Gonzo Opinion: Uncle Ranty Returns

Now I expect you’re all wondering why I’ve called you here today, and why I’ve sent the children away to go play a while. I’m afraid I have some bad news to impart, and some if you aren’t going to enjoy this. I’m about to be very unfair, but you have all brought this in yourselves, and as you all seem so keen on collective punishments these days, I thought I’d get started.

Let’s be honest, for all your complaining about racist comedy over the last thirty-odd years, you’ve just been paying lip service, and I’m afraid you’re letting your prejudices show in public rather than just behind closed doors. Now believe me, I get that a lot of comedy is cruel, it’s why I’ve locked the doors and those nice gentlemen in the corner are checking the battery packs on their cattleprods.

What we seem to have right now is a rather pernicious infection that has been quietly lurking in your systems for quite some time, not unlike a super-bug in a general hospital ward. The problem is that this won’t respond to some anti-septic wipes and some targeted antibiotics, let alone logic and appeals to human decency. We tried that, but your addiction to antisocial media and the delights of fascist press barons was a bit deeper than anticipated.

I, and quite a few others, have begun to lose patience with – well, let’s put our cards on the table here – our elders and allegedly betters being openly racist in public. Whether it’s on public transport or in library reading areas, or other public spaces, there’s a rise in muttering that displays some awful cognitive dissonance. Only this morning I heard a couple on the bus talking about how all these “lazy layabouts are coming over here for a free ride and housing, then working all hours for less doing the jobs no one else wants and buying up houses to fill with their families.” Do I really have to dissect this?

Now, I can see some of you starting to shake your heads and distance yourselves. He’s not talking about us, it’s okay, we can relax. Get back here, you’re just as culpable. How many of you challenge these conversations as opposed to thinking “well they’ve got a bit of a point?”, Or “If I keep quiet they’ll shut up and go away soon.” Come on. I’ll wait while you think about it. I literally have all day.

Now I have your attention, this bit is aimed at you. Don’t worry about the ones looking defiant over there. There’s no arguing with them. Many of them are already saying they’ll be dead before they have to deal with the fallout from what’s going on. Their nihilism has already marked them out of the game. You have no such excuse, and there’s plenty you can do. For a start you can stop worrying about being called a special snowflake. That’s playground taunts by the emotionally insecure as a projection to stop anyone criticising them.

What you can do is dissent. Choose your battle, choose your protest, and join in. You may have noticed a few protests around the place recently. If you’ve supported those in any way, well done, you’re ahead of the game. For the rest of you, gear up. This is why I sent the kids away. The biggest problem with this is that it’s infectious. You’ve already seen it in the antisocial media side of things. Kids learn from those they look up to, or grow up with – so if they don’t see you treating other humans like humans, they’ll learn not to either. They’ll learn to denigrate with a broad brush rather than calling out individuals on behaviour.

This is your chance, as those elders and betters, to challenge yourself, and your peers. Give the youngsters something to aspire to and learn from. It doesn’t have to be angry shouting in the street, I’ve got that covered, and if you’ve a speech impediment or social anxiety you’ll not do yourself any favours anyway. Write articles, research, fund movements – do what you can while staying safe. Be the better person, not because it’s legal but because it’s right. If you need rulebooks to tell you how to be a decent person, it says more about you than the flavour of the rulebook – secular or religious – that you believe in.

So, are we on the same page here? Stop being dicks, you are old enough to know better, act like it.

Right lads, open the doors and let the kids back in. Thanks for checking those cattleprods out, we’ll ship them out later. Mre B has a checklist of alternative ways to protest and speak up, so take one of their flyers on the way out. As they always say: “a one size fits all version of social resistance can be just as harmful as a one size fits all version of society”

Short Story: Textual Awareness

Her fingers tapped away at the keyboard on her screen, a combination of concentration and amusement on her face. There was so much to do and so little time. The party was meant to be starting soon, and the invite had mentioned costumes, so that was another layer of concern. Concern, that was a good name, better than worry.

At least they had the car. They were meant to be gathering in a pub, so at least if it was a washout they could get some drinks and slip away. She wasn’t going to drink anyway, so at least her husband, friend to the birthday boy, could let his hair down for the evening if he wanted.

She looked around the hotel room and checked her reflection before heading down to the bar. Her husband was still bringing his case up from the car so he’d need some time to change. He’d decided to go as that character from Hitchhiker’s Guide, Arthur somebody, so a dressing gown and towel featured heavily in his near future – but she hoped there would be more than that. If nothing else it was cold out there, it was the end of February after all.

Her phone buzzed while she stood in the elevator, one of several conversations under way at the moment. There was one with hubby, another with the birthday boy’s wife, a work discussion, and of course her mother.

“We’ll be there in about an hour I think.” She wrote to their hostess. “Gav’s got to change, he got held up at work, but we’re both at the hotel now.” There was a quick response of a smiling emoji.

“I’ve headed to the bar. I’ve picked up something to wear under your costume and put it on the bed for you.” She sent to Gavin. She got a question mark response. She frowned and made her way to the bar.

“Go look on the bed. I’ve picked out something to wear tonight so you don’t freeze. You can’t come down to the pub just wearing a dressing gown.”

“Are you sure?”

“Absolutely, I’m in the bar, go put it on, get ready and meet me down here so we can head out for the night.” She put the phone down on the bar while she ordered an orange and soda, and saw the phone vibrate again.

“I’ve just got in, these things on the bed for me? Great, see you soon.” She read. A quick smile spread across her face, and then she frowned. The chat icon was different.

Her phone buzzed again, her work colleague Delia this time, with the icon of the person she’d just been texting. “Uh, I know we joke about me being your work wife, but I didn’t think we were moving to this level? Hope you haven’t broken into my house to leave nightwear out for me?”

Oh boy, this was going to make for an awkward first coffee in Monday…