Everybody must get stoned?

It’s happened. The Pakis have taken over. No-one is safe, all our daughters will be raped in their beds (as of course, “every rape in this country is committed by a Paki”, as we were informed by some gentleman at the Car Boot the other day), and the while our women will be stoned to death for glancing at a man and not wearing the Hijab.

Seriously, you would think this is the truth, looking at some of the reactions to the suggestion that principles of Sharia Law could have a place in the British legal system.

Yes, the informed an considered opinions of the moral entrepreneurs on the BBC comments page are at it again.

The blatantly xenophobic are one thing. But it is some others that concern me the most:

If it’s not in conflict with any existing laws, then why need it?

We mustn’t allow there to be different laws for different sections of society. Moreover, laws based on backwards religious doctrines have absolutely no place in this country. Let’s move forward for goodness sake.

Tina Cakesniffer, Manchester, United Kingdom

Recommended by 300 people.

This is a classic.

Now to be fair, I don’t know a huge amount about Sharia Law. What I do know a certain amount about is the failings of the Anglo-American Legal System.

The Law in much of the “Western” world, is not some democratic social institution. It is based on a retributive system designed to better initially the interests of the feudal lords, then later The Church, and in modernity the Capitalist system. Why does a fine go to the state, not the victim? Why (until moderately recently) did one have to swear on the bible in court…? You can take this further – Peter Fitzpatrick (1992) argues Modern Law is based on nothing more than myth.

Now whether Miss Cakesniffer’s view is simply ignorance, the racism of a genuine belief that Islam is a “backwards religious doctrine” whilst Christianity is not, or the ravings of someone who is obviously fucked up by their addiction to a drug that doesn’t exist, I do not know, but (although I could not resit the pun in the title) my point here is less to do with Sharia Law, and more to do with ignorance.

Ignorance, and the vehicle of its dissemination.

Ok, I understand that the BBC should be independent, championing free speech and personal opinion. But if I had posted the opening paragraph of this ‘blog, even as it is here – as a parody of a viewpoint I have no doubts it would be moderated for bad taste. Whilst many of the “I’m not racist but…” brigade would secretly agree of course. But in any case it would be fairly obvious that I was either racist or taking the piss. Hopefully the latter, but after a couple of personal comments on my suggestion that the issue of wearing a veil was as much a control issue as one of racism I don’t know…

But what is happening here, is someone looking like they know what they are on about, when they obviously know jack shit. And yet plenty of people “recommend” that comment.

The BBC instead of wearing its heart on its sleeve, like the Torygraph and the Mail, leaves that to its readership. Thus allowing itself to promulgate idiotic views whilst appearing the bastion on impartiality.

Cited:

Fitzpatrick, P (1992) The Mythology of Modern Law. London: Routledge.

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Mr Nobody…

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

This must have been presented in every company around the world. It’s in our resources room, not that it seems to help the mess. It’s old, but it’s very clever. And it’s very much how I feel about LS6 at the moment.

It’s been a tense year, following on from the Hessle’s Party last summer, which was a bit of a blow for the relationship between students and locals in Hyde Park. No one can deny that it was a major fuck up, on the part of those present, and West Yorkshire Police, and the Local Authority. Now the wounds have healed, and half those who were up in arms have calmed, I think one of the biggest impacts of this, and this is down, I’m afraid to the police and their reaction to this event, is that many of the student population are feeling got at.

I reckon they have a point, though as ever when one presents oneself as this homogeneous subculture, one has to accept being tarred with the same brush as that subculture’s worst elements. This is ignored by the main demagogues of this viewpoint – Pete Beckett in Leeds Student Recently being one of these, who in trying to get his tiny mind round the issue sadly makes himself out to be a fool.

From his opening paragraph about “much needed student accommodation” he proves little grasp of figures, issues, or indeed reality. I found his article interesting, but when someone claims there to be a “need” for a service which exists with a huge surplus (around 3000 student bedspaces in Leeds surplus) one wonders if this is journalistic license, or lack of business accumen. I have not checked his figures for the supposed increase in economy The Univerity brings to Leeds (he does not cite sources, so his academic integrity seems lacking too), but whether the mulit-million facelift to Leeds is as he claims student funded or not he misses the issue by a mile. Those of us who live in the day to day grind of LS6 do not benefit much from this.

We see an inaccessible housing market, as even if we could afford the landlord inflated prices, converting what were once decent properties back from soulless HMOs will cost the purchase price of the house. We see the price of a drink skyrocket as each new bar milks the bottomless wallets of the overpaid clerical workers employed by the finacial services industries who have supposedly moved to Leeds because of it’s student workforce. Sure, business if brought to LS6: for the takeaways and convenience stores run by Asian businessmen who have had the sense (or opportunity) to ship out of Hyde Park to the suburbs. Oh yes, businesses are happy to take the student pound, when it’s flashed about by the rich kids from the south (few students in Leeds grew up here). But they’re not local, and not making money for the local people who apparently should be “on their knees in gratitude”. The gentrification so often attributed to studentification is not apparent in Hyde Park.

Anyway, I digress with that rant, but quite a lot of local long term residents are feeling somewhat got at too. And why? Because denying (in the face of all evidence) that something may be an issue related to students, because you feel got at, or because of the supposed benefits is going to do nothing.

Lets backtrack to the end of May, that lovely summers day when Hyde Park got totally trashed. It looked like a warzone, everything burned, rubbish everywhere. The reports are here if you want them.

So, as is pretty much the norm these days a facebook group was started – Clean up Hyde Park. Brilliant, we thought, some people (who let’s remember were probably not the ones responsible for the mess) taking some ownership. However, look at the posts. Instead of making sensible suggestions, much of the posts are bitching.

“Maybe it would help if the council emptied the fucking bins…” Well, aside from the fact they do, and provide 2 huge skips, which do tend to get full, that does fuck all about rubbish left on the grass. And no, lack of bins does not give one the right to leave the rubbish elsewhere. Just because there is a dispute does not mean you can ignore the problem.

Or the other one – “Why is it being blamed on students?”. So we’re back to the feeling got at now. Well, take of the paranoia specs, and you will notice that no-one is saying that no local long term residents, or non students are responsible. They are. But the population of Headingley is 61% student – maybe more now. So by simple mathematics, a good two thirds of the people on the park would be students.  Not withstanding the fact that if no students were responsible, no students were on the park as they were all revising (as stated by some folk on the facebook group, then the entire 18-30 population of Headingley would need to have been there.

OK, so this is rough and ready maths, it is a fair point that plenty of people from outside of LS6 use the park, but the general point is that anyone can easily formulate an argument that it is always someone else… And that is all that people are doing rather than trying to address the actual problem.

Here we have it again: “Student’s not to blame” these letters say. OK that is the YEP’s title for the page, and I fully agree with the sentiment that the media should perhaps be a bit more balanced on this one, as expressed in the first letter, but here it is again, a declaration evident in both letters that it is not students who a responsible, backed up it seems by the idea that no local residents could be seen doing anything to help, and once again, the skips were full.

Obviously whilst we cannot tell a student at ten paces in order to assess if it is student who is making a mess, students can tell a local, to assess whether it is a local “doing anything proactive”. Unfortunately last time I tried to do something proactive about people making a mess, all I got for my troubles was abuse.

But this is not the point, the point is that over and over again people just throw blame around.

And of course this is endemic with the people whose (one could say) job it actually is: This letter sums it up, the council blame the police, the police blame the park wardens. Though of course here we have a person acting like the own the place after living here 6 months, “long aware” of the notices that are at the entrance of the park… …though for not very long. The other side, throwing blame when they don’t really know what they are talking about.

Lets go forward to the normal end of year move-out. Despite excellent ideas from the University Union, there was still the standard mess at the end of the tenancy period

The residents of 19 Thornville Terrace are certainly students. At least ——- —– (I can’t be so cruel as to post her name) must be from the many details of her name, course, pitiful grades, bank account and underwear size that were evident all over the binyard. I had to spend a good half an hour of my time cleaning up enough to get in the binyard to put my own rubbish out. I wish I was an identity thief, or the kind of perv who gets off on sniffing women’s underwear, I’d have had a field day. Amusingly I got a pretty comprehensive collection of camping gear, abandoned by someone who obviously decided that now they has graduated they were too old for festivals. Good thing too that I removed and made safe the venting gaz stove dumped in the recyling bin.

I mentioned this to Mr Singh, the Landlord. His somewhat predictable response was that it was the tenants responsibility. I pointed out they had left, and he said I should not have cleaned up, but I should have called the council. Obviously Mr Singh has some secret hotline that gets the binmen out on a Sunday evening. I brought up the fact that if his tenants had left the garden of a house in a mess he would clean it and deduct it from their deposits. He said the binyards were up the the tenants. Odd this as he can get fined for waste in gardens, whereas binyards are shared, and from past experience all the tenants get a threat of enforcement action, even if it is flytipped…

Once again, it is up to someone else…

Of course by Monday morning all the mess I’d cleared up had been strewn all over again. I called environmental enforcement, they told me to call waste management. I called waste management they said it was my responsibility. Eventually they said they would contact the Headingley Streetscene manager for the student clean up and he would be able to arrange for it to be cleared before Friday.

It’s always some one else’s responsibility. This is the issue. It does not matter one shit whether a problem is student related. What matters is that all of us stop bickering and try and find a solution.

I’m sure plenty of people will read this and get the notion that I’m getting at students too. This is not the aim, though I’m sure some of the more petulant will take it that way. I moved to LS6 because of the place it was, and a lot of that was a thriving scene that owed a lot to the creativity and energy of many of the students living here. But people took responsibility. I remember soundsystem parties on Hyde Park – a great one in about 1998 or so when we bullshitted the Jesus Army into running us a power line for the soundsystem. But the park didn’t get trashed. People had respect for the land, the people around them and each other. We didn’t need enforcement orders, DPPOs (as we are soon gonna have banning drinking, possibly including the park), PCSOs and so on. OK, things got out of hand from time to time, but there was not the continuous war going on, or at least not since the Newlands.

And this makes me sad, as I am coming to the time where I am wanting to move from an area I have lived in and loved most of my adult life.