Yesterday was another triumphant episode of Westminster Skeptics, featuring the radiant Sile Lane, the affable Ben Goldacre, the coiffed Simon Singh, the efficacious Peter Wilmshurst, the sharply dressed Raymond Tallis, the closet-rocker Dave Osler, and the shy and retiring Jack of Kent.
I won’t talk at length about yesterday’s meetup, as there are other bloggers who do it better. I tend to comment on what people are wearing because I’m generally impressed by little things like that. What I will talk about, however, is something Sile said which I’d never thought of, but rings so true it’s eerie:
”Censorship doesn’t begin in the courtroom, or with the angry letter you get from the lawyer, or even from your home computer. Censorship begins inside your head, it’s the voice that tells you not to write an article in the first place.”
The 10:23 stuff I was doing and blogged a bit about, whilst really really fun, also opened up a can of whoopass on my inbox. No vitriolic comments on the actual blog, just messages on Twitter and several emails, one person in particular trying (and thankfully failing) to get me arrested. This person told me I was sick and an attention seeker and that I deserve to be locked up. Naturally, I called my mum, but it wasn’t her. It was a complete stranger who’d taken offense at a minor reference I’d made in a blog post a few weeks ago. I checked with a couple of friends who blog about similar things to find out if they’d been contacted by this troll to see if their issue with me had any legs. It looks like this was just another mad person on the internet. Usually, I wouldn’t mind someone being a bit mean or disagreeing with me, but making threats to get me arrested? That’s just silly.
The problem I have with getting in shit with the law is that I don’t have the funds to support myself to try and win, and I have a Rickenbacker 330 and a growing collection of geeky brooches to lose. As a result of this twunt trying to intimidate me, an arrogant but otherwise harmless blogger, I’ve been careful to avoid personal comments about people or groups for fear of getting sued or arrested or worse: losing my budding reputation!
Thinking about what Sile said, I’ve decided to screw it all. If you disagree with any of the following, I’d rather you provided some evidence and proved me wrong, but if you must sue me, then sue me and bugger off. These are a few ideas for blog posts that I never wrote because I was worried about the potential repercussions:
1. Homeopathy is crap. It likes to pretend to be medicine, but they seem to put a lot of effort into ensuring that there are no ingredients left in their potions. Sometimes me and my mates refer to something as “homeopathic” when we want another word for “crap” or “non-existent” as in “That film had a totally homeopathic plot” or “I’m making a homeopathic porno. It’s going to have no gratuitous sex, but an epic storyline.”
2. There are no great looking members of the BNP. I assume this is what happens when you come from such a limited gene pool.
3. You don’t have to be religious to be a good person, but if you are religious and a bad person, it’s not difficult to cover it up.
4. Prince Charles would be lethal if he had a fully functioning brain.
5. Isn’t it funny how Richard Littlejohn is outrageously ugly, and an arsehole on paper? I bet he has a tiny penis. The pen is mightier than the sword? It probably is, Dick. It probably is.
6. Jan Moir was blatantly just jealous that Stephen Gately was happy and loved (fuck, I had a massive crush on him when I was 8, we all did), so she decided to try and smear his reputation with complete disregard for facts, compassion for another human being, and wit. I hope she’s ashamed of herself.
7. Most (but not all) practitioners of alternative medicine that I’ve met are rude, inarticulate, and have bad breath.
8. Dr Evan Harris MP has an offensively sweet tooth (he drinks Smirnoff Ice, yuk!)
9. David Cameron looks like someone who’d be great at lying for a living. As such, I’m sure he’ll be just as good a Prime Minister as Tony Blair. Whenever I see his face in the papers or on a billboard out and about, I whisper the word “wanker” under my breath and I feel slightly better about myself.
10. Contrary to popular belief in the CAM world, Andy Lewis, Martin Robbins, Jack of Kent, Evan Harris, Sunny Hundal, Five Chinese Crackers, Crispian Jago, Gimpy and all the male skeptics who come to Skeptics in the Pub are all really nice guys who act fairly normal around women. I’ve made jokes at their expense to their faces and they didn’t even blush or threaten to sue me. And none of them work for pharmaceutical companies. I know one lady who’s an admin clerk for Big Pharma. She gets paid less than £20,000 a year, and is definitely not a “shill” for them. She has a really cool pair of purple Dr Martens that I want though. I guess once you make up magic, making up your own little world where you’re the king isn’t much of a challenge either.
If any of these ideas sound like the sort of thing you’d like to have read, please sign http://www.libelreform.org/ and tell everyone you know to do the same. This isn’t something that only affects the chattering classes or the liberal lefty woolly minded loonies I spend my free time with. If you enjoy your right to call someone a wanker, or to suggest that something’s not working as it says it does without the worry of being done for it then put your name to the campaign. It takes less than a minute if you can type your name as fast as I can and will help keep us ordinary citizens speaking our mind whenever we want to!