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Yet another assault of freedom of expression

Yet another assault of freedom of expression by the forces of repression. Sometimes it comes from priggish intolerant ‘Daily Mail Right’ and sometimes from the thuggish and profoundly intolerant ‘Thought Police Left.

Shops could face legal action over ‘lads’ mags’. Magazines on shelves Campaigners say shops stocking lads’ mags could be in breach of the Equality Act 2010. Retailers are being warned they could face legal action if they continue to sell magazines showing naked and semi-naked images of women. Pressure groups and lawyers say displaying the magazines or requiring staff to handle them could amount to sexual harassment or discrimination […] UK Feminista director Kat Banyard said so-called lads’ mags fuelled sexist attitudes and behaviour by portraying women as “sex objects”. She told the BBC the images caused “real harm”.

Well I regard any attempt to threaten people from selling magazines as “real harm. So perhaps it is time to pass some laws that threaten people who do that with the violence backed hammer of law. Sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander and tolerance for people who wish to use force to impose their intolerance is both cowardice and ultimately suicidal.

And lets get rid of the Equality Act 2010 while we are at it.

Journalist Piers Hernu retorted:

“…no “right-minded individual” would consider the content of these magazines pornographic.

What we have here is a very deeply sinister and disturbing attempt by a group of fundamentalist, fanatical feminists trying to rope in some lawyers in order to bully the supermarkets into removing lads mags’ from the shelves by alerting both staff and customers that they may be able to win a court case”

Whilst I like his accurate characterisation of these thugs, he makes one very serious error. So what if the magazines are ‘pornographic’? Once you accept that as a legitimate reason to pass laws against a magazine, the enemies of liberty just start redefining what ‘pornography’ means until they get what they want.

60 comments to Yet another assault of freedom of expression

  • Mr Ed

    S 26 (1) of the Equality Act defines harassment, unwanted conduct related to a protected characteristic, e.g. sex, not necessarily the sex of the worker concerned, which has the purpose or effect of (i) violating a person’s dignity or (ii) creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that person.

    Thus displaying ‘lads’ magazines in a workplace is conduct, related to the sex of the women portrayed, which may on grounds of sex, create a hostile environment etc. This is nothing new, it also applied under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 in the UK, e.g. the case of Moonsar. Men simply watching porn at work can be an act of sex discrimination against a woman, unless it is shown by the employer or other responsible party that she participated or enjoyed it.

  • Ed, that should be a matter for tort law if there was ‘constructive’ violation of an employment contract. These kinds of laws are wildly intrusive ‘work-for-the-boys’ statues for enriching lawyers and pandering to lobbyists and their control freak clients. Works is social interaction and private contract and the state should have a very limited role indeed.

  • RAB

    Never let a badly drafted and vaguely worded Act go to waste, eh?

  • Mr Ed

    RAB, that Act was badly drafted for boring reasons it was amended as it appeared to have a fundamental drafting error in respect of ‘binding’ settlements being invalid.

    It has over 90,000 words. The vagueness is deliberate, it has a purpose, to reform behaviour, attitudes and thought.

    Perry, if harassment at work is wrong, then Common Law could resolve it. To harass someone for supporting a football team as such* is not unlawful under the Equality Act, but if a ‘protected characteristic’ is involved, damages are unlimited.

    * in N. Ireland ‘community affiliation’ may be a factor, and religion or national origin would attract protection.

  • And they’re part of the same Enemy Class that will complain about the High Street shops closing when Smiths bring down the shutters because their stores are no longer profitable (WHS doesn’t make much profit from the high street).

    It really needs some women, the Right Sort of no-nonsense hard-as-nails feminists to stand up to these groups, and to protest that they are perfectly capable of handling a copy of Loaded without being overwhelmed by the vapours. It’s ironic that feminist groups are now portraying women as pathetic creatures.

  • the other rob

    Sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander

    Years ago, I came across a legal term, in Latin, that said much the same thing. I’ve never been able to rediscover it, however.

    Does anybody know what it is?

  • Mr Ed

    Rob, what was the context? Perhaps the closest is in pari delicto potior est conditio defendentis (in equal wrong, the defender is in the stronger position), allegedly, in Victorian times, an Irish High Court judge asked Counsel representing some shepherds if his client was aware of the maxim. The barrister’s reply ‘My Lord, I’m assured that in the hills of Killarney, they talk of little else.’.

    The interesting thing about this ‘campaign’ is who is funding these people? There is no economic advantage in calling for things to be banned unless someone will fund it. I had a look around at the pressure group/charity and it all seems rather opaque.

    The organisation behind this ‘campaign’ is UK Feminista, I understand.

    They are funded by Rosa.

    Russian Dolls of funding appear at this point. How big is the State doll?

    I wonder how much State funding was behind the recent events in Woolwich too, be it benefits, anti-radicalisation funding etc.

  • the other rob

    Mr Ed – I think the context was more an equality of arms style of thing. Thanks for trying, though.

  • Dave Walker

    That’s “Cosmopolitan” off the shelves too, then.

  • Mr Ed

    @ Dave, that would imply that consistency and reason are behind this campaign.

    There was never a man so hated, as he who told the truth.

  • I am in favour of campaigning loudly for the rights of supermarkets to sell these magazines, including at any time on Sundays from midnight to midnight.

    Having achieved this, I might also be able to buy the rest of my groceries during these hours, which would be nice.

  • Sceptical Antagonist

    I have to admit that this is one of those issues I have problems with. I am male, and poles-opposite to feminism, but at the same time I don’t particularly want to see these mags in plain view either. I will fight for your right to buy them, and for the supermarkets’ right to sell them; but that doesn’t mean that I want to see them.

    In our society choice is based on the opinion of the masses – what the majority wants, society gets (unless of course ‘the powers’ get involved) – the minority have to put up with it. Does that make the minority ‘intolerant’?

    The bugbear I have talking to other libertarians is that often ‘the right to do whatever you want’ is put before appropriateness. I know that’s vague and subjective, but it covers a lot of ills…

  • Mr Ed

    Sceptical, you are free to avoid such shops or in supermarkets, those areas that show such material. But consider whether or not the act if selling them should lead to litigation, and ultimately bailiffs to enforce a judgment by seizing property from the shops. Ultimately, the shop has a choice, comply or close.

    It is only in the political sphere that majority rule applies, in a market every viable nîche might be catered for.

    And if only on grounds of self-interest, when they have cut the shop down, what if they came after you and your property, armed with a mandate? Hold your nose, or lose your freedom?

  • I think that Sceptical raises an important point, and that is the way libertarians present their philosophy to the “uninitiated”. I think that he touches on failure of some to stress the importance of public opinion and peer pressure in the context of civil society.

  • Malcolm Hutty

    Perry, a big “hell, yeah!” from me. So much so I’m posting under my real name for once.

    I know “Me to” posts are boring and discouraged, but on this I felt moved to agree.

    For what it’s worth, I now fully intend to make your argument “Preventing the free exercise of private choice in publishing and distribution causes real harm” the very next time I hear this clap-trap in a meeting in the Home Office or DfE. Which, given the nature of my job, won’t be long.

  • Mr Ed

    Malcolm, I would have thought that ‘Preventing the free exercise of private choice‘ is the whole point of government. It has no other purpose. As if one would be preaching abstinence in a brothel.

  • Sceptical Antagonist

    Mr Ed, I think you misunderstood my position. I am not in favour of shops being punished for the sale of such items, instead I just think that they could be treated more carefully with respect to the public.

    Your argument of not visiting the magazine racks, well, what if I want to buy a magazine? And if I wanted a copy of “Jewish Idolatry”, would I find it next to the “Nazi Party Weekly”?

    Libertarians tend to be smart. They are hopefully capable of reading an article with minimal bias. But that does not, IMHO, mean that everyone is able to do the same – especially of course, youngsters.

  • Malcolm Hutty

    Mr Ed, true and fair. But it is my lot to attempt to stem the tide, with my finger in one hole in the dyke while the waves crash over the top.

  • Sceptical Antagonist

    Oops, to clarify my previous post:

    “they could be treated more carefully with respect to the public” means the items, not the shops 🙂

  • […] Sceptical Antagonist in a comment that caused much mirth here in […]

  • Paul Marks

    Sceptical Antagonist – W.H. Smith (the biggest newsagent chain in Britian) stocks Communist magazines, so why not Nazi ones?

    And yes “New Internatinalist” (and so on) are openly displayed.

    Even in Tesco Supermarket I can the (ex KGB person owned) “Independent” newspaper is openly on sale, as is the (totalitarian) “Guardian”, the (corrupt Corporate Welfare) “Financial Times” magazine and the (vile) “New Statesman” magazine.

    So if they want to stock “Nazi Party News” – that is up to them (or should be).

  • Sigivald

    Your argument of not visiting the magazine racks, well, what if I want to buy a magazine? And if I wanted a copy of “Jewish Idolatry”, would I find it next to the “Nazi Party Weekly”?

    Then go buy a magazine.

    And smirk at the Nazis while buying the latest JI, I suppose?

    The problem with “be sensitive because I don’t want to see them” is that someone doesn’t want to see every damned thing; the Nazi doesn’t want to see the Jewish magazine, the Communist doesn’t want to see an actual-Liberal magazine, the Feminist doesn’t want the “lad magazine”, and the Lad presumably doesn’t want to see ManHater Monthly.

    What that tells me is that people can suck it up and deal with seeing a cover that makes them pouty-faced, like adults.

    Or they can get a subscription, or go to a Very Sensitive Store that caters to their need to never see the existence of expression they disapprove of. That’s also the market at work…

    (I mean, I could happily live my life without ever seeing another celebrity gossip magazine or Cosmo. But I don’t think the grocery store should be “sensitive” to my desires and remove them from the checkout area.

    My aesthetic preferences are not anyone else’s problem, unless I’m paying them to give a damn.)

  • Plamus

    the other rob, could the phrase you are looking for be “Contumeliam si dices, audies” – “If you speak insults you will hear them also”?

  • Paul Marks

    By the way (and I speak as an ex Security Guard who often came upon pornographic magazines on sites) pornographic magasines very rarely have pornagraphic pictures on the front cover.

    What they normally have on the front cover is a photograph of an attractive young lady – with the promise of rather more inside.

    So unless one actually goes around opening these magazines in stores how can one be offended by what one sees?

    And if one is offended by what one sees if one opens a pornagraphic magazine, the solution is obvious…..

    Do not open them.

  • Mr Ed

    No, no, no Paul, do keep up. It can amount to unlawful sexual harassment of a woman for a man to look at porn at work if a woman is aware of what he is doing and she does not participate willingly. The environment would be offensive and unlawful. She does not need to see the porn itself. See my first opst above re Moonsar. Handling porn and selling it to creeps would be enough to trigger liability even if a burka or hijab-clad lady was on the cover, the unfortunate shop worker would be exposed to a humiliating, degrading, etc. environment or an affront to her dignity, on grounds of sex, unless she didn’t mind.

    Why do you think that activist group is getting so excited? They just need someone to pipe up, bring a claim and probably shut down their employer.

  • Steven

    It doesn’t even need to be pornographic to get someone in trouble. I worked in the medical school library when I was in college. One night the police showed up because someone saw one of the students looking at child pornography. It was an anatomy book and the “offender” was a student. It just took one busybody or crazy person to misconstrue and that’s all it took to turn a simple misunderstanding into something that could have been life-wrecking.

  • Paul Marks

    Steven – once I would have been astonished by the story you tell here, now I have come to expect such things.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes Mr Ed – the law is an ass.

    The idea that if one does not like the “work environment” (whatever this vague term is supposed to mean)one should GO WORK SOMEWHERE ELSE (i.e. “freedom is an open door and the choice to walk through it”) is not considered by our modern law.

    But of course the modern types (as modern as Louis XIV or the Emperior Diocleian) regard Contract Law (freedom of contract) “old fashioned” and “individualistic”.

  • Sceptical Antagonist

    Just curious, but what are the views of the people here regarding ‘the big picture’ (of society, that is)?

    There are plenty of comments here about rights from an individual’s point of view, but is that all there is? If I don’t like magazine X, I don’t need to buy it. But what if I believe that magazine X is detremental or even harmful to civil society as a whole? Should I stand back and watch the human race in its decline?

    It’s a little like the alcohol/drug argument. Sure, everyone has the right to do what they wish to themselves, but if society as a whole starts to suffer because of the abuse, are we failing if we do not act in some way?

    @Steven’s comment:

    I agree that in this case someone overreacted, but if you thought there was real child porn involved, what should you do? Ignore it?

  • But what if I believe that magazine X is detremental or even harmful to civil society as a whole? Should I stand back and watch the human race in its decline?

    No, you should not stand back, you should evangelise your views and encourage people not to do that. That is your right. But you might also be entirely wrong about that… which is why what you have not have the right to do is use force (such as passing a law) to prevent people doing that thing you disapprove of with other like minded folks.

  • Steven

    @Steven’s comment:

    I agree that in this case someone overreacted, but if you thought there was real child porn involved, what should you do? Ignore it?

    Not at all. I have no problem with someone seeing something suspicious and calling the cops. That’s what’s supposed to happen, right? But if the patron thought there was a problem she could have mentioned it to the library staff first who could have explained that the “offender” was a medical student and the pictures of naked children are in an anatomy reference book. No harm, no foul, and the cops don’t have their time wasted (although given that they are campus police it isn’t like they had much to do).

    Part of the problem came from the library being physically attached to the hospital so it was open to the public and not just to students and staff. People would come in and try to find information about their diseases, but given that the library had no general works and only the technical materials and journals, it was generally fruitless.

  • Steven

    No, you should not stand back, you should evangelise your views and encourage people not to do that. That is your right. But you might also be entirely wrong about that… which is why what you have not have the right to do is use force (such as passing a law) to prevent people doing that thing you disapprove of with other like minded folks.

    Nope. There are limits. You can proselytize until you are blue in the face about the nature of rights and responsibilities and blah blah blah, but it doesn’t unring that bell when you have to explain to your child why that man has his hand in some girl’s pants at the park. How do you feel about noise ordnances? Does someone’s right to ride motorcycles with those stupid loud pipes infringe on your right to get a good sleep in your own home? Nobody is hurt when your neighbor doesn’t mow his lawn ever, at least until you try to sell your house and nobody buys because who wants to live next to a slob like that?

  • In the examples where you have actual externalities inflicted on you as a non-consenting third party, yes there might… might… be justification for more than complaining. But in the ones you just dislike and do not cause actual harm… yeah, tough shit. Someone does not mow their own lawn? Truly deeply profoundly… tough shit. So yes, there are limits, but that applies when looking at this sort of thing from both directions.

  • Steven

    Until you remember that unkempt lawn does affect your property values, not to mention the increased pest population (rats, ticks, mosquitos). And if it’s dry outside it becomes a fire vector. No, you’re right. Do nothing. It’s his right and I’m not affected in the least.

    We make laws for the lowest common denominator. We don’t have public indecency laws for nudists at the beach, we have them for the attention whore that would wave their twig and berries at school kids and flash the browneye at bus stops. We don’t have food inspections for the good restaurants that care about cleanliness but we have them for the ones that would drop your meat on the floor and still serve it to you. We don’t have building codes because of the homeowners who want a safe house, we have them for the ones that would use substandard materials, build too close to your house (fires spread you know), or wouldn’t put in a sewer line because an outhouse in the city is just as good (no disease problems there).

    You can’t have a society where anything goes. Sorry it has the force of law behind it, but that’s the only way to get some people to adhere to those standards. When you can convince people to stop acting like self-centered jerks and do the responsible thing without being asked, maybe we can stop having those laws in the first place.

  • Until you remember that unkempt lawn does affect your property values

    So what? By that logic why not require them to gentrify their property to a standard you approve of and just confiscate it if they can’t. Of course exactly that happens all the time. It sucks to be poor.

    not to mention the increased pest population (rats, ticks, mosquitos). And if it’s dry outside it becomes a fire vector. No, you’re right. Do nothing. It’s his right and I’m not affected in the least.

    Indeed, and why not just require them to concrete it all over. It is the only way to be sure… but of course no gardens might reduce the price of your property, so catch 22.

    If their land management posses an *actual* threat to you, well sure, I have no problem with laws as malarial mosquitoes and fires do not care about property lines, but sorry, I care more about property rights than I do about maintaining your land value.

  • Steven

    That’s great on paper, but you can’t tell me that when you try to sell your house and get offered a fraction of what the house should be worth because Cletus hasn’t mowed in eons, when your neighborhood has a rat problem because of that grass, and you might or might not have contracted Lyme Disease from ticks in his yard that you’re going to say “sure, I got screwed, but his property rights are intact. Yeah liberty!”

    There’s a reason libertarianism isn’t taken seriously in the real world.

  • Oh I understand why we have a problem selling such notions to the middle class. People like to impose their needs on poorer neighbours. I am guessing Cletus cannot afford the lobbyists and lawyers you, or at least your homeowners association, can.

    Of course this is also why periodically Cletus and his darker skinned half cousin Rufus Rastus might get the notion to burn your house or place of business down and do some kinetic shopping as they are well aware who actually benefits from all those ‘sensible’ laws.

  • Mr Ed

    Would it shock anyone to learn that there is a private remedy to the scruffy neighbour, if one has acted wisely? A covenant to maintain a property may be enforced in certain circumstances. A positive covenant requiring the owner to do something is problematic in English law. A negative covenant not to do something less so. One example of a negative covenant I knew of in an English Victorian terrace was not to keep pigs. Modern estates seem universally to have covenants, e.g. No caravans, doors a certain colour, no trade on the font garden etc. Don’t buy if no covenant or or against X if that is what troubles you.

    The rule in Rylands v Fletcher deals with unnatural use of land in a way that may avert a nuisance (not otherwise actionable), or, more likely, compensate for it after the fact.

  • Indeed Ed, property convenants are a vastly better way. Many communal properties near where I live have many rather sensible convenants.

  • Paul Marks

    Steven- property convenants are indeed the way (as Mr Ed and Perry have pointed out).

    However, your point about lazy neighbours who do not cut the grass is a good one – as I was cutting the grass today it did occur to me that this is the first time I have cut it since last year.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Well, all of these objections have to do with the “externalities” so beloved of utilitarian-“libertarians,” and in the end if you follow out the logic there is no–NO–action possible to a human being that cannot, in principle, have a negative effect on somebody somewhere. The very “act” of dying creates refuse.

    As I might have said once or twice before, in the real world the degree of libertarianism possible within a society is inversely proportional to the population density.

    So the problem is how to come up with a compromise–and I absolutely hate that word!–that will allow us to maximize individual political-legal liberty while not constituting too much of a real (not “moral”) hazard to others near and far.

    So, for example: If I don’t cut my grass it lowers your property value*. So how about when somebody builds a spiffy high-rise apartment building with a great view of Lake Michigan, and ten or 15 years later some yay-hoo comes along and builds a rather ugly big black kidney-bean-shaped affair between the older building and the Lake that destroys its views, and with them a good deal of its market value?

    *Actually, it could enhance it. It depends on what people looking for a property to buy want in the way of a neighborhood. Personally I’d much rather live where people are relaxed about the length of the grass than someplace where everyone expects my lot to look just like the neighbors’. “Pages of illustrations”: For instance, people who want to grow a prairie garden or a vegetable garden or long grass on their place. (Most people cut their grass far too short anyway–it’s not good for the grass.)

    Scruffy? A showplace “natural garden” looks highly scruffy to me, but so what? Your “scruffy” is my “my home is my castle.”

    Then there’s the Dandelion Issue. I happen to love dandelions. The emerald grass of spring strewn with brilliant yellow dandelions…just gorgeous. Yes, I know, then they go to seed and are less lovely (!), but they’re worth it.

    Except to the neighbor who hates dandelions and spends vast sums of energy and money to keep his lawn immaculately green. Who gave me the right to have dandelions if their seeds plant themselves in his lawn?

    Then there’s the Quarantine Issue. Is it morally proper (right, acceptable) to quarantine people who have ebola? What about people who have no symptoms, but have been exposed? What about people who MAY have been exposed? What if it’s not ebola, but smallpox, scarlet fever, TB, measles, mumps?

    Property covenants are a fine idea for people who don’t mind being bound by them, and who can find a combination of a property that’s desirable (to them) and a covenant whose strictures they can tolerate.

    But on a practical level, most land use isn’t restricted by a covenant, which presupposes some prior private owner who set it up. Which is fine with me.

    It’s all a matter of compromise: where you draw the line.

    I have yet to hear any kind of satisfactory rule that specifies where you draw the line.

  • But What If? But what if I live on a desert island and am eaten by a tiger, or struck by an asteroid? To whom do I send a complaint? People forget that human society is part of nature, and – sorry – there are no rights intrinsic in nature. So no, I do not have a right to an immaculate lawn or to not have the value of my property diminished*. All I have is the possibility to freely cooperate with other people – provided they are willing to do so. That is what society is for.

    *BTW, I could live on a desert island without other humans around to reduce the value of my property – but then who would I sell it to?

  • Paul Marks

    If must indeed be a terrible thing (for all sorts of reasons) to live next to Paul Marks.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Alisa, to further your point about the tiger and the asteroid — libertarianism is a political position (in search of a philosophy even more than some others), and as such its principles don’t hold if IS no other human being: in the “real world,” politics has to do with the relationships or interactions of at least two humans.

    Personally, I would, as always, register my complaints with the Great Frog. I should in good conscience admit that I’m not entirely sure this helps, but it’s all I can think of.

    As to the rest of your comment, except possibly about “rights intrinsic in nature,”–discussion of the concepts “rights” and “nature” forgone, thousands cheer–Agreed.

    But in view of Prairie Fire, Ebola, Ticks/Lyme, Mosquitoes/Malaria, Fire/Crowded-Theatre, etc., etc., we still have to specify precisely where we draw the line.

    Paul, it’s just barely conceivable that you didn’t cut the grass sooner not so much out of “laziness” (a handy term to stigmatize those some of whose inactivities one disapproves of) because you were (a) busy finding a cure for cancer, (b) desperately trying to think of a way to stop Civilization from going down the tubes, or even taking tangible action in that direction, (c) ill or recovering but not up to par, (d) too dam tired, (e) had other things you’d rather be doing, or (e) liked long grass. Or any of the many subcategories of these, of course. 🙂

    If the neighbours or the Covenant Commission or the Borough Council want short grass, tell ’em to cut their own dam grass.

  • Julie:

    But in view of Prairie Fire, Ebola, Ticks/Lyme, Mosquitoes/Malaria, Fire/Crowded-Theatre, etc., etc., we still have to specify precisely where we draw the line.

    We either convince our neighbors to cooperate on these – as well as other – matters, or we go for each others throats. It is as simple as that, and I think history shows that when a third party coercively takes charges of these matters, eventually throats will be gone for. Of course this can also happen in the absence of such third party presence – but the problem is that such third parties tend to be much better armed and to take sides.

    My problem with living next to Paul is his invisible cat: I am allergic to cats.

  • Julie near Chicago


    Avoiding the coercive third party, by all means. Particularly when said party bears a mantle of Authority. Of course, the Third Party I have in mind at the moment is supposed, in the end, to take the side of the party as dictated by the legal system and the courts. But this system has gotten to be an absolute mess. Perhaps it always has been.

    But if you work hard enough at it, you can come up with SOME reason why your neighbor is at awful, horrible, heinous fault, not just creating a public nuisance but actually doing something that threatens somebody’s life or limb–in principle, at least, however unlikely that outcome. Face it, Perry’s right: If you have ANY grass, god only knows the dangers to which you are exposing the populace. Lyme, malaria, parasites and viruses borne by mice or voles, on and on. This is the reality. How, then, do we find the dividing lines in our principles, and if we do find them, how do we state them clearly and effectively? That is the issue I was trying to get at.

    –Actually, Richard Epstein points the way, or at last a way. There’s a clip of a talk or a debate on YT in which he talks about how the Common Law approached some sort of acceptable legal principle by the method of successive approximations. I think that’s a plausible way to approach these issues.

    Fortunately, I am not allergic to cats, so if Paul will let me admire and perhaps scratch his invisible cat, I don’t mind living next door to him. As long as he doesn’t object to dandelions. And long grass. And trees. (Deadfall, and leaves on the grass, alas, and what if there’s a storm–wind, lightning, ice–)

  • Paul Marks

    There are many trees in my small gardens – some have been cut back, others wil hae to be at some point.

    Oddly enough I kept the dandelions away by pulling them out (yes I know it does not kill the roots) – the lawns got too long as I was at work or it was raining (well that is my story and I am sticking to it) I have now cut the lawns – but I am in the market for a new lawn mower.

    If only I had an invisible sheep to keep the growth under control – but I expect my invisible cat would eat such an animal.

  • How, then, do we find the dividing lines in our principles, and if we do find them, how do we state them clearly and effectively?

    Well, I am now at a point where I am beginning to question the actual need for such clear demarcation of these lines – or, to be more precise, for the generalization thereof.

    IOW, what works between me and Julie (who lives on my right side), may not work between me and Paul (who lives on my left). I happen to like dandelions and don’t mind tall grass – and so I may reach an understanding (i.e. a compromise) with Julie that she may find a way to control pests on her property despite the grass being so tall and all. OTOH, I may reach an understanding with Paul regarding his cat. And I may also reach an understanding with both my neighbors as to keeping my dogs as quiet as possible (not an easy one, that). And Julie has another neighbor on her right with other issues, and so does Paul on his left, etc. etc. As you can see, the number of such potential issues can easily reach a great number. Generalizing them to the larger population (AKA ‘legislating’) may be futile, and even counterproductive.

    As I said, these little conflicts can, and sometimes will, result in violence. But I don’t think that it is the role of the State to prevent violence between its citizens (although I am willing to grant it the function of limiting and even ending such violence once it has erupted). Rather, its role is to protect them from people for whom violence is an actual business (AKA ‘predators’).

  • BTW and to be perfectly clear (!!!): I like mice and snakes even less than I like cats. Which is to say, not at all. !!! 11

  • OTOH, sheep? Mmm, lunch…

  • Paul Marks

    You would have liked the old Britain – very fond of mutton the British were, now it is all lamb (because we can not cook – and lamb is easy).

  • There’s a difference?

  • Paul Marks

    On the off chance that I am not having my leg pulled…..

    Mutton is the meat of a mature sheep.

  • Re-reading my longish comment above now, I realize that I rather like the idea of Julie and Paul living right next to me. They say it’s a small world, but still not small enough…

  • Paul Marks

    I like the idea of neighbours I could talk to, about of mutual interest.

    I pretend to be a loner – but it is a pretense.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Alisa and Paul, I think that sounds like a very workable idea. Alisa, I am very fond of cats, but that is second (by a only a couple of whiskers) to my love of dogs. My Lucy is not much of a barker, especially now that she’s 91, but dogs are made to bark and so forth. I am alway delighted to hear them–at any hour of the day or night!

    Especially since you are being so nice as not to bug me about the state of my grass, and especially especially since you too enjoy dandelions.

    As for Paul, I agree. Understand about the “loner” business. If I can enjoy the Invisible Cat, that seals the deal since I too would love to have congenial and sensible people next door with whom to resolve once and for all the Problems of Everything that have immiserated Mankind over the millenia.

    Paul–never let it be said that I can’t say exactly what you did, in twelve times the space. :>)))!!!

  • Sceptical Antagonist

    My Lucy is not much of a barker, especially now that she’s 91

    …and went off to find fame with a travelling circus.

    but dogs are made to bark

    …and she’s not a basenji, either, then? 😉

  • Julie near Chicago

    LOL! NO barking? Now what fun would that be!

  • Julie near Chicago

    And after all, this discussion is about an “Assault of Freedom of Expression” and dogs too must be allowed the right to express themselves. 🙂

    I used to enjoy particularly The Luce’s haranguing of cats and raccoons when there was a door or window between them. (She gets along fine with cats if they’re both outside or both inside.)

  • Paul Marks

    Buttercups are good – I prefer them to dandilions.

    I do not what the opinion of the invisible cat is upon the matter.