Blog Update

726EA4A6-EB7B-402F-BEA5-6D9C24A587EA

I haven’t updated my blog in ages and I feel kind of bad about that, but I’ve been incredibly busy – I might write about it soon, when I get a little bit of time to do so. In the meantime, here’s me late last night, I’d just returned from a talk in London on “Freedom of Speech” – yes, I hear you, even you at the back. You’re rolling your eyes and mumbling: “does she talk about anything else these days?!”

Fair enough, but I do actually talk about plenty of other things (oh yes, I do) It’s just that this is something that matters greatly to me and if I’ve become a bit of a free speech warrior, it’s because those types of warriors are needed at this precise moment in time. Last night, in the heart of Westminster, people from my tribe, people from all over gathered for a principle, for a basic right – one that won’t be taken away from us if we can help it.

Aaaaand I’m done – see, that wasn’t so bad 😉

Controversial writer

E2CA5057-786C-426B-90B4-882400FFD872

Anyone who’s followed this blog for a while will know I’ve been studying for a Master’s in Creative Writing for the past 2 years.
Well, it’s officially over. On Monday I got the result of my 15,000 words on Freedom of Speech. I knew all along my chosen subject was highly risky in the current climate, but I felt compelled to write about it.

Monday was tough – the result came in a day early – I didn’t get the high mark I was hoping for. I should say I was hoping against all odds.

I’m one of those annoying people who is academic, who gets the A* and the distinctions, etc…it’s embarrassing to admit and it’s rather sad but on Monday when I saw the mark I was awarded I wanted to cry. I DID actually cry later on in the day. People were congratulating me on having passed and I was thinking: Nat, you’re a failure.
I did try to put a brace face on it for the benefit of others: “I kept my integrity and that’s more important than a distinction” I told them. But oh, how I wanted that fucking distinction!

So I mourned all of Monday. I did think WHY didn’t you pick a subject that wasn’t controversial?

By Tuesday I was over it. I knew what I was doing when I chose free speech, I knew the risk – someone said when I told them what I would be writing about: “striking in the heart of academia, it’s bold, I like it” – I knew I wouldn’t end the masters on a high, grade-wise, but there was genuinely nothing I’d rather have written about than Freedom of Speech. So now the mourning is over, I can honestly say I have no regrets and that integrity IS indeed more important than a distinction.

I’ve been fighting for freedom of speech for so long, it has cost me friends, lots of followers on this blog, it has caused me untold grief already but I will never stop because it’s something I passionately believe in and the assault on free speech has been relentless in the last couple of years.

But, anyway, I have a Master’s now – I guess that makes me a writer. An opinionated, controversial type apparently, but I wouldn’t have it any other fucking way.

Oh, And I’m in a selfie mood today –

DD2B99DC-A68D-4720-9B35-16EF4A457E68

3130CF61-3D18-49D9-AC8C-BF0826E5CEE2

B38DC286-2119-4497-BC1F-027580798386

Dark

F6A346BB-8924-420F-B82F-BBC7133944FD

I have gone back to my roots, no more bottle blonde for me. Although the decision to go back to dark was kind of spontaneous, it had been at the back of my mind for a long time.

As the world turns away from reason in favour of emotion, the false prophets proliferate – it is more important than ever to be as authentic as one can possibly be. This blog that at one stage meant so much to me has taken a backseat, as some of you may have noticed.

People I thought I had an understanding with, people I interacted with on the basis we shared the same love for words, and literature, and art…those people who pride themselves on being tolerant have been anything but…and clearly unable to separate the ‘art’ from the ‘artist’ – an attitude that’s prevalent in today’s society.

I will never apologise for having an opinion, for the ability to criticise *everything*, for the fact my heart doesn’t rule over my brain. I do not believe it is a creative’s responsibility to pontificate and tell the masses what to think and what to like. I do not believe in demonising and ostracising based on political opinion alone. Unfortunately the majority of creatives feel differently. More’s the pity. But I won’t be bullied and I won’t be silenced. Without free speech, an individual  simply isn’t free. Deplatforming is an abomination, shutting down any kind of speech is abhorrent.

I can be dismissed and discarded by hundreds of people I have everything in common with – except for one seemingly crucial thing – and I still wouldn’t change the way I am and the way I speak.

If we share the same interests but you decide to pull the plug on our friendship because I don’t believe in open borders and uncontrolled immigration, because I believe ALL religions should be subjected to the same level of criticism, etc…then fair enough and so be it.  Your loss, your narrow-minded view of the world – contrary to what you preach. I won’t mourn you and I won’t miss you.

So I have been unfollowed on here by quite a few people, which is fine. Everyone is entitled to do as they please – what has massively pissed me off is that some of these people before unfollowing felt the need to tell me what a nasty human being I am. Obviously I’m going to object to that, especially when the stench of hypocrisy surrounds them. Nobody has the monopoly on kindness or pain – hence why identity politics is total bollocks and incredibly divisive. You can’t rewrite history and you shouldn’t want to. Virtue signalling is getting old, to be quite frank.

Progressives? Nah, regressive (s)

I’m a natural brunette and I’m back to dark. Some people will say it matches my soul – fuck them.

(The selfies… because I was in one of my exhibitionist moods – I could blame the new hair but…nah.)

B5DB38CD-BEE0-40AF-9D90-32F5A4BDB2CE
F3331298-632C-4355-933B-F40E19392BC6

Does anybody *really* believe in Freedom of Speech?

image

I feel compelled to write this, although it will be my last post on the subject (for a good while anyway).
Today, I told somebody I know that an anonymous person on the net had left a very long hideous comment on my blog, which ended thus: “If you have children, I hope they ALL die VERY slowly so YOU can watch them and SUFFER”. This was in response to my Caitlyn Jenner post.

Now, obviously this can only come from a mentally deranged person because, WHO in their right mind would ever say such a thing? I read the whole hateful comment twice (I know, I know) and deleted it. It goes without saying it was never going to make it onto the blog but it did make me feel very uncomfortable reading it. It came from the US, so it wasn’t as if there was an immediate threat – nevertheless, it shook me up a bit to have so much hate directed at me, even if it was from across the pond.

However, what shocked me more was my aforementioned friend’s reaction when I told him about it today.
Word for word, this is what he said: “I’m sorry the trolls have been bombarding you, but you shouldn’t be so opinionated about such things then”.
I was aghast. Basically, what he was saying was this: “You don’t deserve it, but…actually, you do”.

That is something I cannot understand and will not accept. To me, that’s like saying that the journalists from Charlie Hebdo murdered in cold blood in Paris back in January deserved their fate because they were also “too opinionated”. Note that I’m well aware that the fact I got some hateful comments cannot be compared with an assassination, obviously. But there is a definite correlation there which is: as long as you express an opinion, there is always a risk and you can’t really complain about the consequences or whatever comes your way as a result. So, freedom of speech truly doesn’t exist then – and it’s entirely normal and logical that some people should wish a slow death on any hypothetical children I may have, just because I said that Caitlyn Jenner’s photo shoot was a “vanity project”.
image
My blog is small, I’m not a power blogger and this blog is my own little place to write about anything I feel like: a place where I can play and indulge my obsession with words, a place where I can express myself freely because there are no expectations, as I do not get paid for the writing I do on here. My views and opinions are not even controversial, so I don’t understand how somebody I know could think that I’m too opinionated and that I only have myself to blame if some deranged mind decides to leave heinous comments on my blog.

I have said it ad nauseam, but I truly don’t mind anybody disagreeing with me, as long as they do it intelligently and can sustain a real discussion. But, in any case, because I write on a public blog, I expect some people to pipe up and tell me that they think I’m wrong. I even expect others to tell me I’m stupid, or jealous, or a hater (I’ve had that too in the last few days). I can even handle pure hate as in that comment I got yesterday. All of this, I can understand and I can cope with, because this is what happens when you put yourself out there, on a public site, even if it’s only a small one – some trolls are always going to be able to find you, unfortunately.

But that somebody I know, somebody who is meant to be a friend (and more or less sensible) should imply that I can’t really complain about the hateful comments because I’m “too opinionated”, that I find hard to handle.
image
If people that are meant to be close to me think that way, is it any surprise that a couple of religious fanatics should feel justified to go into a Paris office and proceed to execute journalists for expressing opinions?

This unexpected response from my friend made me realise, once again, that it’s not just religious fanatics and deranged human beings who don’t seem to grasp the concept of freedom of speech, it’s also ordinary people: like your friend, your neighbour, an acquaintance – it’s a hell of a lot of people actually. Does this fact upset anyone else? Because it sure does upset me.

If anybody has time (and is willing) to read the post I wrote a month ago about Freedom of speech, you can do so so here

Image credit:rs21.org.uk, paperblog.com and Izquotes.com

The pen really is mightier than the sword

image

It’s been an emotional week.
In the aftermath of the horrors that took place in Paris this week, the mood in France is subdued.

After the shooting at Charlie Hebdo, I didn’t realise at first that my favourite cartoonist was among those killed. When I saw his name in the list of victims, anger replaced shock.

I had grown up with “Cabu”, as he was known. Every Wednesday afternoon, he used to appear on this kid’s French show and do a quick drawing lesson. He was funny, he was talented and he was part of our childhood. Now he’s been murdered – senselessly.

I phoned my friend as soon as I saw his name listed among the dead – gosh I was angry. Only when she answered, all I could say was: “the bastards killed Cabu!” in a voice choked with tears.

And that’s what it’s been like among the French this week: anger intermingling with sadness and defiance.

Every one in France has been touched by the tragedy. Even people who didn’t care much about the magazine Charlie Hebdo, even people who didn’t agree with most of what was published in it.

When the terrorists murdered those people, they attacked our values, they attacked the French spirit, they attacked the whole of France.
They tried to tell the French that freedom of speech should be suppressed, that it could be punished and sanctioned.
They obviously didn’t understand who we are. They could kill hundred and thousands of us and yet we would still defend the right to free speech to the end.
That is why the whole of France is standing united and defiant. Because ‘they’ killed people for drawing, for expressing an opinion – and they killed them in the name of religion ffs.

The French community in the English town I live in organised a vigil for the Charlie Hebdo victims on Thursday night. Thanks to Facebook (it does have its uses) we organised the whole thing very quickly. There was about 150 of us in attendance but it was very cathartic. As we lit the candles, brandished our pencils and signs and paid our respects to the dead – we felt at one with Paris and at one with France.
image
The terrorists are now dead. It’s ironic that they died after trying to threaten our freedom of speech – only for their actions to actually make it stronger than ever. They died after attempting to create chaos and mayhem in France – and only succeeded in uniting us all: Nous sommes tous Charlie.

I know that this quote has been used to death this week, but that’s because it’s so fitting, and true: “the pen really is mightier than the sword”.
image

We will not be silenced

image

The cold-blooded murder of at least 12 people in my home country today has left a trail of shock, anger and sadness in its wake.

The senseless attack on the Paris offices of the magazine Charlie Hebdo shocked the world – but was most keenly felt in France, for obvious reasons.

What those, as yet unknown terrorists failed to understand, is that Freedom of Speech is at the heart of the French “spirit” and no barbaric attack is going to change that.

In a world becoming more and more obsessed with Political Correctness, freedom of speech and the freedom of the press is something France has fought very hard to keep alive.

Fanaticism and cold-blooded murder is not going to change what is deeply embedded in the French psyche.

You do not attack freedom of speech in France with impunity – this, the current (and future) terrorists will learn the hard way.

Today, France suffered a great loss – but it is standing united and will not bow down to savage and ghastly tactics attempting to threaten one of our most basic right.

My thoughts are with those who were lost today – and with their families.
#JeSuisCharlie