“Test packets” are a computer thing. When one program’s trying to connect to another over a network, and they don’t know how the network is set up, or how it behaves, they send out “test packets”, echo-locating the shape of the communications channel that will work. And when a malicious program is trying to break in, it sends out test packets too, to probe for weaknesses.
And that’s it for computers here, I want to talk about the political climate of hate and fear that we’re currently stewing in.
And so onto two staggering little nuggets in Nigel Farage’s interview the other day, in the wake of Donald Trump’s win at the US Elections.
First, Farage painted a picture of Trump groping Theresa May when he first met her. He then went on to refer to Barack Obama as a “creature”.
Both of which strike me as totally unacceptable. Not because I need to loosen up or get a sense of humour (been there, got that, thanks), but because they encourage a climate of fear, discrimination, shaming and silencing. You can’t separate his quip about Trump and May from a broader warning to any woman attempting to hold a position of power or responsibility , that she’ll still just be seen as a sex object. And you can’t ignore the whole people-of-colour-as-subhuman subtext to his use of the word “creature”. You just can’t. He might look like a faded Mike Yarwood character and wear a camel car coat like your most embarrassing uncle’s, but he’s not a comedian. He’s a very serious, calculating politician, and these remarks were calculated.
They are test packets, dropped in to see how much of a kickback they’ll get, and how many more he will need to keep dropping before outrage fatigue sets in, and they start to be taken for normal.
Fighting against the normalisation of these views is hugely important right now. We have a lot to lose.