Breaking of Silence

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Credit: Alamy

Like many socioholics, I’ve been virtually glued to my social media feeds over the past few hours, both appalled at and unable to turn away from the steady drip of new #MeToo posts and comments, and behind them, sometimes the stories, told with admirable, no-frills candour, and sometimes the bare hashtag itself, speaking of lifetimes full of normalised, regular harassment and assault. Women I don’t know, and women I do: friends, girlfriends, school friends, colleagues, mothers, sisters.

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No-Platforming and the Fourth Estate

Earlier today, The Raw Story and several other media outlets reported that American news broadcasters CNN were in the process of considering banning President Donald Trump’s counsellor, Kellyanne Conway, from its Sunday talk show “State of the Union” – possibly on a permanent basis – citing credibility issues, a reference to her ongoing creative interpretation of reality. (Her references to “alternative facts” to defend Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s outright lies regarding Trump’s inauguration crowd size, and to the “Bowling Green Massacre” – which never actually happened – to defend President Trump’s odious Muslim travel ban, have by now achieved a measure of both on- and off-line infamy.)

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Trump, The Cabinet, and the Purse-Strings of Power

***Warning: unapologetic speculation follows***

More than two months after Donald Trump’s electoral victory, many who did not vote for him are still in ‘Chicken Little’ mode, with social media commentators frequently inveighing against the impending disintegration of the United States, sandwiched as they are between the antithetical inexperience of the incoming ruling elite (Ben Carson, Betsy DeVos, Scott Pruitt, Tom Price: looking at you – and your boss), and the abject ignorance of those they see as having cast their vote from some dank recess of the 14th century. Continue reading

Trump’s rhetoric: a triumph of inarticulacy

An interesting look here from the UK’s The Guardian newspaper at President-elect Donald Trump’s use of language*, and what it can tell us. I’m reminded of Austrian writer Karl Kraus’s observation that:

The secret of the demagogue is to make himself as stupid as his audience so that they believe they are as clever as he.

The author of the article, Sam Leith, tells us that reading-level algorithms “found [Trump’s] speeches pitched at fourth-grade level, i.e. the comprehension of an average nine-year old”. By sheer coincidence, just before last Christmas and while browsing laboriously through my Sina Weibo feed (China’s answer to Twitter), I came across the following Weibo tweet:

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which translates, roughly (and witheringly), as “One of the reasons why I like Trump is that I can understand his tweets with my fourth-grade English”.

“Sad!”

*And an equally interesting article, published today, on Trump’s facial expressions and what they indicate, by psychologist Peter Collett.

***

“His spelling and grammar are disastrous, he contradicts himself, trails into incoherence, never sounds dignified or recognisably presidential – but none of it does him any harm. In fact…”

Source: Trump’s rhetoric: a triumph of inarticulacy

Milo Yiannopoulos: Psychology of an Internet Troll

Weighing in somewhat belatedly on the Milo Yiannopoulos / Leslie Jones feud, and Milo’s subsequent banishment from the Twittersphere, I thought it worth hammering out my view, although it seems the dust from this particular twister has largely settled.

For the sensible ones who are unaware of any of this: Leslie Jones is a black American actress who stars in the latest, all-female Ghostbusters film. Milo Yiannopoulos is a conservative Greek-British journalist, Breitbart contributor, entrepreneur, and self-described ‘most fabulous super-villain on the internet’,1 who regularly takes to social media to air grotesquely

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