there would be no complaint. He’s simply highlighting this issue and relating it to the fact that today, anyone can be anything so why is diversity within a group that hasn’t worked together (properly) for decades such a major issue?

In one sense, it’s a witch hunt (interestingly something the Monty Python have covered before) since people are simply searching for issues to get offended by. Why does the race or sex of Monty Python members matter in today’s world? I’m shocked that Gilliam hasn’t been chased from Twitter yet, which brings me to Richard Dawkins.

Richard Dawkins Doesn’t Give a Fuck!

Censorship
I think this example will work perfectly for highlighting exactly what I’ve been talking about: offense is entirely subjective. Let’s look at a recent Tweet by the famous atheist Richard Dawkins. While outside a church he stated:

“Listening to the lovely bells of Winchester, one of our great medieval cathedrals. So much nicer than the aggressive-sounding Allahu Akbar. Or is that just my cultural upbringing?”

Now…is it possible to be offended by this comment? Sure…but should you be? No. Here’s what I see why I read such a tweet: someone has an opinion…that’s it!

First of all, we all have individual preferences. I don’t like EDM and I think it sounds absolutely moronic. Do people have the right to be offended by that just because they enjoy the music? Nope. What if I say that the Bible is a violent book, should that offend people? No. What if I move on to the Qu’ran? Tensions would certainly begin to rise but any idea should be able to be criticized. Right?

What I’m trying to get at is that certain people have a right to be offended more than others (apparently). So if Richard Dawkins can’t share his preferences for church bells over yelling, then what can we share opinions on? Dawkins was instantly slammed as a bigot and a racist but why? He even mentions within the Tweet that it could be his cultural upbringing. I’m quite surprised that Twitter didn’t remove the tweet.

Noticing the Double Standard

Censorship
The double standards, particularly in relation to Twitter, do not come few and far between. Just at the end of last year Ben Shapiro called Twitter out on the double standard by reporting Rosie O’Donnell for targeted and abusive Tweets. Only after Shapiro repeatedly called out Twitter for the double standard, claiming that “Everyone knows if Rosie were conservative, Twitter would suspend her in a hot second.” did Twitter remove O’Donnell’s tweet.

Twitter is the prime suspect in many of these cases. Why? Put simply, they have an allegiance to one side and not the other. Just recently, Candace Owens, a famous (or infamous) conservative recently demonstrated the hypocrisy of Twitter. Sarah Jeong (editor of the NY Times) tweeted the following:

“White people are only fit to live underground like grovelling goblins. They have stopped breeding and will all go extinct soon. I enjoy being cruel to old white women.”

Twitter took zero action against this Tweet. Yet when Candace Owens retweeted the exact same thing but swapped the word ‘white’ for ‘black’ she was banned from Twitter, leading to the company issuing an apology for the oversight. Varying theories surround this event with some believing that Twitter doesn’t agree that you can be racist towards white people, and other suggesting that it was Candace Owen’s status as a conservative that led to her ban.

Twitter Isn’t Alone!

Censorship
Interestingly, Twitter isn’t actually the worst example of this form of censorship (although it’s certainly the most common). Just the other day, both YouTube and Facebook banned Alex Jones and InfoWars, deleting much of their content as they did so. Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey stated that the reason Twitter didn’t delete Jones is because he didn’t violate any of the terms of service. He went on to say that others started to “succumb and simply react to outside pressure”. Considering Twitter’s blatant overview of other similar matters, it’s hard to give them any brownie points for being in the right just once.

Another issue that we’re frequently seeing, particularly with YouTube is the use of the word “extremism”. To an average person “extremism” would be flying planes into buildings or blowing up buses…but in today’s political climate pretty much anything can get stuck with the label. Just look at the example of Lauren Southern being banned from the UK for that very reason. Again, as much as I’d prefer to avoid generalising, it seems that people on the left are able to label people on the right “extremists” and ultimately have them denied entry to a country. Southern is just one of many such examples.

Considering that the Theresa May (the old, dry bat corpse) is putting pressure on major companies to speed up the rate that they remove extremist content, I’m a little concerned as to what this means. Are we nearing a society where any opinion could potentially be extremist? We only need to look as far as the Lauren Southern examples to see that criticizing a belief system is enough to have you labelled a “racist” and banned from entering the UK.

The Next Step

Censorship
Of course we need to consider where such a path leads. If comedians have to consult a censorship panel before going on tour or sending a simple Tweet can land you a prison sentence, what comes next? Will private communications with friends suddenly be used as evidence of racist thoughts? Would calling your brother “gay” for showing affection become grounds for prosecution?

I want to share another quote from Frankie Boyle:

“We don’t live in a shared reality, we each live in a reality of our own, and causing upset is often the price of trying to reach each other. It’s always easier to dismiss other people than to go through the awkward and time consuming process of understanding them. We have given taking offence a social status it doesn’t deserve: it’s not much more than a way of avoiding difficult conversations.”

Personally, I think he hits the nail on the head. He also stated that often the reason people get offended is simply because what is being said hits truth in one way or another. People are too quick to ignore the fact that a commentary on society holds some truth.

Does Hate Speech Exist?

Censorship
Through writing this post I’ve stumbled across the term “hate speech” on several occasions and it has led me to question whether there really is such a thing. Couldn’t you consider any speech to be hate speech? Where do we draw the line on free speech and hate speech or does free speech include hate speech? If we can’t clearly define an idea then what use is having a label for it? Just to clarify, I’m not implying that hateful things aren’t said but rather I’m suggesting that anything can be deemed hateful and simply because one person labels an opinion as “hate speech” doesn’t entitle them stop others hearing that opinion.

Not that this applies to everyone but it certainly seems that in many cases the term “hate speech” is used simply to shut down opinions: People like Milo Yiannopolous, Ben Shapiro, ETC whose events are being shut down by violent protestors. Having an opinion is now less acceptable than violence! We’re essentially the same as the parents who give in to their child as soon as it throws a tantrum. If somebody is saying something that you don’t want to hear then don’t listen! You do not have the right to decide what other people listen to or what other people say!

This fear of saying something that might offend somebody in itself has consequences. Just look at the case of the Rotherham grooming gangs. Here we have a span of 12 years whereby police and local governments were aware of Pakistani grooming gangs and yet did nothing. Why? Because “police forces lean over backwards to avoid the accusation of racism” and keeping the peace within different parts of a community were viewed as more important than potentially disrupting the community through investigation. The founder of the British Muslim Youth, Muhbeen Hussain said “The fact these guys were predominantly Pakistani heritage men should not be a reason for providing a cloak of invisibility.”

Conclusion

Censorship
Ultimately, I think it’s important to remember the old saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”. Considering we live in a society where you can literally block people from contacting you, I don’t understand why people take such offense to certain Tweets (or other platforms). It offends my intelligence that people can believe that the Earth is flat. Do I think that their opinions should be shut down? Absolutely not!

I think we need to all take a step back and ask whether something is really worth being offended over. Even when you are offended, so what? Why does being offended give you power over the voice and opinions of others? Do you really want to live in a world where opinions have to be filtered before being shared? If somebody wants their country to close its borders to migrants (for example) shouldn’t they be able to express that opinion without being called a racist or a fascist? Particularly when such labels don’t even apply to the situation!

I think that everything should be challenged, everything should be criticised and everyone should be able to say whatever they want without being arrested over bizarre and irrational “online troll” charges. If the UK is insistent on heading down this path of speech control then I don’t want to be a part of it.


Thanks for reading! What do you think? Is online censorship becoming a problem and is free speech on its way out in the UK?  Let me know down below! 

Don’t forget to follow me on here and on Twitter to stay up to date with my posts!

If you have anything to add or perhaps a suggestion for a future post, leave a comment!

Peace!

Should the UK Abolish the Royal Family? YES!

When you’re looking at where tax payer’s money is spent, you’d expect a priority to be towards the police service, healthcare, education, etc. So whether you live in the UK or not, it may shock you to learn that £80+ million is paid to the Queen. Given that we don’t live under a monarchy and that the Royal Family in itself is little more than a living, breathing tourist attraction (and not a very effective one at that), why are we still funding their extremely luxurious lifestyle?

The “British” Royal Family

Royal Family

image via English Crown

Many people in Britain love the Royal Family. I’m not one of them. I have nothing against the family personally, they didn’t choose to be born into such a position. But the very notion that this family deserves our time, our respect, or more importantly: our money is beyond me. The Royal Family may sell many souvenirs, plates and t-shirts or make foreign officials feel privileged when introduced to its members but other than that they serve no purpose.

What part of the Royal Family is British? As someone from Scotland, I feel no connection to them. This ties into British nationalism or Unionism but there are many reasons why we shouldn’t view them as symbols of our country.

For starters, even if you view the family as having “Royal Blood”, do they really? The paternal side of the family is German. You may know the family as “The Windsors” but actually that name only came to be in 1917 due to anti-German sentiment. The family name before its British reboot was ‘Saxe-Coburg and Gotha’ due to the marriage between Prince Albert and Queen Victoria. We view this family as inherently British but there isn’t really anything particularly special about them (or British about them). On principle alone I’m against celebrating a family (or an individual) based solely on their relatives.

We also have to consider the British National anthem “God Save the Queen”. I don’t consider this a British National Anthem by any means. There are two reasons for this:

  • As I already mentioned, the Royal Family is of no special significance to me. They are simply remnants of a feudal society that claimed land and oppressed populations. There is still land all across the UK that is owned by the Royal Family as a result of taking land by force or claiming it as their right. To me, this is absolutely disgusting (even more so when you consider the Royal Family profits from this).
  • The 6th verse in the “British” national anthem goes as follows:

“Lord grant that Marshal Wade

May by thy mighty aid

Victory bring.

May he sedition hush,

And like a torrent rush,

Rebellious Scots to crush.

God save the Queen!”

I don’t think that ANYONE would argue that having a verse targeting one of the countries within a “United” Kingdom doesn’t seem a bit bizarre. Don’t even get me started on the British passports which show the Scottish national animal: the unicorn, with a chain around its neck. I’m going a little off-topic here but I had to share these points.

The Cost

Royal Family

image via CNBC

So when we look at the value of the Royal Family, we have to consider whether what we pay them is worth it in the long run. Many people argue that the Royal Family are responsible for a lot of the tourism in the UK. I’d have to disagree. The Royal Family may very well benefit the people of London, particularly those in businesses located anywhere near Buckingham Palace. But considering that tax money from ALL of the UK is used to pay the Royal Family, I fail to see the benefits to the rest of us.

ALVA, a company focused on leading visitor’s attractions, Tweeted the following at the time of the Royal Wedding:

“The 2011 wedding of the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge saw an additional 600k ppl visit London for the weekend, 60% from UK, 40% from overseas, spending £107m (£8.4m in West End theatres).”

Yet when we actually look at the evidence, you’ll find that even Visit Britain can’t find evidence to support the tourism benefit of keeping the Royal Family around. If Windsor Castle (the only occupied Royal Residence to attract a large number of visitors) was included in ALVA’s analysis of top tourist attractions, it would be lucky to come in at 24th. Stonehenge, The British Museum, Edinburgh Castle, Roman Baths, National Museum of Scotland and the Science museum are all examples of attractions which reel in higher numbers of tourists. This is supported by evidence which shows most tourists come for our wide range of museums, wonderful scenery, to engage in British history and to shop….as opposed to visiting an old bag, her racist husband and her ginger grandchildren.

Royal Weddings, Annual Income and Security

Royal Family

image via Pinterest

Since we mentioned the Royal Wedding already, let’s delve into the costs. In 2011, Prince William and Catherine Middleton got married. While most of the finance was covered by the incredibly wealthy Royal Family (how nice of them) the UK taxpayer had to cover the cost of security and transport (as per the agreement of the Family’s grant) which was to the sum of at least £7 million.

Of course we have another Royal Wedding on the way with petitions already in motion to avoid tax payers having to pay out for any of the costs. I mean I don’t think it’s too much to ask that we don’t have to fund weddings.

The Sovereign Grant

Royal Family

image via Google

Queen Elizabeth II is one of the world’s richest women, according to The Times. So where does she get her money? Well, most of her money comes from the Sovereign Grant. To understand what exactly this is, we have to look back to 1760 when King George III agreed to hand over the crown estate to the treasury. This mass of land includes obvious areas such as Buckingham Palace and Regent Street but also most of the UK’s seabed. Where does all the land come from? It comes from the areas conquered by the Monarchy throughout history.

As I’m arguing a lot of this from a Scottish perspective, let’s take a look at Scotland. It’s estimated that The Crown owns about £261.5 million worth of land in Scotland. This includes (but is not limited to) four estates that cover 37,000 hectares of land, ownership of the seabed up to 12 nautical miles from the shore as well as more retail-orientated areas such as 50% of Fort Kinnaird retail park just outside Edinburgh. The Queen gets 15% of the Crown Estate profits.

This figure is set to double to £82.2 million so that the Royal Family can carry out repairs at Buckingham Palace. As any tourism increases in the UK, so does the income of the Royal Family with the Crown Estate raking in an extra 8% compared to previous years. Imagine if the land was actually owned by the people who had it ripped away from them by force throughout history. Rather than funding Prince Philip’s £18,690 train trip to Plymouth.

The Principle Alone

Royal Family

image via RT

Even if we put the economics to the side for a moment, how can anybody POSSIBLY ignore the gross comparison of the Royal Family to most of the country they live in? The NHS is in crisis, the UK police force is all but crumbling, the education of the nation’s youth is lagging behind that of other countries…need I say more? When there are people living in poverty in this country I found it grotesque that ANYBODY would argue that the Royal Family deserves even a penny.

What can we do about it?

Royal Family

image via Gizmodo

Honestly? Probably nothing. If you live in the UK, you could try signing this petition to see an end to the monarchy and all payments towards the Royal Family. Will it work? I highly doubt it. As I’ve said before, the petition system in the UK serves no real purpose other than providing people with a feel-good feeling alongside a feeling of involvement and having the ability to create change. In reality, nothing changes that Parliament weren’t already considering. For example, you won’t find weed becoming legal through this petition system despite receiving over 4 million signatures. You won’t even find MPs turning up for the debate.

When the Queen dies (if she dies, I think she shattered her soul into several horcruxes) there may be a window of opportunity to have a discussion on the topic with parliament. If England wants to keep the Royal Family in their life of luxury then by all means, let them. I know very few Scottish people who want to continue paying tax to such an unworthy cause.


Thanks for reading! Do you have an opinion on the Royal Family? Let me know down below! 

Don’t forget to follow me on here and on Twitter to stay up to date with my posts!

If you have anything to add or perhaps a suggestion for a future post, leave a comment!

Peace!

Scottish Independence: Are We Better Together 3 Years Later?

For those of you unfamiliar with this topic, back in 2014 the people of Scotland were able to vote as to whether or not they wanted Scottish independence. In the end, with a 55.5% majority, it was decided that Scotland would remain in the UK. I still view this as a horrific decision. Do I blame the people of Scotland? Sure, to an extent, but more than anything I blame the UK Parliament. In this article I’m going to cover some of the reasons why Scottish independence would have left Scotland in a much stronger position than it is currently in (arguably). I’ll also look at just why I’m so disgusted by the actions of parliament.

My Personal Opinion

Scottish Independence

image via Physical Gold

Obviously all of this post is going to consist of my own views and opinions. This is not supposed to be a non-bias representation of the information. However, I aim to provide sources for as many of my claims as I can. So what did I vote during the Scottish independence referendum? Well, as you’ve probably gathered already, I voted ‘Yes’. It’s the only time I’ve voted and it could very well be the only time I ever vote. But I wasn’t always a supporter of the yes campaign. During my first or second year at university when the Scottish independence referendum was first picking up steam, I was a strong no voter. I chose to write several essays on the topic as part of my course in an effort to express how strongly against leaving the UK I was.

Within those couple of years though, my interest in politics grew, as did my hatred for the UK political system. The more I discovered, the less I trusted this society we live in. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a pretty great place to live but the politics are a joke. I mean you can take a look at the petition system which is nothing more than a mock system designed to make “the people” feel like they can create change with a simple signature which is bullshit.

By the time 2015 came around, I couldn’t have had a stronger opinion than my views on why Scottish independence was the best move for everyone. Arguments I’d made in the past about why Scotland should stay soon seemed miniscule in comparison to those for leaving. I watched as friends and family fell for the deceptions of the UK government and I could only watch in horror as the final votes were counted showing the slight majority for the “better together” campaign. Speaking of which…

The Campaign

Scottish Independence

image via NewsWeek

One thing that annoyed me the most about this campaign was the involvement of England. To be more specific: London (to be even more specific, the Westminster). One of my biggest problems with being connected to the UK parliament is that everything goes through it one way or another. We have a bunch of upper-class space cadets who have zero experience in the real world, all lack a mind of their own and are most of all: hypocrites. It says a lot that many of the people in power in the UK went to school together. MPs over the last decade have avoided tax, claimed for multiple houses, claimed expenses for holidays and pushed for their own pay rises during times of crisis and austerity.

If only that was all they had done…Reports have found that cocaine use in parliament is a real issue. Yet MPs won’t even turn up for a debate regarding the legalisation of cannabis because “drugs are bad, m’kay”. So you can imagine my annoyance when the independence referendum outcome was flipped by two major factors: TV bias and false promises.

We’ll take a look at the first of these two now. During the Scottish independence referendum, there was undoubtedly a bias within media coverage. BBC, a network that claims to be impartial was found to be giving the no campaign an unfair advantage. In fact, a study of both ITV (STV) and the BBC found that during the Scottish independence referendum, both of these outlets favoured the no campaign by allowing more coverage of that side. I remember reading a report at the time which I believe claimed that the divide was something like 33.3% to the yes campaign and 66.6% to the no campaign (I’ve been unable to find that statistic so don’t take my word for it).

Interestingly, this distrust in the UK media hasn’t changed in Scotland. Research finds that Scottish people still don’t feel like their side of the news is reported impartially, particularly in relation to Scotland vs UK news.

The Vow

Scottish Independence

image via The National

You’re perhaps wondering what “The Vow” is. Well, during the referendum when the polls were showing a tie for the votes of Scottish people, David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg all signed “The Vow”. This was an agreement or pledge that if the people of Scotland voted to remain in the UK, parliament would respond in kind by granting the Scottish Parliament more powers and a fairer share of resources. Not only is the entire thing patronising but it also directs a spotlight towards the lack of power that Scotland already had at this point. Why should a parliament of a country have to threaten to leave in order to get power over its own country and a fair share of resources? At the time most people were sceptical because if governments are known for one thing: it’s going back on promises.

It’s been three years since the Scottish independence referendum and the government hasn’t made any steps towards keeping this promise. It doesn’t help that David Cameron quit after the EU referendum (another issue we will look at) but a deal is a deal. Interestingly, a poll has found that only 9% of Scots believe that this deal has been kept with 22% believing that none of the promises have been delivered.

The general distrust towards this vow may lead you to believe that it wouldn’t sway many people. Yet the polls suggest that it did and certainly the outcome of the vote itself is evidence of this. Only 3.3% of Scottish people needed to believe that this vow would lead to a desirable outcome. Considering how many people were on the fence on the run up to the vote, it’s hardly surprising that this would get the no campaign the votes it needed.

The Crumbling of the UK (and Scotland along with it)

Scottish Independence

image via Daily Star

Regardless of your views towards the Scottish Independence referendum or the EU vote, it’s not exactly shocking to learn that the UK is in a downward spiral. The value of the GBP has been dropping fairly consistently since 2007/8. Obviously this varies a little depending on your choice of comparison. For example, when comparing the pound to the Euro, you find a similar drop with the only difference being a peak in 2015 before dropping again. The NHS is in crisis while companies such as Amazon, Google and Facebook actually pay less than half the tax of more traditional companies. It’s estimated that multinational companies avoid paying as much as £5.8bn to the UK in tax.

Crime in the UK is on the rise so it may also shock you that the UK police budget is expected to lose £700m by 2020 along with up to 22,000 jobs! London, the centre of the UK (not geographically…obviously) and the home of Parliament now has a higher homicide rate than New York City. This is due in part to the reduced police presence as a result of budget cuts. So crime is on the rise, the hospitals and healthcare systems are failing, the police force is being shrunk and the UK currency is fragile and drastically lower in value than a decade ago. At least we have the EU, right? Wrong.

The EU Vote = A Slap in the Face for Scotland

Scottish Independence

image via Economist

One major, major reason people voted to remain in the UK during the Scottish independence referendum was the EU. Threats from the no campaign included tweets such as “What is the process for removing our EU citizenship? Voting yes.” David Cameron himself made the claim that the only way Scotland could protect its EU membership was to reject independence. Some of the biggest and most influential arguments against Scottish independence offered by the no campaign included: Scotland would have to leave the EU and reapply; Scotland wouldn’t be able to use the pound; Scotland would lose access to services offered as part of the UK (including NHS connections). All things that seem more like a positive now, in comparison. The idea of an EU referendum hadn’t been mentioned prior to the Scottish independence vote.

So you can imagine the shock to the Scots when A) the possibility of leaving the EU is announced as an option and B) after 62% of Scotland voting to remain, being told that because we’re part of the UK, the actions of the country include Scotland and the EU vote isn’t a just cause for a 2nd Indy Ref. It’s worth noting that Northern Ireland also voted to remain in the EU. With less than one year left until the UK officially leaves the EU, I find it troubling how little has been resolved so far. Even more so considering I don’t live in the UK anymore and could very well be forced to return when free roaming is no longer an option for UK citizens.

So you can probably see why I’ve described this move as a slap in the face for Scotland and for Scottish Independence. We aren’t even finished yet and so far we’ve covered the bias news coverage, the broken promises of Westminster and the dissolving of all major arguments for remaining in the UK. This goes a step further when we look at Brexit negotiations where 90% of business owners don’t trust the government to secure the best deal for Scotland.

Renewable Energy

Scottish Independence

image via Caledonian Mercury

If you know nothing else about Scotland, you should at least be familiar with the weather: it’s windy and wet as fuck! Out of all the countries in the UK, Scotland is number 1 for producing green energy. In 2015 Scotland produced 97% of its household electricity needs through wind energy. Just a few days ago it was revealed that Scotland produces two-thirds of its energy (68.1%) through green schemes. Officials even stated that this is 45 points higher than the rest of the UK. One of the threats  made during the referendum was that independence would put a halt on the UK’s production of green energy.

Yet back in 2015 it came to light that windfarm subsidies to Scotland would end, putting not only the green energy production of the country at risk, but also further damaging the country’s economy. It seems that this hasn’t been the case or at the very least hasn’t had a lasting impact. However, the impending threat of cuts as a result of the UK government will continue and their general disregard for the people of Scotland will become more apparent.

The Traitors of Scotland

Scottish Independence

image via Outlandish Observations

When I talk about traitors here, I’m not referring to people who voted differently from me. They have a right to vote for the outcome they believe is best. Maybe their vote was right. But one thing that stood out during the referendum in 2014 were major companies threatening to leave if the people voted for Scottish Independence. Shipping companies (particularly ship building companies in Glasgow) and banks (such as the Royal Bank of Scotland) were among those readying themselves for a move. Many viewed this as an empty threat but with RBS making the same threat during the EU referendum and now considering a move to the Netherlands. The company which is continuously being investigated for shady dealings as part of the HSBC network should do us all a favour and fuck off already.

Why do these companies annoy me? Well, you can’t claim to be fighting for the people of Scotland but then threaten to cut thousands of jobs if things don’t go your way during the Scottish Independence referendum. From a company perspective, I understand that but you can’t fight on both sides. The no campaign stated “by working together as part of the UK we can ensure the future of Scotland’s shipbuilding industry” and yet just a year later the project was reduced and then ultimately delayed indefinitely. It’s even been stated that the future of Scotland’s shipbuilding is unclear. This brings to question people like Ruth Davidson who push every single one of the arguments at the time of the referendum.

I can’t help but view this as yet another sign that Scottish independence wouldn’t have made any difference to the threats that were made back in 2014.

Scotland as a Society

Scottish Independence

image via Hill Walk Tours

I won’t go into too much detail in this section because I covered my views on the dangers of alcohol and the benefits of weed (both to the individual and the society as a whole) in a separate post. I will however cover how these views relate to Scottish independence. You see, as much as Scotland has its own parliament, it still has to go through Westminster for most decisions. The increased powers promised to Scotland by David Cameron and his merry men would have given Scotland more freedom. As this didn’t happen, neither has the freedom (not in a Braveheart sense of the word).

The SNP voted in favour of moving to decriminalise medicinal cannabis use back in 2016. In my eyes, this is a great step towards eventual legalisation. Yet the Home Office ruled against such action. The Home Office is another aspect of government that hinders progress in Scotland (whether you view such progress as positive or negative is up to you). This isn’t the first time that this has happened in recent years either with plans for safe drug consumption facilities being shut down. These plans would have helped contain the spreading of HIV in cities such as Glasgow which is a direct result of unsafe drug use.

Of course you get the lap dogs of Parliament jumping at the bit to criticise every move made by Scotland. Such as the Express which claims that marijuana use in Scotland is a real problem. Not the drinking, smoking or other drugs which actually kill people. They decide to focus on the minority consumption of dangerously strong weed strains. Can weed be harmful? Sure…yet notice how even the most harmful weed isn’t as dangerous as the legal drugs. But I’m getting off topic here.

Would Independence Really Be Any Better?

Scottish Independence

image via CityAM

It’s all well and good to say X would have happened or Y would have been different if Scottish independence had been given a yes vote but the truth of the matter is that I’m not a fortune teller. None of us are. You’ll find so many differing opinions in relation to the initial independence referendum, whether there should be another, Scotland’s place in the EU, Etc. I’m not here to claim that I know more than anyone else, I don’t. In fact when it comes to figures, I know very little. So let’s instead focus on the absolute truths:

  • The Vow made by David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband has not been met;
  • Threats made by the “Better Together” campaign have come true despite the majority of Scotland voting to remain in the UK, including (but not limited to) losing EU membership, a failing currency, damage to the economy, etc.
  • The inability of Scotland’s government to make major decisions impacts not only the economy in Scotland but also the health of those living there. Without such powers, Scotland’s growth will be limited to whatever Westminster allows.

So no, Scottish independence may have failed miserably and when the divide between of a country is 50/50, there are always going to be disappointed people. However, in my opinion I firmly believe that the people of Scotland made a horrible decision in 2014 by voting to remain part of the UK. The continued faith in a failing government is something I can’t wrap my head around and as such, I’m glad that I don’t have to play a role in the continued downfall of an upper-class controlled country that allows backwards thinkers to make all the decisions.


Thanks for reading! Did you find this Scottish independence post informative or do you think my opinion isn’t supported by evidence? Let me know down below! 

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Peace!

The Importance of Free Speech and the Death of Comedy

With the recent news that a man in the UK has been charged for teaching his dog to do a Roman salute (perhaps more commonly known as a Nazi salute) and reporters such as Lauren Southern being denied entry to the UK for criticizing Islam, I think now more than ever it is important to discuss why being able to say whatever the fuck you want is essential. Before we jump right in, it’s important to acknowledge one thing: I’m not encouraging anyone to be offensive. There is a HUGE difference between thinking someone should be able to say anything and actually pushing hatred, violence, racism, sexism, etc. None of the people I mention in this post have pushed any of these things. Just to clear that up at the start!

Why Does It Matter?

Free speech

image via Relaxed Focus

You may be wondering what difference it makes. Perhaps you’re even thinking that if somebody is offensive, they should be charged. Let me explain why that idea is moronic. For starters, where do we draw the line? Can anybody just come forward and claim to be offended? Can I get someone charged if they leave a mean comment on my blog? What if they name their dog Jesus and I’m a die-hard Christian, can I get them charged? What if I believe unicorns rule the world and someone criticizes my belief system? You may be thinking that these examples aren’t comparable to a dog doing a trick…so let’s discuss that.

What the fuck is offensive about a dog doing a Nazi salute. Do you want to know which comedians have done Nazi salutes in the past?  A fuck ton of them! When I take a look at some of my favourite comedians or comedy groups (such as Billy Connolly or Monty Python) I can think of several examples where a Nazi salute has been done for comedic effect. Now, if you’re training your dog to do that and then running into synagogues with your Nazi uniform and Hitler mustache -wearing dog, then I can see why that could create a problem. That’s a bit different from a dog being taught it to annoy the owner’s girlfriend. I mean sure, the video was on YouTube…but there are videos on YouTube far more offensive than that. There used to be a Jim Jeffries video on YouTube where he calls his microphone Muhammad and claims it’s a gay microphone. Yet I guarantee that he isn’t getting charged over it.

The Death of Comedy

Free speech

image via Chucks-Fun.Blogspot

You may think that comedy is simply a form of entertainment. When you need a laugh, that’s what you go for. But for decades now it’s comedians who have highlighted aspects of our society that are fucked up. Quite often we find comedians entertaining because they say some of the things we’ve been thinking. They can offer a social commentary unlike any other media outlet and also…they are funny (I mean that is their job). There are times when you laugh even though you know what you’re laughing at is offensive as hell…but so what? You’re not signing up to the KKK or joining a Hitler fan club, you’re watching a comedian in an environment where you’re simply trying to laugh. Is that such a crime? Being offensive isn’t on the same level as being evil or a criminal. Have we as a society forgotten that?

If we start censoring the jokes that comedians can tell then (and I hate when people say this because it always seems to over-dramatic but…) we’re one step away from 1984. If journalists can’t criticise religions then how long until the general public can’t? How long before we have to accept every aspect of every religion? It’s apparently not offensive to tell someone that they are going to burn in hell for all eternity for being a sinning piece of shit…but if you say that the Bible is immoral or that Muhammad consummating his marriage to a 9 year old is sick then suddenly your “crossing a line”. Is that really the path we want to go down? Banning journalists form your country in order to protect people’s feelings is fucking stupid!

Once the Greatest, Now the Most Criminal

Free speech

image via Imgur

One major aspect of this that worries me is that many of the greatest comedians of all time are offensive. Don’t believe me? The Rolling Stone website listed the ‘Top 50 Best Stand Up Comics of All Time’ and despite the fact that I’ve only watched about half the comedians, I know that 8 of the top 20 are offensive. I don’t mean that they may be offensive to some people. The 8 I am referring to are brutal! I mean take a look at the list for yourself and tell me that many, if not most of these comedians are offensive. Are we seriously suggesting that the road we want to go down is one that turns these people into criminals?

I know, I know, I’m perhaps sounding a bit on the crazy side.  The truth is that being offended is entirely subjective. What offends you might not offend me and so how are we supposed to live in a world where being offended trumps everything else? Soon we’ll all be scared to leave the house out of fear that our presence alone might offend someone. Courts will be convened to determine who is the MOST offended in order to press charges. We’ll have prisons set up entirely for offenders (pun!). We’re creating a society of fragile glass people who crack from opposing opinions.

Ricky Gervais: Humanity

Free speech

image via Google

I started writing this post before watching Humanity but now that I’ve seen it, I feel like I have to include a small section in here to highlight some aspects of it. Ricky Gervais is outrageous, he’s famous for it. His hosting of the Golden Globes made it spectacular but also sparked controversy. He made a joke regarding Caitlyn Jenner. He wasn’t being transphobic in the slightest (if anything he was being entirely respectful of her transition) but was instead using stereotypes surrounding women drivers. I won’t write the full joke but after highlighting how brave Caitlyn Jenner is and complimenting all of her successes over the years, Ricky Gervais goes on to say “she didn’t do much for women drivers”. In case you didn’t know, she hit someone with her car and they died.

I was completely unaware that Humanity had been slated for its offensive nature when I started watching it. My first question would be: why would someone who is easily offended watch a comedian who you know for a fact is going to be offensive? Anyway, a lot of the criticism was based around Gervais being transphobic, racist, sexist, etc. Did he perhaps take a few low blows? Sure…but he also manages to make an incredibly valid point within his stand-up: If you label people like him transphobic for making a joke about a trans person (NOT about the fact that they are trans or anything related to their previous gender), you take away meaning behind the word and as such, people who genuinely are disgustingly transphobic get grouped in with comedians. It’s sort of like calling some who smokes a joint every once in a while a drug addict.

What you have to take into account is that 1) We have no control over what we find funny. Why do we find people taking a shot to the nuts funny? It’s fucking agony and can cause serious damage. Yet when you see it happen, you laugh. 2) Comedians wouldn’t be comedians if they didn’t have an audience so don’t watch their shows, don’t watch their interviews, don’t tweet about them, write about them, see any films their in…if they lose an audience, they’ll stop. So if you don’t find a comedian funny, there is your solution! 3) You are allowed to be offended but you don’t have to ruin the enjoyment for others. There are plenty of comedians who have entire bits making fun of Scottish people and Scottish culture but I don’t start a petition to have them jailed because of it. Hell, some of them are hilarious!

Context is VITAL!

Free speech

image via WFL Atheism

One aspect of comedy that everyone seems to forget is the context. You don’t go to see a comedian because they are kick-starting a hate group or because you want to devote your life to their teachings. You go to see comedy to laugh and as such, anything you hear or see is designed to achieve that outcome.

Take, for example, the detaining and banning of Lauren Southern and her “accomplices” from the UK under the terrorism act. If you went by the reports of “the law”, she is banned entry for distributing racist material. Firstly, you’re not racist for commenting on a religion. I’m not racist for saying Jesus looked like a weed smoking hippy! Secondly, her flyers simply said “Allah is gay”. Now obviously, these are meant to be provocative, despite what anyone may say. They knew there would be a reaction from these fliers which was the entire point of the exercise.

However, you have to consider the context as well. Southern and her team were carrying out a “social experiment” in an effort to highlight that Islam and LGBT don’t go hand in hand, despite what many claim. By calling Allah gay and getting a reaction (you can find the video here) they believe they proved their point. For the record, I don’t have a dog in this fight. I think there are always going to be consequences when you’re intentionally provocative. That being said, banning a respectable journalist from the country for it is ridiculous and beyond unreasonable. This stunt may have been a bit “on the line” but Lauren Southern as a reporter does an excellent job of providing a non-mainstream news outlet. Something the UK is in DESPERATE need of (I’m looking at you BBC).

Feelings>Freedom

Free speech

image via Slap the Stupid

Once again let me just reiterate that I’m not condoning randomly shouting abuse at people. When I say that freedom of speech is essential, there can be consequences. To use the Lauren Southern example, I think it’s completely fair to put an end to their experiment for the sake of public safety. The police have the right to do that and given the situation, I think that it was understandable. Similarly with Count Dankula and his Nazi saluting dog, I think it’s more than fair to remove the video from YouTube, perhaps (and this is a stretch) give him a warning of some sort…but charging him with a hate crime which could potentially result in a prison sentence? No. If he was doing the same thing in Germany, that would be a completely different story…but in Scotland? Fuck off!

Why is it that religious freedom is now more accepted than any other freedom? I’ve been told that I’m going to hell on several occasions. I’ve seen signs from several different faiths claiming that homosexuals are sinners (and will burn in hell for all eternity) and that those who don’t believe in, follow and worship [insert some irrelevant deity here] will also…you guessed it…burn in hell. Calling someone gay is now classed as inciting hatred, being racist and an act of “right wing terrorism” for some fucked up reason. I have to say that if I was religious, I’d be a lot more offended by someone telling me my God was a lie and that I was going to be tortured for all eternity for it than someone calling him gay…

Sigh!

You’re probably wondering if there is any point to anything that I’ve written here. The truth is that this is the only way I can show some sort of support for the idea of free speech. I don’t think that offending someone is a criminal act. My logic is that by expressing my opinion and sharing it with the small number of followers I have, I might be able to at least show one side of the coin. Most of this is nonsensical ramblings but if even one person reads this and thinks “actually, he has a point” then I’ve achieved what I set out to.

In all honesty I am ashamed that my country would take these actions and all I can do is shake my head. Following the UK news is like watching a time-lapse of coastal erosion or melting icecaps. You know that you as one person can’t do anything to change it, so you simply watch in despair as houses collapse off cliffs or polar bears stand stranded on an iceberg. Thank fuck that I don’t live there anymore! The sinking ship has been abandoned!


Thanks for reading! Do you think I missed anyone out? Who are your favourite actors from your country? Let me know down below! 

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Peace!


I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.

-Voltaire

Switching the Legal Status of Marijuana and Alcohol: Beneficial?

Whenever there is a conversation about drugs, we tend to assume that the legal ones are the “good drugs” and the illegal ones are the “bad drugs”. If you were to say “I take drugs” to someone, they wouldn’t assume that you were referring to alcohol, tobacco, painkillers or coffee, would they? Today, I am going to address one idea in particular: why I think swapping the legal status of weed and alcohol would be beneficial. Just to be clear, I’m not rallying a protest here to make alcohol illegal. I’m completely for adults being able to enjoy whichever psychoactive substance tickles their gonads. I’m simply using alcohol (a legal drug) and weed (an illegal drug) as examples of why the good vs bad view of legality makes little sense.

Alcohol


Again, let me just reiterate a major point here: I am not calling for the outlaw of alcohol! Everything I say in relation to alcohol is entirely as a comparison point to the legality of weed. With that in mind, I’m going to jump right in to exploring why alcohol is a fucking horrendous drug. To quote the late Bill Hicks, “there are better drugs and better drugs for you!” We view alcohol as this socially acceptable form of ignoring our inhibitions. What are some things you can get away with drunk but not sober? Throwing up everywhere; blacking out (both in terms of memory and physically passing out); being incredibly loud at antisocial hours; fighting your friend; falling off walls; bailing on a social obligation; sex in usually unacceptable places (particularly unprotected sex which can result in illness, unwanted pregnancy and in extreme cases: death); oversharing acquaintances; befriending people in the toilets; making plans that will never be kept…

Would you agree with any of these? Would you agree with all of them? Alcohol intoxication allows you the excuse of “sorry, I was drunk” which is can often be used like a ‘Get out of jail free’ card. How often have you heard people comment on their complete lack of memory from a night out only to follow it up with “…guess I must have had a good night!” Am I the only one that thinks having no memory of a night out is the same as just not going? Of course these are the lighter implications of alcohol consumption.

Feeling Healthy?

As someone from Scotland, it pains me to read statistics about my country. Before continuing, we have to define a certain term: alcohol-related death. The term covers any death that is primarily due to alcohol. This could be a long-term condition that has led to death, a more acute condition worsened by alcohol to the point of death, and of course alcohol poisoning. Accidents (including road traffic accidents) are not included. Why is this important? Well, in Scotland in there were at least 1,265 alcohol-related deaths in 2016. This is an increase of 10% just from the previous year. This is double the yearly average of alcohol-related deaths in the 1960s (but also a decrease from those of 2000). Alcohol accounts for 1 in 15 deaths in Scotland. It also contributes to 6% of new cancer cases each year.

There is a newer definition known as ‘alcohol-specific deaths’ which covers the same basic definition as alcohol-related deaths but only includes deaths that are a direct consequence of alcohol. This only alters the numbers by about 10%. In the UK in 2016 there were at least 7,427 alcohol-specific deaths. Looking at drug-related deaths in Scotland (within the NHS Board area), we find something rather unfortunate. Despite the “war on drugs” alcohol accounts for 38% of these deaths. These figures include illegal and illegal drugs with heroin being the only one to beat alcohol (literally one of the most dangerous drugs in the world). My point is NOT that alcohol is as dangerous as any of these drugs. Obviously percentage wise alcohol is drastically safer and looking at number of deaths doesn’t reflect the danger of one drug in comparison to another…BUT, weed is not even on the list.

A Crime is still a Crime

Of course the impact that alcohol has on the individual isn’t the limit of alcohol’s reach. We have to view the bigger picture and in order to do that we need to see the effect it has on society. For example, we can explore how crime and alcohol are related. We’ll be sticking to Scotland for the time being. In 2014/15, in 54% of violent crimes, the offender was under the influence of alcohol. We can’t assume that the attack wouldn’t have taken place otherwise but we do have to acknowledge that it plays a role. I mean in the last 10 years, half of the people accused of murder where under the influence of alcohol/drugs at the time. Not to mention that a shocking two-thirds of all young offenders were under the influence of alcohol at the time of their offence.

We also have to consider the financial burden this is having on not only the NHS but Scotland in general. I mean alcohol-related crime costs at least £727 million PER YEAR! It costs the Scottish health service about £267 million PER YEAR! When including all the wider costs, productive capacity, crime, social care and health of alcohol it costs £3.6 billion PER YEAR!

Greater Societal Impact

I had planned on finishing my alcohol portion of this rant there but then completely by chance I stumbled across even more areas. I hadn’t even considered these but fuck! A recent study into the effect that alcohol marketing has on children revealed some pretty disturbing shit! Children as young as 10 are not only familiar with, but can identify alcohol brands, logos and even the characters involved in advertising campaigns. Weirdly, they could often identify these easier than the adverts aimed specifically at children.

Would it be crazy to think that alcohol companies were just luring in new customers from a young age? The study found that children are aware of an association between alcohol and sports. For example, 45% of children correctly recognised the alcohol brand associated with the Everton Football Club. Children who had social media had higher recognition and could more easily identify alcohol brands.

Scourge on Society

We always hear the argument that alcohol is an acceptable form of societal bonding. A drug that “when used in moderation” can offer stress relief, ease the nerves and make otherwise tedious evenings a bit more exciting. Yet when we look at the facts, alcohol quite clearly has a hugely negative impact on health and crime. Sure, the alcohol industry may rake in X amount of money…but is that worth the cost of even one human life? If the youth of a country are being fed advertising, being put in prison and committing acts of violence, destruction or slowly killing themselves…does that sound like a drug that should be legal to you?

A Bag of Weed


I’m not here to blindly shout that weed is some sort of magical, harm-free drug. Any drug can be harmful. Any drug can have negative side effects on one person but not the other. What I am going to do here though is highlight why weed legalisation wouldn’t lead to the collapse of civilisation. We’ve already touched on the idea that weed isn’t killing anyone. I’m not bending facts, I’m not making light of low numbers. Nobody has ever, ever died directly from weed…EVER!

You’ve probably heard of the rather mythical “first ever marijuana overdose death” that often crops up. One such example took place in Colorado. This was after the recent legalisation of marijuana for recreational use in the state. Of course a death would not be a great start to weed legalisation. This report turned out to be nothing more than media sensationalism. This is always the case with supposed marijuana deaths. At first sight the media is quick to jump on the supposed cause. Every single time there is always a previously undetected, underlying cause. That’s not to say that weed can’t contribute to mental illness or play a role in triggering genetically predisposed illnesses. More on that in a moment.

The Harm in Weed

So when does weed pose harm to individuals and society? What about those suffering from anxiety or depression? Any psychoactive substance, including marijuana, can impact mental health conditions negatively. It is worth mentioning that marijuana does have an effect on mental health if used before the brain is fully developed. In saying that, studies have found that drug-use in adolescents is usually a symptom of a disorder or personality type rather than a cause.

We always hear about how marijuana is dangerous because it can trigger psychosis, schizophrenia, anxiety, depression and other illnesses in those with a genetic predispositions. A study reviewing this data came to the conclusion that there are a whole range of factors to consider. This makes marijuana a contributor rather than a cause. They did mention that the largest risk is to those under the age of 18 who use marijuana. However, a separate study found that the amount of weed consumed did influence the risk of psychosis. This, however, was only true in individuals with the AKT1 gene.

In terms of anxiety and mood disorders, studies found no significant results. In fact, the only significant associations were drug-use disorders (specifically weed, alcohol, nicotine but also others). These can quite obviously be attributed to the individual and not to marijuana. In comparison, there are links between alcohol and depression. There are links between coffee and anxiety (including anxiety attacks). What about links between marijuana and self-harm or suicide? Sadly for those against weed legalisation, these don’t compare to the alcohol-related figures. Not to mention that with many people weed can reduce these issues.

Different Weed

What many people forget is that varying strains have varying effects and as such, one strain won’t affect you in the same way as another. Certain strains can help to manage certain mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Not to mention reduce pain, stress, and insomnia effects, etc. Much in the same way that I hate the blanket term “drugs” I also hate that many assume weed to all be the same. Firstly you have indicas, sativas and hybrids. That alone greatly divides weed into different categories. Then you have the different strains of each type. These all have varying effects, different THC and cannabinoid ratios. Not to mention that how they are grown plays in impact on health as well.

Strangely enough, the most harm ever caused by weed relates to synthetic weed. Synthetic weed can often be legal (as a legal high which are often more dangerous that their illegal counterparts). So if synthetic weed is the real danger then legalisation is literally the safest route to reduce the damage. This would allow for the regulation of weed. By supplying safer strains of marijuana that is grown under strict conditions, you can make it drastically safer. Not to mention the taxation and the benefits that can be reaped.

Weed is a Friend Indeed


At this point I think we need to highlight a couple of things. Firstly, weed has never killed anyone. Secondly, while weed can pose a risk, it’s only to a tiny fraction of people who are genetically predisposed to certain mental illnesses. Thirdly, weed consumption appears to be a symptom of many illnesses or mood disorders rather than a cause. Lastly, the biggest danger posed by weed is that of synthetic weed. With all that in mind, we can move onto the final reason why weed legalisation is THE way to go. We’re going to use Colorado as our shining example so let’s take a look at how legalisation has impacted the state so far.

  • Teen marijuana use is unchanged! This is a major argument put forward by anti-legalisation campaigners. During the parliamentary discussion on the topic a few years back, this was pretty much their only reasonable argument. So now that there is evidence to show that this is not the case, I wonder what arguments they could make.
  • Traffic fatalities are still the same. This is one of the other issues that anti-legalisation campaigners often mention. Since we can’t test for recent weed consumption in the same way as alcohol, there is the concern that we can’t detect individuals driving under the influence, leading to more accidents. Evidently, this is not the case.
  • In 2016, legal marijuana sales earned the state nearly $200 million in tax revenue after the $1.3 billion in legal marijuana sales. Market research suggests that this will reach $20.2 billion by 2021. This is put back into schools, hospitals, fixing roads…

And yet…

We haven’t even touched on the benefits that medicinal cannabis can offer people. I’m not going to either because my argument in this post is regarding recreational use. But bear in mind that such benefits do exist and would have far reaching benefits through legalisation. Even when we take all of this into consideration, it seems pretty ridiculous to ignore one very obvious truth: if marijuana is even slightly less harmful than alcohol, it seems ridiculous that one is legal, heavily advertised and available everywhere. Yet the other is still a class B drug in Scotland which could land you up to 5 years in prison. There is literally no argument at all, not one, as to why alcohol should remain legal but marijuana illegal. Not to mention that alcohol is 114x more dangerous than smoking weed.

Yet there is a point of view that we always seem to ignore. Why should anyone have a say over what I put into my body? I can drink myself to death. Eat McDonald’s food until the NHS has to fund every procedure under the sun. People can choose to pierce their skin with jewellery to destructive levels or cover their bodies in tattoos. If you want to jump out of a plane, go climbing up mountains or beat someone to near-death in a ring, you can. You can even charge people to watch it and make money from the event. I beg you; please tell me why smoking weed is any worse than these things!  I mean how fucking dare I suggest that I should be able to smoke a drug, laugh my ass off and enjoy myself in the comfort of my own home, right?

Final Remarks

So should alcohol and marijuana have their legal statuses switched? Realistically: no. Scotland’s alcoholic society would crumble without the crutch that is alcohol. However, if there is even a chance that legalisation would reduce alcohol consumption in my country then I see absolutely no reason why that isn’t a benefit. Alcohol is a destructive force, it’s a scourge on society and it kills so many people each year. Weed may have some risks but no more than nuts or driving to work. Can we truly accept that just because those in parliament don’t want to smoke weed that the rest of us shouldn’t be able to?

I actually wrote about this topic before and I’ve even explained why the petition system in the UK is a massive pile of shit that serves no purpose and doesn’t change anything that parliament wouldn’t have changed anyway. It’s a pacifying measure to make people feel like clicking a button can change the world. I wrote to my MP at the time, David Mundell. I explained I had strong opinions on the matter and my e-mail went through several drafts, was concise and in my opinion argued a strong case. What did I get in response? A generic e-mail talking about issues I hadn’t even mentioned. My own MP (who didn’t even attend the parliamentary discussion by the way) couldn’t even take the time to read my e-mail. It’s literally his job. Anyway, if you want to read something a little lighter, check this out!

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So guys, we have reached the end of this rant and hopefully you’ve learnt something along the way. As always, I’m interested in hearing your opinions and feedback. If you think that alcohol deserves its legal status over weed, please share your reasons why. Also, stay tuned for the opportunity to win a $20 Amazon gift card in the next few weeks. Be sure to follow me here and on Twitter to stay in the loop. Peace!

Why I’m not a Feminist (and why that isn’t the same as being anti-feminism)

So today’s post is going to be a bit…controversial, maybe? It will be sort of like walking through a minefield but I feel that I need to express my point of view on this and so while I may end of putting my foot in my mouth, I’m going to just be as completely honest with this subject as I can. This post isn’t an anti-feminism post. I’m not going to be trying to attack feminism  but rather explain from my point of view why I’m not a feminist (or at least don’t class myself as a feminist) and why that is not the same as being anti-feminist. If you disagree with something I said or take issue with any of the statistics I mention then I urge you to leave a comment. I welcome all rational conversations on the subject and if my point of view is misguided, I welcome being shown that.

This is going to be pretty long. If you want a snapshot view of my opinion, I’ll add a summary at the end but if you’re going to critique my opinion, I’d suggest reading all of the post as I’ll explain myself better (I hope) within the main body of text.

 

A Brief History

I just want to set the tone a little bit here by covering a brief run through of the feminist movement as a whole. The movement itself didn’t really kick off until the first women’s conference in America in 1848. Women had played an active role in other movements such as to abolish slavery but never one focussing on solely women’s rights. That’s not to say that prominent female and male figures hadn’t spoken out in a manner expected of a feminist. I mean you can look throughout ancient history and see examples of feminism but if we look at more recent history, we can look to 1792.

Here you had Mary Wollstonecraft who as a philosopher spoke out against systematic disadvantages that women faced. This included their education and upbringing being directed towards appeasing men. While this perhaps would have been a reasonably fair example of the patriarchy, Wollstonecraft held both sexes responsible and believed that only by educating both sides could you solve the problem. She was reluctant to cause a ‘him vs her’ scenario.

In the 1780’s you had male support for female suffrage. Mathematician’s such as Nicolas de Condorcet who was an active defender of human rights. You also had Jeremy Bentham who spoke out for complete equality between the sexes. In his published work of 1781 he called out the act of societies lowering the standard of women.

 

19th Century

Through the 19th century a wide range of changes took place in favour of equality. During this time there became gender role divide of men earning the money and women looking after the house and children. This was just a more modern version of gender roles that have existed throughout human history. Fun fact (ok, not so fun): evidence suggests that gender inequality didn’t come into play until we became agricultural. While gender roles existed before then, men and women are believed to have had an equal say within each group.

Anyway, back to the 19th century. In Scotland (wooo!) in 1843, Marion Reid published ‘A Plea for Women’ which was essentially a transatlantic call for all women to join together to improve their standard of living.  One of the main features within this was a call for a better, fairer education. This proved to be the focus of 19th century feminism. Campaigns led to women being able to receive higher education and even opened up a women’s higher educational institution. There were other movements which focussed on aspects of society showing extreme imbalance and equality. Property acts, more rights for prostitutes, better conditions for female factory workers, these are just some of the goals achieved by 19th century feminism.

 

The Waves

This is where the division of feminism arguably begins. This is also where my point of view comes into play. We often hear that feminism is about equality and it is, sure, but that doesn’t mean that in fighting for equality there aren’t different points of view, different priorities and different methods. If you can look within a movement and see three distinct groups, each with its own sub-groups then I think that’s just cause to not use a blanket term like feminism. The waves of feminism are often dated (e.g. first wave feminism 1800s-early 1900s) but I don’t think it is that simple. I believe that the waves represent agendas rather than dates.

The first wave, for example, is of course the origins of the feminist movement and can be seen as focussing on tackling inequality of education, in the workplace and sexual rights/safety. The right to vote was actually seen as less of a priority until near the end of the first waves apparent dating. Most people know how voting rights came to pass in their country so I won’t get into that. Suffice to say that this was where the movement divided somewhat.

Second wave feminism (1960s-1980s) followed on from where the first wave ended. Women continued to fight for equality but there was a distinction. Now, I wasn’t born then and so can only go based on the reading I’ve done, but my understanding is that the divide was between one side focussing on what men and women had in common in an attempt to bridge the gap between the sexes. The other side focussed on the differences. This side aimed for more radical changes to be made rather than simply equality. Second wave feminism had a cultural focus and while they accomplished much, we soon get onto third wave feminism.

This is where things get a bit…complicated, let’s say. Third wave feminism (1990s-2008…apparently) took more of a focus on individualism and diversity. While there was still a strive for equality, this wave can be seen as focussing more on personal issues.

Anyway, history lesson over. There are another two waves of feminism but these shouldn’t be hugely relevant to anything I’m going to discuss within this post. Many people disagree with these waves even existing.

 

Not a Feminist vs Anti-Feminist

Before I share my own view of things, let me just start off by addressing a major issue I’ve come across. There is this sort of “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” mentality that exists within today’s world. If you’re not a feminist then you must be against feminism and therefore equality which is then only a short step away from you being a misogynist. I think this is mostly due to the idea of social justice as this is where we see this frame of mind most often. If you’re not supporting LGBT then you must be homophobic or transphobic, if you’re not in support of Black Lives Matter then you must be a racist, if you support Trump then you’re probably all of these things (I’m not a Trump supporter at all but this is just a trend I’ve seen).

Here is my issue with this line of thinking: all of these are movements. They aren’t basic ideologies. If you asked me if I believe in gender equality, racial equality, equal marriage rights, ETC I would say yes. I’d say it over and over again and be shocked that you have to even ask someone that question. Do I support treating all human beings equally the way that any mentally sane, empathetic human being would and should? OF COURSE! The thing that you have to understand is that these movements don’t equate to that basic strive for equality. Each has their own agenda which covers a wide range of issues and I don’t think it’s fair to assume that all these issues relate to a realistic view of equality.

Here’s an example that should make my point a little clearer. By all definitions, I’m an atheist (I mean I prefer to view myself as an antitheist but the point still stands). Atheism has a very simple and straightforward definition that I’m sure we all know. Yet, as soon as someone finds out you’re an atheist you get lumped with all these assumptions depending on the person you’re announcing it to. Suddenly, you love Richard Dawkins, you hate religious people, you MUST subscribe to the Big Bang theory and Evolution, you probably have no moral compass. None of these things have anything to do with atheism. Yet you can see why classing yourself as an atheist also groups you in with other atheists as if you’re part of some hive mind.

There may be many different names for this generation or perhaps even these few decades but we/it should be called the label generation or the label decades because more than anything else, we are desperate to have everyone grouped under labels. We keep creating these new terms that further divide us and remove our individuality. I feel like I’m in a giant game of Guess Who where someone’s just going through questions like “Is he an atheist?” “Is he feminist?” before slapping down faces that don’t match the description. We seem to be on this bizarre path whereby we strive for individuality by labelling ourselves with more and more terms that just form these blobs of similar minded people that serve no real function within our society.

 

Why am I not a Feminist?

Why is anyone not a feminist? If feminism was truly about equality and that was all feminism was supposed to be about (similarly to how atheism should just relate to a lack of belief in God) then why are the number of people who class themselves as feminist so low? In the UK, a survey by a feminist charity found that 9% of the 8000 people asked considered themselves feminist, with 4% of males following suit. It’s interesting to note that after further questioning, 86% of the men asked wanted equality for the women in their lives while only 74% of women wanted equality for themselves. The numbers for the US are very similar. There is a CLEAR divide between what we as a society view as equal and what we view feminism as standing for. Why is this?

 

In my opinion there are two reasons for this: The first is the radical 3rd wave feminists, the ones often labelled “Feminazis”. Many argue that they make up a small minority of feminists and they shouldn’t be seen as “real feminists” (true Scotsman fallacy) at all but they happen to be the loudest and draw the most attention. The other reason is that feminism as a whole just doesn’t seem to be about equality any more. I’m against discrimination of any kind but many of the feminist issues I hear about aren’t related to equality. They may relate to women’s rights in some way but they aren’t about equality and certainly not equality for both sexes.

As a male who has grown up in a world with female leaders (whether it be my household, my school, university elements (such as department heads or society leaders), work, governments, literally any part of my life there have always been women at the top. There have been men as well, of course, but I’ve never noticed a huge disparity between the sexes. I think men of my age in particular just don’t see this world that feminism claims exists. It’s hard to take the idea of the patriarchy seriously when you’ve never seen any examples of it your whole life. I think this explains another statistic from the previously mentioned survey. The younger women (18-24) were most likely to describe themselves as feminist BUT also had the highest number of women actually opposed to feminism.

Again, I find myself returning to this idea that feminism is not one idea. Being for equality does not make you a feminist and being a feminist does not mean you are automatically for equality. This may very well have been the basis for feminism but it’s just not what the movement as a whole is about anymore. Let me give you an example of this exact same thing. Granted, it’s a very poorly chosen example and I didn’t use this to provoke but it’s the only good example I could think of: When you see a swastika, what do you think of? Do you think of good fortune and well-being? Probably not. Yet that is exactly what most cultures around the world viewed it as meaning prior to Hitler. Now that I think about it, this is actually quite a fitting example if we assume that Feminazis are in fact that cause for the “misguided view” of what feminism stands for. It may have had a pure meaning to start with but you’re letting nutjobs bury that meaning in the dirt while they replace it with their own, twisted meaning.

 

Equality for both sexes or just for women?

The term equality isn’t as simple as one might think which is another reason I believe feminism can’t just use it as a foundation of their movement. Depending on who you ask, you’ll get a different answer for what feminism stands for. Is it equality for women? Is it equality for both sexes? I’m sure some would say that feminism is about female superiority? (I’m not saying that by the way, just to clarify). But equality in what sense? Do you mean equal rights? Do you mean equal opportunity or equal outcome? Do we ignore the biological and psychological differences that exist between the sexes when striving for equality and if not, how do we factor it in? Should we treat men and women as equal in sports and not account for sex at all?

You might think these questions seem ridiculous but try answering them. Do you seriously believe that everyone within feminism will answer them the same? If you said yes, that’s ridiculous and if you said no then how can anyone be expected to be part of feminism when there is no clear direction within the movement.

We also have to decide whether we want equal opportunities or equal outcomes. Personally, I think the latter is a ridiculous idea that doesn’t actually benefit anyone. If we started insisting that companies, awards shows, whatever else start meeting quotas of women or black people or anything like that, we end up with this ridiculous idea that everyone is capable of doing the same job. The truth is that they aren’t. All people are different and that difference shouldn’t lead to discrimination but we also can’t just pretend that is doesn’t exist. Here’s an example: The SAS, an elite UK force has recently announced that it is considering lowering its entrance requirements for women. They would be given handicaps essentially such as being required to carry less weight. Who the fuck does this benefit? By all means allow women in but lowering the standard is not only patronising but completely foolish. I mean do skinnier guys carry less weight? What a ridiculous concept!

The same applies to award shows. There is usually outrage at not enough women winning awards but what is the solution to that? Either we do more categories which is just dividing things further or there becomes a quota and a certain number of awards have to go to women. Would you seriously want to go and accept an award that you know you only got because they HAD to give one to a woman? I sure as shit wouldn’t! But feminism is supposed to be about equality and as such, should cover men’s inequality as well…right?

 

The Red Pill

If you know this term already, relax. I’m not going in the direction you think. For those of you who don’t know the term, let me explain. In 2016 Cassie Jaye, a film maker and also a feminist, released a documentary about the Men’s Rights Movement. The film was pretty much shut down by “feminist” protesters in Australia with chat show host’s explaining why it shouldn’t be shown…despite not having seen it for themselves. This documentary essentially explores the fight for men’s rights and how A) men do not hold all the power in society and B) How awful and actually heart-breaking it is watching these men who have clearly gone through some rough shit in their lives being verbally abused by “feminist” groups. They get labelled white supremacists, sexists, homophobes, ETC all based on quotes taken completely out of context.

I’ll admit that the documentary itself did go a bit astray towards the end. What started out as an interesting documentary about men’s rights turned into anti-feminist propaganda. As I said at the start of this: I’m not anti-feminist. I certainly don’t appreciate men’s rights being used as a sob story for why feminism is evil (their words, not mine). However, the documentary did highlight some very important differences between the sexes that I’ve never ever heard of a feminist movement supporting or trying to change.

Some examples of this are as follows: If you look at any recent warfare, men make up 98-99% of all casualties. More men are arrested, prosecuted and executed. Men are sentenced to 63% more prison time than women for the same crime (interestingly, if BLM claims that the black population in prisons is evidence of systematic racism, what does the sex difference of prison populations mean?). Men make up most of the homeless population, more men die of cancer, men are dropping out of schools, colleges and universities at an alarming rate and certainly a higher rate than women. Men are more likely to have an addiction problem (drugs, alcohol, videogames, porn) especially related to prescription medications given to young boys/men to control behaviours that should be seen as normal masculine behaviours. Feminism claims that men hold all the power then why are men suffering this much? Why is it that when men try to hold meetings to discuss their own rights, they are shut down by “feminist” groups, most of whom are women?

It seems to me that men as a sex are not the issue. Much like my view on other “privileges” I believe that class privilege is the one most often ignored. There may very well be an elite group running things that’s made up mostly of men…but perpetuating this idea that men are the ones with all the advantages, the ones controlling the system, the ones reaping all the rewards is nonsensical.

One interesting point that I had never really considered before (beyond a Bill Burr joke I heard once about the sinking of the Titanic) that the documentary makes is that men have always been disposable. All successful societies have been quite happy for the men to die in order for the women to live. Men are the ones sent to war, to defend cities when no hope remains. When a boat is sinking or a plane lands on water and they have to be evacuated, who goes first and who goes last? Well, when the US Airways flight 1549 crash landed onto the Hudson river, the idea of “women and children first” was held up as the evacuation orders.

Again, I don’t think the Red Pill really focussed entirely on the issue at hand which is a shame because by turning into anti-feminist propaganda it’s just made matters worse and also lost the opportunity to be a realistic look at the issues. But the backlash it automatically got was ridiculous and did in essence support everything said within the documentary. In researching the backlash after watching the film, I stumbled across one particularly toxic article (which I’ve since angrily tweeted to the author to share my views, despite how many years ago it was written). The title of this article (because I don’t want to link it here) was “Why Australian Men’s Right Activists had their Bullshit Documentary Banned” written by one Katherine Gillespie. Her main criticism of the documentary is that it was funded mostly by men’s rights activists. “People want their side of the story told” claims VICE writer in horror!

 

Equality for Men?

Not only have I never witnessed any aspect of this feminist movement support equality for men, my impressions as a young male of the Western world is that men are often demonized. I find it incredibly alarming but also somewhat amusing that the same people who are quick to say “just because some Muslims are terrorists doesn’t mean all Muslims are” tend to be the same people holding up signs saying “Stop men from raping” or “end male violence against women”. Can you imagine the outrage if someone walked around with a sign saying “Stop Muslim’s bombing” (Again, just to clarify, I’m just using Muslims as an example here. I’m not saying all Muslims are terrorists).

I think this also ignores a lot of the facts and figures. YES! We need to 100% try to end rape and end violence against women. But it isn’t only women that get raped and it isn’t only women who are victims of violence. In most Western societies the law doesn’t even allow for a woman to rape a man. It’s just not possible. Unless you have a penis, you can’t rape someone. Even when it comes to domestic violence, the figures are like 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men. That works out at 47% of domestic violence victims being male! This number is not even remotely represented by the number of refuge spaces available to men in the Western world.

Erin Pizzey, the woman responsible for opening the first domestic violence shelter in the UK and arguably a major contributor to the feminist movement, doesn’t consider herself a feminist. She famously stated that in her own estimates about 60% of women who came to her shelters were violent. There is even a video of a group of women at one of these shelters admitting to how violent they are. As such she doesn’t view domestic violence as a gender issue because in her opinion, you get it on both sides. She received major backlash and lost control of her own refuges after stating that women can be just as violent as men.

I’m not saying any of this to go against the feminist movement. Domestic violence is a serious issue and one that definitely needs to be tackled…but ignoring that the issue impacts men almost as much as women is not the answer.

 

What is the Goal of Feminism?

We’re nearly at the end, don’t worry. Finally, in my reasoning for why I’m not a feminist I have to cover the issues that are (as far as I can tell) the biggest issues feminists raise in the Western world. The reason I’m bringing these up is because I don’t think they are based on the evidence. Any aspects of our society that genuinely discriminate against women, I’m completely for exploring and I will support that goal as much as I can. These just aren’t examples of that:

 

The Wage Gap

If you’d rather watch a 15 second video than read my take on this then click here! The wage gap, as far as I am concerned has been debunked. Yet it is a cornerstone of today’s feminist movement. I’m not going to go into the basic economics of it but you can’t just take an average of what men and women earn and then start the claim that women are disadvantaged. I used to believe that the wage gap was a genuine thing and I could never understand why it existed…that’s because it doesn’t. Look at it this way: If the wage gap did exist and women are just as hard working as men, then why would companies employ men at all? Wouldn’t women be the obvious choice since companies could just pay them less?

I will say this: the entertainment industry is an exception but I don’t think it’s as simple as comparing one person to another. When you get somebody to host the Emmys (for example) you can’t claim that they should be paid the same because it’s the same job. It isn’t that simple. I mean why do female prostitutes get paid more than male prostitutes? I’m going to link you to another video where UFC’s Ronda Rousey explains in the simplest way why looking at pay differences in the entertainment industry isn’t about doing the same job. Here you go!

I mean how do you compare actors or sport people or hosts? Would you pay an unknown male actor the same as Helen Mirren? Would you pay Katie Leung (who played Cho Chang in Harry Potter) the same amount as Matt Damon to host the Golden Globes? I don’t think it’s fair to look at a sum of money two people earn and look at it as simply them doing the same job. In the entertainment industry it isn’t that simple.

 

The Pink Tax

This is another one that when it was first brought to my attention, I thought to myself “what the fuck! How can we live in a world that’s so blatantly unequal?” For those of you who don’t know what the pink tax is, it’s the idea that women pay more money than men for the same product. So a male razor might be £2.50 whereas a pink one for women might be £2.99. I haven’t bought a razor in like 4 years so my pricing might be a little off. Anyway, this sounds ridiculous and for the most part, it is.

Like most ideas, there is some truth to it. Women hygiene products such as tampons are taxable due to not being seen as essential. I would completely agree that this is unacceptable and needs to change. However, when you dig a little deeper into other areas you find that it doesn’t all add up. I mean if the only difference is that one is pink, then why don’t women just buy men’s razors? If I was shaving and could save money by buying a pink razor, I wouldn’t have any problem with it.

You just have to ask yourself a simple question: if the only difference (as in truly the only difference) is that one item is packaged for males and the other for females, why would women use female products at all? Why would anyone choose to spend more money just to conform to gender stereotypes? Especially if they were eager to stick a middle finger to “the man” or the patriarchy. I’ve bought women’s deodorant before because I find it often smells nicer, feels nicer and often works better. The simple truth is that these products aren’t all the same and often there is a very reasonable and rational explanation as to why one is more expensive than others.

Take the razor examples again. Men tend to shave their face and in most cases, that is it. Women shave a larger area such as legs, arms, armpits. Men’s razor’s aren’t pleasant to use. Most of the time you end up feeling like you’ve rubbed the hair off your face with sandpaper. Women’s razors tend to be a lot smoother, many come with added features that moisturise the skin or leave a lovely smell. A woman’s razor will leave your skin feeling DRASTICALLY nicer than if you were to use a man’s razor. If you look at ingredients of soap or deodorant you find that male deodorant and soap has drastically fewer ingredients.

There’s also the issue with pink toys being more expensive. Often the reason for this is because there is a more generic colour brought out as the main product, maybe a red scooter. Later on as part of a limited edition the company brings out a pink scooter and its more expensive…that isn’t an example of women being unfairly charged more money. Any limited edition item tends to be more money. I can’t pay an extra £20 for a limited edition Assassin’s Creed game and then complain that I had to pay more because I’m a real Assassin’s Creed fan (not a real example…I never pay for the extra bullshit content. Fuck you Ubisoft you money-hungry scum).

 

1 in 4 Women…

You may have heard the statistic that 1 in 4 women have been sexually assaulted. The Obama administration essentially made this statistic viral (I don’t think that’s the right term but we’ll run with it) to the point that it’s quoted ALL THE TIME! You may be shocked to hear then that while not being entirely fictional, it isn’t entirely accurate either.

The 1 in 4 statistic is based on a college campus survey. People were asked to take part in a survey about sexual assault (or something similar) and out of all the people asked, only 19% did. Immediately we have a non-response bias (the idea that people affected by the issue in question are more likely to come forward than those who haven’t been) which was analysed and found to be significant enough to make the results less realistic. This is something that the authors highlighted themselves when the numbers started being used out of context. If that was all that was wrong with the study, it would be enough. It’s not though.

The questions used within this survey were incredibly vague and didn’t address the issue. For example, the terms rape and sexual assault were never actually used within the questionnaire. Instead, those taking part were given very loose definitions to go by that don’t account for typical college life. For that reason, it has been admitted that this will have led to many people who don’t class themselves as being sexual assault victims, appearing to have been within this study.

Sexual assault is unacceptable and I think we need to do everything we can to put an end to it (like most of the issues I’ve mentioned today) but using statistics such as this doesn’t help the feminist cause because then people soon catch on to the phoney numbers and feel like they’ve been tricked or manipulated. I’m not saying that anyone is intentionally using inaccurate statistics by the way. I don’t think people are actively lying about these issues to try and aid feminism.

 

The Patriarchy

I’m not going to be arguing whether the patriarchy exists or not because I think this answer is neither yes nor no. I think it is a half-truth. I think there are men who are in power and control many aspects of our society and do lead to there being gaps between gender, race, etc. As I mentioned before, I don’t think this is a sex issue as much as a class issue. Men aren’t benefiting from it, clearly, so when I see the term patriarchy which means “a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it” I can’t help but feel even more disconnected from the feminist movement. As I mentioned before, the majority of power figures in my life have been female. The individual in charge of my country’s government right now is female. In the US and the UK, women make up the majority so if they thought that a female candidate was the best choice, they would just have to vote for them.

When I look back a few decades or a few centuries, I can see where the idea of a patriarchy stems from. Men did hold all the power. I challenge you as a reader of this to tell me where men hold all the power today in the Western world? If it isn’t benefiting physical or mental healthcare, reducing deaths, custody of children goes to women around 80% of the time, we’re more homeless, commit suicide more often, and spend most of the time in jail with men being the vast majority of inmates, where is the advantage? In most Western countries it will be the men who go and die in the most horrific ways imaginable if another war breaks out.

I also find it strange that the control element that feminists fight against is always against men but what about religion? Most religions have almost entirely male figures at the spotlight, God is usually perceived as being male (for some reason) and most holy books put women as being submissive to men, usually with zero rights. Now I don’t believe any of that stuff and certainly don’t take my morality from it but in a mostly religious world, is it a surprise that over the course of thousands of years a patriarchal system would form when your religion is promoting it and burning people at the steak for not adhering to its teachings? How can you be religious (to the extent of believing the teachings of the Bible or the Qur’an) and yet be shocked that over the last few thousand years men have been in the driver’s seat? The Bible itself has Moses telling his generals to literally take virgin girls for themselves! Maybe take the issue of patriarchy up with your God before you start blaming 20 year old, middle class men for any systemic sexism that exists!

 

The Real Problem

I think the real problem we face within our societies today is that a gender war does exist to some extent. Not everyone is involved and that’s the issue but also the solution. You have radical “feminists” who are clearly not feminist in the most simple sense of the word and on the other side you have male activists who seem to be anti-feminism while taking the exact same approach of claiming to be about equality. I mean just look at MGTOW to see the male reaction to “feminazis”. The issue is that because both sides are fighting over their own issues, the feminists who are actually solely focussed on male and female equality aren’t getting their voice heard. This is then alienating anyone who would potentially be a feminist because they don’t feel like it supports their point of view. If I saw feminists organising protests for even just the occasional men’s rights issue then I could support it. Instead, we get advertising campaigns about manspreading, we get people joking about mansplaining, we get the pay gap and the pink tax…

 

Summary

Well, I got it all out in the end. I expected this post to be maybe a thousand words or so but after every single point I just kept realising that there was another aspect I needed to discuss. If you skipped down to here instead of reading  the whole thing, I don’t blame you. I mean fuck…talk about getting carried away.

Anyway, why am I not a feminist? I’m not one for following or supporting a movement without just cause. If I don’t fully believe in it, I’m not going to stand behind it because when people start doing that, bad shit tends to follow. I support the main goal of feminism: equality, but I don’t support the movement as a whole for a number of reasons. If the sole goal of feminism was equality, I’d be happy to say I’m a feminist…but it’s not that simple. Feminism has an agenda that goes beyond basic equality. The root of feminism may be equality but from one feminist to the next there is going to be a diverse view on certain issues. There is a feminist stance on certain issues and as I don’t agree with these, how could I possibly say I support it as a movement? I also don’t feel that feminism ever supports men’s issues. Most women who are active supporters of men’s rights movements don’t consider themselves feminists. But it goes a step further than that. The feminist movement seems eager to not only ignore men’s issues but actually direct all the blame towards men as a whole. Campaigns against domestic violence are usually calls for protection for women from men despite the fact that men are victims of domestic abuse almost as often as women.

My question to you is this: If feminism is about equality of both sexes, why is it that men don’t feel that way about it? If men can’t possibly know what it’s like to be a woman, to walk in their shoes, then how can women decide that males should be feminist? Why is being feminist seen as the same as supporting basic human rights? Why is it not the same to say you’re for equality?

Finally, can’t we all just get along? Let’s accept that there are difference between the sexes. There are inequalities between them both as well but if we focus on one or the other we’re never going to resolve anything! Let’s get everyone to sit the fuck down, have a rational conversation about everything and come to some fucking agreements!

I guess one of the things it comes down to is that I actually find it slightly insulting to be told that this is a “man’s world”. As someone with mental health issues who has grown up in a society where having feelings is enough to have you labelled a pussy, mental health problems aren’t seen as much better. A world where you are physically assaulted and psychologically tortured for not being big enough or tall enough or strong enough or manly enough but not just by males, but by females as well. If men rule the world then why was my generation raised to pay for dates, to just accept being assaulted by a woman because under no circumstances can you hit back, to pay for expensive rings and other nonsensical wedding traditions that benefit the woman (both during the wedding and in the case of a divorce) drastically more than the man. Where in my home country a percentage of my tax money every year goes to keeping a 150 year old woman more than comfortably wealthy just because we need the monarchy as a living tourist attraction…

In the end, I just wish we didn’t need these labels to define the support of basic human rights. Rather, we should focus on the words for those who don’t support them. Oh, you don’t think women should be paid the same, you must be a cunt then. Ah, you’re against gays getting married, well you’re also a cunt. As far as I’m concerned those are the only sorts of labels we need.

 

Anyway, I’m done, rant over. Got a fucking book here! If you have any comments or opinions to share, I’d genuinely be interested in talking about this with you so leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you. Alternatively, follow me on Twitter!

The Conspiracy Conspiracy

 

What is a conspiracy? Well to use the first definition that Google displays it’s: “a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful” or “the action of plotting or conspiring”. However, we are all familiar with how the word is used today. If you get the label of a conspiracy theorist, then it means you wear a tinfoil hat because you’re worried that the aliens who shot JFK and planned 9/11 are using their base at Area 51 to read your mind. Keep in mind that the term “conspiracy theory” doesn’t directly refer to someone believing some crackpot theory. It’s simply a theory related to a group’s secret plan.

As such, I want to use this post to explore this idea that perhaps we need to view conspiracy theories and conspiracy theorists in a different light. Similar to how the blanket term of “drugs” is often used as if all drugs are equally as dangerous or equally as addictive or remotely the same substances whatsoever. Yes, we have class systems for these drugs but just keep in mind that weed is in the same level as amphetamines, ketamine and barbiturates. But this isn’t a drug post.

So what will I be looking at today? I’m going to look at some of the extremes: the conspiracy theories that really do deserve to be up there on the “tinfoil hat required” list while also looking at some of ones that turned out to be very factual despite being mostly ignored today. I’m also going to cover an area that seems to be avoided or seen as the “no-man’s land” in every single aspect of life: the middle ground. For some reason you’re either down the rabbit hole or you’re not. There’s never an opportunity to stick your head in to take a look.

Get the Tinfoil Hats Out

I’m going to keep this section fairly short and light-hearted (all to build you up for the later sections). The truth is there are a million if not billion random conspiracy theories out there that I’m sure we’ve all heard. The Elvis one is always a go-to option but rather than explore that one further, let’s warm up with another musical icon: Paul McCartney.

 

Paul is Dead

What about the idea that Paul McCartney died in a car crash in 1969 and The Beetles covered it up and replaced him with a look-a-like? This is one that I only heard about recently and it’s certainly an interesting one. Apparently, at the end of the song ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ you can hear John Lennon saying the words “I buried Paul”. People have even interpreted the album covers as being signs as well. The famous Abbey Road cover being a nod to the funeral which is why Paul is barefoot. This theory was put to rest pretty quickly when Paul McCartney took part in an interview with Life (I’m sure the pun was intended) magazine in which he acknowledged the rumours as being ridiculous…sounds like something a Paul McCartney look-a-like would be paid to say…

 

From Bombs to Tsunamis

I’m sure we all remember the horrific tsunami that took place on Boxing Day 2004 in Indonesia. The scientific explanation is that the 6.4 magnitude earthquake that took place triggered the tsunami and everything that followed. However, there are those who believe that the US government (or at least some section of the US military) detonated a 5-10 megaton bomb in order to trigger the tsunami as a way of sending in “relief support”: All in an effort to claim oil fields. Apparently the type of waves in the area were indicative of an underwater explosion. Combine that with the fact that the US had aid there incredibly quickly and you have a fishy situation. Out of all these slightly crazier conspiracy theories, this is the one I view as being most likely…not that I believe it but I just think that the US government is capable of literally anything!

 

The Moon is a Hologram

Yup, you read that title correctly. The moon it seems is a hologram and the Illuminati or some other secret society has pulled the wool over our eyes for decades. It’s hard for me to go into this one with an open mind, mainly because the entire conspiracy doesn’t make a great deal of sense. From what I can tell, this theory began when an amateur photographer observed the moon for a year and noticed ripples of some sort. He then came out and expressed the idea that the power system was failing which is what caused the ripples. He notes that while doing this he spotted an unlisted satellite that is one of many that projects the moon into our sky.

If you’ve never heard of David Icke, he’s an intelligent man who has bought into what seems like every conspiracy that has ever existed e.g. Saturn is the home of the lizard people who run this world in their human costumes. I first encountered Icke several years back when a talk about the nature of reality, the governments of the world, the holographic universe theory ended with him butchering by favourite Bill Hicks moment: “Just a Ride”. I have nothing against Icke as a human but I do get the feeling that he peddles a lot of nonsense in order to gain from it financially. If you make a theory crazy enough, there will always be people who will hop on board.

Anyway, Icke suggests that the moon being a hologram is all part of the Illumanati’s control over us. By presenting a fake moon, they highlight their power. It doesn’t end there. Oh no, sir! Apparently, the real moon could still be out there and could even be home to a population of alien colonisers. We will be looking at the moon landing further on in the article, I’m sure you’ll be happy to hear.

 

The Reptilian Conspiracy

In case you’ve managed to avoid hearing this one: The Earth is home to shapeshifting lizard creatures who rule the planet. These aliens are known as the Annunaki (which is based on ancient mythology from the Sumerians, I believe) and the Royal Family are actually lizard-people. Of course they are just the low level lizard people. We once again visit the opinion of David Icke, who claims that the bible references these lizard people (of course when you look at the mentioned passages, you don’t get that impression at all).

Apparently this species arrived on Earth via flaming UFOs and manipulated the human race into being their slaves. Only then did they realise that to truly rule, they would have to use their shape shifting power to become human. I’m all for believing in ancient aliens and civilisations but this one definitely requires a tinfoil hat to be a part of.

 

From Downright Crazy to Downright True

Of course not all conspiracy theories are quite as out there. There are many, many examples of governments creating shady plans in order to benefit their own agenda. Some of these are just downright terrifying to imagine but will also set us up for the final section. This section won’t cover anything that isn’t factual. I might share my opinions on them but the cases themselves are all completely true.

 

Operation Northwoods

This is an incredibly interesting yet also terrifying report. It’s suspected to be one of the reasons that JFK was assassinated (more on that in the next section) Operation Northwoods was a proposed false-flag operation. Who proposed it? Certain groups within the US Department of Defence and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that’s who. The proposal called for the CIA and several other agencies to commit acts of violence and terror against US civilian and military targets while under disguise as Cubans.

Some examples of these acts included: hijacking planes while dressed as Cubans with Cuban identification; attacking Guantanamo Bay in order to kill military targets while again, being disguised as Cuban soldiers; blowing up US ships and finally, planting bombs and carrying out attacks in US cities. The purpose of this was to create a strong public opinion that invading/going to war with Cuba would be necessary.

 

MK Ultra

Ever worry that the government might be poisoning you or brainwashing you? Sadly, Project MK Ultra is a true example of this. The CIA (an agency we will be referring to A LOT!) carried out highly illegal tests on both US and Canadian citizens (all unwitting). What was the aim? Well, they wanted to find the most effective techniques for interrogations and brainwashing. So they tested a wide variety of drug methods such as dosing people with LSD. They also tried hypnosis, sensory deprivation and a wide variety of other techniques including verbal and physical abuse.

Ultimately, while an investigation was carried out to determine all the shady shit the CIA had been doing, very little was done in relation to the MK Ultra project. Most of the files were destroyed at the command of the head of the CIA at the time, Richard Helms.

 

The Snowden Files

We all remember the relatively recent breakthrough that the NSA and the GCHQ had been spying on not only enemies but also allies. Both organisations right under our noses had carried out illegal and certainly shady mass data collection and if not for Edward Snowden, we would be none the wiser. Once again, very little has happened as a result of this and the US’s reaction to a whistle blower has been made quite clear which doesn’t bode well for any future releases of this nature.

Of course this won’t have stopped there. The CIA uses Snapchat to collect facial recognition data and Mark Zuckerberg is still all too willing to supply any information he can to any paying buyer, especially government bodies. People like Theresa May want us to have less privacy and if the Snooper’s Charter had gone through, apps like WhatsApp that use encryption to keep messages private, would have become illegal unless they supplied governments with backdoor access.

It’s safe to assume that most of our data is still being collected, they’re just finding more and more ways to do it.

 

I could write about so many more but I don’t want people to get bored but at least you’ll have seen a glimpse of some of the shady acts that our governments have been very willing to do. If you’re interested in these sorts of historical moments, then I suggest you read up about the WTC bomb of 1993 (I think) and the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. This brings us on to the final section.

 

The Middle Ground

One thing that needs to be addressed in terms of conspiracy theories is the middle ground. Why can’t I believe part of a conspiracy theory but not the whole thing? We view them as being one extreme or the other. The reason I’ve named this post The Conspiracy Conspiracy is because I think part of the reason people ignore the middle ground is that they simply don’t want their bubble to be burst. If we can agree that the above example are factual then are the following ones really so hard to believe? I’m going to basically give you an overview of my beliefs on the following well-known conspiracy theories. I personally can’t see any reason why it’s such a stretch to believe them.

 

The Moon Landing was Fake

Ok, hear me out. I believe that we went to the moon. I’m not about to deny that we did. However, I think that while we did go to the moon, fake footage was also shot. I’m inclined to believe the Kubrick conspiracy version of this i.e. Kubrick was brought in to film the fake version and left clues to this throughout other films such as The Shining. My belief is as follows: NASA and the US were about to make history by being the first to send men to the moon. Were people just going to accept that as fact? Of course not. If someone claimed today that we had men on Mars but didn’t provide proof, we’d label them a crackpot conspiracy theorist.

As such, I think a back-up was created just in case there were any issues. In the event that the mission as a whole failed or the footage wasn’t available, then this back-up version would have been used. I’m not even against the possibility that some of the fake footage was added to the real footage. I just think we need to be open minded about the whole situation. There are many examples of Neil Armstrong and the others clearly hiding details. Don’t believe? YouTube and the Internet will be your friends!

 

JFK Assassination

I am a strong believer in the idea that this wasn’t just the work of Oswald or Communists or whatever other official explanation was given. Everything about the assassination screams “conspiracy” and yet for the most part, people ate up the official story. You only have to look as far as the autopsy photos changing, bullets changing, footage being destroyed, files being set for declassification and then delayed.

Is that not enough? Well, what about the ridiculous number of eye-witnesses who died within a few years of the event? Not that their individual deaths were suspicious (although cut breaks surely are) but the sheer number that have died in that time is certainly bizarre and an anomaly. It is said that the odds of them all being dead by 1969 is one hundred thousand trillion to one.

A YouTuber whose channel is Bright Insight led me to the idea that George Bush Senior may have had a direct involvement in JFK’s assassination. He was working for the CIA at the time (one of the agencies seen as most likely to have carried out the assassination) and since he became president (followed later on by his son) it’s no real surprise that keeping this under wraps would be essential. Especially since that leads to a whole bunch of questions about other times the CIA and the Bush family may have joined to commit illegal activities.

 

9/11

Truther is a word often thrown at someone who doesn’t agree with the given narrative about the 9/11 attacks in New York. Am I a truther? No…well, sort of. If you viewed it as a scale with believing the narrative being 1 and believing Bush himself piloted the planes via remote control as 10, I’m probably in the middle: Somewhere between 4 and 6.

Everything about the event just seems off. If you ignored everything else and simply focused on how the Bush administration handled the event that alone would raise suspicions. It just so happens that that isn’t the only evidence. Just to be clear here, I don’t believe that explosives were planted in the buildings or that the CIA organised the attacks (although if you read up on the WTC bomb several years previous, it certainly raises some suspicions).

However, I do believe that it is completely possible that the attacks were allowed to happen and were closely monitored as the day went on. I do believe that the US government received countless warnings that such an attack would take place. I do believe that the attacks were used to fuel public opinion and mount an unnecessary invasion in order to take control of oil and opium. I also believe that the 9/11 Inquiry was great at avoiding any real answers or investigation and that thousands of people had their lives torn to pieces and got a mumbling moron President making everything worse.

 

In Conclusion

So what is the conspiracy conspiracy? Perhaps it’s a plan from a secret society to turn anybody who questions the official narrative into a tinfoil hat wearing nutjob…or perhaps it’s just a title that has no real meaning that to sound catchy. I’m not genuinely implying that the word conspiracy is in itself a conspiracy…but I think that as a society, we’ve attached connotations to the word that ought not to be there.

The point of this post isn’t to debate conspiracy theories. The point of it is to highlight that sometimes, your government and my government are responsible for some extremely shady shit. Yet we let them get a pass over and over again. It’s like letting your dog shit on your pillow and then just shrugging your shoulders because fuck it! I think we all need to take a step back, look at the evidence and decide whether something is believable or not. Just because someone suggests an idea that goes against everything the media or your teachers or your parents are telling you, doesn’t mean that you should rule it out.

I’m not saying believe every crackpot theory you hear. I’m saying that you should look at all the evidence and come to your own conclusions. Government conspiracies are probably in motion right now so don’t go down the path of saying “a government could never get away with that”. They have and they will again. When a red flag is raised with an issue but a group of the people believing it also believe that the Earth is flat, don’t assume that your point of view is wrong or that theirs is…

…And when it comes to the CIA, assume the worst.

 

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter to be kept up-to-date with writing I do outside this blog. If you have a taste for conspiracy theories, check out one of my older posts that looks at how the petition system in the UK is simply there to make you feel like you tried and failed to make a change.

Drugs: A Logical Step Towards Legalisation

I’ve written a few posts on this blog relating to drugs and my opinions on them and for those who have read them before, you’ll know that I stand very much on the side of legalisation. Very little infuriates me quite as much as being categorised as some gutter-living criminal just because I think drugs have many potential benefits (physically, mentally and spiritually) while these same people binge cheap alcohol and smoke cancer sticks while practically injecting high concentrations of Starbucks coffee directly into their heart. That being said, this post is not meant as a rant (although there certainly will be some of that) but more as a proposal or suggestion that looks at reasons why I believe drugs should be legal as well as a potential solution to get this ball rolling. This post is NOT like my other ones where I heavily reference statistics, peer-reviewed scientific papers or books. Instead, this post is nothing more than opinions and ideas which should hopefully make it a bit more interesting to read than my essay versions.

 

So let me start off by admitting several things in order to remove any presumptions that you may have already. First of all, I am fully aware that many drugs are harmful, addictive, destroy lives, drive people insane etc. If you think harming people physically is enough to make a drug illegal then why are cigarettes still legal? If you think any drug that can impact you mentally should be illegal then why is alcohol legal? The reason I HATE these drugs is because they act as a reminder of how hypocritical our society truly is. One day we’ll look back in sheer disbelief at the fact that our species used to poison itself for entertainment and out of boredom; that we ignored figures, statistics and evidence because taxable products are more important and that nature itself was branded illegal. I mean nobody drinks alcohol or smokes tobacco for their physical or mental health other than to end the addictive cravings that they may have. Following on from that, the drugs that I’m mainly going to be referring to here include weed, MDMA (including its various forms such as ecstasy), LSD, magic mushrooms (specifically psilocybin), DMT and Ayahusca. You may have noticed a pattern or two forming in terms of my drug choice and we’ll get to that later.

 

So why do I take drugs? At this point, that would be a very fair question…but first let me ask you one: why do you (or people you know) drink or smoke? In my experience people might drink for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they are bored and need a source of entertainment, it’s someone’s birthday and that’s how we celebrate, it’s Christmas and that’s how we celebrate, it’s New Year’s Eve and that’s how we celebrate, it’s sunny and that’s how we celebrate, it’s a social norm and therefore if most people are doing it then the rest of us feel out of place and in many cases are even belittled for choosing not to poison ourselves. Want to know what that sounds like to me? Peer pressure. Don’t get me wrong, I have had some incredibly fun and entertaining times with alcohol but I’m using it as my example here simply because it is legal while still being a psychoactive substance. I view alcohol as like a stepping stone that allowed me to turn off my brain to interact with people in a manner that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. Now I barely drink because that feeling of losing control or becoming someone that isn’t me is just no longer fun. I often hear people making claims such as “everyone is more truthful when they are drunk” but I find this not only to be moronic but also completely wrong. I mean alcohol can turn you into any sort of person depending on a wide variety of variables. I’ve seen lovely people become angry, bitter and violent just as many times as I’ve seen the opposite event take place. I’ve seen shy people become confident and confident people become Gods (at least in their eyes). I mean alcohol after a certain amount changes who you appear to be, it changes this outer version of you to anyone who is there to witness it. Why is “sorry, I was drunk” now an acceptable excuse for most acts that would otherwise not be so easily forgiven? I’m going off topic here…the point is that you have to keep in mind that alcohol is still a psychoactive substance and it alters the way you think, sometimes drastically. I mean alcohol accounts for most of the violent crime in Scotland (at least in 2011/2012) and nearly half of violent crimes in England and Wales during the same time period. In many cases it removes the need to think all together and turns your evening into nothing but darkness that leaves you waking up the next day with questions that you don’t entirely want to know the answers to. So why do I take drugs? (To get back to the point I was trying to make) Well, in some cases I take them for the same reason as anyone else drinks…I’m bored. For the most part this is only true of weed with the exception of one summer when I’d first accepted the thrills of ecstasy and went a bit crazy…but I view it as a learning curve. Since then weed is the only drug that I’ll take simply because I can. The reason I take any other drug now is for a purpose. For example, the ideas for many of my posts have come to me while smoking weed. I have somewhere between 10 and 20 posts on this blog (I believe). These are only half of what I’ve written which is only a fraction of the ideas that I’ve originally come up with. The notes pad on my phone is full of folders and pages relating to film theories or rants or just random ideas. MDMA can be used to improve a typical night out but it can also be used for exploration of your own mind and consciousness. Taking some MDMA and meditating is incredibly peaceful and spiritual and you can often find yourself in areas of thought you’d never even have imagined. I won’t go through all the drugs I mentioned one by one but ultimately what I think it boils down to is this: Why do I take drugs? I take drugs because in many cases they provide an experience that may not be possible to have otherwise. I think that when used correctly, drugs can make us see ourselves, others, the world or even the entire universe in a whole new light. I take drugs because I’ll never be an astronaut or a sailor, I’ll never be the first person to reach the top of a mountain or plant my flag onto undiscovered land. Yet my need for exploration drums away in my mind as a reminder that there are places that literally nobody else has explored: the deep, dark pits of my consciousness.

 

 

So what is my idea? Well, I agree with the claim that the war on drugs has failed spectacularly. Isn’t it funny that the anti-drug campaigners appear to be the paranoid and delusional ones of us all? At the end of the day, people are always going to find a way to take the drugs they want to take. We saw it with the prohibition when moonshine and other such spirits became available to those who felt their freedoms and rights had been taken from them unfairly. Same thing happens now with other drugs. The issue is that most people realise early on that all those anti-drug campaigns the schools run are bullshit and that when the police and your educators are lying or misleading you that something is up. It dawned upon me that legalisation of drugs might not happen in my life time. Even the legalisation of weed is looking more and more doubtful. The issue, however, is not the drugs themselves, but the education of said drugs and the reasons why people take them. I mean anything can be dangerous depending on whose possession it is in. A hammer can be used to build but it can also be used to bludgeon someone’s skull until their brain leaks out. People use cars every day and yet at any given moment someone could drive one metre to the left and hit 10, 20 or 30 people with a speeding, metal death machine. Maybe we just need to look at drugs for what they truly are and stop viewing them as either holy, lifesaving plants or tricks by Satan that lead to an eternity of suffering. Drugs can be positive and negative. So why not educate people in such a manner that as an adult they can choose whether to take them or not? I mean I can choose to eat McDonalds for the rest of my life or smoke until I can’t breathe or drink until my organs fail. How much money would be saved if after a certain number of hospital visits for binge eating food, drowning your sorrows with alcohol or smoking like a chimney the police got involved and made it actually illegal for you to drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes or eat shitty food? I guarantee that these people wouldn’t be labelled criminals. They would be seen as sick individuals who required help. That doesn’t mean that nobody else should be able to go buy a happy meal just because some people have never heard the term “moderation”. I mean if our health is really the main issue then what’s the deal with all these other areas that cause such suffering and death? When you see the statistics for alcohol-related deaths, it’s actually insane! I seriously advise you to go and look for yourself. (There is a link to some of these on my weed legalisation post but you may find more recent statistics through ONS). What if drugs were legal but similar to a gun or a car, you needed a pass or licence in order to legally use them? And that, ladies and gentlemen, leads us onto what would be involved in gaining access to this pass.

 

In order to be granted access to drugs, I think it would be important to view the risks. With some drugs there is a risk of addiction. I mean if we allow people to use meth then we run the risk of them becoming addicted to a highly destructive drug. So how do we show people the effects of drugs? Well, we arrange talks or interviews with people who have taken them. I mean how many people would come forth and claim their lives had been destroyed by weed? Not many I’d imagine. Would every single person who has taken DMT be lining up to scream “BEWARE!” at all those would-be trippers? I doubt it. Like any form of education, I think the first step would be attending a lecture or seminar which would look at the specific drug(s) you planned to take. It would run through some basic information such as what the drug was, how it affected you, how it’s taken, etc. It would of course also explain some of the risks but not in a “YOU TAKE THIS, YOU DIE!” sort of way but more in an err on the side of caution manner. For example, with MDMA it would be explained that your body could overheat causing your brain to swell up…BUT that by drinking water throughout the night in small doses you can help to keep your body hydrated. These lectures would also discuss what situations are best for certain drugs. I mean you’re probably not going to take DMT with a large group of people but you might smoke a joint in one. Ultimately you would then be tested in some form to see if you were aware of basic safety measures to take and understand the risks. These tests would also attempt to understand why you want to take the drug. Perhaps you have to submit an essay of some form explaining your reasoning and motivations. This way, we rule out anyone taking them just for the sake of it or out of boredom or because they are being forced to. I mean sure, drugs would still be available in the same manner that they are today but I know plenty of people who don’t take drugs now but would if they could do so legally. By creating this hurdle or wall that would have to be passed, you would immediately exclude a large number of people who perhaps shouldn’t be taking drugs in the first place. Of course the important aspect of this process would be that it wouldn’t be controlled or monitored by solely anti-drug people but rather by those who see the dangers of drugs but also acknowledge that they have potentially beneficial uses as well. I mean if you had the current government in charge of such a process then nobody would get one of these passes/licenses and the entire endeavour would be pointless. Similarly, for the process to have any validity, we couldn’t just be handing passes out to everyone (although that would essentially be the end goal).
I think the best way to look at it is like this: people who want to take drugs are going to take drugs, regardless of the law or potential consequences of being caught with an illegal substance and more often than not they will do so either unaware of the dangers or just ignore them completely. Is it not a much smarter solution to educate any would-be drug users so that they can decide whether they still want to participate in such activities after being given all the necessary information but also so that if they do take drugs, they are better equipped to do so safely? I mean the dangers of alcohol are known but people still go to schools to explain how to drink alcohol as safely as possible and what precautions can be taken to reduce risk. I mean you can’t buy a packet of cigarettes without seeing photos of black lungs or throat cancer, yet you still have the right to smoke them. Not only would education serve a tremendously beneficial purpose but alongside it, we could have the same organisation supplying drugs that have been tested and are as safe as can possibly be. These would be taxable and as we have seen from areas where weed is not legal, this taxable income is incredibly beneficial for the whole society. We already have many communities set up to offer such guidance because the drug-taking community isn’t a grim, dark place where dreams go to die. For example, Pill Report supplies user-reviews of ecstasy pills and gives other information such as strength, effects, what ingredients are included, not to mention whether there are any warnings for a certain pill. Leafly, a site for weed, supplies information on different strains and includes information such as the levels of paranoia or dry mouth you are likely to experience from smoking it or whether you are likely to get the giggles.

 

Of course this would only be the first step. Legalisation (or semi-legalisation) would be the beginning of a new era of human spirituality. Imagine what it would be like if you could go to a nearby city within the Western world and stay at an ayahuasca retreat for 10 days. People who regularly go on ayahausca trips have higher levels of serotonin than the average person. Basically, they are producing more happiness neurotransmitters than the rest of us. If some huge pharmaceutical company created the exact same benefit with a pill, it would be seen as revolutionary and ground breaking but because it’s ancient and involves hallucinations, it’s immediately ruled out as dangerous and negative.

 

I believe that as an adult, I have the right to choose what I do with not only my body but also my mind. Nobody stops me from getting tattoos or piercings that I could come to regret in later life. I can risk my life in the army from the age of 16 where my legs could be blown clean off or I could return with PTSD that makes my life unbearable. I mean did you know that more US soldiers have killed themselves than have died fighting in Iraq? Something like 22 veterans commit suicide every single day! Yet that trauma is seen as more acceptable than enjoying what nature created? Even then, MDMA has been shown to be hugely beneficial alongside therapy for soldiers suffering from PTSD and even they can’t use it. So you’re literally telling me that our governments view it as acceptable to enter a warzone where you could die at any moment, where your morality is tested and your faith in humanity destroyed, where you might see your friends be blown to pieces and even injured in such a way yourself…but that a drug that could potentially help you cope or recover from that very same conflict is too dangerous for you? In some countries you can get less time in jail for violently attacking someone than you would for being caught with weed. So a victimless crime is now as bad, if not worse than assaulting some stranger? If I can choose to go to war or choose to get so drunk that I fight my friends or choose to smoke 43 packets of cigarettes a day, then should I not have the same choices for drugs that can actually positively influence not only my life but the life of those around me? Isn’t happiness the main goal for every single thing we do in this life?

 

So there you have it! My idea for how we can best tackle the current drug dilemma that is facing our countries. Education, education, and education are the main components for how to reduce drug-related deaths and as a way of encouraging potential drug-users to take their drug of choice for the right reasons. Of course in our current political climate, it is unlikely that anything of this nature would ever make it through the doors of parliament but it’s a nice thought all the same. Until then, I guess we’ll have no choice but to jump on the bandwagon and make our way to the nearest watering hole in order to overindulge in alcohol for the third time in one week. As always, I love reading any feedback or comments!