Sunday, 17 February 2013

I'm as Mad as Hell


Network is a movie made in 1976 that features Peter Finch as Howard Beale, a deranged TV news anchorman.  In a sublime moment of madness Beale speaks to the nation at large, clearly striking a cord.  This is the wonderful “I’m as Mad as Hell”, rant;

We know things are bad — worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is: 'Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone.'

Well, I'm not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get MAD! I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot — I don't want you to write to your congressman, because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you've got to get mad. [shouting] You've got to say: 'I'm a human being, god-dammit! My life has value!'

So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell: I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!

I want you to get up right now. Sit up. Go to your windows. Open them and stick your head out and yell - 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not gonna take this anymore!' Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad!...You've got to say, I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE! Then we'll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first, get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!

Well, then, I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.  I was as mad as hell on Valentine’s Day, taking part in a One Billion Rising event in London’s Parliament Square.  One Billion Rising, if you’ve not heard of it - and lots of people have not - was a world-wide day of action intended to draw attention to the problem of sexual violence towards women and children across the globe.  The Billion in the title is intended to emphasise that one in three women will be raped or beaten in their lifetime, that’s approximately a billion human beings.



My first article of 2013 drew attention to the appalling rape case in India, where the victim was butchered as well as assaulted.  Sexual violence is an issue I feel strongly about, an issue that is simply not taken seriously enough by so many politicians, lawyers and judges, evidenced by the asinine comments of an applicant for a senior legal position in Indonesia, something else I drew attention to (Damming Daming, 27 January)

One Billion Rising, marked in 160 countries, was inspired by Eve Ensler, the American playwright responsible for The Vagina Monologues.  I should say that the day had no particular political overtones, and it was not specifically for women; for sexual violence concerns us all, men and women alike.  The inspiration for the day was Ensler’s outrage over the remark last year by Todd Aitkin, a politician of a particularly dense cast of mind (mind, what mind?) to the effect that some forms of rape could be defined as ‘legitimate.’ 

As I say, I was at the London gathering.  So, too, I’m delighted to say, was Bernard Jenkin, the Conservative MP for Harwich and North Essex, showing that campaigns of this kind are not simply the preserve of the political left.  He later explained his position in a blog on the Huffington Post;

Why did I go? Violence against women affects men. These women are our mothers, sisters, partners, daughters. No man would dismiss this campaign whose life has been touched by violence against someone he loves. But I went because men have to be part of this campaign. We cannot leave women to try fix this problem on their own. Men commit most of the violence. Men still run so many of the institutions - the police, the judges, the courts system - which historically were poor at addressing the causes of violence against women - or dealing humanely with the victims.

The central event of the Parliament Square gathering was the release of 109 balloons, a poignant occasion, each balloon marking the life of a woman lost to male violence in Britain last year alone.  That same day there was a debate in Parliament on the need for better sex and relationship education, something I personally feel passionate about.  The ‘zero tolerance approach to violence and abuse in relationships’ was approved without a vote. Unfortunately the government us still refusing to commit to definite measures here.  In my own way, from my own corner, I will keep pressing. I would rather speak than lapse into silence.

We simply can’t be silent.  This is an issue that won’t leave us alone.  We cannot or should not retreat into quietism, hoping for peace as the world gets tighter and tighter, drawing ever closer to our own thresholds.  We are all human beings and our life has value.  Time to stand and shout – I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.  

22 comments:

  1. Happy Valentine's Day from Indonesia, my dear !

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    1. Thanks for the greetings, my friend. I hope you are well.

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  2. All i can say is YES, ANA, YES. This is an issue that everybody needs to hear about. Because all violence should stop. As you said - WE ARE HUMAN BEINGS GOD DAMMIT.

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    1. Indeed so, Chante. You and I were united that day, the distance notwithstanding.

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  3. Don't get mad, get even.

    And a pistol.

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    1. I've already got a rifle and a shotgun. :-)

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    2. Ammunition for semi automatic weapons is in short supply in the U.S. right now as people are panic buying whatever is available.

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  4. The abuse of women and other social evils certainly need to be addressed and corrective measures implemented but this is a slow process that usually requires quite a few severe cases to get public attention or government action. Who said "I never saw a dame yet that didn't understand a slap in the face or a slug from a .45" ? or who coined the phrase " Bitch Slap"?

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    1. I don't know but this bitch would slap right back. :-)

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    2. 1: Humphrey Bogart in 'Casablanca'...2: see urban dictionary.

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    3. Wasn't that Mickey Spillane, speaking through his arch-misogynist character Mike Hammer? I never could finish one of the books; they're pretty bad.

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    4. Anthony, I've seen that. I don't remember that particular line!

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    5. Calvin, I've never read. I recently acquired a novel called No Orchids for Miss Blandish - as yet unread - by someone called James Hadley Chase, published originally in the 1930s. The only reason I did so was because it's discussed by George Orwell in an essay called Raffles and Miss Blandish, contrasting modern crime fiction with more traditional treatment. I was intrigued.

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    6. Anthony said:

      It was " Play it again, Sam" a film based on the film Casablanca.

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    7. Ah, yes, I've heard of that.

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  5. There are too many men who seem incapable of admitting that they are responsible for their actions. They and they alone make the choice, and no attempt to divert the blame onto women will change the fact they are admitting that they are incapable of self-control.

    I only had to tell the men I worked with in the army once, that if they laid a finger on me without my consent they would be singing soprano in the heavenly choir - the tragedy was I had to say it at all.

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    1. Michele, I thank God for women like you.

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  6. The cause to eradicate violence against women is not helped by a number of factors. The list of which is very long as it is for violence towards children and to each other. Humans appear to be naturally aggressive which can quite easily turn to violence and even to committing terrible atrocities. Even normally law abiding people can be persuaded to act violently under certain circumstances. So violence in any form is not something that can be tackled at all easily. The solution to the problem will only come with time and quite a long time at that as it is all down to societal improvements. In developed societies we have at least recognised that it is problem and are making some progress in addressing it albeit not nearly enough. In quite a few societies there is barely any recognition that it is a problem and some religions especially Islam promotes violence against women and non believers.

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    1. You are right, Antisthenes - there are no quick or easy fixes here. For me this kind of event at least marks a beginning, uniting women and men, regardless of politics or ideology, in a cause that should concern us all as human beings. Little by little, I will go.

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  7. Hullo Ana!

    Have just been browsing the posts here. Yes, some humans do seem to be inherently aggressive.

    The figures certainly do show women & children as the most likely victims. & with women in particular, this erodes the cornerstone of the family & therefor society as a whole.

    There do seem to be sections within a number of organised religions which clearly place women second in the overall scheme of things, but that is not the only issue here.

    I don't see violence against woman as being religion or sexually motivated. It's seems to me that it's always been about power.

    Education and equality is the answer.

    Cheers, ic

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    1. It's certainly a good beginning, Ian. It's great to see you here. :-)

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