deportation protesters

There are many things wrong with the recent mass-deportation to Jamaica.

Recently ex-Chancellor Sajid Javid said: ‘We will always do what we can to protect the public. These are all foreign national offenders – they have all received custodial sentences of 12 months or more. They are responsible for crimes like manslaughter, rape, dealing in class A drugs.’

In a previous deportation to Jamaica last year, he’d also claimed that all deportees were convicted of ‘very serious crimes… like rape and murder, firearms offences and drug-trafficking.’ The article continues: ‘But the Home Office said on Wednesday that of the 29 people deported, just one had been found guilty of murder, while 14 had been convicted [f]or drug offences and one was jailed for dangerous driving.’

Similar patterns with the recent case, as the Morning Star reported leading up to the flight:

[A] man who has lived in Britain since he was 11 is set to be separated from his wife and baby daughter when deported on a charter flight to Jamaica tomorrow.

Reshawn Davis, 30, was detained on Friday and told he would be deported on the second charter flight to the Caribbean island since the Windrush scandal two years ago.

Fifty people are set to be on the flight after serving time for various crimes, the Star reported over the weekend. […]

Mr Davis is being removed from the country on the basis that he was convicted for robbery 10 years ago under the now unlawful “joint enterprise” rule — for which he spent two months in prison — according to the Independent.

He lives with his British wife Tonique Kerr and six-month-old daughter in London and has not committed any crime since his conviction.

The Home Office said that it did not believe his family ties were strong enough to warrant him continuing to live in Britain.

Mr Davis said he is terrified at the possibility of being taken away to Jamaica, where he has not been for nearly 20 years. […]

Shadow immigration secretary Bell Ribiero-Addy had told the Star when the charter flight was announced that people scheduled to be removed are “facing a triple punishment” that “would not be applied to their white peers — sentencing, detention and deportation.” […]

A draft copy of the Windrush Lessons Learned report, leaked to the media on Thursday, said ministers should consider ending the practice of deporting people who arrived in Britain as children.

A fellow blogger quotes Malorie Blackman: ‘As S[h]amima Begum has been stripped of her British citizenship despite being born here, if I refuse to pay my council tax or knock someone over – God forbid – and get done for manslaughter, will I then be deported as my mum was born in Barbados? When exactly did I become ‘temporarily British’?’

That someone like Mr Davis who has done their time, not re-offended, and now has a family here can be ejected elsewhere on a flimsy pretext of public safety should be concerning – exactly the sort of thing most people who complain about  ‘big government’ should but won’t be bothered about.

Members of the cabinet are guilty of drug offences, but their right to remain in the country won’t be in doubt. White British ex-cons – reformed or not, violent crime or not – won’t be separated from their families. You see, people are only such a threat to public safety if they can be made another public’s problem, which in turn justifies doing so. If all murderers and rapists were threats to public safety, not just deportable ones, then we’d have to fund probation services and other things that actually help – and extradite Prince Andrew for questioning!

(By the way, I’m not doing the lame thing of saying Gove, etc, should be punished for doing coke. Decriminalisation is still correct, but we can all see that there’s a hypocrisy around who does/n’t get criminalised, rooted in racial bias and elite power.)

In Rees-Mogg’s time – before he fell through that wormhole – hungry-bread-thieves and other vicious fiends could be shipped off to Australia in a neat imperialist double-whammy. These days all the viable landmasses are claimed by recognised states, which makes implementing systemic racism more complicated.

Writing Altered States

drinking in bar

Something I come back to sometimes in my writing, for some reason, is altered mental states and related topics. Drugs are an obvious example, but this can also be relevant to magic and a wide range of other possibilities. If your character just lost a limb in a sword fight, they’re not in their usual state of mind.

I wrote a story in uni about a rocket scientist microdosing LSD. My WIP features some drinking, a fictional opiate, and the state in which mages access magic. I recently wrote a story about a lich in Magicholics Anonymous.

If you want to show your characters drunk, on something, or affected through other means, here are some thoughts on how to address that.

Do your research

There’s a good chance you already know how alcohol works (if not, information will be easy to get). Beyond that, you can find reports on what various substances are like in places like r/Psychonaut, r/Drugs, and affiliated subreddits. The YouTuber Cg Kid has apparently taken everything, and candidly describes both the experience and the dark side.

Similarly, you can look up weird meditative and spiritual experiences, sleep deprivation, shock, the effects of solitary confinement, whatever else the plot requires.

The impressions given in general media tend not to be as subjectively in-depth or accurate as what you’ll get from resources like above, though any source has its bias. Marijuana in films and TV has often been made to look like a psychedelic for some reason, and LSD visuals may be more subtle than the stereotypical imagery.

If you’re making a fictional substance, bear these categories and examples in mind:

  • Depressant: alcohol, marijuana.

  • Stimulant: caffeine, cocaine, meth.

  • Opiate: morphine, heroin.

  • Psychedelic: LSD, DMT.

  • Dissociative: ketamine.

  • Deliriant: datura.

Fight the purple

It’s very easy to slip into purple prose if your character has dropped DMT, or is meeting with an entity from another plane of existence to negotiate a pact.

Overwrought similes and metaphors can just be confusing word salad. Don’t be afraid to do a bit of telling, or trim down some of the detail and give readers space to picture it themselves. If you’re being metaphorical, base the metaphor in relatable physical things so the reader has something solid they can hitch their imagination to.

For example, it’s much better to describe an opiate as a warm, heavy blanket than to write a paragraph about thoughts going quiet.

Down-to-earth details

Well-chosen details, particularly physical, can add great realism and nuance while fighting purpleness. Infinite Jest does this well, including things like itching behind the eyes, saliva, a clinical taste after injecting which addicts end up associating with the high, and so on.

Bringing in the five senses, and mentioning side-effects in a non-didactic way, are ways to make something outside most people’s experience much more real, showing you didn’t just skim the opening sentence of the wikipedia page, while avoiding an excessively rose-tinted stance.

Use external behaviour – what they say, how they move, how they interact. You can write a drunk character without a single word about how they feel.

Use the contrast

Don’t focus solely on how the character feels inside.

This is an opportunity to reveal new facets of your characters, to make them lighten up or to make them get reflective. Show a talkative character drawn into themselves, exposing hidden depths; or a normally careful character losing their inhibitions to explosive effect. Show a seasoned commander unresponsive, a background follower recklessly leading the charge.

Contrasting with the way they normally present themselves will add dimensions to both the altered state and the character in it.

On the level of sentences

Something to consider is changing up the rhythm of your sentences and paragraphs to help paint the experience. This can be quite powerful, and might buy you points from the literary crowd for being ‘experimental’ if you take it far enough.

So a character. In an opium den. Might be nodding out. So short sentences like this. Can help show a sleepy daze. As everything slows down. And it’s hard to think.

Or if they’re on like coke or meth or adrenaline in a battle well it’s going a mile a minute and you’re not going to get a paragraph or much punctuation really for a while there might be multiple strands of thought going back and forth rapidly just freewrite a bit and see what comes this will help you get in the right zone of mind too.

Apply this in their dialogue too.

Do you find yourself writing this kind of thing much? How do you approach it?