Sunday, 23 February 2014

Why I think LAD have missed the point. Again.

Last week, the Alliance MLA Anna Lo was subjected to a whole load of racist abuse. That racist abuse was widely condemned by any politician that was asked about it and a twitter hashtag - #istandwithanna - gave users of social media the chance to add their condemnation (which will surely mean the end to racism *eyeroll). What did Anna Lo say or do to 'provoke' this abuse? Who cares? What has she said or done prior to that? Who cares? What exactly is Anna's nationality? Who cares? What party is Anna a member of? Who cares?

There is literally nothing that justifies racism. Nothing. I don't need to know anything about the victims of racism to know that racism is abhorrent. For me to be able to condemn an act of racism, I just need to know that someone has been racist. I couldn't care less who the victim was, what they do, what they've said. You'd think this was obvious, right? Well, we all know it's not. There are plenty who qualify their condemnation and when they do, they need to be pulled up on it. It's not just wrong for people to do that, it's actually dangerous - it gives racists a clear message that there are some circumstances where racism may be justified. When it may even be funny. 

The rules above apply to rape, sexual assualt, and the threatening of both. 

Amidst the condemnation of the racism that Anna suffered last week, a DUP Councillor - Luke Poots - posted on Facebook that he had previously been threatened with violence and rape. For me, this was simple: someone had revealed that they had been threatened and that needed to be condemned and the victim needed to be reassured that society doesn't accept that. 

Except that is not what happened. 

LAD noticed the post and screenshotted it, tweeted it and sat back and let the responses roll in. Almost all mocked Poots, doubted him, accused him of being opportunistic and some went so far as to say that Poots would be lucky to be raped. LAD didn't condemn these people. They didn't screenshot their attacks on Poots. Why not? It would appear that LAD agree with them - Poots is a liar and shouldn't be believed. 

LAD wrote a blog post outlining their reasons for it, while being careful to add the discliamer that if Poots has genuinely been threatened they of course condemend it. Oh well, that makes the whole thing fine doesn't it, LAD? Let's remember the rules: Who the victim is is irrelevant. What he/she has said/done previously is irrelevant. What party they're in, is irrelevant. When the first thing you do when hearing about someone being threatened with rape is to doubt them, you need to examine your prejudices and consider the wider damage you do.

Sexual crime is a huge, huge problem in society and one of the biggest issues we have is convincing victims that a) they are victims and b) they can come forward and be believed. Oh, and if you don't think rape threats count as a sexual crime then stop reading now - we'll never see eye to eye.

Here's the missing the point part: What LAD forget is that they're not representative of everyone. Luke Poots is a public figure in the largest party in the Northern Ireland. Luke Poots, whether LAD like it or not, has people that look up to him the same way others look up to LAD. They like Luke; they respect him; they believe him. Some of those people may be victims of such similar threats and what do they see when someone they know to be a good, honest person being mocked and doubted for revealing the threats they recieve? 

It is hugely damaging for anyone who talks about such threats to be so openly mocked and doubted simply because of our prejudices toward the individual. We must believe them and we must condemn the threats. Not for them so much, but for those who may well be looking at them and wondering if they should come forward too. I hope that next time LAD will stop and think about the bigger picture instead of just who is making the claims. 


  1. Amusing to see this linked on the Protestant Coalition page, where the admins 'liked' comments calling Mandela a 'Monkey Terrorist'

  2. Would like to point out some glaring faulty logic in this blog.
    Anna Lo did not take to social media claiming members of another political party were being racist. Luke Poots took to social media to make claims of threats of rape by members of a political party.
    If Lo came to FB or twitter claiming she had received racist abuse from the DUP there would be the same calls for evidence.
    If you yell something publicly to the world, the world has a right to ask publicly "back up your claim"
    LAD ain't perfect, but their behaviour here seems reasonable. Sorry Ed.

    1. Agreed very sloppy journalism to miss the relevant points. I would suggest people look at the LAD article in question and judge for themselves.

  3. Oh dear, think the only one that missed the point is you Mr. Simpson ...

    False rape claims can are abundantly more damaging to "real" victims (as well as those that find themselves falsely accused), than any call for someone to prove the same allegations. This is why it is illegal in this country to make such claims

    The timing of Luke's comments, the context in which they were revealed, the lack of any kind of evidence to support those claims, (even on social media where apparently a number of threats were made), and prior history of Luke and false allegations, all point towards Luke making a false and abhorrent claim to discredit Alliance party. All LAD have done is presented evidence to support the notion that, overwhelmingly, his claims and allegations that Alliance party members encouraged such attacks are simply not true.

    Most people choose to reveal such trauma directly to the PSNI or group that can help people cope with the same. It is not revealed through social media in a derogatory response to an outpouring of sympathy for someone suffering racial abuse. Or maybe you support the purpose and context of Luke's revelations?

    Interesting as well you chose LAD as those that got it wrong as opposed to the Alliance Party who also called for the same proof of evidence, and other political and public NI figures that called for the same. Even more interesting is the number of people that have supported this blog that have also been contributors to the bile Anna Lo had to endure.

    I sincerely hope that as the days pass by and more details of what Luke actually endured by bullies and thugs, you will welcome the truth no matter how it was arrived at ...

    1. Never mind, just seen your Twitter feed and clearly the problem is with LAD and nothing to do with "the point" as you put it.

      Making fun of how people speak ... wasn't just LAD "supporters" that were angered. Every person with a shred of common decency was angered by racist interpretations of how Anna Lo. And in case you haven't realised, "themuns (LAD) sleg on about da way most of ussuns speak so they do".

      Or maybe you are suggesting that because of the way Anna Lo talk she in fact has a speech impediment, hence mentioning Jamie in same tweet? Bit racist do you think?

      Have you read LAD at all? They really are not making it up you know. Bigoted and racist scum are really saying the things that LAD expose. They are not writing their blogs themselves (so to speak), the morons are writing it for them.

      Not think it would be better if some of the idiots didn't say the inflammatory things they say? Then what purpose would LAD serve?

      Reprehensible you use the subject of rape to get a cheap dig at a group you don't like.

      I will await the inevitable "must be a Republican" assumption in response to what I have written. I am not, I am as far removed from Republican as can be in fact. I, like any forward looking person, am tired of people like yourself making excuses for the deplorable by using a deplorable tact.

      Such a shame ...

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  5. Sexual threats are the among the vilest forms of abuse online. However, using sexual threats to undermine someone/something and their credibility is the lowest form of criticism. It's immoral and demeans the real victims of sexual violence.

    Perhaps he did get sexual threats, from individuals (he is a public figure, they get loons contacting them a lot) but using it to score political points is below most politicians and he's hardly out of the starting blocs!

    Anna Lo, commented on the racism because those people wanted to attack her credibility and the motives of her appeal over Giro d'Italia by suggesting she was a foreigner.

    'LAD' IS NOT representative of everyone, it's a satirical page. Any British newspaper would lampoon nepotism (Luke is the third generation councillor for Downshire, co-opted).

    And for example, if Private Eye got flack from a politician for something they printed/posted, (Luke accuses both LAD and Alliance without backing up his assertions), then Private eye (LAD) would as a satirical page respond.

    It's cool if people don't like LAD (people I know certainly dislike it) but they're not an insidious sectarian sect. Their satire is largely based initially on the loyalist protests but there is irreverence across the board for those in power (a special irreverence for fundamentalist views and nepotism) and general lampooning of northern irish culture which wouldn't look out of place on the stage of Give My Head Peace or The Empire's comedy club.