THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain

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The morality of public “service”

I was brought up to respect policemen. I still do. Even a libertarian state would ask good people to put themselves in harm’s way to enforce its few laws. The harm they do is rarely the fault of the (mostly) good policemen enforcing our current monstrous state’s thousands of bad laws. 

The same can be said for judges. They have an honest, important and necessary job to do that is foundational for civilisation but also apply and interpret thousands of laws that should simply not be. Their hands are dirty but it’s not their fault. Our soldiers too and perhaps (though here it gets murkier) even some of our civil servants.  

Though my conscience might still (just) handle being a judge (and relish the chance to lean hard toward Liberty in interpreting our laws) I couldn’t be a civil servant, soldier or policeman in modern Britain any more than I could be a politician for a mainstream statist party. I could not serve a gangster state that interfered with the citizenry’s freedom while violently extorting from it the money to pay me and hope to sleep at nights. 

Which raises the awkward question, who can? Being a judge, a soldier or a policeman is noble enough (and a civil servant harmless enough) in principle but to choose such a career serving the states we have now is morally questionable at least. Watch the French police currently beating up the gilets jaunes, for example. You’ll need to scour YouTube as the MSM is oddly reticent on the subject. These thugs are not conscripts. Each studied, applied, trained and freely signed a contract. Why would a decent human choose to do that job?

We have been watching Kiefer Sutherland’s Netflix show “Designated Survivor” and enjoying it well enough. I view it as the entertaining  tosh it is intended to be but wince at its po-faced portrayal of its heroes. They are cynical foes of Liberty and (literally) murderous enemies of the Rule of Law but we are expected to see them as paragons of selfless virtue. Given the boundless power of modern Western states, and the extent of their control over our personal lives, just who else would we expect to work for them but narcissists and sociopaths?

A children’s home (or church trusted by parents with their children) needs to be particularly alert to the possibility of child abusers wanting to work there. A powerful state should be similarly so about sociopaths. Neither our children’s homes, churches nor governments seem to have shown any such concern. I fear the abusers are now in charge of recruitment. 

This at least partly accounts for the relentless “mission creep” of the modern state. It certainly accounts for “Conservative” ministers, surfing smug tides of Liberty-minded rhetoric, interfering in the minutiae of our lives indistinguishably from openly authoritarian Labourites. There was a time when a moral man like this would become a civil servant but the people who staff our state now lack — almost by definition — any moral scruples about its rôle.

Please tell me I am wrong in this pessimistic analysis. If not, how can we hope peacefully and democratically to roll back the power of the state? If we can’t, then how does the story of our civilisation end?


How to deal with atrocities?

How to deal with atrocities? « Samizdata.

Perry de Havilland at Samizdata sets out what won't defeat Islamic terrror. 

one approach I am quite certain does not work is candlelight vigils, weepy hashtags and a refusal to face up to who the enemy is and why they are doing what they are doing.

He makes a good point but what will?

 

To begin with we should do nothing to validate the belief of these losers™ that they are special. The Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 – a piece of knee-jerk legislation that led me to begin this blog long years ago – was (and this is the least of my criticisms) a mistake in psychological terms. It dealt differently with those who murder for political reasons thus confirming their view that they were more than "common criminals". This was a very different approach to that of Margaret Thatcher. She always insisted that Jeremy Corbyn's chums in the Provisional IRA were not "soldiers" or "political activists" but criminals like any other; that their motives made no more difference to the legal analysis of their actions than they did to the reality of the outcome for the victims and their families. One is no less dead for being murdered in a cause and one's killer is no more for it.

 

Such criminals should be detected, arrested and tried. If convicted they should go to the same prisons as other murderers and be treated exactly the same. Murder carries the maximum penalty presently permitted under English Law because it is the worst crime. Any special treatment of terrorist murderers and their accomplices is legally a distinction without a difference and – worse – will be in their eyes a badge of honour.  

 

If, statistically, Muslims are currently producing more terrorists, I see nothing illiberal about controlling future immigration from their countries until the terrorism has been defeated. Let's acknowledge we have a problem among the Muslims we already have. Let's own it, address it and while we are doing so prevent it from becoming worse. Some people will call that "racist" but they should not confuse us with people who give a damn about their playground name-calling. Repeal whatever legislation prevents such a policy and put it in force — just as President Trump has been wading through the Deep State swamp to attempt in the USA. Opinion polls suggest there is massive democratic support for such a policy across the whole of Europe.

 

That leaves the question of the already resident Muslim population most of whom, thank goodness, pose no threat. We can maximise that proportion by some common sense measures:

  1. Change our relationship with Saudi Arabia, the heart of Islamic darkness. It does not permit Christian evangelism on its territory. In contrast, as a civilised country, we permit all religions to be practised, but that does not mean we have to allow the Saudis to fund theirs. Currently there are more Wahhabi Korans in the UK than any other versions because Saudi Arabia provides them free of charge. Wahhabism is a particularly dangerous sect and motivates a disproportionate number of terrorists. 
  2. If this is thought likely to affect arms sales to that Kingdom, then perhaps we should form an Organisation of Weapons Exporting Countries to fulfil a similar function to that of OPEC in relation to oil.
  3. It may be necessary, after appropriate research, to prevent other countries from funding mosques and madrassas in Britain. I see no problem with that either. I am sure local Muslim philanthropists will step into the breach.
  4. We should ditch the doctrine of multiculturalism and make it a matter of immigration policy that new arrivals are welcome only on the basis that they agree to integrate into our society and live according to our values. There is no ethical problem, in my opinion, in stating definitively that Shariah Law is incompatible with those values. New immigrants should swear an affidavit on entry to confirm that they understand and accept this.
  5. We should break the news to our Muslim communities that they and their families have come to live in a Christian culture. Most Brits may not be religious now but still our country is one formed by Christian values. Constitutionally, it is actually a kind of mild Christian theocracy as we have no separation of Church and State. The Church of England is Established and twenty-six of its bishops – the Lords Spiritual – are ex officio members of Parliament. In this quirky theocracy, the Theos is Jehovah, not Allah. Daft, in my personal opinion, as I very much believe in the separation of Church and State on the American or French model, but no less true for that.
  6. We should deliver public services only in the official languages of the United Kingdom. When I lived in Poland, Russia and China I could not expect to deal with the authorities in English. They took the perfectly reasonable view that my weakness in their languages was my problem. To the extent I could not cope I found friends, colleagues or paid translators to help me. By dealing with immigrants in their own languages, we have encouraged them NOT to assimilate and have made it unnecessary for them to learn English. It is our fault, not theirs, that so many Muslim mothers live and raise their children dangerously outside our society's mainstream. I am sure most were initially astonished to find that our public sector is prepared to deal with them in their own languages at taxpayers' expense.
  7. We should cut all other services (e.g. translators to sit with children in classes, chaperones to accompany ladies to medical appointments) that discourage integration. Of course we should be tolerant of the needs of learners to bring English speakers along to help them out until they are fluent. I am sure there would also be some doctors prepared to allow male members of Muslim ladies' families to accompany them to consultations. I would not make any doctor do so, however. The ladies in question chose to come to a country where such an approach is alien (and rather insulting to our doctors). No-one forced them to come. They could have stayed in their countries of origin and these issues would never have arisen.
  8. We should provide English classes for refugees. They didn't choose to come and it's only decent to help them out. Economic migrants, like me in Poland, Russia and China, should pay for their own damned language lessons.
  9. Finally we must recruit thousands of members of the police, the Special Branch and MI5 from among our Muslim citizens. We are so often assured that most of them are peace-loving and loyal that I cannot imagine this will be difficult. As a young lawyer in Nottingham I personally administered the Oath of Allegiance to many new Muslim citizens and kept a Koran at hand for the purpose. I am sure many of their families have suitably qualified members now. 

I don't put forward any of these suggestions to punish British Muslims or even to deter future immigration once the problem has been solved. But if we are to reduce terrorism here, rather than just accept it as "part and parcel of life in a big city", I think measures like these are necessary. Do you agree? If so what other measures would you suggest? If not, then how do YOU think we should defeat Islamic terror?


Has Political Correctness Gone Mad?

Has Political Correctness Gone Mad? - On Demand - All 4.

I watched Trevor Philips' programme with interest. He became President of the National Union of Students just as I was leaving student politics for the real world - back in the 1970s. He was a familiar presence at the NUS conferences I attended in the years before he was elected to that job.
 
Conservatism was generating all the new ideas at that heady time so Trevor and his comrades of the Broad Left (the Labour / Communist Alliance in "power" at the NUS) seemed like dinosaurs. Their policy of "No platform for fascists and racists" for example was simply not supported by sane students. I don't recall ever falling out with my Labour counterpart at university (where I was chairman of the Conservatives) on issues of free speech. As I recall it, he thought "no platform" was daft too. But the sane students went off into the real world. I became a lawyer and my Labour counterpart became a doctor. The "no platformers" like Trevor and his successor David Aaronovitch didn't. They went into politics, the media and academia and kept droning on about identity politics and multi-culturalism while the rest of us earned not just our living but - through the tax system - theirs. Their relentless efforts at promoting cultural Marxism have borne vile fruit so that now, he reported in his programme, two thirds of all British students support the NUS's current "no platform" policy, which has gone well beyond anything he and Aaronovitch ever argued for.
 
Trevor spent his whole career in the public sector and rose to be the head of the British "thought police" - the Equalities Commission. He was in that role when I next came across him at the Battle of Ideas conference at London's Barbican Centre about three years ago. He was speaking about how certain ethnic groups (notably black boys) underperform in Britain's schools and I challenged him from the audience. I pointed out that while black boys were at the bottom of the educational rankings, black girls performed better. What kind of racist makes an exception for the females of an ethnic group? I pointed out that, while Pakistani children did little better than black boys, Indian children were the second best performing group. Pakistan was an artificial construct imposed when the Brits granted independence to India. Ethnically, these kids were identical. What kind of racist would distinguish between them? It seemed to me that if teachers were the problem, then they were bloody strange racists. Apart from these other quirks they seemed to favour the Chinese. as their children were easily the highest performing! 
 
To Trevor's credit, he listened politely and laughed at my sarcastic humour even as the aspiring members of the left-liberal ruling elite howled me down. If racism was not the answer to this question, he asked politely, what was? I told him it was a question of parental attitudes informed by culture. I had worked in China where every mother saw education as the highest good. If West Indian and Pakistani women (not to mention working class white ones) wanted their children to do well at school they should make like Tiger Mothers. Teachers, schools and the educational establishment would not stop their children learning if they showed up at school wanting to.
 
From watching his show - which has received damning notices from his fellow-lefties - it almost seemed I had struck a chord. I would certainly like to think so. His contribution was thoughtful and intelligent. He senses that the Left has gone too far and alienated ordinary folk. The depressing parts were his interviews with students - who really do seem to have left the reality-based community - and his experiments with Mancunians ("straight-talking Northerners") who seemed culturally whipped but still craving more of the lash.
 
If you get the chance to watch it, do. It's as good a political thought piece as the biased media is currently likely to produce. The link above will expire soon. 

Cressida Dick

The closest I came to despair during the long dark political night I hope is now ending was during the affair of Jean Charles de Menezes. It wasn't so bad that panicked policemen made a tragic error in the wake of the 7/7 bombings. That was both understandable and forgivable. Had I been a juror in a murder trial of the officers who blew that poor young innocent's head from his shoulders with soft nosed bullets proscribed by the laws of war, I would have voted to acquit.

I am sure they did not kill him for the hell of it. They believed (or believed their commander believed) that he posed a genuine threat to them and the Londoners around him. Their legal defence would have been self defence under a misapprehension and I would have believed it. They were negligent at worst. They were negligently led. The family of the young Brazilian should have had civil compensation, the Metropolitan Police should have apologised for a tragic error and the officers concerned should have been disciplined and retrained. 

My despair was rather driven by the Establishment's response to the incident. It closed ranks on the rest of us and on Justice herself. It lied. It destroyed evidence. It committed crimes. Had you or I killed Jean Charles under the mistaken apprehension that he was a suicide bomber we would have faced trial. His killers were state agents and didn't; making a mockery of equality before the law. They were sent away on holiday at taxpayers expense as a reward. Their identities are still unknown. The government drummed up a stupid "health and safety" case to make the matter sub judice and give ministers an excuse not to comment until the fuss had died down. That was the nadir of Alistair Campbell-style political cynicism — manipulating the law, the press, and the public's limited attention span to mask a terrible injustice and an embarrassing failure of state power.

Justice was not done and was seen NOT to be done. An innocent died with consequences neither to his immediate killers nor to those, police and politicians, who issued the fatal orders. That Labour Government proved once and for all that the Labour Party is nothing more than the political wing of the public sector unions. The rest of us are of little concern — even if we lose our lives — compared to the privileged brothers and sisters under the leftist state's partisan protection. Even Jean Charles's usually-privileged ethnicity didn't count when the state's loyal servants needed protection. I wish I could believe it was different under a "Conservative" government but the sneer quotes say all you need to know of my view on that  

This is why I am so saddened to learn that the commander of the unit responsible for this tragedy now heads the Metropolitan Police. She commands the force I rely on to keep me safe in my home town. Her loyalty to the political élites (not to her officers, by the way, as she was cynical in shifting blame down the chain of command) trumps the safety of the public her force exists to serve and protect. Neither ordinary Londoners nor the officers under her politically-correct command should feel safe this morning .

She's the Metropolitan Police Commissioner not on her merits as a police officer but because she fits a Politically-Correct narrative. I would love to celebrate the appointment of the first woman to command this important force - the mother force of world policing. I can't because (for reasons unrelated to her sex) she is unworthy of the rôle. I shall sleep less easy in my bed in London tonight. 


A language of lies

In my last post I made a rash promise to address the abuse of language by the Left; the way in which they weaponise it to undermine opposition to their ideas. Most friends of Liberty are naggingly aware that it's going on and routinely irritated by it but when I started to research it, I realised it was a big, difficult subject to sum up in a blog post. If there were enough liberty-minded academics to fill a faculty, it could be that faculty's sole field of research. 

Orwell exposed it beautifully in his book 1984 where the English Socialist Party (IngSoc) was introducing a new form of the English language; "Newspeak". He explained that: 
...the purpose ... was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of IngSoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express, while excluding all other meaning and also the possibility of arriving at them by indirect methods. This was done partly by the invention of new words, but chiefly by eliminating undesirable words and stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings, and so far as possible of all secondary meaning whatever...
For example an IngSoc member could use the word "free" to speak of a garden free of weeds, but not to speak of free expression. That outdated, bourgeois concept would constitute crimethink and therefore did not need a word. 
 
Isn't this is precisely what the post Soviet cultural Marxist Left is now doing world wide? In Newspeak it's now called "political correctness". Why is that term Newspeak? Because to oppose it is to identify yourself as "incorrect". Your wrongness is built into the term itself.
 
Orwell's fictional language was being introduced by law but the Left realised that there was no need for that. The English language itself was formed, not by Parliament, but by men of letters and everyday folk in daily use. If a word or expression was useful, it caught on. So cultural Marxist academics just used their positions to introduce "useful" concepts (to them at least) into the language. Their eager students, innocent or otherwise, then took them into the wider world and most dangerously into the field of public policy. Political correctness is a pollution entering the stream of English thought from the Academy.
 
Orwell's Newspeak included simple things like the sinister interior ministry being named the Ministry of Love or MiniLuv, just as in real life Britain the Ministry of War became the Ministry of Defence. That's not a specifically leftist trick. Wasn't George W. Bush using the same technique when introducing one of the greatest modern assaults on Liberty; the USA Patriot Act? It's a useful tool of persuasion. We don't call a law "the imprisonment without trial act" because who would vote for that? We call it the "Prevention of Terrorism Act" even though it most likely won't do the latter, but will definitely do the former. 
 
The Soviet era Left sneered at "bourgeois" freedoms by questioning the value of freedom or a vote  to a hungry man. The post-Soviet Left has gone further. It has usurped the term "human rights" to frightening effect; proposing "rights" than can only be delivered by the use of force on others to fund them. There can only be a "right" to work, to education or to housing if there is a force powerful enough to compel others to provide them. The true test of a human right is whether a man or woman can enjoy it without compelling another – not merely to abstain from interfering with it – but to pay for it. Regular readers know my view that anything funded by force will tend to corruption.
 
Newspeak is alive and well in the text of a letter written by fifty academics opposing the right of Milo Yiannopolous to give a talk at his old school in Kent; a talk that was cancelled under pressure from the Ministry of Education. How much more elegant to censor by pressuring a humble headmaster than by invoking the majesty of the law. Matthew Baxter, the head of Milo's old school, said:
This decision was taken following contact from the Department For Education’s counter extremism unit, the threat of demonstrations at the school by organised groups and members of the public and our overall concerns for the security of the school site and the safety of our community.
 
We note that within 24 hours of advertising the event, more than 220 Langton sixth formers had, with parental consent, signed up for the event and that objection to our hosting Mr Yiannopoulus came almost entirely from people with no direct connection to the Langton.
What a wonderful confluence of career-threatening bureaucratic pressure, agitation, threats of criminal damage and academic pomposity. Who needs a law when a clear-thinking, respectable head-teacher can be so easily cowed? Just as, long ago, a thoughtful head teacher in Manchester was first demonised and then "persuaded to take early retirement" after he made politically-incorrect (but highly prescient) observations in a conservative publication. 
 
Which brings us to the most freedom-chilling concept of political correctness; hate speech. We are free to say what we want now, as long as it does not incite hatred (as defined by the Left) against protected groups (as defined by the Left). And any crime we commit motivated by ideas that would be hate speech if expressed is a "hate crime" to be more severely punished. Fictional policeman Gene Hunt ridiculed the suggestion that a murder might be a "hate crime" by asking
What as opposed to one of those I-really-really-like-you sort of murders?
The nonsensical thinking is as easily exposed by the hateful remarks of its proponents. It's wicked to worry so much about illegal immigrants that you vote for Donald Trump, for example, but it's fine to suggest that
"... if you're voting for Trump, it's time for the urn"
Hating on haters is ok, you see. I agree. I just don't accept the Left's right to define "hate" and "hater" or to protect particular groups or ideas from being hated. Neither, dear reader, if you value your liberty, must you.
 
I was let off the hook I made for myself in my last post by this wonderfully detailed article from the C2C Journal in Canada concerning the cause celebre (or at least it should be celebre) of a a contemporary hero of the cause of Liberty; Canadian academic, Dr Jordan Peterson. He is currently in what is almost certainly his last month of employment at the University of Toronto because he has publicly stated that he will not use "non-binary pronouns" such as "zhe" if requested to do so. That is in breach of a proposed new law and his university's HR policy and his employer is steadily delivering the HR warnings in preparation for his dismissal. 

 
Dear, lovable Canada, the country that no-one can be bothered to hate, has actually been breaking ground for a while on suppressing free speech. It has form on using the law to do so. Ezra Levant's epic battle with the Newspeak-named Ontario Human Rights Commission is an old story now. His astute insistence that his hearings with the grey bureaucratic minion claiming the power to censor him be videoed exposed her idiocy to the disinfectant of sunlight. That led to the specific law he fell foul of being repealed. Now the Canadian Thought Crime legislators are at it again with their obnoxious Bill C16.
 
in the above-referenced interview with Dr Jordan he says; 
Bill C-16 writes social constructionism into the fabric of the law. Social constructionism is the doctrine that all human roles are socially constructed. They’re detached from the underlying biology and from the underlying objective world. So Bill C-16 contains an assault on biology and an implicit assault on the idea of objective reality. It’s also blatant in the Ontario Human Rights Commission policies and the Ontario Human Rights Act. It says identity is nothing but subjective. So a person can be male one day and female the next, or male one hour and female the next.
I will defend to the death the rights of Leftist academics and other rascals or morons to promote such a stupid idea as social constructionism. Quite frankly, I am amused by it. To quote my only Labour Party hero, George Orwell, once more;
Some ideas are so stupid than only intellectuals believe them
Which is precisely why Michael Gove could safely observe that the people are tired of "experts". Dr Jordan goes on to say;

So with the hate speech issue – say someone’s a Holocaust denier, because that’s the standard routine – we want those people out there in the public so you can tell them why they’re historically ignorant, and why their views are unfounded and dangerous. If you drive them underground, it’s not like they stop talking to each other, they just don’t talk to anyone who disagrees with them. That’s a really bad idea and that’s what’s happening in the United States right now. Half of the country doesn’t talk to the other half. Do you know what you call people you don’t talk to? Enemies. If you stop talking to people, you either submit to them, or you go to war with them. Those are your options and those aren’t good options. It’s better to have a talk.

If you read the rest of the interview with Dr Jordan, you will know everything I would have wished to say on the subject of the left's abuse of language. He says that "we are teaching university students lies" but he understates the point. We are teaching them in lies. The social sciences faculties of the West's universities are the Spanish Inquisition of the post-Soviet Left. They are quite simply, hostile to the truth. They are the most dangerous enemies of freedom. The most saddening fact in my life is that so much of it was spent earning money to be taken from me by state violence to fund that enmity.
 

Crime in London

Screenshot 2016-07-30 01.55.10

The Metropolitan Police crime map makes for interesting viewing, particularly when you drill down to the more specific data. My own manor shows as "Low or no crime" for burglary and violence (hurrah!) but "High" for thefts from vehicles. I am puzzled why that should be, but happy that Speranza has her own secure parking space away from brick-wielding opportunists. 

Overall I live (as do most Londoners) in an area with "average" levels of crime. In fact it's striking just how "average" most of London is. Only one borough – Westminster – suffers "high" levels of crime. Hammersmith & Fulham and Camden are "above average". Only three outer boroughs are "below average". 

The white spot in the middle of the map is the City of London, where the Met's writ does not run. The specialist force there is reputed to be the best in the world at solving complex frauds, but rubbish (as hardly anyone actually lives in the City) at solving burglaries.

The City of London's crime map is here.


Too Many Laws?

Too Many Laws: Why Police Encounters Escalate | Mises Wire.

The linked article from the Mises Institute blog contains interesting statistics on police activity in the USA. 
Dealing with violent crime constitutes only a small minority of what police deal with on a daily basis. For example, in 2014, out of 11,205,833 arrests made nationwide (in the US), 498,666 arrests were for violent crimes and 1,553,980 arrests were for property crime. That means 82 percent of arrests were made for something other than violent crime or property crime [my emphasis]
I wonder what those numbers are in the UK? Most of us think of "real crime" as involving violence, theft, fraud or at least property damage. On reflection however, perhaps it's not surprising that 82% of police activity in the US relates to other matters. For all the fairy dust it blows in our eyes, the state is just another organisation shaped from the crooked timber of mankind. The people working for it – including police officers – have their own agenda, just like the rest of us. Unlike us however they face no competitive pressures to subordinate it to that of their customers.
 
Public servants in Britain earn more on average than those of us in the productive sector who pay their wages precisely because those operating the state's monopoly of force are not our moral superiors. Who among us, if we could set our own prices, fees or wages without jeopardising the demand for our services, would not earn more? 
 
The earnings hierarchy of public servants reflects neither their merits nor the demand for their particular "service". Rather it is the product of a mathematical formula that factors in their power and their remoteness from public accountability. Once the importance of this second factor is grasped, it's no longer surprising how many public servants are "paid more than the Prime Minister". She has more power than them, but she's also more accountable. An increase in her pay would dominate tomorrow's news. The pay rises of local authority panjandrums, fake charity chairmen or civil service specialists however will usually pass unnoticed; lost in budget numbers so astronomical as to be incomprehensible to most. 
 
More laws create more job opportunities in the public sector. We humans being no better than we should be, that is undoubtedly a factor both in the rate at which they are created and the rarity of their repeal. I suspect that many of the activities occupying 82% of the time of law enforcement officers in the USA involve – one way or another – maximising both the demand for their services and the resources from which public servants' wages are paid. As the article says
Contrary to un-serious and absurd claims that the police "enforce all laws," police use their discretion all the time as to what laws to enforce and which to not enforce. Those laws that are enforced are often laws that can lead to profit for the police department — such as drug laws which lead to asset forfeiture — or laws that can make for easy arrests — such as loitering and other small time laws — which improve a police officers' arrest record.
"Asset forfeiture" is a euphemism you may not be aware of. It began with laws permitting the confiscation of the proceeds of crime. These days it often involves confiscating assets merely suspected as such. In 2014, the cops stole more than the robbers in the good old liberty-loving, property rights-respecting US of A. I would love to know the corresponding figures in the liberty-despising, all-hail-the-Bitch-Goddess-State United Kingdom.
 
Reflecting on the current crisis in US identity politics the article concludes
If we want to be serious about scaling back the degree to which police interactions with the public can lead to violent escalations, we must first scale back the number of offenses that can lead to serious fines and imprisonment for members of the public, while shifting the concentration of police efforts to violent crime and property crime. The emphasis must return to crimes that have actual victims and which are reported by citizens looking for stolen property and violent criminals. Not only will this increase the value of policing, but will also improve relations with most of the public while reducing the footprint of the state in the lives of ordinary people. 
People often ask how much law there would be in a libertarian state. Given that a libertarian US state would only prohibit the initiation of force or fraud, these statistics suggest it could manage with about 20% of its current criminal laws. Imagine how well they would be enforced if all current police officers diverted their efforts to them! The "War on Drugs" is is the most obvious example of how de-criminalisation would reduce crime, both directly and indirectly (by removing the incentive to commit crime to fund a drugs habit). I suspect it's just one example among thousands however. If we reverted to the model of a "fire service" police that only responded to public calls for assistance, we would also acquire a useful measure of whether a law was necessary. Any "crime" for which the police were never called out could be safely abolished!

The lesson of Orlando

The Orlando massacre tells us nothing about the killer save that he was insane, but it's telling us a lot about ourselves.

Just look at the politicians warning of islamophobia. The people virtue-signalling on Facebook. The triggered leftist storming off British TV because he thought the discussion was focussing on the terrorism angle rather than the hatred of gays. Donald Trump turning the horror to predictable political advantage. Give it a day and the gun control advocates will be complaining about the ease of buying weapons in America and the NRA will be calling for more heavily-armed homosexuals. Plus ça change...

We need to learn lessons but for that we need to open our minds. Every comment I have read so far is someone seizing on a new event as proof of the correctness of old ideas and the continuing wickedness of old adversaries.

If facts don't change our minds what is the point of having them? We might as well all curl up in a corner and live in our deranged imaginations whatever life we fancy. Or to take my ambiguous question the other way, why have minds if facts don't change them?


A libertarian says "think of the children" in calling for less law

Discussions of "sexting" in the media and on websites advising young people and their parents, focus on the risks to teenagers of being coerced, blackmailed or subjected to "revenge porn".

There is another, perhaps worse, risk from the criminal justice system.

Firstly, the law on this subject is very badly drawn, having been enacted in the course of a moral panic about child pornography. Secondly, Britain has the lowest age of criminal responsibility in Europe: just ten years old. It is a criminal offence to create, publish or possess pornographic images of a minor. There is no carve-out, as in wiser jurisdictions, for images exchanged between minors. They are just as guilty, ludicrously, as an adult pornographer making an image of them. Or an adult pervert sending them pictures of his or her genitals.

Surely the law should protect children against sexual exploitation by adults, not from their playing the digital version of "doctors and nurses"? Even your august and respectable blogger has memories of a game of strip poker backstage during a school play that could have had legal consequences had the smartphone been invented (and this law been in place) in the 1970s.

I would not encourage a child to commit their genitalia to digital immortality. Of course I wouldn't - for all the good reasons mentioned above. But if he or she made the common mistake of doing so (I have seen estimates as high as 40% of British teenage girls having published sexual images) I do not think a criminal conviction or worse - a lifetime on the sex offenders register - should be the consequence.

Given how common this crime is, why are more children not convicted? Most offences go undetected or are detected only by sensible parents who quietly deal with it themselves. Where complaints are made, the police and Crown Prosecution Service mostly choose not to enforce a terrible law that would trash young lives without in any way serving the public interest. God bless them for that. Practically, irate parents complaining about an erect member on their daughter's smartphone are usually less keen for the boy to be prosecuted when they realise daughter dearest is just as guilty. And vice versa.

Prosecutorial discretion however is not justice. Far from it. It is the very opposite of the rule of law because it subjects us to the whims and prejudices of the men and women concerned. We need only good laws, which is to say necessary laws that protect citizens from genuine harm, and we need them consistently enforced.

Even if a case is not pursued, vulnerable young people at a point in their lives where their sexuality is often as alarming and worrisome as it is fascinating and compelling are having their studies disrupted and their lives turned to horror. Imagine the police telling your mum or your headmaster about your sexual indiscretions and showing them your bits. All for being just as horny, stupid and normal as your forefathers and foremothers, but in a more technological age.

When the politicians come calling in election mode and ask what they can do for you, please consider mentioning this injustice they have wrought and asking them to fix it. Give them a copy of this post and ask them to email tom@thelastditch.org. I will be happy to help them draft an amendment to the law, entirely free of charge.


Free speech

Is this what our law has come to?

A Muslim extremist linked to Woolwich killer Michael Adebowale was jailed for five years and four months today (Weds) for glorifying the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in a series of YouTube videos. Royal Barnes, 23, was filmed by his veiled wife Rebekah Dawson, 22, laughing hysterically as he drove past the scene of the attack. Dawson, who has caused nationwide controversy by refusing to remove her niqab in court, was jailed for one year and eight months. The couple ridiculed the memorial flowers left by friends, family and members of the public for Drummer Rigby and Barnes described the murder as 'absolutely brilliant'. Dawson also boasted in a text to a friend: 'Did you watch it? It was really inciting and almost glorifying lol.'

Two young idiots upload stupid films to YouTube. They express primitive, ignorant, violent opinions. Opinions rather like those expressed by revolutionary socialists every single day (but with far less chance of influencing anyone).

Did their childish, ignorant words represent a threat? If so, then we are a feeble society too decadent to deserve survival. This is using the sledgehammer of the criminal law to crack something that merited the toffee hammer of an Anglo-Saxon imprecation at best.

These idiots are pathetic, yes. But so are we for having nothing better to do with the hard-earned money taken by force from decent people than to pay policemen, lawyers, judges and prison officers to deal with them. And for not understanding that it's better to hear dangerous opinions and know where threats may come from than to drive them underground.