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]

Blackadder Goes Forth

I have a problem with Rowan Atkinson. He only has to open his mouth to set me off laughing. Bob.

Maybe we should start taking him seriously. Every few years Mr Blunkett takes it into his head to publicly demonstrate that he is not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican, by making a new law against incitement to religious hatred and Mr Atkinson stands up to argue against him. This is what happened in 2001 and that is what happened again the other day in the pages of the Times, and on Radio 4’s Today programme where I heard him, waiting for a joke that never came.

The joke is indeed a long time coming. Freedom of speech in this country did not merely arise during a period of violent religious divisions but because those divisions were insurmountable by any means other than allowing liberty for all.

15 comments to Blackadder Goes Forth

  • Hank Scorpio

    From the BBC article:

    A Conservative spokesman said his party, too, had concerns about the legislation.

    He said it would need to be persuaded that the law would protect people in the way the governments intended without curtailing freedom of speech.

    There are no words to describe just how limp wristed the British conservative party has become if this is a typical response to what basically amounts to making thought crime a reality.

    Y’know, I’ll gladly take having to allow Nazis, Scientologists, Jehova’s Witnesses, Mormons, and Donald Trump spread their odious views all over the US if the tradeoff is never having to let this kind of fuzzy headed Stalinism creep in.

  • Hank Scorpio

    Sorry for that, the second sentence of that post was supposed to be contained within the quote tags as well.

  • Guy Herbert

    Quite a lot of thought-crimes have got onto the books already, without a murmur from the Tories, and very little from anyone else. Consider racially and religiously aggravated crimes and many virtual offenses created as part of the paedophile panic. Terrorism legislation, too: having material useful to a terrorist, failing to report suspicions. Likewise failing to report suspicions of “money-laundering”. Etc.

  • Maybe the C of E picked the wrong Rowan to be its archbishop.

  • Andrew

    The truly disturbing aspect about these types of legislation is the way in which the ‘crime’ is described. So a racially aggravated crime is such if the victim of the crime believes there to have been a racist motive. No evidence, no justification, just hurt feelings are enough proof.

    And given that these ‘crimes’ carry greater penalties than their non-hate-crime equivalents, which victim is going to claim that their crime was not racially aggravated?

    Now, extend this to religious hate crimes. Do you honestly believe that Trevor Phillips and the MAB are going to keep their mouths shut when A.N.Other Comedian goes on stage and cracks a jilbab joke?


  • This should not be that surprising considering his brother has been a leading-light and author in the Eurosceptic movement for at least a decade. It seems Rowan (who is keen on cars) has finally found an issue to go public with and make a case. Its nice to see Rowan joining his former colleague Rik Mayall in the political realm.

  • With the third series of Blackadder, Mr. Atkinson taught me almost everything I need to know about politics, whether British or in general.

    “I’m horrified! I smeared my opponent, bribed the press to be on my side, and threatened to torture the electorate if we lost. I fail to see what more a decent politician could have done.”

  • Tim Haas

    Re Andrew’s message: I wonder if this portends a family rift. Witness this interview with Rodney Atkinson circa 1997:

    Negus: I have to ask you though – for all the obvious reasons – do you get tired of being called the ‘Mr Bean’ of Europe, given your brother?

    Atkinson: Well, it’s not what I’m called… They say that I’m his brother of course… but ah…he’s the youngest brother.. I’m the eldest…um… He does other things apart from Mr. Bean,but of course that’s what he’s known for world-wide….

    Negus: Yeah. It must be a bit of a cross to bear for you though… being Rowan Atkinson’s brother?

    Atkinson: Well, I mean…. I don’t make funny faces and he doesn’t go into politics. That’s the agreement.

  • toolkien

    ***”The purpose of this law is to protect communities from violence that can be provoked by free speech.” ***

    It seems to me that the behavior of being violent is what is punished, not what people have said. It is simply an example of the State trying to make a crime out of something that is not a crime. One might feel that it may lead to a crime, but that, in itself, is not a crime. Hate crimes and hate speech laws are troubling in that they attack the idea and not behavior. It is up to the State, in a free society, to allow maximum liberty up until the point of behavior, the execution of or plotting the execution of directly harming a person or property. Otherwise it is belief and opinion and is a representation of an individual’s value judgement. The State’s erasing of values and value systems is a fearful thing to contemplate.

    And to say that such laws have been around for decades and that mass arrests haven’t ensued is poor logic. At best, it is still a law that can be applied as needed for specific sculpting of the culture by bureaucrats, or at worst, massive arrests when it suits a totalitarian. All laws should be seen in the extreme light not in the ‘we’ll promise to careful with it, we really do’.

  • Albion4Ever

    Andrew: “So a racially aggravated crime is such if the victim of the crime believes there to have been a racist motive. No evidence, no justification, just hurt feelings are enough proof.”

    It’s worse than that. A crime can be investigated for a racial dimension if *anybody* (not even an eyewitness) claims it might have been such. Free licence for the race relations industry to stir up trouble, granted by poor old Sir William Macpherson in the wake of the Martyrdom of the Blessed Stephen Lawrence: a “murder” which was never tried and which may not have been racially motivated at all:


  • Guy Herbert

    Albion4Ever, is closer, but still wrong. The rule is:

    “Either at the time of committing the offence, or immediately before or after doing so, the offender demonstrates towards the victim hostility based on the victim?s membership (or presumed membership) of a racial group;

    Or if the offence is motivated (wholly or partly) by hostility towards members of a racial group based on their membership of that group.”

    Note the first limb is paradoxically the more abstruse thoughtcrime, rather than the second. The conventional legal process can cope when evidence of actual motive is required, and proof will ne tough. Interpreting signs of hostility and membership of racial groups pitches us straight into the semiotic universe of the race relations experts and psychotherapists.

    Disturbed, BTW, by A4E’s sneer quotes round “murder” above. There’s no doubt Steven Lawrence was murdered. What is in doubt (and probably beyond proper investigation now after the police errors and activists circus) is who did it, and why.

  • What about hostility towards members of a nonracial group?

  • Guy Herbert

    The approach is clearly capable of infinite extension to othe “hate crime”. Groups are indeed the key. The model moves the focus of criminal justice away from the content of the individual criminal act and towards a conception of offense to abstract group rights defined by the agents of the state.

    This essentially fascist approach has already become shockingly deeply embedded in British jurisprudence.

  • Albion4Ever

    “Disturbed, BTW, by A4E’s sneer quotes round “murder” above.”

    A murder with no murderers. How about death by misadventure during a scuffle? Not victimological enough, huh?

  • Eric Jablow

    I thought the best way to learn about British politics was to watch Paul Eddington, Nigel Hawthorne, and Derek Fowlds in “Yes, [Prime] Minister”.