Naive as the sentiment may be, whenever I talk to my mum about politics, the conversation usually ends with her saying something to the effect of “I just don’t understand why we all can’t get along.” I have always been brought up with a sense of compassion and sympathy for those different to me, whether it be in terms of class, race, gender, or age. A society where people share a similar sentiment sounds much more desirable to me than the alternative.
Before the recent murder of Brianna Ghey, the discourse around trans issues, especially in light of Scotland’s Gender Recognition Bill, had driven me to despair about the world. One common tactic used by anti-trans “campaigners” is the ‘shock of the new’ as argued by C.N. Lester and other gender theorists, which describes a conscious effort to whip up fear around what seems new and therefore unknown. Discourse, from notorious children’s authors to athletes, has centred around presenting trans people as somehow dangerous to cis gender individuals in certain spaces which have traditionally been segregated by gender.
…whenever I talk to my mum about politics, the conversation usually ends with her saying something to the effect of “I just don’t understand why we all can’t get along.”
This effort sums up what frustrates me the most about the modern world and in particular the way that media and social media approach so-called “political issues”. More often than not, people attempt to present dangers, which are either entirely fabricated or exaggerated, as the greatest threat to our safety and our way of life. And often these threats play into our emotions and therefore attempt to spark irrationality as a means of winning the argument, if one can stretch as far as to say argument. It is truly depressing to me that it took the death of a young trans girl for this grubby practice to be halted for the time being.
Yet, maybe because it is more logical or because those who have a vested interest in it control the debate, the greatest threats to our society and our way of life are unremarked upon all too often. Straying away from my previous examples, the climate crisis illustrates what I mean effectively. The extinction of the human race and the destruction of our beautiful planet seems a far more pressing issue to me than any fabricated threats which certain individuals try to present to us.
More often than not, people attempt to present dangers, which are either entirely fabricated or exaggerated, as the greatest threat to our safety and our way of life.
Studies from the University of Bath’s Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations, has found that ¾ of UK adults are worried about climate change, with 4.6% suggesting they have suffered climate anxiety as a result. Young people and those suffering from higher generalised anxiety are disproportionately more likely to suffer from climate anxiety. It seems a fairly universal truth among people of my generation that climate change poses an existential threat to humanity. Yet despite all the evidence, dog-whistle articles attempting to make you scared of trans people, immigrants, or Brussels are far more prevalent than those aimed at telling you the truth about the greatest threat mankind has ever known.
My argument speaks to the fundamental flaws with much of the UK media in particular, and global media more broadly. Reality seems a far flung concept to many in this country, from politicians to journalists. It is important that we ask ourselves why these people are so invested in presenting a narrow, biased view of the world and trying to subvert us with their methods of disinformation. The simplest answer is that they have something to gain from doing this; in part because they consider implanting their own political views as far more important than allowing for free, logical, fact-based discourse. Or maybe, their obsessive attempt to make politics all a game which they must win has meant that they would rather divide and conquer than actually do the decent and difficult job of uniting the divisions which history has created. Or, as is most likely in the case of climate change, they simply have material interests to protect and would rather therefore make selfish decisions which furnish that, than for instance attempting to act in a more egalitarian way with a view to the future preservation and happiness of humanity.
…dog-whistle articles attempting to make you scared of trans people, immigrants, or Brussels are far more prevalent than those aimed at telling you the truth…
One thing which seems to be consistent among most politicians and journalists is a lack of recognition that actions have consequences (if only they had all been brought up by my mum). The leading Brexiteers who spent years leading an arbitrary tirade against Brussels as the vestige of all things evil in the world, now fail to accept the responsibility of how damaging their rhetoric and actions have been to this country. Whether you think Brexit was a good idea or not, I cannot fathom how you could say it has been done effectively or for the supposedly altruistic reasons that the Brexiteers would have had you believe in 2016. Successive politicians have failed to accept responsibility for inaction on climate change, and despite this have wondered why the young have been driven to such desperation as to turn to more direct action to get their points across. Agree or not with the actions of Extinction Rebellion or Just Stop Oil, their protests would not have happened if our Government had listened to reason and scientific evidence for the past two decades, rather than simply ignoring the problem.
I referenced the murder of Brianna Ghey earlier, which has caused great distress among many people in the trans community as well as many allies. Without assigning direct blame to anyone other than the two suspected murderers, our society is riven by a culture of trans-bashing and fear-mongering which many have likened to the anti-gay “movements” of the 70s and 80s. The normalisation of hatred towards the trans community has produced this culture, and it began with the journalists, politicians, and anyone else who wanted to chip in with a little bit of their own hatred. They do so in the name of what they call “political discourse” or “free speech” to which I respond that no human being’s right to life or safety from violence is a political issue.
The normalisation of hatred towards the trans community has produced this culture, and it began with the journalists, politicians, and anyone else who wanted to chip in with a little bit of their own hatred.
Anger and hatred should never be the fuels for politics; love and compassion are far better motivators which will help us to create the kind of society that we want to live in. What seems to be a sad reality, is that there is so much to be angry about. But our anger should never be targeted at an individual’s right to life and safety. Like many, I find myself angry at a society where hate crime is far too common, and those responsible for fuelling the ideas which underpin it, are far too often let off the hook. If only our society had collectively learned that lesson which my mum taught me when I was growing up, and if only they would listen to her now.