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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

Commenting on the case, Sue Hemming, head of the CPS’s special crime and counterterrorism division, said: ‘People should not assume they can hide on social media when stirring up hatred and violence.’ Evidently, they cannot. But to what end? What is the benefit to society of banning the expression of bad and hateful ideas? Surely we want these ideas out in the open so that we can combat them with better ideas and better arguments. Censorship won’t change anyone’s mind.

Naomi Firsht

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42 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • damaged justice

    People shouldn’t assume they can hide on social media when throwing acid in someone’s face. But the BBC will provide helpful tips on how to do your makeup afterward.

  • AlexB

    Of course censorship will change some people’s minds. Just not necessarily the way the censors were aiming for.

  • Alisa

    Of course censorship will change some people’s minds. Just not necessarily the way the censors were aiming for.

    Censors aim for intimidation, and they actually do tend to achieve that more often than not.

  • the other rob

    Censors aim for intimidation, and they actually do tend to achieve that more often than not.

    Until a tipping point is reached. Then it goes very pear shaped for them, very quickly.

  • Laird

    Clearly the UK no longer has any true “free speech” rights (assuming that it ever did). Any country which makes “publishing material with the intention of stirring up religious hatred” a criminal offense has no free speech. And the fact that not only was Mr. Jakovlevs prosecuted for writing the words he did (which, when considered in context, obviously presented no legitimate threat to anyone), but was sentenced to a year in jail for them, conclusively proves that point. And since he pled guilty to this non-crime, his sentence should have been a nominal one (£1, or time served, or something equivalent). But a year in jail? Your legal system is utterly out of control; that judge should be horsewhipped. (I’ve probably violated some law there; come and get me!) One clear message from all this: If charged with such a non-crime, never plead guilty. You’ll receive no mercy, so you should force the Crown to prove, before a jury (assuming you even still have that right!) every element of the “crime”.

    Here in the US our legal system is descended from yours, so I am not entirely sure how we were so lucky that we decided that we needed a written constitution, which includes a Bill of Rights protecting such things as free speech, the right to personal weapons, etc., but I am very glad we did. Our rights are slowly being whittled away, but we still retain most of them, and a populace which (for the most part) still prizes them. May that ever be thus.

    You are so screwed.

  • Ferox

    What is the benefit to society of banning the expression of bad and hateful ideas?

    The censors (by which, of course, we mean the ctrl-left) seek not to prevent speech so much as to gain the power to do so.

    All the show of being offended and afraid is pure pretense, pretext to the exercise of control over those they dislike.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Here in Australia, we had an official who bemoaned the fact that what people say around the kitchen table is still not subject to government action. I wonder how soon before the oven has listening devices? Could be another project for Samsung to work on….

  • Our rights are slowly being whittled away, but we still retain most of them, and a populace which (for the most part) still prizes them. May that ever be thus.

    You are so screwed.

    Yes and no. Free expression was always a bit tenuous here, and we lost our right to defend ourself for sure, but at least our police only occasionally shoot us dead with impunity, we do not lock up an eye wateringly vast number of people (I think it was like 22% of the world’s prison population? More than Russia and China combined?) and in spite of the written constitution in US, you lost property rights as state can pretty much take anything from Joe Blow via asset forfeiture without the inconvenience of a trial (to the extent is exceeds wealth lost from private sector theft now if the stats I saw recently are actually true), not to mention de facto seizures by land management agencies, all to extent vastly greater than UK (at least pre-Corbyn the state generally has to actually convict you of something first here), and lack of loser-pays and the abomination of ‘plea bargaining’ means even if you win a case in US or state has no actual case, state can break you utterly regardless by just running up your costs until you are penniless (assuming they do not just take your money up front that is), so swings and roundabouts I suppose.

    Written constitution: vastly overrated.

  • tomsmith

    This bizarre crackdown on the native population in the face of Islamic terrorism is in the long term counterproductive for the State. It only bolsters support for narrowly focused populist movements.

    After this particular incident I watched Diane Abbot and 2 or 3 other politicians and think tank people discussing it. The main concern was to stop anti Islamic sentiment and “hate crime”. The token conservative recited this good-think as well, whether or not he believed it. Very little attention was paid to the fact that someone just tried to blow up a train carriage full of people.

    The further from average opinion that media and state commentary gets, the more people sympathise with the grass roots movement against Islam. The most useful thing the state could do if it wants to continue the Islamification of the UK is to put forward a more convincing traitor to represent us, use more convincing rhetoric, and take more convincing action against the perceived threat (while still actually doing nothing). I guess this will be the next stage of the process. At the moment it is not working at all.

  • Mr Ed

    The CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) did not exist before 1986, prosecutions were handled (sometimes ineptly it is true) by local police forces and bigger ones overseen by the Director of Public Prosecutions (a bureaucratic post invented in the Victorian era) as a way of bureaucratising the Attorney-General’s functions, a post which itself had been part-time.

    If you don’t have a bureaucracy, it is harder to make up jobs such as ‘head of special crime and counter-terrorism’ and note the ‘special’ crime designation really denotes matters such as made up crimes.

    I wonder how much time they spent looking at reports from the police of religious websites with quotes that might incite hatred against non-believers, or simply highlight verses from the Koran, such as David Wood, commenting on the London Bridge attacks . Perhaps his selective quotes and his reliance on the doctrine of abrogation would be outside the scope of enquiry.

  • Paul Marks

    It is all missing the point.

    One does not need to go on “Social Media” to learn the deeds and teachings of Mohammed – they are taught by many people in every Western nation. Many Mosques are happy to teach these things – in private (what they teach in public will be a sanitised version – in order to to upset the infidels).

    What the government (and the handmaidens of the left – the “left coast” internet companies) are really targeting is people who OPPOSE Islam. Look at the campaign that Google-Youtube is engaged against dissent, and Facebook and Twitter are becoming much the same.

    The Frankfurt School of Marxism “Diversity” nonsense, in this case that opposing Islam is “Islamophobia”, is taught in every Western education system and pushed by the media – and by governments (including by “conservatives” who parrot the lines of the Frankfurt School of Marxism, on various matters, without even knowing they are doing it). Dissent is increasingly not tolerated.

    Many civilisations have been overthrown by enemies in history – but, as far as I can think of, the West is the first civilisation that is so dominated by a deluded elite that it is actually helping in its own destruction, and punishes people for trying to defend it.

    By the way – Mr Ed is quite right. Both about David Wood – it is Dr Wood (and other critics) who presents the Koran in context and the DEFENDERS of Islam who “quote out of context” and so on. And about “Public Prosecutions”.

    If the target is the state (say the murder of the Queen – may God forbid such an event) then there is indeed a role for “public prosecution” – but what happened in the 1870s went beyond that, it meant that the state (not a private person) was prosecuting in an offence against a private person (say the murder of Mr Jones of such-and-such-a-place).

    That is so normal now that we do not think about this (Hobbesian) thing – but it did not happen before the 1870s in England and Wales and it should not happen. The Prosecution of crimes against private persons should be launched by private persons.

    If no private person is prepared to say “I think this is a crime (an attack on some person or their property) and it should be prosecuted” then society is sick.

    “Paul you are agreeing with Sean Gabb” – sometimes (sometimes) I do agree with Dr Gabb, and I am not shy of saying so.

  • Paul Marks

    Here is a suggestion for combating terrorism.

    Convince, by evidence and reasoned argument, his followers that Mohammed was NOT a prophet of God and that what he taught and did was morally wrong. Of course the powerful in the West would have the vapours at any such suggestion. Censorship, indeed a Police State, is much better – at least as far as some people are concerned.

    Still at least the government is not trotting the Frankfurt School of Marxism “racism” nonsense – as if Islam was a race (newsflash – it is a religion and political philosophy). Although the “racism” Frankfurt School of Marxism stuff may be trotted out soon. It is on the BBC (and the other television stations – no non leftist television station is allowed in the United Kingdom) basically every day.

  • Shirley Knott

    It might be worth pointing out, on occasion, that legislation seeking to prohibit “publishing material with the intention of stirring up religious hatred” would have stopped Martin Luther in his tracks.* Or pointing even further back to precisely such legislation being crafted and used to stop the encroachment of Christianity into the Roman Empire.

    Mr. Marks, no practicing Christian has any grounds (as a Christian) for criticizing the preaching of Mohammed as morally wrong. The teachings of Christianity are as littered with moral evil as the teachings of Islam. There are good Christians just as there are good Muslims. There are bad Christians just as there are bad Muslims. The actions of ISIS and their ilk are echoes of the holy wars that ravaged Europe in the ‘Middle Ages’. “Kill them all, God will know his own” is non-denominational.
    Euthyphro’s dilemma remains unanswered. Either a thing is good independent of God, or might makes right. I am aware of no religion which takes the former position.

    *Or would have attempted to. One doubts Mr. Luther was any more concerned with law or morality than whatever moral cretin is currently top dog at ISIS. And for precisely the same reasons. He knew he was right and others needed to be made to see it and accept it.

  • DP

    Dear Mr de Havilland

    Meanwhile the BBC aided and abetted, indeed encouraged, people to break the law in a foreign country:

    The German schoolboy jailed for writing to the BBC

    Mind you, he only got 2 years in prison for writing that letter.

    DP

  • pete

    The state nationalised the BBC in 1926 and regulates the whole of the broadcasting industry and the press.

    After about 20 years of the internet it is clear that the state now feels the need to exert similar controls on what people can say to each other via electronic means.

    It is surprising that it took so long really.

  • bob sykes

    Many years ago, a writer at Soldier of Fortune, a former SOCOM type, wrote that any disaffected person should avoid any public statements or threats, not join any group (likely infiltrated), and associate only with persons long known. Timothy McVeigh, for example, although he was caught because of the VIN on the truck axle.

    The author was also down on pistols, and thought they could not be safely carried or used.

  • tomsmith

    What the government (and the handmaidens of the left – the “left coast” internet companies) are really targeting is people who OPPOSE Islam. Look at the campaign that Google-Youtube is engaged against dissent, and Facebook and Twitter are becoming much the same.

    Then they are making a really bad job of it. This kind of action only lends strength to populist movements against Islam. Which is a good thing.

    I guess the government will think a bit more deeply about it at some point, but for now they are making a hopeless cock up.

  • tomsmith

    no practicing Christian has any grounds (as a Christian) for criticizing the preaching of Mohammed as morally wrong. The teachings of Christianity are as littered with moral evil as the teachings of Islam. There are good Christians just as there are good Muslims

    Utterly false.

  • Mr. Marks, no practicing Christian has any grounds (as a Christian) for criticizing the preaching of Mohammed as morally wrong. The teachings of Christianity are as littered with moral evil as the teachings of Islam. There are good Christians just as there are good Muslims. There are bad Christians just as there are bad Muslims.

    Oh woe is us, that we should hear such drivel. The teachings of Christ are about as far from those of Mohammed as it is possible to get.

    And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

  • Mr Ed

    Here’s what the CPS has been saying about ‘hate crime‘, my emphasis in bold

    How the CPS defines hate crime
    The police and the CPS have agreed the following definition for identifying and flagging hate crimes:

    “Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice, based on a person’s disability or perceived disability; race or perceived race; or religion or perceived religion; or sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation or a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender.”
    There is no legal definition of hostility so we use the everyday understanding of the word which includes ill-will, spite, contempt, prejudice, unfriendliness, antagonism, resentment and dislike.

    So Parliament has not even provided for a subjective test for what is a crime (or rather, a category of crime for which bureaucratic priority is given) and yet they feel entitled to rush off and rely on a subjective perception?

    And where there is no ‘legal definition’ we will make one up that is so nonsensical it should not get anywhere near a court.

    I may be prejudiced, but I regard my niece’s cakes as really good.

    He’s a bit unfriendly, but that may be because of his difficult life.

    He’s resentful, because people waste his time with stupid questions about what is a hate crime.

    He dislikes aubergines, so he probably committed a hate crime by grimacing at the Mediterranean market stall holder.

  • Alisa

    The wording of that excerpt by Mr. Ed borders on idiotic – and I am probably being charitable in my own wording here.

  • Jamesg

    Did they have to call it ‘special crime’ because no-one in their right mind would ever consider these things criminal?

  • I wonder to what extent the words “Any criminal offence” retain any objective quality in the otherwise “whatever they say it is” definition of hate crimes that Mr Ed quotes (September 18, 2017 at 4:06 pm)?

    If I drop litter (e.g. I drop a pamphlet thrust into my hands) and someone ‘perceives’ that I did it because I was motivated by ‘dislike’ of the pamphlet’s message, is my crime of littering now a hate crime? At first glance, it seems to me that by the definition it is.

    On the other hand, suppose I drop the pamphlet in a waste bin. That is not the crime of littering. Suppose someone – anyone it would seem (‘the victim or any other person’) – nevertheless ‘perceives’ my act of dropping the pamphlet in the waste bin as motivated by ‘dislike’ (maybe I am perceived to do it ostentatiously and/or in a bin under the eye of the pamphlet’s supporter). Am I then guilty of a hate crime?

    It would seem that by the definition, my act is not a hate crime. The required element of ‘dislike’ is there – that is, is ‘perceived’ to be there (by someone) – but the ‘any criminal offence’ bit is missing since my act of putting litter into a bin provided by the state for that purpose is not a crime. (But I would not care to appear in front of the sentence-him-to-a-year judge on that argument.)

    Of course, when speech is a perceived to be a crime (when it called ‘hate’ speech), then things get a bit circular. 🙂 (One has to laugh in order not to cry – besides, crying may be ‘perceived’ as motivated by ‘dislike’.)

  • Niall – the “any other person” part of that means that the policemen who arrest you or the prosecutor can say they “perceived” it to be a hate crime and that is impossible for you to prove otherwise. It’s a catch-all.

  • bobby b

    Mr Ed
    September 18, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    “Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by . . . “

    By my reading, this definition requires that the underlying conduct first must be criminal in and of itself. If that condition is satisfied, only then can one move on to the perceived motivation of the actor to see if the criminal conduct was “hate-motivated.”

    But if the criminal statutes actually make otherwise-legal conduct – say, writing public comment – into illegal conduct based on the comment’s content, they’ve established a nice undefensible tautology. The first element – “any criminal offense” – is dispensed with. Hate itself is now illegal, and they’ll tell you what “hate” means once you’re in jail.

    Laird was correct. You people are so screwed.

    (ETA: Didn’t See Niall K’s comment until after hitting “save.”)

  • Mr Ed

    Niall,

    If you were handed a leaflet inviting you to a halal LGBT BBQ, and upon reading it, dropped it at the feet of the leafleteer, that could be ‘hate crime littering’ if it were perceived as such by e.g. a passing Quaker. The link has to be a perception, however fatuous or dishonest, in a mind of a real person, of a link to one of the protected characteristics listed and the crime.

    bobby b

    Are we screwed? Hell yes! There no one protesting about this, still less taking it to the courts to question (before Her Majesty’s loyal judges) the insanity of this as Wednesbury unreasonable; one dare not ask if it be ultra vies, especially as vires has gender connotations.

  • bobby b

    Y’all are in the middle of an ongoing coup.

    “Hate” is going to be defined and redefined to eventually mean “opinions that do not play well with the ruling ideology.”

    If you argue for lower taxes, and the consequent lower funding of needy transsexuals and immigrants, this is going to be “hate.” You are going to be a criminal for advocating for smaller government.

    What they’re doing is criminalizing any political expression at variance with their own. And they don’t even need guns to take over.

  • And they don’t even need guns to take over.

    Of course they don’t need guns.

    And the same is true in the USA, and the 2nd Amendment does not make a damn bit of difference either. Does you having guns stops the state deciding your pattern of banking deposits is ‘structuring’ and so all your money is forfeit? Trial? Trial? We don’t need no stinkin’ trial! Hell they they don’t even need to CHARGE you to take your stuff across the Puddle! Your property is less secure now than in colonial era America, because at least the authorities in 1770 actually had to charge and then convict you of sedition to take your property. Y’all are in the middle of an ongoing coup too, mate.

  • bobby b

    “Y’all are in the middle of an ongoing coup too, mate.”

    Yes, we are. Every bit as serious as yours. (Although, we still need underlying criminal conduct. You just need “hate.”)

    Difference is, we have a written Constitution to which we can refer as our baseline. We’re way off-kilter right now, but we have this written guide that tells us where we were, and where we need to get back to. As we get more and more off-target, we still know exactly to where we need to return. One or two more conservative USSC Justices, and we’ll start moving that way, because that’s where our governmental power resides.

    Without that written historical baseline, every day simply becomes your new baseline. We have a target. You have a vector. You can ratchet back down a bit in the correct direction and proclaim success. We have to reach a specific point before we can do that, so we’ll stay motivated longer.

    I’ll bet you a drink we get there faster than you. 👿

    (ETA: Our government is ignoring Constitutional protections in order to take our stuff. Yours is suppressing political dissent. Which is more important in carrying out a coup?)

  • Yours is suppressing political dissent.

    HMG is suppressing the social currents that lead to political dissent, it is not actually suppressing overt political dissent yet. It is an important distinction, because when it stops being a distinction, the political and social countdown to something akin to 1642 has started and a great many people are going to feel the edge of England’s sword.

  • Cristina

    Censors aim for intimidation, and they actually do tend to achieve that more often than not.

    Exactly. Most of the time they don’t even need the actual censorship. It’s enough the perception of forbidden to scare many people into silence.

  • Laird

    I agree completely with bobby b’s last comment (September 18, 2017 at 8:16 pm).

    And Perry, you are certainly correct that “civil asset forfeiture” is an outrage, but you both overstate the magnitude of the problem and ignore that it’s already starting to be corrected. It doesn’t happen to very many people, because property can be seized only if it is alleged (or presumed) to be related to a crime (usually a drug-related crime). Mostly that means possessing unusually large amounts of cash (although CAF can be used against any form of property). Without question police can and do simply falsify the circumstances in order to keep the money (which frequently comprises a large portion of local police budgets), and what is most egregious is that there is generally no requirement that the person be charged with a crime, let alone convicted of one. (Certain police forces near me have a reputation for playing “catch and release”, where they stop a “suspicious” car just to seize any valuables and never make an arrest or issue a citation.) And the procedures for getting it back are so onerous that few ever succeed. But there is already significant pushback: over 20 states have already adopted some type of substantive reform to their CAF statutes (such as requiring criminal conviction), and the federal House of Representatives recently passed a bill (nearly unanimously!) which includes serious reforms (no action in the Senate yet).

    So we are pushing back, because enough people have become upset over the gross injustice of the practice. That is how we in the US deal (at least, some of the time) with governmental overreach. You folks seem to just accept it.

  • Tomsmith

    There was a great article on a blog that I can’t find now called ‘the constitution is empty’. It was about the various ways in which government has found ways to ignore, circumvent and bury the constitution of the US.

    I do agree with bobby b above though that the USA is in much better shape liberty wise than Europe and the UK. I think the people there care more about it on average than we do. There is a stronger tradition of freedom there, while we have a tradition of entitlements here. Or maybe the rot has just not set in so deeply yet? Whatever the reason, I do think there is a difference.

    It may be that we will respond in a different way. Time will tell.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    There is, I believe, a great book called ‘Lost Rights’, by James Bovard, in which James tries to list all the rights that the American Government has managed to mug or repeal. Highly recommended.

  • Bulldog Drumond

    You folks seem to just accept it.

    Fucking hell, you don’t think Brexit was push back? Still, can’t fault a Yank for underestimating the British when so many Brits do the same. It’ll be a long slog but the scope of the pushback will and is spreading even if our betters try to make sure it doesn’t get reported much.

    I kind of agree with both Perry & Tomsmith on that: we need a populist counter revolution, but to do that we need to win the culture war, and I think we actually can.

  • Fraser Orr

    But here in the USA there is a far more egregious form of censorship going on than anything that might be the case in the UK. Namely the now popular sport of no platforming. Government censorship is the process where men with guns prevent you from speaking your mind. Now we have men and women with guns, baseball bats, bricks and in one notable recent example, a flame thrower, preventing people from speaking. In days gone past it used to be confined to whacky liberal campuses, now it has escaped here into the real world.

    I am not scared of a few crazy Nazis, I mean these people are pathetic, I am terrified of organizations like Antifa and BLM who have entirely stopped the pretense. They will say out loud that their plan is to use violence to stop people saying the things that they don’t like. And worst of all, the police are either complicit or at best passive.

    Some guy is acquitted by a judge based on the ancient rights of presumption of innocence and trial before the law, because there isn’t enough evidence to convict him, and it is simply expected and certainly accepted that a bunch of thugs will run around beating people up and smashing people’s stuff. Because the conversation in the nation, lead by the press, is that such behavior is both reasonable and expected.

    These people actually think they are Martin Luther King. They actually call themselves Anti Fascists. And like so many deluded fools they can’t even see the irony of their own self parody. They are like the Brownshirts. Marching around like a bunch of dicks, something at which you would laugh your pants off normally because they are so ridiculous and so solipsisticly full of themselves, were they not simultaneously so fucking dangerous.

    It is often said that there is none so dangerous as the man who thinks he is righteous acting based on his believe that the means justifies the ends. Welcome to USA 2017.

  • Laird

    Bulldog, I will concede Brexit; that was a very big deal, and may be the start of some major pushback. I certainly hope so, for your sake. But then I see what appears (from my vantage point) to be the placid and apathetic acceptance of outrages such as the case which sparked this thread, and I settle back into despair for you all.

    Fraser, I can’t disagree with any of that. But I do see some resistance forming to such as Antifa and BLM, even on the left and in the mainstream media. Even Berkeley has been forced to state that it won’t tolerate violence (of course, whether they actually mean that remains to be seen). So I’m not really buying your “censorship” argument (outside of certain college campuses; it’s still going strong there). That pendulum is already starting to swing back.

  • Mr Ed

    If there’s a place for ‘Antifa’, it is probably monitoring Amazon after this horror story.

    Pensioner buys £15 slippers from Amazon – only to find the soles are covered in SWASTIKAS

    Mr Purdie, 81, said the navy slippers looked ‘perfectly respectable’ online, but he was ‘very shocked’ when they arrived on his doorstep.
    He said: ‘I ordered a pair of slippers which on first examination looked good, but when they arrived I realised they had swastikas all over the soles. ‘They looked good on Amazon, but they were of course very careful not to show you the soles of the slippers.’

    I hope no one has got him a pet cat.

  • Alisa

    I’d rather have diamonds on the soles on my shoes.

  • bobby b

    The hypocritical old fart. Did no one else notice that he knowingly ordered shoes whose soles – the very bottom of everything, upon which he walks while smashing them into the ground – were black?

    Damned ugly old racist.

  • Thailover

    It’s true that to develop a mind capable of discerning and discarding untruths, we have to be exposed to bad ideas. BUT, those advocating for censorship are not advocating for better, more critical minds, but rather they’re advocates of control, that is, controlling the masses. It always boils down to control. Freedom vs Control. That’s the whole game.