31 October 2012

One Nice Thing Per Day

I have a new plan that I want to carry out, doing one nice thing per day that is for someone else and not myself.

I planned to do a blog on this but before I do, I wanted to get started with my first thing.  Today, that is signing the petition to free Morgan who is an orca in capacity, despite assurances that she would be caught and swiftly released.

Over two years later she is still in a tank, on display to the public.  There is still time for her to be released back to into wild.  Let's make it happen.

I have attached the link as below for you to sign if you wish.


22 October 2012

Stepping Backwards - Mini Rant

Over the centuries wars have been fought, campaigns have been launched and banners have been waved; all in the name of our rights.

Our right to be free, the women's right to vote; freedom of speech; decriminalisation of homosexuality; the woman's rights to her own body; the list is endless.  Although some issues are still being argued and there are rights that are still to be won, we have been taking steps in the right direction over recent decades.
I look around now though in 2012 and in some areas, we seem to be taking steps back.  The Big Brother society that George Orwell wrote about in 1984 is not a merely a figment of imagination, it is in some respects, peeking around the corner. 

Freedom of speech for example, which day by day seems to turning into freedom of speech, but only for nice people, or people who agree with your point of view.  But then, we are plebs aren't we?  What do we know?

Then we have religion and it's interference with the State.  I don't dispute anyone's right to have religious beliefs, but I would argue against any one religion having influence over the running of the country.  Although I'm an atheist, I'm sure that Muslims, Sikhs etc would also wholly disagree with the Church having any influence or capacity over laws and how the country is run. 

I saw the story of a 10 year old boy recently who, 10 months after joining, was removed from the Scouts on the basis that he wouldn't swear the Scout Promise of "doing their duty by God".  It seems that in order to learn to tie knots that you need religion.

Be who you want to be and say what you think is slowly but surely turning into "Say the right thing, have the right opinion, know your position as a pleb and be religious or else".

Personally, I say what I think and if "they" don't like it, they can shove it.  If that makes me guilty of hate crime, well then so be it.


I Do Believe in Fairies!

Without wishing to sound about a hundred years old (I’m 33); my childhood was in the time before computers and IPhones, before the X-Box and Nintendo DS.  My childhood was made up of story books and playing in the garden, of making up stories and watching Peter Pan.  I was convinced that fairies were real and that if I believed hard enough, they would magically appear. 

I’m not sure if I ever really believed in Father Christmas or anything along those lines (baby atheist in the making?) but I wholehearted believed that magic was real, if I could only find it. 

You are allowed to think like that when you are a young child.  I wish we still did.  I miss that feeling of absolute certainty in my heart that anything was possible, if you only believed it, even fairies.

Something happened this weekend that took me right back to my old five year old self, and it was nothing short of magical.  I went to the park this weekend with my dogs and whilst walking along a leaf covered pathway, with trees on each side of me I suddenly stopped.  Right in front of my eyes was a leaf, immobile in mid air, floating as if by magic.

Although my logical brain soon explained it as hanging from an unseen spider thread, for those fifteen seconds before I just gazed upon that leaf in total wonderment and happiness.  The five year old little girl that was once me was shouting inside me “It’s real, it’s real!” and jumping up and down. 

When I realised that it must be hanging from a spider’s threat a small part of me was gutted.  I didn’t want the logical explanation.  That tiny part of me that believed in fairies at five years old wanted it to be real.  But, of course, it wasn’t.

Now at 33 of course I don’t still believe that there are fairies at the bottom of the garden or that leaves can magically float in the air.  I’m far too cynical.  But you know what?  Part of me wishes I still did.  Life was far less complicated then.

So, just this once, as a salute to the five year old me,


There, that feels much better.

9 October 2012

Jailing Trolls

I say what I think.  Some people will like it, some won’t.  Some will agree with what I’m putting in this blog, some will strongly disagree.

Matthew Woods of Chorley was this week sentenced to 12 weeks in jail for writing vile and hateful comments about April Jones and Madeline McCann on Facebook.  I don’t think he should have been arrested, charged or sentenced.

Freedom of speech comes at a price.  That price is that anyone can say anything; good or bad.  As long as what you say is not intended a threat (which you intend to carry out), I do not believe that it is a crime and indeed, I believe it is a waste of police time to arrest/convict them.

So far on my count there have been three convictions with sentences thus far ranging from 12 to 18 weeks in prison.  My question is, even if you put the issue of freedom of speech aside, how can you police the internet?

The internet is a very large place, with a large amount of trolls.  Which trolls do you arrest and which do you ignore?  Why is a troll on a highly public case sent to jail whilst another, who says similarly abhorrent comments on a dead girl’s RIP page, carries on regardless, without recrimination?  If you can trace the IP address of Matthew Woods, others can be just as easily traced.

Would I prefer police time to be spent catching a criminal who assaulted someone, or catching a troll who has (at the basic level), hurt someone’s feelings.   Catch the criminals is my answer.  Whilst these trolls are repulsive beings and I certainly do not condone in any way what they do, they are not criminals.

The second point I have is in relation to the sentencing.  A 12 weeks sentence does not fit.  How does a sentence of 12 weeks for making comments on a social media site compare to other crimes?

Examples over the past few months would be Emma Bryan, who was sentenced to 12 weeks in jail following continued abuse and assault of a patient in a care home or Steve Howarth who committed a frenzied assault on another passenger of a train.  He too received a 12 week sentence.

The comparison just doesn’t add up.  If you are going to start arresting and convicting trolls, surely a more realistic sentence would be community service. 

Where there is the internet, there will be trolls.  For me, what needs to happen is better internal policing of Facebook and similar sites with stricter privacy controls and an easier ability to report and block.

Leave the police to catch the criminals.  They have enough to do as it is.