Saturday, 17 August 2013

...from my notes


25/8 - Added missing links and a couple paragraphs so it makes more sense! 

17/8 - Didn't post this before for a few reasons... mostly because these were my half-cooked thoughts I jotted down on scrap paper... but here goes:


So, I read this piece by John Grisham a few days ago and it keeps playing on my mind. (Digested version: he went to investigate why his book’s been banned in Guantanamo and met one of the guys who’d requested it… He was touched by his story… Been there for 11 years – no official charge of course – but it looks quite likely he’s no terrorist… Even so, the guy hasn’t seen family since… and the likelihood of him standing trial for something…. Erm??)

The idea that I don’t know the full extent of some of these injustices makes me feel a little nauseous (bearing in mind that President Obama once saw the unjustness of Guantanamo when he promised to close it within a year – that was in 2008!)

I feel, even as a British citizen, that I’ve unwittingly signed into a system that allows routine detentions, torture, and God knows what else to take place; what angers me is that it's done at the same time we engorge ourselves on concepts such as “freedom” and “democracy”, as if we had some kind of monopoly on them.

All the more frustrating are the several conversations I've had with people going on about “Third World corruption” and/or who raise their eyebrows incredulously whenever someone suggests corruption and discrimination are rife here. No, this isn’t Egypt or Syria. There aren’t hundreds or thousands of people being killed here. I am – we are – able to criticise the government on Facebook, Twitter, on blogs, or however/wherever we want to… but that doesn’t mean abuses aren’t being carried out in our names; it usually means a lot of it is being exported abroad where people are less accountable.

It also means the main perpetrators of such abuse in “Western” countries are people who know they will never be held accountable (who really thought a manslaughter charge would be brought against the police, who have finally accepted some responsibility for Ian Tomlinson’s death?) If we continue to accept the final say of the police/government and their small offerings of (very rare) apologies and payouts whenever they get caught out, we lay ourselves open to further abuses. It's not just about the partners of journalists getting stopped at airports; it's about a system that knows it can manipulate laws for its own ends; it's about a system that can manipulate the public so that it's only informed about selected incidents while at the same time purporting transparency and freedom of information; a system that can manipulate the public so that, even when informed, it only cares about selected incidents.     

Grisham’s post also reminded me of the student forgotten in a cell and left without food or water for days. Great, he was compensated for it – but I can’t help wondering whether the story would have been different if he didn’t happen to be a student, if he did happen to have drugs in his system of a higher class than marijuana, if he (dare I say it) happened to be of another race? The fact is, we don’t hear about a lot of stories simply because certain people have no voice the authorities – and by this, I include the media as well as political institutions – do not give certain people a voice.

I won’t write much more on this now; I just wanted to share it, perhaps as a follow-on from my post a couple of days ago about writing something meaningful. 

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