Saturday, 14 March 2015

Petition: Death release him!

Clicking to save the world
Quite recently, I have become rather concerned about the insidiousness of online petitions and their power to force issues onto the agenda demanding serious action.
The whole idea that we can at our keyboards and click our way to world peace and the Nirvana we have also dreamt possible and attainable is now so trendy, it is beginning to lose its purpose.
Now, I have signed a few online petitions, even gone out on protests to back what I am petitioning for, however, I am not one to sign all petitions that land in my mailbox for whatever cause, no matter how serious and endearing that cause might be to others more fully persuaded of that cause.
To be persuaded
I need to be persuaded and engaged, I need to see the goal and understand the need, it is important that we see what is achievable and what is just following the crowd.
Yet, there are causes that I will support because they are close to my heart, those to do with rights, with children, with justice when deserved and the last one I felt so strongly about was the petition to Selfridges Manchester to remove the anti-homeless and reprehensible studs they installed on the low-lying ledges of their shop windows.
However, three recent petitions have got up my nose that seem to tend towards malevolence than beneficence.
An adjunct to justice?
The petition against Ched Evans who having been convicted of rape and having served his sentence was not allowed to return to his footballing career because some people did not think he had served his punishment enough. Besides going to prison and his still protesting his innocence, the petitioners who amassed in their hundreds of thousands creating a wall of online protest that appeared to force the hand of more reasonable people unwilling the challenge public opinion.
What is uncomfortably insidious about this development is where the petitions appear to tag on an extra punishment beyond the justice system, the keyboard warriors completely abstracted from reality, yet effective in their petitioning numbers. You wonder, when is a punishment or a crime effectively served if petitions can grant unregulated public opinion the ability to impose new sanctions?
Like reality television, the power of the subjective and emotional without clear access to the facts has now become part of our daily life, and much as it is helping some people, it can also dramatically ruin lives too.
Entertainment trumps the punch
The second petition that is giving me great concern is the one imploring the BBC to rescind the suspension of Jeremy Clarkson who co-hosts the Top Gear show.
I am no fan of Jeremy Clarkson, his manner, his attitude or his activities much as his antics can be entertaining and still be a pitiful display of boorish kidulthood. There are reasons why the BBC chose to take the very dramatic action of suspending their ‘Golden Goose’ as Top Gear is probably the most syndicated television show in the world.
Like many who have signed the petition and the keyboard warriors are close to a million, we all do not have access to the facts and detail of what prompted the suspension. The said ‘fracas’ suggests Jeremy Clarkson allegedly attacked his television show producer for not providing the refreshment or food he wanted.
Consider the producer, for once
Jeremy Clarkson is a lumbering creature and no one can explain what the producer might have felt in terror or humiliation at being ‘attacked’ for not doing what was expected of him. The dispute could have been handled in a more gentlemanly manner if Jeremy Clarkson were ever a gentleman, and I have never been convinced he ever was.
Yet, for the popularity of his show, the producer has become inconsequent and a nonentity, whilst Jeremy Clarkson is to be excused and forgiven the actions that led to his suspension, because our entertainment matters more to us than the minor act of a probable fist connecting to the body of another lowly person who brings no glee into our well-adjusted lives. According to the petitioners and the following is global.
As a consequence, the producer might become a pariah and even lose his job because it is attached to the now suspended Top Gear show. Is there any justice in this world?
Death release him
Which brings me to the last petition and there is not much I can say to the fact that Sir Terry Pratchett died on the 12th of March, 2015 after almost eight years of suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Over 21,000 have signed a petition asking Death to give Sir Terry Pratchett back, I guess that is a petition I can sign up to, seeing we are coming into the Easter season. Honestly! That is what the petition craze has become.


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