Friday, 3 October 2014

Monstering a troll? Or trolling a monster? A tale of middle England

Middle class. Middle of the country.

Middle. Middle. Middle.

Yesterday we were made aware of some thoroughly nasty and despicable trolling of the McCanns by people hiding behind what they thought was internet anonymity (how foolish). As though the unspeakable anguish of waking each morning to the instant agonising reality of their missing daughter, Madeleine, is not enough, they have to bear the ghastly outpourings of hatred from so-called "trolls".

Let me say this as a mother: surely - if one were truthful - not one caring, vigilant and normally watchful parent has not had a few horrifying minutes when their child has disappeared from the radar. It might have been a few moments. Perhaps several minutes. On a beach. In a supermarket. On the street. In a museum. But it happens all the time. It must have happened scores or perhaps hundreds of times today in England alone. To normal, caring mothers and fathers. And what of all the many hours when we weren't in direct sight of our children? Perhaps they were with grandparents. Maybe at school. Maybe on a school trip. Possibly with a babysitter while we went out for dinner.

Now we are into a grey area. What constitutes parental "due diligence"? Where are the rules? Where are the boundaries?

Where is the "blame"?

And if, as for the McCanns, a terrible outcome ensues, what must be the endless, endless, torturing thoughts? Always beginning with those most tragic words, "if only...".

So great is the fear of our children going missing, that maybe there is some delusion that, when it does happen to others, "it must have been their fault". There is perverted comfort in that; for we (surely) would never have made that mistake?

The McCanns, I believe, are caring and diligent parents, who - to their great credit - remain a couple and remain united parents for their twins. They do not need anyone on earth to tell them that "if only" they had stayed constantly with their children, this awful thing would not have happened.

So now what of the trolls? And of one troll in particular. Filmed. Named. Identified.

Middle. Middle. Middle.

Just like the McCanns.

This particular person has - since exposure - been monstered in a febrile excess of photoshop puerility and hypocritical (so English) outrage.

I have - with little internet effort and very few minutes - discovered that this person is Middle Class, from (geographical) Middle England, likes cats and indeed dogs, is a churchgoer, the name of the village in which they live, and even their telephone number.

This person - you may say deservedly - must be having a hard time.

Why this person may have acted in the way they have been alleged to have acted in regard to the McCanns is a question for a social psychologist, though my thought that it may be on the lines of, "it couldn't happen to me, because I am better than the McCanns" may have something to do with it.

My hopes?

That any of this ghastly targetting of the innocent McCanns is dealt with swiftly and appropriately.

That the trolls are punished by law and not by the hypocritically "righteous" counter-trolls - or worse.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Breeding For Appearances

I recently watched again an excellent - and sickening - documentary called Pedigree Dogs Exposed which shows in appalling and graphic detail the consequences of dog breeding for appearance rather than function.

If you can bear to watch it, you will see dogs having severe epileptic fits, being unable to walk or breathe properly, or writhing in agony due to their brains having grown too large for their skulls. One of the most compelling aspects of this piece is the comparison between photographs of some of the common breeds as they used to be and photographs of what they have become. These harmful mutations have not taken long, well within living memory - including mine.

What occurred to me is that the contrast between the politicians we used to have, whose selection depended largely on how well they functioned as representatives of their constituents' interests, and the current generation, whose selection (as they see it) depends entirely on appearance has followed the same path as the degradation of many dog breeds.

The Kennel Club of politics - the populist media - has made sure that this has happened, and the people have let it happen.

Time to get back to function. Time to ask those who want the privilege of representing us some functional questions:

"Tell me about your record of supporting working and retired working people."

"Tell me about your support for a wholly publically owned National Health Service."

"What is your attitude to the disadvantaged?"

And when they reply with vapid froth - ask for the evidence!

Nigel Farage is, frankly, winning on appearance alone. There's practically nothing of substance there at all It's our job to ask people like him some specific questions, to read the manifesto of his party Ukip. In fact to read the manifestos of all the political parties.

If you want politicians who function, ask questions about function. Ask what they have done. And nail them down on what they plan to do.

Can it really be all that difficult?