(This post was originally created in January 2014)
Someone on Change.org today wrongly thought I might like to sign a petition to BAN the tv programme “Benefits St”, a channel 4 bollox-umentary about a street in Birmingham where nearly everyone is on state aid of some kind. The reason being that people on twitter were against claimants and had lots of self righteous things to say about taxes, scroungers and, er, baseball bats.
People who like making sneering and aggressive comments on social media and forums actually aren’t the problem : except when their actions become criminal, of course, then they can be dealt with by the law, and we can all see how they deserve more pity than fear. Banning a programme because the people in it don’t like they way it was edited, seems like a bit of a dangerous precedent to set. And certainly against the rules of the ‘reality’ genre.
Blaming the victim is a response born of fear : whenever I hear someone is ill, I have to stop myself from criticising their lifestyle choices and reaching for the Echinacea. If it was their fault it won’t get you is the subconscious thought behind it, and lets face it, losing our jobs, and being forced to eke out our lives on the dole is something to make anyone who’s still got a job shiver a little ( and not just because they’ve turned the heating off to save money). “They” are lazy and stupid, with too many children, and greedy, and not from round here, and should be punished, and have their lives, and their children’s lives made more miserable than they already are : these first thoughts are the touch of the rosary, the extra step avoiding the crack in the pavement, the touch wood talisman that says there but for the grace of god. Except it’s not god, its a government that is just waiting for us to stop listening and think about something else, so it can hand over yet more millions to the already super-rich corporations and individuals, while the children of ordinary people are brought up with the double poverties of present resources and future opportunities. And saying its their own fault, and if they weren’t so fat and lazy they could be joining in the bonanza for the rich is nothing but a lie, because the jobs that would pay a single breadwinner enough to live on are gone, and there are no caps on landlords profits, and people largely have no choice.
Did you notice, by the way, the news last week that the FTSE 100 index, which shows how much the top companies in the economy are generating rose 14.4 percent last year? So large corporations are making huge profits : yay! Bankers are going to get huge bonuses! Yay! Food banks are booming!