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.