Category Archives: Opinion

2017 General Election: Don’t Vote Corbyn, Vote For Something Better Instead.

Even though I have a passionate desire to see the NHS saved, the levels of poverty reduced and to see inequality re-aligned, I will not be voting for Jeremy Corbyn this week. I say this despite being fully aware that the Daily Mail headlines about Corbyn are such ridiculous lies that fiction writers across the country are breaking into cold sweats through fear that they’ll never top such works of fantasy. I do it in full knowledge that the weasel faced, squirming, leech that is Jeremy Hunt is bordering on the blatant in his efforts at selling NHS to big Dave down the pub for a snifter of Vintage port and some Camembert, I say this too despite soundbite evidence that Theresa May has plans to make the UK a playground for oligarchs whose empathy levels are only matched by half sunken breeze blocks shouldering the burden of crude sheds in patchwork fields.

I will not be voting for Jeremy Corbyn, Theresa May, Tim Farron, Caroline Lucas, Nicola Sturgeon or the one resembling a bollock that lost its fight with a ladyshave, but still insists on hanging out with the bigger bollocks.

I’ll be voting for Labour, yes Jeremy Corbyn might be the leader, but the party has a lot to offer and just enough of a divide to keep it grounded enough for informed, impassioned decisions that have long term success at heart. I also know Jeremy Corbyn has some radical views about the economy, monarchy, nuclear weapons and taste in Home Secretaries, but I’m not voting for Diane Abbot or Jeremy Corbyn, I’m voting for the collective minds that make up the Labour Party. Angela Raynor’s ideas for education in the UK that come from actually being in the same schools and predicaments that 93.5% of us were/are in. Jess Phillips who is tirelessly campaigning for women’s equality, in particular the help available for victims of domestic violence, abuse and rape. David Lammy who stood firm in his beliefs, despite them being unpopular and against the “Three Line Whip” wishes of Jeremy Corbyn, he defied the Brexit vote because his constituents didn’t vote for it nor did he believe it a good move for the country this all potentially risked his job, Chuka Umunna who took Boris and ‘Pob’ to task over their promise to fund our NHS with the newly recovered windfall from leaving the EU forcing them put their ‘card on the table’ about the issue, Clive Lewis who has said many incredibly sensible, down to earth and people centred things when quizzed on the tough issues others choose to avoid by using ‘fluff and nonsense’, even Dianne Abbot who made it through Cambridge and parliament despite the indoctrinated sexism and racism that still follows her around like an angry EDL marcher high on the colourings in orange squash, that has to count for something.

For me this shows courage of conviction and a direction that isn’t driven by the placement of a decimal point at the cashpoint, better still this is just a few of the many people who want to make a genuine difference.

The policies in their manifesto are going to be a source of much annoyance for many wealthy people within the UK and beyond. It will be under permanent scrutiny so as to expose any weak points and ‘confirm’ Conservative adoration of personal wealth is a justified model for society. If they pull it off then we can look forward to a roll back in the privatisation of our NHS, the re-nationalising of rail services which for too long have been using tax payers money for expensive things like trains, tracks and compensations while a faceless company trousers the profits, bankers paying taxes on their phenomenal bonuses and the forcing of big companies to pay a corporation tax based on the transactions rather than the profits. An additional crackdown on unscrupulous tax dodging that would help redistribute the vast sums of money being hoarded like Gollum with the ‘One Ring’.

This will cause ructions in the sort of circles that every day people know exist, but have no control over. It’s costed and aligned to suit more than the top 5% which contrasts the previous dogmatic beliefs in ‘trickle down economics’ that have left us up shit creek without any water let alone a boat and paddle.

If you’ve ever said the words “politicians are all the same” or “They’re only in it for themselves” then this is a time to go against that and defy the imbedded Stockholm Syndrome that everyday people are so bitterly burdened with.

Will it be a Utopia with swishing butterflies and pretty flowers in warm summer breezes, of course it won’t, the extreme left might dream of such ‘perfection’, but in the real world this manifesto shows a fair degree of how relative such a concept is. If their time in power only takes back control of some of whats been bastardised since the ‘I’m so left leaning I’m now telling everyone to vote Theresa May’ work of Tony Blair then we might be able to open doors for our children’s future without the Albatross of wealth and postcode being a deciding factor. We might too be able to see our elderly looked after with the same level of dignity that they looked after us, people might get to have life altering operations without having to wait until they are old enough to only have the them once before dying, we might also be able to enjoy the twilight years of retirement without fretting over whether to freeze or starve this month. It’s a chance to hold our heads high as proud ‘Brits’ showing the world we can learn from our mistakes, adapt and set new aspirations to unlock the vast potential this ‘little’ island has to offer. The two pound coin says “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants” I disagree, we don’t “stand on” we stand with giants, shoulder to shoulder, sharing wisdom, strength and a morality that can set standards of justice and equality the world over.

This isn’t about a horse having water taken to them, or leading them to it, it’s about unloading some of the weight, sharing it more equally and reaching fresh pastures alive enough to enjoy it.

So if you’re going to vote Conservative because you believe that lower taxation and ‘belt tightening’ is a better solution then please put a cross in their box. But if you’re voting Tory because you believe that all the problems this country face are because of feckless layabouts, immigrants, lazy doctors, the EU, disabled people or any other group that this government has endeavoured to scapegoat then I urge you to look into the savage financial cuts in the face of hypocritical expense claims, the arms being sold to Saudi Arabia that are then used on countries we send aid to and the whimpering U turns over the Tangerine Tosspot, social care and self employment taxes. There will undoubtably be some ‘good eggs’ in amongst the collective, but they are outweighed by the polarity and connections of their empathy deficient peers. The times of being able to say one thing and do another have to end, so to do the sweetheart deals that are being handed to psychopathic companies that will stop at nothing to meet shareholders demands. Forgo this opportunity and we risk swilling around the same tired pig troth looking for scraps tossed aside by those with self imposed superiority, only this time things actually could have been different.

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Willing Frogs in Boiling Water

Each day new reports announce the failures of our masters and commanders for what seems to be their inner sanctums, while we fight amongst ourselves. Right or left, liberal or conservative, highly educated or simply so, it doesn’t matter the walk of life, we all seem to be at a proxy war with someone, somewhere all the time. Like a fountain full of coins resting on their given sides and chinking solemnly in the transparent depths.

American politics has reached a dangerous pinnacle of hatred that teeters nervously on the brink of questionably mandated aggression. The UK’s political sphere has become bitter, jaded and drunk on power showing the sort of tunnel vision that comes with a certain level of intoxication.

At the heart of all rhetoric and bluster is the humble people, restlessly carrying out daily tasks to make life more bearable, good, bad, male, female, gay, straight, dark skin, light skin choose a sub group as you wish, but people just the same. Mass collections of individuals that harbour wide ranging passions, beliefs, personalities and agonising responsibilities.

A chronic tidal wave of psychological manipulation hits the general population on a daily basis that is so adept at forcing particular reactions, if it were a person they would be held up as a God. Supermarkets frustrate shoppers so as to increase impulse buys, advertising outlets use words that are carefully placed to make us feel inadequate, media outlets pander to populist emotion all while 30 second video clips inform us what we are missing out on with the latest TV, computer, car, phone, furniture or holiday. Once we have bought the projected object of desire we are then subjected to a more invasive manipulation that trespasses into our hearts and minds. Age is no defence to this onslaught either, all that changes is the medium through which its received and the effective relevance to life the ‘thing’ might have.

After years of conditioning to follow the will of consumerism the populations needs and desires aren’t perhaps as true as they once were, a reliance on being nudged towards what we should be lusting after this week has become deep seated within our collective psyches. Psyches that through mistakes, adversity and uncharted territory have made some of the most beautiful creations imaginable. Incredible inventions from metallic cylinders that slice through the air into the once unreachable dark void of space, to the minute controllable tubes that can navigate the tiny, evasive corridors of the human body. For better or worse this level of  innovation and dogged determination to succeed has lead to a fragile collection of atoms becoming the strongest and most dominant creatures this world has known.

The wonderful things we have invented, produced, thought and done are always marred with an overwhelming ability for hate. For all our achievements we regularly take frustrating side steps because of a difficulty to open up positively when it comes to change or differences. It could be a natural, ancestral built in Homo Sapian trait the we have somehow never fully shaken off. Only unlike the coccyx bone or the ability to move our ears slightly, this has the potential for some atrocious actions that leave scars to deep to hide. It could be natures simplistic answer to the quandary of fish marrying birds but having nowhere to live. If we naturally avoid what doesn’t match then it cant ever be a problem, except that is we aren’t fish and birds. We are the same mammal with varying appearances, abilities and customs, the problem of ‘where to live’ can only come down to preferences. There is both inherent good and bad within all humans and their never ending sub categories; it is, in possibly the saddest way, one of the many things that make us all the same.

One of the other defining features of the Human race has been its ability to encounter a problem and use an apparent superior intellect to either prevent it from happening or recover from its effects, swift adaption through understanding has been the lynch pin to our forced evolutionary path.

Years of investigation, testing, collating and feeding curiosity has given a wealth of information that has improved our diverse ways of life. Data analysis has been a vital tool in this process, what good is acquiring the information if it can’t be interpreted and shaped into a usable, sometimes abstract, product. As people we have a better understanding of human nature than at any other point in history, we know what happens to make us feel good, we know the effects of colours, words, glittery surfaces, even how small something is before our finger tips cant register it anymore. This understanding has brought many positive effects to our lives, but it also has increased the power of a weapon thats immeasurably more dangerous than any mass destructive weapon ever invented.

Propaganda and mass populace manipulation. We understand that certain colours can induce fear, certain words can effect a deep cognitive process that puts people on edge or affirms a belief. Certain undermining descriptions coupled with seemingly quantifying imagery can have a profound effect on human tolerance. Telling stories about large swathes of ‘different’ people committing acts that stand outside our boundaries of what is acceptable, quickly turns good, honest people to be combative, aggressive and inward focusing. Yet more stories of a hidden will behind certain faiths that would see all humans live and follow a singular direction combine this with exaggerated figures and fear propagates until it creates a conceptual foe that is always out of reach like the ‘pot of gold at the end of a rainbow’. This triggers our natural reaction to aggressors, fundamentally it could be seen as an early stage of the “fight or flight” mechanism. Recently the wider reach this sort of mis-information is nothing short of frightening, not least because eventually it feeds itself from within. Like a fire on a hot day, a small spark and a gentle nurturing creates a challenging, unpredictable force that we are all ill equipped to handle.

 

As a collective we are being manipulated for the ill will of a few people. We are being shot to and fro like the steel balls of a pinball machine, never knowing which direction is next and always confused by the repetitive ‘flashes’ and ‘loud whirrings’

People who have found dark corners within echo chambers of digitised conversation are playing ‘Chinese whispers’ and with each new resonation our values erode a little bit more. Brazenly, people in positions of power are doing as they please without enough good opposition because the smoke screens they throw up smell like vanilla and we are hypnotised by the sickly sweet draw. Culminating in a society that adheres to oligarchs who would see us enact their bidding from the safety of ‘Ivory Towers’.

Tools such as psychometric data, fear, confusion, controlled aggression, rhetoric rebuttals and outright lies are being used to infiltrate our individual lives, with a view  to create a malleable, unquestioning population, similar to those with devout faith in a deity or holy text. Coupling “gas lighting” with abstract objects of fear creates a system of subtle chips to what we hold dear and sporadic seismic thumps to the very walls that protect us. For a long time the people who had access to such powerful tools had some sense of morals, a low bar maybe, but there nonetheless.

The political climate has changed and the moral standing coming from people of power is questionable at best, they may seem like small trees compared to others in this particular swamp, but their roots go just as deep and their thirst is far greater.

 

I have no qualifications to speak of, limited prospects other than what I can carve out of this life through hard work and honesty. A combination of Mental illnesses leaves me at odds with myself and life in general. In a constant state of readiness for catastrophe that gets wearing, eventually pushing me into a deeper depression than is customary. It also makes me constantly question everything I think and feel for justification and reasoning, that means having toes dipped in opposition pools and a seat in more confirming waters. A need to entrench and counter my own thoughts and conclusions introspectively through as broader canvas as possible.

Condemn Questions at Our Peril

Comedian Lee Hurst tweeted a hypothetical scenario this week based on torture. Not about it’s ethics or practicalities, but simply whether or not torture would happen in a given situation. In essence the question was posed as an “experiment”. One reply late last night, noted that the balance so far had been ‘pro torture’, that later swung more decisively. With more concrete anti-torture replies citing an understanding that it doesn’t work, coupled with moral feeling. This concurs with Intelligence agencies across the world who have denounced the practice, even Donald Trumps newly appointed “General ‘Mad Dog” Mattis” has said it doesn’t work.

It is interesting though to read the reactions to such a frightening question of:

If your baby was strapped to a time bomb and you had the terrorist, he told you that you had 1 hour. Would you torture them for answers?

A Simple question, fraught with wide arching variables and moral quandaries, not least of all because it was posed on a public platform where information is stored for years. Many proffered “diversions” and rightly so, the basis for torture shouldn’t be reduced to hypothetical decisions of principals versus unconditional love.

The chances of there being a situation so simple are slim, theres more chance of a Loose Women panelist getting away with wearing the same blouse for a week and no one noticing. A more in depth look raises point that the question assumes all present facts are accurate. Your baby is actually strapped to a bomb, the terrorist is telling the truth about timescales, they know where your child is and that you are physically capable of torture. Torturing somebody for information can only go so far too, they may tell you what you want to know, but how can you be sure its true? Do you then torture then some more to check they are being honest? What if you find out they are lying? What happens when the person realises they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t? All the while a clock is ticking and you are no nearer to knowing whether your hearing the truth or frantic attempts to make the pain stop.

The answers given to the question can’t be taken as accurate either, Twitter is a public ‘arena’ so the Bystander Effect/Mob Rule plays a part. The opposite will also be true with Cognitive Bias/Dissonance. A combination of the two leads to fairly flaccid, two steps forward three backwards conclusion and lastly who knows what they would do in such a situation. Many find it so frightening they don’t even want to think of it let alone debate it on an open forum surrounded by strangers and trolls.

The culmination a day later was more than a few comments offering to re-enact Rumble in the Jungle, a little odd considering the subject, and more affirmative answers. For his part Lee Hurst thanked those who replied with what he perceived as an honest “no”. Whether his thanks were because of backlash or the intention to genuinely question ‘our’ perceived inner-nobility is difficult to figure and to some extent pointless.

As an “experiment” it is flawed of that there is no doubt, but as a question it highlights the flaws in us all. Many seemed to find this hypothetical notion abhorrent and he seems to have been vilified as a man who condones torture. It has to be asked though if a person can entertain a thought or question does that make them guilty by association? If that were the case curiosity will claim more than just cats. He regularly answered with one or two words, either  “diversion” or “a simple, yes or no”. This appeared to anger a lot of people as the variables weren’t being valued and the answer wasn’t sufficient enough to make an informed judgment. There is certain irony to that as I’m sure intelligence gatherers go through the same painful backwards and forwards during every interrogation.

Although tempers have frayed, offence has been taken and violence was threatened, it was right to ask and similar questions should be asked more. Thought patterns whether anecdotal, fact or border line delusional must be debated and done so amicably. We are well passed the times of standing in echo chambers, nodding sincerely while being pleased with what we hear back.

This question was devised because torture is being forced back into the public domain, only this time it’s not from slowly ascending whispers carried along secret corridors. This time we are having it forced upon us, we’re being challenged to either stand up and shout back or sit down and let a temporary few degrees of separation protect us from having to think about the unpleasantness. At the core it’s a time when inaction is as bad as action, Christopher Hitchens phrases it better than I with “Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. The grave will supply plenty of time for silence.”

People often say how is it that nobody stood up to fascism  around Hitlers pre-reign and during. How could they be so blind to what was going on around them, it had to have been obvious. The answer is painfully simple, they were fed unchallenged propaganda through the radio, forced to digest lies while all counter arguments were stifled. That lead to apathy, apathy lead to tolerance, tolerance lead to ignorance, ignorance lead to acceptance, acceptance lead to intolerance.

Intolerance leads to atrocities and suffering that few in the western world have experienced. Don’t condemn the question or its source, argue it, debate it, disprove it but don’t let it be condemned to the hidden depths where it remains unchallenged and unapporachable. When its abstract open up to it, consider it and get informed about why it’s being asked. Self-reflection and reasoned fair action will give context to those who have been systematically manipulated by propaganda and ‘alternative facts’. To close off debate because of assumption will be like throwing sticks at a fire in the hope of putting it out, take away what fuels the flames and it will surely wither and die.

 

Immigration in the UK

I’m not anti-immigration, but it’s just not right. Put the pitch forks back on there black, white letter stamped pegs, douse the petrol fuelled taps of anger, it is to do with them being different from us and that should be championed. Allowed to grow just like every other prosperous nation has been before.

In a country where the average waiting time to see a GP is over a week, a health service thats over worked and underpaid. A Police force thats under a daily barrage of cuts, political warfare and glacial culture divides the needs of such desperate people can not be effectively met. We can’t even meet the needs of our own people.

Mental health waiting times are dangerously long, people coming from such terrifying conditions are going to have mental health problems and we don’t have the capacity to deal with it effectively. Housing is either too expensive or not available due to costs. This leaves many with little option but exploitation and potential squaller, all the while our ex serviceman and mentally ill wonder the cold streets searching for a place to sleep.There is a good reason they tell you to put your mask on first during the pre-flight safety briefing!

The why for many is clear, the how is murky, full of misdirection and fear; the reasons have become irrelevant though. Conservative cuts have severed many public service veins and the only option now is well orchestrated political surgery, we seem to be lacking in decent political ‘surgeons’ lately.

Years of tradition and heritage are being eaten away by megalomaniacal extremists and morally deficient dictators. Stories and methods of practice are being forcibly removed with every death, diesel fuel induced stupor and mental scarring that each person is being assaulted with. Art, sculptures, scriptures, legends and myths are being resigned to ashen dust because the need to survives greater than the need for education. The only thing for many to hold onto is faith, faith in their god, faith that the west will help and faith that somewhere over the water the grass is greener. Worrying is when their beliefs are bastardised by psychopathic interpreters of holy text, people who will speak of a utopian land, rich with spoils from noble conquests all preached from their pulpits of rubble.

We do a disservice to our children and grandchildren if we bury these different values and cultures under a mountain of dirt carved by daisy cutters, we are taking away their chances to share difference and open their minds to change. That leads to certain negative behaviours becoming entrenched, the marginalised will learn what it is to be hated and hate in return, whilst the idealised indigenous learn what is to offer indifference instead of compassion. Safety in numbers becomes an easy tool for survival and sections of the country become secularised breeding grounds for ill prescribed rhetoric and dangerous action.

This should be a damning wake up call to western politicians who wax lyrical about moral values and shared responsibility. Those words are now cheap, unavailable and inconsistent with reality. It didn’t have to be that way, but lack of clear exit strategies and support for countries left violated by governments and extremists alike, waging proxy wars has made it so. One day the belittled children of today will have to pick up the pieces and doggedly glue the world they once felt safe in back together, knowing that some cracks will never go back like before, some cracks will always leak and some handles will never hold a full pitcher again.

You can’t blame people for wanting to come to a land that destroyed theirs, if it has the power to ravage their life then it must be doing more than surviving, it must be edging ever closer to the utopia they were promised. A country with enough time and money to spare time they can make vast arsenals of weapons capable immeasurable damage, these countries will be safe from ever having to bear witness to atrocities like they have seen, at least for a while. Weary feet can rest, curious minds can wonder, creative hands can make and fractured families can work again to be whole.

If only it were that simple, they have to endure a new set of challenges, technology, methods and customs so alien its a life of chalk and cheese. They aren’t welcomed or honoured like invited guests. Help is hard to come by and they’re increasingly cast aside by a privileged few. Treated as parasites and likened to rats by nature as well as living conditions. A natural reaction is to revert back into survival thinking, they aren’t going to prosper and “pay their way”, it’s like offering to save a drowning person and throwing them a brick. People will still want to come though as it doesn’t matter how green the other sides grass is, if yours is all but gone.

Each £22,000 Pave Way and £105,000 Brimstone missile is £127,000 that could have gone into rebuilding rather than destroying, defending rather than obliterating and educating rather than diminishing. These weapons have their place but the time of ‘throwing rocks’ from a distance is finite, negotiation and planned assistance are in prominent need, not chronic ‘parti pri’ peacemakers with money on their minds and cyclonite in their pockets.

Shit and Fan

In a confused world where bad people say good things and good people do bad things, can the population really be blamed for voting against the ‘status quo’, no they can’t. Will they pay the price, yes.

Short sentences and repetition seem to have been the victor, constantly announcing that one man can make America great again was enough. Policies, facts, methods, even the nobility of truth aren’t enough to disparage the downtrodden from following this simple rhetoric. The people voted not with what they knew but with what they could understand. Thats not to say that people are “stupid” or that an “IQ test should be taken before voting”, more so that world affairs have been made so complicated understanding it takes more time and dedication than the every day person can ‘afford’ to give.

People have become fearful of long words, complex sounding theories and side stepping, using twenty loosely associated words when one word, said with conviction and promise, would be enough. Perhaps its because people are tired of legal jargon that every new iTunes, email account and trending app brings. Add in being bombarded with constant meaningless acronyms that sound powerful but in reality are as exciting as writing lines after school. Maybe its because the internet has shortened our attention spans so much we expect information to spoon fed via infographics and floating captions in a three minute video. The news that tickles our gossip fancy or fuels our desires is forced into 140 characters to explain something as complicated as Kanye and Kim’s latest Hollywood movements so why can’t our politicians do the same for us, don’t they know we have work until five and then off to our night job at seven?

Popular socialists such as Bernie Sanders use a method of speaking that is more like your everyday person, down to earth, not fashionable, respectfully delivered and with the courage to stand by what they have said. But for every Bernie there is a Trump, every Ellen there is an Ann, every New York Times a Fox news, keep adding potatoes to that pan without checking the water and you’ve got a messy clean up job on your hands.

I can’t help but feel this is racially motivated and anti-establishment in equal measure. It sets a worrying precedent that has happened before in the most unspeakable way, at best a few angry fists thrown by tired, frustrated people, at worst we will be shot at by the very weapons we ship around the world in the quest for global democratic practice and market monopolies. A large swathe of Trumps supporters are guided by the “will of God”, ancient moral scriptures informing people where right and wrong sit; broken down conveniently into ten short sentences.

Another section of Trumps supporters are strongly behind their military, often taking the time to publicly pay respect and thanks. Branded, rightfully, as heroes and welcomed on their return, something soldiers historically missed out on by a movement of “love not hate”.

He managed to insult many of the core values these people hold dear, disrespecting the former soldiers and acting against the will of god, although it was with a woman so its somehow a lesser sin on the “deplorable” scale.

People were even happy to follow him though openly admitted they didn’t like his actions.

In some way the man on the telly wasn’t the man on the bus, the fraud audits, court papers, sun bed and even the lectern. Hateful words followed by half baked action plans won out because sections of this world need someone to blame, but that someone has to within reach. In all honesty we have seen it played out on the TV, it’s what the election debates have been muddied by from Trumps Triumph to Brexit. When offered an object to throw punches at people took it; tired of swinging blindly in the dark, they saw a symbolic punching bag and continued to drive five knuckles of sobering fury at it. Any sense of how much damage is being caused or what the bag is made of falls away because their anger is transferred into the imported leather they’ve been told has hurt their futures and family.

Today is not a day of victory. Trump didn’t win, the people didn’t win, the world will certainly not have won anything, it is a day of loss.

Hillary lost, the DNC lost, the stock market lost, the establishment lost, just like it did with Brexit and just as hoped by the many people who had nothing left to lose. Bernie supporters know this feeling and have little to say except “we told you so”, you were told not to follow the same old same old, told not to be the navy blue trouser suit when the people wanted red hats and one off politically enthusiastic birds looking for their moment. Instead navy blue trouser suits went high, but should’ve have gone low, deflected when they should have reflected and carried on being fed by the hand that squeezes us.

Of all the losses, societies empathy has been the hardest to watch fade. When people who would normally give the shirt off their back turn to racism and scapegoating it’s time to admit that the marriage isn’t working and it might be time to see a shrink.

My only hope is that after a period of conservative rule, UK and US, the true causes become clear and we can focus a collective conscience of better change for a more equal good. Until then lets build that wall, a “yuge” wall, some might say a ‘Great Wall’!

Medicine for the ‘Immoral’

 

Can we decide who should and who shouldn’t receive a costly treatment based on their life choices?

I recently launched myself headlong into a debate about whether the PRep drug should be rolled out. A debate centred around NHS Englands decision to turn its back on the obligation to provide PRep to people who feel they may be at risk of contracting HIV. The murky water that lashed against the shores of sanity seemed to be sullied with discussions of morality and justification. The argument was predominantly broken into two categories; those that felt condoms were enough of a barrier and by choosing not to use them the risk is a burden they must shoulder. The others questioned whether it was right to deny those most at risk a safety net and whether it was right to hold back treatment of HIV because of perceived promiscuity.

I foolishly entered the debate feeling as though anyone in the ‘for’ camp had pitched their tent high on the moral slope, safe from the rising tide of archaic judgment and persecutory rip tides. Peering down into the gloom of archetypal people throwing moral missiles at unyielding, light footed knights of justice and equality. My only argument at first being that the high court ruling was not an outright support of gay men, but in fact support for anyone who was at risk from contracting HIV.

The next stage of my ‘gallantry’ is where it began to unravel. I charged head long at a gentlemen for his outright objection to supplying a costly drug when “Avastil” is underfunded and unavailable on the NHS. My arrogance was to believe that the ol’ boy had deep rooted anti-homosexual, anti-promiscuity theories that were ingrained from a life of attending church every Sunday like a righteous soldier of faith. I have long held the belief that people can harbour atrocious prejudices if they tell the good lord that they repent for kicking the dog on Friday because ‘er’ in doors’ hadn’t gotten dinner ready on time.

I had judged all of this from one simple sentence questioning whether the NHS could afford an expensive drug and what would be sacrificed.

I questioned the gentleman on his conviction that it was right to refuse the drug based on a theory that they were to blame for their ‘hedonistic’ lifestyle. To try and justify the cost over the saving of a life to me seemed as though a finite numeric value was being placed on the heads of red blooded people capable of good and bad in equal measure. I replied with many well meaning and forceful counters to these arguments, cutting through the injustice with a sword of salvation for the under represented.

This went on for a bit with many others chiming in to offer different tangents as to why this person could have so much courage of conviction when talking about who is more deserving. It was at this point I felt I was being a shit, this guy was so strongly holding onto his opinion that I had to justify why I had the right to tell him was wrong. I began to ‘pull my punches’ and re-write my counters several times, omitting personal jibes and character assassinations, replacing them instead with alternative perspectives and justifications outside of moral notions. Others rightly questioned whether all people that sacrifice their bodies to aggressive illnesses should be excluded also, the answer of course was not needed as it’s already happening and will do so for the foreseeable future.

I couldn’t wrap my liberal sensibilities around the idea that one person is more deserving than another simply because they have lived a life of “thou shalt not”. Could it really be so simple? Could we really ‘play god’ because someone has been good in a relative sense? It just didn’t make sense, a good person inevitably has bad traits so how can mere mortals decide who has the right to medicine based on moral judgments? “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” as it goes. He cast his stone I threw my intentionally noble, but actually inconsiderate boulder back.

I suddenly realised that what he was talking about was an emotional thought process. To know the name of a drug and its effects is one thing, but to be able to use that name so abruptly and flippantly can only come from experience. To ask the question of whether its right to deny one party for the appeasement of the other could come from bitter experience not deep seated prejudices as I had arrogantly assumed. I swiftly attempted to make amends by raising my thoughts on his experiences without brazenly casting aspersions, I had after all cast more than my fair share already. A small ping and a red square appeared, a simple like, nothing pretentious just a like. My apology had been received, whether it had been accepted I don’t know nor do I wish too, for as long as I don’t know I can’t absolve myself from the judgment I had cast on a person I didn’t know. I was instantly humbled and there I wish to stay for I am human, fallible, flawed and ultimately in-perfect just like everybody else.

I did ask one thing to the gentlemen, a favour I didn’t deserve but I had to deliver in the hope of easing the trouble for all concerned. How it was received again I don’t know. I asked him not to be angry with the humanly flawed people for whom the debate was aimed at, not to be so heavily focused on who is more deserving of relief, but to be more focused on who is eating more than their fair share of the preverbal pie, for they are the real hedonists.

Can we decide who gets respite based on their life choices? That was my question, futile, simplistic and greyer than a British summer. Ultimately a rhetoric question, ‘we’ don’t get to decide.

The decision will not be made under a veneer of moral debate, nor will it be made on whether the ends can justify the means. It will be made based on a series of numbers, to dull for easily bored minds it will be plotted into block coloured bars so as to make the numbers more palatable, the higher the number on the y axis the more likely it will be rolled out. While we naively debate lifestyle over injustice they will debate net versus gross, we will share experienced stories based on first person perspective, they will share a golf cart on Thursday at four, we will pontificate whilst they propagate. We spend more time fighting each other in a Facebook Thunder Dome, desperately trying to re-take control of our destiny than we do holding our erroneous emancipators to account.

When did the placement of a decimal point hold the key to salvations we all deserve? Money makes money, it doesn’t make the holder judge, jury and executioner. We are not inanimate secondary colours filling cascading rectangles on a bar graph, we are people, committed to making mistakes and learning from them, muddling our way through life trying to balance what is right and what is rewarding, sadly they don’t always symbiotically travel.