Tuesday, 28 June 2016


Well, it's happened. The votes have been counted, and apparently Britain wants out of the EU. Well, 52% of Britain does anyway. Or maybe not, if this article is anything to go by.

As someone who voted Remain (after doing some research and concluding that, while there were advantages to leaving they were outweighed by quite a lot of disadvantages) reading this made my jaw hit the floor so hard I still have the chin-bruises.

Let me just get this right... there are people out there who voted for something they didn't want, purely because they believed enough other people would vote for the thing they did want? Others saw their vote not as, y'know, an actual vote that could change the future of this country, but a way to tell the politicians of this country "You can't tell me what to do - look, I'm deliberately voting for something I don't actually want to happen in reality, just to annoy you! Yeah, chew on that, losers!"

Do they not realise how voting works then? Are we going to have to start introducing IQ tests for people before deciding whether or not they're actually capable of rational thought? I'd like to say this applies equally to those who voted Remain and now 'wish' they voted Leave -  because it does - but let's face it, they're unlikely to be feeling the same levels of guilt about it, since they actually got the result they now realise they wanted all along.

"We weren't given enough information," is the number one excuse offered in their defence of voting for something they've subsequently decided was a bad idea. Well no you weren't, if by 'given' you mean 'lovingly spoon-fed into your open mouth while you lay supine on your couch like an overgrown baby bird.' If your only source of 'information' is whatever daily newspaper you favour, then you are basically being told what to think by whatever fat-cat magnate owns that newspaper, and  believe me, his reasons for wanting you to think that way have nothing to do with your welfare or future. I'm sorry, but this is the age of the internet, the smartphone and all manner of  WiFi-connected devices; "there wasn't enough information" just doesn't cut it as an excuse anymore. If you want an unbiased opinion you gather more than one from more than one source, and if you don't know something you go look it up. That's the way the modern world works. (I bet if you wanted to know the name of the actor who played the guy standing next to Littlefinger in that scene from Game of Thrones in order to win the entire box-set you'd know how to Google that shizzle, wouldn't you?)

Before you come at me, this is not a hate rant at everyone who voted Leave. I accept there are plenty of people who did so for their own reasons that have a direct effect on their lives; I've spoken with long-distance lorry drivers, fishermen, people living in areas dominated by warring eastern European gang communities and others who've had to live with consequences of being part of the EU that I have no experience of myself, and I accept my point of view is not going to cut it balanced against their personal experiences. You guys had the right to feel the way you did and to use your vote the way you did.

No, the people I'm annoyed with are the ones who switched off their brains when it came to making possibly the most important decision about this country's future in decades, and are now bleating about how they'd have voted differently if all the vital information they now realise they needed to know could have been magically piped into their brain - preferably while they were sipping a cold one and watching Take Me Out on telly. And, because it didn't happen that way, it's so unfair and and totally not their fault that they voted for something they don't want anymore and actually, now they think about it, never really did. Well, wake up and smell the coffee, because you made the mistake, guys - not the newspapers, the tv or the internet, but you. You can't undo it, so the least you can do is have the decency to own it. Media is just food, and your brain is supposed to decide what type and how much of it you're going to eat. Y'know, like when you have to choose between, say, a sandwich and a packet of lard.

The other people I'm annoyed at can be found in the Comments section of the article referenced in this post. A lot of them (although not all) appear to be pro-Brexiteers who chose that path because they are in fact raging bigots with outdated Little England fantasies about restoring Britain to the days of Colonialism, but I'm sure that's just an entirely unrelated coincidence...

Anyway, these particular individuals seem to have contracted an unfortunate neurological disorder. Whenever they encounter someone with a point of view that doesn't match theirs, they are completely unable to discuss things rationally, but can only spew out toxic personal insults, questioning the other person's sanity, intellect and even right to exist as a human. These are most likely the same individuals who are now wandering randomly up to anyone of an ethnic minority they see in the street and snarling at them, with gleeful venom, to "pack their bags" and "go back home." (This includes, by the way, black, Asian, Indian and Pakistani people who were born in Britain and even whose parents were.) They're probably also responsible for making up the laminated cards with "go home" written on them and then posting them through the letterboxes of the Polish communities.

Sadly the most dominant symptom of this neurological disorder is the delusion that the entire purpose of the Leave vote was to restore their entitlement to be xenophobic assholes as some sort of constitutional right - heck, even make it cool to be a frothing-mouthed bigot. Since they are immune to reasoned argument, and derision seems to provoke them into fits of uncontrollable rage where even expressing intelligible thoughts becomes impossible, expecting them to change their behaviour and eventually adapt to living with other humans who Aren't The Same as Them is probably unrealistic and demanding more of their fragile cognitive abilities than they can cope with. And God forbid we should treat them with the same contempt they reserve for 'immigrants.' Hate on a group of people just because of who they are, what they believe and how they live? Jeez, that would be really unfair...

The brain is a wonderful, precious thing - and the human brain in particular has evolved into a thing of eye-popping complexity. Unfortunately, while you can justify not giving a chainsaw to a child, you can't restrict which humans get to have a brain purely because a proportion of them are never going to learn to use it sensibly.

And that's where us writers come in. We have to use our brains every time we write, so the responsibility is even bigger on us to use it wisely and for the good. If this referendum (and the 'Bregretters') has proved anything, it's that many, many people in this world soak up written information as passively as a sponge soaks up water, without questioning it or even looking for deeper meanings, while others only absorb the bits that sound like they agree with what they already think. All of which means we need to think harder about what we put out there.

We can make a difference. We can create stories, poems, movies, songs and art that challenges racism, sexism, genderism and all the other nasty isms out there. We can include what we currently call 'minorities' in our work in a way that's so natural and 'normal' the very term 'minorities' becomes redundant. And most of all, we can send out the message that hating people just because they're 'not like us' is not okay - in a way that the spongebobs can soak up without realising they're doing it and the bigots can't twist to suit their own agendas.

So write from the heart and let's fill those voids. And help those who complain there's 'not enough information.'

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