Posts Tagged ‘comment’

One of my Youtube viewers from Ukraine left this comment on my Youtube video about the situation. I couldn’t possibly have covered the full nuance, so I felt this was worth giving some wider exposure.

Hey, Ukrainian here. From one of the bordering regions, no less; one of the locations where Russians tanks are now cruising the roads, and troops try to take over city administrations. Long time watching, first time writing, etc.

I don’t want to engage in a full-scale political discussion, not least because I’ve tried to avoid politics for a long time. This is just a perspective from a random guy whose home country is being invaded. First, Ukraine is not just “one of the ex-Soviet territories”. Kievan Rus dates back centuries, and actually predates Moscow and Russia. As time went on, our countries went our separate ways. Yes, there are similarities in cultures and languages, but by no means are we the same.

After the rise of the Russian Empire, Ukraine (or “Little Russia”, as it was known back then. A very pleasant term, right) has been suffering under its rule, with serfs being basically slaves to be re-sold and exploited to death. Granted, Russians wasn’t the only ones feeding off Ukrainian people, – Polish and Hungarian aristocrates were also living the dream at our expense; but I don’t see Poland invading us now, so, you know.

This stuff is reflected in a ton of our classic literature, it is taught in schools. Not in the way of “fuck those guys, they screwed us centuries ago”, more like “our people have been under the boot of assholes before, let’s not let that happen again, kids”. Fast forward to the USSR. Nothing special to mention here, it was the same as everywhere else in the Soviets: strong but messy totalitarian empire. From a personal perspective, my father did tell me stories of a few of his friends who were repressed and never seen again. However, both of my parents agreed that, when the system worked peacefully, it did work. And then Holodomor happens (literally “killing with starvation”), where, due to the ruling party’s miscalculations and deficits, tons and tons of food supplies were taken away from Ukraine, leaving people here to starve.

I cannot speak for other Soviet territories that suffered this fate; but I can tell you for a fact that thousands of Ukrainian people died because of something the Soviets did. When the USSR imploded, it sucked here as much as it did in other ex-Soviet countries. But we persevered, built up as much as we could, and took course for the brave new modern world.

Fast forward again, to more recent and pressing events. 2004, election year. Yushchenko (pro-Ukrainian, pro-Western candidate) versus Yanukovych (pro-Russian candidate, who never even bothered to learn the language properly). People expressed their dissatisfaction with the latter in a very clear and loud way, mocking him in memes and arranging rallys against him. Feel free to speculate just how much of a role propaganda served in this outcry, but the fact is, Yushchenko becomes president, and Ukrainians are excited for Western-oriented political moves.

This presidency was… fine, I guess? Not much happened, not much changed; it left people mostly dissatisfied, because the promised political course was not implemented. By the next elections, Yanukovych threw a massive propaganda campaign in some of our eastern regions (the separatist ones, yes), and there were no other prominent candidates, and he won.

2014. This is where shit hits the fan. President Yanukovych announces that trade and general help deals with Europe and the US will not be happening, and the general goal is instead to closely associate with Russia. People are PISSED: “we’ve JUST left the USSR, we want to be with the modern West, what the hell?!” There are protests all over the country, the most populated ones being held in the Kiev’s center, the Maidan (“public square”). Protests were peaceful, but intense, and at some point Yanukovych mobilizes defence forces to open fire at the protesters. And medics carrying wounded protesters away. And everyone in the vicinity. I know people who lost friends during those events. At this point folks realize that Yanukovych is a Russian puppet, and, not without losses, throw him out – he escapes to Russia begging for sanctuary.

This is the turning point, this is where Ukrainians fully get that Russia is not letting go of us. And then Russia takes Crimea, shouting “it’s not us, it’s their civil war” (a lot of Russian military guys later got medals for this war where they were technically not present. Weird). And then separatists in the East, who supported Yanukovych, form their pseudo-countries, and open their borders to Russian mercenaries.

Russia, again, shouts “it’s not us, it’s them”, but the weaponry used, the prisoners of war taken, and the social pages info of Russian vatniks (jingos and Russian nationalists) speak otherwise. Ever since, the Russian propaganda has been painting Ukraine as basically nazi bastads who took what they didn’t own (which is… our own country? wat?), who oppress the Russian-speaking population (which is thoroughly untrue. My parents barely know the Ukrainian language, and never have they seen any oppression. As for the laws stipulating Ukrainian as the national language, and not Russian… well, it is our language. Of this here our country), who take arms against Russia along with the West, which is “THE ENEMY” (this Cold War-era shit still very much flies there).

They say that our country exists only because the Soviets have allowed it. That our language is not real, it’s a sad parody of the Russian language. (Let’s not also forget the trolls, who are all to eager to tell you exactly what they intend to do to your girlfriends and daughters.) All of this is fucking bullshit, and they know it, and they still perpetuate it.

All we want is to join the modern times and be left alone. Look, regarding the point about Ukrainian nationalists. First, I’m pretty sure there are assholes and idiots everywhere; we never had any more of them than other places. BUT, Russia did a lot of bad shit to our people, keeps painting us as either “allies of THE ENEMY” or “lost sheep to be led back to the flock”. And then there’s all the military shit, which has now escalated to the point of actual fucking war. Putin himself forces us to hate him and Russia. Not all Russians, but the ones who support his regime – most definitely.

It’s not nationalism, it’s a desire to be our own country. Don’t see anything wrong with that. If anything, Russian rhetoric to the point of “your country is not a country, your nation is not a nation, your language is not a language; you are all just a big misunderstanding, which we simply must correct”.. This is actual fascism, innit? Putin, or Putler, if you will, is a fascist. Or ruscist, if you will. As are those who support him (including Lukashenko of Belarus, who is Putin’s slut at this point, and Kadyrov of Chechnya, who is a goddamn animal believing he’s still in the Middle Ages).

Anyway… People are dying all over Ukraine, there are bombings and shootouts. there is either panic or somber waiting among the civilians. There are invaders, with tanks and guns, in my city. We expect the Internet, power, and utilities to go down at any moment, we prepare supplies and look for bomb shelters. Russia is sanctioned to all hell (though not nearly enough, I say), everyone hates it, but they just keep going. All because Putler can’t let go of his dictatorial fever dreams. It is not our fault, it is not our military storming us. It is all Putin’s doing. It fucking sucks, man.

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It’s about me, or whatever poor sod is contemplating it at the time.

Ian O’Doherty though, wants to sideline the victim of suicide though and wants to make it about the people left behind.

Yet even if we accept we are now living in a culture where suicide is more prevalent than ever before, we are queasy and reluctant to apportion blame to the perpetrator. And someone who kills themselves should be seen as exactly that – the perpetrator, not some innocent bystander.

Now, it is true that the people you would leave behind and understanding that they would be hurt, upset, confounded can pull you back from the brink. Even pets can do that as you wonder who would look after them when and if you’re gone. There are many reasons for suicide as well, dishonour, being exposed or shamed for a crime or behaviour, financial ruin, physical incapacity and then there’s mental illness.

In each and every case I suspect there is the feeling of being trapped, of being unable to escape and in that last moment with the pills in your hand, the cold steel against your wrist or the taste of gun oil swirling in your mouth it’s about you and only you.

O’Doherty is right that people would be hurt by your passing and that it is a horrible thing to do to people but it’s also an indescribable pain that goes right down to the very core of who and what you are. In your mind the world, all those friends, all those people, even those animals would be better off if you didn’t exist. You’d do them a favour by checking out. You’re trapped, there’s no way anything is going to get better again and you’re just going to drag people down with you.

The idea that your death could be a bad thing seems ridiculous and more than anything else, you just want the pain and hurt to STOP and surely anyone who cared for you would want the same thing, no?

Is there any more clear cut case of blaming the victim than doing it to a victim of suicide?

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My mind tends to wander and mull over things when I walk and I’m trying to up my exercise for my mental and physical health so my mind’s been wandering a lot lately. On this wander, for no reason in particular, though perhaps percolated through from watching the first episode of The Newsroom (I won’t be a regular watcher though. We have this myth of the citizen journalist, the blogger, the brave new cutting edge of political, social and scientific commentary and news. Newspaper readership is plunging and news shows and channels are polarising politically and becoming more and more extreme and opinionated in chasing a smaller and smaller audience.

There’s a problem though. The citizen journalist isn’t a journalist. They’re not bound by ethics (little wonder then that journos are increasingly forgetting theirs). Many of them are just soapboxing their own opinions, spouting a particular dogma, chasing a particular demographic as though they were selling something rather than informing us. They are selling us something, what we want to hear. Fox News is probably the most egregious case of a politicised news channel, commercialising right wing politics and providing comforting mooing noises to the American right wing. They’re by no means the only ones to do so and one can find similar bias going the ‘other way’ if you look for it. I lean left so I’m not so sensitised to it, but I acknowledge that it’s there.

The irony is that this is absolutely not what we need from the mainstream media any more. If I want opinion I can read any of thousands of blogs. I can dip into my twitter feed or search on the hashtag of the item in question, like the #arabspring. I get ill informed emails and facebook messages from distant relatives and friends of friends all the time. I am drowning in opinion, conjecture and dogma the entire time I’m logged into the internet. These aren’t citizen journalists, they’re gossips.

Gossip is great, witnesses are great, people like Laurie Penny who go out there and become part of the news and report from the front lines are all well and good but they’re not giving us THE news. They’re giving us THEIR news. It’s the same with Fox etc in the US and to a lesser extent here in the UK, at least on television. We’ve been somewhat spoiled by the BBC which, other than its simpering towards the Royal Family gets criticised from all sides of the political spectrum which is generally a good indicator that they’re doing something right. Our printed news sources are as partisan and biased, if not more so, than the US though.

Market pressure, the commodification of information, has ruined television news on an international basis and it is creeping in to the UK now despite our public institutions. It’s making these big news companies do things that they’re simply not suited to. No television broadcast can hope to keep up with the internet when it comes to breaking stories. No television broadcast can tailor itself to fit someone’s views precisely. People stream their own opinion-based news from the blogs, RSS feeds, twitter subscriptions etc that they make for themselves.

Broadcast TV can’t compete with that and equally individualist internet journalism cannot hope to compete – still – with the prestige and weight that broadcast news does.

What broadcast news should be doing is not giving us more opinion, not trying to stay on top of breaking stories. What broadcast news with the money and resources that it still commands should be doing is offering us THE news, free from bias. Broadcast news should be doing the analysis, the depth, talking to the experts. ‘This is what happened, this is what educated and intelligent people are saying was involved’. Not blame games, just the pursuit of truth and accuracy with an integrity that makes it trustworthy.

Leave the opinion and shouting to the ‘citizen journalist’.

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