We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

How I feel about this morning’s polls

“It’s not the despair, Laura. I can stand the despair. It’s the hope.”

– said by John Cleese playing stressed headmaster Brian Stimpson trying to get to an important conference while the fates conspire against him in the film Clockwise.

This morning’s Guardian reports, “poll leads and Sun backing for Brexit prompt Remain ‘panic'”. However polls in referenda tend to overstate the vote for change and there often is a late surge for the status quo.

With nine days to go, which way do you think the referendum will go?

Discussion point: would you miss it?

Donald Tusk: Brexit could destroy western political civilisation

“They deleted EVERY other thread about the shooting”

These comments were all taken from posts to the Orlando shooting megathread on https://www.reddit.com/r/news/:

– Dear Moderators:
You are not journalists. You are not editors. You are not arbiters of good taste or what constitutes “newsworthiness”. Stay in your lane.
Your actions today have failed the Reddit community.

– You know whats crazy? I live in Orlando and I had no idea this was going on. I depend on reddit for my news 100% since it can rapidly deliver news from many sources that I can validate or discard. I have literally been up all night on Reddit and due to the apparent thread lockings and deletions, this story took 9 hours to make it to me — I probably live within thirty minutes of this place.
Unbelievable.

– To me the funny thing about the censorship here is that the people who do it think somehow that they are helping the situation by deleting anything they don’t like or anything they think might offend somebody.
What they are really doing is creating more repressed anger and outrage. If you think that deleting comments about Islam will decrease animosity towards Islam then you’re sadly mistaken my friends. You’re simply creating more hatred by many who feel that any criticism of one particular group with one particular ideology is forbidden while it is open season on the rest of us. Let us remember a simple fact. Islam is an ideology like belief in Donald Trump or believe in magic pixie is forbidden while it is open season on the rest of us. Let us remember a simple fact. Islam is an ideology like belief in Donald Trump or believe in ghosts. It is not a race, or people, or color,. If you attack Islam you were simply attacking an ideology. Nothing more nothing less.
Please stop deleting comments– you are increasing anger not decreasing it

– Wtf? 50 people are killed and I have to look around for 5 minutes? Wtf reddit, don’t make me go back to getting my news from the fucking TV, alright? Just get your shit together.

– Its not even on the front page. This is going to be a monumental shooting event and its NOT EVEN ON THE FRONT PAGE.

– As soon as my boyfriend told me, the first place I came for information was Reddit. Not CNN, not CBS, not NBC. Reddit. Not a goddamn thing about it on the front page. Unacceptable.

– reddit is normally my first port of call for this sort of thing
It needs to stop being your first source. Reddit is about information control. You’re not getting the full picture

– I’ve been on reddit for 7 years (this is not my first acct) and I’ve seen its gradual shift from the pure, raw immediate news that put CNN to shame, to a useless, slow-moving organization that is more concerned with affiliate clicks, admin control and promoting ideology.
reddit used to be a serious option for people seeking help in the wake of some catastrophe. now it suppresses useful information

– You know it’s sad when r/the_donald is covering this more than the fucking main news subreddit. The amount of blatant censorship on here is ridiculous.

– I’m sorry, but this whole thing has been ridiculous. This situation has been unfolding for hours, it’s the deadliest mass shooting in US history, and the only evidence of it on the front page is stuff from /r/the_donald?
Mods you really dropped the ball here. In a (poorly executed) attempt to be unbiased, you ended up letting a completely biased source take over the flow of information. What the hell were you thinking?

– More than anything else, the actions of the mods this morning have fostered anger and resentment and suspicion. They have made the discussion about this site’s cowardice and emboldened those who accuse it of pandering to the PC left. The mods here have failed and permanently damaged the site’s credibility.
Shooter was Muslim. Stop hiding posts you fucking idiot mods. Who cares what nationality the shooter is, this is a tragic event you fucking cunts.

– There was a time I relied on r/news for up to date /recent news. I had to learn about this shooting through a fucking iheart radio notification. …seriously mods, get your shit together.

– Is it true that you’re banning users for mentioning that the shooter was a radical islamist?
People are right to be upset at those defending islam. It’s the only unreformed abrahamic religion–forever stuck in the 10th century. Fuck islamists and anyone who defends them.
This is absolutely abhorrent censorship. 50 dead and you’ve prevented discussion because something about it goes against your identitarian political agenda. I guess more people will finally realize what a shithole this place truly is. You fucked up.

– How is this not front page? I found out about this from facebook… so much for getting my news from reddit!

– They deleted EVERY other thread about the shooting. I woke up this morning and got the information from Drudge, not one r/news post made it to my front page. Unfuckingbeleivelable.

– Why isnt this on the front page? I cant find anything to do with the shooting in Florida besides from /r/the_donald

Most of the above Reddit posts had disappeared in the quarter of an hour it took me to write this Samizdata post. This was the leading new post:

– The actions of the moderators today have failed reddit. They have failed the LGBT community and humanity as well! Clearly, their need to protect their narrative is greater than their need to protect REAL human lives. A REAL tragedy just took place, and people can’t get off their high horse for two seconds to discuss something far greater than their stupid pride. We need to let it be understood that we as human beings will not tolerate such action, and will stand up against terrorism.

Related post: Politically correct evasiveness fails on its own terms. I have added the tag “deleted by the Guardian” to this post because it deals with a similar phenomenon to the PC deletions of reader comments for which that newspaper is well known, but wish to state that in this case the Guardian‘s coverage included the lead hypothesis that this mass murder was an Islamist terror attack from early on.

*

Added later: I note that the name of the “deleted” tag has now been broadened to cover the PC media generally. It is indeed done by the PC media generally and it has been going on a long time. Ten years less a month ago I wrote this post for Biased BBC: But… you talk like war crimes are a bad thing:

yet when bombers murdered your own countrymen in London a year ago you were so anxious to avoid being judgemental that you had someone go through what your reporters had written in the heat and pity of the moment, carefully replacing the word “terrorist” with the word “bomber.”

*

Further update: The Daily Caller reports, Reddit Bans Users, Deletes Comments That Say Orlando Terrorist Was Muslim. The article contains several screenshots, including one of the front page of Reddit with /r/The_Donald filtered out. It showed “not a single mention of the worst US terror attack since 9/11, worst shooting ever”.

Gross distortions about EU funding

There have been objections made to the claim made by the Leave campaign that “we send the EU £350 million a week”. Apparently, depending on how one makes the calculation, the net sum we actually send the European Union each week is £248m or even as little as £136m. So that’s all right then.

Even I, a Leave supporter, agree that the claim is deceptive and unjustified. We may send that amount to the EU but you have to allow that the EU sends some of it back. Gross is different from net.

But isn’t that the same lie told by every one of those thousands of compulsory European Union “gratitude” plaques?

null

Project Part-Financed by the European Union
European Regional Development Fund
Which since Britain is a Net Contributor to the EU
Actually Means Financed by You

Unconventional warfare

The Independent (still alive online) reports:

Isis has been trolled with mountains of porn – and it’s been far more effective than imams telling young Muslims off

More from the International Business Times:

Hackers target Isis supporters with thousands of graphic ‘Pornbots’ sex images

Incentives at the United Nations

Two stories in today’s Times caught my eye:

Ireland abortion laws breach human rights, rules UN

Saudi ‘threat of fatwa made UN change child deaths report’

Tony Benn was right

Sometimes.

We are discussing whether the British people are to be allowed to elect those who make the laws under the which they are governed. The argument is nothing to do with whether we should get more maternity leave from Madame Papandreou than from Madame Thatcher. That is not the issue.

I recognise that, when the members of the three Front Benches agree, I am in a minority. My next job therefore is to explain to the people of Chesterfield what we have decided. I will say first, “My dear constituents, in future you will be governed by people whom you do not elect and cannot remove. I am sorry about it. They may give you better creches and shorter working hours but you cannot remove them.”

I know that it sounds negative but I have always thought it positive to say that the important thing about democracy is that we can remove without bloodshed the people who govern us. We can get rid of a Callaghan, a Wilson or even a right hon. Lady by internal processes. We can get rid of the right hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Major). But that cannot be done in the structure that is proposed. Even if one likes the policies of the people in Europe, one cannot get rid of them.

Secondly, we say to my favourite friends, the Chartists and suffragettes, “All your struggles to get control of the ballot box were a waste of time. We shall be run in future by a few white persons, as in 1832.” The instrument, I might add, is the Royal Prerogative of treaty making. For the first time since 1649 the Crown makes the laws–advised, I admit, by the Prime Minister.

We must ask what will happen when people realise what we have done. We have had a marvellous debate about Europe, but none of us has discussed our relationship with the people who sent us here. Hon. Members have expressed views on Albania and the Baltic states. I have been dazzled by the knowledge of the continent of which we are all part. No one has spoken about how he or she got here and what we were sent here to do.

If people lose the power to sack their Government, one of several things happens. First, people may just slope off. Apathy could destroy democracy. When the turnout drops below 50 per cent., we are in danger.

Mr. Peter Hardy (Wentworth) : Like the United States.

Mr. Benn : As my hon. Friend says, in the United States turnouts are very low. That is partly caused by the scale of the country. The second thing that people can do is to riot. Riot is an old-fashioned method of drawing the attention of the Government to what is wrong. It is difficult for an elected person to admit it, but the riot at Strangeways produced some prison reforms. Riot has historically played a much larger part in British politics than we are ever allowed to know.

Thirdly, nationalism can arise. Instead of blaming the treaty of Rome, people say, “It is those Germans,” or, “It is the French.” Nationalism is built out of frustration that people feel when they cannot get their way through the ballot box. With nationalism comes repression. I hope that it is not pessimistic–in my view it is not–to say that democracy hangs by a thread in every country of the world. Unless we can offer people a peaceful route to the resolution of injustices through the ballot box, they will not listen to a House that has blocked off that route. 

– The Rt. Hon. Tony Benn MP, speaking on 20th November 1991 during the Commons debate about the Maastricht Treaty.

Who’d a thunkit? Juncker drunker than a skunk on a junket

Via Guido Fawkes, we see the leaders of the European Union at play.

Illegal schools

Here is a BBC story from a couple of weeks ago: Thousands of children taught in ‘illegal schools’. Similar pieces appeared in the Times, the Guardian, and other newspapers. When this story came out I listened on the radio to an interview on the subject with some Ofsted guy, either the Sir Michael Wilshaw quoted by the BBC or one of his minions. Whoever it was, he came across as so evasive on one particular point that by comparison even the BBC interviewer was plain-spoken. From the way Ofsted Guy spoke of these illegal schools as places where only “religion” was taught you’d think clicking on the BBC Bitesize GCSE Religious Studies page makes a red light flash in GCHQ, and from the way he spoke of “radicalisation” you’d think that all roots resulted in the same flower. Oh, and from the way he spoke of these schools being “illegal” you would think that they had been convicted in a court of being illegal. The BBC interviewer pressed him and eventually got him to admit that the alleged illegality was merely his opinion, not having been tested in court, and that “some” of these schools were Islamic.

That’s progress of a sort. The Guardian article linked to above does not mention Islam at all but has a quote from a disgruntled former pupil at a Charedi school. We should all be very grateful to the Charedim and the Belzers. When one simply must have someone other than the Muslims to point to, they are there. They ought to start an agency and charge for their services: “Jews in Hats: the safe option for all your denunciation needs.”

The Times says the unauthorized schools are “predominantly Islamic”.

So far this post has almost written itself. The usual pathetic fear of naming Islam from the establishment, the usual pushback from angry commenters, the usual opportunity for bloggers like me to use up old out-of-code packets of sarcasm from the bottom of the freezer. But now things get a little odd and diffuse and unsatisfactory.

I would like to offer a few scattered thoughts regarding three points. (1) Not for the first time, the efforts of the media to conceal that some minority are disproportionately involved in some disfavoured activity has resulted in the public overestimating the involvement of that minority; (2) this whole effort on the part of the so-called Office for Standards in Education has all the characteristics of a power-grab and a smear; and (3) there is no evidence that these little informal schools, including the Muslim ones, do any worse than the state schools at either education or terrorism-prevention. There is some reason to suppose they might do better in some circumstances despite worse facilities. Many children turn to these schools having suffered bullying at normal schools. The low number of people involved means that everyone, teachers and pupils, knows everyone else; no one can “slip through the cracks”. Another benefit is that the presence of an affordable alternative helps keep more traditional types of schools on their toes.

Taking point (1) first, scroll down to the end of the BBC story with which I started this post. It says, “Update: This report contains new information from Ofsted, which had previously said most of the schools involved were Islamic or Jewish.” The following line seems to have been inserted into the main text since it was first published: “Roughly a third of them [the unregistered schools] were Islamic and a sixth either Christian or Jewish.” So fully half of them are not religious! I’m guessing hippies. Daft but not scary.

Point (2). If this whole fuss were any more of a smear you could use it to test for cervical cancer. Let us look at the BBC article in particular.

He said his inspectors found schools operating in warehouses and old factory buildings, and the establishments were “often charging parents for the privilege”

Oh, the horror. They weren’t in pretty buildings and they charged a fee. Did Sir Michael Wilshaw ever stop to think what the fact that people, often rather poor people, would rather pay to have their children taught in an old warehouse than not pay to have them taught in a purpose-built school implies?

He said the children were in “very serious danger” and not just from the “filthy” premises, with open drains running through some of them.

I call bullshit. There is dirt a-plenty in modern Britain but there really aren’t that many buildings with open drains running through them any more. I looked on Zoopla and “Open sewer in middle of room” was not offered as a search term. Depend on it, “some” means “one”, and that was probably an ambiguous case.

“If the people in these institutions are not carefully vetted and they are not, then the wrong sort of people could be looking after these children,” he said.

It is undeniable that they could be. It is also undeniable that not a week goes by without a newspaper account of some carefully vetted right sort of person teaching in an official school being revealed to be a kiddy fiddler. I don’t claim that vetting is useless, but its efficacy is greatly overstated. Frequently the effect of CRB forms and other box-ticking exercises is to reduce vigilance. People think the paperwork is correct so all must be well.

“And they could be associating with people who have extremist views.”

Which takes us to point (3). Again, it is undeniable that these children, meaning Muslim children, in unregistered schools could be associating with extremists, meaning Muslim extremists. You know, like Muslim children in state schools definitely do. You want to see Islamisation in schools? This is Islamisation in schools:

Investigations by Ofsted and the Education Funding Authority in 21 schools found evidence of an “organised campaign to target certain schools” by Islamists.

Golden Hillock School, Nansen Primary School, Park View Academy – all run by the Park View Educational Trust – Oldknow Academy and Saltley School were placed in special measures after inspectors found systemic failings including the schools having failed to take adequate steps to safeguard pupils against extremism. Another school investigated, Alston Primary, was already in special measures. A sixth school was labelled inadequate for its poor educational standards and twelve schools were found needing of improvements. Three schools were commended.[3]

Ofsted expressed concerns about an exclusively Muslim culture in non-faith schools and children not being taught to “develop tolerant attitudes towards other faiths”.[3] The inspections found that head teachers have been “marginalised or forced out of their jobs”. Ofsted found that the curriculum was being narrowed to reflect the “personal views of a few governors”. Teachers reported unfair treatment because of their gender or religious beliefs. Ofsted found a breakdown of trust between governors and staff and that family members had been appointed to unadvertised senior leadership posts[3]

Parkview Education Trust were found to be in breach of the Education Funding Agreement by failing to promote social cohesion, failing to promote the social, moral, spiritual, and cultural development of pupils, failing to promote balanced political treatment of issues, and failure to comply fully with safeguarding issues concerning criminal records checks.[50]

Emphasis added. Note that this (“Operation Trojan Horse”) happened in state schools, and they weren’t even the dreaded “faith schools”. Also note that the much vaunted criminal records checks went by the wayside.

Birmingham is not the only place where all that vetting and inspecting that state schools get proved ineffective. Here is a story from London: School of Jihadis: Why have six former pupils of the ‘Eton of comprehensives’ been linked to terror? The July 7 bombers were also products of British comprehensive schools. One of them even mentored at one. Of course vast numbers of pupils go to state schools and do not emerge as mass murderers. But when a high official raises fears that “illegal” schools might incubate terrorists, it is legitimate to reply that we know that “legal” schools have incubated terrorists, rather a lot of them.

A determined and cunning would-be child abuser or would-be terrorist recruiter would not direct his attentions at some wretched hedge school with half a dozen pupils. He would go for richer pickings.

New uses for copyright law

Much as I like to jeer at the Guardian, sometimes it does a good deed in bringing sinister developments to the public’s attention. For instance:

Revealed: How copyright law is being misused to remove material from the internet

As soon as the DMCA takedown request had been filed, Google de-listed the entire thread. All 126 posts are now not discoverable when a user searches Google for BuildTeam – or any other terms. The search company told Mumsnet it could make a counterclaim, if it was certain no infringement had taken place, but since the site couldn’t verify that its users weren’t actually posting copyrighted material, it would have opened it up to further legal pressure.

In fact, no copyright infringement had occurred at all. Instead, something weirder had happened. At some point after Narey posted her comments on Mumsnet, someone had copied the entire text of one of her posts and pasted it, verbatim, to a spammy blog titled “Home Improvement Tips and Tricks”. The post, headlined “Buildteam interior designers” was backdated to September 14 2015, three months before Narey had written it, and was signed by a “Douglas Bush” of South Bend, Indiana. The website was registered to someone quite different, though: Muhammed Ashraf, from Faisalabad, Pakistan.

Quite why Douglas Bush or Muhammed Ashraf would be reviewing a builder based in Clapham is not explained in “his” post. BuildTeam says it has no idea why Narey’s review was reposted, but that it had nothing to do with it. “At no material times have we any knowledge of why this false DCMA take down was filed, nor have we contracted any reputation management firms, or any individual or a group to take such action on our behalf. Finally, and in conjunction to the above, we have never spoken with a ‘Douglas Bush,’ or a ‘Muhammed Ashraf.’”

Whoever sent the takedown request, Mumsnet was forced to make a choice: either leave the post up, and accept being delisted; fight the delisting and open themselves up to the same legal threats made against Google; or delete the post themselves, and ask the post to be relisted on the search engine.

“Although we understood the user’s argument that something odd had happened, we weren’t in a position to explain what – our hope was that by zapping one post we might ensure that the thread remained listed.”

Mumsnet deleted the post, and asked Google to reinstate the thread, but a month later, they received final word from the search firm: “‘Google has decided not to take action based on our policies concerning content removal and reinstatement’ which (it turned out) meant that they had delisted the entire thread”.

Interesting though it might be to read about BuildTeam meeting the Streisand Effect, I do not assume they are in the wrong. But someone has found a clever new way to censor comment on the web. I can see this strategy might prove popular. How could it be fought? A related question, also unrelated to this particular case: how can companies protect themselves against dishonest bad reviews?

A meeting of minds

Famous actor Mel Gibson said, “Fucking Jews. The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world”, but give him a break, he was drunk at the time. And he was sorry afterwards, like he always is.

Famous director Ken Loach was presumably sober and certainly unapologetic when he said, “If there has been a rise [in anti-semitism] I am not surprised. In fact, it is perfectly understandable because Israel feeds feelings of anti-Semitism.”

What a wonderful coming-together this ceremony yesterday must have been:

Cannes 2016: Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake wins Palme d’Or

Accepting the festival’s top prize from actor Mel Gibson, Loach said: “We must give a message of hope, we must say another world is possible.

“The world we live in is at a dangerous point right now. We are in the grip of a dangerous project of austerity driven by ideas that we call neo-liberalism that have brought us to near catastrophe.”

Gibson to present, Loach to receive this prize: the judges’ choice at the world’s leading film festival.

“We should all know by now”

Bernard Thompson, in a piece for the pro-independence Scottish website Newsnet.scot, makes the case for repeal of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act of 2012: Offensive Behaviour: the case for the SNP repealing their own act.

He writes,

Opponents of the Act – none more so than the campaign group Fans Against Criminalisation – have been vociferous in their condemnation of the legislation.

And they have been joined by a host of academics and media figures. Human rights group Liberty have expressed concern that: “the broadly framed offences in this Act will unnecessarily sweep up individuals exercising their right to free speech who have no intention to commit or incite a criminal offence and in the event do not do so.”

And

The Act does not simply ban “the singing of sectarian songs” but also: – “other behaviour that a reasonable person would be likely to consider offensive…

“…behaviour [that] would be likely to incite public disorder”, even if ‘persons likely to be incited to public disorder are not present or are not present in sufficient numbers’.”

We can offer all sort of examples of behaviour that might offend a “reasonable person” but, for brevity, we may note that the Act banned Frankie Boyle (or recordings of his material) from being played wherever a tenuous connection to a football match could be established. Not so rugby matches.

In defending the Act, after someone wearing a tee-shirt supportive of Palestine drew police attention, SNP MSP John Mason even went so far as to say that wearing a Yes badge should be considered unacceptable while watching football.

“We should all know by now expressing political views is no longer acceptable at football matches.”

Mr Mason was apparently not questioned on whether wearing a poppy could be considered to be expressing a political view, and we can only speculate as to how objecting to a poppy might be viewed.

When reading that quote from John Mason MSP the old cliché about the “Nanny State” came alive again.