Be Careful Who You Mock

Okay, I may as well say it straight away. I am going to say something about the European Union, and I may as well spill the beans: I am not an impartial observer. My father came fleeing in a boat when he was not much older than Alan.

I am the product of him and a woman he met in his new country. In my desk drawer is a knife from a German working camp, which was the only thing – except for the clothes on his back – my grandfather brought with him when he was finally reunited with his family after the war. Today I use it to cut my apples. The second world war is very much alive for me, and so is the United Nations, the European Union, born in the wake of the war along with all the dreams and hopes of peace and collaboration they stand for. So yes, the Brexit makes me sad. Very sad. And as an expat in the UK, it will affect me, I’m sure. In no way am I an impartial observer in what  write here.

Personally, I can feel sad that the British, who after all share a history of war similar to mine, no longer share the same dream of collaboration. I can even feel angry sometimes. But I cannot critize the decision. However, I do feel there is reason to turn a critical eye towards the European Union and their marketing department, as well as towards media and how they choose to tell their stories. Luckily, thanks to another large collaboration project, the Internet, media companies are no longer the only one’s with a voice.

Not long ago a rumor circulated that Sweden would no longer be allowed to call the traditional spirit Glögg my its name. The rumors were unsubstantiated. The history of the European Union has been followed by similar scare-stories, many of them turned out to be a hoax or a misinterpretation. A misinterpretation that was nevertheless echoed loadly in the media before the much more modest correction was published. After Brexit, it has turned out that many of the arguments presented to the voters were in fact based on incorrect information. In a democracy, the power is with the people. But how can the people in power make a correct, intelligent and well informed decision if it is not fed correct information?

Stories of regulations that defy the common sense have circulated throughout the history of the EU, and are now termed Euromyths. Stories ranging from overzealous size and shape restrictions on fruit and vegetables to the forced renaming, rebranding or banning of certain local products.

Of course, these news makes for great headlines with a humouristic twist. Somehow, it does not seem so funny anymore. Luckily, the cucumber stories are not yet half as funny as the Hippler images. But of course, Nigel Farage lands the message not far from it.

Yep, that’s right guys. That’s me, the third guy from the right in the 17th row, coming to you my fellow British, to live and work and take salary away from my employer and deposit it with the tax office and the health service and the pension scheme. Secretly plotting to start a family and slowly, organically, taking over the country in a threatening horde of mixed background english-speaking babies.

Media likes to mock the sitting office and that is of course also their task to review and question and critizise. It is easy to poke finger at the highest power. No one likes someone who bullies the weak, the minority or the impaired. The Power is free game. But media, please do not forget that in a democracy, the power is really always with the people, and you are the ones forging the weapons. If a message of contempt and ill favor and ridcule is repeated without balance, it may feed not only a disregard for the party in office, but a contempt for the whole system it builds on. In the end, this paves the path to power for parties and people who openly question the democartic system they use to get there. We have seen it historically in Europe before what we hope will be the last great war, and we see it today displayed in front of cameras soon on daily basis.

In a media society, exposure is a currency worth more than the kind issued by any bank. Unfortunately, bad exposure is so much more potent than good. It is exploted by terrorists of many kinds.

I would ask you who make a mockery of the institution you live under to ask yourselves why you do it. Do you truly believe you are creating something better, or is the motivation simply a cheap attempt at five minute fame?

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