Friday 3 July 2015

Sign, don’t think

Old school petitioning

The sacking of Jeremy Clarkson made me think about online petitions and why they're pointless

There’s been a bit of a kerfuffle in Blighty, over  Jeremy Clarkson, the BBC’s motorized Nigel Farage, being sacked for assaulting a producer, although not in the same way many BBC presenters have been assaulting anyone who got within lunging range, so that’s probably a small progress.

Immediately, people started making online petitions, showing that despite no online petition achieving anything at all, indeed there were several dozen set up asking for Clarkson to be reinstated, and as many asking for him to be dismissed.

This was repeated across several online petition sites. Perhaps they just allow the public, or the more excitable part, to vent harmlessly about unimportant things they can’t influence. Or is it the anarchic British sense of fun?

One certainly was, demanding that Clarkson be replaced by Alan Partridge, accompanied by a witty explanation of why and even had a ‘Who said this’ quiz while you pondered signing or not.
All of this was before anyone knew what had actually happened. All of this, which dominated the UK news, was based on a vague statement and an anonymous report on a notorious – and very funny – media/advertising gossip board, saying he had got hammered (on rose wine if you want the grape news in this tale), punched his producer after the chap had failed to produce the exact meal the star wanted.

It’s claimed a few ethnic slurs were added in.

All of these people and many more had absolutely, completely made up their minds that the presenter must stay or go. Their verdict was entirely down to if they liked Clarkson or not.

Presumably, the admirers think that if someone they like should not be punished for racism, violence, perhaps they would like their boss to have the freedom to beat them up, for this is ultimately about a boss assaulting someone junior to themselves.

Those demanding dismissal would no doubt throw away the principle of allowing a defense and trying to find out the facts behind an incident.

Neither side looks good; ditching what should be deeply held and cherished principles, over such a trivial affair.

This is the discernment of the public, just weeks ahead of a general election. They’re basically saying, ‘don’t bother me with facts and stuff, I’ve got strongly held views on things that don’t really matter that much.’

Once again, a very minor issue had become a screaming match between two entrenched sides with the majority in the middle being pushed out of the debate.

Not a good sign in the weeks before an election, but the once great country has descended to this level, where Europe is, well, not debated, but is faced with outrageous accusations, called a new Third Reich, institutional Stalinism, the antichrist and worse, where every single problem is the fault of Brussels.

Now just think for a second.

If Brussels was such a dominating monster, you’d think they would do something about the relentless onslaught, the tsunami of untruths spat at them. It doesn’t. Like a baby hamster, it is utterly incapable of defending itself.

It’s too bureaucratic, too full of those who say they think out of the box, but their breadth of vision could easily fit inside a matchbox.

That’s the problem with Brussels; it’s too moribund, too dull, too unimaginative. One simple exhibit is the utterly useless European Citizens Initiative, sort of an online petition crossed with the twelve tasks of Hercules.

The member states only pay lip service to it and Brussels has become the place for their dirty deals, knowing that if caught, they can cry ‘The EU made me do it.’ Say it loud enough to the right media back home and you can get away with anything.

If only the member states actually believed in Europe, what a continent we could build.

They don’t and you can see the result.

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