Methinks the Met Doth Protest Too Much

The Metropolitan Police released a statement today about a series of dawn raids that took place this morning in a crackdown on burglars. While I obviously think it is important that we make efforts to find stolen goods and to prosecute burglars, some of the language used in the statement gets my back up. It’s almost as if the Met are worried people might thik that this wasn’t a stellar use of 1000 officers and they’re trying to get thier defence in before any shit comes their way [emphasis mine]:

Supported by Tower Hamlets Council the meticulously-executed operation resulted in the seizure of a significant haul of electrical goods, including smart phones and laptops, all believed to be stolen from addresses across London.

All of those arrested are currently in custody in various police stations pending further enquiries.

Detective Chief Inspector Des McHugh, who led today’s operation, said:

“These arrests follow a lengthy intelligence-led operation designed to combat criminal networks within Tower Hamlets and the surrounding boroughs.”

I want to reiterate that I don’t have a problem with the Metropolitan Police targeting criminals (in fact I think that’s their job). But when I hear the words “Metropolitan Police” and “dawn raid” in the same sentence the cynical part of me wonders how much of this was the targeted and necessary use of (let me say again) over 1000 officers, and how much was a bunch of men who wanted to put on their bullet-proof vests and feel like they’re in Homeland.

Congratulations to the Metropolitan police for effecting 80 arrests this morning. However, whether it really needed 10-12 officers per suspect is another matter altogether – it speaks broadly to our increasingly militarised and belligerent MPS.

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Upcoming Comedy Shows

I’ve booked a couple of open mics over the last few days which I really like, and I really encourage people to come along to. If you’re happy and you know it, come and see me be funny.

  • Comedy Virgins, Stockwell. I’ll be doing a tight 5 on Monday 27th May. It’s a good night, always packed and run by one of my favourite MCs
  • I’ll be doing a set at Rudy’s Revenge in Holborn, which is one of the best open mics in London and one of the nicest rooms to sit in for 3 hours with good food and good drink. I’ll be there on Wednesday, June 12th. This really is one of my favourite nights I’ve done since I started stand-up a not very long time ago. In fact it’s second only to:
  • Free and Funny at the Camden Head. Everybody I know on the circuit loves this place. It’s always packed to the rafters and barry Fearns the MC is super awesome. I’m going to be trying to bring my A-game because the quality there is generally so high. Come along on the 4th July if you want to see me. Or any Thursday for a great night of comedy.

If you’re coming along to a night, let me know on Twitter, or Facebook or in the comments section below.

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Filed under Comedy, Personal

Rape Culture Raises its Ugly Head Once More

Ugh, it seems I can’t read anything on the internet without finding out something else that disgusts me. This story, summarised by Chris Clarke at Pharyngula, describes a story in the US that’s passed under my radar. Occidental College, the LA-based liberal arts college with a distinguished history, has a major rape problem. That on its own doesn’t mark it out as special: the world has a major rape problem.

The thing that marks it out as special is the actions of the college itself when faced with allegations of rape against its students. It placed protecting its reputation ahead of pursuing rapists. It first attempted to talk women out of raising allegations, then placing as much of the consequences of the allegations on the women. If they had to find a student guilty of rape, they gave out a slap on the wrist and didn’t raise criminal charges. What little punishments the rapists received were often reduced on appeal.

This, right here, is rape culture. The process of normalising rape and making it fit into a background of activity is rape culture. Victim-blaming and the minimising of consequences is rape culture. The college has now promised to change things, and has introduced real measures to make their students’ lives better. But the fact that it takes a sustained campaign to force an institution to behave properly is rape culture. We need to end rape culture.

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Filed under Ethics, Feminism

Wayne La Pierre’s Ice Cream Fantasy

Mother Jones had an article recently about Wayne La Pierre’s fantasy: quitting the NRA to open an ice cream shop. And they helpfully provided some Ben & Jerry’s style ice cream flavours they might try releasing. Here’s a selection of my favourites:

Mmmmmm-16

License to Chill

Glocky Road

I’d also like to Walther Pecan-K and AK-Fudgy-7 in there.

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Filed under Politics, Republicanism

My Blog Has Moved!

A big hello to both of my readers (Hi Mum! Hi me, checking back later to see if there’s been any comments!). I haven’t posted in a very long time, because I’ve been busy with a few things:

  1. Moving my blog to its new address at timballantine.wordpress.com
  2. Starting a comedy career.

Between these two things I haven’t had time to get angry about stuff, but there’s plenty being held back. Be prepared for me spamming your Facebook/Twitter timeline over the next week.

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Let the Greens into the Political Mainstream

I’ve posted once or twice about the Greens in recent months. Full disclosure: I am not a Green party supporter. However, I do believe they offer a better hope for Britain than any of the main three parties or any of the new challengers coming in from the right, such as UKIP.

The Green Party of England and Wales (there is a separate affiliated Scottish party) has an MP, two MEPs and 141 councillors across England and Wales. They polled third in the most recent London mayoral elections. While on the national popular vote they often poll a little lower, they are by representation the fourth largest non-geographical party in the UK and are the only loud voice of progressive politics left in traditional politics.

The Young Greens have opened an e-petition asking for the Greens to have a seat at the table. They want the Green party to be included in future Prime Ministerial debates, and I for one believe this will do real good. Nick Clegg’s performance at the first Prime Ministerial brought the Tories towards the centre, and I believe that including the Green’s can help pull the narrative of politics back into the world of social justice.

I am not alone in thinking this. Polls suggest that over half of Britons feel much the same way. Show your support for democracy by allowing one of the UK’s major parties to enter the political mainstream:

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Filed under Environmentalism, Politics

What is the Party of Social Justice in the UK?

Is it Labour? No. Since Blair, Labour are no longer a real party for labour interests in the UK. They still take donations from the unions, but that doesn’t make them “for” labour interests. Or even “for” social justice.

The LibDems? Never were. And that’s before they got into bed with the Tories.

Nope. If you want a party which has a commitment to social justice written into its constitution, you need the Green party. So: for social justice, you need to be supporting the party which polled 7th in the popular vote at the last general election – a number skewed rather high as the Greens fields nearly 10 times as many candidates than any of the 8th through 12th largest parties.

This is our representative for social justice in mainstream politics. And people wonder why we young people lose faith in mainstream politics.

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Bad Chart Tuesday

Taking a leaf out of SkepChick’s Bad Graph Thursday, I’m going to show you a graph. This is not just any graph. This is a graph showing the correlation between attitudes towards sushi, and attitudes towards gay marriage across generations. This is a graph presented without any irony whatsoever, and it proves… something. Thanks, Mother Jones!

In all its glory:

sushi vs gay marriage

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Filed under Graphs, Science

In Which I Wonder What Some Men Think Women Think After They’ve Been Harassed

I’ve been wondering about this for a while. What’s kicked me off into actually getting off my arse and sitting down to write about it is the Lord Rennard/Lib Dem Cover-Up story (link here to an early story summary if you’ve missed it).

I don’t wonder what men think when they see a story like the Lord Rennard story. I wonder what men think the victims are thinking immediately after the harassment. I know that’s like a third-order consciousness or something, but bear with me.

The reason I wonder what some men think goes through a woman’s mind after being sexually harassed is this: There are so many men out there who seem to think women view sexual harassment as an opportunity to enact revenge in the medium-to-long-term future. Revenge for what? Whatever the man in question happens to dream up: that’s what.

For instance, Michael White, in the Guardian had to wonder why the claims against Lord Rennard are surfacing now. But here’s what I don’t get: does Mr. White believe that the women involved, who were touched inappropriately, or invited to inappropriate places, or worse; does he really believe that their first thought afterwards was “Hmm. I think I’ll hold on to this to save up for a by-election when I can really do some collateral damage”?

This kind of thinking really frustrates me. We saw it in the Julian Assange debacle, where hordes of men decided en masse that the women must have been exaggerating to bring down the Chosen One. And we’re seeing it now, where a bunch of self-righteous (mostly) male keepers of truth have all openly wondered why the women are only coming forward now and why there were not more specific allegations made at the time.

I’ve never been raped, but I have been the victim of a serious incident of sexual harassment from another man – a man older and more senior than myself, in much the same way as Lord Rennard was to these women. I did one thing and one thing only at the time: I fled the fuck away as quickly as I possibly could. It was only later that afternoon that I was able to return and report the offence to someone who could do something about it. I was promised things would be handled and things were quietly swept under the carpet. I don’t believe there was any real punishment for the offender involved, although he may have had a quiet talking to, I suppose.

After that, I felt impotent, which I suppose I should feel a sense of irony over. Ultimately the incident wasn’t enough to see this man dealt with in any way. And it doesn’t feel like there is anything else I can do – all power feels like it has taken away from me. But if in 10 years I see his face in the paper with similar allegations, you can bet your life I’m calling the paper up and adding my experience into the story. Because sometimes that’s the only way these people see justice for their behaviour.

My experience is just one person’s experience. And it’s not even a woman’s experience. I’m not going to pretend to truly understand what other people go through when they are raped, abused or harassed. I’m explicitly telling you not to generalise from what I’ve written and apply it to other people.

Instead, the message needs to be that second-guessing people’s motives for publicly coming forward with rape or sexual abuse allegations is damaging to the women coming forward and to all other women who may have to face coming forward with their own story in the future. This creates a culture of hostility towards victims and makes no ones lives any better.

There are many reasons why people don’t come forward with accusations of rape or sexual harassment for years at a time, and it is not our place to second-guess those reasons. Our job is to support victims as best we can and try, bit by bit, to change our world into one where sex is consensual and women are treated as equals instead of meat.

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Filed under Feminism, Journalism, Politics

Ken Ham, Once Again Missing the Point

Oh, Ken Ham. Your writing is so often mental, so often self-aggrandising, always devoid of reason. I follow your blog, but not for the photos of you standing next to random evangelical pastors. No, I follow your blog for posts like this.

For the posts where you get so close to understanding the truth, before your cognitive dissonance valve unblocks and you go back into denial-shutdown mode. The opening sentence:

It is interesting to note how secularists continue to modify their ideas about supposed biological evolution when they find new information.

Welcome, Mr. Ham, to the fascinating world of science. The world where we learn new things all the time, and don’t assume that the stuff we read in a book a long while ago will necessarily always be true for ever more. How’s the Bible working out for you?

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Filed under Atheism, Religion, Science