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Billy King


Nonviolence News


Billy King

Issue 146: February 2007

[Return to related issue of Nonviolent News]

….including the Adolf Awards

Well, last time I was speaking to you it was before Christmas and now it’s February, given mild weather flies time it well. The days are noticeably brighter in my neck of the woods by the end of January and that is great, days stretching themselves. The few frosty, clear days we’ve had until recently were more than usually welcome in indicating that global warming hasn’t won completely yet but, they’ve been far, far fewer then would be expected by standards of twenty, or even ten, years ago. And, as the models predict, we’ve had plenty of wind. Ochone, ochone, not chilled to the bone.

Neighbour-neighbour dispute
Nothing drives people up the wall so fast or so furiously as a dispute with their neighbour. There are a number of reasons for this; it’s always in your face, home is where you relax from the stresses and strains of the world outside, and you are used to a particular situation which a new neighbour, or an old neighbour who has changed something, has radically altered from your point of view. There is a certain amount of truth in the old adage that “Good fences make good neighbours” (as one handler of stolen goods said to another when they moved into the neighbourhood). Anyway, here’s a little apocryphal story about a neighbour-neighbour dispute. The mediator went out to do an initial assessment of a complaint and discovered the dispute was about a boundary where an old and wide hedge had been replaced by a new wooden fence. The old hedge had ‘hedged’ where the boundary was and the new fence was far too high, the complainant stated, but the main issue was where the fence posts were put; the complainant reckoned that they were a good two feet inside their property rather than on the boundary, or, as they should have been, actually on the fence erector’s property. The complainant would like a lower fence but they definitely wanted the fence posts moved back by almost a metre. The mediator doing the assessment bumped into a colleague later in the day, who asked how they got on with this neighbour-neighbour case: “It’s exactly like the Northern Ireland situation”, she said, “It’s a post conflict situation”.

They’re certainly a nuisance, deleting them by the barrow load, scam/’419’ e-mails that is. Most times the plot is entirely predictable (boring), and the subject title may be enough to know it’s for the bin. Occasionally one makes you look a second time. When I received one headed “OFFER FROM GOD ALMIGHTY” I had to laugh, though the rest was the usual dying widow wanting to donate a barrow load of money my direction. The Headitor received one about an engineer in South Africa with the same surname who left loads of lolly but no will, purporting to be trying to contact someone with the same surname who might be related; little did the scammer know that there are only half a dozen people in the world with that surname, which only came into existence less than three decades ago, and certainly none of them dead engineers in South Africa. But it was an example of a scam being specifically targeted at an individual. Another new one recently purporting to be from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was regarding contact ’I’ was meant to have had with the Central Bank of Nigeria about money from a third party; it warned that some ‘unscrupulous people’ were impersonating Central Bank of Nigeria officials so ‘I’ should only get in touch with the ‘real office’ of the bank, which they kindly provided. Some people go to so much trouble to be helpful….when they want to get their hands on your bank account details. As I have advised before, you can while away a fascinating hour or more, after a web search, looking at information about the scammers and those who take them on, some with even more ludicrous stories and demands before they can ‘give’ their bank details, which, of course, they never do.

Coming round the bend at Faslane
I accompanied the Norn Iron group to Faslane Trident missile base, half an hour’s drive north of Glasgow, back at the start of December; it’s the nearest nuclear weapons base to Ireland, pretty near in fact. One of Gene Sharp’s ‘198 varieties’ of nonviolent action is “Self exposure to the elements” and it certainly felt like that when a friend decided to sleep in a summer tent at the south gate and I joined them….the snow was on the hills and that there tarmac was cold and hard. And the second day it bucketed rain. But it was fascinating to see the Axes of Evil at work, not in any detailed, intimate way but simply the routinisation of gross and barbaric violence. Because that it what it is. It is not a ‘deterrent’, it’s an abhorrent. If it is not used it robs the people of the UK of money which could be used to fund the health service or help avoid global warming. A replacement would rob the people of the UK significantly more. Is the UK really going to unleash dozens of 18x Hiroshima somewhere? A ‘deterrent’ is only a potential ‘deterrent’ is the holders are prepared to use it (and the British nuclear deterrent is totally dependent on US targeting). Meanwhile everyone with aspirations to world power, or ‘deterrence’, wants one too.

Five of our number (Ann, Miriam, Mark, Mairead, Phil) were arrested for a lock-on lie down protest on the road and it was interesting to see the police at work with their cutters (which as far as I am aware, work by vibrations and only cut through hard objects so skin/flesh is safe). Most people in Scotland are against Trident though obviously there are also jobs at stake locally. The Strathclyde police were ‘doing their job’ but seemed genuinely friendly enough, even if fluffy is their policy. I did tease one officer that they were allowed help us take down our banners (draped over base signs and fences etc) but not put them up, and asked an inspector if I could go in with the bucket and mop I was wielding to “clean up Trident” (she said no). Being part of ‘Faslane 365’ was a privilege and I hope to go again – how’s about yourself? The weather will be getting better soon so a visit to Scotland might be just the ticket. “Oh flower of Scotland, when will we see your likes again, that stood against him, Tony Blair’s army, and sent him homeward, to think again”. That would be good but unfortunately Tony Blurr made up his mind a long time ago on a variety of subjects, including Trident replacement, and seems incapable of thinking again on anything, and his replacement by Brown this year, or whenever, will make no difference.

Adolf Awards 2007

Laddies and lassies, ladies and gentlemen, buoys and ghirls, cailíní agus buachaillí, we bring you, at vast expense, our nominations for the Adolf Awards ceremony of 2007, for Conspicuous Disservice to Peace. Our hand-picked [nose-picked? – Ed] team of experts (all of them were pert in their time) have been combing through the last year to see who was deservous of the highest accolades that we have to offer. In the North of this island, and elsewhere (cf Bono, Geldof, O’Reilly) some go for OBEs, CBEs and night hoods (these hoodies are dangerous), though – despite my ‘royal’ name - I personally wouldn’t want associated with the ‘British Empire’ (that’s what the ‘BE’ stands for). Meanwhile [very mean while – Ed] we have a variety of individual awards within our overall ‘Adolf Awards’, named, of course, after the most famous person in the 20th century to bear that name. So, without more ado, we proudly present our awards…….those listening in audio/stereo should turn down the volume to avoid ear damage from the drum roll!

Global Warmers (Emperor Nero) Award: The Irish and British Governments, the governments in the two jurisdictions on this island, for their pathetic response to global warming. The Irish government seems to think it is a matter of buying carbon credits, the British that a few pounds extra on air tax will make everything fine (Tony Blair thought it was fine for him to jet around the world as much as he liked because scientists will find an answer). Waiting on everyone else is not going to get it sorted.

Global Warmers (Head in the Clouds) Award: Michael O’Leary of Rian-Air for being so ebullient in avoiding the obvious, air travel sucks (lots of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere).

Brown Envelope Champion (Undefeated): Posthumous award to Charles J Haughey for going to his grave undefeated – discredited, yes – but, besides, with prices in the Republic you can’t buy much with the equivalent of €43 million anyway (the amount he is estimated to have accepted in bribes and ‘donations’)..

Prevaricator Procrastinator Award: Ian Paisley. Usually the recipient of our Political Dinosaur Award, this year Ian Paisley learnt to say ‘maybe’. If only he had learnt this basic five letter word four decades ago we might have been spared a significant amount of the violence in Northern Ireland since.

Traynor Award for Financial Wrecktitude: An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, whose propensity to write blank cheques (for one Charles J Haughey) was well publicised during the year. Or maybe he should just have received a ‘conservationist’ award for his saving in ink by leaving them blank?

Multinational of the Year: Shell, for trying to make shell-shocked mayo-nnaise of protesters against their explosive gas pipeline and terminal plans in Co Mayo (‘terminal’ for who?). Oh, (S)hell were backed up by the Garda ‘Síochana’ whose level of accountability for their gross over-reactions will hopefully one day approach that of the PSNI; some ‘good’ examples of how not to do policing.

The P. O’Neill Sunningdale for Slow Learners Award: To the IRA, better late (time) than late (dead). The loyalist paramilitiaries are proving even slower to learn where things are going.

Double Taxation Award (‘No taxation without misrepresentation’): The Norn Iron Office for introducing water charges, as an unannounced precursor to privatisation, in addition to existing local taxes (rates) which were also rising significantly for many.

Religious Knowledge Award (Advanced): To the good councillors of Belfast who never noticed during Tom Ekin’s mayoralty (2004-5) that ‘readings from scripture’ were from a variety of religions, not just Christian…..and no one twigged (the regulations only stipulated ‘scripture’ not ‘Christian scripture’).

‘Green’ (as in ignorant) Newspaper of the Year: The ‘Irish Times’ for running not one but two features in the run up to Christmas on shopping trips to New York, neither with any mention of the carbon cost.

Bush-Whacked Award: To the long-suffering people of Iraq, you deserved something better than carnage and civil war.

Saddam Hussein Martyrdom Award: Saddam Hussein himself, an executioner executed (he was killed to prove that killing people is wrong); his calm while being taunted in his last minutes of life probably won him more respect than anything he ever did.

Actor of the Year Award: Michael Stone, whose attempt to violently attack Sinn Féin members at Stormont was later defended in court as ‘street theatre’ – perhaps the old US term ‘guerrilla theater’ might have been more accurate. He also wins (jointly with some other loyalists and ‘dissident’ republicans) the Northern Ireland – Failure To Move On Award.

Sycophants of the Year Award: The News Letter, the Belfast Telegraph and other Northern media who portray Ian Paisley as an ‘elder statesman’ now that he is political top dog rather than as one of the primary powerhouses of the Troubles that he has been throughout.

The Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil Award: Bush and Blair had to get some award, didn’t they….you thought we were forgetting them. Particularly marks to George Bush for thinking that more of the same militarist policy that got everyone into such an appalling morass in Iraq would get him out. Bad idea, George.

Who is Billy King?
A long, long time ago, in a more innocent age (just talking about myself you understand), there were magazines called 'Dawn' and 'Dawn Train' and I had a back page column in these. Now the Headitor has asked me to come out from under the carpet to write a Cyberspace Column 'something people won't be able to put down' (I hope you're not carrying your monitor around with you).

Watch this. Cast a cold eye on life, on death, horseman pass by (because there'll almost certainly be very little about horses even if someone with a similar name is found astride them on gable ends around certain parts of Norn Iron).

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