A reply to Ian Dent

Ian Dent, whom I heavily criticised in my last post (or the automated cut’n’paste bot that claims to be him, it’s hard to tell) took the trouble to leave a reply. It’s long, and it’s largely irrelevant, like his report, you can read the full reply here

I’m mostly concerned with this bit, since the rest was utter cockwaffle, so much so that it would barely pass a Turing Test :

This document, produced by Ian Dent, has been orchestrated so as to stimulate the beginnings of a much needed public debate – to raise questions about decisions currently being made over our future, solely by ICT experts and the European Commission with NO active public debate in a common language.

Bollocks. The way it is framed, and the absolutely appalling way in which it is referenced, your busy swapping between UK and US styles of quotation that makes most of it look like ‘scare quotes’, and your complete misunderstanding of computer science terms of art contribute nothing to any such debate other than confusion.

Take IanPJ for instance, who claims to be trying to track down the EU document that he erroneously believes your quoted text “An ‘object’ in this [computing] context … ” to be drawn from.

The poor sod is convinced that because it’s a quote in a report about the EU that the relevant, sinister documentation must be buried deep within the EU. Had you referenced it, you could have saved him the ghastly heartache of this fruitless search, because it is taken directly from the Wikipedia article on Object Oriented Computing.

That part is double quoted, though unreferenced, and the rest of the time you seem to be using single quotes almost at random.

The phrase ‘Biological Economic Device’ appears to be your coinage, but you’ve put it in single quotes and bold for emphasis. Writing like this encourages the unwary to believe that everything you say is attributable to the EU, when in fact most of it is not.

As an academic is simply impossible that you are not aware of the proper conventions for quoting, referencing and footnoting, so one can only assume that your failure to use them properly here is a purposeful distortion.

We can see the results of that distortion, fielded with the weight of your academic credentials in IanPJ’s behaviour. He has run off completely confused in some paranoid never was fantasy panic.

So no Ian, your report contributes only confusion to any such debate, and I would also point out that the privacy and social implications of technology are being widely debated every single day. You managed to use Google to do most of your research, so how did you miss that ?

And last but not least, Ian

These are technical, complex and largely ‘un-soundbite-able’ issues. So a few references may help readers to investigate for themselves in a more measured and balanced way:

Well yes, Indeed they would, so why have you provided so few in your report ?

Human beings NOT classified by the EU as ‘biological economic devices’

FFS

I rarely click on Ian Parker Joseph’s twitter links, he is after all the main reason I felt I couldn’t join the UKLP. He does a great job of illustrating why it’s good that he is no longer the leader today.

This was his tweet :

An idiot, earlier

Good god! Could that be true ? That would be dynamite. Worth a click for once.

Idiotarians

Well no, of course, it isn’t true at all. It’s not even hyperbole, it’s just bullshit. Pure and simple. I can’t be arsed to fisk Ian’s godawful post in its entirety, so lets just pull out the relevant parts. Ian says :

Over the past week, as the result of being passed some high level academic reports in the field of technology and ICT reasearch, I have been doing my homework, researching the claims made in the documents, and looking for corroborating EU documentation.

OMG! So far so shadowy. He was passed some “high level academic reports”, bloody hell! No. He wasn’t. The report that he refers to is in fact on line here which of course just adds to the hilarity when Ian promises to email anyone a copy, and subsequently ‘makes it available’ in a download. How fucking generous of him.

For whatever reason he decides that he doesn’t want you to know that this is a freely available document. Presumably he feels it adds to his mystique. To everyone else, not linking to source is just plain fucking rude.

Citation needed

Enter one Ian Dent, allegedly of Cambridge University, although if that’s true they seriously need to sack the fucker. Ian is quoting from the linked document “Beyond Broadband – The True Cost Of Digital Britain” by the aforesaid Dent.

Here is the money quote from Dent’s ‘report ‘(his emphasis)

In computing terms (where the concept originated), an ‘attribute’ can be defined as: ‘a specification that defines a property of an object, element, or file . . ‘ An ‘object’ in this [computing] context can be defined as: a collection of co-operating objects . . . capable of receiving messages, processing data and sending messages to other objects and can be viewed as an independent ‘machine’ with a distinct role or responsibility . .
This is how each person will become defined within Grid profiling – as an object – a ‘Biological Economic Device’.

Wow, Just Fucking Wow

So Dent here goes from a straightforward definition of a computer science term (a definition which, incidentally, he hasn’t referenced) to suggesting that a phrase he has just made up based on it is how we will all become defined by the EU.

No.

I would recommend against reading Dent’s eleven pages of poorly referenced and clearly delusional word salad, – which contains more than the average Daily Mail’s worth of ‘scare quotes’ – in it’s entirety. It will probably actually make you stupider. But this is just stupid. And for someone who is supposedly a Cambridge academic it is practically unforgivable. No citation, no reference. Not true.

Ian, however is prepared to report this as though it were some kind of hard, verifiable fact, rather than just some paranoid phrase that Dent coins on page 17 of his ridiculous screed.

Since Dent doesn’t cite any document that supports his delusion, perhaps the redoubtable IanPJ can help us out, since he states

(documents are there.. if you can find them)

Wow! Links to them ? No.

Seriously people, do better

I have no love for the EU, it’s a crawling horror of a bureaucracy, largely unelected and almost completely unaccountable, but for fuck’s sake people, shout them down for real things that they actually do, rather than just making shit up.

Sad fucks.

The Tyranny of the Majority : This is your democracy on drugs

Writing about the ongoing car crash that the Home Office has initiated by sacking Professor David Nutt, Gurning offspring of Andrew Marr and a euro-skeptic sock puppet Dan Hannan MEP wails

I just heard a BBC presenter remark that drugs policy should be taken out of the hands of politicians and left to a panel of experts, rather as interest rates were left to the Bank of England. …

If drugs policy, why not also tax policy? Or education policy? Or European policy? …

For what it’s worth, I agree with Prof David Nutt, the adviser sacked after criticising the Government’s decision to categorise cannabis as a Class B Drug. If anything I’d go further. He’s plainly right, this Nutt, when he says that the government’s attitude to cannabis is counter-productive, ill-informed and vote-grabbing. But that is what governments do: they grab votes. And, for all its faults, no one has come up with a better system than democracy. The BBC/Nutt option – contracting out important decisions to “experts” – has been the justification for every dictatorship in history, from Bonaparte’s onward.

And he’s not far wrong. He is wrong though. Most dictatorships are based on revealed truths of some kind. The interpreted will of some deity, the ramblings of some deranged political philosopher, or simply the psychotic narcissism of some monomaniac.

I can’t think of any dictatorship in history (and do please correct me if I’m wrong) that outsourced it’s decisions to a rational process founded on the scientific method, for instance.

There is a name for such a form of government : Technocracy. Wikipedia‘s definition of technocracy will suffice for illustrative purposes.

Technocracy is a form of government in which engineers, scientists, and other technical experts are in control of decision making in their respective fields.

If I were to sketch my perfect totalitarian state structure, you can be sure that Technocracy (and technocrats) would play a large part in it. We might get to that later. For whatever merits it may have, Technocracy is, of course, a form of tyranny like all other dictatorial structures.

If Prof Nutt feels strongly about the subject – and, as I say, he has every right to – then the correct procedure is to stand for election and see if he can convince his fellow countrymen.

That’s not democratic enough for Hannan though, who to his enormous credit – given that he’s a politician – goes further

Better yet, let’s decide issues of this sort by referendum. I realise that, as a libertarian, I might well lose. But I’d rather live in a democracy than a quangocracy – even when, as must occasionally happen by the law of averages, the quangocrats happen to be right.

There’s a problem. Can you tell what it is yet ? Yup, that’s it. We have a referendum, popular opinion wins, the popular opinion doesn’t suit everyone. Oh shit! Democracy Fail! because democracy, especially as practised by referendum, is the tyranny of the majority.

If we assume that the MORI poll conducted by the ACMD (discussed here) is indeed representative, pubic opinion is that Cannabis should remain a class ‘C’ drug under the Misuse Of Drugs Act. Assuming also that that was the question posed by the referendum.

That, though, still leaves us with something of a problem. I mean, yeah, great, we had a bit of democracy theatre, everyone had their say, fine. But the result still isn’t a drug policy based on a rational analysis of relative harm.

Have we really lost confidence in our ability to govern ourselves through the ballot box?

Govern ourselves Dan. So often when we visit the ballot box we are not, in fact, seeking to govern ourselves but to govern others. Nutt’s MORI figures suggest that the majority favour at least some criminal sanctions for possession of cannabis. We are forced to conclude then, that these folks are not themselves likely to be in possession of cannabis. These sanctions will not apply to them.

It would be a desirable feature of a democracy if we were able to inoculate it to some degree against undesirable things like stupidity, ignorance or the vicissitudes of the howling mob. Since we can’t actually do away with stupidity, ignorance or the vicissitudes of the howling mob, the only way we can minimise their impact on democracy is to use democracy to make less decisions.

And the way to do that without re-introducing the tyranny is to empower the individual to make as many of the decisions as possible that affect their own life.

So no, Dan, I don’t want to be governed by David Nutt, but I also don’t want to be micromanaged by a poorly informed but democratically constituted amorphous mass of other people.

What I want is to have the opportunity to examine the evidence and make an informed choice for myself.

Digital Democracy – Part The First : Good uses for biometric ID

Next Stop : Utopia Island

Let us imagine for a moment a world without New Labour’s overarching Orwellian horror of a vision for a national ID card and the cripplingly expensive behemoth of a database that would be required to back it.

Ahh. Nice, isn’t it. Now, hold onto that thought for a moment, because in the first in this (possibly) series of posts I’m going to suggest that the functionality proposed for a biometric ID card, quite contrary from being used to enslave us all in some dystopian socialist police state, could in fact be a cornerstone of our future democracy. Yes, really.

Identity Politics

First up, what do we actually mean by ‘identity’ ? For the purposes of this post – hopefully the first in a series, and hopefully mercifully brief – we will cheat a bit and redefine ‘identity’ to mean a token issued to you by some third-party (the Electoral Commission, say) which can be used to prove your eligibility to do something (vote, in this case), and which, since it is unique to you, can be used to make sure you have only done it once. It can of course also be used in all transactions with the third-party, much like a ‘customer number’ of which it is a variant.

For our purposes, then, we have decoupled this from an actual ‘identity’, as traditionally defined. We assume that if it is necessary to prove eligibility or identity it is done at the point at which the token is issued.

We also assume, just for the purposes of this post mind you, that at the point of issue, the token is not actually associated with any identity information. Pie in the sky, no doubt, but let’s just assume it for now as we’re talking utopian techno democracy here.

Now, we don’t want anyone else to be able to get at this token and use it, or change it so we will encrypt it. In fact, it is probably already some kind of cryptographic token, we’ll get to the tech later, but basically the issuing party will have ‘signed‘ it cryptographically so that they can verify it has not been tampered with at the point of use.

Not just a pretty face

What we want now is some way to encrypt the token so that only you can decode it and use it. This is where the biometric part comes in. Please bear in mind that there are other ways of going about this that may be more appropriate. We will use biometrics only as an example.

Using a set (not a single one, oh no sir) of biometrics (or by some other method) we now generate a cryptographic key (or possibly a set thereof) and use one of them to encrypt the voting token which is stored on your ‘ID card’ At this point it is necessary to be weasely again, and redefine ‘ID card’ to mean some mechanism for storing identity data as defined for the purposes of this post. It may be in card form, but one way or another it will be some kind of computing device, like the chip on your Chip’n’Pin card.

At this point, only you can decrypt the token and use it. Still with me ? Good.

Third Party Politics

The key thing to remember at this point is that when you authenticate yourself in order to unlock this token, you do not do it with a third-party. This is quite different from NuLab’s proposed scheme where checks are made against a central database. In this model, you authenticate yourself to the ‘ID card’.

Your only interaction with a third-party begins with the presentation of the token. This may, or may not, infer further information about you.

Secure exchange is no robbery

Now we need some means to get the token securely to its destination, again we will use cryptography. Let’s assume that our existing protocols are secure and that as such we can easily set up a secure end to end connection much as we do every day with online shopping or banking.

Vote Early, Vote Often

Next thing to do is cast our vote! To prevent just anyone at the far end changing our vote (naughty!) we will also to encrypt that, we will encipher it with the ‘public key‘ of the third-party who issued our token. This means that only they can decipher it and read it.

Livin’ in America

Now then, we need to bring to mind for a moment the horrors of the epic fail that has befallen every e-voting system so far tried, particularly in the USA. Especially in California. Bearing in mind that most of these were straight replacements for other ‘in person’ voting methods, we need not dwell too much, but we need to overcome the major problems that they reveal.

The ones that concern us are twofold. We shall not fear to speak their names, which are Auditing and Transparency. Auditing we can deal with some more technical trickery, which we will explore in more depth later on. Transparency is something else entirely. I will explore this is some depth at a later date

For the purposes of this post, let us assume that the problems are surmountable.

Put ’em all together and whaddya got?

Well, what have we got ? It’s slightly different from the rather more statist, centralist model proposed by the Home Office and its pets, but we have many of the same ingredients. A card, some set of tokens for doing stuff with, and a way to make sure that only the person who is supposed to can access them (we are missing some very important technical mechanisms, but again, that’s for later)

To some extent, we have decoupled the card holder’s ‘identity’ from the contents of the card. As described, it doesn’t even need a photo on it. No policeman can stop the holder in the street and ask “papers, please”, because the only person who can get the data off the card is the person who can authenticate themselves to the card.

But what we can do with it is this. We can use it to provide a universal rolling plebiscite. Universal meaning that anyone who wants to vote (and is eligible to do so) can vote.

In this utopian e-voting world, we no longer need MPs to represent our interests in parliament, not that the fuckers do much of that in any case, because we can all do it for ourselves. No more representative democracy, a genuine, direct democratic process. What kind of ‘government’ you would need to support this kind of democracy is an interesting question, sadly outside the scope of this post.

And the really cool thing is that we can genuinely achieve much of this, from a technological point of view, already. The components are there, for the most part, as we shall see in a later digital democracy post.

And, of course, you could, in fact, still do this with Blunkett and Co’s National ID scheme. Although you’d still have to put up with all the other crap.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown on Freedom Of Speech: A Reluctant Fisking

There are times when I feel sorry for Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. I’ll see her on some TV program or other, commenting on this or that, and for a few moments I’ll think “she seems like a reasonable lady”, and then she’ll tangle herself up in equality knots, trip over her diversity and morph before my very eyes into a nasty totalitarian. The sad thing is that I don’t think she wants to be, in fact, I think that’s exactly what she’s trying to avoid.

The article she wrote for the Indy looking at freedom of speech issues in the wake of the recent twitter/blogosphere bitch slapping of Jan Moir is a case in point.

She starts off badly muddled already, making me wonder if she’s been drinking. In this paragraph, she seems to be attempting to construct some sort of bizarre naval metaphor for freedom of speech.

The ship flying the flag for free speech is often unsteady, sometimes leaky, as it sails capricious, tempestuous seas. Sometimes even the captains jump off and struggle to keep faith with its mission. Like the supremely erudite Stephen Fry who has always, to my knowledge, been an uncompromising champion of free expression, keeping watch on deck whatever the provocations.

I mean, seriously, what the fuck ? How exactly is freedom of speech like a leaky boat with an interchangeable plunging captaincy ? Who made Stephen Fry one of the captains ? And how did you manage to avoid the more obvious seaman gags ?

Luckiliy, Yasmin provokes herself into abandoning her leaky metaphor before the next few paragraphs, in which she accuses Fry of oppressing Jan Moir. Really.

Yet this Friday came the moment when Mr Fry couldn’t abide by his own credo and ferociously assailed the Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir for her freely expressed views on the young pop star Stephen Gately. His gay lifestyle, she suggested, was “more than a little sleazy” and his death was unlikely to have been from natural causes. Now Fry commands a virtual army on the web. He can make or break someone with under 140 characters.

Oh my GOD! How did he acquire such awesome power, and has anyone told the PRIME MINISTER ? Seriously, I think you overstate the rheumy old queen’s influence, but even were it so, it does not follow, as Yasmin goes on to suggest, that in motivating his “virtual army” he is necessarily causing Moir to loose out on her freedom of expression.

After all, she was free enough to publish her opinion in the Daily Mail, and many many people read it, and it is, in fact, still available on the Daily Mail’s website

Between the Mail’s comment section, twitter and the many many blogs who took issue with it, it turns out that many of those people didn’t much like what Jan had to say, and they took the opportunity to let her know in no uncertain terms.

That, to me, sounds like everyone got a pretty fair hearing. and so I’m not sure what this to do with freedom of speech issues, particularly given that I’m still trying to work out the boat/flag/captain gestalt metaphor, Yasmin feels otherwise

I can understand their rage. The column was ugly, insensitive and homophobic. However, though I passionately believe in free speech, I am not an absolutist nor a hypocrite. The only real argument is where the line is drawn. Perhaps fundamentalists like Fry will now be more honest and accept that there are limits. Even for them.

Ah, now here we are, this is where we finally get to the nub of the issue, this is the part where after seeming a bit confused, but generally sort of nice, Yasmin is about to morph before our very eyes into her very own version of the incredible hulk.

You’ll notice, dear reader, that Yasmin needs to consult a good quality dictionary and possibly a book about logic, as she has here set pen to page and committed that great logical fallacy : the supposition that their should be ‘limits’ on freedom of speech.

The most obvious thing to say is simply that if it’s got limits on it, it aint free.

To try and shake you out of this point of view, Yasmin proposes that we have a little quiz. Yes lets.

Seven events this month reveal the increasing tension between freedom and responsibility. Each case is testing and spawns its own, particular dilemmas. Only libertarian fools and fanatics would give set-piece answers. Test yourself.

I’m pretty sure I know where you’re going to go with this, and I’m pretty sure what my answers will be. Let’s see, shall we ?

First came the national furore over “Pakigate” and Strictly Come Dancing.

What ? That’s not actually a question you know ? I don’t what you’re asking me here. As such, I’m going to declare that one invalid.

Then a picture of Brooke Shields, aged 10, nude, was withdrawn from view by the Tate Modern. The photographer had paid her mum $450 for the image. Shields herself has tried to have this object of exploitation removed from the public eye. So a good call, I think, by the Tate.

Ah, I’m on firmer ground here, but you aren’t. This has sweet fuck all to do with freedom of speech.

It is left as an exercise for the reader to figure out why the Tate decided to (very briefly) use an image that almost certainly breaches the UKs very strict child protection laws in the opening of an exhibition, knowing that it would certainly attract a lot of comment from the press.

Frankly, I think the only ‘dilemma’ raised here is why Yasmin thinks it’s OK to heap child protection issues in with what purports to be an article about freedom of speech. It’s become as of cliché as Godwin’s law that people engaging in public hand wringing about practically anything will eventually use child protection issues as a battering ram for their agenda, and it is really not very cool at all.

The BNP’s bulldoggish Nick Griffin, a white supremacist, admired by the Ku Klux Klan, opponent of Jews, Muslims and mixed-race families, is invited on to the nation’s most prestigious TV programme.

Ah! Now we get to the actual meat of the issue, like so many other people, Yasmin is worked up about the BNP. Let’s take this one, since it actually is about freedom of speech. Firstly, let’s deal with “the nation’s most prestigious TV programme”, which I think is something of an overstatement, to say the least. certainly if we measure by viewing figures, QT is not even in BBC1’s top 30 most watched programs. According to the same source, BBC1 itself accounts for a mere 20.7% of audience.

According to this article in the Telegraph, QT’s biggest ever audience was about 4 million – is the number of people who thought it would be fun to see Margaret Becket destroy her career – which still wouldn’t put in in last weeks top 20. Average audience is 2.6 million, which wouldn’t even put it on the top 30 BBC1 programmes.

I suspect Thursday’s viewing figures will be even higher. That’s what “No Platform” gets you, so well done Retards Against Fascism and associated subsidiaries of the BNPs PR wing.

Moving swiftly on

He, who would deny millions of us the vote, is an emblem of democracy and his violent thugs who try to silence so many of us black and Asian Britons become beneficiaries of free-speech doctrine.

That’s not the question, the question comes later, but this is where Yasmin, like so many other seemingly well meaning folk, is starting to trip her self. Yes, the odious little prick that is Nick Griffin is indeed the beneficiary of ‘free speech doctrine’. And that is as it should be. We can’t just go around making exclusions to the ‘doctrine’ (or law, in fact) just because we don’t like what people are going to say. Yasmin is about to argue otherwise – or at least insinuate heavy handedly that other people ought to – of course, but the simple fact is this : The BNP represent a significant minority viewpoint. If you remove any of their rights, you are persecuting that minority.

The fact that you (and indeed I) may find them a hateful, despicable, minority is really central to the point. Indeed, Yasmin made this argument herself, although clearly not on purpose He, who would deny millions of us the vote, is an emblem of democracy and his violent thugs who try to silence so many of us black and Asian Britons

He wants to silence and disempower those (and plenty of other) groups, and that is bad. You want to silence and disempower the group he represents, and that is also bad.

Free speech simply ceases to exist when you deny it to groups of people that you detest. There are no ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’, no matter how many times people twist themselves around this argument, speech is either free, or it is not. It is an absolute. There really are no grey areas to be found.

Cue the Hitler comparison. Griffin is nothing like Hitler, I don’t understand why people keep making it. He probably sits in front of his PC all day with his tiny flaccid cock in hand searching Google News for “griffin hitler”.

Hitler won the votes of the majority. Would the BBC have done him the honour, too? I say the BNP should be interrogated on news programmes but an appearance on Question Time is a privilege which the BBC now bestows on racists. It sickens those of us who expect better of the corporation.

Oh. OK, that’s new. Unlike the thuggish boot boys of the new left, Yasmin is only concerned about Question Time. Listen, Yasmin, the beeb has to be impartial, it has to be representative. Those are in the charter. If the BBC denies the BNP a platform it is neither. This is quite simple. Thus, it isn’t, in fact, a ‘privilege’ to be bestowed but a duty undertaken by a political program. When you say you “expect better”, what you are actually saying is that you expect them to enforce your personal prejudices. One of the common whinges levelled against the BBC by the various odious practitioners of race politics is that the BBC is “pandering to political correctness” by selecting non white members for it’s programs, and we don’t expect the BBC to enforce their prejudices, do we ?

Let’s move on to the next of your seven, because it’s a doozy.

Then comes the ghastly Dutch MP Geert Wilder who overturned the order banning him from entering Britain imposed by the former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith. He curses the Koran, damns and insults European Muslims, is a fearless xenophobe and seems to enjoy the hurt he churns up. … I agree that he should be allowed into Britain and I was proud Muslims responded with good sense.

A British youngster politely explains why Geert Wilders must die

But to see him fêted as a hero in parliament was an affront. This must mean free passage for proscribed hate-makers – rabid imams, anti-Semites, homophobic black rappers. If not, it only confirms outrageous double standards.

Ah, see now, you’re almost there. Proscribed hate-makers – rabid imams, anti-Semites, homophobic black rappers – must indeed be treated in exactly the same way that is entirely the point.

The most serious threat to free speech has come from David Miliband, now a skilled double-dealer. He talks the talk on good British values and yet rejects the judgement of two senior judges who demand disclosure of information that could prove our intelligence services colluded with the US and others to torture captured Muslims in the “War on Terror”, in particular Binyam Mohamed who was held in Guantanamo Bay for many years.

This has nothing to do with freedom of speech, and the revolting Milliband did not ‘reject’ the judgement, he appealed against it, which he is perfectly entitled to do. You are here conflating the issue of freedom of information, important in itself, with freedom of speech. We will mark this as another invalid point in an article about freedom of speech.

Next the drama over a scientific study on toxic dumping in West Africa by the company Trafigura, whose lawyers obtained an injunction to keep the information secret, including debates on the scandal in Parliament. The gaggers were duly defeated but commercial confidentiality remains an effective weapon used by big business to keep us in the dark.

Yes, and that was wrong. The libel laws need to be reformed, and the judge responsible for granting the injuction should be taken into the street and beaten. Quite so. Was that right ?

You’ve (again) wrongly conflated two issues though. Commercial confidentiality is what the current government uses to keep us in the dark about how crap they are at administering large projects because they wrote an exemption into the Freedom Of Information Act, so that’s an FOI issue, not a speech issue. Trafigura via Carter Ruck used our overly repressive libel laws to try and silence parliament. Both of these are disgraceful, but they are not related.

And of course, no columnists woolly rant about freedom of speech would be complete without it. It’s the question on everyone’s lips. What to do about the bloggers ?

Lastly, the scientist Simon Singh (a good friend) is being sued by the British Chiropractic Association which objects to his attacks on the profession. He, who is supported by Fry and others, got leave to appeal against an earlier ruling that went against him. Many of us are silenced by the might of libel law. Money, as Orwell wrote, “controls opinion”. Singh wants more “freedom to criticise fairly and strongly” on the blogs and scientific writing. I agree but too many bloggers are mad or malicious.
So what to do about them? Not easy.

Actually, it is very, very easy indeed. Nothing. The mere fact that you raise the question puts you firmly in dribbling totalitarian oppressor mode. Again. Seriously, we’ve already agreed that the libel laws are harsh enough to be open to misuse, and we have seen high court injunctions issued via twitter. What do you want that’s extra ? Regulation ? Because some people say things that you think are mad or malicious ? Do you think those people believe themselves to be mad or malicious ? Perhaps they just have very different points of view to you ?

That’s your seven, and in every case where they actually to freedom of speech, my answer is : Let their be freedom, which is not to be limited only to things that do not displease you. I’m sure that this wasn’t the stance that you wished to take, but it is where you have ended up, as we will see shortly.

Let us move swiftly to conclude, because the rest of the piece is seriously confused.

Libertarian ideologues such as journalist Brendan O’Neill have no such moral conundrums:

Because there are none. Free speech is for all, or it is for none.

“Offensiveness is part of life; the politics of inoffensiveness is a threat to free speech and open debate.” Yes, until people’s deep feelings are roused as were Fry’s by Moir.

No. No. A thousand times no.

The Roman inquisition burned Giordano Bruno at the stake in 1600 for the heresy of heliocentrism. Certainly their deep feelings were roused.

Should Giordano have shut the fuck up just because the Inquisition were a little bit touchy about their doctrine ? Perhaps from self interest, yes, but he was convinced he was correct, and so it turned out to be.

Words do violence to humans, more sometimes than sticks and stones

Really ?

Only Sometimes

More and more freedom is what we must strive for, but a complete lack of restraint leads to anarchy and dehumanisation.

What kind of restraints ? A whole article and you haven’t managed to define any.

Because logically, it is not possible to do so and still believe in the right to freedom of speech. Whatever the consequences.

There was a time not so long ago when the military powers of western Europe were prepared to risk turning most of the Northern Hemisphere into little more than a faintly glowing glass wasteland in preference to their citizens losing the freedom to think and opine as they pleased. By contrast, having some tosser from the BNP on a programme with an audience smaller than the Antiques Roadshow doesn’t seem like such a big fucking deal to me.

Just sayin.

Carter-Ruck take it up the arse from horses

Mammoth elephant’s cock ticklers and occasional media lawyers Carter Ruck, not content with trying to gag the free press would now like to injunct parliament as well.

Carter-Ruck partner Adam Tudor today sent a letter to the Speaker, John Bercow, and also circulated it to every single MP and peer, saying they believed the case was “sub judice”.

If correct, it would mean that, under Westminster rules to prevent clashes between parliament and the courts, a debate planned for next Wednesday could not go ahead.

The Minton Report, which Carter Ruck would prefer you not to be able to read because it describes how their clients, Trafigura, are poisoning thousands of people and killing wildlife on the Ivory Coast, can be found at Wikilieaks (of course) here

Democracy and the BNP. An FAQ for the Righteous

Further to my previous post on the fascism of the anti-fascists, a few quick notes based on a heated debate that took place yesterday, and was no doubt repeated around the country.

Below are rebuttals to a few points that kept being made both on the net and on TV.

It is OK to abandon democracy and curtail freedom of speech for the BNP because they

Are criminals

So what ? So are millions of people who trip speed cameras. Do we deny then the right to an opinion ? You can not change the rules simply to fit one category of criminal that you don’t happen to like*. We deny suffrage to prisoners. Those who are not held at Her Majesty’s Pleasure are not denied any of their democratic rights.

Have vile policies and intents*

Indeed they do. But it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to agree with a party’s policies or intents in order to allow them a democratic voice. I don’t agree with most of the Labour manifesto. It is utterly irrelevant what their policies are. They are a legal political party with democratically elected representatives. Period. If no one else likes their policies, no one will vote for them. That’s kind of the definition of democracy.

Use violence and intimidation*

That may be so, although the only reports that I could dig up are in militant left rags that are hardly credible sources, but let’s assume that it is so.

But then again, there is this story

An arson attack at the Shrewsbury home of a British National Party member in the run-up to the local elections is being investigated by police.

A Union flag was taken from Alan Coles’s garden, in Underdale Road, and set on fire, in the final act of what he called a three-night campaign of abuse.

Mr Coles said it was not the first time he has been abused for his political beliefs.

He stood unsuccessfully for the BNP two years ago in local elections and during the campaign protesters broke his wing mirrors, made defamatory posters and put swastikas on the windows, he said.

That looks awfully like intimidation to me.

Or this one

POLICE say they have seized a deactivated Kalashnikov rifle, imitation handguns, knives and a number of devices “made from fireworks” as part of a terrorism investigation.

Two men aged 25 and 19, a 16-year-old schoolboy and a 20-year-old woman were this morning still being held at Launceston police station under the Terrorism Act.

The investigation came about after a sharp-eyed police officer stopped a 25-year-old man – believed to be Andrew Sprague – on Friday night daubing anti-fascist graffiti along the North Street subway under Exeter Street, just a couple of hundred yards from Charles Cross police station.

It is understood the man had sprayed the word “Antifa” – a militant anti-fascist organisation with international links.

Antifa eh ? Let’s look em up

PHYSICAL CONFRONTATION

Fascism is a violent ideology. Throughout history, fascists have used violence against those who oppose them. Antifa is a continuation of the antifascist tradition of confronting fascism physically when it is necessary. Physical confrontation is only one of our tactics though, we do not aim to fetishise it as one tactic above all others, nor will we allow a hierarchy to develop based on the kudos of street-fighting. If an individual member feels unable to engage on this level they are no less worthy as an anti-fascist than any other member of the group, however those with a moral problem regarding this issue should be advised that this is not the group for them.

Or this one

More than 30 gas-guzzling cars have been attacked by eco warriors, police said.

The tyres of the 4X4 vehicles were slashed and notes were left blaming drivers for climate change.

The campaign of destruction, over the last three weeks, has taken place in areas of Manchester popular with students.

The notes said the attack was not on the owner but on their choice of car.

Can you smell the hypocrisy ?

Represent a minority * viewpoint

No, don’t laugh. Donna Guthrie of Retards Unite Against Fascism told the BBC that it was OK to deny the BNP their freedom of speech (what’s left of it), which is legally defined as a basic human right because a) they are fascists and b) they got such a small share of the vote at the EU elections.

Really. So according to her, it’s OK to remove the human rights of minorities so long as they’re a minority that you really, really don’t like. Martin Smith made more or less the same point on Newsnight.

When did the Righteous have that meeting ?

And when the fuck did “I may not like what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” become “No platform for fascists” ? Oh wait, yes, I remember now.

More on “No Platform” later, perhaps.


* Eagle eyed readers will notice that these are exactly the same arguments that fascists supposedly use to vilify groups and then, e.g. cart them off to death camps. If they are the wrong arguments when they are in the mouths of fascists then they are the wrong argument in the mouths of the UAF and their lumpen trot mentalist cohorts.

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