I have made a definite effort to put away my soapbox so far this year. I realise that in the past I have said that ranting is good for the soul - and it is. The only problem is that people begin to regard you as a moaning old git – well in my case anyway.
While I may be quite amusing, I fear that the image I want to portray isn’t the one I intended. As a result I have popped my soapbox into storage for a while.
Now, however, I want to dust it off and have a good rant, inspired by recent news items over the last few years.
The target of my rant is nutters and extremists.
I have views and beliefs and regular readers will know exactly what pushes my buttons. For example, on this very blog I urge people to listen to hard rock and heavy metal because, in my opinion, it is absolutely worth it.
But I draw a line and stand firmly behind it.
I do not force people to listen to my music or threaten to inflict physical harm on those who disagree with my tastes. I do not kidnap people, tie them up and blast them with Judas Priest songs in an attempt to brainwash them into accepting and embracing my musical taste.
Mrs PM might disagree with this because I do tend to put my music on quite loudly sometimes. Nevertheless she has the power to:
(a) Go into another room.
(b) Go out.
(c) Punch me repeatedly until I turn off my music or put on something more tasteful.
(d) Set Liquorice the hellcat on me.
(e) Put on her dreadful music and drive me into submission.
I would not walk up to a lover of boy band music, a personal hatred of mine, and physically assault them – or worse - because of their taste in music.
The reason is obvious.
I am not an extremist.
I am not a nutter.
When I see crimes committed in the name of religion, skin colour, political beliefs, your choice of football team, the colour of the shirt you're wearing or the location of your home, I am filled with anger and sadness.
What right have these people to try to inflict their views on normal everyday people like you and I?
In Britain today our society is being slowly poisoned by extreme views from all sides and each time I see people trying to justify their beliefs and force others into the same beliefs it makes me so mad.
The majority of people in the world are passive folks who just want to live their lives in peace and harmony. Despite this, nutters the world over explode bombs, commit murder or attack people just because their appearance, beliefs and general outlook on life simply do not match the extremists' warped ideals.
Why should I listen to a bunch of nutters who want to reinforce their views with violence? Will a gathering of psychopaths in London who invariably end up clashing violently with nutters from the other side of the fence with the police in between make me change my opinions to match extremist views?
In a word – NO!
So why should we all have to put up with it?
A comedian once suggested that we should round up all these extremist nutters, ship them to an island and let them fight it out among themselves, leaving the rest of us to live our lives in peace. And while it was a bit of a joke, I personally would love something like that to happen.
Just imagine for a second a bunch of football hooligans. Most football fans, myself included, enjoy a decent football match and all of the banter between fans of opposing clubs. Many years ago, I went to see my favourite team, Walsall, play Portsmouth. There were so many Portsmouth fans that a few of them had to mingle with the Walsall fans and I found myself standing next to a young Portsmouth fan about my age. I thoroughly enjoyed the game (it finished 1-1) because throughout the 90 minutes, we exchanged witty banter about the game and our respective teams. There was no malice and no threats of violence and we parted with a handshake and a jovial pat on the back.
That’s the way it should be.
You may have seen documentaries about football hooligans on TV where so-called “firms” arrange to meet and kick seven colours of shit out of each other simply because one side supports Chelsea and the other side supports Millwall.
The football fan analogy is fairly accurate. Most football fans are, like myself, peaceful lovers of the game who want to watch a good match and have a bit of fun at the expense of the opposition. I live and work in Manchester and the rivalry between Manchester City and Manchester United is legendary. Yet at work, fans of Manchester United and Manchester City exchange witty banter without the need to beat each other up. That's because they are normal and not extreme in any way.
Yet there is small minority of people who feel the need to attack fans of other teams and totally spoil it for the rest of us.
Why? What will it achieve?
These guys are extremist nutters and it is the same no matter which sections of society they belong to and they seem to thrive on violence even when it leads to war, which in some cases it does.
They spoil it for everybody else, inflicting violence on innocent people who just want to exist in peace and harmony and put lives at risk.
We can never have world peace and the passive lives most normal people crave with these idiots and psychopaths trying to destroy everything.
It is said that many a true word is spoken in jest and maybe the comedian’s idea of extracting extremists from our society and exiling them all on a large uninhabited island with the hope that they ruin each other’s lives isn’t such a bad one after all.
I shall now step down from my soapbox and pop it back in the cupboard to gather dust again.
In the meantime, while I may joke about not forcing my musical taste on you, dear reader, I suggest you have a listen to this little beautiful mellow piece of progressive rock from Steven Wilson. The video is very poignant and it is a lovely song – called The Raven That Refused To Sing:
Don’t worry – listening and watching is optional and I won’t come around your house with a large blunt instrument if you choose not to listen to it or, for reasons beyond my comprehension, actually don’t like it.
All it means is that I have better musical taste than you do.
Of course – I’m only kidding.