It is very hard for me to march and attend rallies. It's hard to explain how hard it is for my head to cope with the noise and crowds and the fact that 56 hours later I have not recovered from being there. For me to attend such an event and stand up for equality, fraternity and liberty and all those nice things is a big sacrifice.
I would still want to attend. Because there are things I believe in that trump the difficulties of being the owner of my lovely little autistic brain - and the shaking and tears and pain I've had the last couple of evenings as a pretty direct result of putting myself through the event.
But I am not going to attend. My conscience is such that I must in future stay away from them unless things change.
See if you can spot why I can no longer attend these rallies. Clue: It comes about 1 minute into this video: https://vimeo.com/184366522
Newcastle Unites, "a broad coalition of the left" have shared the video on Facebook. It's called "The English Defence League v Newcastle Unites." A great title for a football match.
Answer: The call for people to commit suicide.
I cannot be associated with that. Ever. It's evil.
I don't care who the people are. I don't care what they say. I don't care what they have done. It doesn't matter. Shouting at them to commit suicide is never justified. Never.
I am rubbish at social initiation. But I did it on this occasion. Telling them just how vile the chant is. The response I got was, "Well they say bad things so we can too." I felt physically sickened by that response.
Others disliked that chant too. But there it is in the video as if this is something that supposedly nice people should be proud of. It isn't. Newcastle Unites should be profoundly ashamed that such things happen on their watch. Not proud. Ashamed.
Other chants distress me too:
Calling people scum. Yeah, they might be wrong, they might be racist. But is anyone scum?
Saying they're "our streets." Er, no. They're everyone's streets. Because we live in a free society. This isn't some gang warfare, Jets versus Sharks. This is a call for unity, for the celebration of the dignity of all human beings.
So yeah, no more marches and rallies for me unless I can be assured that this awfulness can be consigned to the dustbin of shame where it belongs.
I strongly dislike the English Defence League and the things they believe and proclaim. I believe their brand of racism, like any other brand of racism, is cruel, ignorant and inhuman. Earlier today I watched the video the EDL produced of their rally. The ignorance is plain. The hatred is plain. The fear of other people is plain.
Some of their members even proclaim these things while carrying banners claiming to be "Christian" defenders. I'm not sure they had read the parts of the Bible about how to treat the alien in your land. Or the parts of the Bible in which Jesus - an interesting middle Eastern guy whose family were forced to seek sanctuary in a foreign land - talked about love and mercy.
Yes. I'd love to see every member of the EDL give up their ways and wear nice "Refugees Welcome" badges. It would be wonderful.
I am proud that I stand, as much as my head and variable abilities allow, against the hatred and racism that organisations such as the EDL churn out.
But. I am ashamed to have walked in a parade and stood at a rally where the encouragement was given for those members to commit suicide, to shoot themselves.
I am ashamed.
And I won't be doing it any more.