The Brian Haw Effect

Image Credit : Haris Artemis

Whenever I am in the Westminster area of London, I try to make time to go and sit awhile with Brian Haw at his Peace Camp opposite the Houses of Parliament.

The juxtaposition of ragged ad hoc unspun protest shrine facing the ornate Gothic seat of power carries an enormous significance, not only for me, but thousands of activists and tourists and peaceloving citizens.

Brian must be the most photographed and sought-after person in London. He is an icon, alongside Tower Bridge and Buckingham Palace.

The last time I saw him, a woman who was talking with him became upset. I stepped in to offer her a listening space. She was visibly shaking, because she felt that Brian had been blunt and negative with her. She said, “he’s damaging your cause. He should be more tolerant and openminded.”

I suggested to her that Brian has suffered a lot of personal attacks, and brutal Police and State interference in his campaign, and has effectively been a homeless rough sleeper for eight years, with all that that entails, so sometimes he doesn’t function “optimally” for everybody else’s liking.

Why should peace and justice campaigners be expected to be perfect ? Why should Climate Change activists stay cool ? There are times when deliberate antagonism will get to each and every one of us. There are always going to be times when Climate Change deniers irritate, annoy and frustrate. Why should Climate Change scientists be expected to respond patiently to timewasters, shock jocks and filibusters ?

There are times when personally, I get to the point where I’ve had enough of “denial behaviour”. Other people counsel, “leave the sceptics alone. They’re not worth your time. Don’t give them any more oxygen of publicity.” But sometimes, I just want to put an end to the scathing, cynical, delaying tactics. Sometimes, like everyone, like Brian Haw, I can’t help reacting in a way that others consider undiplomatic.

I think I should be allowed a right of reply, the right to protest.

To me, Climate Change deniers are apparently bitter, mostly men, who are past their offical careers, or funded by special interests. They often seem to be people without training in the physical sciences, in which case they can’t understand what they are trying to bring down. They seem to feed on constructing and then attacking a false projection, and then seem to engage in propaganda to drag other people into their surreal, outraged world.

The younger the Climate Change deniers are, the more likely they are to be jokers, in my view; people who know nothing about what they are railing against, but doing it all the same for some kind of thrill. The arguments used often rely on emotional manipulation from my viewpoint, and my opinion is they make unwarranted attacks on organisations, governments and individuals who are doing their best to get the science and policy right.

Why should Climate Change deniers be permitted to infect the Media, on television, in print and online ? They say they seek “debate”, but in my view what they achieve is “de-stabilise”. They appear to want to “divide and rule” the population, and thereby prevent effective action on Climate Change.

As a result, after over 20 years of this old-school Media “backbiting”, there are many ordinary people, Media consumers, who, not being able to distinguish truth from fiction, because they haven’t read the source texts, carry enormous venom against Climate Change scientists, campaigns, activists and writers.

It is true that any enacted policy on Climate Change is going to be a vote loser – but we have to “bite the bullet”, knuckle down, to a Carbon reduction regime, a national Carbon budget, sooner or later. There is no avoiding it. It is time the Media stopped being so divisive on this most important of matters – the existential crisis of the ongoing worsening Earth habitat.

My challenge is to all the journalists and owners of printed, electronic and broadcast media : rein in your Climate Change sceptics, and ditch your editorial Climate Change scepticism.

There will be Zero Carbon in our time, and you are responsible, along with the rest of us, for making this transition peaceful.

I will not apologise for being annoying – there needs to be change in the Media, and whoever reads this is partly responsible for making that happen.

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