Banter – A Non-Malicious Two-Way Street

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You probably hear the word banter bandied around often and in so many cases that you lose count of, it doesn’t seem to be banter. Banter is a non-malicious two-way street. Often we see this isn’t incorporated into situations where one friend is in a particular minority group and the other friend is from a particular majority group. This blog post is not about people who have a non-pc, close to the bone sense of humour and banter. It’s about people who make jokes about a certain aspect of someone and that aspect of themselves they can’t take the piss out of. For example if a girl and a guy are mates it is banter and meant in a fun, non-malicious way when the guy says, ‘The woman’s place is in the home and with all life’s gentle stuff’ if they can equally joke about themself being a ‘guy who works because being a man I’m emotionally repressed.’ And if she is joking about herself as a woman and him as a man then it’s humour. It’s not humour if it’s a one-way street under any circumstances. Ever.

 

I have heard both sides of this debate and I fall more in the middle with my thoughts on it. Sometimes I have a bit of non-pc humour and then certain relationships you have kind of demand you to step it up in that regard because the other person would have that humour. But for the most part it isn’t really a huge part of my humour or my banter. I’d be more a mimic but I don’t mind mimicing myself either or others mimicing me. It’s all in fun. But on one side of this debate, you have people who say under no circumstances should certain things be joked about. I disagree with that because if it’s genuinely meant in humour, it’s not meant to hurt anybody. It also shows up the stupidness of the comments themselves. Kind of like good satire. And also when someone takes the piss out of you a lot, it’s generally because they like you and they feel comfortable with you. The other side of the debate is that people are too sensitive and don’t know how to take a joke. I also disagree with this. This is very often said by people in majority groups who don’t like jokes being made in that aspect about themselves. They may or may not mind people making jokes about them in other aspects but they think that aspect of themselves is protected from the humour mill. Like for example two mates going to a gay bar, one straight lad, one gay lad. The straight lad says, ‘I’ll have to watch my arse with all you gay lads here tonight.’ and the gay lad says, ‘All the lesbians will have to watch their arses with you around.’ and the straight lad replies with no hint of a smile, ‘I’m not a pervert.’ Now in a situation like that, one would have to wonder if the straight lad meant his own first sentence as a joke which was apparently a joke in the first place. If the straight lad takes the gay lad’s joke as a joke then it’s all mutual banter between the two of them.

 

I think that is the problem at the heart of all this. It’s not necessarily the things that are said but the intention behind them. But the intention becomes questionable when someone gets defensive about a joke being made the opposite way around.

 

Obviously there are exceptions to this with non-pc jokes or any jokes really. If someone has had a bad experience with certain words or situations such as being bullied in the past about who they were in whatever aspect it is, a good friend won’t open that wound in a person. After all, however hard they try they might not see the person saying it now but the person or people who said these things in the past and who said them from a very different perspective. Often it is people who are in minority groups who have had bad experiences like this but it can occasionally happen the other way as well. A good friend would respect this and would know a joke isn’t worth bringing up very hurtful memories to a person over. We all have scars and if someone isn’t comfortable with you scratching at those scars, it’s not really cool to do so.

 

 

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Woman Racially Abused On Ryanair Flight By Man

 

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I was utterly disgusted by the conduct of passenger David Mesher recently on a Ryanair flight when he racially abused fellow passenger Delsie Gayle just before a flight from Barcelona for Stansted Airport on October 19th.

 

In the vile rant, Mesher, who is white, called Gayle, who is a person of color, “an ugly black bastard” as he was disgruntled that she didn’t move fast enough for him to pass into his seat. He also rambled in his rant by saying,

“Don’t talk to me in a foreign language, you stupid cow. If you don’t go to another seat, I’ll put you in another seat.”

The ugly incident was filmed by fellow passenger David Lawrence. The footage shows Gayle’s daughter Carol Gayle defending her mother and showed another fellow passenger intervening and saying to Mesher that there was no need for his racial conduct.

In the aftermath of the incident, the police in Spain and England have investigated the incident and have spoken to Mesher. He has also said,

“I probably lost my temper a bit and ordered her to get up. I’m not a racist person by any means and it’s just a fit of temper at the time, I think. I apologise for all the distress you’ve had there and since.”

But Gayle has refused his apology saying,

“It’s going to take a long time for me to accept his apology and everything, because I feel very low and degraded for him to call me those names. It’s going to take a long time for me to get over it. I didn’t look at it (the interview on This Morning) because I was crying.”

Her daughter said,

“I’m not going to say anything at the moment because we’ve only just seen ‘This Morning’ – it’s still a lot to take in.”

 

It is awful to see the abuse that Delsie Gayle has went through. I’m just very glad it was caught on camera because otherwise there would be no proof of the incident and nothing would probably be done. I think it’s a disgrace that he was left on the flight. He should have been removed. It is terrible that this discrimination and abuse is still going on and Mesher’s apology is pretty pathetic. When losing your temper, race doesn’t even come into it unless you are racist and he was extremely aggressive too. It is the easiest thing in the world to say you aren’t racist after displaying racist conduct. If you truly aren’t racist, or at the very least certain things in your make-up aren’t or currently aren’t from a racist place, you wouldn’t act in a racist way.

I find it very heartbreaking hearing the pain this incident has caused to Delsie Gayle and it is important to remember that our words can hurt people. Is that the kind of people we are? Do we really want to go out of our way to hurt other people?

 

 

Being Cynical of The Freedom of Speech Campaign

 

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There’s a campaign that we often hear about in this modern world of the fight for freedom of speech. And to be quite honest as the title of this post suggests I’m cynical of it.

 

That isn’t to say I don’t believe in it. Because I strongly do. But I can’t help thinking that it’s a ploy to return the world to a place of prejudice at every corner towards people in minority groups. When exactly have any of the people campaigning for freedom of speech ever said for example, “If you believe people of the same race getting together is wrong you should have the right to say it” or “If you believe cis people are not their gender you should have the right to say it”. They seem to be campaigning from my perspective for negative things to be said about people in minority groups and in minority situations and never about majority groups and in majority situations. This is why I find it often very difficult to support the campaign because at heart, I don’t believe it is freedom of speech they are fighting for.

 

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I’m a kind of a person who believes that everyone in both minority and majority groups is valid but if somebody believed either way that that wasn’t the case I would completely fight for their freedom to say that. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t challenge them on those views. It doesn’t mean I have to like them for those views. I’m noticing a slight trend lately towards the “keep your mouth shut and be polite” even if someone is speaking about having prejudiced views or you know that they do. It can be very suffocating if you’re a person like me who is passionate about their views. Often you are on your own in being ok with bringing up the issue. There may be one or two people like you but often there isn’t. Why? Because a lot of people like to stay neutral in social situations. They see it as conflict and trouble.

 

A lot of us live in a democracy. If two people with opposing views can’t sit down and have a calm debate on issues they feel passionate about, then where does that leave humankind? What often results from a situation that could have been two people getting their point across and then having a cup of tea together after becomes carnage. If you dare even utter the sentence “I think you’re prejudiced” it turns into a mess of “you shouldn’t have said that”, “ah, they don’t mean it in a prejudiced way”, “you can’t call people that”. And maybe it’s just me but isn’t that an attempt to take away my freedom of speech? I don’t actually let out my views very often in social situations for that reason. I’ve seen a lot of people who have honest views even in a calm way be isolated for daring to speak their truth including by people in groups that they are actually standing up for which is incredibly ironic.

 

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There is also this idea that you are trying to change people when you disagree with their view. First of all, I have enough respect for the person I would be debating with to not think they would be weak-headed enough to change their views because of me. The people that say that clearly think they must be. Secondly I don’t exactly think I have that much influence over people! And lastly if I was out to change someone’s views I would go about it a lot more diplomatically than just being honest about what I think. People are more inclined after all to change views with a soft-softy approach than an honest approach. All I want in a situation like that is to put my own point across but it seems to be very hard for people to believe that’s all a person wants to do. Discourse is great. And uncensored discourse is brilliant. As long as both parties are calm, I don’t believe it’s right to tell people how they should speak in any discourse situation.

 

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But I’m cynical of the motives of those involved in campaigning for freedom of speech. If it was genuinely a movement for freedom of speech, all types of freedom of speech would be included not just the middle ground like my views which are positive about both minority and majority groups and the views of people who feel negative about minority groups but also those who feel negative about majority groups and those who feel negative about both. When they don’t say that I don’t believe them and I don’t believe their motives. If their tactics were different and they were sincere with those tactics my feelings would be completely different. The question for me is not between freedom of speech and the feelings of people in minority groups when faced with prejudices about who they are as is often the debate put across. For me, it’s more about not singling out minority groups to be spoken of freely in a negative way by people in majority groups but rather allowing both minority and majority groups to speak freely in a negative way about each other and campaigning for both minority and majority groups’ right to do so. Are majority groups that special that they can’t be spoken about negatively like everyone else?

 

 

Letting Go Of Prejudices & Becoming A Better Person

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Ignorance. Lately it seems to be the most overused excuse for getting out of bother. If I had a cent for every time someone said ‘it’s ignorance, not prejudice’, I wouldn’t have to do the Lotto. But the thing is that prejudice often comes from ignorance. The two are often a side of the one coin. And there is a very big difference between the ignorance of not knowing something which is ok and the ignorance of believing prejudiced myths. For example asking, ‘What is pansexuality?” does not mean the same as ‘Does that mean you are promiscuous?” I suppose in short, it’s common sense to only ask what you wouldn’t mind answering yourself the opposite way around.

 

Now that I’ve spoken about the terms, let me get to what I want to discuss in this post. I have in the past had a few prejudices of my own which I apologise for and regret. I used to judge what a person’s gender was from their presentation, what their pronouns were, assuming their gender from their pronouns or words like brother and sister and from their voices and though deep in heart I always knew that was wrong, I done it because I was very brainwashed by the society in which I lived. I also used to use the term ‘coloured’ to describe people of colour until I realised it was an offensive term. There was a mixture of brainwashing and ignorance leading to prejudice thinking and speaking in that one. The latter I stopped immediately. It wasn’t as deeply indented me as the first one but I eventually got rid of the two thankfully and apologised in my mind for them as thank god I never actually used any of these prejudices in front of anyone I could hurt. And I guess the point why I’m writing all this is that the reason I got out of them is because I admitted to myself that I was acting in a prejudiced manner and that’s the problem with a lot of people with prejudices, they don’t admit it to themselves and that makes their journey to making themselves better people longer and sometimes they don’t even get there. It is a hard thing to admit but when you do, while of course you feel bad about it, it starts you on your way to recovery.

 

The problem is that a lot of people get defensive and what that leads to is people making out the way they are thinking is ‘ignorant but a natural way of thinking’ and it is not a natural way of thinking. It all ties in with that ‘everyone is prejudiced’ get out of jail card. Not everyone is and a lot of people have never had any prejudices in their life so that is really used to make a person who has prejudices feel better about themselves. To get out of having prejudices you have to take responsibility. Whether something is the reason or not for you thinking that, that reason doesn’t excuse your prejudices. You need to take responsibility for your prejudices and stop the pity party, the whole victim party and the whole feeling sorry for yourself because someone was upset by what you said. Yes I believe most people in this situation hate upsetting people but I find they hate upsetting themselves more and that’s not a good place to start from.

 

In addition and I think this is the bit that annoys me the most, they blame people for taking offense to what they’ve said when the most natural feeling in the world when someone is prejudiced towards you or you see someone being prejudiced towards people is to be offended and not like it. People aren’t robots with no emotions and I think people in this situation often forget that or conveniently do depending on the person. They want people to understand them being prejudiced. There’s a massive irony in there. And actually it’s more important to understand that you shouldn’t be prejudiced than to understand prejudice and why people are acting and thinking in a prejudiced way. I’ve actually heard people say that people who get upset about prejudice, even prejudice about themselves, need to ‘grow and mature’. As I said there is much irony in the things people say. Because when you have prejudiced feelings there is an immaturity and a lack of growth in that aspect of who you are. There is also a repression of peoples’ natural emotions here. It’s getting a stage now that feels very unhealthy where people are almost being forced to not take things personally that they do feel personally. When they think people ‘grow and mature’, what people are often doing is adapting to the situation to avoid hassle and the guilt-tripping of ‘the terrible struggle I’m going through because I’m only ignorant and you should understand that.’ Well this is tough love, nobody has to understand you acting in a prejudice way, stop your goddamn moaning and educate yourself and be adult enough to admit to yourself that what you are doing is having prejudices and that it’s desperately wrong. Would you be so understanding if people said prejudiced things about something about you?

 

If you honestly want to change this aspect of yourself, taking responsibility for your feelings and educating yourself is how you do it. Running away from your prejudices isn’t going to help you. Face them head on. They are there whether you ignore them or not so be brave and when you have got to a point where you are out of the sickness of prejudice apologise to those you’ve hurt or offended and if that isn’t possible apologise in your own mind. Then leave it in the past and don’t fuck up again. Forgive yourself. You will still have regrets but forgive yourself. Face these things you’re scared of feeling head on. I promise you that you won’t regret it.

Trumpet Blowing Moments

 

Throughout life we all have trumpet blowing moments. Moments where things come together in some way and suddenly make sense. In just 27 years I have had my share of those but hope to live much longer and in consequence experience more of them! ­čÖé

Going back to when I was a kid, I experienced my first trumpet moment very early. For most of my school life I was bullied and one of the plus points that came from that awful situation was that I gained an empathy with people who were treated wrongly because they are deemed different in some way. After all, the reason I was bullied was that I was an introvert and that was seen as different. I also acquired from that a sense of never changing who you are for anyone. If you do that you’ll constantly be doing that to fit the company you’re in. I seen books which said shyness was wrong, many people who felt I was ‘too quiet’ but I was happy being who I was. And I knew early on that no one should make themselves unhappy to fit a model of society’s ‘perfection’. I would like to think I would have known all of this anyway even I hadn’t been bullied. But been bullied definitely had a huge impact on my feelings in these regards. Bullying is at heart singling somebody out because of a difference in some way and as I’ve grew older I’ve felt that prejudice is the exact same thing did in adult society, done slightly more politely and diplomatically often but with the same starting point: a dislike of difference. That’s why when those with bigoted and negative views turn around and claim they are facing prejudice from people standing up to them, it makes me laugh. It’s like a bully in a playground saying people are getting at them because they tell them they are wrong and no better than anyone else.

 

As I got older I knew someone very close to me who suffered from depression. Though I don’t see depression as a stigma, the person I’m talking about did and it caused them a lot of stress and worry. Because of that I won’t mention who the person is in this discussion. But though I had no prejudices about depression beforehand, I came away with knowing secondhand what depression was like. It’s quite difficult seeing someone you love to bits suffering so much and knowing you can’t do anything to ease their pain. After all depression doesn’t work like that. There isn’t a magic cure. But it was nothing compared to what this person went through. And what I realised from that time was that even though we don’t all have depression in our lives every single one of us experience moments of deep sadness where we’re close to being depressed. So it’s really hypocritical when people judge others for human responses to a world none of us completely understands.

 

I always wrote from very early in my life. But a trumpet moment was five years ago when I threw myself almost completely into writing over any other profession. Things weren’t working out too well in other professions. The employment market wasn’t great and still isn’t so I said what the hell? I might as well do what I like doing instead of worrying about the future. Besides without meaning to sound cocky, I knew I wasn’t too bad at it. And I wasn’t much good at anything else so … and then the future I was worried about opened up from there on it’s own. Things happened in writing like they didn’t in other professions. I got published and then published some more. And I’m still on that journey. And I suppose the realisation of that is that things happened because I cared about what I was doing and people could see that. With everything else they must have seen it wasn’t authentic.

 

The final two realisations came in the last few years. I realised that I was pansexual and an atheist. During your twenties, you kind of find that you are searching to find out more about yourself and as you find more and more pieces of truth about yourself you become even happier and more relaxed in yourself. I thought I was straight and catholic. I was brought up catholic and had attended catholic schools growing up. Now I’m not suggesting there’s anything wrong with being straight or catholic but neither of them were me and there was clearly an unhappiness there in me that I wasn’t aware of because when I realised I was pansexual and an atheist I felt happier and freer. I suppose it goes back to authentic again, it felt real and from that comes inner peace and happiness. I remember soon after I realised I was pansexual I briefly worried about prejudice I’d face until my wonderful sister reminded me that I’d faced and came through worse. By the time I realised I was an atheist after that, I didn’t worry about prejudice I’d face about that because yes, I had come through much worse and I would continue to survive over and over. And knowing you’ll survive, that’s a trumpet moment in and of itself.

 

The idea for this blog post came from┬áKathryn who runs the blog Let’s Talk Depression. You can read┬áKathryn’s brilliant blog post here entitled Trumpet Blowing Moments – Speak The Truth:

https://letstalkdepress.com/2017/12/08/trumpet-blowing-moments-speak-the-truth/