Alexa

My wife and I were having an enjoyable and uninterrupted supper last evening and, in the process of having a fairly active discussion about some news or other item that was on BBC iPlayer, I used a word that is not, in current parlance, ‘politically correct’.

To our surprise and I suppose shock, our Amazon ‘Alexa’ suddenly said “this is not a polite word to say”. I should point out that I had not addressed Alexa in the usual fashion, or ordered it to extract some useful information about the weather or local travel news or to listen to BBC Radio 4 or to ask it to say something funny – it just spoke to us, unannounced and uninvited into our home!

It was very funny at the time and I mentioned this later on to one of my children and their first question was…”what was the word”? I explained that it was not ‘politically correct’ and that it was, possibly, not a word they would use, so I did not share it with them. I should point out, that it is not a word I would use outside my home either.

However it got me thinking and especially in the light of recent events concerning our apparent naivety about data harvesting via Facebook and other related issues. There is no way I ‘woke Alexa up’, as one does, so, I am left with the worrying thought that someone is listening to what is being said in my home, despite the supposed requirement to ‘open up’ this particular access to the internet.

Having heard what I said, then digested it, then formed an opinion (presumably based on that of Amazon people) and then responded with a ‘rap on my knuckles’ for saying it, where else has my ‘politically incorrect’ word gone now and what may happen as a consequence? This is all very interesting or perhaps even worrying, that the ‘privacy of my own home’ is not as sacrosanct or as under my control as I thought!

Antisemitism

Undoubtedly, antisemitism seems to be the issue of the day. Why is that?

It all seems to have come to a head because of the actions (or in this case inaction) of Jeremy Corbyn and the image that was, even to a blind man, antisemitic.

It’s amazing to me that in a country that has a Judeo-Christian heritage going back for many centuries and particularly following the atrocities of World War II (not to mention the treatment of the Jews by many European civilisations), that there are still people who have a problem with the Jews…and Israel.

To start with, Israel is a small democratic country that is entirely surrounded by many other countries with massively larger populations that have sworn to destroy it and, as a consequence, go to some considerable lengths to defend its own values and a (albeit relatively new) space on this planet. There seem to be too many people (and even Jews) spouting their views on Israel on the BBC and elsewhere, who have surprisingly limited knowledge and understanding about Israel.

Now we have the Jews. What have they ever done to offend or impose their way of life or values on anyone in the U.K. or elsewhere? In most cases, we dont even know they are Jews sitting next to us on the bus, or or the train. If only this could all be said of other religions that are ‘alien’ to our historic values and ideals and ‘wear their beliefs on their sleeves’.

I for one, certainly don’t understand and I don’t know anyone who knows anyone… … …who is antisemitic.

The issue that has brought this to a head for Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party, may have been blown out of proportion, but he did do and say what he did in 2012 in relation to ‘that image’ and his unwillingness to provide an adequate rebuff to the accusations of antisemitism against him and the Labour Party, that are rife at the moment, probably says more about more about Palestine and his support for that, than any antisemitic stance. I was especially interested to see that the BBC showed ‘that image’ openly on a number of their programmes and wondered what would have happened (and what the reaction would have been in certain quarters) if there had been something similar shown, for example, about Islam or LGBT issues – I will leave you to decide!

It will be interesting to see what happens outside Parliament this evening when the Jewish community, who have patently had enough, gather to meet and stand their ground. I, for one, am with them all 100%…

The ‘democratic media’

Over recent years, I have noticed a significant increase in TV and radio programmes that have a ‘message’ for us. Whether it is The Archers (currently ‘pushing’ health, excessive drinking and ‘gay parenting’) or, say, Below The Surface (about the kidnapping of Danish citizens for ransom and ‘highlighting’ PTSD in the Danish army)…incidentally, the latter was postponed by the BBC last night, apparently out of respect to the events in France, despite continuing with programmes such as Troy, which featured far more potentially upsetting issues. Both these programmes are broadcast via the BBC (BBC Four and BBC Radio 4) and there are many many more examples from this monopoly media organisation which is funded by us. I find it very difficult to find any programme (especially from The BBC) that does not have one or more of these subliminal (or usually much more obvious) ‘messages’ that are often about minority issues. Try watching from now on with this particular ‘critical eye’.

Before anyone points out that, for example, The Archers has always done this, that is to some limited extent true, however, not on this scale and certainly not within the much wider flooding of our lives from all channels and all media providers. In any case, in the past, it has been more about ‘education’ than ‘brainwashing’.

Other issues are the disproportionate (to the population) airing of certain themes and scenarios. For example it is difficult to find anything that does not have some ‘arabic’ content or connection these days. Even programmes set in places far removed from the Middle East, have some sub-plot in or connected to an arabic country, communities or individuals, one recent example being 13 Commandments.

So my question is, who decides to ‘brainwash’ us with this ‘propaganda’ (especially within the BBC) and on what basis is there any democratic control or accountability? If our democratic government decided to put out a ‘public information broadcast’, then that is very different.

Speakers Corner

I was rather interetested to read about the man who came from Austria to speak at Speakers Corner recently, but was detained at Heathrow and banned from doing so.

It would seem that his speech was read out by someone else and this is, as far as I can tell, what was said…

“Dear Friends, dear Britons, dear lovers of free speech.

“I assume you all are lovers of free speech because you have come to Speakers’ Corner.

“You might not understand all the fuss happening today around this speech. Honestly, I don’t understand it either.

“My name is Martin Sellner. I am an Austrian patriot, and at the moment, I’m sitting in a detention cell in Colnbrook Bypass near Heathrow. My smartphone was taken and my girlfriend Brittany was separated from me. I currently don’t know where she is. We will be deported on Sunday.

“Five minutes ago, they unlocked our cells and my fellow inmates are gathering in the prison wing. They are mostly illegals and eastern European criminals.

“What brought me into this situation? What was my crime?

“My crime was that I wanted to be here with you, to speak at Speakers’ Corner.

“But let’s start with the beginning. I was invited by UKIP to present my movement at an event last Autumn. I represent Generation Identity — a patriotic European youth movement that is raising awareness about mass immigration and Islamisation.

“Far-left people call us right-wing, people who want to shut free speech down call us ‘fascist’, and folks who hate their own culture call us ‘racist’.

“In reality, we are just a group of young patriots fed up with the system, the mainstream press and lying politicians. We use peaceful activism to make our voices heard, and contrary to our friends on the radical left, who are probably swarming
you right now, we never wear masks.

“From Paris to Rome, from Vienna to London, we fight peacefully but without compromise for our freedom, our homelands, and our identity!

“This is what I wanted to speak about in Autumn. But the conference was cancelled due to threats from the radical left. The venue would not take the risk. So they rescheduled it for March, this time keeping the venue secret — but again the terror of the left prevailed, and the venue dropped out.

“But this time I did not want to let them win! It was about principles! (Also, our flights
were already booked.)

“My last refuge was Speakers’ Corner. I remembered my mother telling me about that special place when I was a child. It seemed almost magical to me. A place where everyone, without exception, could just stand on a box and start to speak to those who wanted to listen. I have always loved this tradition of Speakers’ Corner, which seemed very British to me.

“But I came only to see that this tradition — the tradition of freedom of speech in the United Kingdom — is dead.

“Your Country is blocking you from challenging ideas from the outside. This is a disgrace to our democracy!

“I should be speaking in neat, warm a conference room right now, and you should be sitting in comfortable chairs. Instead, I’m in my cell and you are on the street in a standoff with the enemies of freedom of speech.

“And this is very telling! Today there is a war going on for our freedom of speech. This war is being fought on the streets, by you!

“Every man and woman showing her face today, standing shoulder to shoulder, is standing up against a new totalitarianism that has been growing for far too long. You can be proud of yourself. You might not even agree with me on every point — you are simply giving a statement that I should have the right to speak my mind freely.

“I would love to be among you now. They prevented me from it. They locked up the speaker, but I know that the speech will find a way through the iron bars. It will find a way to you and you are going to hear what you government so desperately wants to protect you from.

“Those words which they consider more harmful to you then rape gangs or terrorists who are let into your country again and again.

“I’m going to tell you something nobody has told you before. It’s the biggest, most obvious secret of our media our politicians and our powerholders: People of Britain, you are being replaced.

“There has always been immigration in your history. People coming in, assimilating. But what’s happening today is different: You are being replaced by massive Muslim immigration.

“You see it everywhere: in London, in Manchester, but also already in the little countryside towns. A big replacement is going on.

“And let me tell you: your politicians have no plan, no vision and no idea how to deal with the problems that come along. Problems like you have seen in Telford, Rotherham, and on Westminster Bridge.

“All across Europe, there is a shadow hanging over our heads. The French are whispering about in the Metro, the Germans murmuring about it when they feel unwatched, Italians look left and right, and if nobody is listening they tell you: “I don’t feel at home anymore in my street. We are becoming foreigners in our own country.”

“And again and again I hear: “We are not allowed to talk about it.”

“And that’s the bizarre drama of the ‘Strange death of Europe’. We are being replaced, conquered by radical Islam, and we are now allowed to talk about it!

“Dear Britons, defenders of free speech. Out of my cell in Colnbrook, I want to ask you something. Be honest and raise your hands.

“Who among of you has ever been in the following situation: You grab a beer after work, or you are visiting your girlfriend’s parents for the first time, or you meet other children’s parents at school — and suddenly the conversation moves to politics: radical Islam, immigration.

“Who of you in this very moment was faced with the decision between speaking his mind and facing problems, or complying and staying silent?

“Raise your hands and be honest.

“I will not be able to see the results, but every single hand is too much. This amount of fear should not exist in a society. Speech that has social costs and severe consequences is no longer free. It has a price — and our Government and the Antifa are working everyday to raise that price.

“No freedom of speech means no democracy. In front of our very eyes this country is becoming a tyranny, shutting all debates
about immigration down, until demographics solves the issue by replacement.

“People of the UK. I might be in a cell right now, but you all are in a cell. It’s the prison of fear and silence your governement and the PC tyranny has locked you in since the days of your childhood.

“I ask you, I command you, break free!

“Patriots of the UK: come out of the closet. Make your dissent visible by visible acts of resistance that inspire others. I know for certain that millions in the UK think like me. Those millions should be on the street now.

“We need a coming out of the silent majority, or Britain is lost. We need a free, open and honest debate about immigration, Islam and demographics, so we can sort these problems out together.

“And I know that the force is still in you. With your Brexit vote you stunned the world! The will and the life of the British nation is not broken.

“Initially, I asked if freedom of speech is dead in the UK. You, every one of you who came today, is a living sign that the tradition of the UK is not dead! You are the livley tradition of your nation, saving its face before history.

“People of the UK — remember who you are! Remember your glorious past, you are sons and daughters of knights, kings, explorers, philosophers and artists. Who is the sovereign in this country?

“Is it big money?

“The mainstream media?

“The politicians?

“It’s you — the people. You, the silent and invisible majority who said NO during Brexit. You can say NO again — no to Islamisation, no to mass immigration, and no to the great replacement.

“And YES to your identity — yes to your security, yes to your heritage and the future for your children.

“And all this is impossible without to freedom of speech.

I know, if these words will find their way to the UK and even to Speakers’ Corner, it will be victory for our cause.

“If they did, and if you are hearing them now, I tell you: go further on that winning street. Don’t be afraid because we have an ally that is unbeatable: Truth.

“The battle, our battle for freedom of speech, has just begun, and Speakers’ Corner will become a symbolic place in that struggle.

“When you go home know I want you to bring the spirit of Speakers’ Corner with you. Every single person who raised his hand because he could relate to this moment of fear, when he did not dare to speak his mind.

“Promise me: Next time I will overcome my inner fear. Next time I will speak up!”

Europe and free speech…

What an amazing and courageous act by the French police officer in Trèbes this week. The word ‘hero’ is used so widely the days that it often looses its real meanin…however in this case, it seems highly appropriate. In one sense people may feel that the terrorist is dead and ‘got what he deserved’, however the problem with this and other islamic-related terrorism which we all face, is that death for them is a good outcome as they are – in their ‘16th century way of thinking’ – martyrs. I am not sure how ‘western society’ can and will reconcile this, in term of justice and perhaps any retribution or ‘moral revenge’ that is needed by the societies affected.

According to William Randolph Hearst, “Freedom of speech is not only the boon but the basis of democracy – not only the gift but the guarantee of liberty and security – not only the privilege but the protection of a free people”. This is interesting and, of course, is largely true. However the line between what is and what isn’t free speech seems blurred or rather too flexible these days in a time of changing and perhaps declining, values. Recent examples of free speech from its ‘home’ at speakers corner in London, would indicate that what was reasonable and acceptable, no longer seems so and must be controlled, but by whom? In the recent case, clearly by the police acting according to government policy and a rather overblown nanny state? The parameters of the ‘realm’ of what is and what is not ‘acceptable’, are now moving ever closer to (or being driven towards) our own private lives and homes and begin to resemble scenarios predicted in 1984 by George Orwell.

In the light of the events in Trèbes, we need to look carefully at the differences between ‘free action’ and free speech, as the consequences of both are becoming – or being driven – much closer.

A grey day…

Rather grey outside…and the world in general perhaps.

Brexit continues to dominate the news and directly and indirectly a lot of parliamentary time. I saw a poll (yes of course it’s only a poll!) suggesting that, across all sectors and regions, people just want to get on with it now, regardless of their preference in the referendum. Perhaps this is because people are bored with the constant media (especially BBC) attention, often when there is little or no news?

I quite like or even admire Jacob Rees-Mogg, but the demonstration on the Thames this week, where he and others threw some fish into the river, seems a little unnecessary, not least because it was a waste of fish and also, as I understand it, the only issue is the 21 month delay to exiting the EU on this issue.

I have just been reading Sadiq Khan’s new draft strategy on ‘culture’ for London and was fascinated to see that, in the executive summary (and let’s face it people will only read that) there are only pictures of people ‘of one colour’. Hardly what one might describe as a ‘balanced’ presentation of the nation’s capital?

My local town is going through a navel-gazing exercise at the moment (with the help of expensive consultants of course) about what can be done to take the centre forward. Lots of discussion about pedestrian precincts and pedestrianising roads. Having witnessed the latter in many other places, this just seems to kill off trade and as a consequence the town centres themselves. As the town prides itself on being a “one off”, this all seems somewhat misguided. Then there is the fact that Council had to get rid of some of its off-shore capital, so it purchased some shopping centres in the town…just at the time that retail is under serious threat from online shopping. Shopping centres are hardly ‘one offs’!