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Tuesday, 29 March 2016

180. Gladiator Garrulous...


...performs Vigilante Verbals!

Haven’t tried it? You should.

It’s word blood sport where the commentator is also the combatant. It’s for those who don’t get off on mindless cruelty. In fact if you agree with Winston Churchill (in words spoken years after WWII) ‘To jaw jaw’ is always better than to ‘war, war’ then this is for you.

Internet analysts have been preaching the extinction of the ‘comments’ sections of online publications for years. And yes – the remaining ones are often swamps of badly written, ungrammatical vitriol. But sometimes they are not. Those sites which attract the former seem to do so deliberately and often allow complete anonymity to encourage the most bigoted the ‘freedom’ (lack of responsibility) to display their bile.

Recently – and you know what a Luddite I am by now dear bleader (if not - see blog 53 I suffer from PANTS do you) I joined an online site up here in bonny Scotland. Thing is – like anyone else who has ever done it – I’m on a site with folk who are broadly like-minded. That is what people do.  So far so good. The extreme opposite would be those pundits who deliberately target sites promoted by groups they already know they don’t like. So, for example, homophobes spewing acid and hatred on gay sites.

Is it not a little self-indulgent only being on sites where the greatest disagreement you’re going to have is whether the revolution should be on a Monday or a Wednesday?  So I signed onto a site for a publication I would normally have nothing to do with. Not with the intention of trolling but with the aim of vigilante verbals, batman banter, mixin’ it up Maximus style.

Maybe you already did this. I am slow.

So I’ve dabbled on a few occasions. I am polite but clear, I write thought-through comments. OK. No. The bigots and the nasties didn’t immediately throw down their nail studded word clubs and go home to eat grubs. Farage and Trump and the like have led them to believe its fine to be bigoted and stupid and loud.  But let’s give this a chance.

The phrase ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ is tired and anyhow few of us regularly use pens. Even Shakespeare’s eloquent version in Hamlet, “many wearing rapiers are afraid of goose quills and dare scarce come thither…” seems thin in the modern mess.

But I am a big fan of words, written or typed, spoken or sung. And when the words stop, you can be sure the swords / guns / clusterbombs will start.

The ones we need to engage with domestically are not those who already agree with us. Often online commentators are a colosseum mob. The lower grade ‘news’ sites are the spoilt emperors throwing them piles of rancid meat to keep them belly aching and distracted. Enter Gladiator Garrulous Maximus.

One recent distasteful online article I challenged concerned a young woman who had first been impregnated at the age of 13. She now has – at the age of 23 – six children. In the UK they run these ‘feckless poor’ and ‘benefit scrounger’ stories regularly as a side dish to anti-immigrant stories when the plebeians are getting bored. There was a photo of the young woman smiling into the camera with un-pixelated shots of her children. Then there was another picture of the same woman holding a large pet rabbit. The predictable ‘breeding like a rabbit’ sniper remarks were rolled out under the picture as the baying crowd responded to the obvious inducement. The young lass probably agreed to the article because she liked the attention and didn’t realise she was mob bait. Shame on the paper. At a time when the teen mum birth rate is at an all-time low in the UK it’s an obvious non-story but a great distraction from rich people not paying their taxes. And shame shame on the photographer who knew exactly what they were doing when they took that shot with the rabbit. So the woman was not just abused by the bloke who got her pregnant when she was a child but also by the paper and by the rent-a-mob commentators – who, in effect – were also being conned.

But you see where I am going. Here is meat. Here is bread.

Remember that scene in Gladiator where Maximus is in the arena. Pretend the Emperor is the national online rag journal. The mob are the potential commentators, howling for blood. If we are going to spend precious time commenting shouldn’t we be like the gladiator who steps into the arena and does/says something a wee bit different? With style and good grammar?

Well ok – but you have to be prepared to get into the colosseum. Choose one arena and never mind the lions they’re just CGI. Don’t stay in your enclosed Villa. Strap on those sandals and that leather skirt and come on in with me.

You will be entertained.

Unrestrained violence is in vogue. It’s all the rage you might say. Open bigotry has become not just acceptable but highly fashionable. Let’s see what we can do with verbal dexterity, humour, satire, wit. Let’s challenge the crap people say/think. Let’s do it clearly and cleverly and on their home ground.

Leave your comfort zone and come do some vigilante verbals. Apart from anything we should know how people who have been granted the right to vote in our own countries think and challenge the damaging, bigoted, xenophobic, racist, anti-working class, misogynistic things people say. ALWAYS.

And if you want to play – perhaps sign your comments S&H
Strength & Honour J

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NB. Maybe I’m not a Pigeon is on special offer for about 48 hours from time of posting this blog. http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017BKM93C

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