There’s been a lot of stuff about free speech in the news and I’ve ignored it…to be honest it’s big and complex and I’ve not felt qualified to do so.
However… this is different.
A couple of days ago a post appeared on my news feed saying that a Tesco on Oak Street in London was refusing to serve soldiers in uniform just in case it offended their Muslim customers. It smacked of fakery and within a couple of minutes I’d checked and there is no Tesco on Oak Street in London.
People believe what they want to believe and that post was speeding round the right wing groups (and therefore anti-right wing groups too), so much so that EDL News (a collective of social justice activists who investigate the far right in the UK) wrote about it and if you want more detail you can read about it here.
Fair enough…some bloke thought it was funny to stir a hornets nest by playing on popular trigger points….muslims…soldiers. Yawn. We see it on the Britain First page every day and I defend their right to write such tosh.
Unfortunately tonight there is another Tesco (a real one) not in London but in Mold. Where a man wielding a big knife chased an asian guy up a supermarket aisle. By standers say he was shouting about ‘white power’. If you want to read the story its here in the Mirror.
Maybe these two tales of Tesco are not linked… maybe it’s total coincidence.
Being incensed by the idea that Tescos no longer serve soldiers becuase of muslim sensibilities couldn’t possibly send some right wing idiot into a spin in his local supermarket…could it?
Posting something on the net can reach wide and the person who made the original post cannot really bear the blame of some tenuous second event that somehow bears some similarity to the first posting – we can’t all watch our every word and behaviour just in case, like a butterfly causing a hurricane a continent away, a post reaches someone unstable enough to chase a fellow shopper down the freezer section with a machete.
But if I were the twisted firestarter I’d be feeling a bit shit and a bit guilty right now about this Tesco based freak coincidence. Thats bearing responsibilty…feeling guilt. Actions DO have consequences…sometimes very slight…sometimes very big and if you are willing to let a cat out of the bag you have to bear the responsibilty of it shitting in your grandmother’s slippers.
I have a suspicion however that as the knife wielder was shouting about white power and the man with serious injuries has been described as ‘asian’ that the blame will never need to get close to a post that appeared on social media. Some racist hit out and did he really need an excuse?
Funny that… because if he’d been looking at violent porn and gone out and committed a violent attack the press would see it as a cut and dried ‘porn made him do it’.
Let’s see if anyone adds two and two and gets four.
If the man with his stick in the hornets nest of racial unrest gets some recognition.
And actually this isn’t so different..freedom of speech is always bigger and more complex than it seems.