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]

Pig cruelty

Some farm employees kicked pigs and stabbed them with pitchforks. An organisation called Animal Equity who do undercover investigations with the aim of reducing cruelty to farm animals used hidden cameras to capture the evidence. They gave it to the press, who confronted the farm, who fired the employees.

Helen Browning, who owns an organic pig farm in Wiltshire, insists that consumers need to know more about where their meat is coming from so that customers can make informed choices in supermarkets.

She said: “You can see if something is organic. Ours are organic pigs and you can sometimes see free range or outdoor bred, but actually nothing tells you about perhaps the less attractive side, so nothing will tell you if pigs have been in farrowing crates or kept indoors.

“Most of us buy free range eggs now because it’s clearly labelled whether they have been barn reared, they’ve been in cages or they’ve been free range. We need the same for pigs.”

Co-op is the largest supermarket chain to promise to stop using pork from pigs that have been kept inside their whole life in its own-brand products.

That will come into effect from July and is something that only Waitrose is currently committed to.

The British Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove, said:

What are you talking to me for? This has nothing to do with the state. Everything is working as it should. People who care about the welfare of animals took it upon themselves to investigate and convince other people that this is a bad thing. The farm has received negative publicity and will suffer in the marketplace unless it mends its ways, which it has started to do by firing the employees involved. And food retailers have identified a demand for meat from animals that have been treated more kindly and are working towards meeting it. The market works.

Now go away. My department only has two part-time employees and we have some disputes over field boundaries to advise people about so we are very busy.

Oops, sorry, wrong universe. He actually said that he has pledged to restore the UK as a leader in animal welfare.

Samizdata quote of the day

I am a radical on Town & Country planning as on other economic issues. I would abolish it. To me it is offensive that the value of a man’s land is stripped from him by laws that deny him the right to put it to its highest and best use without grovelling to local politicians in thrall to his envious neighbours.

‘Tom Paine’

‘It’s not illegal, but we must find a way to stop it’.

Is a fair summary of the antics of a bunch of Cornish bureaucrats in Padstow, (a harbour and tourist attraction on Cornwall’s north coast) supported by the local MP Scott Mann, in a battle against street traders, who are within the law. And we have that bureaucrats favourite concept, a ‘multi-agency approach’, (which I first heard in the early 1990s), with the following wastes of public money involved: Cornwall Council, Devon & Cornwall Police, Padstow Town Council, Padstow Harbour Commissioners (the Harbour is established by law with government oversight).

Scott Mann discusses Padstow street trader complaints with multi-agency group

It is rather concerning that the local Police are getting involved in a matter that is not illegal, street trading by selling services is not, well, according to Cornwall Council’s legal advice.

Following a number of complaints in 2017 regarding hair braiders and henna tattooists providing services on the quay at Padstow, partners have been working together to consider options for controlling these traders. In recent meetings, each agency or representative has discussed the concerns being brought to their attention by local residents and businesses, what solutions may or may not be available to them, and what options there are going forward.

Independent legal advice has been obtained by Cornwall Council which confirms that the provision of services does not fall within the definition of street trading as prescribed under the relevant legislation.

Or as the bureaucrats find to their evident dismay.

The current street trading legislation under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 creates a loophole whereby people deemed to be providing a service are exempt from having to obtain a street trading licence or adhere to street trading regulations. In practice, this means individuals who are sat around the harbour braiding hair or applying henna tattoos do not have to obtain a licence because they are deemed to be providing a service, rather than selling tangible objects such as toys, clothes, jewellery or food.

Yes, Parliament never regulated this, so why don’t you all eff off back to your desks, submit your resignations, and ask for your jobs not to be replaced? It’s freedom that upsets you, isn’t it? No one is getting their hair braided without consent, no one is getting tattooed by force, just don’t buy it. There is no trespass, no obstruction, no nuisance, no wrong done, it’s just something that you can’t (yet) licence. A chink of light through the curtain of licensing darkness. It is not a loophole, it is simply not banned. A loophole would be making it legal to sell goods on the street without a licence only if you wore a red hat.

It is for Parliament to propose changes in the law, not bureaucrats, who are paid to do their jobs, and Councillors are, really, paid bureaucrats. Let the public pester the MP, and let him propose what he might, so that her Majesty, with the Advice of the Commons and the Lords Temporal and Spiritual, may so enact if it please her. To be fair to him, this appears to be what he has in mind. It is a symptom of the political culture in Britain, even far from London, that this is something for bureaucrats to fret about, all mask of neutrality has fallen here.

The attitude of the police officer involved is particularly dismaying:

Sgt Andy Stewart said:

“The Police are actively working with other agencies in an attempt to resolve the issues being caused to some people by the street traders. A balanced approached will be maintained, and it is important that each case is considered individually and there is ongoing monitoring of any changing circumstances.”

Why didn’t he say something like:

‘No offences are being committed, this is as lawful as breathing, it’s got nothing to do with me, stop wasting my time. I’m going to look for some hate speech on Twitter instead to boost my stats.

OK, the last sentence is perhaps a little unkind.

Don’t get cocky, kid

You know you are a nerd when you are avidly googling the name of the author of a series of erotic novels all of which feature the word “cocky” in their titles because of the interesting legal issues the “Cockygate scandal” has brought up.

Dale L Roberts vlogs about self-publishing. In this video published on May 7th he explains that Faleena Hopkins, the author in question, wrote a slew of “Cease and Desist” letters to other indie romance authors on Amazon using the word “cocky” in their titles. Amazon, with typical cowardice, removed these other authors’ books as soon as Hopkins asked them to. Worse yet, Faleena Hopkins’ letter to the other authors included the phrase “My attorney at Morris Yorn Entertainment Law has advised me that if I sue you I will win all the moneys you have earned on this title plus lawyer fees will be paid by you as well.” I suspect that Morris Yorn Entertainment Law are not entirely happy with this summary of their advice.

I came across this story via the fantasy/SF author Chris Fox. His nine minute video dated May 11th explains well why this incident should and did arouse the anger of the community of authors who self-publish on Kindle and similar platforms – but he also spares a thought for Hopkins herself. In the four days since the earlier video, the situation had changed dramatically – and the trouble with internet shaming is that even when some punishment is deserved, there is no off switch.

Press freedom lives another day

Earlier today the Press Gazette reported,

Guardian distances itself from ‘anti-press’ Data Protection Bill amendments which would exclude title from paying punitive legal costs

Peers’ Section 40 amendments to the bill, which would see publishers pay both sides’ legal costs in data protection disputes, win or lose, have been slammed by many publishers as “anti-press”.

Guardian News and Media has said it has written to all MPs making clear that it disagrees with “attempts to impose a selective sanction on the media” ahead of a Commons vote later today.

MPs will vote on an amendment, tabled by deputy Labour leader Tom Watson, this afternoon.

As it stands, news organisations signed up to a state-sponsored regulator – currently only Impress – would avoid the cost penalties.

You did read that right. Tom Watson’s amendment to Section 40 would have meant that newspapers refusing to join Max Moseley’s pet* regulator Impress would have been liable for costs when sued for libel even if they won the case. In recent years the Guardian has not often lived up to its name. But I am glad to note that even they balked at such blatant perversion of the justice system.

In the event Watson declined to put his amendment to a vote, and Ed Miliband’s less shameless but still repressive amendment regarding a second Leveson enquiry into press regulation was defeated.

Perhaps that’s the end of it, perhaps not. This monster has been apparently killed before but did not stay dead. I do not know what stage of the horror movie we are at.

*Impress is funded by Mosley. As is Watson.

An interesting exchange of fire in the culture war

I found this interesting, just a mere twitter exchange relating to the Day of Freedom rally that you will never see the BBC say much (or indeed anything I suspect) about.

I am increasingly willing to accept almost anyone on the correct side of this as an ally, and if the Guardian wants to tar anyone who supports free speech as ‘far right’, well who cares? It turns out that support for free speech is in fact ‘multicultural as fuck’.

Opposition to ID cards is out of date

Writing in CapX, Chris Deerin argues that opposition to ID cards is out of date. He seems to agree that they may solve problems including terrorism and mis-treatment of immigrants. He suggests that government would be better if we did not need to leave the house to talk to it; that democracy would be better if we could vote online. He suggests that because some people are horrified by Facebook’s sharing of data while others happily tell Facebook everything, that we should all be happy to tell the government everything.

He suggests that because people under the age of 25 enjoy the convenience and fun of online services from private companies, that they should also enjoy being forced to sign up to a single unified government database too.

Not many in that generation would choose to return to an era of privacy if it meant giving up the treasures of their online existence. It seems faintly ridiculous that in such a climate we are reluctant to allow the state to jump on board.

He suggests that because people voluntarily hand over information of their choosing to companies even though those companies sometimes make mistakes and leak information, that they are silly to be nervous of being forced to hand over whatever information the government wants to be stored on a centralised government database. As if it is just the same thing.

The entire article is nonsense that ignores the fundamental difference between the state and private individuals: that we do not interact with the state voluntarily.

Did the boy who cried “Wolf” believe in wolves?

Obviously he did on his last day, as the wolves killed him. But earlier, when he enjoyed making the villagers run at his command, did the boy who cried wolf believe in wolves? Did he tell himself that every flash of a squirrel’s tail could be a wolf? Did he think all real wolves had been frightened off long ago? Was he just living in the moment, in the intoxication of his power, not thinking of the morrow at all? Or was he too sure that people would always come running when he cried “Wolf” – so they’d still come if there ever really were wolves.

My left-wing friends – those who discuss politics with me – are (obviously 🙂 ) willing to discuss politics with someone like me. They belong to that (dwindling?) band on the left who don’t think the right answer to every question is to call it ‘hate speech’. So they cannot answer easily this question:

do the people who believe in ‘hate speech’ believe in the hatred they say fills that speech? Do the boys and girls who cry ‘hate speech” really believe that anyone’s hatred but their own will ever cause more than willfully-indulged hurt feelings?

How would we know?

– We know what the ‘hate speech’ enforcers say in public (no right-winger can live in a bubble today – which is great for our cognitive diversity), but that just tells me that the boy who cries wolf is crying “Wolf”.

– We can talk to any left-wing friends who haven’t (yet) been cast out for knowing us. But all I know from mine is typified by the one who told me that, since the election of Trump, her west-coast liberal friends were ‘hysterical’ – true, I do not doubt, but more a description than an explanation.

Does anyone know more?

Enlightened modern practice

“GP accused of paedophilia by ‘fantasist’ loses fight for costs” reports the Times. I have put phrases from the following excerpt from the Times article that seemed particularly striking in bold type.

A retired GP accused by a “serial fantastist” of being part of a paedophile ring was told yesterday he would not be reimbursed for £94,000 in legal costs he incurred before the case collapsed.

Stephen Glascoe, from Cardiff, spent most of his savings preparing his defence. The woman who made unproven allegations against him and others has won £22,000 in “criminal injuries” compensation and has asked for more.

Several cases have collapsed in recent months after the Crown Prosecution Service ordered a review of evidence in all serious sexual offence allegations.

Charges against Dr Glascoe and four other men were dropped in January, two weeks before their trial was due to start, after concerns about the alleged victim’s evidence and her relationship with her therapist and the police officer who had led the investigation.

Dr Glascoe, 67, who was not entitled to legal aid because of his savings, spent more than £100,000 on lawyers and expert witnesses. He will receive only £7,280 from the Legal Aid Board and no contribution to the cost of his barrister.

The complainant received £22,000 from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority after contacting South Wales police in 2012 but later refused to co-operate with the investigation.

She spoke to police again in 2016 with more allegations about being abused at parties between the ages of three and 15. She said she had a pregnancy forcibly aborted and had been made to take part in torturing other children. She has applied for more compensation.

Christopher Clee, QC, applied at Cardiff crown court yesterday for Dr Glascoe to have all his costs reimbursed on the ground that the charges were the result of an “improper act or omission” by the prosecution. The prosecution should have been alerted, he said, to the poor credibility of the alleged victim by notes from 229 counselling sessions, which included “regression work”, and her improperly close relationship with the investigating detective.

Mr Clee said the notes made clear that the therapist “had exceeded any professional boundaries” and given the woman the idea that she had been raped by five men. Prosecutors had demanded to see the therapy notes before deciding whether to charge, but a senior police officer urged them to take a “victim-centric position”, he said.

Catherine Richards, for the prosecution, said the case was dropped over “considerable concern” about the detective, and because a jury might consider that there had been a “mirror of the undue influence” by the alleged victim on the officer and her therapist.

Judge Thomas Crowther attributed the collapse of the case to “dynamite” evidence that the complainant had lied about an Amazon package she claimed had been ordered by her abusers.

The judge dismissed the application for Dr Glascoe’s costs, saying he would have to prove that no reasonable prosecutor could have decided to bring charges. The decision had been “in line with enlightened modern practice”, he said.

It was certainly in line with modern justice as practised by the Enlightened.

Some wise & measured commentary from Count Dankula…

And if you like the idea that a comedian convicted a making a joke in bad taste and fined £800 by a Scottish court could end up making a tidy profit, you might want to drop your mouse on this link and send him some money. I did 😀

Help Markus stop a truly terrible precedent being set and help fund the appeal. If there is any money left over, he promises to invade the Sudetenland.

Sometimes all you can do is paste the story

…and say, “This is where we are”. The BBC reports:

Woman guilty of ‘racist’ Snap Dogg rap lyric Instagram post

A teenager who posted rap lyrics which included racist language on Instagram has been found guilty of sending a grossly offensive message.

Chelsea Russell, 19, from Liverpool posted the lyric from Snap Dogg’s I’m Trippin’ to pay tribute to a boy who died in a road crash, a court heard.

Russell argued it was not offensive, but was handed a community order.

Prosecutors said her sentence was increased from a fine to a community order “as it was a hate crime”.

She was charged after Merseyside Police were anonymously sent a screenshot of her update.

Liverpool Justice Centre, sitting at Sefton Magistrates’ Court, heard Russell posted the lyrics to her account after the death of a 13-year-old in a road accident in 2017, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

The words Russell used on her account contained a racial label which some people find extremely offensive.

The screenshot was passed to hate crime unit PC Dominique Walker, who told the court the term was “grossly offensive” to her as a black woman and to the general community.

As in the Count Dankula case, all it takes is one member of the approved victim class to turn up in court and say they were offended. The fact that in this case the approved victim is also an approved witchfinder makes everything more convenient.

The Liverpool Echo reported that Russell’s defence had argued the usage of the word had changed over time and it had been used by superstar rapper Jay-Z “in front of thousands of people at the Glastonbury Festival”.

Prosecutor Angela Conlan said Russell’s defence also argued her profile “wasn’t public”, but it had been proved in court that anyone could access it and “see the offensive language”.

She said prosecutors also “sourced case law that showed that posting the profile on her account constituted sending it and making it public”.

Russell was found guilty of sending a grossly offensive message by a public communication.

She was given an eight-week community order, placed on an eight-week curfew and told to pay costs of £500 and an £85 victim surcharge.

Gender gaps

Julian Jessop, at the Institute of Economic Affairs’ blog:

Few can have failed to notice that UK companies with 250 or more employees are now obliged to report specific figures about their ‘gender pay gap’. Supporters argue that the data are helping to expose the disadvantages that many women face in the workplace. In my view, though, the system is failing.

For a start, the data are frequently misunderstood and misrepresented. Variations in hourly wages or bonuses between men and women are often interpreted – wrongly – as evidence of different pay for the same work. This sort of discrimination would, of course, be illegal. It would presumably be uneconomic too; if women were indeed willing to do the same work for less money, they would surely be over-represented in the highest paying jobs.

Readers in the UK will also have noted an increase in volume of news stories about the so-called gender gap in pay and overall remuneration as it affects women. I am not dismissing concerns about this as fabricated or an example of Leftist mischief-making against the market economy, although I am sure such criticisms would be valid. But as Jessop says, there is a basic problem with the approach that many critics take in assuming that the State should “do something” about it, or that the simple fact of group A earning, on average, less/more than B is ipso facto proof of some wrong being committed. (I urge people to read the whole article; one of the most silly sleights of hands of those trying to make out that there is a major issue is to lump part-time and full-time jobs together.)

The great Thomas Sowell, debunker of many woolly ideas, has dealt with the gender gap issue, as the linked Youtube clip shows.

The US-based economist Tyler Cowen has argued that the gender gap will eventually close and it seems, largely for reasons unconnected to interference by the State.