Beheading the Archbishop of Banterbury with the righteous sword of shouty, poetic activism

Saturday, 6 June 2015


It's the freedom of speech
of parents slagging off teachers,
the freedom of speech
of homophobic street preachers,
rich white men who call disabled people leeches, 
making me ask
just who the fuck is free speech for?
Because it seems like it's free speech
to say 'slope' and 'pikey',
but if I say 'kill all men'
I'm not behaving very nicely?
It seems like it's free speech
to support the Paris satirists, 
because freedom of speech
must mean the right to be offensive,
but it isn't free speech
if somebody burns a poppy,
because that's an act of sacrilege, 
an insult to the squaddies?
We've got a PM who's so venal
that he's even worse than Blair,
a Chief Judge who's a racist
and a Voltaire-quoting Mayor
who once asked one of his posh-boy mates
to beat a journo up,
but Jeremy's a Free Speech Hero,
and the blow he struck
should be a shot heard 'round the world
- so says some guy called Guido, 
who doesn't care that Thatcher's cabinet
was full of
men of questionable character, 
but wants to march to Parliament
and bravely take a stand
for the right of millionaires to punch their fellow man!
Because what does it matter if a coworker gets twatted
because a spoiled old sports car bore is absolutely ratted?
The principle's the thing, you see,
the principle is this:
any man who's white and cis and adequately rich
should NEVER face the consequence
of what they do when pissed!
That's why girls who wind up raped
by soccer stars are 'asking for it',
that's why women who say we've been victimised are 'basking in it',
that's why men on stag nights gas
that every lass is 'gaggin for it',
that's why sports presenters
chuckle about 'smashing it in',
this is not about one punch,
this is about the PATRIARCHY:
rule by rich old white cis men
who get away with murder
by distracting you with pictures
of a woman in a burqa
or a miniskirt, or anything
a camera lens can police,
because a woman's clothes
are evidently not protected speech
when what we wear can be the difference
of conviction and acquittal
on the basis that rape's fated
if we're wearing very little, 
and if we've been drinking - baby,
what did you let yourself in for?
You can't claim you've not consented
now we know you had a skinful!

Listen: do the maths, my love,
you'll find it's really simple:
woman PLUS drink MINUS clothes, 
you deserved it;
man PLUS money PLUS white
EQUALS impervious.

Look at his FUCKING FACE

My show's non-poem text mentions the Clarkson furore and the ensuing petition as a key example of Banter Culture, and then goes straight into a poem about...the EDL. Now, while I'm pretty sure the Venn diagram between Jeremy Clarkson fans and neo-fascists is as close to one circle as you can possibly get, it seemed to me that I probably needed to write a poem that would serve as a segue and - so far, I still think it needs a few shades of shit kicked out of it in the editing stage - this is it. I'm not entirely happy with it yet, but I think this is partly because my current approach to writing poetry leans more towards the kind of dark, taut stuff I've recently been writing for my non-show blog rather than the kind of prophetic ranting that makes up Howl of the Bantee. So to achieve that tone I need to do a certain amount of writing myself into it - I think this really hits its stride when I stop talking about Clarkson per se and actually go off on one about rape culture. I'm actually really pleased with everything from the sixth stanza onward, but less sure about the rhetorical gymnastics it takes to get there. And, of course, I'm not really any further forward in how we get from this to the EDL...

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