Civil Liberty

The wrong sort of protestors

The president of the Portland branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), ED Mondainé, warned that the Black Lives Matter movement in the city is being coopted by “privileged white people” with other agendas. He said the confrontations with the federal officers sent by the president are little more than a “spectacle and a distraction that do nothing for the cause of black equality”.

Mondainé accused groups of young white people at the forefront of confronting federal officers of rising to Trump’s bait and using the campaign against racial injustice to provoke a fight in pursuit of other causes, such as anti-capitalism.

“The children of the privileged are dancing on the stages of those that gave their lives for this movement,” he told the Guardian.

Given that Portland is about 3% black – about the same as the UK as a whole – that the protestors are largely not-black shouldn’t come as all that much of a surprise.

Free speech absolutism

Finally, it seems, content moderation on social media is making some moves away from the free speech absolutism of the early internet and toward a more nuanced understanding of what kind of rules are necessary to enable free expression for the broadest possible range of people.

That is, no free speech for thou even if me and mine do get free speech. For the moment.

One of the first tech executives to take a stand for this more holistic view of protecting free expression on the web

Interesting use of the word “holistic” isn’t it?

Just terrible

The precipitating event for the Stop Hate for Profit campaign was Zuckerberg’s decision to allow Trump to quote a racist 1960s police chief’s threat against the hundreds of thousands of people who took to the streets to protest the alleged police murder of George Floyd: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

That a website would allow the head of state to say something. Appalling, eh?

But however much credit Facebook thinks it deserves, the days of utopian thinking about the social media platform’s ability to foster positive social change are gone.

That’s really what the complaints are about. Back when Obama was incisively using Facebook to forward what the noodlenecks define as “positive” social change then that was fine, lovely, cool. The moment anything that isn’t so defined as “positive” uses the same tools that ain’t.

Actually, as with the general view of free speech these days. Sure, free speech, very important, but only if I already agree with you.

Against driverless cars

OK, fair enough:

Crawford, a research fellow in culture at the University of Virginia – and a man who is currently “restoring and radically modifying” a 1975 VW Beetle using his principle of “folk engineering” – would beg to differ. He makes the case that “technocrats and optimisers seek to make everything idiot-proof, and pursue this by treating us like idiots. It is a presumption that tends to be self-fulfilling; we really do feel ourselves becoming dumber. Against such a backdrop, to drive is to exercise one’s skill at being free, and I suspect that is why we love to drive.”

This is not only a petrolhead’s complaint against rule-making officialdom (though Crawford reserves a special place in hell for the bureaucratic scalpers who install traffic cameras); it is also a vivid and heartfelt manifesto against the drift of our world, against the loss of individual agency and the human pleasure of acquired skill and calculated risk. It asks its readers to beware tech billionaires bearing algorithms.

That does rather fuck over the case for public transport, doesn’t it?

Fried Noodle!

Those who retain an online presence are finding ingenious ways around the new restrictions. The protest slogan “Gwong fuk Heung Kong, si doi gak ming”, which means “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times”, has been declared illegal. Online activists are circulating a similar sounding slogan — “Yin yuk heung cheung, si choy cha min” — which means “Bacon, sausage, vegetables, fried noodle”.

In some online groups, the words “sausage” or “fried noodle” are enough to signal support for the protest movement.


Welcome to society folks

Transgender and nonbinary people are constantly adjusting and revolving our lives around the preferences and feelings of cisgender people, not because we want to do that but because there aren’t enough hours in the day to fight every battle and not enough rights to guarantee our safety.

Because that’s what society is. Curbing our own enthusiasms in order not to confront those of others.

Sure, there are limits to how much others can impose upon us but there are also – and this is what “society” means – curbs on how much we can upon others. You wanna wear a frock? Go for it, as with yarmulka, turban or three piece suit. Identify as female? Sure, and we’ll march right with you to defend your right to do so. But as with Mill the fist and the nose there are indeed limits. Which does indeed mean that you, as with every other member of the society, are adjusting lives to fit around the preferences and feelings of the other people in that society.

Welcome to equality, folks!

Well, yes Mr. Lammy

There are real examples of leadership on race that the government can look to. The prime minister would do well to learn from Roy Jenkins, who in 1976 introduced the Race Relations Act. Or perhaps he could take inspiration from another Johnson, Lyndon B – who, after forming a relationship with Martin Luther King, signed the 1964 act that dismantled official segregation, the 1965 act that prohibited racist voting laws, and the 1968 act that outlawed discrimination in the housing market. This is what leadership looks like.

Very cool. And we’ve already done all of that, haven’t we?

Don’t do that, no, really, don’t

British courts are preparing to fast-track prosecutions for the Black Lives Matter protests, as justice secretary Robert Buckland has told magistrates to model the process along the lines of the response to rioting in London in 2011, The Times reported.

The plans made by Buckland and Home Secretary Priti Patel will lead to offenders being jailed within 24 hours of arrest to defuse disorder if they are found causing vandalism, criminal damage or assault on police officers, the report said.

The British government will publish a consultation on plans to double maximum sentences for assaulting emergency workers to two years, according to the newspaper.

Don’t change the sentences as a result of the riots, or BLM, or political protests. That’s to agree that this time is different, that these peeps are different.

Bang ’em up and lock ’em away on exactly the same basis as you would any other rioter, thug or assaulter.


The autopsy report cited in the arrest warrant for the man charged with George Floyd’s murder suggested his death was due to hypertension and a heart condition; it was, in fact, caused by police brutality and violation of civil rights, and his health issues, if true, might be just part of that same spectrum of structural violence.

We’ll add the fentanyl intoxication to that structural violence causation, shall we?

Apparently Heinz Kiosk has come back as Rebecca Solnit.

Oh aye?

A medical examiner has classified George Floyd’s death as a homicide, saying his heart stopped as police restrained him and suppressed his neck.

“Decedent experienced a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement officer(s),” the Hennepin county medical examiner’s office said in a news release. Cause of death was listed as cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint and neck compression.

Under “other significant conditions”, it said, Floyd suffered from heart disease and hypertension, and listed fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use.

FentanylFentanyl – the dividing line between getting high and suppression of breathing unto death being rather fine with that drug.

Anyway, homicide. No, not the same as murder, murder is a form of homicide. Homicide being the killing of one human by another, which includes, yea, murder, as well as manslaughter and even the entirely justified – because there are such things and whether this is or not is the interesting question – killing of a suspect while trying to arrest them.

I’m generally with Dennis here, this is really about shitty training and oversight of police. But then I think that about the US police anyway.

This was always true Matey

Lockdown rules are now “unenforceable” and the public will “do what they want to do”, policing leaders have warned.

They said the sunny weekend had been marked by widespread breaches of the lockdown which one senior police figure suggested was “to all intents and purposes ended.”

It may have been – was – possible to get the vast majority of the British to lockdown by telling them about the pandemic. But it never was enforceable, in the sense that the police, the army, or any other set of state power, could have forced adherence to those regulations if the peeps had said bugger it.

By and large it is still true that policing is by consent in the UK….. the police can only get people to do what people agree to do that is.

Well, you grasp the point, but…..

MPs will be asked to support new quarantine measures for all international arrivals which will give police the power to carry out spot checks at homes and impose £1,000 fines.

The Government is on Friday expected to unveil its long-awaited quarantine plans which will require all arrivals, including returning Britons, to provide an accommodation address where they will self-isolate for 14 days.

Border Force, police and Public Health England (PHE) officers will run and enforce the quarantine where travellers will face spot checks at the addresses they submit on forms on arrival at airports or ports. It is expected there will be about 100 spot checks a day.

Wedge issues.

Currently the police do not have the right/ability to ask who are you, what are you doing here. After this they will – and it’ll not be rescinded, once granted. It’s the start of “Your papers, please”.

From Mr. John Galt

A bit circular, the path leading to this, but as good a reason to retain the jury as anyone has ever come up with:

The Jury box is one of the essential pressure release valves that stops us being French.

Not really possible to improve upon that as a justification, is it?

This always was going to be true, wasn’t it?

Police have warned lockdown rules are starting to become unenforceable as the public begins returning to work and more stores open.

The Police Federation, which represents frontline officers, said it was “absolute nonsense” for them to be telling sunbathers to move on, when shoppers were queuing with “scarcely a fag packet between them” to buy “non-essential” products at newly-opened DIY stores.

Police chiefs also warned increasing numbers were driving miles to beauty spots in defiance of Government advice to “stay home and stay local” and then sticking official police guidance on their windscreens which stated it was permitted provided their walk was longer than their drive.

To keep the populace cowed you’ve got to have a continuing series of new alarums. Another way to think of it is that we humans adapt to pretty much any circumstance and near immediately start chafing against whatever the restrictions are.

An interesting question here

I’ve not really been paying attention to this stuff:

Police shut down an ultra-Orthodox Jewish wedding after officers were called twice to celebrations flouting the lockdown ban.

Metropolitan Police officers warned the families they were breaking government Covid-19 guidelines after neighbours saw the ceremony being set up in Golders Green, London, at 5.30pm on April 22.

But the wedding went ahead and police were called again at 9pm after a large group were seen gathering outside the property. Officers shut down the event at 11pm and issued one fixed penalty notice, but made no arrests.

Are the guidelines law? Things you can be punished for breaking? Or are they what they say they are, guidelines?

Well, yes I rather guess it is

The leading light of the young Democratic left has said that it is “legitimate” to discuss an allegation of sexual assault against Joe Biden, threatening the party’s efforts to unite before the presidential election in November.

Free speech means it’s legitimate to talk about any part of the passing scene.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that “silencing of all dissent is a form of gaslighting”

Ah, of course, given that it’s AOC there’s a “but” here. It’s legitimate because reasons rather than just well, it’s legitimate, see? The problem with the first justification being that it’s just as easy to turn around and say that the reasons mean it’s not legitimate….

Yer Wha’?

Re the coronavirus:

This is a political failure on a truly horrific scale.

It’s time for the press to do its job and hold the government to account.

The press are the people who write what fills in the bits between the advertising. Not – despite what always happens with a government to the right of the Socialist Workers Party – the people holding government to account. That’s the job of the Opposition. And – again, contrary to appearances – the press and the opposition to the government are not the same thing.

Well, yes, etc and, but….

Has Parliament actually passed a law insisting upon this form of internal passport?

A police force is threatening to fine visitors who enter the county as they warn the public to stay at home during the Easter bank holiday.

Devon and Cornwall police chiefs warned holidaymakers and second home owners caught travelling to the South West for the Easter weekend will be fined and refused entry because of the risk of spreading coronavirus.

Chief Superintendent Ian Drummond-Smith, police commander for Cornwall, said: “Our officers will be patrolling this weekend, firstly on the M5 and A30 in an attempt to prevent visitors from entering the force area, and then locally to enforce the restrictions.

“We will do so in a fair and balanced manner, but travelling down to the West country is a serious breach of these restrictions and those doing so can expect to receive a fine.”

Legally inclined minds would like to know….for this is what it is, an internal passport, like the Soviet propiska.