Train home, post some drinking blog post.
Ethics are difficult. It is easier to attempt no kindness or protest ever, as it will save you from the accusation of hypocrisy. Do nothing and say nothing, just smell the fumes of the world burning, you’ll be purer if you agree not to get involved.
This is a blog post of questions, no solutions, no certainties.
1. The ethical and moral worth of your death is a volatile number depending on the power of the interested parties looking at your final breath. This is highlighted by yet another murderous spree in the USA. It seems that if your murder is the result of Islamic terrorism then you are the propellant for Draconian immigration regulations and possible declarations of war, if you are killed in a spree by a gun nut, you are the collateral damage for a society’s rights to fetishise weaponry and ensure easy access to it. For the family of the victims of either, the despair is the same.
That is the thought that irritated my skull as news of the Las Vegas shooting broke on social media, another quandary between the right to be armed and the right not to be savagely and pointlessly killed. For those of us who are not immersed in the culture of weaponry, the preposterousness of a nation that wishes to be both the pinnacle of civilisation, yet rejects ideas of the rights of universal healthcare while embracing ideas of universal gun ownership is horribly absurd. (As Desirina Boskovich has just tweeted, “as The GOP insists that the Vegas shooter’s gun arsenal is “a right,” but medical treatment for his 500+ survivors is merely “a privilege.”)Yet somewhere in the UK culture and politics, there seem to be slavering gimlet eyes that envy these “freedoms”.
I am confused. In my current show, the most likely lump of overrunning material to be vaporised is about the problem of hypocrisy in the complexity of our current civilisation. And here I think of the ugly spectacle of the rapidly deflating priapism of the “Nationalist” and “Country lover” who is disappointed to discover that the perpetrator of a town square massacre or manslaughter does not belong to religion or colour of those he wishes to see crushed and banned, so the lives lost become nothing to him anymore.
2. Here I am, trying to write a blog post that hankers for justice and decency in society on a laptop that may well have been made in slave-like conditions by suicidal workers.
If you can’t keep your cognitive dissonance active and energetic, you’ll be stunned into silence by your self-deceiving duplicity. It is what the more controlling elements are hoping for, a nation of discontents who will fail to act because they are aware of their complicity. It’s what Louise Mensch was relying on when she belittled anyone who dared to protest capitalism while being unable to to find an independent and ethical coffee shop near their protest.
I found myself in this position at New Scientist LIve on Sunday.
I try to be careful what I do for fear of further tainting of my tattered gown of tie-dye liberalism and leftism. I saw that some corners of the event were sponsored by Bae Systems, a company that I had done benefits to fund a legal fees to battle their more suspicious enterprises and a company that had paid for someone to befriend and spy on Mark Thomas, amongst others.
Back in the 1980s, Carl Sagan wrote of the disturbing problem that after being imbued with curiosity, such a high proportion of scientists would spend their life utilising that curiosity to create weapons of pain and destruction.
Another sponsor was Shell, a company that seems to be working towards adapting for climate change, but also has a history of aggressive lobbying against renewable energy and also against the targets of the Paris agreement. New Scientist has some very good coverage on climate change science, but it also finds itself unable to fund a big event encouraging people to be scientifically interested without taking money from a company that has to ignore certain statistics and campaign against them for the sake of profit.
I did my event at New Scientist with Helen Czerski, Andrew Steele, Lucie Green and Adam Rutherford. Helen brought up the atrocities of Yemen, sped on by Saudia Arabian purchases from Bae, and Lucie mentioned her own discomfort, and I finished my referring, yet again, to Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot and the tragedy of the “all the bloodshed so men could be the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot” and how so much of scientific investigation is focused on destruction, not creation.
Was that enough?
(I have met people who worked in development in Bae systems, they were not evil, they just made weapons because that was what they did. That was an odd night in a curry house. I am more disconcerted with the boardroom chiefs who have no interest in who they sell to as long as it appears to fit within regulations, that must surely be a cognitive dissonance that wheezes and creaks sometimes…doesn’t it?)
3. A man of Scottish brogue and oily hands was begging on the train. Usually, I don’t give. I make sure I have a direct debit to try and wash my hands of it all and have subsidiary rules that every busker, even the one that was doing a hopefully inimitable version of She’s The One this evening, gets at least 50p from me as “we’re all showbusiness together”. Tonight, I broke my rule, heartily hearing the condemnation that he’ll spend it in drugs and demeaning pursuits. What do all the other people I hand my money over to spend their cut on?
Just some words.
Just some 21st century quandaries and confusions.
I am on tour, savagely cutting my show to fit the allotted time – Winchester, Salford, Hull, Nottingham, Bristol and on. Details of all 50 dates HERE.
Helen Czerski is here @helenczerski on twitter, find out how to sponsor her for her humanitarian crisis charity exercise.
Also, there is a big cancer benefit w/ Billy Bragg, Mark Thomas, Charlotte Church, James Acaster, Hollie McNish, Josie Long, me and more. Please support and spread the word.
A survey on values. https://www.worldvaluesday.com/values-challenge-for-individuals/