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Saturday, 10 January 2015

Anything you can do I can do better. (Including spreading hate)

From the latest fashions to art, entertainment and opinions it is the capitals and major cities of the world that dictate the pace of change.
There they sit keeping sharp the cutting edge of literally everything as those of us who do not reside on their busy streets look to play catch up.
The dress or suit we see on the catwalk in Milan may be in the shop window of a retailer in London within days, but it could be a year before a watered down version of it reaches the high street of what some would call ‘the sticks’.
Similarly you can take in a show featuring the biggest stars in our capital, but it will most certainly be a few years before a touring version facsimile is even considered.
And of course more importantly it is in these global hubs where government and business meet and maintain a grip on the direction that a whole country will take.

However there is one small problem with how they forge ahead and have us all trailing in their wake, and that is sometimes where they are taking us all is not a place many of us want to go.

A good example of this is how they try and address the issue of homelessness, rough sleepers and beggars.
They do so in what is apparently a compassion vacuum.
Suggestions of making feeding the homeless a criminal act is often touted and the rise of ‘defensive architecture’ designed to make it impossible for a homeless person to seek shelter in a doorway nook or cranny of a building is on the rise.
In recent weeks we even seen the police dismantle a soup kitchen and moving on everyone who had volunteered to distribute what they had to the most vulnerable in our society.

It’s not something that anyone that I know is comfortable with.
And from our outside looking in position we do often feel free to criticize as we sit on our moral high horse and claim it wouldn't happen in our towns or villages.

Until now that is.

Only this week in Ayrshire our local newspaper - the Daily Record owned Ayrshire Post – ran a front page article that masqueraded as some sort of journalistic expose on ‘the beggar problem that Ayr has’.
In it there was a smell of week old xenophobia as Eastern Europeans got a tongue lashing, and in general anyone sitting on a cold wet pavement with their hand out was demonized within an inch of their life.
As I read it I could imagine the journalist writing it whistling ‘anything you can do I can do better’ with one eye on the shameless and manipulative headlines that oft scream at us from the tabloids.
It was a poor show and the only positive I could take from it is that the majority reading it are not stupid enough to subscribe to the drivel written.

Then it got worse.

In making an attempt to advertise the newspaper we had on our streets at least one sign with the comment ‘Hunt Beggars out of Ayr’ emblazoned across it.
Not asking them politely to leave, or how about we look to do something to help those less fortunate than ourselves, but hunt them out.
It just draws short of having a small print ‘unleash the hounds’ subtext to it.

Then again maybe the original article is a really a sponsored advert from the pitchfork makers of Ayrshire and they are looking to make hay as everyone runs to secure one for the Kristallnacht of the homeless that is to follow.

Seriously though, if any homeless person is assaulted, or worse, due to this shameless propaganda being put out there then this sign is nothing more than the promotion of a hate crime.

If there are people who don’t really understand why that is then they could try and swap beggar to anything of their choosing.
Jew would be the stereotypical first port of call, but what about nigger, paki, Muslim, homosexual or the similarly ridiculous ‘Hunt ginger people out of Ayr’.
Of course there’s some unpalatable language used there, but there is a point.
How accepting would the majority be if any of those where used?

The Ayrshire Post, the Daily Record and the individual who wrote the article, the person who chose the language of the poster and those who found it acceptable to go public with them are all guilty of spreading hate.
They are guilty of targeting the most vulnerable and painting them as the cause of a problem rather than the outcome of one.

As is usual there has now been a social media group created to draw attention to this insidious article and you can join it and add a comment here.

Or if you feel very strongly about this then you can contact the press complaints commission here


  1. Spot on, thanks for the link to the facebook event.

  2. No problem at all Neill.
    In the main the blog is about music, but frequently i will post articles like this as a major concern I have is that we are all sleepwalking towards some Orwellian nightmare.
    We need to spread the word and appeal to the humanity in people.
    Ask questions that have a simple right and wrong answer.
    Draw focus back on what the real issue is rather than what the MSM would rather have us consider to be the problem.
    Homelessness is not the fault of the homeless.
    Government cutbacks, shrinking funding and the safety net of the benefits system being shredded is the problem.