propaganda

BBC: A Predispostion for Propaganda?

I didn’t watch Panorama last night. I didn’t feel like I needed to see where it was going, I had my suspicions the BBC were rooting for something to make a focus of our outrage, a scapegoat. We’re not short of real life monsters threatening our way of life, many of them even had jobs at the BBC but it felt like the scene was being set for a ‘debate’, a distraction from the constant slew of actual things that have been proven harmful, like racism and historic child sex abuse cover ups for example.

I have been on SSRIs for 7 years. I started off on Citalopram and for a very brief time I felt as if I finally had the space to breathe and not feel like I was crawling out of my skin. As the meds settled in my system I became aware of the dulling effect it was having on my reality, something that no doubt worked brilliantly at crisis point but as my mental health improved I felt like it was holding me back, I wasn’t feeling as extremely as I did but I also wasn’t able to laugh as hard as I’d like or think too deeply about anything. I tried to come off them at first but was soon reminded of the reasons I became medicated when the symptoms returned; I was shocked by how intensely bad I felt and unable to function so I saw the GP about an alternative. He referred me to a psychiatrist and after a couple of visits we figured the best thing to do was switch to Sertraline, a drug that many users responded to after Citalopram. It’s hit and miss, prescribing mental health meds. Part of the process to healing is trial and error, you have to try things before you know how you’ll respond.

I was pleased with the change in my mood only a few weeks after I started taking Sertraline. I didn’t feel as foggy or tired and I was less fixated, a benefit of this particular drug which is often prescribed for people with obsessive disorders. It worked for me, I was struck by the fact I could pun again, something in my brain had changed. I spoke to others who weren’t so fortunate with Sertraline and went on to try other drugs but our brain chemistries aren’t one size fits all, we still don’t know enough about mental health to make this an exact science.

Before I became medicated I can’t say I was in favour of antidepressants especially SSRIs. I was even an audience member on a BBC talk show about antidepressants hosted by, I think, Nick Ross and said stuff I’m sure I’d cringe at now if I could remember, it was so long ago. I remember there was a big fuss about Seroxat a while back too, it was linked with increased risk of suicide among teenagers. I really did not want to be the sort of person who took antidepressants, someone who gave in (as people were all too keen to point out to me when I first started taking them), who’d failed or any number of negative variations on this, like I’d let people down or myself or whoever. Sadly, I did not get much of a choice on the matter if I had any hope for survival.

I took the drugs despite all my misgivings and prejudices, I really didn’t want to feel or exist in the way I had for so long, and I was scared I would die if I did. I had been seeing a therapist, sometimes multiple times a week but it just wasn’t enough, I felt I would kill myself probably. I never thought about killing anyone else, I couldn’t bear to be near anyone or more to the point, outside my bedroom even, that I kept locked most of the time. I took the drugs because my nephew was on his way into the world and I felt I owed him a cool aunt. I took the drugs because I’d hit rock bottom but inside me something chose to live. I felt almost embarrassed when I disclosed to the therapist I had started them already. She wasn’t the biggest fan herself and I felt like I was letting her down, like saying your therapy isn’t all that but she immediately said “GOOD” and leant forward to touch my knee. She said she’d never advocate for meds and wouldn’t have suggested I take them but was glad I had come to this decision myself because I really could do with them, these drugs exist because people in my situation need them.

I do not regret for one minute making that decision. I never thought I’d be on them so long, and I never believed they’d do me much good but it’s been 7 years and I am so pleased with myself and how far I have gotten. I recently cut my SSRIs by a third. If there is one thing I can say for certain and you must be aware of this before you go in, withdrawal is a bitch and you must do it slowly. I am aware that I could suddenly feel like I made a rash judgement but for now I’m enjoying being a 3rd less medicated and wondering what it will be like when I reduce them again.

The BBC makes a tenuous link between the many millions of users who safely take SSRIs so they can function in this society and the tiny minority who kill but this can be said of so many things it makes you wonder why they have singled out people who take drugs for their poor mental health. Most people who take recreational drugs for example, do not pose a risk to others but some might react violently. We could say the same about men, right? Most of them tend to adhere to some semblance of law, at least on the surface but a minority kill women and children. Should we point the finger at beards?

Once again, the BBC reminds us how little we should care about it, yet they insist we pay for this propaganda too.

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The rise of fascism in Great Britain (Tower Hamlets)

In the months since the murder in Woolwich, there is a familiar conversation being had by conscientious activists keen to avoid the predictable backlash against a marginalised group of peoples. I’ve heard the same questions being asked; the uncomfortable realisation that current day Britain is echoing the horrors of Nazi Germany. Of course, those on the right are quick to minimise and dismiss genuine concerns with Godwin’s Law but it has also been established this is not relevant when discussing actual fascism. BBC News has been reporting on the number of arrests at yesterday’s counter demo against the fascist EDL. Whilst I wish it were true, sadly their estimate of 2 anti-fascist arrests is grossly misleading when the numbers were in fact closer to 250+.

If you have a heart, you may have wondered how Nazi Germany came to be so organised and how, HOW ON EARTH so many were systematically murdered by the state. Why wasn’t there an outcry much sooner? How did people not notice this was happening right under their noses? It’s simple really. The media and government filled people with propaganda and the atrocities were downplayed. Exactly what the BBC appears to be doing now. 250+ of my comrades were arrested yesterday under sections 14 and 16 but here’s the thing; none of them were aware these orders were in place. People were arrested by deception.

Section 14 gives the police the right to confine protests to a particular space. Now, if this was the case yesterday, tell me why the police allowed us to march through the streets in our 100s whilst they stood idly at the sidelines? Surely a section 14 would have prevented us from leaving Altab Ali Park? How can people be arrested for a crime they did not know they were committing? What of the innocent passers-by who happened to be caught up in the brutally enforced kettle and were then arrested for simply occupying the same space as anti-fascist activists? Of the 15 people I helped support at Colindale police station, 3 of them were adamant they had nothing to do with the demo. It did not matter that they protested the unlawful arrest; they were not given the chance to explain their circumstances. The police acted with impunity, as though these facts were never going to be relevant. Doesn’t that scare you? It scares me. I can be plucked from a crowd of people in a public area and thrown into a cell for as long as they like, though 12 hours seems to be the standard.

The events of the day disturb me. I wasn’t personally arrested but I was treated with suspicion. When the police closed in from all around us, the natural reaction was for people to flee the scene. Who wants to be kettled? As experienced activists we know what a kettle means. Surrounded by officers built like brick shit houses, comrades are pulled out of the kettle, beaten and arrested for simply being there. How does one react in such a situation? Well, you’d want to avoid a beating obviously but if you so much as push back, there’s an assault charge with your name on it. I was trapped in a crowd of activists, all pushing and straining to avoid police brutality and I froze. I was being carried along, I couldn’t afford to push anyone myself, I have a historic spinal injury. Maybe this is why the female officer chose to bash her baton into me. It was frightening. I couldn’t feel anything, the adrenalin was pumping but I was aware I might have been injured. At the first opportunity, I and my buddy retreated to as safe a space as was possible but it was too late, we were in the kettle. It was another 20 minutes before the adrenalin subsided and I felt the pain and tingling creep in. I approached the officers at the end of the police line and expressed my wish to leave the kettle because of my medical condition. They jokingly suggested they’d put in a request with the big boss. An arrestee who was nearby would later tell me how those officers were mocking me for lying and of course, I only wanted to leave the kettle to join the UAF in Altab Ali Park. Anyone who knows me or anyone with any grip on reality would know that this was the last thing on my mind. Another 10 minutes passed and I pleaded with them again to let me leave the kettle, this time lifting my top so they could see the old surgery scars. This time the big boss was asked to have a look at my back. He advised that, unless I need immediate attention I should sit down on the floor to avoid exacerbating the condition. Again, anyone with an iota of intelligence would probably know that sitting down on a hard floor with this kind of complaint is probably not advisable. When my back is inflamed, my body stiffens up. If I’m sat down, it becomes difficult to stand. About half an hour after my initial complaint I asked to be seen by police medics. There were horses and dogs straining on their leashes and then the familiar red bus (Sullivan’s of Potters Barr – ‘a small friendly bus company’) designated for arrestees turned up. Experience has taught me that this is when things take a turn for the worst. When I asked officers why they were stood sideways, holding on to the backs of each other’s belts and why we were being kettled when we were peaceful, the response I got was astonishing. Apparently this was not a ‘kettle’ but ‘containment’. I didn’t fancy being sat on the floor unable to move quickly if things were about to become violent. The medics checked my pulse and it was higher than they would have liked. Suddenly these men in their padded suits and hard hats were being sensitive and attentive. They lifted me out of the kettle. They gently placed me down on the ground around the corner from the rest of my comrades. I watched with heavy heart as they pulled people onto the arrestee bus. Young people, gentle people. They didn’t stand a chance.

There are those that will tell me I deserved this predicament because I should know better than to attend a protest with a medical complaint such as mine. Well, in recent months I have been racially abused more than ever before. The threat has escalated and hateful people have become brazen as you like. I know that I prefer to confront things head on and defend my right to a non-threatening life. The alternative is a deep depression spurred by feelings of hopelessness and vulnerability. I have been agoraphobic once before, I am damned if society does that to me again. It’s why, after I was allowed to return home without further police interrogation and able to take my pain meds, I volunteered – with many of my close friends – to provide arrestee support. There is a growing solidarity between people from all walks of life who are prepared to sacrifice their own mental/physical health to ensure true equality for all. We are anti-fascists and we mean business.

We chose to attend Colindale copshop as it’s the arse end of nowhere for most and being in North London it was easier for us. When we arrived, one arrestee had been released. His eyes were bloodshot and he was shaking. He hadn’t been given any food and was extremely grateful for the supplies we’d brought. We read his bail conditions in disbelief.

“Not to engage in demonstration within the boundaries of the M25 where the English Defence League, English Volunteer Force or British National Party are present”

Are the police effectively enabling fascists by stifling dissent? Why were over 250 anti-fascists arrested in this manner? Who are the police trying to protect? Of the 15 we processed, most of them were given bail conditions to the 21-22nd of the month and a couple had 24th. I’d be interested to find out whether there is a planned fascist march before these dates. It would certainly explain why such a large number were arrested and then released without charge. I would also like to understand why one of our arrestees at Colindale had had his flat raided by the police. This all feels unlawful. I haven’t the legal knowledge to challenge any of this but there are many of you who do. It is our duty to halt the creeping fascism infecting this country of ours, lest young people of the future ask the same questions of the once Great Britain the way we do now of the Holocaust.

*Worth nothing, there were only 2 fascist arrests. Whose police?

** Update – 14 EDL arrests

Dear BBC Blah Blah Blah

Dear ms ambreen

Reference CAS-1379184-J1Y6RZ

Thanks for contacting us about BBC News.

I understand that you feel we haven’t devoted enough time or provided in-depth coverage of the Health and Social care bill and the opposition to it.

The political opposition to the Bill culminated in the House of Commons emergency debate on 20 March. Accordingly, the Commons debate featured heavily in our news coverage on the day and was the lead story during our main news bulletins.

The Health and Social Care bill has been one of the biggest UK stories over the past few months and we believe we have afforded it the appropriate level coverage in a fair and impartial manner, allowing viewers and listeners to make up their own minds on the matter at hand.

The time given to each issue or report in the news has much to do with whether it’s news that has just come in and needs immediate coverage, how unusual it is and how much national interest there is in the subject matter. The choice has to be selective and no matter how carefully such decisions are made, news editors are always aware that some people may disagree with them.

We’ve covered this story regularly over many months, both throughout our news broadcasts and in current affairs programmes offering more in depth discussion. You can view examples via the links below:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/hi/house_of_lords/newsid_9699000/9699477.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/hi/house_of_lords/newsid_9701000/9701904.stm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-12177084

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17289988

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-16933394

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-14779676

Nevertheless, I fully appreciate that you feel that we haven’t provided sufficient coverage of this bill, therefore please be assured that I’ve registered your complaint on our audience log. This is a daily report of audience feedback that’s made available to many BBC staff, including members of the BBC Executive Board, channel controllers and other senior managers.

The audience logs are seen as important documents that can help shape decisions about future programming and content.

Thanks once again for taking the time to contact us with your concerns.

Kind Regards

Anna Sweeney

BBC Complaints

www.bbc.co.uk/complaints

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The BBC Trust is proposing some changes to the complaints service. Have your say at: http://consultations.external.bbc.co.uk/bbc/complaints_framework