Free Speech is Free Speech

Via the Anorak I find this.

I am currently out of the Country and on my return home to England I am going to be arrested by British detectives on suspicion of Stirring up Racial Hatred by displaying written material" contrary to sections 18(1) and 27(3) of the Public Order Act 1986.

This charge if found guilty carries a lengthy prison sentence, more than what most paedophiles and rapists receive, and all for writing words of truth about the barbarity that is living in the midst of our children, which threatens the very future of our Country.

Now reading Lionheat\’s post I don\’t quite understand exactly what it is that he\’s said. I\’m also not sure that I\’m likely to agree with what I suspect he did say: that one blog post tells me that he\’s not really my kind of guy.

But the claim is that he\’s to be arrested for something he\’s posted on his blog. My view on this is pretty simple: other than libel and incitement to violence (which includes that shouting "Fire" in a crowded theatre thing) we\’ve a right to say anything we damn well please without fear of the law. I also realise that this isn\’t quite what the law itself says, but then that\’s an error with the law, not with the right to free speech.

As The Anorak says, this is similar to the Samina Malik case,

Anyone know more details about this case?

The Contiental Legal System

They\’ll be harmonising the legal systems soon enough and this is the sort of thing which will happen:

An Italian teenager suspected of killing his mother – a well known author of a guide to the Harry Potter books – will remain in prison for a year while the investigation continues, a judge has ruled.

Note that this is not on remand, awaiting trial.

After two hours of interrogation, the judge decided that there is enough evidence to hold him in custody pending formal charges.

It\’s a year in jail before formal charges are laid down. A year before he even knows what he will be charged with, a year before he has any possibility of attempting to refute the charges, a year before he can even start to prove his innocence (not that I think he is going to be able to do that but that\’s another matter).

This is what is at the heart of the seemingly arcane matter of being able to continue to interrogate (which we do not currently allow) after charging.

It\’s in direct contravention of the basics of the current legal system, that you can only be held (with a few day\’s grace that is) once you\’ve been charged.

No, I don\’t look forward to the English courts adopting this system, but I fear that it will either be forced upon us….or that the current shower will continue taking us down the road to it.

Well, Quite

Odd but encouraging to find a real liberal in The Guardian:

Here is the book you ought to read to fortify you for the further assault on our freedoms and civil liberties that lies ahead: Towards the Light by the philosopher AC Grayling. It is subtitled The Story of the Struggles for Liberty & Rights that Made the Modern West. Grayling vividly describes how the rights and freedoms liberal democracies take for granted were won at great cost in heroic suffering and death, over several centuries. Yet we\’re in danger of losing them, quickly and unnecessarily, in the name of public safety and administrative efficiency. He reminds us of Benjamin Franklin\’s saying: "He who would put security before liberty deserves neither," and ends with a passionate plea to "never give in to the thieves of our liberties … It is what we owe the dead who bought them for us with their lives, it is what we owe ourselves in our aspiration for good lives, and it is what we owe those whose lives are to come: the inestimable gift of liberty, and the security of inalienable rights."

Aha..

Ahahaha.

Hoist and petard comes to mind.

The high-profile demonstration, intended to highlight the force\’s anger over its recent below-inflation, 1.9 per cent pay rise, is threatening to become a major political flashpoint in the new year. The police claim their preferred route for their march is set to be banned under archaic \’sessional orders\’, laws drawn up in the early 19th century to combat large-scale radical protests that threatened a disturbance of the peace.

The orders are renewed by Parliament each year and invoked by the Metropolitan Police if the force believes a protest will prevent MPs from going about their daily business. Critics of the orders claim they are a heavy-handed response designed to stifle peaceful protest.

I wonder how many of said demonstrating police have refused to impose such restrictions on others?

Our \’Enery

Porter rather lays into Polly T here.

The breathtaking dishonesty of her argument is to describe anyone who opposes Labour on these grounds as a being a right-winger. In our democracy liberals exist in all parties – thank God – and it is eloquent of her desperation that she seeks to portray those who stand for liberty, rights and privacy as being individualists who are seeking the aura of victimhood, which of course decrypts as privileged middle-class dilettantes. The allegation comes from the hard-line sectarian communists of my student days, and it is hardly surprising to find the same generation still at it in New Labour, yet now adding notes of vanity, self-righteousness and priggishness.

I had an email from an Observer journalist once in response to my advice on voting. Voting Tory would make Polly\’s head explode and it was worthwhile for that reason alone. The gist of the email was that anything which made Polly\’s head explode was indeed worthwhile.

There\’s still something of a fault line between the Observer and the Guardian you know. The former is more classically liberal, the latter more modernly.

Polly on Civil Liberties

The poor dear. She gets very confused here, very confused.

But the Porter view turns the state into public enemy number one. That is the traditional rightwing view, but many on the left are buying into this creed of individualism against the collective. The left can\’t resist also being victims: oh, to be arrested for a cause! Labour has played into their hands with cavalier curtailments of civil liberties for illusory political gains. But the left should beware the old rightwing wolf dressed in civil liberties sheep\’s clothing that pursues individual freedoms for the powerful at the expense of collective freedoms for all.

This is the same mindset that sees taxes as an infringement of liberty and an Englishmen\’s property as his inalienable untaxed castle to hand down, untaxed, to his children. It is the mindset in which the right to choose "personalised" services trumps everyone else\’s fair chance for best schools and hospitals. Liberty and equality will always rub along together awkwardly. But social democrats should guard against the individualistic my-rights culture of our times that simply ignores the rights of those whose needs are most urgent, in favour of often relatively frivolous paranoia about an overmighty state.

The positive rights which she argues for, well, OK, let\’s argue for or against such positive rights. But there is no conflict here between having or not those positive rights and the having or not of the negative rights. They\’re entirely different questions. My right to silence on questioning, to a jury trial, to the presumption of innocence, what have these to do with the treatment of asylum seekers, or the method of delivery of state services? Nothing, nothhng at all, and to claim that either concentration upon one reduces the efforts on the other, or that advance on one balances degradation on the other is nonsense.

But the phrase that really chokes going down is "frivolous paranoia about an overmighty state."

The one thing the 20 th century really ought to have taught us is that paranoia about an overmighty state simply isn\’t frivolous. It should be the default position for us all.

Long Working Hours

This is rather something to celebrate, don\’t you think?

Under the European working time directive, workers are legally not obliged to work more than 48 hours, though under a special opt-out granted to the UK British employees are allowed to work longer if they explicitly agree.

So alone amongst the European Union nations the workers in the UK can work the hours they wish to. Not the hours that others think they ought to wish to, but the hours that they themselves actually do.

The latest figures reverse that trend for the first time under the Labour government, with 93,000 more people now working more than 48 hours a week compared with 2006, taking the total to almost three and a quarter million (3,242,000). The increase represents a rise from 12.8% to 13.1% of the workforce.

And it appears that some 13% of the workforce have different ideas about the hours they wish to work than the panjandrums think they ought to.

As ever, we need to distinguish between what people think others should do and what people actually do if left to make the decision for themselves. While the different EU countries are indeed different it would seem, from the UK example at least, that a possible 13% of the EU population (or workforce rather) are being denied, by law, the opportunity to balance work and family life as they would wish.

The solution to this is quite clear. We should lift the 48 hour limit on the working week for all Europeans, for as we are indeed all EU citizens now, it is only right that all of the others enjoy the same freedoms that the British do.

Yes, She\’s Right…

She is indeed featured here.

The Oxford Union debating society have invited Nick Griffin and David Irving to speak, despite the concerns of our local police and the city council, the student union and the Jewish and Muslim societies. I fully intend to be joining the demonstration outside the Union on St Michael’s Street from 7pm this evening. Doubtless there are some who won’t agree with me (I fully expect to be featured on Tim Worstall’s or the Devil’s Kitchen blogs later today, which will inevitably be followed by an onslaught of disagreeable comments).

Now boys and girls, play nice here. If disagreeable means not agreeing with Ms. Bance, that is of course fine. But being disagreeable just for the sake of being disagreeable isn\’t. Not when we go and play on someone else\’s property it isn\’t.

Of course she\’s entirely correct in this:

But I would just point out that having the right to freedom of speech doesn’t mean having the right to be invited to speak at a private members’ club.

Indeed it doesn\’t, even I would insist that it doesn\’t.

I would insist however that freedom of speech absolutely includes the right of a private members\’ club to invite whoever they should wish to come and speak to them. Which would appear to be what Ms. Bance is off to demonstrate against this evening.

Ho hum.

CBI Climate Change Report

Idiocy:

Yet the carbon footprint of our economy is larger than that. After taking into account the carbon emitted to produce the imports we buy, as well as the goods and services we export, it increases by at least 10 per cent.

This is the level of logical thought our Titans of Industry are capable of?

We could, if we wanted, add in the emissions from our imports, as they are connected with consumption here. We could also, if we were so minded, add in the emissions of our exports, as they are connected with production here.

But what we can\’t do is add both in. The emissions in our imports are counted in the production budgets of elsewhere: similarly, the production emissions of our exports are counted in the consumption budgets of elsewhere.

One or the other, not both.

Do Fascists Have a Right To Free Speech?

The issue basically comes down to this question: Are fascists entitled to free speech?

Yes.

Next question?

Update:

The whole point of free speech is that people who believe odious claptrap will have their views subjected to vigorous debate and shown up for precisely what they are. Sweeping them under the carpet is nothing like as effective – there\’s no disinfectant like sunlight, and it\’s nice to see my old alma mater taking on the dirty but oh-so-necessary job of debunking both men in public.

In Which Ben Goldacre Demolishes The ID Card System

A superb column from Ben Goldacre here. Go and read it all. He\’s got more details of how, for example, to make your own fingerprint (or rather, someone else\’s) here.

Quite apart from the whole civil liberties part of the database and so on, it\’s clear that it simply won\’t actually work.

In fact you might sense that the whole field of biometrics and ID is rather like medical quackery: as usual, on the one hand we have snake oil salesmen promising the earth, and on the other a bunch of humanities graduates who don’t understand technology, science or even human behaviour. Buying it. Bigging it up. Thinking it’s a magic wand.

50 Day Detention

Here\’s another cart where the wheels appear to be coming off: The Director of Public Prosecutions.

Sir Ken said: \’\’We are satisfied with the position as its stands at the moment."

He pointed out that charges could be brought against suspects on the grounds of \’\’reasonable suspicion" of involvement in a terrorist act.

If such a benchmark could not be achieved after almost one month of questioning and inquiry, a court was unlikely to allow the period of detention to continue.

Once a suspect was held for more than 14 days, a High Court judge must be persuaded to let the detention continue. This becomes increasingly difficult the longer he is held without charge.

So longer is no necessary. Can we now return the conversation to where i ought to be, making that period shorter?

 

Your Documents Please

I\’ve missed this one so far:

We now accept with apparent equanimity that the state has the right to demand to know, among other things, how your ticket has been paid for, the billing address of any card used, your travel itinerary and route, your email address, details of whether your travel arrangements are flexible, the history of changes to your travel plans plus any biographical information the state deems to be of interest or anything the ticket agent considers to be of interest.

What\’s Porter on about?

Combined with the ID card information, which comes on stream in a few years\’ time, the new travel data means there will be very little the state won\’t be able to find out about you. The information will be sifted for patterns of travel and expenditure. Conclusions will be drawn from missed planes, visits extended, illness and all the accidents of life, and because this is a government database, there will be huge numbers of mistakes that will lead to suspicion and action being taken against innocent people.

Those failing to provide satisfactory answers will not be allowed to travel and then it will come to us with a leaden regret that we have in practice entered the era of the exit visa, a time when we must ask permission from a security bureaucrat who insists on further and better particulars in the biographical section of the form. Ten, 15 or more years on, we will be resigned to the idea that the state decides whether we travel or not.

Who pays for the £1.2bn cost over the next decade? You will, with additional charges made by your travel agent and in a new travel tax designed to recoup the cost of the data collection.

Obviously, at some point my eyes glazed over and I missed it all. Anyone got further details? At first glance this would seem to fall foul of the freedom of movement…..or does that have a "security" get out clause?

Ah, I see more of it with Jenkins:

This is not responsible government. Yet on the advice of a self-confessed “simple sailor” security adviser, Admiral Lord West, Brown is now to encircle Britain with an “e-border”. All comers and goers are to be electronically recorded and asked to supply addresses, phone numbers and computer details, up to 53 items of personal information. Officials are to be given powers to revoke visitor visas at immigration desks without appeal. It will make America’s draconian immigration control seem like open house.

I\’ve been subjected to that cancellation of visas without appeal myself. It\’s quite possibly the one most important thing about the US practice that I would insist should never be tried by any sensible nation.

Sheesh. Still, at least al the Federasts will be annoyed, it entirely puts to an end any idea of joining the Schengen arrangements. Other than that I can\’t actually see any merit at all.

Those Rape Conviction Figures

Of course we must do something about the fact that only 5% of reported rapes end up in convictions. Of course:

The worst day of Paul Haslam’s life began at 3.30am with a loud knock on the door from the police. They told him he was being arrested on suspicion of rape, and took him to Charles Cross police station in Plymouth.

There, he was questioned about what had happened the previous evening, when he had spent the night with a girl he had known for only a short time. He knew he had done nothing wrong, but he did not know how he could prove it.

Later that day Mr Haslam was released without charge. Three weeks later he received a letter telling him that no further action was being taken. By then he had lost his job and had to tell his family about the arrest.

Mr Haslam, 30, had hardly thought about that day nine years ago until he read in his local newspaper this week that the woman who made the false allegation against him had since done the same thing to seven other men.

Gemma Gregory left a trail of disrupted lives across the city of Plymouth. A judge gave her a 12-month suspended jail sentence for perjury for her latest false accusation and ordered her to undergo psychiatric treatment.

No woman would ever accuse a man of rape if it hadn\’t actually happened now, would they? A simple system of accusation and conviction should be suitable, don\’t you think? For we must always listen to the voice of the victim. This insistence upon evidence is simply so patriarchal, testament does, after all, share the same root as testes.

Well, Yes

Shocking really:

The law lords have delivered a major blow to the Government\’s anti-terror policy, ruling that stringent control orders should be watered down so that suspects will be able to wander free for half of the day.

That people who have been convicted of no crime should be free to wander the streets! What is this? A free society or something?

Jack Straw on Rights and Responsibilities.

Hmm. Looks like they\’re actually serious about this:

Yesterday, we announced plans for a British Bill of Rights and Responsibilities which will build on the Human Rights Act (HRA), with a clearer description of our responsibilities.

Err, whose responsibilities is that my dear Lord Chancellor? Do you mean your responsibilities to us? Or, as I suspect, our responsibilities to you? The latteris, I\’m afraid, bollocks.

You see, a Bill of Rights is not about what we must do for you, it\’s about what you, the Government, the State, may not do to us, the citizenry. As the history of the 20th century shows us, the greatest danger to the pursuit of happiness, to life and liberty, is the State. As indeed it was before that, which is why ou forefathers spend so much time and effort it limiting the things it could do to those who constitute it.

So can we please get this very straight, right now? We owe you no duties. You are our servants, hired for a limited time to do what must be done collectively and with the power of compulsion that only the State has. The obvious temptations of the joy of exercising that power of compulsion mean that what you may do to us is limited by a Bill of Rights. Stick with that and we\’ll be fine. But it is you that owes us the duty, not us you.