Thursday, 23 May 2013

Bloodshed

'It must be exhausting, having to constantly reinterpret the world through the blinkers of your own idiocy.' 

No, I haven't been to see an internet therapist. I merely quote a friend's comment on friends-of-friends Facebook comments. That's what we've come to, I suppose. The idiocy in question is the 'false flag' claim - that the very brutal killing of a soldier near Woolwich barracks was somehow faked, or staged, or otherwise is not what it seems to be i.e. a murder by two stupid young fanatics. 

There's a paradox for you. While we've never had so much information before, our ability to interpret the data we are bombarded with remains rather primitive. Couple that with a desperate desire to be a sophisticated, cynical commenter on life's passing show and you get fuckwittage on a grand scale. Show some people film of a crime taken while it's still actually occurring and they will decide that the 'blood is a funny colour' or 'he's talking like an actor', or ask the profound question (and this was on Twitter, I swear), 'since when do Muslims wear stone island' (sic). 

The false flag drivel can be applied to anything. Holocaust deniers, possibly the scummiest conspiracy merchants of all, have applied it to World War 2 - they claim the Nazis were more-or-less innocent victims of a Zionist conspiracy. That's at the extreme end of the scale, but lesser examples are everywhere. And of course there's the usual dead weight of those geniuses who think it 'doesn't really hurt anyone' if people claim the Moon landings were faked. Because  promoting untruth cannot, in and of itself, do any harm to society. 

How could creating a climate of ignorance, confusion, and credulity harm anyone? And for a bonus question, how would you pronounce 'Weimar'?

The torrent of electronic stupidity generated by any major news item is the modern equivalent of a problem encapsulated, albeit in slightly snobbish terms, by A.A. Milne:
“The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority. The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking.”
No, I don't think Winnie the Pooh actually says that to Eeyore at any point. Milne did write other stuff. But if old A.A. could have had five minutes' access to Twitter he might have taken some satisfaction in seeing how right he was. The most credulous idiots always produce the most illiterate, raggedy-arsed comments.

Out of what may be masochism, yesterday I watched a BBC documentary about how some Christian leaders whip up fear of child-witches in Africa. The result is 'deliverance' rituals that can seriously injure a child, and are bound to leave it severely traumatised. Some parents dispense with the ritual aspect and simply set their offspring on fire. 

And this is all relatively new - it's only in recent decades that children have been targeted by witch-finders and exorcists. It is (presumably) down to the inroads made by US-style, money-driven fundamentalist Protestantism. It's the nearest thing the modern West has produced to radical Islam, I suppose. 

The programme is all the more harrowing because it's presented by a young Londoner who returns to DR Congo to find her family in the grip of this witch mania. Her despair at this happening 'in the 21st century' sums up what many people instinctively feel - that we should have discarded the cultural baggage of ignorance and superstition, along with the fear and cruelty they cause. Similar views were expressed in the 20th century, and the 19th. 

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