First a disclaimer. As you read this please keep in mind that I am under no illusions as to how important I am, what I have failed at, or indeed my place in the universe. Okay? Good. This is going to be quite long and rambling so bear with me.
If you know anything about me you might know about the Trigger Warning project. It’s something very dear to my heart. It’s not a business, it never will be, and it’s supported by our own funding and efforts along with generous donations from our people. We have the live streams, a radio station, and a website that has a social media component. None are widely viewed or used but that’s okay, I’m an idealist to a great degree but I also believe if you don’t put it out there you can’t complain about others.
Just over a week ago, and I haven’t spoken about this openly or to the other people involved if I’m honest, I was seriously considering ending all active involvement in TW along with all my other endeavours, including Twitter. I was going to throw it all away and concentrate on trying to rebuild my life which collapsed in quite spectacular fashion over the previous 18 months. Why? Well, I wasn’t sure I was achieving anything. Nothing of any particular value anyway.
Who cares what I think? Why would they want to hear it? Our reach is small, my opinions no different from millions of other people. I was tired of the hate used to silence people, I was tired of not being able to change anything. I was generally tired.
Instead of my usual method of dealing with things (make decision, act on decision, fuck it all and burn it down) I decided to have a think and a couple of things happened to make me reconsider my position. To my shame, one of them wasn’t that our regular viewers and listeners might be disappointed, this was me having an internal struggle. It’s often difficult to consider others at times like those. It’s wrong, but I’m human. Believe me though, that comes into it soon.
The first thing to make me reconsider was a chat with two friends who told me broadly the same thing. I won’t go into details but they actually helped me see something I’d lost sight of some time ago. This at least kept me from pulling the trigger as it were and look to see what I might be able to do. The second was an invite to moderate a discussion between WeAreFairCop and a Trans activist to see if reasonable discourse was even possible on the issues surrounding sex-based rights and Trans rights.
I also looked at a Twitter account I’d been following for some time. Even following this account caused people to judge me (but I’m kind of used to that as you might imagine). I decided to really look at the person behind the account and the motivation as I could see it. Let’s say this person is called Gerry, because open support can be problematic to say the least.
Gerry is looked upon by a great many people as a monster. An evil human being who promotes hatred of others. A man so grotesque he is actually killing groups of young people with his words. Who would ever follow such a man? But when I really drilled down into it that’s not what I could see. I saw a man whose core message was actually righteous, it was good. It was about defending a group of vulnerable people in the face of obscene abuse and scandalous legal decisions. Yes, it put him at odds with other groups but I couldn’t see where he was actually hating, or where he was promoting hatred, unless I tried to use the language of the people opposing him. Then I could see it very clearly. The problem is, it wasn’t real. They were just trying to silence him.
They abused him, his family, they used the police. His career – which was one he was widely lauded for – was in tatters and his “friends” had abandoned him lest they become the target of abuse from the “right” people.
There are many things I have disagreed with Gerry on since I’ve been reading his words. I might not even agree with how he goes about things all the time. But that’s fine, we aren’t binary in our thoughts or beliefs or we shouldn’t be. But I can’t see any evidence at all that he’s a monster but instead of giving support I just watched. It’s not even like I was worried about my reputation, my approach and views regularly cost me clients. Hell, I gave up so much many years ago to be a part of something I believed in which offered terrible financial rewards with the added benefits of being abused from white supremacists to Islamic extremists and being spoken about harshly by Iranian government officials. I had nothing to lose. But still I just stood and watched.
This was wrong. This was very wrong. I’m not about to buy a T Shirt with Gerry on it but by the same token I need to be more vocal when I do agree with him. Why? Because he’s standing firm for something he believes in. No matter what he’s drawn his line in the sand and he’s put everything out there. If you’re not a polarised moron you’ll find something to admire in that.
I don’t have the reach he has, I don’t have the reach or wit so many others do on so many topics. But surely even I, little old me, can’t just stand by and neither should you. We are a bunch of lazy consumers so beaten by our own apathy that we think a Tweet is a reasonable way of helping a cause or making a difference. Fuck that noise, stand up!
This isn’t a plug for TW but we have that radio station, use it to broadcast. We have the website, write for it. Then if you’re not content, use it as a springboard to do your own thing. If you’re remotely capable of forming a reasonable piece either written or spoken, then give it a try. I know full well every arsehole has a podcast, but it’s not going to stop me launching a new one in the next week or two and it damn well shouldn’t stop you.
If you can’t, or just can’t be bothered, creating then become an activist for the amplification of voices beyond a 240 character limit. Support creative people, support those who stand up no matter their impact. Financially? Great. But equally, possibly far more important, is for you to be heard supporting.
Share. Amplify. Provoke conversation.
As I have said, I’ve failed. I’m getting quite good at it. But how can I let that be a reason to not even try? Failure happens, but you won’t even get that far if you don’t attempt it. A million small voices add up to one bloody big voice. Your politics, your views, your stance, whatever. It doesn’t matter. What matters is standing up to be counted even if you – like me – might not add up to a whole hell of a lot in the grand scheme of things.
Oh, and I said supporting Gerry in public is problematic. It is. but Gerry of course isn’t called Gerry. He’s called Graham Linehan. He’s not a monster even if you disagree with him. I realise many think he’s disingenuous but I can’t help thinking that’s a conclusion reached by bias rather than cogent research.
Come on guys, let’s just do something. Anything.