On the logic of Laurie Penny

The message is clear: whether or not a protest is peaceful and legal is entirely up to the police and judiciary to decide,

Well, yes. I suppose so.

The function of the judiciary is to work out what is legal and what is not legal. So using the system we have set up to decide upon legality to decide upon legality seems pretty reasonable to me.

No doubt this shows my support of the patriarchy in the use of logic.

30 thoughts on “On the logic of Laurie Penny”

  1. Surreptitious Evil

    Missing out, possibly maliciously, the step that is deliberately there to prevent the state abusing the law – the jury. Or, for lesser charges, the magistracy.

    And, of course, there are the politicians who set statute law in the first place. Some of whom are even elected.

  2. ……Last November, Bethan Tichborne, a 28-year-old teaching assistant, appeared at a public event in Oxfordshire and calmly told David Cameron that he had “blood on his hands”…..Tichborne was grabbed, tackled to the ground and restrained during her arrest, as Cameron continued to speak…..

    If this is a true representation of the facts, then the police are continuing to behave more like their Zimbabwean colleagues and less like the servants of the people that they should be. I would have hoped that a Conservative government would have tried to reverse the Blairite rot.

  3. @SE

    “Missing out, possibly maliciously, the step that is deliberately there to prevent the state abusing the law

  4. @SE

    “Missing out, possibly maliciously, the step that is deliberately there to prevent the state abusing the law.. ie. the jury.”

    Not really, no. The jury is there to decide on the facts, not the law. If the state says that the law is X, then if the jury think that the facts fit X, then their job is to say ‘guilty’.. even if the jury thinks that X is an ass.

    They may, at times, be so incensed at how much of an ass X happens to be, that it ‘affects their judgement’ of the facts, but that’s just the system working in spite of itself.

  5. So Much for Subtlety

    Didn-t I see John Cleese channeling Ms Penny in the Life of Brian? When he said, “And we point out that they bear full responsibility for our acts of violence”. It is looking more like a documentary all the time.

  6. She qualified what she wrote with “entirely”. And she’s right: the judiciary is supposed to rule according to the law, not to decide entirely by herself.

    Titchborne was convicted of using “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour” under Section 5 of the Public Order Act. (This is a summary offence, decided in this case by a district judge sitting alone.) The judge, rightly in my view, deemed her attempt to climb the security barrier to break that law. But he seems also to have ruled that her heckling of the Prime Minister was an offence in itself. That, in my view, is outrageous judicial overreach, albeit abetted by a bad law.

  7. As with all these things, there are lots of sides to the story which we don’t know unless we were there, and even if had been were there it’s quite possible that our interpretations of what happened will differ.

    While there is a legitimate thin end of the wedge argument, it seems to me that she should not have been prosecuted for this – simply removing her from the immediate vicinity and sending her on her way would have sufficed.


    There is an old adage in the police, that if you lay hands on someone you had better nick them, and it is precisely because of people *like* Ms Titchborne, who are only too ready to run to law when the police do use anything other than criminal sanctions against them.

    Personally, I yearn for the days when gobby idiots – or even the gobby correct – didn’t grandstand in this way.

    If she thinks Cameron wants disabled people to die she is mad, but there are times and places for her to say this, and when he’s turning on the fucking Christmas lights isn’t one of them.

    Slightly OT, I’m on the right (in some ways, not in all) but the bloody left do have a problem with their mouths: you simply cannot listen to an episode of Any Questions these days without any halfway right-wing speaker being heckled in a way that doesn’t happen to leftists, or not so much.

  8. Laurie thinks that if you are attacked, threatened with violence or imprisoned by her Occupod zombies, and use violence to defend or free yourself, you are committing an unforgivable act of agression.

    I wouldn’t pay her opinion much heed. In ten years time her and Owen Jones will be Deputy Leader of the Labour party and Home Secretary respectively, and dining in 5 star hotels.

  9. Surreptitious Evil

    Not really, no. The jury is there to decide on the facts, not the law …

    Jury nullification is a well known, if not well liked by the state, feature of the common law. And, up until we got rid of the “double jeopardy” rule, it worked.

    But, anyway, our arguments are cross-wise. I agree that the jury don’t, except as above, decide on the law but they still do have a part to play in deciding legality. “Was this parade legal?” is a question based both on the law as it stands and on the ‘facts of the case’. The state doesn’t present enough evidence or the jury disbelieve the state’s conclusions from that evidence?

  10. Wasn’t there a skit on a blog not so long on Penny’s de haut en bas kind of radicalism? I’ve been trying to google it but to no avail. Anyone remember it?

  11. Or, one can argue that if a judge needs to decide what is legal and what is not legal, the law as written is too vague and needs rewriting. How is an ordinary citizen to be expected to obey the law if we accept that at the time of the potential offence, neither he, nor the police, nor anyone else, actually knows whether they have committed one or not?

  12. @HarryPowell

    Try Heresy Corner, I recall a very amusing Jane Austen type spoof there some while back, maybe a year or so.

  13. “Bethan Tichborne, a 28-year-old teaching assistant, appeared at a public event in Oxfordshire and calmly told David Cameron that he had

  14. Thank you for that link to Laurelia. Wonderful. I also like the calmly told David Cameron. (I also should and spit when I’m calm).

  15. Surreptitious Evil

    Ian B,

    Re #11, the reasonable examples I can think of are all case law – you wouldn’t expect a jury to be aware of these, especially recent ones and, as an example, ECHR case law, especially for countries other than ours.

    But so much legislation is appallingly badly written and the ‘oh and we’ll enact these sections later by SI’ confuses even legal scholars.

    Which is why I’m agin the idea of a written constitution – even if you excluded all the special interests stuff that various busybodies would demand be added, you’re going to end up with something that is closer in language and length to the Tax Code rather than the US Constitution.

  16. SE-

    Well, I agree. Any Constitituion written by our current ruling class would be a hellish disaster.

    The interesting thing for me is that we’ve now reached a stage where they enact legislation, openly stating that they don’t know how it will be applied, and “that will be a matter for the courts”. To pass a law without even having a clear idea of its implementation… it is beyond comprehension. They are basically saying, “we are passing a kind of enabling act to enable the judiciary to make shit up”. A recent example that I recall was the law against having sex with illegal immigrants for money. The government actually stood there in the Commons and said they didn’t know what the courts would do with it. So you have a situation in which citizens are expected to know in advance what the judiciary will decide, which even the people passing the law openly (and apparently proudly) admit to not knowing. Incredible.

  17. Agree with SE and Ian B on ambiguity etc. Very crap.

    Ian B, I don’t know if you know, and fwiw, some judges have complained about crappily drafted legislation pouring from Parliament. Actually, some legislators have, too!

    Some laws haven’t even been enacted. The Independent said in 2012 that about 60 laws passed in 2005-2010 hadn’t yet been enacted.

    It’s almost as if they have no idea what they’re doing…

  18. Surreptitious Evil

    Bugger. Missed one 🙁

    The Independent said in 2012 that about 60 laws passed in 2005-2010 hadn-t yet been enacted.

    It is worse than that. You can actually cope with that. But where (random example) s4, s5.1, s5,4, s.47 & s48 of a law have been enacted (but not in Scotland or Northern Ireland where only s4 remains off the ‘statute book’) it gets really, really effing confusing.

    This is why I am such a pendant about various bits of law that get discussed here.

    It-s almost as if they have no idea what they’re doing…

    Trying to win the next election. That’s what they are doing and far too many of them don’t care what damage is done between here and there.

  19. La Penny’s representation of La Tichborne’s polite heckling of Cameron is a straight misrepresentation as we expect of LP:

    It was debunked in the Comments at Lib Con on the original blog here:

    As the local paper put it:

    “Bethan Tichborne had wanted to protest against Government cuts leading to the deaths of people with disabilities when she tried to climb over the barrier with a home-made placard in front of shocked schoolchildren.

    District Judge Tim Pattinson said:

  20. Damn. Had to retype.

    …District Judge Tim Pattinson said: “It is difficult to think of a clearer example of disorderly behaviour than to climb or attempt to climb a barrier at a highly security-sensitive public occasion.”

    The same goes for her comments about the Occupy wallahs.

    Yes, they were idiots who bought tools to break in to secure buildings on the budget then published the accounts, and kept Occupying buildings that stopped housing projects.

    And the ‘peaceful occupation of a room then police violence’ is actually 6 weeks of occupations with consent, then the NCAFC were invited in and it was smashed up, then there was a lawful eviction process.

    This girl is about to run out of rope.

  21. Matt Wardman,

    The problem of Guardian lefty types is that they like playing at protesting.

    They missed the golden age of protest, when there were lots of people in the west who were getting crapped on by their governments, made a lot of noise, got the public behind them and changed the world, whether it was the women calling for the vote, the black people of Montgomery , or the gay folks who liked hanging out in the Stonewall Inn.

    And the problem is that we’ve basically done the “rights” thing, and what the left are now protesting about has quite limited popular support.

  22. “They missed the golden age of protest”

    I was in Paris for ’68.
    And at Grosvenor Square.
    I may still have the T-shirts, somewhere.

    Great times for humping hippy chicks.

    Truly golden.

    Fuck knows what all the noise was about, though…

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