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]

Politically correct v. formally correct v. actually correct: distant thoughts on the Tommy Robinson affair

Prime Minister George Grenville was the author of the 1765 stamp act – which led, in time, to the creation of the United States, but that was very far from his intent. In terms of mere formal law, Grenville had a good case for believing he could do what he did. In an obituary, Edmund Burke explained how a well-meaning man of some ability could cause so much trouble. After studying law, Grenville

did not go very largely into the world but plunged into … the business of office, and the limited and fixed methods and forms established there.

Men who only know the world of government administration are dangerously limited:

habits of office are apt to give them a turn to think the substance of business not to be much more important than the forms in which it is conducted. These forms are adapted to ordinary occasions and therefore persons who are nurtured in office do admirably well, as long as things go on in their common order, but when the high roads are broken up, and the waters out, when a new and troubled scene is opened, and the file affords no precedent, then it is that a greater knowledge of mankind, and a far more comprehensive understanding of things, is requisite than office ever gave, or than office can ever give.

As regards Tommy Robinson:

– Sending him to jail for 13 months was ever so politically correct.

– As discussed in the comment threads of a couple of posts below, it may well also be formally correct – not in terms of some new-minted ‘hate speech’ law but in terms of established UK trial precedents. We will not know for absolute certain till we hear more (including what – if anything – Mr Robinson can say for himself), but between those who wonder if he engaged in deliberate Gandhi-style law-breaking, those who wonder if he had a layman’s (mis)understanding of the law, and those who think he’s an idiot or worse, there is ample scope for it.

– Who thinks it is actually correct to send Mr Robinson to jail for 13 months while we have yet to hear of the Rotherham councillors (or any of their imitators elsewhere) serving 13 days? (Being ordered to apologise for what they did to whistleblowers does not quite compare.)

As Burke told the MPs who voted to tax the north american colonies,

All we have a right to do is not always wise to be done.

Douglas Murray on Tommy Robinson

If you want to understand the ongoing Tommy Robinson affair, then this article by Douglas Murray strikes me as as very good next thing to read. Read the whole thing says Instapundit, quoting a big chunk of it.

It occurs to me that Tommy Robinson’s public performances are a lot like President Trump’s tweets. If Trump phrased everything perfectly, his tweets would be ignored. But faced with a spelling mistake or some such vulgar blemish, his critics can’t help themselves, and they wade in, making pedantic fools of themselves, thus drawing attention both to what Trump is saying and to the fact that they typically have no actual arguments against it.

Tommy Robinson makes legal “errors”. And people whose real objection to Robinson is that he is an oik who speaks truths to them that they don’t want to be told, about Islam and about Muslims, likewise can’t help themselves. They loudly pontificate about what a bad person Robinson is. Such persons are now linking to pieces like this.

Thereby drawing attention to what Robinson says.

If you read the comments on our previous Tommy Robinson posting, you will see claims that he is an “idiot”, or even a “tit”. But I think Robinson is quite a formidable operator, saying important things with skill and flare and drama. He is getting himself heard.

In my opinion the Gandhi comparison is also a good one. Gandhi also used to break laws and provoke public dramas. He also got himself imprisoned. And heard.

The only way that respectable citizens will shut Tommy Robinson up is if they are willing to pay proper attention to the things he says. Douglas Murray has been doing this for quite a while.

Never let it be said Aunt Agatha is not a lateral thinker…

After reading her advice to a pseudonymous reader who is clearly a MENSA member, I can only marvel at the sagacity of the suggestions.

Samizdata quote of the day

In fact, Oxford has a disproportionately high number of black students, although you wouldn’t know this from the comments made by Lammy and others last week. He quoted the seemingly shocking statistic that, between 2015 and 2017, several Oxford colleges had failed to admit more than one or two black British students. This set the tone of the news agenda, prompting Oxford graduates to tweet their scorn at their old university. But, as ever, statistics are the last refuge of the scoundrel.

Jon Holbrook

This 1 weird trick will solve your crime problem

Knives are too sharp and filing them down is solution to soaring violent crime, judge says.

Samizdata quote of the day

At the end of a week in which the House of Commons defeated Labour’s draconian plans to regulate the press, the Tories revealed their own draconian plans to regulate the internet. The culture secretary, Matt Hancock, has pledged to make Britain ‘the safest place in the world’ to be online. But when the world’s ‘safest’ internet is currently found in China, where access is heavily restricted and censored by the state, it becomes clear how terrifying the government’s safety agenda really could be.

Fraser Myers

The wind can blow a smokescreen either way

Two stories related to freedom of speech are doing the rounds tonight:

The BBC reports: YouTuber Alison Chabloz guilty over anti-Semitic songs

Chabloz is a nasty and stupid woman, whose delusions will be given more credibility by the fact that she was persecuted for them.

The Hull Daily Mail reports: Former EDL leader Tommy Robinson ‘being held in Hull prison’ after arrest

I do not know what to make of Robinson himself, nor of his arrest. There are some complications about contempt of court and his breaching the terms of his earlier suspended sentence that, frankly, I cannot summon up the energy to investigate; it may not be as simple a case of persecution as it is presented as being in this PJ Media story. The authorities imagine that by placing reporting restrictions on Robinson’s case they will make people think he is as clearly bad as Chabloz is. The actual effect is to make the public wonder whether she, like he, might have something to be said in her favour.

Samizdata quote of the day

It occurs to me that there’s perhaps a bit of guilt on show here. You see those pregnant 11 year olds in Telford got in that state because the local authorities, in fear of being branded racist and/or islamophobic, allowed gangs of muslim men to groom and abuse white girls for decades and ignored complaints/reports etc. that this was occurring. One suspects that the distaste for this joke is more because it reminds readers of the failures of the Briitsh Nanny state than actual concern for the feelings of 11 year old sex abuse victims. If the writer actually cared about the victims and subsequent potential victims he’d be campaigning to have the perpetrators and their facilitators in the police/social services punished appropriately (personally I think being nailed to a fence by their genitals would be reasonable, but I can see that people might differ on the details. Would a bit of rebar up the bum be better? both? or how about the traditional English hanging, drawing and quartering?) so as to make clear that this kind of behaviour is unacceptable in the UK.

Francis Turner

The spirit of Nongqawuse lives on

Nongqawuse was a fifteen year old Xhosa girl who in 1856 had a vision in which three ancestral spirits told her that if the Xhosa people showed their trust by destroying their crops and killing their cattle, then on the appointed day the spirits would raise the dead, bountifully replace all that was destroyed, and sweep the British into the sea. Thousands believed this prophecy and slaughtered their cattle. But the dead slept on and the British remained in place.

Nongqawuse explained that this lack of action was due to the amagogotya, the stingy ones, who had kept their cattle back from slaughter. She urged everyone to greater efforts. A new date was set for the prophecy to finally come true. The rate of cattle-killing rose to a climax.

Eventually the Xhosa lost patience, and, with remarkable mercy, handed Nongqawuse over to the British. By then famine had reduced the population of British Kaffraria from 105,000 to fewer than 27,000.

*

City A.M. reports that John McDonnell says Venezuela is failing because it is ‘not a socialist country’.

Oh, and our Chancellor-in-waiting says that he will overthrow capitalism.

If you want to watch the Sunday Politics interview where he said all this, this BBC link will work for another 28 days.

Samizdata quote of the day

What I found particularly annoying is the degree to which certain commentators elevated the importance of Meghan Markle’s race. If the media hadn’t told me, and then not shut up about it for months, I would never have guessed she was the daughter of a black mother and white father. To me, she looks as much Spanish, or Italian, or Lebanese as mixed-race American. Her mother simply looks like someone you’d see shopping in Marks & Spencers in Croydon, so why anyone should think her race is even worth mentioning I don’t know. Actually, I do: it’s because some people think race is the be-all and end-all (e.g. David Lammy, Katie Hopkins), and others simply took the opportunity to virtue-signal, rubbing people’s nose in the subject of immigration.

Tim Newman

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’

Hey! Hypocrites have feeling too!

Aunt Agatha seeks to give advice to another troubled public figure in Britain… I wonder who it could be?