Kneecapped By The Government

The UK government have managed to pass a pretty horrendous bill for the democracy of the country.  It is hoped, or at least I hope, that the bill will be changed again shortly, but I do not hold out much hope.  At times it seems as if this country is sleep walking to a place I dare not think about.  I am intensely aware of the many freedoms we have in the UK, of our beautiful country, but I do fear for the future.  The civilian population must remain vigilant and hold our politicians to account over their links with big business.  It is easy to get carried away with these kind of things, but we must make a stand for moral democracy and the right of the everyman.

Scriptonite Daily has done a particularly effective blog post on the ins and outs of the effects of the bill which is highlighted below.

From the Scriptonite Daily website:

“Last night, the UK government passed the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill.  A bill gagging charities, NGO’s, bloggers, community groups and most attempts at organised opposition to the government in the year prior to a general election…and just in time for the General Election next year.

What is the Gagging Law?

 The Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill, or Gagging Law, was hailed as the UK government’s answer to the issue of commercial lobbying.

But, this bill does not take on the political power of wealthy corporate lobbyists.  Instead, it kneecaps any attempts at organised local and national opposition by civil society, so as not to influence the outcome of general elections.  It is a gagging law.  The law puts in place a range of bureaucratic and financial barriers amounting to a gag on free speech and effective opposition.  These include:

  • The maximum that can be spent before groups have to be registered with the Electoral Commission £20,000 in England and £10,000 in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
  • Reduce the overall UK-wide spending limit before elections from £988,500 at present to a new limit of £450,000.  To put this in perspective – campaign group 38Degrees has 1.7m members, this would mean neutering their spending power on posters, staff, adverts and ancillary costs to just 26p per member.
  • Putting in place a spending cap of just £9,750 in a particular constituency, in the year running up to a general election – while the local MP can spend as much as they like until just 4 months from the election.

The new spending limits will come into effect on 19th September this year.”

Read the full post here.

As bloggers we must raise our voices.  To stand idly by is to legitimise the actions of those that lead us.

Chains

I mean don’t get me wrong, I am deeply thankful for where I am but I have to say my life could be so much better, I was laying in bed last night unable to sleep and this thought just popped into my head and I had to say that well, yeah it could be.

Are you sure?

Well I think so, I believe so, I guess I hope so because that way I can still live my life the way I want to live it, if I have a hope of being able to be a better person, right?

Hmm, I am not entirely convinced of that argument.

Well lets put it like this: if I didn’t think I could change then that would send me into a spiral that would end up with me facing the black dog face first, but if I believe I could be living a better life then there is still hope that I could, I can still change if necessary.  It’s kind of like I am running a marathon but the only other competitor is myself, next to me.  Sometimes I am running head of him, other times (okay, most of the time) he is running ahead of me.  But we are intricately linked, we are one and the same.  What is me is him and what is him is me, we are one, right?

But aren’t you just holding back then?  Unwilling to change because you have the illusion of escape?

Not quite, I disagree with you there.

Perfectly welcome too.

I should hope so.

But still, you must see that that way of thinking leads nowhere.

Not to me, it gives me form, function and an imagination to escape and, most importantly, the hope that I can change if I deemed it necessary.

No, I am still not quite getting you.  If you are unhappy in your life then surely you need to identify where and why and then start to change it into something that you want in your life rather then thinking you are getting it somewhere else.

Ah but no, you fundamentally misunderstand me.

So it is the option that you could change, if you really wanted to, but you don’t want to because your life runs parallel to this imagined other self that is living a life that you do not?

Hmm not quite but you are getting closer.

Well what is there to understand?  If your other self is running parallel to yourself, the physical and mental self I see before me now, then why would you live in his shadow as it where, why would you continue knowing that you will never be as fulfilled as the imagined self?

Ah no, you are getting further from what I feel.

Right… So is your life validated by the fact that you measure yourself to an imagined standard of a life not led?

You are getting closer!

Ha, well at least we are getting somewhere.

I should hope so, this isn’t cheap.

Oh ignore the clock, it runs only to itself.

Glad to hear it.

You should be.

Say, what are your plans for Christmas?

Now, now, you know that this is not about me, not about my family and what we are going to do (you know, the typical family get together, meal and present-swapping and no doubt we’ll play some parlour games, catch up with the older senile relatives…) wait, wait, this is not about me.  What are YOU planning to do in the festive period?

Oh I don’t know, I may make the journey home.  6 hours on the interstate you know, it is a long journey but, well it would be good to go back, to see the old place, the old bars where we used to drink and laugh.

Are you sure that is a good idea?

I think so, otherwise I’d just be staying here, waiting around for nothing in particular.  At least back home I could pay my respects to my Ma and Pa, give the stones a quick rub, make sure they are clean and looked after.  Could even drop by on my sister and see how her and her family are doing.

Now now, we know that really isn’t an option is it?  Remember what they said.  She needs time.

Oh I know, I guess I just thought I’d be ready.

Anyway, tell me more about your parallel life.

I’ve already mentioned it enough, do we have to go back over that?

No I guess not, I think I have the idea in my head now.

Good, lets talk about something else.

Okay, tell me about your friends.

Well my friends are good, got a tight group you know.  We see each other often, hang out, have a few beers and so on.

And?

Well, I guess I feel that they sometimes make decisions for me, that they think are decisions that are the best for me, but they do not consult me, they don’t even tell me half the time, I find out by accident, or they’ll think I can’t do something because of my addiction and I’m just not consulted.  It’s like I’m a ghost that is talked about, I’m peripheral.

Hmm, well tell me more…

I will, I will.

Other Sides

‘…..and I’ve already told you of the experience, how demeaning it was, how I felt like utter shit abandoned at the end of the world- do we really have to go through it again?’

‘Yes I’m afraid so, you know as well as I do that we have to go through each experience of importance and process it so we can begin to understand more fully why you are here today and what we can do tomorrow.’

‘But it just feels like we are revisiting the same instance, the same scene, again and again, I do not feel that this is not the main theme of my life, I’ve gotten over it, why are we doing this?’

‘I think we could be at a turning point in this session if we pursue this particular point, please can you tell me again how you felt at that point in hospital?’

‘Okay fine.  Well, it was maybe the 2nd week after the surgery, and I was managing to get to the toilet with a little help from the nurses to push me over to it on a portable commode (not the most glamorous mode of transportation), and on this occasion the nurse helped me get over to and on the toilet seat, told me push this orange button once I had been and done my business, as usual.

Fine I though, this wouldn’t take that long, heck it was nice to be sat upright, even if it was draining and made me tired and nauseous.  So I was enjoying being out of the lumpy bed, my bowels moved and I cleaned myself up, lent over to the sink and washed my hands.  After that was done I pressed the orange call button firmly and waited…’

‘Please continue..’

‘I was located in a side room, away from the main bays of the ward by myself, and the toilet was also in my room.  Effectively I was two doors away from the main artery of the ward, out on a limb from the nurses station, but I didn’t think this would be a problem.  A few minutes drifted by and I sat and wondered where the nurses were, tried to remember what time it was and if they would all be busy serving drugs or meals.’

‘I could see the orange glow of the button I’d pressed so I knew it’d be making that humming noise every few seconds, with a light above my bedroom door flashing as well.  It was only a matter of time, but the longer I sat the more sore my bum became, my bones ached more and I felt more and more uncomfortable generally.’

‘I began to feel like I’d been abandoned, lost, and I was racked with aches and pains.  I hadn’t moved this much since the surgery, I began to tremble. and I… I…’

‘Go on, you are in a safe room here,’

‘Well I’m not afraid to say a tear fell loose from one of my eyes, I felt like I had been cast away, left to rot on a desert island of clinical smells and frustrated, worn out, bodies.  Surely I must have been in there for more than half an hour?  Maybe more?  The seconds turned into minutes, and the minutes seemed to drag into hours.  This can’t be right I thought, surely someone has seen the orange glow, has heard the hum above the hustle and bustle of the busy ward?  it’s not hard to ignore, but at the same time it signifies that someone needs your attention.’

‘Sure, it hasn’t the red glow and the violent incessant thud of the emergency alarm but it was still a signal saying that someone needed attention, was waiting to be seen, hoping to be heard, right?  I was there and I needed someone.  And I just couldn’t help it or myself, I felt broken by such a small thing, by being left on the toilet atop of my own shit, my own weak body holding me back, and I just couldn’t fathom how… how I could get out, how to do it, I think at one point I shouted a bit, not much, I was meek, weak at the knees at needing attention but never actively seeking it.’

‘hmm right, please go on, how did the situation resolve?’

‘Resolve?  It never resolved, I was found on the toilet half asleep from the weakness of sitting there for so long.  The nurses told me that it had only been 30 minutes but it had felt like a lifetime.’

‘And how did you feel towards the nurses after the incident?…’

‘I viewed them the same as before, how could I not?  I depended on them, I needed them.’

‘Did you think you were consciously abandoned?’

‘No, of course not, I mean why would they when they knew I was out of bed so recently after major surgery, they probably had better things to do right, you know this is a hospital, right? Some people are far sicker than me…’

‘Hmm…’

‘I, I don’t know, I just thought that this is it, this is how my life is going to be, waiting for help, waiting to be moved, waiting to be noticed…’

‘Ah, I’m afraid the session is up for today, please can you come back next week, say Wednesday at 2pm?’

‘Yeah of course, I guess so…I just don’t feel as though we have made any breakthrou…’

‘Goodbye Mr Petersen,’

‘Thanks…’

The day was bitter and the wind whipped at his face as he left the gray tawdy building.  It looked warm in the sunshine, it looked relaxing to be outside in the great bosom of nature, but it was a facade, it was cold and unwelcoming.  Mr Petersen knew this, but he could not comprehend it.

The Grey Zone

Make no mistake, Guantanamo Bay is a stain on the sullen face of democracy.  For 11 years a  joint British and Saudi Arabian citizen has been held at this American base without being charged.  Despite the protestations of the British government, a lack of critical evidence and numerous protests, Shaker Aamer remains locked up in Guantanamo Bay, deprived of his basic human rights and subject to degrading torture.

Despite the hope of President Obama calling for the closure of the prison, based on Cuban ground, the prison is still operational, still torturing and still being run in defiance of basic human rights.  Amnesty International has repeated called the prison a ‘human rights scandal‘, The International Committee of the Red Cross found repeated detainee abuses when it inspected the camp in 2004, and Human Rights Watch has stated that ‘(the US) has refused to apply the Genevea Conventions to prisoners of war from Afghanistan, and has misused the designation of ‘illegal combatant’ to apply to criminal suspects on U.S. soil” in a 2003 report.

The world is currently in turmoil, thousands are dying in a vicious and bloody war in Syria, protests are on-going in Turkey, Brazil has had numerous large scale demonstrations de-crying the state for its lack of improving social issues, and Greece is under the boot of austerity, with the rise of the Golden Dawn party becoming a worry for Greece’s citizens and Europe.  It is time for a strong moral and ethical backbone.  Guantanamo Bay exists to facilitate the prisoners of war carried out in the wake of the horrific 9/11 terrorist attack in the US.  I believe that prisoners should be treated fairly and equally, that they should face legal justice where guilt is in evidence.  I do not believe torture and the de-basing of human rights is the correct, moral or ethical approach.

Shaker Aamer is currently on hunger strike, as are many of his fellow prisoners in Guantanamo Bay who protest their ill treatment, torture and abuse.

When you dehumanise the enemy, you dehumanise yourself.