Who would be an anti vax-er today ?, or for that matter who would be a freedom lover , a free thinker and advocate of free speech or even a nazi, and far right protesting white supremacist ? : in some parts of the corporate driven groupthink of mass media those labels are interchangeable….and we should be very worried about labels.
Right now there are many people out on the streets of many European countries protesting about the introduction of mandatory vaccination and one of those just as an example (Austria) has recently created a government inspectorate to track down and fine the non-vaccinated : With that one i feel that a line in the sand has been crossed .
Just recently the Australian Northern Territories minister Micheal Gunner has declared (labelled) anyone who speaks out against a vaccine mandate as absolutely anti-vax even when they might have already been vaccinated and are maybe even pro-vax. I’m going to avoid insta-labeling the minister as something else although several labels come to mind – rather i’d like to make a simple statement about that kind of approach and where it leads. His speech is an appalling example of the principle that “if you’re not totally on our side then you’re our enemy”…..no nuance or discussion tolerated or allowed. Where that takes us is ‘othering’, which i will explain, to a new medical apartheid, to a progressive taking away of rights and ultimately to a government tyranny ; if you disagree with that then please say so but it’s one of the foundation starting points of every tyranny and genocide of the last century.
It would be both easy and wrong to say that this is just like the situation in either Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia in the 1930’s : in the one we have the obvious example of the Jews but also Gypsies Homosexuals and political enemies, progressively legislated against , labeled and then actually physically labeled ……on the other start with the Kulaks and take it from there. This comparison is i feel all wrong – i don’t think history repeats in that way and a better comparison might be made with Europe in the 15th century when the printing press was the ultimate in technology.
In the 15th Century and onwards owning the wrong books , attending the wrong church, chapel or Synagogue , saying the wrong words and even just holding the ‘incorrect’ beliefs would have you instantly labeled as a heretic, unclean, apostate , outcast and enemy. If you don’t know your history then that division in late medieval Europe led to the Hundred Years War and slaughter upon massacre – in a very real way we still hear that division in Northern Ireland with the challenge ‘are you a prod’ or it’s opposite and if the answer is yes then the insta-label means that you are instantly the subject of disgust to be cast out, beaten up and have your possessions and assets seized.
This ‘othering’ and labeling is supremely lazy and ultimately dangerous, lazy because it seems to allow us a shortcut to avoid actual thinking and ultimately dangerous because once labeled we create contempt, disgust and hatred. The strangest example i came across this year was when i was ‘othered’ and then ‘cancelled’ – deleted in fact, by a former internet ‘friend’ who actually expressed contempt for any ‘brexiteer‘ ; and i have to admit that that one worked both ways with the other side of the coin becoming ‘remoaners‘. There was very little discussion, just a black and white label and instant antipathy and in that former ‘friend’s’ case actual contempt. I sometimes used to wonder that all discussions about that kind of thing should be taken away from social media and taken down to the pub…..the kind of pub where a punch in the face might be a reasonable outcome for a keyboard warrior to experience the actual effects of their words.
Mea Culpa !…….i must add.
As i age and i think that as i write more i become more aware of my own failings and with regard to this problem i’m just as guilty as anyone else – i really try to stop myself and pull back a little when i find myself doing the same thing ; the problem being that there is so much division that it’s easy to to go quickly and strongly in one direction and far too easy to be influenced by others who use the same labels. If anything what happens to me now is that i hear a label – a good recent example being ‘far right’ or far right extremist’ in a media report about ‘anti-vax’ protest i really wonder what that media outlet is trying to do……is it, for example, just a quick way ‘shorthand’ to discredit and create antipathy something like a genuine protest by a mixture of people.
I wonder if we tend to label because we are all a bit (a lot) lazy and we label rather than thinking through a contentious issue…..and i wonder if we do that because we are mostly immersed in and engrossed in trivia for a lot of our mental time and that because the small hits of trivia give us a short buzz….a quick dopamine fix. Maybe it’s the case that we are all exposed to and bombarded with far more information than we ever were and we need some quick method of dealing with it and where one method is to just stick a quick label on it and move on to something that is briefly satisfying.
In the next post i think i need to go and look at a whole load of trivia and see what it does to my focus and attention…….until next time then sheeple !
The video that i have chosen to go with this piece is from a Holocaust survivor.