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Doing my bit against YouTube censorship

YouTube blocks Pat Condell’s attack on sharia in Britain. As my friend Geoff Arnold reminds us:

… as John Gilmore famously said, “The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it”. So here is the Condell video. Watch it, and pass the word along.

My favourite phrase (slightly paraphrased):

… a small child describing them as ‘letterbox ladies’ (women in burkhas), which was, of course, deeply offensive and so we had the child put to death …

If you are a Brit (resident or expat), please sign the petition that Pat mentions.

39 comments to Doing my bit against YouTube censorship

  • Gidders

    Absolutely agree with large chunks of what Pat says.

    It’s all in the little asides and remarks and tangential observations though isn’t it? And he comes across as a thoroughly nasty piece of work doesn’t he?

  • Brad

    And he comes across as a thoroughly nasty piece of work doesn’t he?

    I think you tend to be so when 99.97% of the world is nuts.

    I stumbled across several of his youtube postings a year or so back. Pretty much says what I try and say (in comments such as this) but overall write poorly and miss the mark more often than not. I think much of it has to do with trying to use conditional words and phrasings and I get so caught up in the style I lose the substance. It’s this trying to be all things to all people, and not be offensive to anyone that he is railing against. By and large, Pat says what I think and doesn’t mince words. I may not agree 100% but the large majority I do and love the directness.

  • Ian B

    The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it”.

    This needs clarification. The net, like the rest of society/the economy, generally interprets acts of private censorship as damage and routes around them. But like the rest of society, it is powerless against acts of state censorship.

    If one web host will not host a video, another probably will. But if it is made illegal by the state to publish the video, then it is censored. If hosting the above video, or embedding it in your web page, were punishable with a hefty prison term or fine, no host would host it and no web page would embed it. Would the samizdatistas embed the video then happily trot off to court and prison for doing so? Of course not. There is no more “routing around” than there is in general publishing- in which a controversial article or book turned down by one publisher can be published by another, or self published. That’s all it is. The net is attributed magical powers that it does not have. Technology does not beat the law, and never has.

    In business, things are even more strict, especially if you are in the unpopular “adult” side of things, and in this I speak from experience. In order to trade, one must keep in the good offices of the credit card companies. Some years ago, they ruthlessly shut down the majority of third party payment processors who process site subscriptions, to leave only three handling adult. There is a list of content which may not be displayed, even a list of words. I was nearly blacklisted (i.e. I would have been rendered unable to take credit cards, which on the internet == money) for having the word “rape” on one webpage, even though it was part of a sentence stating that my site doesn’t contain such unsavoury stuff. I’m not even allowed to use the word “Mastercard”!

    The point? If the web’s financial gatekeepers don’t like your site, you can’t take payments and that’s it, cheerio, don’t slam the door on your way out. Why do they act this way? We know they are in bed with governments, particularly the US one, promising to privately regulate the commercial web in return for being in good standing with the state.

    Which is one reason I’m not so in favour of private money as some other libertarians. He who can attach an AUP to the currency has a great deal of power. Check out what paypal say you can and can’t use their private funny money for.

    There are lots of ways to control the online world. The internet is more censorable and controllable than the real world. The reality is that a few large players can take your voice away, should they so desire. They do so as informal agents of government will. A little pressure by the state, a little application of “the rule of the threat of law” and whatever the state wants can be applied- without laws being made, awkward votes in parliaments, or court cases. The internet can no more route around that than one could buy a cake full of trans fats in a town whose food supply is controlled by two major supermarkets who have agreed to remove trans fats from all their products in a cosy chat with the Minister.

    The omnipotence of the internet’s technology is a myth. It won’t protect your freedom. The internet is entirely censorable, and people need to get their heads around that.

  • I am all against giving credence to Sharia law or the setting up of “sharia areas” but he is just plain wrong when, about 15 seconds in, he starts to say that women intimidated into going to a Sharia tribunal to resolve a civil dispute will have no recourse to the “proper courts”. It will be absolutely open to them to go to the “proper courts”, assert that the Sharia tribunal is not binding because they were intimidated into accepting it and that, therefore, it is not binding. The courts would, based upon the evidence, be entirely happy to accept this and to state that, accordingly, the Sharia tribunal had no jurisdiction whatever and should be ignored.

    This apparent ignorance, for me, completely undermined everything else he said.

  • Edward,
    You have clearly never lived in the Islamic ghettos that I have for most of my adult life. You also clearly have no idea how the Koranimals have hi-jacked the ’96 Arbitration Legislation in the UK. It’s parallel lines.

    Yeah, a Muslim woman can of course go to a UK rather than Sharia court but that will mean the hijab will come in handy to hide the bruises from when her mother held her down whilst her brothers beat the shi’ite out of her.

    And we must stand and fight this because we are civilized and Islam is not. It is that simple.

  • RAB

    Sardonic yes, but comedian?

    What I think he means Edward, is that by allowing Sharia Law into this country you have an either or situation.
    Either go to the Proper Courts, or if you choose or a coersed into going to a Sharia court, then the Proper Courts will enforce the descision of the Sharia Court.

    If I was a recent immigrant Somali woman, who’s husband is bored with her and wants a divorce, and is more than likely to speak little or no English, how is she to know she can get a better deal on the property settlement from the Proper Courts with her whole family screaming at her to use Sharia?

    The only way to run a bloody country is to have one Law for all it’s citizens.

    The Tories have pledged to shut down the Sharia Courts when in power.
    We shall see!

  • Anonymous Wanker

    The Tories have pledged to shut down the Sharia Courts when in power.

    Have they explained how they are going to do this without shutting down the Battei Din as well?

  • Ian B

    RAB, it doesn’t matter what the Tories “pledge”. They won’t be able to shut them down. People still haven’t grasped that our government is now in Brussels, and the provincial council in Westminster can in most areas only do as they are allowed by the the government of Theeu. Most of the additional laws above Theeu’s laws which are apparently homegrown are suggested by, or inspired by Theeu, even if the provincial government supinely accepts blame/credit for them.

    The provincial parties are still creating an illusion of some autonomy. What they can actually do is no more than follow Theeu’s trajectory. Theeu and its vast political halo wants more Islam, and won’t let provincial nobodies get in the way of that. There may be a pantomime of trying to restrict the sharia courts, or compromising; it might go to Theeu’s judges to be decided. But then the British Provinces will do as they are told.

    But the idea that the Tories can just do this or that even if they want to- which is unlikely, they just need to keep their supporters placated as Call Me Dave leads us through the next stage of the construction of the New Polity- is pure fantasy. What Lady Torking-Downe declares at party conference to get some applause is worth nothing, absolutely nothing, at all.

  • RAB

    Comon guys I’m just reportin da news!

    No I dont believe them either!

    We have long been the Parish Council of Avalon, according to EU maps and Meta culture.

    Our votes really dont mean a damn!

    So what CAN we do?

  • MichaelV

    I would also like to point out to Edward that merely expressing to the court that you feel you were intimidated will do nothing. The wheels of law run on paid lawyers. For that woman to make her case to move out of Sharia court into normal court because of intimidation charges, should would have to hire a lawyer to do all the legal motions to make those wheels turn and make that stuff happen.

  • MichaelV: wouldn’t she have to hire a lawyer anyway, even if sharia court doesn’t exist?

  • Laird

    Yes she would, Alisa, but in this case she would have to hire a lawyer in order to prove the existence of intimidation (a very difficult hurdle to overcome, especially if [as is likely] she couldn’t find any witnesses to support her) in order to get the Sharia court decision overturned, and then pay for more lawyering to re-try the actual case in a real court. You’ve doubled her legal costs (or more, if she had counsel in the Sharia court) and greatly increased the aggravation as well. Overall, not a good result.

    I’m all in favor of non-judicial dispute resolution (arbitration, mediation, etc.) as long as it’s truly consensual. For instance, a non-Muslim wanting to do business with a Muslim company could contractually subject himself to Sharia law and its courts if he so chose. However, here in the US, mandatory arbitration clauses are routinely invalidated when it is shown that one party has vastly disproportionate power over the other one, so the clause amounts to a “contract of adhesion” (such as in individuals’ disputes with securities brokers, where the companies would obviously prefer mandatory arbitration in industry-dominated tribunals). It sounds to me like the Muslim community as a whole is in a similar disparate “bargaining position” vis-a-vis women.

  • Laird

    By the way, I love Pat Condell. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of his better efforts (in terms of comedic value); there is less of his trademark sardonic, caustic wit and more simple anger. An important message, to be sure, but for better examples check out his website.

  • Laird, thanks for the clarification.

  • spidly

    YouTube Reinstates Pat Condell(Link)
    Richard Dawkins

    “YouTube is a platform for expression of all kinds. Our Community Guidelines prohibit speech that promotes or encourages hatred or violence towards certain groups or individuals, and the video was flagged by our community on that basis. Upon further review of the context of Pat Condell’s comments, we’ve reinstated it.”

  • RAB

    How legally qualified will your representative be, in a Sharia Court anyway?

    Will he (it’s gonna be a he isnt it!)
    like me, have studied for 3 years to obtain a Law Degree, and a bit of night school for the Law Society Part 2 s (tough mother that one) ?

    Will he hell!

    He will have read “The Book”
    and thence make it up as he goes along.

    This must be put an end to!

  • MichaelV

    Alisa, my point is that the court very rarely does anything on its own. It has to be pushed all the way. You can push it as far as you have money to pay lawyers to do the pushing. The judge has to be persuaded, the evidence has to be presented and it has to be compelling, the outcome has to be requested, and it has to be accepted. Expecting the court to make something right because it’s wrong will get you nowhere. Telling the court what is wrong, why it is wrong, and how you would like it made right is how the process works.

  • MichaelIV: sure, that much is obvious. I just wasn’t thinking about the “double lawyering” thing.

    Instinctively at least, I tend to agree with those who say that there should be one legal system for all, but I like to question my instincts occasionally. I live in Israel, where large parts of the family law are in the hands of religious courts, and saying that this arrangement has not been working very well for the secular/traditional population would be an understatement. But on the other hand, from what I have been reading, Battei Din in the UK have been doing a good job of handling domestic disputes. Still, on the other hand, there is no way around the fact that Judaism and Islam have some very fundamental differences.

  • Can’t tolerate that which will not tolerate you, in your own homeland no less.

  • The point about the Battei Din is completely bloody irrelevant. We’ve had them for yonks in the UK and they are not an attempt at some kinda power-grab. As Alisa says, Judaism and Islam have some big differences and one of the biggest is that Judaism isn’t an evangelising religion. I mean, hell, converting to Judaism is a long-slog. It’s not like reciting the Shahada you know.

    And there’s another thing that RAB hints at. Judaism in the UK is organised and controlled. If you wanna be a Rabbi then you gotta go to college and get a suitable qualification. There is no such organisation in becoming an Imam. The only real qualification I can see is to have a passing knowledge of the Qu’ran and a few hadiths and to be an opinionated gob-shite.

    And finally. I bet that Battei Din proceedings are done in English which makes them relatively transparent to outsiders. This can not be said about proceedings in Urdu or Arabic.

  • Nick: yes. But you have to admit that the state cannot favor one religion over another.

    Maybe what you said about the differences between Judaism and Islam as they are practiced in the UK can be applied towards a possible reformation of Islam. Meaning, you could say, OK, you can have your sharia courts, but we want some kind of central Islamic authority with which we can deal, so that not just any Muslim can set up a court of his own. You could also demand that the proceedings be conducted in English and open to the general public, etc. I know this is pretty far fetched with the current government in power, but still maybe something to think about.

  • Pa Annoyed


    You can get Islamic Sharia rulings, in English, over the internet. Do a search for “Islam QA” for one of my favourites. People write in with their questions, and the answer is put up for all to see.

    Visibility hasn’t had much effect that I’ve noticed, but I agree that closed courts would be a bad idea.

  • Pa, it’s not just visibility. Nick makes a good point about the lack of any single central authority in Sunni Islam, which is at least one of the things that make any kind of reformation impossible.

  • Laird

    “But you have to admit that the state cannot favor one religion over another.” – Alisa

    Let’s think about that. I’m not sure whether Alisa’s use of the word “cannot” is intended to mean that there is a legal prohibition on it, or to suggest that favoring (or disfavoring) any religion poses ethical problems. Or perhaps both.

    Focusing on the legal aspect first, I think her statement is true in the US, since the Constitution (1st Amendment) states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; . . .” That’s pretty explicit. But is it also true in England? Wasn’t Catholocism severely discriminated against (if not actually prohibited) until well into the 19th century? And when that changed, wasn’t it done by statute? So could not the UK enact a law banning the practice of Islam? Such a law wouldn’t actually eliminate it, of course, but it would drive it underground (and you wouldn’t be treated to the sight of “letterbox ladies” everywhere).

    I wouldn’t be opposed to a constitutional amendment to similar effect here in the US. Personally, I find most organized religions annoying, offensive and just plain silly, but at least they are (for the most part) relatively harmless. You cannot say that about modern Islam, whose avowed goal is the destruction of western society. Do we not have the ethical right (perhaps even a moral obligation) to defend ourselves against such an existential threat? Why are we obliged to tolerate, facilitate, even encourage its existence? As The Sanity Inspector noted earlier, “Can’t tolerate that which will not tolerate you, in your own homeland no less.” Would someone care to explain how he is wrong?

  • Pa Annoyed


    Bad idea! Really bad idea!

    Sunni Islam does in fact have a position of central authority – the Caliph – but this position was disbanded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1924. There are a number of Islamist groups that call for the restoration of the Caliphate, such as Hizb ut Tahrir and al Ikhwan al Muslimoon (Muslim Brotherhood), but their primary reason for doing so is that legally the Caliph is supposed to organise offensive Jihad against Dar al Harb, and there are a lot of Muslims who say it is not legal to do so without his permission. (There are others who say that in his absence, it is, and the others are just making excuses. Since the point of the regulation was only to ensure the Umma’s military strategy was unified, and to not have a Caliph is also illegal and so cannot logically be a situation the rule applies to, they arguably have a point.)

    The point is fiercely debated, but the fact is that the Caliphate’s disbandment was and is a major doctrinal obstacle to offensive Jihad and the unity of the Umma. (Since every Caliphist group of course also proposes itself for the leadership.) Defensive Jihad, of course, is an individual rather than communal duty, and thus OK without a Caliph.

    The Caliph technically has no power to reform Islam, and indeed could be removed from his position for not prosecuting the war. And the only sort of Caliph that the whole Umma could conceivably accept and unite behind would have to be a pious and orthodox one, if it’s possible at all. At present, anyway.

    The Caliphists have been pushing this idea with various ignorant Western governments, which is why you sometimes hear it said by politicians. But the intention is not reform, but victory through unity.

    Sorry, I know it sounds a wonderful idea, but the reform will have to come first, and then when there is a major bloc of quite definitely reformed Muslims to back him, a Caliph from that group might bring in the rest. You can, of course, imagine what the Islamists would think to such a plan.

    As for Nick’s point about anyone being allowed to be a Qadi, there are actually a whole string of required conditions and technical qualifications. (A Qadi is a judge, an Imam is a preacher.) The same goes for a Caliph. The rules of fiqh may be nonsense, but they’re complicated and intricate nonsense that takes years to learn. (Al Azhar University is generally accepted as the authority in this area. They’re not reformers.) You can find the tedious details in Reliance in the unlikely event you’re interested. But I wasn’t going to argue with Nick about it.

  • Midwesterner

    I am curious why so many are determinedly arguing that the problem in this particular case is sharia/Islam. My understanding is that YouTube did not ban the video in the US or other places were it appears in exactly the same form. They banned it in the UK!

    Why? Because of the UK gov, not the UK Muslims. The danger is that you have a government that, while actively suppressing most religious beliefs, eagerly grabs its ankles for one and only one of them. You need to be fearing your government a little more instead of just laughing at its incompetence. Maybe it is only incompetent at doing the things you want done but is carrying out its own agenda rather effectively.

    With their pseudo voluntary nature, sharia courts are merely the flames dancing over the bonfire of English liberty. You will never extinguish those flames as long as the fire beneath is burning.

  • Pa Annoyed


    Where did you get the information that it was only banned in the UK? I’m not doubting, but I don’t remember reading that. And I thought You Tube had said it was because it had been flagged by the user community?

  • Midwesterner

    Mea culpa. I think I confused it with this one.


    Turn loose criminals to justify laws disarming (or disinforming) the non-criminals. It’s the modern way.

    Although, this being Google we’re talking about, I expect the user community and feedback has likely been segregated by market. On second thought, Google would never send different results to different users, would it?

  • Pa Annoyed

    Ah, that’s OK Mid. The general point you made applies to Western society generally, not just the British government. As we’ve often said before, they could never win without us giving up. It’s the West’s attack on its own values that’s the problem.

  • Mid: FWIW, I was being purely theoretical. Say tomorrow there are elections in the UK, and by some miracle the new government is not libertarian, but at least reasonably liberal. The problem with Islam as it exists today, still exists the day after tomorrow. How should the new government deal with it? Specifically, how should it address the whole sharia courts issue? Should it just dismiss it out of hand? What about the Battei Din then?

    Which brings me to Laird’s comment: yes, my assertion was from an ethical POV. The existence of the Battei Din in the UK may not be a very good thing on principle, although I understand that practically the arrangement has been working fine so far. They do not exist in the US, AFAIK, and the Jews there seem to manage just fine without them. They do exist in Israel, and as I have hinted above, I, and many others, could certainly do without. The question is, is it politically possible to abolish them in the UK? I have no idea.

    Pa, as I understand it, Caliphate pretty much requires statehood, does it not?

  • Midwesterner

    I don’t think it is the West attacking its own values. It is a small but loud and powerful cabal that includes virtually all of MSM and most of higher education.

    We are barraged throughout the day with a never ending litany of blatantly false advertisements that are refuted when a quick internet search turns up original contradicting facts. For example, Planned Parenthood Action Fund is running an ad that is introduced by a rape victim (I wonder if it was this one) and states that

    “Under Mayor Sarah Palin, women like Gretchen were forced to pay up to $1200 [for rape kits]”

    Not ‘would have been’, but ‘were’. Except, they weren’t.

    “In fact, according to the Uniform Crime Report there were only 5 rapes reported in the 6 years she was mayor of Wasilla and four of those happened after the state law in question was passed.”

    And from a different source

    Del Smith, the state’s deputy commissioner at the Department of Public Safety, testified in support of the rape-kit-charging-ban legislation during multiple hearings. During one, state representative Jeannette James asked if she “understood correctly that Mr. Smith is saying that the department has never billed a victim for exams.”

    Smith replied that “the department might have been billed, but he has not found any police agency that has ever billed a victim.”

    To clarify: In preparation to attend a hearing and support the bill, one of the state’s top law-enforcement officials found no case of a rape victim ever being charged.

    Every single Obama ad that has anything more than platitudes turns out to be outright lies. And the media is so totally in the tank that reporters are slipping and referring to ‘our candidate’ during reports.

    I don’t think it is the West self destructing. I think it is being deliberately destroyed. Get ready for ‘President of the World Obama’ with the US military at his disposal and a long track record of using everything including government to hammer anybody who dares to speak against him. (see comment at October 1, 2008 04:15 AM for just a few).

    This video censorship Adriana linked for us is a part of a much bigger picture. We must seek out a defeat censorship 1.0 (MSM bias) and censorship 2.0 which includes things like this one using automated systems for unintended (I hope) reason, swamping telephone systems on radio call-in program DOS attacks, spamming blog threads with massive numbers of comments intended to smother and suffocate negative information, astroturfing and on and on and . . .

    I has a major grumpy today. |-(

  • Midwesterner


    Those people carrying death to infidels, etc placards should have been prosecuted like you or I would have if we had marched with similar ones against Islam. Criminal activity must be prosecuted. Self defense must be permitted. Criticism must be permitted. No go zones must be broken. Concessions must cease.

    Allowing an ADR system is not a concession, it is a right. But allowing any non consenting person to be effected is a crime and must be be treated as one. Even little Piglet from Winnie the Poo must be permitted to hold pens or coffee on public employees’ desks.

    The danger of attacking a sharia system is that it plays right into the “we need more laws to control bad people” meme that is so strong right now. We don’t. We need less laws controlling good people.

    Women who are forced into a sharia system probably have no clue about the traditional rights available to them. Perhaps requiring a civics test to qualify for benefits. Or having criminal investigators interview everyone receiving government benefits. It is insane that benefits are routed in a way that allows the men owning the women to control them. Anybody not wanting to be interviewed can turn down benefits. As Paul would say “I would not start from here.”

    The way to peace and safety is not to outlaw more of the few remaining rights. It is to re-recognize traditional rights and crimes. The government of the UK consistently sides with criminals.

  • Laird is right and Alisa is wrong. The UK still has an established sect: it’s what we colonials call “Episcopalianism”. I happen to think said sect is a joke, at present, but this was not always the case in history. The Queen and Parliament have every right and precedent to declare Islam a false faith, and its mosques subversive institutions subject to seizure. If they don’t have this right, then Henry VIII didn’t have the right either and you should all get back to speed on your Latin Catechism.

  • David, you seem to have missed my last comment where I said that my point was ethical, not legal. I don’t live in the UK, and don’t pretend to be familiar with its laws. It just happens to be my personal opinion, that in general, even if it is formally legal for a government to discriminate against one religion and another, it is still wrong on principle.

    Mid, all I keep saying is that the presence of Islam in Western societies is a problem that needs to be addressed in some way or another. What you did in your last comment is suggest one way to address it, with which I happen to agree. I never said that it is the most severe and urgent problem these societies are facing, but I do think that it is too severe and urgent to ignore.

  • Correction:

    to discriminate against one religion and not another


  • Laird

    Alisa, we’re just going to have to disagree on the ethical component here. Personally, I feel no “ethical” obligation to succor and support those whose avowed goal is our distruction. Similarly, I feel no ethical obligation to protect the termites gnawing at the foundation of my house; in fact, the only “ethical” obligation I feel toward them is their extermination, or there won’t be any house for my son to inherit someday. And if you started calling “termitism” a religion I would feel no differently.

    I guess you’re just a better person than I am.

  • Which brings us to the inevitable conclusion that no insect religion at all should be supported by the state. ‘Ethical’ may not be the right term. I am talking about principles.

  • Midwesterner

    I defend the existence of alternative dispute resolution systems (ADRs) because of what they are ‘alternative’ to, namely ‘the state’. To deny two (or more) people the right to agree to dispute resolution processes as part of a voluntary contract is fundamental to liberty. Sharia must be hammered not because it is an alternative, but wherever it is non-consensual.

    To forbid the existence of ADRs is to compel the intervention of the state in all personal interactions, even when neither party wants it. The keyword we must focus on is ‘voluntary’ not ‘alternative’. The reason and grounds for challenging a resolution by an ADR is not its difference from democratic or other law, but that the resolution lacked the informed consent of one or both parties.

    Please let’Ms not be welding shut our escape hatch.

  • Midwesterner


    “fundamental to liberty” should read “a destruction of fundamental liberty”.

    and, umm, “let’Ms” should of course be “let’s”.

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