We had an election in the UK last week. You may know this already because you voted in it. Or because you’ve seen the fall out due to the results on social media. You might say it wasn’t a win for democracy. You might say it was.
What is disturbing is that you can pretty much always predict what the outcome will be from what the majority of trashy newspaper headlines are. For anyone in Scotland who took Higher Modern Studies – you’ll know the famous saying about the 1997 General Election ‘It was The Sun wot won it‘. For those of you who don’t know The Sun is a cheap tabloid newspaper that likes to feature half naked surgically enhanced and photoshopped pictures of women as part of their daily news headlines.
The Scottish Sun encouraged everyone here in Scotland to vote SNP.
The rest of the UK Sun (yes, they are owned by the same people!) encouraged everyone to vote Conservative.
Of course The Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, The Times…they all encouraged the Conservative vote as well. Mainly because we apparently needed to make sure Labour and SNP didn’t get together to ruin the country (never mind that neither party ever said they intended to form a coalition with each other).
My friends in Scotland were very shocked at how many folks in England voted for UKIP (a party led by a man with some disturbingly racist views). I have been told by many friends how much UKIP have had a hold of what would have been predominantly ‘Labour’ areas. Dare I suggest that this is because many people who have struggled in these years of austerity to find employment, social housing and so on believe what a good chunk of our (cheap) tabloid media tells them. That immigrants are the root cause of the problem – and they are stealing their benefits and jobs and homes.
When you are all reading the same thing, and talking about the same things you are reading…they become the only truth to you.
It’s why propaganda and censorship are such key components in establishing and sustaining dictatorship.
Without propaganda, the holocaust would likely never have happened.
Without censorship, the people in North Korea and China may think differently.
If you only read the books and newspapers everyone is reading, watch the same TV shows and news coverage everyone is watching…..you will start thinking the same as everybody else.
So it’s worth it for the future of our world and everyone who lives in it that we encourage freedom of speech (even when it means that people can say horrible things we don’t agree with), a free press (that reports things from different perspectives), not to censor books and films (so we can make our own decisions about what we can handle) and for us to go searching out the small voices away from the ones that are promoted right in our faces 24/7. And it’s worth it to be brave and share our own voices to add to the tapestry of our world’s stories and cultures – whether that be through writing, painting, music, assembly, acting, film making…..
It’s all important.
Give us more choice of what we can read.
So we have less chance of a dictator telling us what our opinions should be.