I do not entirely understand why Rand Paul spoke in the Senate for ten hours, accompanied by ten other senators, three Republicans and seven Democrats. It was something to do with derailing an extension of the Patriot Act. Apparently if he had gone on fifteen more minutes longer, past midnight, it would have been a proper filibuster. But he did not. Weird. Still, Paul is a man whom I credit with having a decent reason for pretty much whatever he does. Well done, I think.
The Times reports (paywalled):
Christian bakery guilty of discrimination over ‘gay cake’
A bakery whose Christian owners refused to make a cake carrying a pro-gay marriage slogan has been found guilty of discrimination after a landmark legal action.
Ashers Baking Company discriminated against Gareth Lee when it refused to create the cake featuring the Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie, with a slogan “Support Gay Marriage”, a judge has found.
Ruling in the case that has split public opinion in Northern Ireland, Isobel Brownlie, the district judge, said: “The defendants have unlawfully discriminated against the plaintiff on grounds of sexual discrimination.”
So, you can be forced to say “Support Gay Marriage”, on the grounds that if you don’t say it someone will be left feeling “like a lesser person”, to quote Mr Lee, the plaintiff in this case.
How might this principle be extended?
Added later: in answer to my own question, a scenario:
Following the Labour victory in the closely-fought election of 2020, the new prime minister made good on the pledge made to the Muslims who had formed such a reliable part of the winning “coalition of the oppressed”. (In fact the promise to outlaw Islamaphobia had first been made by Ed Miliband back in 2015.) The relevant amendments to the Equality Act 2010 having been made, it seemed a natural next step for many Muslims to press for the UK to follow the example of several Canadian cities and give legal weight to the verdicts of the existing informal network of Sharia tribunals to which Muslims could choose to bring civil cases as an alternative to the regular channels of English or Scottish Law. It was as part of the campaign for this that the plaintiff, Mr A, approached the Rainbow Baking Company, run as a family business by the defendants Mr B & Mr C. The judge ruled that “The defendants have unlawfully discriminated against the plaintiff on grounds of religious discrimination” when they refused to bake a cake bearing the message “SUPPORT SHARIA LAW”.
As it happens I am not in principle opposed to parallel systems of arbitration running in parallel to the ordinary law, so long as they are strictly voluntary. But my imaginary gay bakers might well profoundly object to being obliged to make a cake bearing that slogan. However by then the precedent that they can be forced to by law will have been set.
The Government has quietly ushered through legislation amending the anti-hacking laws to exempt GCHQ from prosecution. Privacy International and other parties were notified of this just hours prior to a hearing of their claim against GCHQ’s illegal hacking operations in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal.
– Privacy International
So basically the state broke the law, got caught breaking the law, and then when challenged, changed to law so exempt themselves from the law they broke.
Prince Harry calls for the return of slavery. Time for the tumbrels to start rolling methinks.
John Price ended his life as a free man because he was willing to defy laws that said he was nothing but the property of other people, to be disposed of as they wished. He got a nice helping hand in maintaining his freedom from other people who were willing to not only defy laws that would compel them to collaborate in Price’s bondage, but to beat the hell out of government agents charged with enforcing those laws.
– J.D. Tuccille
We must end the idea that as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone
– David Cameron, more or less inviting law abiding people to start stockpiling material to make petrol bombs
I agree with Mr Quotulatiousness that this, from a posting at the Coyote Blog from July 7th of last year, deserves to be made much of:
One of the factors in the financial crisis of 2007-2009 that is mentioned too infrequently is the role of banking capital sufficiency standards and exactly how they were written. Folks have said that capital requirements were somehow deregulated or reduced. But in fact the intention had been to tighten them with the Basle II standards and US equivalents. The problem was not some notional deregulation, but in exactly how the regulation was written.
In effect, capital sufficiency standards declared that mortgage-backed securities and government bonds were “risk-free” in the sense that they were counted 100% of their book value in assessing capital sufficiency. Most other sorts of financial instruments and assets had to be discounted in making these calculations. This created a land rush by banks for mortgage-backed securities, since they tended to have better returns than government bonds and still counted as 100% safe.
Without the regulation, one might imagine banks to have a risk-reward tradeoff in a portfolio of more and less risky assets. But the capital standards created a new decision rule: find the highest returning assets that could still count for 100%. They also helped create what in biology we might call a mono-culture. One might expect banks to have varied investment choices and favorites, such that a problem in one class of asset would affect some but not all banks. Regulations helped create a mono-culture where all banks had essentially the same portfolio stuffed with the same one or two types of assets. When just one class of asset sank, the whole industry went into the tank.
Well, we found out that mortgage-backed securities were not in fact risk-free, and many banks and other financial institutions found they had a huge hole blown in their capital.
I remember having all this explained to me at the time, although I do not now recall who by. I do recall the word “Basel” coming up a lot.
My title above is in the past tense, but I presume problems like this have since got worse rather than better. What will be the dates of the next financial crisis, I wonder?
Allen Farrington drew my attention to this steaming pile of a BBC opinion piece entitled: What are the limits of free speech?
Read this bit and let it sink in:
Because what is becoming clear is that the fundamentalism of this new generation of radical Islamists risks provoking an extreme reaction from some of those espousing the cause of unlimited freedom and liberty.
Allen’s retort was so perfect I will just quote it entirely:
…which is so ridiculous as to require no further commentary, but I would nonetheless suggest: those radical Islamists make me so damn angry that one of these days I might just commit an act of drawing!
Indeed, Allen. Apparently sober opinion at the BBC holds that drawing opinionated cartoons and writing what you think constitutes an “extreme reaction” to radical Islam. I think nuking Mecca with a high yield air burst during the Hajj would be an “extreme reaction”, but personally I do not think explaining why someone might regard Islam (or indeed anything) as preposterous or the ‘mother lode of bad ideas‘ is an “extreme reaction”.
But alright, if saying what you think is what passes for an “extreme reaction”, then I would be honoured to be called an extremist by the BBC. I believe Barry Goldwater had something to say on that subject.
Extremism in the defence of liberty is no vice. And moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue
Not that I would expect anyone at the BBC to understand that, at least not without simply redefining what ‘liberty’ and ‘justice’ means in a way a certain well known chap wrote about in 1949.
I think it is safe to say that the first Social Justice Warrior to be spaced has already been born.
(For non-spacers, that means “tossed out of the airlock… without a space suit.”)
In a direct response to the mass murder of people at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo last January, Norway has abolished its blasphemy laws. This is a development of sheer magnificence!
Our message today is very simple: we will never allow barbarism, never allow Islam, to rob us of our freedom of speech.
– Geert Wilders
Just today I learned (via Hans Bader) that Oberlin, supposedly one of the great liberal arts colleges in the world, has been in a tizzy because of a speech by the rather mainstream conservative feminist Christina Hoff Summers, which supposedly made students feel “unsafe” well in advance. And so on. In no examples that I have seen has there been any actual threat or prospect of violence against the students complaining that they feel “unsafe.”
This is a huge threat to the future of free speech nevertheless. Today’s college students are going to be tomorrow’s judges, and if they truly believe that “safety” means “never having to deal with opinions that disagree with one’s cherished beliefs,” then censorship has a good chance of gaining the upper hand over freedom of speech. After all, public safety can be a justification for suppressing speech, as with the “fighting words” doctrine.
– David Bernstein