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Sunday, 11 June 2017

How can you consciously contemplate

When there's no debate
The long awaited (sic) part 2 sequel to So much to answer for is finally here.

I don't mind a good discussion. I can learn a lot from them.

But some "people" (like certain online rodents) are near impossible to have a sensible discussion with. What I expect when dealing with an adult is some respect for facts and logic, I prefer to argue and debate with someone who responds calmly and with reasoned arguments; in short, someone who is prepared to enter into a dialogue and debate the points raised and who looks at the evidence.

It's frustrating to argue with someone who responds to everything dismissively, with non-sequiturs and straw-man arguments, who evades with sledging, who rationalises and attempts to close the argument when out-maneuvered. It's the kind of thing that God's faithful and ideologues do.

Take this recent Twitter exchange as an example that followed Martin Rossiter's response to Morrissey's Manchester bombing statement:

Earlier, there had been an exchange of views in the toilets of the Wrong Arms with TRB. This is copied and pasted verbatim and without permission (because I'm evil, as you shall see, so I have nothing to loose).

Removing a lot of comments today.
Only from outsiders looking for a fight.
I would love to know if that removed comment below my comment quoting the Brighton bombing quote was in response to my comment.
The response from Our Mozzer, who I've already told you is the fraud who took over MW, was indeed a response to you. Let me retrieve it for
You would agree with Rat.All of you here praise and preach how people need to think for themselves, yet that is the opposite of what you do.
You listen to everything this "Morrissey" says, and you do as he says. See the irony?
Why delete that? I believe that I wrote something very similar. Hardly inflammatory. A reasonable argument. How can you conciously contimplate when there is no debate?
I deleted it because I don't want the cunt on my blog. His words are irrelevant.
The words were certainly nonsensical given my qualified desent from the FTM groupthink, but you are in your rights to implement a ban. It's a very MW thing to do. It's tradition.
'FTM groupthink'? Pathetic. You really think you're on a higher plain, don't you, and yet your, "I'm a vegan & you're not" line
is straight out of the playground. Fuck off.
You have proven my point exactly.
You don't have a point. Now do excuse me whilst I go off to join the Catholic Church, PETA & all the other groups that Morrissey says I must
You have turned into Uncle Skinny. Go to Solo, and I'll go to waste in The Wrong Arms. Farewell.

Groupthink 101

Let's examine groupthink. The term as we currently know it was defined by Irving Janis in 1972. In his seminal paper on groupthink, he defined it as a " psychological drive for consensus at any cost that suppresses dissent and appraisal of alternatives in cohesive decision making groups." In this case, the BRS stands in for a "cohesive decision making" group.

I quote from the Wikipedia page on groupthink:

To make groupthink testable, Irving Janis devised eight symptoms indicative of groupthink.

Type I: Overestimations of the group — its power and morality
1 - Illusions of invulnerability creating excessive optimism and encouraging risk taking.
2 - Unquestioned belief in the morality of the group, causing members to ignore the consequences of their actions.

Type II: Closed-mindedness
1- Rationalizing warnings that might challenge the group's assumptions.
2 - Stereotyping those who are opposed to the group as weak, evil, biased, spiteful, impotent, or stupid.

Type III: Pressures toward uniformity
1 - Self-censorship of ideas that deviate from the apparent group consensus.
2 - Illusions of unanimity among group members, silence is viewed as agreement.
3 - Direct pressure to conform placed on any member who questions the group, couched in terms of "disloyalty"
4 - Mindguards— self-appointed members who shield the group from dissenting information.

The Type I symptoms concern a "masters of the universe" status, which is appropriate for Janis' original context, which was a "psychological study of [American] foreign-policy decisions and fiascoes." But even those play out for the diminutive, bullying pimple on the universe that is the BRS.

Here's how the narrative goes. Morrissey issues a typical firebrand and divisive statement. As an active BRS member, I anticipate a hostile response if I suggest any criticism of Morrissey's statement from the group's self-appointed, comment deleting Mindguard, so I self-censored for a while. At the slightest, qualified dissent, direct pressure is placed on me, my loyalty to the group is questioned and I am characterised as stupid and evil (Uncle Skinny, no less). If I had remained silent, agreement would have been assumed.

I could go on, but you get the picture.

Now for the well-reasoned comments....

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

So much to answer for

This will be a two-part post, or a post with a sequel, if you like. The focus here is on Morrissey's statement about the recent Manchester bombing. The focus of the next post will be on the recent discussions with TRB.

Celebrating my birthday in Manchester as news of the Manchester Arena bomb broke. The anger is monumental.
For what reason will this ever stop?
Theresa May says such attacks "will not break us", but her own life is lived in a bullet-proof bubble, and she evidently does not need to identify any young people today in Manchester morgues. Also, "will not break us" means that the tragedy will not break her, or her policies on immigration. The young people of Manchester are already broken - thanks all the same, Theresa. Sadiq Khan says "London is united with Manchester", but he does not condemn Islamic State - who have claimed responsibility for the bomb. The Queen receives absurd praise for her 'strong words' against the attack, yet she does not cancel today's garden party at Buckingham Palace - for which no criticism is allowed in the Britain of free press. Manchester mayor Andy Burnham says the attack is the work of an "extremist". An extreme what? An extreme rabbit?
In modern Britain everyone seems petrified to officially say what we all say in private. Politicians tell us they are unafraid, but they are never the victims. How easy to be unafraid when one is protected from the line of fire. The people have no such protections.
23 May 2017.

For me the problematic trouble starts with the bit about "her policies on immigration." Which of Theresa May's immigration policies are relevant is not detailed. I don't mind rhetorically bashing Tories (or Labor), but I do have a problem with evidence-free opinion and dog whistle politics.

Manchester's Muslim bomber was born in England. He was 22 years old. He was a Manchester-born British citizen of immigrant parents (sounds familiar). He travelled to Libya and back in April-May this year.

What UK government immigration policy could stop that? A Trump-style travel ban wouldn't do that, as although Trump's executive orders covered Libya, they didn't apply to American citizens. A British duplication of those bans would not have stopped Salman Abedi from leaving and returning.

Australia has something that may have stopped Abedi even if he was an Australian citizen and had visited we called a "declared area" of "terrorist hostile activities". Entering or remaining in these areas is an offence.
However, even if he was an Aussie, Abedi could still have travelled to Libya and back without a problem, as the "declared areas" are all currently in Iraq and Syria. Even if it did cover Libya, one of the few exceptions to the offence is "making a genuine visit to a family member," and we know that Adebi did visit his family, so he may have slipped through even that by arguing that this was all he did while there.

As many Muslims in the Manchester area had already alerted the UK government their concerns that this dim and troubled lad was a likely jihadist, you hope that the responsible authorities would have put two and two together and either refused his re-entry under such laws or detained him at the airport. However, we do not know if the "immigration policies" that Morrissey referred to means that he endorses the Australian-style "declared area" offence for Britain and that it should cover Libya. All we have his a vague dig at Theresa May's "policies on immigration". By the way, the Australian "declared area" offence isn't even an immigrant issue, as it comes under Criminal Code Act of 1995. If this is what he meant, he should have said so.

What about the Manchester bomber's parents? They were refugees from Libya who entered Britain in 1994. They were dissidents from Gaddafi's regime, which was hardly popular in Britain (especially as they were being held responsible for the Lockerbie bombing and arming the IRA). Can Theresa May be blamed for allowing the parents of a future suicide bomber into Britain? As she was only elected to the House of Commons in 1997, and then as an opposition backbencher, it's a long stretch.

Which brings us back to the dog whistle. The idea behind the dog whistle is to appeal to different audiences through some bland statement that is alienating to a minimum of people (those who are going to disagree with you anyway or who are aware of the statements possible alternative interpretations). Let's look at how Morrissey's Facebook post went down in terms of reactions the last time I visited it:
Facebook responses to the post are overwhelmingly positive, with 89k Likes and 9.2 Hearts. Negatives are just 6.3k Cries and only 683 Angries. Mozzer, the self-declared outsider is on a winner, however much the mainstream media bleated. Exceptions were the likes of the Brietbart, the alt-right troll Milo Yiannopoulos and Murdoch attack dog Rita Panahi: they heard the whistle.  

Then there's this bit:

Manchester mayor Andy Burnham says the attack is the work of an "extremist". An extreme what? An extreme rabbit?
In modern Britain everyone seems petrified to officially say what we all say in private. 

Search Hansard and you'll see many results for "Islamic extremism" and more for the phrase "Islamist extremism" being said in the UK Parliament (and not just by UKIP types). They are far outweighed by the use of the word "extremism" (in a diverse range of contexts), but it has been said.

There are several reasons why politicians are disinclined to say the words that Morrissey is also apparently too petrified to say in public. There is the fact that it only takes a tiny minority of the world's 1.8 billion Muslims to turn to jihadism or terrorism to cause quite a bit of trouble. This is part of the answer. Islam is not monolithic and most Muslims do not support ISIS (including in majority Sunni nations). I can't recall the Provisional IRA constantly being referred to as "Catholic extremists."

We need the support of these people if we are to marginalise the jihadists into history. There is the well-grounded fear that constantly banging on about Musim/Islamic/Islamist extremists by Westerners will only embolden ISIS-style propaganda and help to justify their arguments. When Western politicians speak, their audience is global and not just domestic. As Richard Stengel, former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in the Obama administration has pointed out:

"The implication is that we were all somehow too timid or too politically correct to say it. But the reason was a much more practical one: To defeat radical Islamic extremism, we needed our Islamic allies — the Jordanians, the Emiratis, the Egyptians, the Saudis — and they believed that term unfairly vilified a whole religion....

"They also told us that they did not consider the Islamic State to be Islamic, and its grotesque violence against Muslims proved it. We took a lot of care to describe the Islamic State as a terrorist group that acted in the name of Islam. Sure, behind the scenes, our allies understood better than anyone that the Islamic State was a radical perversion of Islam, that it held a dark appeal to a minority of Sunni Muslims, but it didn’t help to call them radical Islamic terrorists."

There is also the issue that when politicians use the euphemism of "violent extremism" they are actually acknowledging a problem that is much larger than that posed by Islamists (or immigrants). 

Like it or not, but in the political world beyond seminal agitprop popstars there are international considerations to the language used to describe Islamic terrorists. The thing is, that kind of nuanced and delicate position doesn't make great headlines. Morrissey's disdain for the mainstream media is well-known, but here he has fallen for a tabloid understanding of the problem.

But, to quote someone whom Morrissey says will kill America: "Anyone who cannot name our enemy is not fit to lead this country."