WARNING: (This post will contain images and an opinion which some of you may find offensive, & for which I make no apologies. Personally I do not care if you are offended after all that is your choice to be offended. So you have been warned: Read on at your own discretion, discomfort and distress. I take no responsibility for how you may or may not feel about this post .)
An image which can get you arrested.
….Or the rise of cultural intolerance of the non conformists or if you prefer Cultural Poppy Totalitarianism if you will. Poppy Wearers Against Free Expression, Poppy Wearers Intolerant of Freedom & Free Expression. I could go on but I think I made my point there….
Every year we seem to be stumbling across examples of a growing trend within society of an endemic intolerance toward those who do not conform to a majoritarian held view of what is acceptable & what isn’t. A view which takes it expressed form in seeking to finding a virtue in being offended.
Every year in the United Kingdom a solemn ceremony is held in London at the Cenotaph, this ceremony commemorates the end of war and our solemn observance of those who gave their lives for our country. It is not a celebration, neither is this an occasion which glorifies war let alone militarism, so just to repeat for clarity sakes it is a ceremony which commemorates an end of war and a ceremony which pays homage to those whom died (military & civilain alike). As I said it is an occasion where we as
citizens subjects come together as a nation to remember and reflect on the why’s of that sacrifice made by so many. We remember not only members of the armed forces but the civilians whom also lost their lives, as well as those honourable pacifists whom died as stretcher bearers saving many of life of their fighting brothers, through their own heroic actions under intense murderous enemy fire. We pay homage to all their memory as we honour all their sacrifices, for they died so we may indeed have a tomorrow. We are reminded of that courage and sacrifice as the veterans and families march past the Cenotaph; we are humbled as we reflect upon what this all means in real terms, and as individuals we will all have our own take on what this ceremony means to us.
For the reality of war is an all too present reality today, as we can no longer stay ignorant to the true costs of war fighting in the age of the internet and mass media. This reality starkly brought in to our living rooms by TV and entered the national conscious & discourse, as we observed the once solemn display of a grass-roots ceremony of repatriation for fallen servicemen from Afghanistan, through the high street of an English market town-now named Royal Wootton Basset. Or to those hundreds maimed having lost limbs returned home and now living among us, this then the all too visible reality to and none can plead ignorance. And the unseen casualties of war, those whom live with the mental trauma and scars. For those injured live with both the mental and physical scars of war fighting, again we see this and are reminded of on the march past in those brave soldiers, sailors and airmen, whom have lost limbs, been blinded, burned, or that unseen yet all too real PTSD. We can of course as fellow human beings empathise to a degree but we could never know what they went through let alone as to what they are going through today, indeed I would aver nor would we wish to. For they and their families in that awful legacy of war their reality is an all too clear lived reality, as it is an everyday lived experience which we as outsiders have no measure against. Yet they do themselves proud and in a phrase ‘soldier on’ & come back fighting, as they get on with life as best they are able. So we honour, we remember, we respect them for what they have done and what they have given and what they continue to give, and this is right, but it is also a personal choice. It is something I choose to do.
Remembrance is what I do on that day, I remember them & shall never forget, how could I for one thing I am ex forces so it’s kind of ingrained in me, yet prior to joining it was something I did as a matter of course (cultural I guess, yet it wasn’t forced upon me, you just did it because from an early it was others around me did, and being from a military family it was ever more so present & the done thing, yet it was and remains for me the right thing to do.) Thus it may be argued that remembrance is indeed a private matter or a private family affair if you will, although others do take a more public approach, some like myself will wear a poppy or lapel badge. Whilst others will go that one step further and will attend a ceremony at the local memorial/church and will attend the parades, but it is all personal you either choose to or choose not to.
Yet despite my choosing to wear a poppy I have never viewed the wearing of a poppy to be in & of itself an essential let alone integral nor necessary part of the process of remembrance, as an act of remembrance is it self a highly subjective matter. The poppy after all is merely a symbol and nothing more, although for the Royal British Legion it has become a notable, laudable & recognisable way of ensuring a steady cash flow of donations at a given time of year.
Yet not everyone agrees to & nor should everyone agree to let alone be made to agree with the wearing of a poppy, you see dear reader there are dissenters to this majoritarian aspect of our culture of poppyism (a take on populism.) As there are those whom for what ever their reason choose not wear a poppy and choose not to pay homage (bastards hang em flog em), and some…sorry…but yes some even burn poppies (shock horror they must be evil, are they Muslims….Oh won’t somebody please think of the children!) That is after all their right to do so, and why shouldn’t they be allowed to disagree? Dissent & yes burn a poppy or two, whether their motives are right or wrong, and whether their actions are informed or other wise is actually beside the point, as I see such protests and how they are perceived within society and dealt with by the authorities as a barometer to the state of liberty in our country (and give recent and past example it is not in a very good state.) Indeed what is telling in these incidents is the reaction of the poppy zealots and what they tell us about attitudes and tolerance within society in general, and to be honest we are not in a very healthy place. (I must an idiot labouring under the delusion that free expression is respected & up held in this country.) Just for the record I personally do not agree with the actions of those who choose to burn poppies, nor do I agree with much of the reasons given by those whom choose not to wear a poppy for political/ideological reasons, when looked such reasoning is not only misinformed about totally misguided. But what I am saying that I believe that you have a right to say what wish and you have right to display and express your opinion as you wish and see fit. Thus I invoke Voltaire’s dictum“Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too”. The fact I have felt it necessary to add a clarification here ought to tell you the parlous state we find ourselves in.
Yet the culture of Poppy fascism won’t allow you:
This act of burning a poppy or indeed displaying of such imagery can get you arrested.
This year we have seen the arrest of a young man whom has dared to show on a social media site an image of a burning poppy (pictured left), arrested and charged through the illiberal and authoritarian Malicious Communications Act by an over zealous, unthinking police force only too happy criminalise and subjugate persons as they see fit. Yes the act was insensitive and yes some would have found the act offensive (their choice by the way), indeed he has shown himself to be obnoxious, but does he really deserve to be arrested, criminalised for such an act of youthful unthinking, stupidity. Then we have the case of man whom decided it would be jolly good idea to disrupt by skateboarding in to Bristol’s Remembrance Day parade, not a well thought through idea granted, dressed as a pink devil as well (I mean what the fuck was he thinking.) Indeed not the wisest of choices and yes a very inappropriate act given the occasion I would add, but did he really deserve to be approached by an aggressive & intimidating mob of men looking to do violent harm upon his person? Not only did this incident require the police to intervene to ensure the safety of the man in question, an act to be lauded at least they were thinking, but he was then also arrested under Section 5 of the Public Order Act. Yet another illiberal piece of catch-all legislation the authorities have in their burgeoning police state tool box, does such stupidity really require him to be criminalised? Police now really unthinking & if really wasn’t bad enough, you really couldn’t make this stuff up, disturbingly sectioned said man under the Mental Health Act WTF is going on here! Or what about the over the top reaction of intolerant comments from the tolerant, made on Twitter strangely abusing the automated response for Top Gear messaging, simply because a tweet was put out during the two-minute silence (naughty.) Did the company running that service deserve the hating vitriol and abuse which they received for an obvious over sight of programming. Whom then felt intimidated enough into offering an apology, for what though only they can answer that. I do hope they fuck Top Gear off now.
Is then what Remembrance has become, a day which is becoming over shadowed by the actions and behaviour of a seeming significant majority of Poppy Fascists, who find virtue in finding offence. Such people have no place in let alone right in dictating how we ought to be behaving, feeling, expressing on this day of personal reflection and remembrance, or indeed in choosing not to. It would therefore seem that we have allowed this very solemn national act of remembrance to become hijacked by those whom are intolerant of individual freedom and free expression, their actions and behaviour show as much. Are not these actions and behaviour a complete betrayal and dishonouring of the memory of those they say they are honouring, are such actions and behaviour a complete contradiction, an outright hypocrisy.
Indeed it is fair to say that such intolerant actions of behaviour we witness against those whom are deemed by the poppy fascists to be not complying with the majority, not only are disrespectful but dishonour the sacrifices made by the armed forces. And is that what Remembrance day is to become a day renowned only for the intolerance of the poppy fascists? I am very certain that this is not what our soldiers, sailors and airmen gave up so much for, they didn’t die so that we may today allow their memory to be belittled and their sacrifices betrayed by the baying mob of the intolerant, the enemies of freedom and liberty.
Picture used at the head of the post is not the same image posted online by the teen arrested.