Saturday, 26 October 2013

Vive la révolution!

Or not

There's a few things I'd like to say about Russell Brands Newsnight interview.

1) Jeremy Paxman was not beaten, knocked out or thrashed. The point of Jeremy Paxman is to play devils advocate and make his interviewees prove their policies or point of view. Jeremy Paxman is not Michael Parkinson, he's not there to have a nice chat with famous people. His job is to push them until he gets the answers he wants, even if he actually agrees with their point of view. That's what he did here and he succeeded in getting a very passionate and eloquent Brand talking about his views.

It's win/win.

2) Unfortunately, Russell brand doesn't take things from a historical perspective and is passionate, but not particularly informed.

Taken over 200, 100, or even 30 years, things are improving in leaps and bounds for many of the disenfranchised. 

Nothing improves overnight and no one is ever going to come along and solve all the problems but taken over a longer period, real change is visible and in the last 30 years alone, from a personal perspective, a lot of that change has been improvements in sexism and gay rights legislation. 

Those two areas are really important to me and when I get pissed off that gay men still get beaten up, or that women are still paid less and things aren't changing, I just have to look back 10 years to see that change IS being made. I just have to look back in my lifetime to realise that until I was 11, as far as the law was concerned, married women couldn't be raped by their husbands. Change IS happening and we ARE making a difference, it just doesn't happen, in any area, overnight. 

Look back just 200 years, and you find a time when the industrial revolution literally ground people up and spat them out (eg. the average life expectancy for a coal miner was 15. No that's not a typo, they entered the coal mines as children of 4 or 5 and on average died at fifteen years of age.) 

We've come so very far.
3)  Finally, Brand lacks insight into what a democracy actually is.

No ruler, be it king, dictator, nor democratic government, knows what the people want until they're told. Changes in society are reflected by parliament, not created by parliament, and it isn't until the people make a noise, that public opinion starts to change and eventually, it reaches a tipping point where elected officials take notice, resulting in chances to the law. 

The government we have is a reflections of society as a whole. It wasn't until people stopped thinking homosexuals deserved jail that it was legalised. It wasn't until society as a whole began to realise that homosexuality was something you were born with that people began to think, maybe it's not okay to hate on these people for something they can't change', and homophobia was made a hate crime. It wasn't until people realised that ,thinking that having gays in the military wouldn't result in gay orgies and the destruction of out military, was just silly, amd gays were finally allowed to be open in the armed forced. It wasn't until people realised that it was wrong not to allow gay relationships legal recognition, that civil unions were created, and then that perhaps civil unions were a second class option, and they should be able to marry instead. 

The whole point of a democracy is that the government reflects the views of the majority and if society sucks, it's up to us to change the opinions of those around us and raise awareness, not leave it to strangers in parliament to somehow magically know what change people want ahead of time. It's the reason they set up (where any petition with over 100,000 signatures can be debated in parliament) so that know what issues are most important to the people.

The five year electoral process is to try and ensure that we don't have unfair representation (which is why everyone really does need to vote) or corruption in power because if your MP or party isn't representing your views, you can vote for someone else 5 years later.

Unfortunately, many people don't care about a lot of important issues, and some people still believe stupid things. Parliament is just a reflection of that apathy and sometimes, stupidity, not some sacred bastion of truth and justice. 

You can't leave everything to some vague 'revolution', if you want things to change, YOU must take steps to help change them. And yes, it takes time because some people are entrenched in their small-minded and bigoted views but in Ian McKellen's lifetime alone, gay sex was illegal until he was 28, he had to hide his relationships and lie until he was nearly 30 years old! Now he can get a civil partnership and soon, he'll be able to get married.  I think going from hard time if discovered, to having hate crime protection and being able to marry, is quite some achievement!

That's a whole lot of change for one man's lifetime and while I wasn't alive for most of it, I am proud of the changes that I have been a part of in the last 10 years, and I thnak those who stood up for change before I was around and aware.

Constantly moaning about how bad things are doesn't make them any better. Go out and be the change you want to see. It isn't anyone else's responsibility, it's up to you.

Finally) The best thing about our democracy is that if you don't like it, you can change it.  Go to, talk to those around you, challenging wrong thinking and change their minds, join Anonymous, use social media to get your point of view out there (to far more people than you know in real life) and win hearts to your cause. 

It's never been easier to  make your voice heard and as with any democracy, if enough people shout loud enough, change happens. 

Realising that is is up to us to change what we don't like, is the revolution that we need. 

We have the power, we just need more people to realise that they can use it.


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