Of Protests and the Media

With Ukraine, Thailand and now late entrant, Venezuela competing for the title of World’s Shoutiest Nation, the manner with which their anger is disseminated to the wider public has come under scrutiny. Framing and bias are all words that are thrown about with abandon in blogs and the media but usually only to describe the other side’s media logic. The hypocrisy goes unreported.

Happy Protestor

To look at Venezuela, la protestation de la jour (pardon my French), it seems as though the majority of media coverage so far consists of commentary than actual reporting. Facts, like international organisations, seem to be scarce on the ground but that will not stop the news machine whirring into action. In a sharply local dispute, the anger from both sides is being directed toward the Western media. The ‘opposition’ decry the mainstream media organisations for ignoring their demonstrations and subsequent government crackdowns; of course, as the protestors need the oxygen of publicity, they would never argue against more coverage. However, I have a hard time understanding their argument, especially considering the US favours and supports the opposition movement. Why would American media resist the opportunity to show the Venezuelan government as corrupt and stopping democratic protests with truncheons? And yet the government say the media coverage is biased and influenced by right-wing propaganda. Both can’t be right.

For those not on the ground, the question is of who to trust. Even in the past few days alone there have been mountains of reports: news coverage of the protests; commentary bemoaning the lack of international media attention in the face of beatings and killing of demonstrators; and further words about how the many reports filed are all supporting the rich, anti-democratic opposition (though this seemed almost the dictionary definition of ‘apologist’).

What should we do: placard up and join the protestors against the elected dictator, shake our heads at the anti-democratic action as after al, it was an election; or sit idly by and watch as the death toll rises. Once again, international spectators are left in a morality play with no clean resolution and a heck of a lot of misinformation to guide us.


Noses to the Grindstone

Dear old Phillip Hammond, a man whose face is the very picture of despair, has said that he does not support the Government’s push for gay marriage, as it has to focus “on the things that matter to the people in this country”.

This oft trotted out bit of tripe allows me to imagine all MPs and Civil Servants working their damnedest in a forge, or foundry, sleeves rolled up (as they mean business), ‘trying to save the economy’. And it’s obviously wrong for two reasons: the first is that the thought of MPs doing practical work is enough to put the majority of people in a cold sweat. But secondly, whilst everyone in Government is working to better the country, it is fatuous to suggest there is a ‘national aim’ and everything outside that is trivial.

With the UK LGBT population estimated at 750,000, this policy will affect over 1% of citizens in Britain. So Long Face Hammond, this seems like an awfully large number of people to still be ‘not a priority’. What about those 10,000 millionaires you made richer, was that deemed important enough to warrant Government time? Was that that a good use of legislative powers? Government doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) rule for the majority. These ‘people’ he mysteriously refers to are not beacons of social change, more like Conservative stick-in-the-muds reluctant to agree to any change. The point of Government is to transcend this group of people not kow-tow to them.

At least other Conservatives have had the bravery to say they don’t support gay marriage; I don’t agree with them but they have the courage of their convictions. It is this pathetic ‘public service’ mantra that really marks out a wimp; too scared of being controversial, but also not wanting to get on the wrong side of the Daily Mail.

So come on out Phillip. Don’t be your usual uninspiring self, myself and the faceless ‘people’ want to see what you’re made of. Time for you to get us out of recession, single-handidly. That’s what the people want.

The Race for Adoption

The issue that has annoyed me most this week has also left me a bit shaken and unsure of my footing, like a mountain goat with oiled hooves. I’ve agreed with the Tories over the Guardian. Or to be more exact, Lemn Sissay’s article about adoption in the Guardian. Thankfully solace can be found in the comments section, usually the preserve of those with only a finger’s grasp on sanity yet possessing the same unwavering belief in their opinion as a petulant teenager, though this time the voice of sanity.

In the article Sissay was sets out a case against the Government’s new plans to speed up mixed-race adoptions. He felt that we were reverting back to the pre-1985 consensus where there was no importance placed on the cultural needs of the child, leading to some abuses at the hands of adoptive parents. Whilst these stories cannot be ignored, I do wonder if he feels that any progress has been made in nearly 30 years? Is Britain still populated by mini-Alf Garnetts lamenting the growing diversity? I don’t think so. It is fatuous to claim that everything is like a United Colours of Benetton advert, but neither is it acceptable to extrapolate one unpleasant experience of someone in Wigan across the nation. Not least because Wigan is not the most diverse place in the UK (according to the 2001 Census) thereby lacking the ideas of cultural sensitivity so inherent in the metropolises. Sissay urges us to throw down the shackles of colour-blindness in order to live (apparently for the better) in a world where we are demarcated in terms of race. That sounds like a step forward doesn’t it?

At the core of the arguments both for and against is a desire to house the child in a loving household and a tacit acceptance that the longer a child spends in care, the worse it is. How Sissay can’t see the neon-rimmed, arrow pointing solution is beyond my understanding. Having more prospective adoptive parents is a good thing, regardless of their race. To think that it is reminiscent of colonialism is appalling and surely a nice hearty slap in the face to those who gladly open their homes to children in care. And whilst it would be ideal to have more black prospective adopters, I am not sure if it is the duty of the government to do so.

How someone so intelligent can have such a conspiratorial idea of how government works is also beyond me. By no means perfect (by no means…), those at the top aren’t seated in a ‘Secret Cabal Room for the Disenfranchisement of the Poor & Minorities’, no matter how much the Tory Annual Conference seems like it. Moreover a policy supported by the NSPCC and Barnardo’s cannot be totally fascistic; now call me odd, but I would rather back two organisations who’s raison d’etre is child protection. We cannot afford to place race above the needs of children.