A Safety Net

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3 min read | 627 words

I don’t often talk politics online. If you know me well enough, you will know where I stand. When the EU Referendum result was announced I instead posted the following simple message calling for civility and compassion whatever your point of view. I could already see that there was a lot of anger and anxiety and I feared that this could lead to violence and abuse.

Whichever way you voted last night, let’s keep our heads and stick together. Be magnanimous in victory and gracious in defeat. Remember that which make us stronger as a people: our compassion, our diversity of faith, cultures and identities, our tolerance and our morals. Relationships don’t disappear overnight: Remember our neighbours, both at home and abroad. Let’s be the best of us. Above all, let’s keep our hearts and our minds open❤️

Needless to say, I am disgusted with the behaviour of both sides in the time since. You may have seen a new campaign doing the rounds on social media: the wearing of a #safetypin. This is following a call to action by Twitter user “Allison” to show solidarity with the victims of hate crime and as a pledge to confront racism in the wake of the referendum. In her words:

https://twitter.com/cheeahs/status/747164564748394496 https://twitter.com/cheeahs/status/747164975223930881 https://twitter.com/cheeahs/status/747165416473108480

I’m normally wary of these kinds of campaigns and generally steer clear as they’re vulnerable to misinterpretation and corruption. Look at how the #gamergate hashtag has been claimed to represent ethics in games journalism while also perpetuating harassment against women.

Similarly, while I consider myself a feminist and i’m proud to wear my ‘freq’ t-shirt because I think the work that Anita Sarkeesian and her peers are doing is essential in an industry soured by misogyny and sexism, I also know that some people will assume this is simply self serving.

I think what I’m trying to say is, sometimes these viral campaigns only fuel the flames of more victimisation. With the best intentions, things can go awry.

That said, personally I feel the #safetypin campaign is different. I’m wearing a safety pin because the main issue of concern for me is how we treat each other, both in the fallout of the referendum, and in all walks of life. I’m heart broken at the divisive atmosphere of hysteria and xenophobia that is sweeping the country at the moment.

Our reckless media and politicians have a lot to answer for, but I could care less about the political motivations behind it. I don’t care what percentage you think you are: there’s no excuse for racism and hate speech. I like that the non-descript safety pin begs enquiry and conversation. It’s also all encompassing as blogger Chris Sampson eloquently puts it:

It’s different because it’s inclusive. Anti-racism and anti-xenophobia movements are needed right now, as hate crimes have increased since the EU referendum. But there are other groups of people who deal with these kinds of attacks. Transgender people regularly experience harassment.

The mass shooting at Pulse was a brutal reminder of some people’s views towards gay people. You don’t have to spend much time on Twitter or in a male-dominated environment to witness sexism. The safety pin can stand for all of these. And it needn’t detract from the anti-racist message – that’s the beauty of #SafetyPin, it’s intersectional.

It’s also more active than a superficial status update: it’s a promise that’s literally worn for all to see reassuring people that, as far as I’m concerned, they are all welcome and supported in my world, whatever their race, culture, sexuality, identity or belief system. I’m a safe person in an unsafe world.

What are your thoughts? Do you feel #safetypin sends a powerful message or is it a superficial bandwagon? All respectful views are welcome here

hate crime hate speech immigration misogyny prejudice racism safetypin sexism

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