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Speech codes

EU mulls legislation in the fight against online hate speech, reports Reuters.

Glad we’re leaving. But do not expect our current prime minister to fight for free speech. That would violate her programming.

Added later: Posterity, and one or two bewildered humans, demanded that I explain the foregoing. Our revered Foreign Secretary, Boris de Pfeffel Johnson in a recent column for the Sun called Jeremy Corbyn “that mutton-headed old mugwump”. The Sun helpfully provided a glossary for its readers, defining the terms “mugwump” and “revanchist”, though not “glossary”. Mind you, it got the Harry Potter reference wrong; it’s International Confederation of Wizards, not Internal. What do they teach them in these schools? Soon the whole country was googling “mugwump”.

When all they really had to do was ask Theresa May. She has the answer to all our questions.

Added still later, but less late at night: I cannot now remember how I ended up with two links to the same, possibly spliced, audio clip of Theresa May’s definition of a mugwump. Let it be.

Never mind her. If you want to know the up-and-coming political candidate whose name you should look out for, take a look at this leaflet.

27 comments to Speech codes

  • Julie near Chicago

    Chee! We knew all about mugwumps nearly three-quarters of a century ago!

    Present generation just isn’t properly educafied.

  • bobby b

    David Burge‏ @iowahawkblog:

    “I’ll let you ban hate speech when you let me define it. Deal?”

  • Julie near Chicago

    bobby, works for me! 🙂

  • Laird

    The only true “hate speech” is a call for banning speech of any sort.

  • It is as Julie said. I know about mugwumps because I became a student of the U.S. civil war from an early age (a very early age, thanks to centennial bubble-gum cards).

    “Don’t feel sorry for that mutton-headed old mugwump Jeremy Corbyn – he poses an enormous threat to our country if he gets into No10. It is absolutely vital for Britain’s security that we have the strong, stable and decisive leadership of Theresa May.” (BORIS JOHNSON writing in the Sun)

    It sounds like (literally sounds like in Natalie’s link) Theresa May was very struck by Boris’ second sentence. No doubt the word ‘mugwump’ will now always swiftly recall it to her mind – from whatever very short distance away it may have been. 🙂

  • mike

    That’s about as good a formulation as I’ve seen.

  • Paul Marks

    Agreed Natalie – Remainers (even reformed ones such as the Prime Minister) do not tend to support Freedom of Speech. They say they support it – but with the sort of qualifications one sees in every written Constitution apart from the Constitution of the United States of America.

    Basically all “modern” Constitutions support Freedom of Speech – as-long-as the opinions expressed are ones the rulers do not disapprove of.

    This sounds extreme – but it really is the case that “Freedom of Speech” as it is understood in (say) France is the freedom to agree with the elite, not the freedom to say things they disapprove of.

    Even if someone is an elected Mayor and say (for example) that they are disturbed by the number of migrant children in the local school – one can be fined or imprisoned.

    “Freedom of Speech” in the modern sense is the freedom to agree with elite “liberal” opinion, not the freedom to dissent.

    Nor is America free of this.

    Most American universities would be far more comfortable with Freedom of Speech in the European sense – rather than the American sense.

  • The Jannie

    This was explained fifty years ago on the One o’Clock Gang – you have to be a Scot of a certain age. A mugwump is a bird which sits on the fence with its mug on one side and its wump on the other.

  • Weird thing is, I swear I first read “mugwump” in the context of my high-school American History classes. I don’t recall what events were the subject of that context, though…

  • Deep Lurker

    CayleyGraph: Me too. Something to do with Reconstruction IIRC.

    [Summons the spirit of GOOGLE from the vasty deeps]

    I get this wikipedia page

    The Mugwumps were Republican political activists who bolted from the United States Republican Party by supporting Democratic candidate Grover Cleveland in the United States presidential election of 1884.

    So I wasn’t quite right: Post-Civil-War 19th century US politics, but not having to do with Reconstruction.

  • Runcie Balspune

    But do not expect our current prime minister to fight for free speech.

    True, but at least you could vote against her, which is more than what the EU would permit.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Jannie is quite right. When I was a kid it was a household word chez nous, applied to whomever it fit, not only to politicians. Heh … one time I asked Mother, and she explained the then-current usage as referring to one (not necessarily a real bird, although in the American vernacular a particular person is often enough called a bird, or a duck: ‘He’s a strange bird,’ ‘He’s an odd old duck’) who “sits on the fence &c.” just as Jannie says.

    I must say, there is still a plethora of politicians who qualify.

  • Laird

    Julie, I wasn’t aware that plethora came in sizes. Good to know.

  • Laird

    Ah, Julie, I see that you deleted the word “large” before my last comment appeared. So you may safely ignore it!

  • Julie near Chicago

    Laird, that’s interesting. You must have read the comment while I was re-reading it in the Edit phase. In the end I deleted “large,” since I wasn’t 100% sure that “large plethora” wouldn’t be redundant.

    Sigh…oh very well, I have Looked It Up. Per the genuine OED (1933, but with errata through, I think, 1971), our meaning here of “plethora” may be summarized as “over-fullness in any respect; superabundance.” So again, I’d say a plethora could reasonably be called “large” if it is even greater than a superabundance which is yet lesser. Certainly where pols are concerned *grin* !!

    However, in general I think “a large plethora” tends to gild the lily and downgrade the subject word, as does “absolutely” in the unfortunate phrase “absolutely necessary,” found you-know-where. Although I’ve lately seen claims that at the time, “necessary” did mean less than “absolutely” or “unavoidably” necessary. Piffle! By me there is space between “convenient” and “necessary” for a word meaning “nearly, but not quite, necessary.”

    In other words, a thing is necessary, strictly speaking, or it is not. Anything not necessary is, thus — well — not necessary.

    PS. You posted your latest while I was producing this comment. Tag, you’re IT!

    PPS. Somewhere there’s a report that some schools or teachers have now declared that “Tag” is somehow discriminatory and may no longer be tolerated in the schoolyard.

    I think there should be two offshoots of Samizdata: “Samizdata for Language-mavens” and “Samizdata in the Kitchen.” I’m sure Perry sees that this would be but right and meet, so will break the new territory forthwith. ;>))!!

  • But do not expect our current prime minister to fight for free speech. (Natalie Solent, OP)

    True, but at least you could vote against her, which is more than what the EU would permit. (Runcie Balspune (April 28, 2017 at 5:00 pm)

    True, Runcie, but the other parties are significantly worse on free speech. In Scotland, the natz are particularly vicious about it, and UKIP (the only free speech rival to the Tories) is even less viable here than nationally, because natz v. anti-natz dominates, and a resultant side-effect is to block growth of any new parties. This was very evident even when UKIP was doing well down south.

    I expect Brexit to push us in the right direction but – though I will hope for better things – it could be 20 years of slow hard slogging to get back to where we were just 20 years ago in Britain. In Scotland, it will take some years just to squeeze the natz down to size.

    The Tories are the natural targets of all who hate free speech, as they are of all who love the European Court of Human Wrongs, so may yet be pushed into defending the right by the extremism of their enemies. But Natalie is correct that May lacks the will to strike first on principle.

  • djc

    In other words, a thing is necessary, strictly speaking, or it is not. Anything not necessary is, thus — well — not necessary.

    how about “a sufficient and necessary condition”

  • J.M. Heinrichs

    Shouldn’t “… but right and meet …” be “… but right and meat …”?


  • Julie near Chicago

    ‘Tis right fond of meat I be, J.M., especially the properly roasted appropriate cut of beef or lamb.

    *drools delicately*

    Indeed, my love of meat is only right and meet. ;>)

  • the other rob

    how about “a sufficient and necessary condition”

    As I recall, in logic a thing can be necessary but not sufficient (consider the Boolean AND); not necessary, but sufficient (Boolean OR); or, of course, both.

  • Julie near Chicago

    “Necessary” does not imply “sufficient,” that’s perfectly true. Even in the real world, in practical reality it’s true. For instance, if I were to undergo brain surgery it would be necessary that I have a brain (even were it only in a vat — although I suppose one could argue that one’s brain is in a vat, namely the cranium, where it is immersed on all that brain fluid); but that would not be sufficient, as it is impossible to operate surgically on one’s own brain*, even with the use of mirrors. So it would not be sufficient merely to bring along a brain to the event; one must also have a second party present.

    *One can in theory slit one’s own throat, but I doubt that one could even amputate one’s noodle that way, let alone the brain proper; but even were it possible, it seems to me that referring to murder, or self-murder, as “surgery” is to stretch the latter word beyond its elastic limit.


    . . .

    O/T: In a rampant display of sexism, the WikiFootia article on Cerebrospinal Fluid presents a full-figure silhouette of the human body, as seen in profile. The figure shown has breasts.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Naturally, I couldn’t control the urge to Look Something Up once it was roused by the “meet” question. Wiktionary gives us this:

    meet (comparative meeter, superlative meetest)

    Suitable; right; proper.

    (Onelook is or was down at the moment I attempt to rouse it, speaking of rousing; hence Wiktionary.)


  • Rich Rostrom

    Julie near Chicago @April 28, 2017 at 10:49 pm:

    One can in theory slit one’s own throat, but I doubt that one could even amputate one’s noodle that way…

    From The Mikado, Act I:

    KO. Besides, I don’t see how a man can cut off his own head.
    POOH. A man might try.
    PISH. Even if you only succeeded in cutting it half off, that would be something.
    POOH. It would be taken as an earnest of your desire to comply with the Imperial will.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Good point, Rich! All is now clear to me as Elven-crystal! Or at least the foggy, foggy dew.

    Mr. Gilbert were a smart gent, wasn’t he. ;>)

    Oddly enough, I was just reading about Gollum or Théoden or somebody who was being asked to give an earnest. I didn’t realize they also figure in The Mikado.

  • Thailover

    They want to subjugate freedom of mind, concept formation and freedom of speech to that of feelings. It’s like they’re really trying really hard to prove Ayn Rand almost supernaturally prescient.

  • Laird:

    I’m reminded of my high school calculus teacher, who liked to point out that “some infinities are bigger than others”.

  • Laird

    Ted, I’m not enough of a mathematician to offer you a proof, but my understanding is that there truly are different-sized infinities. I can’t quite wrap my head around that, either.