Let’s say that I’m in power and I announce that tomorrow, we’re going to have a vote. It’s called the ‘Free Stuff Referendum’ and it’s basically on whether bullying school children is going to be made an act that can’t be punished. Except I don’t call it that, because as well as promising that you could potentially now bully children without consequences, there would also be free chocolate/alcohol for everyone, every day…
Now, I’m lying about that part, but you really, really like chocolate/alcohol and you hear that part and you’re sold. (If you’re honest with yourself, you also suppose it might be alright to not have to be nice to your friend’s bratty kid anymore. What a bonus!). When people find out you voted to allow bullying, you tell them, “no, I didn’t, the vote was called the Free Stuff Referendum and it just happened to have that clause – I voted for free chocolate and alcohol, because that’s what makes me happy”. Besides, you say – “you can’t deny that YOU like chocolate and alcohol, too.”
When further pressed about how your choices will affect young victims, you can say, “yes, but I just wanted the chocolate/alcohol”. When told that part was a lie – propaganda, even, you say “I didn’t know that part was all false!” It doesn’t matter – you still put your name to something that would hurt other people’s lives on the off chance that you could get something you wanted that you never really cared about before (and could still obtain in other ways). You might have just not really looked into it, or maybe you did (you actually REALLY wanted to tell your friend’s kid she’s ugly, but not all kids, of course…). The consequences of your actions are inevitably selfish.
You’re protesting. Okay, fine. Let’s say you LITERALLY *just* wanted the free stuff, and you’re in agreement that bullying isn’t cool. The only way you can get your free stuff is to literally push your fellow humans under the bus, but you selfishly do it because YOU don’t know anyone who’s been bullied (and you won’t plan on bullying random people). Guess what? Most people like chocolate and/or alcohol, but not if it means hurting others to get it!
That’s how the referendum feels to me. You can dress it up how you want, but your cause inevitably stands for something evil at its core. In this case, say you just thought the EU was bad for us economically. That’s a valid reason in itself, right? Well… I’m not sure the people whose lives have been ruined over this would agree. If I invented the best economical plan ever as a mask for bringing in a law that allows bullying, I’d hope most people wouldn’t go for it. And yet that’s literally what has happened here, despite evidence to the contrary that the economical benefits that the ‘Leave’ club claimed were even that good in the first place.
If you voted for a law that allowed bullying just to get free stuff, I hope you’d understand when I questioned your morality. It’s not generalising, it’s just that you as a person have just voted for something I find immoral. Therefore, I find *you* in your particular action immoral. It’s not lacking compassion to group all the pro-bullying people together… because you LITERALLY put your name to something which I find hurtful and offensive. ALL OF YOU. It’s in the very nature of voting. It’s not randomly stereotyping to hold you accountable for views you ACTUALLY hold, or indirectly support.
That’s how I feel on this one. You might have had other reasons, but I find xenophobia to be immoral. Therefore I find a campaign which has been based off the back of it (or at least exploited such views) to be immoral. Therefore, I find people who’ve ticked a box saying “yes, actually, I will endorse such immorality by saying it’s okay so I get what I want”, to be immoral. It’s not that much of a leap to make, and it’s not equally offensive in the slightest to call you out for your decisions. For YOUR lack of compassion, whether conscious or not. Worse still, some actual bullies have been able to put their bullying ahead of the country’s own best interests.
It doesn’t mean I hate you. I’m not going to scream in your face, belittle you personally, or make you feel bad unprovoked, but I’m sure as HELL going to make my views known. This isn’t me preaching hate or division, it’s actually me speaking out against it – hate that was integral to the Leave campaign. Just because that’s not what it meant to you, doesn’t mean it wasn’t a key part of it, that you’ve now enabled and helped ruin lives as a result.
It is a moral conundrum for me to voice these views because we have democracy for a reason. As a liberal, I pride myself in being open-minded, respectful and tolerant of freedom of choice, providing you do not hurt others. In this case, I speak out because it has hurt others.
I feel both sides misled the public somewhat. However, given that many of the electorate now seem confused about what they actually voted for, I think this has been very underhanded. I do not wish to unduly hurt people in the process. I have seen enough tears over this that I want to minimise that. But, to go back to my bullying analogy, if someone called me names all day long and it hurt my feelings so I eventually called them a bully, and that then hurt their feelings, that doesn’t make me just as bad.
Some things probably just shouldn’t be put to public vote. It’s not a whimsical decision, like the X Factor. There are simply too many variables, and too many lives at stake.