Civil Liberty

This is the point at which you get to fuck off Honey

To truly protect freedom of speech – a fundamental necessity for meaningful democratic life – we must be alert to how it can become weaponised in ideologically coercive ways. Free speech can become a Trojan horse to
gain space and attention for retrograde ideas that do not really merit debate. Pretending that all ideas must always be treated as equally valid and worthy of discussion in the idealised “marketplace of ideas” allows discredited ones – such as race science – to be covertly rehabilitated.

All too frequently, the gleeful caricature of students as “woke snowflakes” distracts from the fact that fomented free-speech controversies hinge almost exclusively on the right to express discriminatory, hateful or discredited viewpoints that explicitly target racial and sexual minorities.

Yes, this is what free speech means. Peeps get to stand up and say whatever comes into their heads, however stupid, hateful or against your prejudices those things may be.

The two exceptions are libel and the incitement to immediate violence. This last means that it is legal – and part of free speech – to argue for the elimination of the bourgeoisie as a class as the basis of economic and social policy. It is not legal to stand up and argue that we should burn the niggers in the quad right now. That word “immediate” carries a substantial amount of weight there.

And that’s what free speech means. Yea, even to the point that I am indeed allowed to use that naughty word there. And also I have the duty to put up with whatever storms of outrage come my way as a result of my having used it. Just as those advocating the elimination have to put up with arguments back from bourgeois suggesting that perhaps they’re not all that happy with the idea.

Quite so

Two judges have struck a blow to enemies of free speech after ruling people should have the right to offend and even abuse each other without facing a police investigation.

Presiding over a Court of Appeal case concerning the misgendering of a trans woman on Twitter, Lord Justice Bean and Mr Justice Warby ruled that “free speech encompasses the right to offend, and indeed to abuse another”, adding: “Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having”.

They said it would be a “serious interference” with the right of free speech if “those wishing to express their own views could be silenced by, or threatened with, proceedings for harassment based on subjective claims by individuals that felt offended or insulted”.

This being not just the usual common law understanding of the matter but also protected expression of views under the Human Rights stuff – no, that’s not EU, that’s Council of Europe stuff.

Got it already

Victims should get a legal right to have a say on the sentencing of a criminal, according to a report for the victims’ commissioner.

“It was ‘im. ‘Eee dun it! Lock ‘im up and fro’ away the key!”

Everyone and anyone has an absolute right so say such things already.

Oh, wait, the idiot is suggesting that they get to determine the sentence? What is buggery are we using the judge for them?

Owen matey, this isn’t racism

Twenty-two-year-old Osime Brown has lived in this country since he was four. Whatever the law may say, he is British: he has spent the majority of his life on UK soil and has the vaguest memories of Jamaica, the country in which he was born. Yet Brown, who has autism and a learning age of between six and seven, now faces deportation because he was jailed in 2018 for the robbery of a friend’s mobile phone – something he denies responsibility for.

Despite all the platitudes and regrets expressed in the aftermath of the Windrush scandal, here is the unapologetic racism of the British justice system. After serving his sentence, Brown, a black man born overseas, will receive a second punishment that would not be imposed on someone born in the UK who committed the same offence.

That’s nationalism, citizenshipism perhaps, but it’s not racism. Would, could, the same happen to a white folk from, say, Russia? Yep – so it’s not racism, is it?

You naughty, naughty, people you

Social media firms face multi-billion pound fines up to 10 per cent of their turnover for breaching Duty of Care laws, as ministers pledged there would be “no safe space online for horrors like child sexual abuse or terrorism”.

Unveiling the new Duty of Care in an article for The Telegraph, Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, said the Government would also take powers to shut down firms that failed to remove child abuse, terrorism or suicide content from their sites by blocking their access to UK users.

You’ve been using that liberty of cyberspace to be free. We’d better put a stop to that.

Too many people – not just those in public life – continue to be bombarded by racism, misogyny and trolling on a regular basis.

Your freedom discomfits us rulers. Therefore you may not have that freedom any more.

Or, as we might observe, the kiddie fiddling stuff is just the excuse.

Well, yes…..

Hundreds of senior employees at British banks HSBC and Standard Chartered have been members of the Chinese Communist Party, according to documents seen by the Daily Telegraph.

OK. They’re banks that work in China. And Hong Kong. We’d expect some number of the employees to be members of the local ruling party.

The revelation is likely to heap further pressure on the lenders,

Why?

Sure, the Communist Party contains some who actually are communists but where it’s the ruling party membership is often rather like Rotary. That’s just what ambitious youngsters join.

And?

Dame Margaret, Lady Hodge

Apparently not quite up with longstanding British attitudes. She wants to ban online anonymity. Because:

Among the dossier of abusive tweets collated by CST, one called Hodge “a backstabbing, evil old wrinkled pedo lover”

That is what a libel court would call mere vulgar abuse.

And she’d not want to even try prosecuting that for libel given the Oscar Wilde case. See back issue of Private Eye for why.

Well, yes Owen, it’s called free speech

Nearly a decade ago, the Tory baroness Sayeeda Warsi declared that bigotry towards Muslims has “passed the dinner-table test”. This isn’t to say that other forms of racism and bigotry aren’t rampant, or indeed hardwired into British society and its institutions – such as the disproportionate levels of poverty or police harassment endured by black Britons. What it does mean is that people in this country can say virtually anything about Muslims – including those with power, social cachet and influence – without consequence.

Quite why the laddie can’t understand this idea of civil liberty is difficult to understand.

Quick, quick, change the rules!

Jourová also referenced the leave campaign’s “We send the EU £350m a week, let’s fund our NHS instead” slogan in the run-up to the Brexit referendum. “What we saw was the fake news of [saying we will] not be paying money to the EU but paying to the national health system,” she said. “It was proven not to be true and it influenced the will of the people to a large extent, according to many analysts.”

The propaganda that says that the EU has brought peace to Europe will of course be allowed to continue.

Well, yes, this is a problem, isn’t it?

One of Britain’s most prolific paedophiles, who targeted at least 500 children, would not have been caught under Facebook’s proposed end-to-end encryption plans, according to the National Crime Agency (NCA).

Appearing at Ipswich Crown Court on Monday, labourer David Nicholas Wilson, 36, admitted 96 sex abuse offences against 51 boys aged four to 14, whom he conned into sending him sexual images or blackmailed into abusing their younger siblings or friends.

Certain rapists get off because the jury finds they didn’t rape anyone. So, we ban juries?

Well, as we know, there are those who propose exactly that.

Certain crimes are not detected because the police have to have a warrant to bug phones. So, we should stop having warrants to bug phones? There are people who would suggest that too.

In a free – even a liberal – society the presumption is that peeps get to do as peeps desire as long as there is no direct third party harm. This applies to end to end encryption as well. There is no direct harm to it – even as people might use it to hide their activities which do harm. There is no direct harm to a third party with the wearing of a burqa. Even as it might be used to hide an identity or a crime.

Wasn’t aware of this……

A former Facebook engineer masterminded a banned web browser for a far right social network which has become a safe haven for users who were banished from his employer’s platform.

Fosco Marotto, who worked at Facebook for seven years, built the browser to help users of Gab to scrawl right-wing virtual graffiti on any webpage, bypassing the moderated comments section. The browser also allowed people to “block big tech ads”, according to its website.

Mr Marotto left Facebook in October and announced last week that he would take over as Gab’s chief technology officer. Facebook did not comment on why he left or whether his work with Gab violated its policies.

Mr Marotto said he worked on the browser in his spare time. The browser, named Dissenter, was built to circumvent the banning of Gab’s software by Google and Mozilla.

That Gab had been banned. Not picked up, not indexed and all that, yes. But actually banned?

So here’s a weird question

A horror film fan and his boyfriend have been found guilty of murdering a woman who was lured to their “flat of horrors” after a chance meeting during a night out.

Leave aside the case and all that. A weird question.

So, one of the bits of prison as punishment is being separated from loved ones. We don’t do – in secure prisons at least – conjugal visits and all that. Where there’s a same sex couple both sentenced this sorta goes by the wayside. If they’re in the same prison they could continue to be a couple.

Well, assuming they wanted to be and didn’t spend 20 years squabbling about whose fault it was they got caught etc.

So, is there a policy on this? It might be rare enough that no one has ever thought it through. There is an acknowledgement that sexual relationships happen in prison – there’s been muttering about condom provision for years. And that’s long before we get to those American horror stories where the majority (hmm, mebbe?) of rape in the country is male on male in said prisons.

Which is what leads to the odd question. Will the Prison Service be trying to make sure this pair go to different prisons? Or not? To be jailed as a couple would be a different punishment from the more usual being jailed away from partners, no?

Not that it matters in the least in any grander sense it’s just one of those things that puzzles on a Tuesday morning having read the papers.

Well John, here’s how it works

John Boyega has said he is genuinely worried that his impassioned speech at a Black Lives Matter protest in London in June will have damaging consequences for his career.

“Absolutely. I still have those thoughts,” he said in an interview, reflecting on the moment when he addressed the rally so memorably and powerfully.

You have the right – short of libel and incitement to immediate violence – to say anything you like. The right. You also have the duty to accept the consequences. The duty.

Rights without duties don’t work, d’ye see?

Well, OK, but……

An Australian woman has described the “terrifying” experience of being taken off a Qatar Airways flight by authorities who strip-searched passengers as they tried to identify the mother of an infant found in the Doha airport toilets.

Kim Mills was one of nine women taken off a Qatar Airways flight bound for Sydney on 2 October and led through the bowels of the Hamad International airport to what appeared to be a dark carpark or turning circle, where three ambulances were waiting to perform medical examinations to determine if any of the women had recently given birth.

Mills was the only woman not subject to an examination.

“They told me to step forward, to go into the ambulance, and as I stepped forward another officer came round and stood in front of me and said: ‘No, no, you go, you go’,” Mills told Guardian Australia. “And as I was standing there with this officer telling me to go, a young lass came out of the ambulance and she was crying and distraught.

Terrified by not being strip searched seems a bit much.

But let’s try this the other way around. There’s a newborn right there. Abandoned. We tend to think that’s a bad idea. Further, the new mother might actually need medical attention herself. Right. So, how do you work out who the new mother is?

Suggestions?

Hello?

Hany Farid, a professor at University of California, Berkeley who specialises in digital disinformation, said reluctance to take Parler’s cash was not surprising. It is an example of what he called the “bully’s veto”: “Please explain to me how you have the right to say anything you want about gay people, black people, Muslim people.

It’s called free speech. Shrug.

I wonder

A history teacher who showed his pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in class was beheaded near his school in a Paris suburb on Friday by a suspected Islamist terrorist who shouted Allahu Akbar police said.

Will there be anyone stupid enough to hem and haw over this?

Sophie Vénétitay, deputy head of the SNES-FSU teachers’ union, said: He was murdered because he was doing his job, namely teaching critical thought. She said the victim was a history and geography teacher who was in charge of moral and civic education”.
In that capacity, he gave a lesson on the freedom of expression with the Mohammed cartoons she said.

Nesrine Malik doesn’t seem stupid enough to do so but perhaps we can hope for something from Owen Jones? The “Yes, but….” The but being that while free speech, yay! we still shouldn’t offend people because look what happens?

Impartial, oh yes!

A Twitter spokesman said earlier on Thursday that the @TeamTrump account, and the accounts of White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and the New York Post, had been blocked from tweeting because of the company’s policies on hacked materials and posting private information.

In an election period, blocking news that perhaps – perhaps!, as with the pee pee tape, Russians funding Trump’s hotels etc – one candidate in the election might have some ‘splainin’ to do.

We are, of course, fine with The Guardian declaring that all Tories are bastards – fine with them being allowed to and actually saying it, not that we necessarily agree with it – and also the Mail telling us that Jezza’s gonna start the Gulag up again in Basingstoke. Because they are publishers. And Twitter is showing itself to be? A platform, a publisher?

Wait for this to become permanent

People who live in Covid-19 hotspots in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland are to be banned from travelling to Wales, the Welsh first minister has announced.

Mark Drakeford said he had asked for the “necessary work” to take place to allow devolved powers to be used to prevent people from travelling into Wales from “high prevalence” areas.

Not, particularly, the banning of people travelling from those specific areas. But rather the system of documents that show where you do live so that you can be checked as allowed to go to certain other areas.

A propizka system so that Plod can check that you are allowed to be there. The Russian word being the appropriate one here. And yes, it is a step further than internal passports – or ID cards.

“Help”

The Dutch government will permit doctors to euthanise terminally ill children aged between one and 12 after months of debate within the ruling coalition.

The country’s health minister, Hugo de Jonge, said a change in regulations was necessary to help “a small group of terminally ill children who agonise with no hope, and unbearable suffering”.

The euthanasia of children has a very long history within our species. But still – “Help”?