Friday, July 06, 2007

Go! Now! Start!

I don't know what to do with my shock. I thought I was beyond shock. For the past several years I have been working intenstively on the issue of abuse reduction of people with intellectual disabilities. Right now I am working with Vita Community Living Services in Toronto and my primary job is to take the organization through a series of changes with the goal of becoming as abuse free as an agency can possiblity be. The challenge has been thrilling and we've created all sorts of structures and services with the organization. Primarily of which we are working so that people with intellectual disabilities are their own first line of defense. That rather than rely on others for protection, each has the skills to protect and report. Needless to say the organization is muchly changed.

And me, I was growing hopeful. Other organizations are getting wind of our social experiment and coming forward asking for our research and our process. It seems that the idea of providing safe services is becoming something that people finally think is important. Our relationship with the police has become much better as we take every report seriously, report every time, and every staff knows exactly how to take a report without mucking up evidence. I'm thrilled. I felt hope.

Until yesterday morning. Here, on my own blog someone asked me to go to a website, asking me to help get the word out about it. When you go to the website it welcomes you thusly: "Welcome to the British Army Rumour Service, ARRSE. The Army Rumour Service is THE unofficial British Army community website." I am not one of those fancy bloggers who can put in a url under text for you to just click on, sorry, the web address here is www.arrse.co.uk .

It’s called,"Mentally Handicapped Kids (don't read if easily offended)" follow the directions that Steven left in his response to my post "Enough Said" of two days ago and you will find it. Steel yourself and then read some of the most hateful text I have ever seen written about people with disabilities. The use of terms like 'mongs' and 'windowlickers' is bad enough but the images they write about are violent and purile and beyond disturbing. This is the deepest well of disability hatred that I have ever found.

This is the UK military. That's who the site is for ... they even make a joke - a taunt - wait till the press reads this. Well the press hasn't done anything about it as Steven pointed out in his response on that post. Why? Because Disphobia is not recognized as being of the same seriousness as 'racism' and 'sexism'. But why not? People with disabilities share in discrimination in employment, in housing, people with disabilities are the most victimized group in our society. Even so few recognize people with disabilities as a legitimate minority. That hate speach can apply to people with disabilities. That it is possible to incite hatred and violence against people with disabilities. They don't get it. Don't want to get it.

So, I say, let's do something.

I know that there are a lot of people who parent kids with Down Syndrome visiting my blog. I know there are parents of a lot of kids with other disabilities, who read this blog. The terms used 'mong' (from mongoliod) and 'windowlicker' amongst others - they are using them against your kids. One guy boasts that he's taught his children to name call and bully kids with disabilities and gives them treats if they hurt one. (I'm not kidding)

What about a campaign of parents supported by everyone else who wants to join in. Read the posts, find a news outlet in England, and write them. Perhaps some British readers could let us know who to write. In Canada all our major newspapers has a disability column written by someone with a disability. Is there someone over there. Tell us who, give us an address ... give us an outlet. I'm sitting here ready. I'll join you. Let me tell you an army of loving mothers and dedicated fathers can take on a military built on bigotry, I'm convinced of it. So ... go ...

73 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hiya

I have just thought that one of the most powerful resources you might have Dave may be your new BBC Ouch blog. I have left messages on the contacts page of the BBC news website but i suspect they get thousands of contacts. Could your contacts there be useful? If the BBC could be pursuaded to take this seriously, everyone else will follow.

I have contacted The Scotsman (www.scotsman.com, the Guardian (www.guardian.co.uk) and the BBC via their websites. I have also contacted other media on the e-mails below.

news@theherald.co.uk
reporters@dailyrecord.co.uk
63000@thesun.co.uk

kind regards
Stephen

Anonymous said...

For anyone who wants the direct link, its www.arrse.co.uk.

The full instructions from the other thread, for people who need to see them again:

"on the www.arrse.co.uk website, if you click on the "arrse froums" buttons on the left hand row of options, then scroll about 3/4 of the way down the next page you will see a thread called "Now that's what i call NAFFI bar". Then you will se the thread near the top "mentally handicapped kids"."

And, Dave:

All html coding is used with the "lesser than" and "greater than" symbols (those pointy bracket things ... on my keyboard, they're on the same keys as the comma and the period). I can't make those symbols show up on the screen (there's a way to do it but my knowledge of html coding is not that sophisticated) but substitute the pointy-bracket things for the square brackets below (and, of course, substitute whatever URL you want for the URL below):

[a href="http://www.arrse.co.uk"]http://www.arrse.co.uk[/a]

Notice how there is both an "opening" html tag at the start of the text that you want to be linked, then another tag to close. All closing tags (at least, all the ones I'm familiar with, which is I admit a limited set) use the backslash.

So, also:

[b]bold face text[/b] bold face text

[i]italicized text[/i] italicized text

And, [a href="http://www.arrse.co.uk"]a link to the page in question[/a] that uses something other than the URL itself as text.

And, a link to the page in question that uses something other than the URL itself as text.

Hope this makes sense. If not, there are a number of sites on the web with probably better written basic html code instructions than I can provide (for one thing, with the correct symbols shown on the screen :-) ). Or you can get in touch with me and I can try again in email.

I second the suggestion to use your BBC Ouch Blog to make the same appeal. There, you'll reach not only parents but also a lot of disabled people (though I know you get some here too, like me). And I suspect you may be reaching larger numbers of people there overall, including people who have not known you before.

--Andrea
reunifygally.wordpress.com

Anonymous said...

In my humble opinion (and of course others will have their own positions and will take their own approach), i think it's important to emphasize to the media that this is NOT simply about parents and disabled people being "offended" or having hurt feelings. This is fear that this kind of mutual fantasizing could lead to actual actions that harm people--physically. This is concern that people who dehumanize entire classes of people are going out there on so-called "humanitarian" missions. (Personally I have some serious problems with armies that conflate the roles of war-making and humanitarian service in the first place for at least two major reasons I won't go into here. But like it or not, armies DO serve in "humanitarian" services and even use this as a recruiting tool, at least here in the US.) This is concern about the caliber of human being that the British, or any other army, allows into their ranks to represent Britain to the rest of the world. And this is also about putting a stop to double standards that say it's not okay to indulge this kind of talk when it comes to women or racial minorities but is suddenly okay when it comes to disabled people.

Just my own take on this. See, my concern is that our merely complaining about it may provoke them into defending themselves by pointing to the values of Free speech, accusing their critics of censorship (a poor argument, but people who mislike criticism mistake it for censorship all the time), or by saying, "Well, we WARNED you not to enter this thread if you're easily offended, so if you came in anyway and got offended that's your own fault!" So my hope is that if we can get across clearly that being offended or not is completely irrelevant to our actual areas of concern, then maybe at least SOME people in the media will take the time to listen to some of those other concerns and put them across to a wider audience.

I also wrote some more of my opinions on this (from a different angle) in the comments area for the "Enough Said" blog post two days ago.

But of course others will have other approaches in mind ...

--Andrea
reunifygally.wordpress.com

Dave Hingsburger said...

Hi, just so you all know, the post here today on Chewing the Fat was originally written and submitted to Ouch but it was pulled from the website. Ouch says "a BBC site cannot really be in the position of starting a very vocal campaign against a post on a forum that is not officially connected to the Army". They sent the post back to me so that I could publish it here. So, that avenue is out. But that doesn't mean we can't do something through here and through all the contacts that 'Fat' readers have. So we just need to figure who to write to and then, well, write. I agree with you Andrea, it's not about hurt feelings - this bothers me because of it's connect with the military - people with guns and power. But I think it's best that people write about how the words and images and hate that spews from that site affects them. Hurt feelings matter too. Worry about how these words translate into actions is my greatest concern, but I think letters that express honest thoughts and emotions are powerful so people need to say what they need to say, however they need to say it. But first things first, who do we complain to ... ideas?

Anonymous said...

I
have come across the following adress where you can write to the
British minister of defence:

MOD Ministerial Correspondence Unit
5th Floor, Zone A
Main Building
Whitehall, London
SW1A 2HB

and there is an online way to send messages at:

http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/ContactUs/AskAMinister.htm

I shall write to them too, though i'm not too optimistic about the
response - i think they'll make the right noises but say it is not
their responsibility - i really think it needs media pressure on them.
I'll keep trying to think of other contacts.

Stephen

Dave Hingsburger said...

Stephen, I think if you asked what the military does regarding training in respect to respecting people with disabilities ... how they as an employer ensure that their employees don't let harsh or negative attitudes influence their work out in the field regarding those with disabilities ... it might have more effect ... partly because that's under their control. However, like I said before, people need to write whatever strikes them as important. My letter will be off today. Thanks, but find other outlets and we can respond. If anyone else writes could you note that here so we can see what's happening. Dave

Anonymous said...

You could also contact the Prime Minister, and also Alex Salmond. I'm sure they'd have contact details on the web somewhere.

Anonymous said...

I also suggest that anyone who has a blog should blog about this issue also. For two reasons:

1. It would help generate more attention to the issue. Even if your blog is only read by 5 of your nearest and dearest, that's five more people who will be aware this is going on.

2. If there is enough "buzz" in the blogosphere, then that in itself could help generate media attention.

If you do blog about it, then come here and leave your link. Ideally link to the SPECIFIC blog post in question, not just your general blog address.

Another suggestion: it might help if we could try to identify, not just whole publications, but individual reporters and columinsts to contact. Has anyone here seen any especially good media stories lately on disabilities? (Or even a story on something else that mentions disability in passing, in an appropriate and sensitive manner?) Perhaps it would be worthwhile reaching out to those individuals. If a reporter gets interested, then she/he might try lobbying his/her editor for permission to do a story.

Also: don't overlook SMALLER publications. Often it's easier to get the attention of smaller media outlets, just as long as you're able to find the right "angle" for it. (eg, if you're an Outraged Dad who lives in Nowhere Town, pop. 363 ... then you could start blogging about this topic on your blog to generate support on this issue, and see if you can get the Nowhere Town Gazette interested in doing a little blurb about waht you're doing.) If nothing else, you might reach the 363 people of Nowhere Town. If you're super lucky, another, larger publication (Nowhere County Gazette, circulation 20,000) might pick up the story.

Anonymous said...

Hi,
I understand that you're not able to use the bbc blog to request activism, but are you really not able to simply inform people? I mean, maybe this post minus the last two paragraphs, or something similar? I know it's not ideal, but surely better than not mentioning it there at all?

Anonymous said...

There is a place to complain directly to the people who run the site. I suggest people go there, read all the site guidelines on content carefully, then follow the instructions for making a complaint there.

http://www.arrse.co.uk/complaint.htm

Consider copy/pasting your complaint there in the comments area here so others can see what's happening.

Anonymous said...

For people who want to go directly to the thread in question without having to hunt for it:

http://www.arrse.co.uk/cpgn2/Forums/viewtopic/t=13451.html

Anonymous said...

I saw the complaint part too, i think we should use it, though of course the danger there is that they just remove it and it goes undetground. What i think we really need is exposure that these kind of attitudes are out there in the British military and condemnation and action from senior people in the British military and government. I have created an online petition on the 10 Downing Street web site, though it's not up yet as it has to go their petition team to make sure it's ok - i'll post the details when i have them. I've been trying to find a specific journalist without much luck - but i have e-mailed society@guardian.co.uk - the Guardian is the key serious UK paper that is likely to take a strong interest in the implications of this and the society section is thae part that tends to have articles on social care - if as many people as possible can e-mail them too i think there would be a strong chance of them picking it up.

Stephen

Anonymous said...

My E-mail has been sent - quoting their principles and guidance with a clear tone of 'out rage' !

Anonymous said...

Are there organizations run BY people with intellectual disabilities that might like to take the lead on this? With appropriate support, of course, from the rest of us.

Which reminds me that I've been meaning to ask Dave if there are any regular blogs written by people with intellectual disabilities?

Jeff said...

Well I took a look at this site. I wish I could think of anything that could be done to stop stuff like this or embarrass them. But I fear not as you just can't get thru to people this thick headed. I also noticed that one of the worst posters in this thread is a site moderator....so doubt the complaint area will accomplish much.

I guess if the BBC is interested you might have some luck calling some out but they are all hiding thier identities so.....

Anyway I guess I feel that this is one of those times where you have to pick your battles.....not sure this one is worth fighting....but hey I am open to being convinced.

Anonymous said...

Throughout the thread they have links to other sites that they have found. This one I found to be particularly horrible. It is written by someone who claims to be a special education teacher!
If we are going to do something about the first site, what about this one?

http://www.tard-blog.com/

Jeff said...

Unfortunatley the tard-blog has been around for a long time and is run by a guy from Chicago named Tucker Max. I know that they have gone onto thier second so called special education teacher so I doubt that there is a teacher involved at all. Just a bunch of nobody's looking for someone to bully...

Peace

Lisa said...

Hi Dave-I will send your post to my listserve and see if anyone replies there-I know we have 1 English lady on the list- probably more- and they may help us too.

Apart fromt hat would a petiton help at all? How would one go about starting one?

Also ( I am very ignorant of current affairs-don't watch the news much I am afraid) doesn't the new PM in UK have a child with a disability? Surely he would take notice of something like this? Or at least tell you/us where to go to make a difference?

Anonymous said...

I'm no expert in current affairs either, but from what I understand, the current PM in Britain has a vision impairment (blind in one eye, and I think the other eye is affected also, to the point where all his speeches need to be printed for him in large print). BUT he doesn't consider himself "disabled" and seemed surprised to learn that some people in the disability community view him that way. (Got an award as "most influential disabled person" in Britain or some such and was surprised by it.) Yes, I believe he does also have a child with a medical condition (I forget what) but I'm not sure he defines him as "disabled" either. So I'm not too sure that he would actually be any more sensitized to disability issues than the general population of Britain.

--Andrea

Anonymous said...

Here is a response to the complaint I made yesterday about the thread on ARRSE. I think they might have missed the point I was making.

Response as follows:

I have to say that I thing you're being quite mild about the content of that thread - I absolutely loathe it. It goes against the fundamental principle that you don't joke about or insult the mentally handicapped. Somewhere in the middle of that thread I think you'll find a post from me saying that.

The obvious question then is why is that thread still there? I've come very
close to pressing delete a number of times, but never done it. Three
reasons:

Firstly that thread is unfortunately a reflection of a conversation that soldiers might have in a bar. We try our hardest to avoid censorship, such a conversation is not something I can change and who am I to dictate what it is and isn't correct to say anyway? Since I don't think the thread is in anyway illegal just EXTREMELY distasteful I had to leave it.

Secondly people are trying to shock - everyone is more extreme in their views and jokes on ARRSE because they can be - it's effectively anonymous. I reassure myself that 99% if not all contributors are almost certainly loving, compassionate human beings in real life, who would do everything possible to support or help a mentally handicapped member of the community.

Finally, if I delete it, it will come back. I can't completely stop people posting things, and at least at the moment that thread is 'filed' and not a subject of censorship debate that is spread across the site.

I know that this email doesn't give you a satisfactory answer - it certainly doesn't satisfy me. The decision has been taken to let it lie though and I stick by that.

Finally, I appreciate you are angry so won't get upset by your threats, but a good way to raise the issue to the British media would be to post about it on ARRSE - we are a very big source of comment for TV, Radio and the nationals - a load of comments from the site across the front page of The Independent last year being a good example. I don't know what response you'll get if you post on that thread, but this is obviously the correct thing to do - 'face up to the bullies' rather than complaining about them. I posted my objections and got a good ignoring!

Regards

Good CO

Anonymous said...

What exactly are our goals in terms of "doing something" about this?

I mean, is it to necessarily shut down this discussion thread? (I could understand this goal but not sure it would really be productive because, as others have pointed out, it would simply drive the sentiments underground and do nothing to change attitudes).

Or is it to persuade the head honchos in the military to condemn these kinds of attitudes and remind the ranks that disabled people have value also?

Or is the point here simply to start a dialogue going in society about the attitudes that many people hold toward disabled people--including in the military--and the potential repercussions of these attitudes (BEYOND "hurt feelings" or "being offended"), ESPECIALLY when held by even just a minority of the military?

I think we'll be more effective overall if we can come to at least a rough agreement on our goals. For one thing, it would affect our decision who to write to, and exactly what points to focus on. This might be especially helpful for people who might blog on this topic to think about.

--Andrea
reunifygally.wordpress.com

Anonymous said...

I'd suggest taking some screencaps or using the ScrapBook extension on Firefox if you want to pursue this. Ugly places on the internet have a nasty habit of disappearing when thrown into the spotlight.

Nicole said...

There is still so much evil and illness in the world. We have a long way to go. I wonder if we Americans write in we'll just be dismissed. ?

Anonymous said...

Nicole:

I would think that the British military would still be concerned about their reputation not merely within their own borders but also internationally. After all, by it's very nature, any military already represents its country abroad.

Just my guess here.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Hi, all, I have written a draft complaint to the site and a draft letter to the ministry of defense but have not yet sent them. I agree with Andrea that I need to know what it is that I'm saying. So, I'm going to think on it a bit more today and then send tomorrow. I'm going to focus, for the ministry, on the fact that these attitudes in the military make me mistrustful that they would respond well or appropriately when faced with the humanitarian needs of those with disabilities. That people with disabilities are already the most victimized group in society and that they may now fall as easy prey to big strong people with guns. We know what power does and saw it in prisoner abuse - and now this verbal abuse. For the site, I'm going to call this what it is, hate speech and accuse them of using language to perpetuate hate and abuse - if it was another group, the string would be seen for what it is - hateful and degrading. Substitute almost any other minority in these images and they immediately become vile and racist. Not ok. I want to introduce the word 'disphobia' to them so that they understand that it stands equal with racism and sexism and homophobia. But that's now. Who knows what happens after the edit tomorrow. But tomorrow is my D-Day ... I'm going in!

Anonymous said...

Dave, I hope you post your finalized letter (or letters), perhaps as a separate blog entry to help bring more attention to it. It might help the rest of us do more of our own thinking about what message(s) we should be focused on, and also what our goals are (to get senior management to condemn the thread as hate speech, or ... ?)

Dave Hingsburger said...

Sure, I'll post them here tomorrow. I keep going back to them and rewording them. But ...like I said, tomorrow is my deadline. Dave

Dave Hingsburger said...

My letter to the minister

Dear Minister,

First a bit about me. I have spent my career in service to people with intellectual disabilities, particularly in the area of abuse prevention. As you may not know people with intellectual diabilities, and people with disabiliites in general, are the most victimized group in society. There are higher rates of theft, assault - verbal and physical, sexual victimization (including rape)for this group than for typical members of society. I can send you references to research articles that demonstrate the fact that persons with disabilities are much more likely to be a victim of crime than others. Too, shockingly, people with disabilities are most often victims of crime and abuse at the hands of those who are supposed to care for them.

It is this last fact that has prompted me to write to you. I recently became aware of a website www.arrse.co.uk that has a string of comments on it's message board under the title Mentally Handicapped Kids. The string of comments contains vile humour, that I can cope with. But the string has a vaguely and ominously violent undertone. Writers stating that they would reward their children for bullying a teasing a child with a disability. Writers stating that 'mongs' are good for sexual purposes. Writers stating that 'they are put here for our amusement'. These are not the most aggressive of the posts, but they are enough here to give you a sense of the flavour of the site.

I know that this site is not an 'offical' site of the UK armed forces but it is clear that the site is visited and used by a large number of your military personelle. I wonder, Minister, if this does not raise concerns regarding the treatment that people with disabilities might receive should they require assistance as part of the humanitarian duties of the armed forces. I would be very much concerned that, given the tone of the website, that disphobia and rampant prejudice against people with disabilities pervades the armed forces. What steps are you taking to ensure that your personelle have the opportunity to confront their own prejudices in these areas? Do you do any training regarding sensitivity to disability as part of your minority or diversity trainings?

I wonder too how you feel about the existance of this string of comments on a board that clearly links itself to the military, even if it's in an unoffical way. Is it acceptable that the UK military engage in the dissemination of hate literature and promulgate actions of violence against the most vulnerable in society?

I would be pleased to hear what actions the UK military takes to reduce all forms of prejudice, including prejudice against those with disabilities.

Dave Hingsburger

Dave Hingsburger said...

Editor,

For more than 20 years I have been working to, in not eradicate, at lease lessen the incidence of the abuse of people with intellectual disabilities. Statistics are clear that this group is the most victimized group in our society and that those with intellectual disabilities are 80 times more likely to be a victim of violence. (Research can be sent to you on request.) The main reason for this seems to be that people with disabilities are not seen as fully human and therefore are subject to vile name calling and violent actions. In reading your string on ARRSE, I would suggest that you are continuing a tradition of the dehumanization of people with disabilities. Admit it, if the string had been based upon laughing at a child of a visible minority – it would have been seen as racist, as constituting hate speech. However much people with disabilities need such protection as yet such hate against those with disabilities goes unpunished.

You probably imagine that these are just some soldiers having some fun. I imagine something different. I imagine that one of these leading lights of tolerance as part of the humanitarian duties of the armed forces has to rescue children with disabilities in a situation of extreme need. It is my hope, no, it is my fervent prayer than no of these men or women ever be in a position of having to physically touch one of those individuals. I don’t trust their touch, their tone, their attitude. Living life at the edge of societies acceptance is bad enough, but to have your ‘hero’, your ‘rescuer’ be one who carries these kind of attitudes would be just one to many tragedies in a life full of pain.

Go ahead with your freedom of the press argument – but it doesn’t fly with me. It is said that ‘freedom of speech doesn’t include crying ‘fire’ in a movie theatre.’ In a world where people with disabilities are routinely brutalized – that’s exactly what you have let the members of your site do.

I hope you are proud.

Dave Hingsburger

Anonymous said...

Hi folks
Soryy dissappeared for a bit, bad weekend! This is the e-mail i have sent to the arse people, will let you know what kind of response i get.

Stephen

I wish to complain about the thread on your site lablleled "Mentally Handicapped Kids". I have never come across such an evil, terrifying stream of hatred in my life. As a British taxpayer, who is generally extremely supportive of the armed forces, it horrifies me to think that people with attitudes such as these could be being sent on "humanitarian missions".

I suspect you may claim that this is a freedom of speech issue. Let us be clear, it is not. While regrettably there is no crime of incitement to violence against disabled people, there are crimes of incitement to violence generally and I would suggest that many of your posters (eg below) are clearly inciting violence and torture. You cannot deny that if this thread was regarding people of an ethnic minority you would clearly be liable for incitement to racial hatred. The fact that the law at present fails to give such protection to the most vulnerable group in our society in no way justifies a decision to allow this kind of material on your site.

I appreciate the site comes with a warning, not to read if you are easily offended. I find the suggestion prepostorous that it is acceptable to be vile, violent and fantasise in torture as long as you give a warning. The issue here is not about censorship or "political correctness". It is about the fact that views such as these are prevalent within the armed forces, a group which can have huge amounts of power over vulnerable people. Your site allows people to glory in their depraved fantasies and to egg each other on. What are the potential consequences when one of these soldiers is on a mission where they come across some disable people? What might be the consequecnes of the escalation of their fantasies from this mutual

You state that one of your guidelines is to not tolerate "Hardline extremist views and racism in particular". I wonder if you could clarify for me if you consider the following example (one of hundreds) as "hardline extremist".

"I was wondering what peoples opinions are on the nazis gassing and experimenting on said mlaars and tards.

I personally would have hairs standing on the back of my head in delight at the sight of screaming, terrified naked mlaars being beaten into a gas chamber. Could you imagine watching them through the window scream and attack each other in fear, clawing at each other faces not knowing where they are or what is going to happen in the next 30 seconds.
down syndrome adults and down syndrome children all terrified and covered in their own excrement and urine that was evacuated out of their fat podgy bodies in fear. Oh the smell of heavenly infactuiation.
Little down syndrome toddlers being trodden into the ground in a blood stained mess by the larger mongoloid adults, cant you just hear the crack of little ribs snapping under the weight of one of these terrified hephalumps. Banging on the windows screaming 'where am I ' wheres my teddybear'."

I f that does not classify as "extremist" then I have no concept of the values by which the British armed froces serve by. The Thread on your site is a disgrace and the only moral option open to you is to take a stand against the views expressed in it, apologise, and explain how you night use your site to help soldiers think about the issues surrounding disability and prejudice.

Yous sincerely

Stephen Finlayson

Anonymous said...

I have just been informed that my petition on the Downing Street website has been rejected because it contains a link to a website! How the hell do you complain about a website if you don't mention it!

Stephen

Anonymous said...

Stephen:

Perhaps you could find a way to briefly describe the web site in a way that gives people enough clues to google for it on their own. The name of the site would be an obvious start (The ARmy Rumor SErvice, note the caps which represent the letters forming the acronym.): when you insert that phrase in google.com, the main page for arrse is listed as the first result.

Also include the title of the thread: Mentally Handicapped Kids (don't read if easily offended)

Unfortunately, entering that title in google does not lead to the arrse site. But it DOES lead right here to this post and these comments. And of course we have instructions etc. on how to reach the thread in question here (the direct URL being http://www.arrse.co.uk/cpgn2/Forums/viewtopic/t=13451.html)

With those two clues, anyone who cares enough can easily track down not only the thread in question but also the blogging discussion about it. Even without your linking to the site yourself.

No, it's not perfect. But this may be the next best approach.

--Andrea
http://reunifygally.wordpress.com

Anonymous said...

Hi Andrea, thanks for that, i have resubmitted it as you suggested with the guidance to find it from google - hopefully that will get past the censors!
Stephen

Anonymous said...

I think they have rmeoved the thread - can;t see it this morning and this reaponse appears to suggest so, though of course they are blaming us for highlighting the issue in the first place rather than just letting them get on with it!

Good Morning Stephen,

I absolutely agree with most of your comments about the content of that thread
- I absolutely loathe it. It goes against and way way beyond the fundamental
principle that you don't joke about or insult the mentally handicapped.
Somewhere in the middle of that thread I think you'll find a post from me
saying that. Despite your more extreme comments though, most of it simply has
the aim of generating responses like yours - until recently with little
success and it was a fading embarrassment.

Why WAS it still there? I had come very close to pressing delete a number of
times, but never done it until now. Three reasons:

Firstly that thread is unfortunately a reflection of a conversation that
soldiers might have in a bar. We try our hardest to avoid censorship, such a
conversation is not something I can change and who am I to dictate what it is
and isn't correct to say anyway? Since I don't think the thread is in anyway
illegal just EXTREMELY distasteful I had to leave it.

Secondly as I said, people are trying to shock - everyone is more extreme in
their views and jokes on ARRSE because they can be - it's effectively
anonymous. I reassure myself that 99% if not all contributors are almost
certainly loving, compassionate human beings in real life, who would do
everything possible to support or help a mentally handicapped member of the
community.

Finally, and what worries me now that it has been removed is that it will come
back. Unfortunately 'the offended' have bought it out of obscurity by posting
on it and this has presented 'red rag to a bull' to a group of anonymous,
bored users looking to create extreme offence through writing the most
outrageous thing they possibly can.

So thank you for writing and fingers crossed that I don't end up with idiots
trying their hardest to spread this across my website. As someone with a
severely mentally ill close family member this would not do anything to
improve my mood as you might imagine.

Regards

Rob

Good CO

Stephen

Aaron said...

That's really quite horrifying. I hope that something is done about this. It's not very surprising from my experience with the way the American military talk. But that doesn't make it right by a long shot.

Anonymous said...

Good grief. What a load of sanctimonious twaddle.

Get lives, you pathetically sad weirdoes. This is what you get when you deal with soldiers, I'm afraid. Dish some of it back, if you like! Oh no - that would be 'stooping to their level' wouldn't it? 'Scared to post' I reckon...

You can try all the campaigns you like - try writing to whomever you like, and it will all end in naught.

Or you could sit back and chill your teeny-weeny American brains out.

Actually, I couldn't care less - very little amuses me more than indignant Americans!

Anonymous said...

What a load of rubbish. This is nothing but people having a joke on a website aimed at soldiers.

I can understand the moral panic if members of ARRSE were going on the a website such as ouch and posting these comments, but this is a website aimed at serving and ex-serving soldiers.

It may also shock you to know I have experience of campaigning for disabilities rights at a national level, and even though I have never posted on the thread in question, I do not take offence because I realise that none of it is serious, and thus do not take offence.

Also, after seeing Mat Fraser and Lizz Car perform a live comedy session (and chatting to them in the bar afterwards), which was very dark & close to the mark (and v.funny), then I would be very surprised if they got on their high horses about this.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear. Some people need to learn when to take a joke. Understand that British Military humour, emphasising on BRITISH and MILITARY is so completely different to civillian, mainstream humour that it would blow your tiny, liberal, left wing minds. Yes, its offensive. So is seeing people killed and maimed in front of you- what's the old adage? Better to laugh than cry? Also, it is in no way indicative of the entire British Army, most members are either civilians, journalists, or retired servicemen and women. Crude, rough soldier's humour goes with the job. If you can't take a joke, well then that's your problem, not ours.

A.N. Arrser

Anonymous said...

If your looking for somebody to help you campaign on this, then it may be worth you contacting "Wheelchair_warrior" on the ARRSE website.

He's heavily disabled, so he may jump on the band-wagon. Oh wait, he's got a sense of humour.

Anonymous said...

Good morning / evening / whatever.

I am a member of the British Army, and also a member of Arrse. I think you people here are completely unappreciative of "squaddie humour", or gallows humour to others. We (soldiers) have to see and experience things on Operations that the average civilian could not cope with - from seeing loved colleagues maimed and killed through to dealing with things like the aftermath of genocide by opposing forces. The kind of humour expressed on Arrse is an example of how we deal with the horror of some of the things we have to face - we make fun of it.

My son was born with spina bifida. I therefore reserve the right to take the piss out of similar handicaps, because I have to deal with it every day. My son and I have no problem with this.

Kick yourselves up the Arrse, and learn to read warning signs on websites before you click on them.

Anonymous said...

"I think they have rmeoved the thread - can;t see it this morning and this reaponse appears to suggest so, though of course they are blaming us for highlighting the issue in the first place rather than just letting them get on with it!"

I'm afraid nowhere do I see in Robs response, you being the figure of blame! Please work a little on your comprehension skills, and stop seeing what you wish to see.

Yes, it was sick. Now, it has gone. Deal with it & move on.

Anonymous said...

And, in addition to the above, I would like you to see some of the things I have seen. You may know people who are blind - sometimes I envy them. The blind are blessed because they cannot wish to erase something horrific that they have witnessed.

Ever heard of PTSD? thats right, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Soldiers, and ex-soldiers out there are suffering from this and recieving little if any support for their actions. Some are actually posting on Arrse as a means of release. PTSD is as debilitating as any genetic condition.

I also remind you that I speak as the father of a disabled son - and i'm ALSO a soldier.

Does that scare you? Do I not fit within your demographic?

Take a VERY large sniff of the coffee in the morning, I hope you actually wake up.

Anonymous said...

Mind your own business,you over paid self rightous cnuts! what are you all spackers as well?

Anonymous said...

I am also a ex-serviceman and ARRSE'r,you lot need to get a life!In the past few months the members have campaigned for a dwelling to be turned into a free hotel for family members visiting DISABLED relatives at Headly Court.
http://www.arrse.co.uk/cpgn2/Forums/viewtopic/t=72560.html
We also sucsessfuly overturned HMG's ruling that Gurkha hero & VC winner Tul Bahadur Pun VC to enter the UK.(Despite the Daily Mirror claiming it was there campaign)
http://www.arrse.co.uk/cpgn2/Forums/viewtopic/t=66783.html
Then if you still think we are insensative,start reading some of the condolence threads like this one;
http://www.arrse.co.uk/cpgn2/Forums/viewtopic/t=73991.html
Then follow that with a look at the charities forum;
http://www.arrse.co.uk/cpgn2/Forums/viewforum/f=39.html
Then go and have a cup of tea & go back to your tree.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I'm a member of ARRSE and I am far from indulging in sick fantasies involving people with disabilities. The thread is a little bit of fun amongst people who have to deal with things you can never, ever even begin to imagine.

And as for my "fantasies" influencing my actions in everyday life? No, I've campaigned on issues affecting people with disabilities on a national and local level - never had the real-life urge to hurt or make fun of any of the people I've met.

The people up in arms on this site should go back to reading their Michael Moore and Chomsky books, rather than getting excited over a thread on a website that is aimed at serving members of the British Armed forces.

Anonymous said...

I'm the granddaughter of a Chief Reporter of The Scotsman,and avid arrse reader. Have you lot not heard of squaddie humour? These guys when not defending our freedom are just indulging in some banter. Try reading some of the serious stuff on the site, ie military history, or recent campaigns such as Pun VC and 36 Grays Lane. The naafi bar comes with a warning sign, don't go in if easily offended.

Anonymous said...

You people have WAY too much time on your hands.
Try complaining about the murders and rapes actually committed by the US armed forces in Iraq before you complain about dark humour on an open webforum in the UK. Squaddie humour IS dark ... its either that or the stress will kill them. BUT ITS JUST HUMOUR!
Think you'll find US atrocities in Iraq situation are about 1000 times more disturbing than a few sick jokes.

Anonymous said...

Would you also consider a link to the post regarding the recent SSAFA application for a house in Grays Lane which will offer support for families who's loved ones are being treated at Headley Court many of whom have severe disabilities caused by their service?

http://www.arrse.co.uk/cpgn2/Forums/viewtopic/t=72560.html


I think you will find that members of ARRSE spent huge amounts of time and effort to garner national support for this charity facility which culminated in the application being granted.

The NAAFI bar section quite clearly has the tag - "Look some of the stuff in here is really quite nasty. If you are easily offended - DO NOT ENTER." It is intended as a forum for anything goes. Squaddie humour is exactly that, humour, nothing else nothing more. If you don't like it don't read it.

And no I'm not a serving member of the AF or anything to do with ARRSE I'm a civilian who is fed up with people like you who whine and moan at the smallest of things. If you are offended then tough, get over it.

Here is another link complaining about the lack of compensation for a severly disabled serviceman

http://www.arrse.co.uk/cpgn2/Forums/viewtopic/t=74253.html

so please don't assume that ARRSE is anti-disabled or any of it's posters would wish to harm disabled people because they understand that many may be disabled due to their profession.

Anonymous said...

I am a soldier, an arrser and have disabled friends and relatives.

My mother works with disabled children (she has been attacked before now by mentally handicapped children), my aunty works with special educational needs and my wife works with children of disabilities (including teaching them to swim).

I have assisted voluntarily with a child who was abused by a man and wouldn't trust men (I was one of the first he wouldn't run from) and with children with special needs.

I helped one child off and on the bus so he could carry the baton for the Commonwealth games in 2002. I also manufactured the clamp so he could "hold" the baton. He is, sadly, dead now. He died young due to his condition, terrible at speaking, he dribbled alot too, but bloody great at chess.

I haven't posted on the thread in
question, but I do not see it as bad either. The twisted and sick sense of humour you see, is what sailers, soldiers and airmen use to get by... in situations you can't even comprehend.

To all those who are pointing out that we (soldiers and arrsers) are the ones who go on "humanitarian" missions.

You seem to be indicating that the thread that has disgusted you so much should prevent us from doing such vital missions.

So I say crack on, write to who ever you wish to. Stick on the bottom that you wish to volunteer for the next humanitarion relief effort.

After you have seen a few hundred starving children pleading with you to give them more food, shelter or to take them home with you....

After you have exhumed the mass graves of those slaughtered by their neighbours of many years....

After you have stood, paralysed by the politicians that sent you, as you have no legal mandate to intervene.....

When you've tidied up the wreckage of a "political statement" from some loony group.....

When you've boarded the plane home, sick to the pit of your stomach that you couldn't do more....

When you've comforted those who have lost all in the latest Foot and Mouth outbreak or floods....

When you've spent days awake attempting to hold back the flood waters, and still lost...

When you've got out of bed the next day, picked up your kit and tackled it like the day still can be won.

Come and find me, I'll stand you a beer. I'll be in the NAAFI Bar.

Arrsess said...

Do you honestly believe that people who contributed to that thread on ARRSE would really do that to a handicapped person? Really? Then I think you may be the most sick one. In the same ideology, any person laughs at an sexually-motivated joke or emailed jpeg must be a likely rapist or deviant. Come on now, get a grip.
GCO and other people from the site have posted replies to you to which most are ignored because you've started an agenda and just hard-headed to stop now despite being shown where you ought to stop and think. People who posted on there are some of the same ones who may have tended to and cared for casualities including comrades and civilians. Like mentioned, there are many who are disabled, injured or have friends&family who are, and many more who use humour to get through their loss or injuries. Ask them, and while you might be doing that, look at how the (same?) members post on the casualty/WIA threads, you won't find the same comments although they may be referring to those with a physical or mental handicap.

You went on the site, then into a forum where there was a warning on the 'door'. You went for one singular thing you don't like without asking anyone for an explanation but ignored the good the site has done (and has been documented in national media), and launched a crusade about something you have no clue about. You are out of your depth and making yourself look petty.

Dave Hingsburger said...

I am not responding to posts from ARRSE because I do not respond to name calling or argument from those who do not have the courage to sign their names.

There also seems to be an idea that I am running a campaign against ARRSE, this is not true. I wanted the thread closed, it was. I wrote to complain to the site and one offical complaint. Weeks ago. Once the thread was off, the matter was closed to me and I have not engaged in any further action regarding ARRSE. You may, of course, continue to post your anger here as you will.

Dave Hingsburger

ARRSER said...

We do not post our real names because of something caller PerSec!!Otherwise known as Personal Security! Remember the plot to kidnap a British Soldier & kill him last year?Or the IRA?
That is why we use nicknames,other sites do the same,what makes you so special?
Pillock!

Anonymous said...

Dave, I tried in my earlier comment to be reasonable, but you're just being petty.
Fcuk off, you petty, thick, gopping civilian cnut.

Raye said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ARRSE_Moderator said...

ARRSErs - please desist this now. It is clear that posting on this hopeless fat heap's blog is merely validating his life - he hasn't had this much attention EVER!

Please go back to ARRSE and forget this idiot and let him send his blitherings into the void. We've all seen how utterly useless and ill-informed he and his ilk are, and all you're doing now is making everything good and positive ARRSE has achieved over the last months and years look trite and a tad silly.

Many thanks. Out.

PS - Dave - you are a spinless little turd. If you want to post such complete garbage, come on ARRSE and do it and you'll get your side of the 'argument' heard. I've seen your speeches on www.farnorthernrc.org and frankly, you have issues. Try dealing with them, eh?

Raye said...

"...There also seems to be an idea that I am running a campaign against ARRSE, this is not true. I wanted the thread closed, it was. "

What gives you the right to decide what is acceptable or not on other websites.

Yes maybe the posts were a bit naughty, but at the end of the day thats all they were.

May I ask what you was actually looking for when you found them?

Why did you ignore warnings about possible offensive content and still read them?

Do you spend your time surfing the net looking for this type of material?

If so why?

Ill accept that some soldiers can have what appears to be an evil sense of humor but to actually find a soldier that would carry out what you read would be extremely rare.

"...I may not agree and argue with what you say, but I will fight to allow you to say it"

ARRSE_Moderator said...

The thread hasn't been closed - it's being tidied up to preserve the very funniest comments and will be back shortly.

Thanks!

Arrsess said...

Dave H.,

In regards to leaving a full name, I take it you have no idea about rules about serving soldiers and the media? People who can't log in can't see all the comments so that's why think some are deleted. But you knew that when you changed the format.

And you haven't had the decency to ask the Arrse public, including those with disabilities or work/live with, about the thread. What is the point of making a complaint about something without seeing if you have something to complain about first?
You remind me of someone who revels in seeing or hearing themselves in print/media regardless of the issue. I hope you really stop making yourself look silly.

Arrsess said...

In fact, go ahead and make yourself look stupid. You're doing a top job.

Joe H said...

David H wrote: "I am not responding to posts from ARRSE because I do not respond to name calling or argument from those who do not have the courage to sign their names."

Funnily enough, I posted a comment yesterday in which I offered reasoned argument without any abuse or name calling. It was anonymous, simply because I didn't have time to sign up for a google account at the time.

It was contrary to your point of view about the thread in question but it was polite, well-reasoned and (potentially) thought-provoking.

In it, I admitted to finding the thread in question personally distasteful but tried to explain why servicemen develop a sense of humour like this when they face the possibility of becoming terribly maimed because of their job.

I also predicted that it wouldn't last more than about 15 minutes. I was correct.

Perhaps that was because my wording and approach didn't fit in with your stereotyped and view of what "those people" are like? Maybe, had I validated your view by including a couple of personal expletives, you would have kept it and pointed gleefully at the "further evidence" of the appalling and discriminatory views of ARRSERS?

Possibly if I suggest this time that you're a sanctimonious tw*t who has no concept whatsoever of understanding anything but your own narrow-minded and jealously held point of view you'll let my commments stand?

If that's the case, then I'm sorry for disappointing you yesterday.

Oh, wait one, no I'm not because you're a cnut!

Dave Hingsburger said...

Joe H, your comment was not removed, you did not post it here, you posted it on Enough Said and it is still there. I have not removed any posts.

I agree that your point was well presented. You state that people who see the darker side of life need an outlet for that darkness lest it fester. Therefore using people with disabilities as the butt for their humourous imaginings of them dieing in gas chambers (did you know that Hitler experimented on people with disabilities in order to fine tune mass killing of others? there is a monument to thousands of the dead disabled at Hadamar Germany) is an acceptable practice.

People with disabilities have always been used thusly, as idiots and fools to be made fun of, mocked, so that others can feel better about themselves. I don't think this is an acceptable reason for using that kind of language.

I, do however, respect the fact that you took the time to write a well reasoned and thoughtful response.

Even though I disagree with you and you obviously with me, I am willing to dialogue but the name calling must stop or I will not respond to you.

Dave Hingsburger

Joe H said...

Apologies, Dave. Genuine mistake here, followed the wrong link and ended on the wrong blog.

Please accept the name calling in my last for what it was - a dig at what I imagined to be censorship of an opposing POV. That's something that all should guard against, and it's part of the reason that the ARRSE COs allow threads like the one in question to stand.

I see that GCO has gone on record here expressing his own feelings about the thread but also making clear that ARRSE at least attempts to avoid censoring anything that's not illegal.

I also found the vast majority of that thread offensive, although I'd suggest there are a few posts amongst the dross that hit you in the eyes and make you think. That in itself is enough to validate its existence.

One of the problems with a great deal of so-called "PC" behaviour is that it too easily dismisses alternative viewpoints which may have a valid bearing on an issue. If it doesn't fit current thinking then it's deviant in some way.

In the case of this thread, it is deviant but that really does not mean that the people posting actually fantasize over what they write about.

The ability to face people pointing automatic weapons at you, or leaving bombs for you, takes a certain mind-set and a lot of the "bullying", as perceived from outside, is not harmful to that mind-set. Hence the defence of "it's only banter".

As a rule, such banter is kept between those who understand it and, in fact, benefit from the release it offers. As a matter of interest, similar threads have been made about a huge number of groups - from other branches of the Services and nationalities - the Crabs (RAF) and septics (Americans) get it especially hard, to people with ginger hair and many other groups.

Despite the "hateful" comments, these are all groups that everyone in the forces would willingly, and literally, lay down their own lives in defence of. Except the Crabs, of course!

One difference with the "handicapped" thread is that, whilst it's unlikely any of the posters will go to work tomorrow and come home with ginger hair, there's a very real possibility that they may come home with severe mental disability - whether physical or psychological.

Everyone serving understands, more than most, that disability really doesn't define the person. They understand it because, in their life, it's not a theoretical exercise like putting on a blindfold to "experience" blindness. It's a real, and ever-present possibility of what they do.

So they laugh about it. And, if it happens to them, they would expect their comrades to laugh about it with them. The internet simply allows their laughter to be heard where, perhaps, it shouldn't be.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Joe H

What is finally happening here between you and I is what should have been happening all along. I need to apologize too, I did not realize that you were unable to use last names for your own personal security. As soon as that was pointed out to me it made perfect sense and if I'd known that I would have responded sooner. I have no wish for anyone to be put at danger.

And I guess that's what the point here is, I don't want anyone to be put at needless risk. Many of those who have commented say 'Most of the guys who post would never hurt someone with a disability' but what about the one's not included in 'most'. Isn't it even slightly possible that they would feel encouraged to translate their negative attitudes to real worlds situations.

Here, by the way, is the real world situation ...

People with disabilities are more likely to be physcially or sexually abused than members of the typical population, 80% of women and 60% of men with disabilities will be molested or raped while still children.

Those who rape and murder people with disabilities are less likely to serve jail time and those that do serve less time than if they had abused a 'real' person.

100% of the time when a person with a visible intellectual disability goes into the community they will face some form of social discrimination - pointing, laughing, staring, name calling.

Having an intellectual disabilities means that you are less likely to get abuse prevention training, bullying training, sex education ... all of which would help people become their own first line of defense.

Part of the problem is that social structures set up to help people with disabilities - don't. Police are reluctant to investigation, courts are reluctant to prosecute, therefore people feel they can get away with anything they want.

My problem with the thread is that if even one of those members feels encouraged to use the denegrating words against a person with a disability - then damage enough is done.

The military has my full respect. I do not and did not wish to do anything but to address the issue of what I saw as hateful images - images to harsh to be protected by a 'don't come in if you don't want to be offended' sign. I come from a father wounded in service to his country and have a nephew now serving my country. I am proud of my fathers record, proud of my nephews service and they are proud that I have chosen to work toward the protection of vulnerable people. We've all see us as performing in different ways - the same job. Protecting the innocent from unjust behaviour.

Joe H said...

Have to agree with virtually everything you posted in your last, Dave with one small qualifying remark.

Within the services, my honest opinion is that no-one would, as you suggest, take such comments as encouragement to act in the real world. More to the point, anyone with any propensity towards doing so would be recognised by those around them and the system would be aware of a possible risk. No-one wants to entrust their own safety, or reputation, to someone like that.

But something that's often overlooked on ARRSE is that the rest of the world looks in. Sometimes that very fact spurs posters on to be just that little bit more outrageous, that one step more provocative, than they may be even in a "normal" service setting. Sort of, a way to set themselves aside from the civvies who join by showing how much further "squaddie humour" can go.

The problem with that is that those reading may not be of the same mentality. Often, that simply means they take serious offence where humour is genuinely intended (as has happened with this thread).

But there is always the possibility, as you say, tht someone may take what's posted as validation for genuine fantasies that they hide.

The forces tend to be able to laugh at just about any situation, no matter how serious, while still retaining a sense of exactly how serious it is. They'll find humour in absolutely anything because it helps them to face those things when they encounter them in real life.

It's also something that is often best kept from those outside the services. Not for fear of offending but for fear that someone may take your suggestions seriously.

An example happened during our recent campaign to get planning permission for SSAFA in Ashtead. Before the MODs clamped down on the initial banter on thread, suggestions were made such as driving a Challenger MBT down the road to show them what having their peace disturbed means. These were not serious suggestions in any way but, not only did some local residents take them as such, it seems that others who heard about the campaign may have taken things a stage further and issued direct threats to residents of the area.

Would that have happened if those responsible hadn't seen the aggressive banter, meant entirely in jest, from servicemen? Probably not. So, while the servicemen ran a successful and clean public campaign, their "private" banter may have resulted in unnecessary upset at the hands of someone who took it too literally.

My personal view is that people need to become more aware of these consequences as technology increased our ability to communicate.

I understand some members of ARRSE feeling that an attack on their "freedom" to banter is unjustified and, in fact, agree with them on principle.

But there's also a responsibility for them to realise just how far that banter may be heard when it's not in a "real" NAAFI bar, and just who may be hearing it.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Joe H

Before I begin, I tried to post a note on the ARRSE site where someone suggested that I am living proof that a Native American mated with a Buffalo ... I wanted to assure them that if they actually met my mother they would find their analogy entirely too kind! But I can't post on there as I don't have a password.

I understand only to well what it is to need a sense of humour in one's work. I will never ever suggest that I understand the strain that the military faces - I have fits of horror knowing that my nephew is in harms way.

But working, as I did for years, with sex offenders, all of us as therapists developed a sense of humour that would be shocking to others. It was rude, coarse and would offend many - it differed from the humour on ARRSE only in that it wasn't targetted at another group, it was targetted more on the whole issue of sexuality and deviance. But, my, if anyone heard us we'd have been fired, tarred and feathered, but the laughter was necessary because the work was always so grim and the stories always so painful. And, as you know, it helped to laugh.

I get the idea of the release that laughter gives. I also get a lot of what you are saying. You are entirely right, with the electronic age we have to think a bit about what we say and how we say it. You raised a point I hadn't thought of - and that is that some of the readers too may have been unduly encouraged in negative attitudes from the chat.

Anyways, I hope you believe that I did what I did with the intention - not of silencing ARRSE - but of stopping a discussion that I believed could have caused harm to those in care, those I care about. The people I work with are not faceless 'mongs' (how I hate that word) to me, they are real people, with real feelings, who get really hurt from namecalling and general disrespect.

If it came across that I had no respect for the job you do, the value of the military, or my concern for the safety of everyone on dangerous missions away from home, I apologize. That was never my intent and those words were never said or written by me.

Dave Hingsburger

A.N.Arrser said...

Dave.

Thank you for youe recent response - I hope this brings this matter to something of a closure.

I think a few things have been highlighted here - the nature of squaddie humour, the way that words on the internet cannot ever express true intention, and also that soldiers cannot post personal information for security reasons.

I posted earlier on this blog - I am serving, with a disabled son. I am glad you recognise that our sense of humour (although warped!) is not an expression of intent. I have seen things I truely wish I could erase from my brain - I am still serving, and in the current operational tempo, there is every chance I could see more. I shall deal with them as required, in the meantime I shall exercise my right to poke fun at life in general.

One genuine concern though, is regarding Mr Stephen Finlayson. He seems to have a grudge not just against Arrse, but against the forces in general. As he has stated that he has met you, and hopes to do so again in the future, could you kindly give him a clip round the ear and tell him to get a grip?

And Stephen, when you read this - kindly slap yourself, to save Dave doing it.

A.N.Arrser said...

Also Dave, if you wish to post on Arrse, youe simply need to register.

All you require is an email address, and create your own password (In fact less information is required to post in Arrse than is required to post here! ;) )

Dave Hingsburger said...

A.N. Arrser

Thanks for your comment, I too feel that this is drawing to a close. I have learned much from this discussion and regret that it did not happen from the start. Thanks for the info about posting on Arrse but I think I'll leave it go now, I just wanted to, believe it or not, make a joke. There is something to letting others get together without prying eyes, I'm not going to visit the site again.

Stephen Finlayson said...

Hi folks, i have recently just discovered that this debate has reopened. As Dave has said above, i am also very happy to let the matter lie. However, given the criticisms of my role, i have just posted what i hope is a final word on the matter on the ARRSE site and share it here also. Here's to humour and decency!

Stephen Finlayson

May I apologise for not engaging in this debate earlier, I only recently became aware of its existence. As the apparent cause of much ill feeling, I am happy to respond.

In the posts above there are clearly some people making vile comments who are not worth responding to. However, many people have made thoughtful and insightful comments and I am more than happy to engage in dialogue with them.

There are a lot of issues here, so forgive me if this feels like an essay.

Firstly let me be clear about a couple of points about ARRSE and the armed forces in general.

A number of posters have suggested that I have a general problem with ARRSE or the armed forces and have some sort of vendetta. Let me be clear that this is categorically not the case. I have never been in any doubt that the vast majority of ARRSE users are decent, honourable people. The e-mails I exchanged with the administrator also showed him to be a similarly decent person of integrity. I fully recognise that ARRSE is a valuable forum that is responsible for a great deal of good. It strikes me that it seems an extremely important community for the armed forces. The disability community have many similar sites. I have had a serious difficulty with one thread on ARRSE, which I have believed to be dangerous and irresponsible and which appeared to me to breach ARRSE’s own guidelines. I will discuss this in more detail below.

Equally, let me be clear that I have no kind of issue with the armed forces. I think some posters may perceive me as a lefty hippie type. Ironically, little could be further from the truth. I am in fact extremely supportive of the military. For all the complications of the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan, I am one of those who believe it is right that we should be there, protecting vulnerable people from fascists and helping them rebuild their countries. I believe the armed forces are doing an extraordinary job and they have my greatest respect both for the job they do and the courage they show, in circumstances I freely acknowledge I cannot begin to imagine. I also fully agree with the posters who point out that this country should be ashamed of the services available to injured, disabled and traumatised soldiers coming back from service. I have been happy to follow some of the links and sign the British Legions petition for improved services. I considered the campaign against opening of the home for families of injured soldiers unpleasant and stupid. Again I reiterate, I support and respect all the armed forces.

So to the thread. I came across the thread by accident after a link to another story in The Scotsman newspaper. I was horrified to say the least. I appreciate the point of view that this is just humour but I strongly disagree with it. I know many disabled people who have the most amazing sense of humour about their own situation. One friend of mine does a hilarious piss take of his inability to light a fag due to his constantly shaking hands. I absolutely get the benefits of joking about terrible things that may all too realistically happen to you. This thread appeared to me however, to be something quite different. Many posters were discussing in great detail the possibilities of torturing and killing disable people. Some may find this a harmless joke, I reserve the right to disagree. In all jokes there is a line and I think on this thread the line was crossed by a long way. All communities have guidelines for acceptable behaviour. One of the guidelines ARRSE has is that it will not allow “Hardline extremist views and racism in particular”. One of the questions we asked was simply, do these detailed, gratuitous descriptions of torture and murder not count as “hardline extremist”, particularly given that some used explicit Nazi imagery? Equally, if the place in these threads was taken by say, a black person rather than a disabled person, they would have almost certainly not been allowed. We simply asked the question, why the difference? As Dave Hingsburger has pointed out, the abuse and torture of disabled people is an all too real phenomenon. I appreciate and understand the point of view that threads like this are harmless. However, I strongly disagree. Do I think the majority of the people posting these comments would harm a disabled person I real life, no I don’t. However, if just one person with a dangerous behaviour gets psyched up by engaging in this and harms someone, that is one person too much. Now of course, the internet is full of disturbing images and people and these can never realistically be removed. The question it seems to me though, is do the decent people of ARRSE really want their community used for this kind of thing? If they do fair enough, but I think you cannot be surprised if other people then wish to challenge this. It is worth noting, that neither I, nor anyone else, demanded the removal of the thread. We simply pointed out that we felt outraged by it and that it appeared to violate ARRSE’s own guidelines and asked what ARRSE might be willing to do about it.

And so to the petition, which I guess this thread is really about! The petition was set up to highlight our concerns, and to ask the military if they would take action against soldiers expressing such abhorrent views. Given that many of the comments would clearly be illegal if they were attributable (try sending a letter like some of the comments into your local newspaper for publication, I think it’s fair to say you would receive a police visit) I think it is not unreasonable that action be taken against such people if it were possible to do so. To protest about this is a perfectly reasonable right of anyone. It was however set up after initial dialogue with the administrator suggested they would take no action against the thread. This situation changed. Given that, I would be extremely happy to remove the petition but I don’t know how, I can see no way of doing it on the Downing Street website. If anyone can help with that, I will be very happy to remove the petition.

May I wish you well with your site and may I thank all the people who were willing to engage in sensible comments about this difficult subject.

Stephen Finlayson

jodders said...

For crying out loud! I am disabled and my husband is a soldier. I am also an ARRSE'r.
I followed the thread from the beginning and laughed so much i cried. I also posted on it too. I think my post consisted of a mong going over a cliff in a wheelchair as a new sport.
Before you start wringing your hands, i am wheelchair bound as my legs are ornamental use only.
People have different types of humour. Some have a black or sick humour that helps them to face whatever life throws at them.
It doesn't make them bad, its just their way of dealing with things.
Its a sad sad day when this political correctness crap makes poeple worried about something they say or write in case it causes screaming abdabs, which it appears to have done in your case.
I learned to laugh at myself and my disability, what right have you got to say that i am sick because of that?
Get a grip, get a life and for gods sake get some bloody common sense will you!

Dave Hingsburger said...

Jodders, thanks for the comment. We have discussed the issue of humour here so often that it isn't funny. So I'm going to leave that alone. Not that it matters or should enter into the discussion but I too am in a wheelchair and I know my legs are there because when I look down my knees peek out from underneath my gut. So all that means is that like other people, folks with disabilities are not a monolithic group, we have variation of opinion just like everyone else.

Did you know though, Jodders, that as a woman with a disability you are 8 times more likely to be a victim of a violent crime than a non-disabled woman? Did you know that if you were, god forbid, violently attacked your attacker will probably spend less time in jail than if he'd attacked a walking woman?

I work in a clinic with people with disabilities and over 90% of them have been raped, mostly raped by care providers - people who are supposed to be trustworthy. My disability has not affected me as much as 'walking' through the muck of lives ruined by violence.

So here we are two people with disabilities who disagree with each other. That's cool. You can freely and loudly disagree with me ... as you did. And I can disagree with you. That's what debate is all about.

Dave Hingsburger

Arrsess said...

Dave. H/Stephen. F,

I think the key lessons in this are 'to ask, then read and listen' which has now happened here, ended this issue in reasonable debate.

I can't help adding that had that happened in the first instance instead of the petition, letters, blogs, comments, assumptions and sitrred up feeling, this blog as well as the thread on ARRSE would not be a lengthy as it is now.

End.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Arrsess

I completely agree. This dialogue has been both passioned and purposeful. You have hit on several key points to be learned here. I promise you, I have paid attention.

I, too, hope this is the end.

Dave Hingsburger