Ooooh, Goodie! Now We’re To Have Censorship!

Extremists will have to get posts on Facebook and Twitter approved in advance by the police under sweeping rules planned by the Conservatives.


Pre-print
censorship. Don’tch’a just love it?

So gloriously in line with the traditional approach, that you’ve the freedom to say anything you damn well like and also the necessity to take responsibility for it.

What is it about being Home Secretary that turns people into fucking fascists?

Look on the bright side I suppose:

EDOs would apply if a judge is convinced that an individual is carrying out their activities for “the purpose of overthrowing democracy”.

That’s every communist in the country to be locked up, isn’t it?

59 comments on “Ooooh, Goodie! Now We’re To Have Censorship!

  1. What makes them fascists? I’d hazard a guess at the Sir Humphreys at the Home Office having something to do with it.

  2. “What is it about being Home Secretary that turns people into fucking fascists?”
    I would imagine that being responsible for stopping people from getting blown up or having their heads cut off on a whim could have something to do with it. Even Theresa is human, sort of. The thought of Ritchie being the subject of an EDO should brighten your day.

  3. Pingback: Every Home Secretary Eventually | Longrider

  4. Sounds exactly like Leveson to me. One argument against prior restraint at the time was that eventually the little people would be swept up as well as the press. Didn’t expect it to be so quick to be honest.

    You know, there are hard won principles that a few years ago were so established they didn’t need repeating. Now…

  5. “Overthrrowing democracy”? That’s an interestingly broad definition. Monarchists and anarchists immediately spring to mind as violators.

  6. The thought of Ritchie being the subject of an EDO should brighten your day.

    No, it makes me incredibly depressed. Free speech is for everyone, not just people we happen to agree with.

  7. Mark Steyn did say the other day that we had three choices. We could surrender and beg for mercy. We could go down Cameron’s Soft Totalitarian route to a society with many fewer freedoms. Or we could restrict immigration.

    Although admittedly that last one is too late.

  8. K R Lohse: “The thought of Ritchie being the subject of an EDO should brighten your day.”

    Why? I’m in favour of free speech so we know who the nutters & fascists are…

  9. A quick bit of research.
    How many people, commenting here, post on Twitter or Facebook?
    Of my circle I only know two. A friend runs a Facebook page on her sheepdogging & your’s truly tried one to keep friends informed of perambulations round France a few years back. No-one read it, so I gave up. Oh, and there’s a few people I know run FB pages for business reasons.
    Far as I’m aware, apart from kids who use Twatter as the cyber version of toilet door graffiti & FB to replace ‘My Diary’, they’re populated almost exclusively by obsessives like Murphy & narcissists in the political & media classes.

    Not saying I welcome censorship in any form, but as a threat to freedom of expression it’s very small beer. In many cases, if they censored being insufferably tedious, it’d be positively welcome.

  10. Also, ‘approved in advance by the police’?

    The same police that will happily tell people who look a little unsure of their rights that they can’t photograph them, or that they don’t need to show their number on their lapels at demos?

  11. 1) what MattyJ said

    2) how exactly would this work? Legally it sounds dodgy. Technically it sounds unworkable, unless we build a massive degree of state intrusion into the internet. Route all UK social media traffic through government firewalls? Have a Department of the Internet monitoring it all? Make anonymity illegal somehow?

  12. Well, I did warn you:

    EU-wide mega-Leveson ‘needed’ to silence Press, bloggers

    “Fair legal regulation is necessary, balancing the new dimension of freedom of expression and the justified rights and interests of other citizens,” the group declared in a new report.

    “Any new regulatory frameworks must be brought into line with the new reality of a fluid media environment, covering all types of journalistic activities, regardless of the transmission medium.”

    Then the report’s writers take a sharp turn into suggested punishments for hacks who irritate the powers that be, namely fines, grovelling apologies and the ability to stop reporters from doing their job:

    All EU countries should have independent media councils. Media councils should have real enforcement powers, such as the imposition of fines, orders for printed or broadcast apologies, or —> removal of journalistic status <—

  13. @JuliaM
    What the hell do you find to Twatter about?
    But I was actually thinking about this from the other end. There’s such a huge volume of triviality on T/FB, trying to censor it’d be a herculean task. And in any case, real subversives,perpetrators of skulduggery, seedy pervs etc are going to be using much better ways of communication than trash social media. Or be using it in a way looks innocent if one isn’t party to the underlying dialogue.
    Some of us were nefariously plotting on message boards before the internet even existed.

  14. I find it incredible that a conservative in the current political landscape can even countenance this. I’m not talking about the liberty aspect – just the obvious fact that an actual conservative in Government is basically an insurgent in what is now an overwhelmingly ‘progressive’ State machine. They are introducing the weapons which will be used to destroy them.

    What is an ‘extremist’? Sure, that’s obvious isn’t it? Yet the Left’s darling the idiot Murphy throws the term at anyone who even believes in classical, non-loony economics. How soon before the label is attached to people who want to restrict immigration, oppose EU integration, cut foreign aid?

    All this just to grab a minute of applause at a party conference. Fools.

  15. And it just occurred.
    If you’re some wild eyed, bearded fanatic intent on a worldwide caliphate & the authorities clamp down on your Twitter posts…you get one of your mates to do them.

  16. What is it about being Home Secretary that turns people into fucking fascists?

    They now believe that their job is to protect us whereas in an earlier dispensation it was to protect our liberties.

    Goodness knows how we withstood being bombed by the Luftwaffe and, more recently, by the IRA.

  17. JuliaM is correct.

    I’ve never done a Twitter in my life. Never poked a Facebook either.

    It’s not because I don’t know how! I just… don’t have time for those shenanigans.

    But Theresa May can go and piss up a rope. Then put it on YouTube, where I’ll give it a thumb down.

  18. Further to what Rob just said, anyone want to bet against the scenario of two junior pen-pushers in the Department of Fucking Things Up having a “who can slip the most totalitarian policy into the Minister’s speech” competition?

  19. The depressing thing is, who can we vote for to stop this crap? The Lib Dems are finished and UKIP, who were once going down a sound classically liberal path, are now taking all and sundry now their popularity’s gone to their heads.

  20. Plus, why censor it? Why not give the loonies all the rope they need?

    Indeed. The correct way to deal with extremists is to let them speak their piece and then mock them mercilessly. Takes all the mystique out of being a rebel if you’re being laughed at. Trying to suppress them on the other hand seems to just encourage them.

  21. @Steve – “Technically it sounds unworkable, unless we build a massive degree of state intrusion into the internet. ”

    i’m sure you’re right, which just means that those with the time, money and/or contacts to push for an investigation into their personal incident of butthurt will abuse the legislation for all it’s worth.

    See the Stella Creasy thing yesterday, this chap locked up for up to 4 months (hello, criminal record) for ‘bombarding’ her with six (6!) offensive tweets.

    Haven’t seen the tweets, maybe it *was* reasonable to assume these threats were somehow more credible than the usual Twatter mouthing-off (Yay for detailed legal reporting of open justice!). But I struggle to see how.

  22. I agree with all of the above in principle, but would just observe that when mixing early medieval religious zealots, AK47s and social media, it is not a simple matter.

    It’s certainly not as simple as the laws you make to police a generally homogenous, monocultural and monoreligious country of broadly sceptical, law-abiding piss-takers, whose general reaction to religious bullshit is to shrug, or laugh.

    You can be a free speech absolutist, but what if it’s true that impressionable simpletons in Bradford are going to kill people, maybe great numbers of them, whom they otherwise would not kill because they’ve had a daily diet of ‘kill the kuffur’ fed to them for the last two years?

    Society changes, technology changes, behaviour changes, and the law probably has to change too.

    How, I confess I don’t know.

    I’d certainly start by closing the borders and building giant new prisons on distant Hebridean islands which could be filled full of unpleasant people for very long periods indeed.

  23. Ironman,

    Sounds exactly like Leveson to me. One argument against prior restraint at the time was that eventually the little people would be swept up as well as the press. Didn’t expect it to be so quick to be honest.

    “Although the contrary is often asserted, not a single witness has proposed that the Government or that Parliament should be able to step in to prevent the publication of anything whatsoever. Not a single witness has proposed that the Government or Parliament should themselves be involved in the regulation of the press. I have not contemplated and do not make any such proposal.” – Leveson

  24. May is trying to appease the nation’s rage at her government’s inaction against the medieval bastards it fosters here.
    Much better to leave the bad actors free to expose themselves to the wrath of the people.

  25. So Much for Subtlety – Yes.Mark Steyn’s been way ahead of the herd on this one.

    Immigration must be restricted – but of course it won’t. It suits the powers that be to use the Islamic cancer to take away our liberties.

  26. Interested,

    > I agree with all of the above in principle, but would just observe that when mixing early medieval religious zealots, AK47s and social media, it is not a simple matter.

    Agreed.

    So gloriously in line with the traditional approach, that you’ve the freedom to say anything you damn well like and also the necessity to take responsibility for it.

    I’m not sure how long something needs to be around to qualify as the traditional approach, Tim. Full freedom of speech is a very recent innovation in the UK. And restrictions on freedom of speech have not always been at the tops of slippery slopes. You certainly couldn’t say anything you damn well liked during WW2, for instance. Hell, we even suspended democracy, and that was fine.

    I think the problem here is not so much the curtailing of freedoms but the refusal to define aims. Declare who the enemy is, and then we can know when they’re beaten, or at least no longer a threat, and we can know which people are going to have their freedom to propound which ideologies suspended until then. Don’t pass laws about “extremists”, whoever the hell they are. Pass laws about violent jihadists. If you need to use a whole side of A4 to carefully define which types of jihadi are targeted and which types of Muslim aren’t, fine. But stop trying to generalise what is a specific threat.

    Incidentally, I use Facebook a lot. It’s what you make it.

  27. Does that mean all camorons speeches get screened by plod as if anyone is subverting Democracy at the moment it is him.

  28. NielsR,

    See the Stella Creasy thing yesterday, this chap locked up for up to 4 months (hello, criminal record) for ‘bombarding’ her with six (6!) offensive tweets.

    Haven’t seen the tweets, maybe it *was* reasonable to assume these threats were somehow more credible than the usual Twatter mouthing-off (Yay for detailed legal reporting of open justice!). But I struggle to see how.

    “But I struggle to see how” – because you haven’t seen the tweets (let alone all the other stuff).

    I don’t know how one should judge the credibility of something that looks like a threat (e.g. of the form, “I will rape you at 6pm”). How can you know the intent of the author or the person who retweets it? You might dismiss one or two messages like that as just something that happens on the internet. But in the context, over a sustained period of time, of multiple threats and abusive messages, multiple accounts that appear to be controlled by the same person for the sole purpose of sending you abuse, indirectly threatening messages (of the form, “I bought a gun, I wonder how much death it will bring”), blog posts and YouTube videos about you, doxxing (where the person publishes your telephone numbers, addresses, possibly addresses of your relatives), I think it’s fairly reasonable to be concerned for your safety.

  29. You certainly couldn’t say anything you damn well liked during WW2, for instance. Hell, we even suspended democracy, and that was fine.

    Well, WW2 was a genuine, total war, where we were under a genuine, imminent and massive threat to life.

  30. Interested,

    “You can be a free speech absolutist, but what if it’s true that impressionable simpletons in Bradford are going to kill people, maybe great numbers of them, whom they otherwise would not kill because they’ve had a daily diet of ‘kill the kuffur’ fed to them for the last two years?”

    We’re not talking about free speech absolutism. We already have laws on the books against inciting violence against people, laws that pretty much no-one disagrees with. If people are preaching that then we should be arresting them with the laws that we already have.

    If we’re then talking about peaceful extremism, well, we should probably be considering locking up Caroline Lucas for having a statue of Mao in her fireplace and George Galloway for saluting Saddam Hussein. Or, what? People who like PJ O’Rourke? The sort of Christians that say that sinners will burn in hell? We should probably include people who promote homeopathy or crystal healing in there as that’s an extremist view.

  31. @UKL

    I said you ‘can be’ a free speech absolutist.

    What is a free speech absolutist?

    Ipso facto, if you’re happy with the current laws on incitement you’re not one.

    In which case, it’s just a question of where you sit on the continuum.

    Logically, as long as whatever speech is criminalised is criminalised by a democratically elected* government, I guess you can only really complain that this particular bit of speech should be allowed while that one is not.

    *Yes, I know their mandate is minimal, but it always is.

  32. UKL,

    > WW2 was a genuine, total war, where we were under a genuine, imminent and massive threat to life.

    Pretty sure American citizens couldn’t say what they damn well liked during WW2 either, and their country was under no significant threat.

    That aside, reasonable people can disagree about what level and type of conflict warrants what degree of restriction on speech. But, for those people to be able to democratically influence policy, surely we need political honesty about what the conflict is.

  33. @ukliberty: I accept I haven’t seen the tweets, and am willing to be convinced. But it seems an extraordinarily murky area of human interaction to bring the hob-nailed boots of the justice system into.

    I take your point that there are enough horrible bastards on the ‘net that some of these threats will be carried out.

    On the other hand, as a percentage to threats made, how many result in actual harm? In that case, objectively, the risk should be classed in the same way as in Longrider’s post – horrible for those involved, but outweighed by the negative consequences of any formal solution.

    You’ve mentioned doxxing, which i presume is much more likely to actually happen than the physical threats (anonymous, no messy blood, etc, etc). Fine, but that’s a clear breach of privacy, quite easily handled separate from other threats.

    “But in the context,[…]I think it’s fairly reasonable to be concerned for your safety.”
    I don’t think that’s correct. You show that the technology is making it very easy to generate a persistently threatening environment for the victim. But I don’t think it makes it much easier to actually carry the threats out. Big difference between setting up dummy twitter accounts and actually tracking someone down and causing physical harm.

    Shouldn’t the justice system focus on the practical likelihood of the threat, rather than the effectiveness of the campaign to deliver the threat? Prosecute the bite, not the bark.

  34. Niels,

    > On the other hand, as a percentage to threats made, how many result in actual harm?

    That’s immaterial. Once actual harm happens, the crime ceases to be mere threat, doesn’t it?

    There was a fascinating test case a few years ago (can’t find a link). A man was found guilty of kidnapping various women, despite the fact that he had never used any physical restraint on them: it was all done by convincing them that they were in mortal danger — from his enemies, not from him — if they left the house. I suppose it was to kidnap what fraud is to robbery. The threats that he had invented were completely non-existent, but he had successfully convinced his victims that they were real and he had done so with the intent of changing their behaviour so as to curtail their freedom. Found guilty.

  35. Would Greens who demand the suspension of democracy ‘to combat climate change’ be subject to this? This has been discussed on the State broadcaster in a sympathetic way.

  36. Two things:

    Squander Two

    “Pretty sure American citizens couldn’t say what they damn well liked during WW2 either, and their country was under no significant threat.”

    “Significant threat” was just a matter of time if Britain had gone under or the carrier fleet had been in Pearl Harbor on 7th Dec 1941.

    A few years ago, there was a big fuss about “Holocaust Denial” and banning it across Europe. Much to my late missus’ annoyance, I used to “wave to David Irving” when my tram went past the Vienna Landesgerichthof, where he was being held. An Austrian magazine said at the time, that such a law was desirable and that the only people who would be opposed to it were “Right Wing Anglo Saxons obsessed with free speech.”

    Bastards ! And this brought it home to me, that in a continent dominated by the EU and soft-left bourgeois politicians, this fringe movement was all that prevents a return to censorship, general warrants and arbitrary imprisonment.

  37. bloke (not) in spain – “Not saying I welcome censorship in any form, but as a threat to freedom of expression it’s very small beer. In many cases, if they censored being insufferably tedious, it’d be positively welcome.”

    Some wedges are, indeed, thin. Remember back a few years when the last censorship proposal came up. They were going to censor blogs like Guido’s – and presumably TW’s. It would not be much skin off my nose if they started to censor Facebook posts by Islamists. But it would not take them long to come for people like Guido.

    You only have to look at the laws blocking extremists coming to the UK. The idea of keeping out Farrakhan might be appealing. But when they block American radio hosts, they have shown they can’t be trusted.

  38. MattyJ – “Indeed. The correct way to deal with extremists is to let them speak their piece and then mock them mercilessly. Takes all the mystique out of being a rebel if you’re being laughed at.”

    The problem with this is that it doesn’t work. Because people refuse to mock other people who will cut their heads off. We tried this. The Islamists won. They have intimidated pretty much the whole West into silence on most Muslim issues. Especially the Left.

    The choice is simple – we can become a Muslim majority country. In which case we need laws suited to Muslim majority populations. Or we can remain free. Our choice.

  39. @ SMFS

    They were going to censor blogs like Guido’s – and presumably TW’s.

    Did I miss this – do you have a link (or rough date)?

  40. Not sure there was much intimidation where the Left was concerned.

    Anyway, will this law produce the situation where an Islamist nutjob can protest noisily at the Cenotaph with a police escort, but not be allowed to post a picture of his pet kitten on Twitter without permission from the High Censor?

  41. NielsR, I have absolutely no idea what proportion of online threats are carried out – I suspect it’s a very tiny proportion. But I’m not sure it matters, for the reason I gave before: the recipient cannot know the intent of the sender. The recipient might be aware of the likelihoods, statistically, of people being in tiny group A (going to carry out the threat) or massive group B (obnoxious twunts) but he won’t know with certainty about any specific instance. And context will inevitably and understandably affect the recipient’s state of mind.

    I mentioned doxxing because that was part of the context in which the messages were sent in Nunn’s case. Nunn didn’t only repeatedly send abuse, threaten or retweet threats, he made a recipient aware that he knew her address. Put yourself in the shoes of the recipient. You receive one or two abusive messages and maybe something that looks like a threat, you put it down to someone being an obnoxious twunt. Subsequently the person keeps sending abusive messages and messages that look like threats over a sustained period of time, sets up multiple accounts to send them (particularly if Twitter suspends accounts), there are also horrible blog posts and YouTube videos about you made by the sender and he makes you aware he knows your address. Yes, at the very start of this you will reasonably think the sender is in group B (obnoxious twunts). But after the publication of your address and all those other messages, the sender appearing to be a nasty individual and possibly mentally disordered, aren’t you going to be inclined to think he could be in group A? I think it would be reasonable if you did.

    Shouldn’t the justice system focus on the practical likelihood of the threat, rather than the effectiveness of the campaign to deliver the threat? Prosecute the bite, not the bark.

    I think it should take into account the harm done to the recipient – harm including the recipient becoming fearful because of the sender’s actions, the court to establish whether that fear was reasonable in the circumstances.

  42. Threatening people is in itself (or can be) a crime on its own. It’s not hard to imagine that a person X threatened with great harm by an anonymous person Y – not knowing whether Y lives in the next street, or the next town, or 500 miles away, and not knowing how serious or mad Y is – would have his or her life seriously affected by it.

    How seriously the law should take such threats is an interesting question, with many ramifications, especially now that you can issue threats to kill people while watching Emmerdale, versus the status quo ante where you at least generally had to get off your arse and in someone’s face (and risk a pasting for it).

  43. Interested,

    “How seriously the law should take such threats is an interesting question, with many ramifications, especially now that you can issue threats to kill people while watching Emmerdale, versus the status quo ante where you at least generally had to get off your arse and in someone’s face (and risk a pasting for it).”

    That’s the problem. In the past, it at least took sending a piece of hate mail. It was going to cost you a quid in paper, envelope and a stamp.

    Anyone can get a Twitter account with an email. Get banned? Get another email and another account. The only real solution is billing people for social networking (because getting banned will have a real cost) but people won’t pay for social networking.

  44. Interested at 11:39am:

    I’d certainly start by closing the borders and building giant new prisons on distant Hebridean islands which could be filled full of unpleasant people for very long periods indeed.

    With you talking about Hebridean islands, do you mean giant prisons like these?

  45. What caught my eye was this:

    The Home Secretary will also introduce “banning orders” for extremist groups, which would make it a criminal offence to be a member of or raise funds for a group that spreads or promotes hatred.

    Anyone want to bet that this won’t be used against the likes of the English Defence League as a sop to ‘moderate’ Muslims? There are those who argue UKIP is a party of hate.

  46. PF – “Did I miss this – do you have a link (or rough date)?”

    http://www.theguardian.com/media/2008/sep/26/digitalmedia.internet

    “It is a new sign of our approach,” he said. “It is not just about copyright or intellectual property but [things like] taste and decency in the online world. The time will come to say what are the direct interventions [needed, if any].”

    Guido certainly understood what that meant:

    http://order-order.com/2008/10/17/blog-regulation-theyll-have-to-prise/

    DocBud – “Anyone want to bet that this won’t be used against the likes of the English Defence League as a sop to ‘moderate’ Muslims? There are those who argue UKIP is a party of hate.”

    Anyone want to bet that it won’t be used to prevent any future reporting of Rotherham-type crimes? After all, the Home Office person who reported it was sent off for re-education and Nick Griffin was charged with a crime for reporting it.

    But we have seen this with the banning of Michael Savage. I have not heard his radio show, but it looks a lot like his banning was a sop to the Muslims so they wouldn’t think they were being exclusively picked on.

  47. Throwing all the communists in jail would be a great start actually. The institutions these wanna-be tyrants have over-run might have a few years to recover their balance.

  48. Anyway, apparently this new law is a response to certain imams studying the existing law very carefully and figuring out how to persuade their congregations to behead infidels without ever actually quite breaking the law. I would agree that such a situation calls for legislation, and I would also agree that we can rely on our lords & masters to fuck it up.

  49. @ SMFS

    Thanks for that.

    In effect, it’s an earlier version of Dave’s “let’s tell everyone we can protect them” nonsense (or was it Claire and / or Maria?). And which as we know would achieve nothing.

    There was no real threat to Guido, he would simply have had his site hosted elsewhere.

  50. “It’s not hard to imagine that a person X […] would have his or her life seriously affected by it.”

    “NielsR, I have absolutely no idea what proportion of online threats are carried out – I suspect it’s a very tiny proportion. But I’m not sure it matters, for the reason I gave before: the recipient cannot know the intent of the sender. ”

    Well, this is the entire problem, isn’t it – how the recipient reacts to a threat is subjective, and therefore really dodgy to base law on. You end up trying to work out how a ‘reasonable person’ would respond, and as Stigler points out, you can now carry out a hate-campaign while watching Emmerdale.

    So what’s reasonable, to assume it’s another Emmerdale-watching ass-clown (very likely), or a genuine psycho? And yes, I’m well aware humans are terrible statisticians by nature.

    To be honest, to me a lot of this feels a lot like we’re wanting a man with a red flag to walk in front of that newfangled automobile thingy.

    “he made a recipient aware that he knew her address.” Right, so he’s a much more credible threat, fair enough, but still very likely just another arsehole.

  51. > Well, this is the entire problem, isn’t it – how the recipient reacts to a threat is subjective, and therefore really dodgy to base law on.

    You know, it’s pretty easy to avoid running foul of a law against threatening people with physical violence, without having your freedom to espouse any political view or ideology infringed. We’re not talking about people who say “You fucking retarded cunting bastard”; we’re talking about people who say “I’m going to rape you and make your daughter watch.” Sure, ban that. Fine by me.

    We’re getting off-topic here, though, as what the Government are introducing is intended to address the problem of people who incite violence while being very careful never to technically break the law against inciting violence. That is certainly where all sorts of fuzzy grey areas are going to appear.

Leave a Reply

Name and email are required. Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.