My Milkshake Brings All The Bad Takes To The Yard

The internet loves a milkshake!

Until now, ‘milkshake duck’ has been shorthand for any popular cause that seemed on first appearance noble and worthy, but then turned out to be horribly flawed, named by twitter satirist and comicbook creator pixilatedboat for the apocryphal cute duck that everyone loves because it drinks milkshakes but then turns out to be appallingly racist. However, for the far right it now has come to mean, “Milkshake? Duck!”

It seems like we can’t get enough of throwing milkshakes at right wing campaigners recently. The first instance may have been simply due to a happy turn of circumstances, but the rest have fallen into place with more deliberation, leading to a branch of McDonalds close to a Nigel Farage rally displaying a sign stating that they had been advised by the police not to sell milkshakes or ice cream for the day. This may have said more about that branch than the local police, since I think those opposed to Farage’s principles are probably aware that other milkshake retailers are available – but is indicative of the prevalence of the new trend of dousing the right wing with dairy products.

There has been little sympathy in the press and online for the recipients of this spate of spattered protest, and there have been plenty of entertaining new hashtags around: #SplashTheFash #MilkshakeChallenge and #MilkshakesAgainstRacism in particular generating plenty of traffic.

The ire and aggression with which Tommy Robinson, Carl Benjamin and Nigel Farage have responded has drawn lots of attention too, with Robinson typically lashing out with his fists and Farage verbally turning on his bodyguard. It seems milkshake brings all the boys’ true characters to the yard, too.

There’s even been a false flag milkshaking on the day of the EU elections, with an elderly ex serviceman suddenly turning up in Piers Morgan’s twitter feed, having apparently been the victim of a cycle-by milkshaking, whilst he was innocently sat by a polling station wearing his Brexit Party rosette. The fact that there were no witnesses to this, that he refused to get cleaned up or change his shirt all day, and that on closer examination his shirt had been splodged with black cherry yoghurt, did the story no favours, however. His defenders quoting his service record as reason to not doubt his word enabled further research into his background, and then turned up the fact that said service record was anything but unblemished. A real next level milkshake duck, in many ways.

But the most interesting aspect of the milkshaking trend is the number of people on the left who, whilst happy to enjoy Nigel Farage being too intimidated to leave his bus because there are people with milkshakes in the crowd nearby, still say that they don’t really approve of milkshake throwing. They don’t feel it’s ever actually justified, tho, is it? They’re sorry, but they don’t really think it’s ok to throw milkshakes.

Well, I’m sorry, but I see your privilege showing. It’s ok to find it funny that Trump might be scared by a few McFlurrys when he visits, but you can’t see any validity to people being pushed into action to defend their own values? People are being arrested for this, and whilst no one expects celebs to actively encourage lawbreaking and ‘aggressive’ action, it’s possible to say that you understand the motivations and justifications underlying what people are doing. If you want to (ahem) milk the humour from the situation, then you need to acknowledge that people are risking prosecution and even jail over spilled milk, and are justified in doing so.

When Tommy Robinson comes to your town, to your street, because he thinks he can have your vote, when he wants to look you in the eye, then I think there is justification in making it very visibly clear that he is wrong, he is not welcome, and he’s the one who can go back where he came from. There’s a time when shouting and placards are not enough. And milkshake, fuck me if it isn’t the gentlest weapon around. It does the least physical harm for the greatest visual effect and the most social embarrassment. And haven’t the far right been using milk as a metaphor for the longest time, too? So why not actually throw that back in their faces, for real.

It’s easy to say that it’s not really justified, and it’s not actually very nice to ever resort to things like this when you’re not the person in the confrontation, and when there’s someone else out there who has to make that decision for you. You can keep the moral high ground by saying it shouldn’t happen, whilst feeling assured that someone else will have the principles to continue doing it anyway.

As a society, we have a rich history of hurling things to express our opinions. It was how audiences demonstrated what they thought of the latest play, and how people showed public officials what they thought of how they were doing their jobs. People have been doing this since Roman times, when the people of Hadrumetum pelted the future Emperor Vespasian with turnips for sending an unfair amount of their grain harvest to Rome. It’s been how we dispensed mob justice since the Middle Ages up until the nineteenth century, and it was an expected part of your punishment if you were sentenced to time in the stocks which could be days or even weeks – or the pillory, or if you were to otherwise be dragged or paraded through the streets as part of your sentence. People in the stocks would hope to have friends or relatives stood by protect them from the hail of hateful missiles flung by the eager crowds, and people in the pillory needed constables stationed around them for protection by the time this stopped being used as a punishment. It wasn’t just eggs and rotten tomatoes that were thrown, but heavier duty missiles like turnips and potatoes, pebbles, rocks and stones, plus worse things like urine, shit, and rancid offal, dead cats and rats. People frequently died.

Of course, that was no kind of justice. Hurling offal and rotten vegetables at children being paraded through the streets on their way to be hanged for stealing shillings or being malicious is no way for a healthy society to function, and it ultimately didn’t. Crime, poverty and rioting were rife, and massive injustices were commonplace. Reform came along with the enlightenment, and greater education meant that people who previously felt unheard found ways to speak out and make their stories heard. Greater democratisation of communication and active social justice means that we have many better ways for people at every level to say what they think and be listened to – even if it’s just about the latest book or play.

Still, there will always be times when people are pushed to demonstrate their dissatisfaction and even finally feel that they may have to break the law to make their point. But from the suffragettes throwing bricks through shop windows to throwing an egg at Ed Miliband, there are ways to do that without hurting anything more than property and maybe someone’s dignity whilst still trying to gain the greatest amount of attention for one’s cause.

But wait. If we’re throwing milkshakes at fascists in the streets today, what happens tomorrow? Won’t this lead to escalation!

Bear in mind that it’s not that long ago that Jo Cox lost her life whilst serving as an MP, senselessly shot down in the street. We’re the ones de-escalating the violence. This is the mildest possible response to fascism on our streets.

And it works. No one gets off the bus. Ultimately, one day soon, nothing will need to be thrown tomorrow, because the fascists won’t turn up. Everyone just drinks their milkshakes and goes home. The least people can do is respect the mildest and most calcium rich form of civil disobedience so far.

However, although Tommy Robinson, or Stephen Yaxley-Lennon as he is more correctly known, has been sent home to Luton with his tail between his legs, with barely a third of the votes needed to get even the last place of the eight MEP seats available in the North West, this isn’t over yet. Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, the party that’s been so secretive about its policies and manifesto, has still managed to pick up all of UKIP’s seats (which does lead one to wonder how concerned its voters are about things like policies or manifestos, never mind who’s funding their politicians…). The Conservative Party looks like it’s going to turn into a feeding frenzy, with new leadership contenders every day, who soon will outnumber the members if this carries on. All of them leaning slightly more right wing as time passes, from the looks of things, too. And the Labour Party? They still aren’t quite sure, are they? With a leader who still won’t make any concrete statements about anything, even though the time for doing so has long passed. Whilst the Lib Dems and Greens quietly gather up all the confused and dispirited voters, with ever-widening smiles.

We’re going to need plenty more of that fine milky goodness just to keep our strength up until October, at this rate. Make mine banana, darling. And you’d better make it a large one, too…

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Dilettante, lush, libertine. Hanger on & hanger around. Will write for food, booze, cash or faint praise. Cynical optimist. Follow me for more fun and frolics!

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S J Tamsett

S J Tamsett

Dilettante, lush, libertine. Hanger on & hanger around. Will write for food, booze, cash or faint praise. Cynical optimist. Follow me for more fun and frolics!

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