So I spent most of today waiting for the guys I work with to start a conversation with ‘did you see that show ‘Skint’ last night?’. Waiting because I knew that when they did, it would be to gang up in comfortable, communal condemnation of the people on that programme, which I haven’t watched, but know all about because I was on Twitter during the time it was on air. Some of the people I follow were retweeting some of the tweets using the #skint hashtag. Things like this
‘That whole area that’s on
#skint wants burning to the ground’
#skint please kill them all’
‘These people should be chemically castrated. Like dogs.
‘Want to slap that woman silly on
#skint moaning about the government stopping her benefits… GET A JOB YOU UGLY BITCH’
#Skint programme is horrendous. These people need putting down. They’re just breeding more scum.’
‘Hitler was right! Gas chambers for the poor
#skint everyone who doesn’t work should be killed’
I could go on but you get the picture, right? Channel 4 paraded these unfortunates in front of us, lined them up in stocks ready for us to throw rotten fruit at and piss on. And Britain queued up to take a kick. I mean there were hundreds of these people, saying such things, alternately laughing at, fearing and hating the folk on this show. The poor are a publicly acceptable target. It’s ok to say that you think they should all be kicked out of their houses, their children made homeless, that they should have to sell all their possessions to feed their children, that they should be shot, that they disgust you, that they are to blame for everything that’s wrong in the country, that if you had your way they’d be off to the gas chambers. You can say these things. Programmes like Skint and articles in the Sun and the Daily Mail encourage it, with a steady poisonous drip of ‘look at what these ungrateful poor bastards have got. And you’re paying for it!’. They never really try to balance it with any explanation of why people end up addicted to heroin, or the vicious circle of long-term unemployment, or the vanishingly small number of vacancies in some areas, or the mountainous challenges facing single parents or the disabled trying to find work.
So anyway I managed to miss the inevitable discussion at work about it (I know they watch it, and I know their opinions on it, because they had the same conversation last week. Not quite as murderous as some of the tweets, but in the same vein). Maybe they had it while I was out for lunch. Hopefully they won’t have it tomorrow, because I’m going to find it hard not to call them out and have a stand-up row about it if they try. It’s not long since I was a dirty lazy benefits-scrounging single mum sitting on my arse all day at their expense myself, and all this talk of gas chambers and scum breeding is just too close to home.