3rd December, 2015
I am angry.
Today I intended to write about the case for airstrikes against IS / ISIS / ISIL / Daesh in Syria. I wanted to put the case for humanitarian intervention. I wanted to explain why I think extending our involvement to include targets in Syria was the right thing to do.
The global threat of ISIS – the group who kidnap, rape, butcher and kill anyone who holds different views. They kill people because of their sexual orientation. They kill entire groups because they worship a different God. They are the ultimate abusers and bullies. They must be defeated.
Last night our parliamentarians made those points and have voted for action.
But there is a reason I can’t talk about any of that. I am angry.
I am not angry at the debate in Parliament.
I am not angry at the state of the Labour Party (well, I am – but that can wait!)
No. I am angry about something else – something that is slowing entering our lives.
Something that needs to stop!
Listening on and off yesterday I started to think about how lucky we are to live in a society where such debates take place.
Outside of parliament people were protesting; passionate people opposed to the extension of our military intervention into Syria. I disagree with them but again I thought that it was an example of how a decent, democratic society allows peaceful and lawful protest.
Then I looked at social media feeds and my mood changed. Passionate debate had been replaced by threats of violence and insults.
When did it become acceptable to send pictures of dead babies to anyone, simply because you disagree with them?
When did it become acceptable to threaten journalists because you don’t like what they write?
When did it become acceptable to tweet that an MP wouldn’t be safe walking the streets of his constituency alone?
When did it become acceptable to hope someone would be ‘bottled’?
I will tell you when – it didn’t become acceptable; it never will. Our democracy flourishes because we are safe to hold different opinions.
But for some people it appears to be an ok thing to do. I don’t know when they decided this was OK and I don’t care much about the timeline.
Both Cameron and Corbyn encourage it. They might talk about what they call “new politics” but if this new politics involves abuse, threats and sinister phone calls I don’t want to be part of it.
Yes, Jeremy Corbyn issued a statement condemning the threats. I haven’t seen anything from David Cameron, but until both act and punish offenders they are giving the green light for the abuse to continue.
Corbyn and Cameron should warn their MPs that they will be sacked if they join in or encourage the abuse. Regardless of which side of that debate they are on.
Corbyn should seize the initiative; he should sack Diane Abbott. She, perhaps unwittingly, gives comfort and legitimacy to the abusers.
Whenever she appears on TV and hints that MPs will be deselected; each time she warns that they will face consequences she encourages the baying mob.
If she is sacked it will send a clear signal that abuse will not be tolerated.
So next time you are thinking about posting abuse online – STOP…
Think about how lucky you are that you can voice your opinions.
Think about how precious it is that you can protest against our government.
And then think again.
Our democracy doesn’t give you the right to abuse or threaten violence.
And until you lean that lesson you will always be part of the problem not the solution.
By Barnabus Howard
Please note: articles and posts on ‘Middle Vision’ reflect the views of the individual authors and not of all involved in ‘Middle Vision’
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