Last week, I was heading out to see one of my kids. I made my way down the steps and saw my colleagues from another team whispering & chuckling. I said “Hey, what’s up?” as I made my way toward the front door. The 3 women chimed in:
“There’s a man out there with a megaphone. He’s basically saying, in a nice & intelligent way, that our (social care) council ain’t shit.”
“He does this every year, at least once per year. He’s been doing this for many years. He’s mad that the council took his children away from him.”
“He sexually abused his children; that’s why social services took them away.”
*record scratch* *REWIND*
I said “He did WHAT???!?!? Why is he out here then, saying that social services isn’t shit? He brought this on himself!”
2 of the women said, “Eh. We’re used to it. But be careful….. He may approach you and talk to you through the megaphone since you’re part of the ‘system’.”
Dammit. That was the last thing I needed. No matter which exit I left through, all exits lead to the main exit….. which is exactly where the man was standing with his megaphone. While he wasn’t within the gates, being outside of the gates and having to walk through them to get to where I had to go would’ve been a pain in the ass anyway. I don’t drive here, so I couldn’t even escape in a car. So I did what I thought was best:
I laughed at & watched him right along with my colleagues. Childish, I know. But he’s a pedophile. I’ll laugh as much as I want. I’m actually surprised that he’s even walking the streets; he needs life in prison, in my opinion. (The United Kingdom’s justice system is another rant for another day.) He finished a few minutes later and I got a chance to leave the building to see my kid & their family.
One thing I appreciate about living here is the protests. Protests in this country are a way of life; protests are like breathing – done without even thinking about whether they should do it or not. There are a few people here I’ve talked to that consider the protests somewhat of a nuisance, which is understandable because big protests can have as many as thousands of attendees, blocking businesses & streets & peace/quiet. And sometimes, even under the best circumstances, there are always a few hooligans who fuck up what would’ve been a 100% peaceful protest. But overall based on my conversations, Britons seem used to and/or fine with it.
As an aside: In the above link, it states that there were 250,000 protesters; other estimates place the number at 500,000, which sounds correct to me because of what I’ll call the “protest culture”. I actually caught the tail end of that particular protest while on the way to meet with a new friend for lunch and it was orderly & peaceful; it was later that night that the hooligans (thank goodness there were only a couple hundred out of 500,000) vandalized businesses, started shit with the police & caused arrests. Here’s what I caught pre-hooligans:
Back to the point I’m trying to make. I appreciate the protests here because it shows me that people are willing to fight for their rights. Back at home, aside from an unusual burst of fighting spirit every once in a blue moon that leads to (a) protest(s), such as those in Wisconsin that make me feel like a proud American, protests don’t often happen at home. I think people have gotten apathetic & more survival-focused, which is understandable in this day & age and bottomless pit economy. But at what point do Americans say “We’re mad as hell and we’re not gonna take it anymore!”, like citizens of the United Kingdom so often do? At what point will Americans tire of the oligarchy?
So while I think it’s despicable & disgusting that a father who sexually abused his children has the unmitigated gall to protest in front of a social services building (or anywhere else for that matter), I can appreciate the overall “protest culture” and fighting spirit that makes Britons as ridiculous as they are prim & proper. Keep using the megaphone, United Kingdom.
P.S. While you’re at it, check out my fellow expatriate Kass’s blog entry on the same subject.
P.P.S. As I type at this very moment, BBC news is reporting a segment about groups of people who are planning to boycott the Royal Wedding. I love it.