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Our ‘Stasi’ face a legal challenge – ‘The right to be offended does not exist’ says a High Court Judge.

A Lincolnshire businessman (and former police officer), Mr Harry Miller, has sought a judicial review of one of the more sinister aspects of current policing, the recording of ‘hate incidents’ by the police even when there is no offence (on their own admission). The case is ongoing, and a report in The Telegraph (paywall of sorts) indicates that the judge made a remark that might indicate that he was surprised at the position of the ‘College of Policing’, one of those quangos that isn’t needed and might even have been invented to hammer nails in to the coffin of the liberties of Englishmen.

The “right to be offended” does not exist, a judge has said, as the High Court hears that British police forces are recording hate incidents even if there is no evidence that they took place.

The College of Policing, the professional body which delivers training for all officers in England and Wales, issued their Hate Crime Operational Guidance (HCOG) in 2014, which states that a comment reported as hateful by a victim must be recorded “irrespective of whether there is any evidence to identify the hate element”.

Mr Justice Knowles expressed surprise at the rule, asking the court: “That doesn’t make sense to me. How can it be a hate incident if there is no evidence of the hate element?”. Mr Justice Knowles made the remark on the first day of a landmark legal challenge against guidelines issued to police forces across the country on how to record “non-crime hate incidents”.

He added: “We live in a pluralistic society where none of us have a right to be offended by something that they hear.

“Freedom of expression laws are not there to protect statements such as ‘kittens are cute’ – but they are there to protect unpleasant things.

“Its utility lies in exposing people to things that they do not want to hear.”

I note that the BBC takes a different line on the case, highlighting the following:

He (Mr Miller) previously described police as using George Orwell’s novel 1984 as an “operating manual”.

His barrister, Ian Wise QC, told the court his client was “deeply concerned” about proposed reforms to the law on gender recognition and had used Twitter to “engage in debate about transgender issues”.

Mr Wise said Humberside Police had also sought to “dissuade him from expressing himself on such issues in the future”.

This, he said, was “contrary to his fundamental right to freedom of expression”.
Mr Miller has “never expressed hatred towards the transgender community”, he said.

“He has simply questioned the belief that trans women are women and should be treated as such for all purposes.”
His views, he added, “form part of a legitimate public debate and cannot sensibly be regarded as ‘hate speech'”.

In response, Jonathan Auburn, for the College of Policing, said: “While the claimant now expressly disavows having any personal hostility or prejudice towards transgender people, his social media messages speak for themselves.”

In one tweet, he said Mr Miller posted: “I was assigned mammal at birth, but my orientation is fish. Don’t mis-species me.”

It strikes me that Counsel for the ‘College’ is not making a legal point there, but is trying to stretch a factual one, and conflating incredulity with hostility.

At last, someone is taking on the PC State. The case continues. It could set a most welcome precedent on this issue, but it would need the Court of Appeal to rule on the issue to make a generally-binding precedent for England and Wales.

78 comments to Our ‘Stasi’ face a legal challenge – ‘The right to be offended does not exist’ says a High Court Judge.

  • Julie near Chicago

    “You have no right to be offended.”

    Is different from

    You have no right to be happy.

    You have no right to be sad.

    You have no right to be joyous.

    You have no right to be angry.

    You have no right to be afraid.

    You have no right to turn queasy upon seeing the color orange

    –exactly how?

    You have every right to be [ = feel ] offended whenever you are.

    What you may and may not DO about it is the issue.

    It’s appropriate to feel offended, and go home and kvetch about it to the wife or husband, or to go to the pub and blow off to your pals. It is not appropriate to approach the nearest SJW and knock its block off solely because you’re offended.

    Etc.

    People come up with these phrases without really thinking about what they mean. We all need to be a lot more careful with what we say. –And yes, naturally I include myself in that, or would if I ever erred in that direction. Still, I think the last time I did so was sometime in 1948…. 😥 😉

  • Mr Ed

    Julie,

    It’s a quote from the judge who may have been talking in the context of enumerated rights in UK law such as the right not to be subjected to unlawful discrimination on the ground of a protected characteristic (e.g. race), and I took it as ‘You have no “right” to be offended’ with ‘right‘ being ‘claim in law arising in respect of that matter’, i.e. being offended is just tough, whereas being discriminated against is actionable (as noted), as opposed to a right to the pursuit of happiness, which is the natural state of affairs within the Several States and Federal jurisdiction, which may not be hindered (as if).

  • george m weinberg

    I think the judge actually meant to say you have no right NOT to be offended. That is, if you feel offended, it’s nobody’s problem but your own.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Mr Ed, and Mr. Weinberg,

    Very good. Those ways of looking at it hadn’t occurred to me, and I’ve been ranting to myself about this for years.

    Comes of thinking of “rights” as meaning exclusively “liberty” or “natural” rights. But if by “rights” you mean or mean to include so-called (awful misnomer) “positive,” i.e. state-invented and state-recognized “rights,” then the sentence means something entirely different. Thanks to you, I do see that.

    (Mind you, I would still move heaven and the mountain to expunge the sentence from the minds of the public. Because I’d like to see “rights” meaning exclusively “liberty” or “natural” rights, as they are called within those traditions. I don’t think state-granted privileges ought to be called “rights” in the first place.)

    And having the police assigned to investigate “crimes” for whose occurrence there’s not an iota of evidence … makes a mockery of law.

    Anyway, thanks to you both.

  • Brian Micklethwait (London)

    Natalie

    Thanks for this. The distinction between a proper crime, of the particular sort that is motivated by hatred (of some particularly disapproved sort such as racial hatred), and the mere hatred itself, unacted upon, being itself a crime, is a vital one. The first is a crime, against which there are already laws. The second is a legal abomination, against which there should be no laws.

    “Hate crime” is a phrase that blurs this vital distinction. Which is why I hate it.

    And yes, I too thought that the “not” had gone missing. I see what the judge meant now, but agree that he phrased it badly.

  • Mr Ed

    I see that Brian has mis-gendered me in a most topical way, for the record, I am not offended. If anyone reports him, I shall report them for reporting him in what is clearly as attribution of a mis-gendering hate act (which is not criminal) on the basis of presuming my gender, and then summons myself and them for wasting police time. 😀

    I think that the judge was most likely speaking in a technical sense, hence the peculiar phrasing, either way, a ‘not’ would not, here, whether it was there or not, alter the essence of what he is reported to have said.

  • neonsnake

    Comes of thinking of “rights” as meaning exclusively “liberty” or “natural” rights.

    Agreed. I have every right to my own feelings, including taking offence (and venting about it, if I so choose)

    “They” have every right to offend me, or to say things that I might find offensive.

    Do I have the right to go running to Daddy State to make them stop?

    Uh, no.

    Also, the state doesn’t grant me rights. Yer Good Lord above, or yer Great Frog, or yer ineffable Dao gave me those rights when it produced me. The state occasionally infringes upon the rights that I have been granted by a greater entity than it.

    The state grants me privileges, you say? I like that viewpoint. A lot. Am stealing. 😉

    From a certain point of view, not abusing those privileges (eg. by infringing on others’ rights via the vast machinery and mechanisms of the state) seems the right thing to do.

  • Agammamon

    I think the honorable judge is getting confused. We all absolutely have the right to be offended. We don’t have the right to be *free from offense*.

    You can be offended by anything you want – you can’t force other people to care though.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “A Lincolnshire businessman (and former police officer), Mr Harry Miller, has sought a judicial review of one of the more sinister aspects of current policing, the recording of ‘hate incidents’ by the police even when there is no offence (on their own admission).”

    Question – on the basis of their own freedom of expression, don’t the police have the freedom to *record* anything they like? Just curious.

    I doubt that’s the whole story. They wouldn’t waste their time recording it if they didn’t plan to use it for something (and probably something nasty). It’s just a question of clarifying the principle at stake. Is there a right to privacy, for example? Is GDPR relevant? Or can the police say and write what they like about people?

  • lucklucky

    The police needs to show they do work that follow the Marxist racial and sexual guidelines.

    PS: amuses me reading The Telegraph lambasting about Corbyn Marxism when the paper is full of pro-Marxism and they do not even have a clue.

  • neonsnake

    “Hate crime” is a phrase that blurs this vital distinction.

    I’ve gone back and forth on this for most of my life.

    There is value in recording the motivation for crime, obviously. If I get given a sound kicking for looking at another bloke’s bird, or spilling his pint, or stealing his wallet, or for having more stuff that can be sold for food by a starving homeless person, or for being Pakistani, or Jewish, they’re all different things. Some are behaviours, some are characteristics. Crimes motivated by characteristics are worth recording at least, even though I feel the punishment should be the same.

    The thinking of (eg) racist thoughts is different to the acting on them.

    However, there is a blurred line between thinking, and saying.

    If a bloke says on twitter, that anyone from outside the UK should be deported, am I allowed to lamp them?

    If a bloke gets on the other end of a train carriage and says that anyone born outside the UK shouls be deported, am I allowed to lamp them?

    If a bloke gets half way down the carriage?

    If a bloke gets in the face of my Argentinian girlfriend and her sister? Nope.

    Nah. I’m stopping him the moment he enters the carriage (in future, because last time this happened I left it too late and had to get more hands on than I was comfortable with)

    Some of you are going to say that one should not threaten, nor perform, violence upon people expressing a “simply different point of view”, no matter that it is expressed in public. That’s fine, but I’m still going to, while you pretend that hate crime doesn’t exist.

  • bobby b

    ” . . . the recording of ‘hate incidents’ by the police even when there is no offense . . . “

    What does it mean to “record” an incident? Does this entail some bad consequence for the subject? Or are the police simply taking notes for their own enjoyment?

    Because, if there are consequences to some “recording”, then haven’t the police illegally transformed some legal behavior into a crime?

  • Mr Ed

    bobby b,

    The police record ‘incidents’ (as in this case) that are not crimes and which they know are not crimes, because they are told to, it generates statistics and agitprop, but for the individual, there is a record of their ‘Wrongthink’ or ‘Wrongspeech’ recorded against them that can be revealed to potential employers if they apply for certain jobs or positions, e.g. as lawyers, or working with children or vulnerable adults. This could lead to them being barred from certain jobs, as well as being an abuse of public office in the general scheme of things, so there are real consequences or potential consequences arising from this. As the Telegraph piece puts it:

    Mr Miller, a married father of four, was investigated by Humberside Police earlier this year after a Twitter user complained that he shared a “transphobic limerick”. Even though no crime was committed, his sharing of the limerick online was recorded as a “hate incident” and he was described as a “suspect” in police reports, the court heard.

    Mr Miller, who was previously an officer for the Humberside force, accused the police of “creating a chilling atmosphere for those who would express a gender critical position”.

    “The idea that a law-abiding citizen can have their name recorded against a hate incident on a crime report when there was neither hate nor crime undermines principles of justice, free expression, democracy and common sense,” he said.

  • Paul Marks

    Julie’s comment is very good – as our some of the others.

    I do not think this is about a “right to be offended” – I think this is about there being no right NOT to be offended.

    Some people seem to think that to say “I find what you have said [or written] to be offensive” means that the words are criminal and the person speaking or writing the words should be punished.

    The correct answer to “I find your words offensive” is “so what?”.

  • Bruce

    neonsnake:

    Opening caveat / debating point: “Offence is usually taken, not given”.

    I understand you live in once-great Britain, but continued, escalating rudeness and obnoxiousness should initially be be mocked and pilloried as much as possible. Keeping your hands in your pockets and your mouth shut when you, or especially, your loved ones are being abused simply encourages the scumbags.

    Beating them to death with your girlfriends Kevlar-reinforced, brick-ballasted handbag may seem entirely appropriate at the time, but there are probably more refined options. Besides which, the “authorities” HATE competition.

    If your stiff upper lip cannot be backed up with a stiff uppercut, there is not much point in breathing.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Mr Ed:

    “The idea that a law-abiding citizen can have their name recorded against a hate incident on a crime report when there was neither hate nor crime undermines principles of justice, free expression, democracy and common sense,” he said.

    Precisely.

    .

    I have read that here, at least, motive or intent is not supposed to be brought up as evidence against the accused. The criminality of the crime lies in the act of the crime itself, not in the emotions that might have been part of the motivation for it, because none of us is a good enough mind-reader of the accused’s inner thoughts and emotions at the time.

    There’s a bunch of us here who scream like stuck pigs at the very idea of “hate crime,” not because we think there’s no such thing, but because the crime is the crime whether it’s committed out of “hate” [of a member of a Protected Group because he’s in that group, that means] or not. I mean, if Trixie’s husband kills her lover out of hatred of him for being her lover, that’s not a “hate” crime. But the lover’s still dead, and the hate’s still the hate.

    We have this rule so as preclude one method of railroading at a trial. I mean, if the prosecutor thunders “You killed Eileen because you have a deep and abiding hatred of blacks,” he may be right or wrong, or even mostly right or wrong, but often enough even you may not know for sure. And there’s no way to disprove absolutely the existence of hate as the motivation. (Nor should the defendent have to do so. It’s up to the prosecution to prove that the hate existed — if the law allows that as a factor in coming to judgment.)

    On the other hand, we have these degrees of guilt — plain homicide, the killing of another human in itself. Or Reckless Endangerment, Depraved Indifference, Murder 2, Murder 1 … which list might be right wrong or partly right. Intent would certainly be a factor in some of those, I’d think. At least, presumably the law assumes there’s no intent or wrongdoing in a pure accident, as when a car slides across the ice into a pedestrian.

  • neonsnake (November 21, 2019 at 8:28 pm), the “clear and present danger” standard of the US first amendment, and, long before the vile hate speech laws, the broadly similar “imminent threat” standard of certain UK laws, address your issue. If you think, based on honest and rational considerations, fully allowing you may have little time to assess a rapidly developing situation, that there is a clear and present danger to your girlfriend, then you should protect her. At the other extreme, you do not of course seek to inflict violence, either personal or via the law, because a tweet expresses the ideas you mention, or they are advocated by someone sitting behind a table on a stall as you walk down the street.

    I have more than once walked down Buchanan street of a Saturday past two or three ‘pro-Palestinian’, ‘anti-zionist’ stalls. I despise the double-standard by which they are in no danger of being called hate speech but the occasional (never more than one) Jewish-group stall arguing that things are more complex had better avoid an ‘islamophobic’ banner. However I have no difficulty in not becoming violent, though I suspect some of those on the ‘anti-zionist’ stalls could become violent – in another time and place, if they thought no-one was looking – and would report ‘islamophobia’ at the drop of a hat.

  • bobby b

    ” . . . there is a record of their ‘Wrongthink’ or ‘Wrongspeech’ recorded against them that can be revealed to potential employers if they apply for certain jobs or positions . . . “

    Wow. No due process issues there, eh?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Thank you, Paul.

    Also, good hint for handling “I find that offensive!” I’ll have to remember that. :>)))

  • Julie near Chicago

    Well, Niall, you must do what you must do. But just let me grab my brass knuckles, and lead me to ’em. Obviously they mamas din’ teach them no manners. 😡

    (I trust everyone realizes that I am just allowing my inner Outraged Grownup to register her uncensored opinion. Please don’t report me to the “plod.”)

    I’m sure this has come up in the past from time to time, but do you folks still have a legal concept of “fighting words”?

    .

    O/T, but I may have mentioned something yesterday about your usefulness in providing the Backstory. You may recall my mentioning William Forstchen’s The Year After. Lo, in that story one outfit (well, several distinct ones, but the main one is the Good One) is called “the Reivers.”

    I wouldn’t have gotten anything at all out of that except for our discussion of several months ago in which the Reivers of the Scottish border came up, which you and others explained. The story is set in southern Appalachia, you see. Of course, Mr. Forstchen might have made the name up,* but the smart money says he knows its origin.

    Maybe it was Gavin who first brought it up?

    Anyway, I love Samizdata!

    *I listened to the audiobook, so I can’t swear that he wrote “Reivers” and not “Reevers.” In modern English, of course, technically the word should be pronounced to rhyme with “drivers,” not “grievers”; but that rule seems to hold only about 60% of the time, so….

  • Fred Z

    “… it would need the Court of Appeal to rule on the issue to make a generally-binding precedent for England and Wales.”

    Actually, it would need a lot of citizens in the street rioting and generally kicking the shit out of assholes.

    The Tree of Liberty appears to need refreshing.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Paul Marks
    I do not think this is about a “right to be offended” – I think this is about there being no right NOT to be offended.

    But I’d go further. I won’t say you have a right to offend, but you do (or should) have a right to be offensive.

    Freedom of speech is really that. There is no need to advocate for a right to say things everyone agrees with. The very essence of freedom of speech is the right to say things that people don’t agree with, that people find offensive.

    Now, you can certainly make the argument that free speech is good because you never know what, tomorrow, might all of a sudden become offensive. You know like “what do you mean you are a girl, what is that bulge in your jockstrap?” This used to be about as mainstream as it got, today, apparently, you can lose your job or even your liberty for uttering it.

    But I don’t actually think that is the main reason to advocate for freedom of speech. The main reason is “it is my mouth, my newspaper, my web site, so it is none of your damn business what I use it for.”

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Don’t worry! I’m sure the next Labour Government, in search of new victims to pacify, will give you the right to react to any words you find offensive! So there, snowflakes!

  • Itellyounothing

    Standard Blackstones stuff but crime is made up of the act and the mental element.

    Parliament decided it was a bigger crime to think negatively about certain characteristics (religion and race) and to commit stuff that was already a certain set of crimes hence a hate crime. These get markedly worse sentences.

    The police also got directives to record incidents that anyone complained are hate related on a wider set of characteristics (religion, race, LGBT).

    Because of the biases of the recorders (police) and prosecutors (police, CPS) the effect is that the many Many many crimes and incidents against the perceived majority e.g. straight white people frequently go deliberately unrecognised whilst incidents and crimes against the minorities (women, BAME, LGBT) do get recognition.

    The hate incident combined with the low level public order and the communications act 2003 and targets for Police and CPS to prosecute do create a very vague and uncomfortable attack on free speech. Hence Dankula going to prison for mocking Nazis…..

    Parliament and MPs all don’t care.

  • Julie near Chicago (November 22, 2019 at 1:58 am), I’m aware of “fighting words” as of “clear and present danger” though could not, without returning to sources, give you chapter and verse on the whether and how of the precise legal circumstances in which, in US first amendment law, “fighting words” could ever be a complete defence in the entire absence of some “clear and present danger”. Long ago, English law had the concept of criminal libel which was quite literally about fighting words – words which would otherwise cause a duel for which the criminal libel law aimed to substitute. The idea was that if you “saw red” in response to some remark, you were to use the law instead of demanding a duel. Notoriously, “the greater the truth, the greater the libel” under the law of criminal libel – one reason perhaps this law is no longer used, though the decline of duelling anyway reduced the need for a law substituting for it.

    This old criminal libel law – effectively dead though IIRC not yet quite formally off the statute books in the 1920s and early 1930s, is the closest (but not very close) law we ever had to the Beleidigung law in Germany (one year in jail max penalty) which was the least stringent of several laws against hate speech used in that same period in Germany to prosecute a great many Nazis for anti-semitic remarks, often with success.

    We know how that ended.

    It is in many senses too kind to speak of the left’s conspiracy today to redefine as “fighting words” any remark criticising their other ongoing conspiracies. They want new explicit hate speech laws as well as (not just instead of) redefining existing laws to serve their power project. Critical words are to be called violence while Antifa’s violence is to be called speech. This can complicate discussion of such things.

    Or to put it another way, when the PC display their insolent contempt for free speech, that comes as close to fighting words as anything could for me. 🙂

  • Ed Turnbull

    Actually Itellyounothing Dankula didn’t go to prison. Yes, he was convicted under a BS statute, but he was fined £800, not incarcerated. He refused to pay the fine and was quite prepared to be carted off to chokey, but he was denied his martyrdom – the gummint simply plunged its grasping paw into Dank’s bank account and helped themselves to the cash. Further proof (should any be needed) of their utter bastardry, they wouldn’t even allow a man to stand on his principles. Of course, had Dank’s principles included blocking central London streets for days on end, while screeching that the planet’s on fire and we must deindustrialise immediately, well that would’ve been just fine.

  • bobby b

    “Critical words are to be called violence while Antifa’s violence is to be called speech. “

    They can do this without internal contradiction because the critical bad act of “hate” isn’t acting on a bad thought, or even the voicing of a bad thought – it’s the having of that bad thought. Orwell made this clear – it’s not enough to suppress bad acts that are undertaken for bad motivations, one must strive to remove those bad motivations themselves. Addressing the acts alone is like treating a symptom instead of the underlying illness.

    It’s not Wrongspeech, it’s Wrongthink. And, since Antifa acts out of pure and noble Think, there’s no moral wrong in what they do.

    😛

  • neonsnake

    “Offence is usually taken, not given”.

    Agreed. The vast, vast, vast majority of the time, offensive statements (whether issued in bad faith or good faith) can, and should, be safely ignored, and by no means are deserving of punishment either by individuals (eg. “cancelling someone” all the way up to physical violence) or the state.

    I suspect some of those on the ‘anti-zionist’ stalls could become violent

    Certainly. And while I join you in ignoring the twitterers, the stall-holders, the mega-phone wielders and so on (or engaging them in calm debate, were you so inclined), if said anti-zionists were to start abusing a couple of Orthodox Jews, I believe an intervention of contextually-appropriate severity is legitimate (as, I think, do you).

    but do you folks still have a legal concept of “fighting words”?

    I’m not sure about the technicals – I think “imminent threat” covers it. There’s two aspects – firstly, what I will call “legitimate fighting words”, where I genuinely feel that I’m in danger – eg. some drunkard staggering towards me on the train, yelling that he’s going to hit me. In this instance, I’m perfectly legitimate (legally and in my view morally) in striking first. I have a sensei who is a police combat instructor in his day job, and he takes great pains with new members of our club to instil this in them, and to try to dispel the idea that if you defend yourself, you’ll get into trouble.

    Unfortunately, we also have I will call “non-legitimate fighting words”, which is subject of this thread…let’s say a couple of 18 year old kids are discussing the pros and cons of immigration, quietly and calmly, on said train, and one of them expresses the opinion that immigrants should be sent home.

    Let’s also say that for whatever reason, they can’t reasonably be considered to pose any threat whatsoever. It’s blindingly obvious that I don’t have the right to stop them from conversing, no matter how much I might disagree with the statements being expressed. Unfortunately, I do have the state-granted privilege of, eg. recording their conversation on my phone and reporting them to the police. Whereupon they may well be investigated, which I don’t think is “legitimate”.

    Itellyounothing notes that “hate crimes” get worse sentences. That’s something that I profoundly disagree with (that the sentences should be worse, I mean, not his statement!). A kicking is a kicking, no matter whether it was motivated by anti-zionist sentiment or because you’ve accidently knocked over someone’s pint, and the punishment should reflect that.

    I also used to believe that a “kicking is a kicking, and that’s the end of that”, and that the motive didn’t matter, but I (currently) think there’s value in recording the motive as “hate crime”; if no other reason that if you’re trying to reduce crime, then knowing the causes and motives must surely be useful. But it shouldn’t be reflected in the sentence.

  • Penseivat

    Being offended is a matter of choice, rather than a right. If I am offended by something, whether it’s personal or about a third party, it’s because I choose to be. The action by the Police, and I speak as a former Police officer myself, is just one more step towards a Frankfurt School led regime.

  • bobby b

    Just to be the pedant of the thread, “fighting words” aren’t words promising violence. They’re words intentionally designed to provoke violence in others. Inciting a riot, or calling someone some loathsome name that will certainly provoke a violent response . . . that sort of thing.

  • On a point of what I think is logic (but I am no philosopher) doesn’t a “right” presuppose an obligation on some other party to provide it, or at least not to deprive someone of it?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Andrew, you’ve covered both conventional meanings of the word “rights.”

    “Liberty rights,” or “natural rights,” are rights that protect the individual’s person and property from the predations of others (“hands off me and my stuff”). They exist as a statement that no one, including government, is entitled to co-opt the self-determination of any person, unless that person has by his own attempt at co-option waived his right to self-determination. (This is the libertarian principle of the non-initiation of force.)

    These rights are dreadfully misknown as “negative rights,” and they do not exist at the pleasure of the state; rather, the purpose of the state is supposed to be to protect these rights, which are held by all persons in its jurisdiction, except for those who have de facto waived them in their own cases by breaching others’ similar rights.

    A “right” that imposes a positive duty on a person or persons to act specifically for the benefit of another is (mis)called a “positive right.” It is an invention of the state and does indeed represent a co-option of the self-determination of another person. Thus the beneficiary of such a “right” is in fact being granted a privilege by the state: the privilege of being helped by someone who may only be helping because somebody with power has impressed him into it and not at the prompting of his own self-determination.

    Each of us has a right to his own life unless he shows himself willing to co-opt the life of somebody else. But this does not automatically put a positive duty on somebody else to provide the means of preserving that life, by giving food or medical care or shelter or any other good or service.

    [Many of us argue that a biological parent owes a duty of care to his or her child, until the child can look after himself. This gets us into the question of whether or when abortion is acceptable. The duty of care is often viewed as a matter of de facto contract, and is a case involving externalities. Such tend to be tricky.]

    Fortunately for all of us, most of us have some internal urging to help out others in need. This motivation is highly specific to the individual would-be helper, though. Different persons and different needs elicit different degrees of motivation in different people to help. This is a point overlooked or unadmitted by anti-libertarians.

    Also, most of us have the sense that if we help X when X needs helps, X or some other person will help us when we need it. This is the positive version of “what goes around comes around.”

    It is difficult, IMO at least, to disentangle the logical entailments of the theory of libertarian/liberty/natural rights from so-called “positive rights” because of the simple fact of externalities, and because to fence off abuses of liberty rights sometimes requires interpretations of the facts of a case that become a slippery-slope argument for blanket governmental interventions in situations where they are not really warranted. This is where “hard cases make bad law,” or so I understand.

    . . .

    Thanks to everyone for the thread within this discussion about “fighting words.” Sigh … I wish I hadn’t skipped class the day we attended the Law School courses.

  • neonsnake

    If I am offended by something, whether it’s personal or about a third party, it’s because I choose to be.

    Of course. And you have that right to choose, I would say, and no-one can (or should) be able to deprive you of the right to be offended if I were to say (only for the sake of example!) that “you were a really bad police officer”.

    Choice over your own thoughts and feelings, the right to have and hold them, is a very basic right, to me.

  • Paul Marks

    I hope people realise that if there really is a “right not to be offended” in the United Kingdom then everyone who can should LEAVE THIS COUNTRY – as it would be easy to hit the words of most people as “offensive”.

    If being “offensive” to some group or individual is a crime – then liberty is dead.

  • David Norman

    It’s quite a long trail but I think the seeds of Mr Miller’s difficulties were sown in the 1990s when the Blair government changed the law on sex and race discrimination so that the subjective views of the person alleging the discrimination had to be taken into account. I thought this was profoundly wrong at the time and still think so. The notion that the view of that person, including his or her emotional reactions such as the taking of offence, should determine whether a civil wrong, let alone a crime, had been committed would have been viewed as absurd until then.

    In this way the law no longer discouraged the ever increasing tendency to treat the giving of offence as something socially objectionable and perhaps unlawful or even criminal. Arguably it actively encouraged that tendency.

  • Mr Ed

    David N,

    The law change your refer to requires objective proof, S146 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, as amended.

    146Increase in sentences for aggravation related to disability[F1, sexual orientation or transgender identity]

    (1)This section applies where the court is considering the seriousness of an offence committed in any of the circumstances mentioned in subsection (2).
    (2)Those circumstances are—
    (a)that, at the time of committing the offence, or immediately before or after doing so, the offender demonstrated towards the victim of the offence hostility based on—
    (i)the sexual orientation (or presumed sexual orientation) of the victim, F2…
    (ii)a disability (or presumed disability) of the victim, or
    [F3(iii)the victim being (or being presumed to be) transgender, or]
    (b)that the offence is motivated (wholly or partly)—
    (i)by hostility towards persons who are of a particular sexual orientation, F4…
    (ii)by hostility towards persons who have a disability or a particular disability[F5, or
    (iii)by hostility towards persons who are transgender.]
    (3)The court—
    (a)must treat the fact that the offence was committed in any of those circumstances as an aggravating factor, and
    (b)must state in open court that the offence was committed in such circumstances.
    (4)It is immaterial for the purposes of paragraph (a) or (b) of subsection (2) whether or not the offender’s hostility is also based, to any extent, on any other factor not mentioned in that paragraph.
    (5)In this section “disability” means any physical or mental impairment.
    [F6(6)In this section references to being transgender include references to being transsexual, or undergoing, proposing to undergo or having undergone a process or part of a process of gender reassignment.]

    It has been the custom of agitators to claim that the law requires a subjective test, in the MacPherson Report, iirc, they came up with the concept of perception being enough to found a finding of objective reality. Bad as the law is, with the term ‘wholly or partly’, hence the trawl for the slightest evidence of ‘hostility’, some activists misrepresent it, and have generally got away with it, hence this current case.

  • David Norman

    Mr Ed. Thanks, you are right and I was not. I have a feeling there might be something more supportive of what I said because I remember how strongly I felt when I first came across it, but if there is (or was?) I have failed to find it.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I have read that here, at least, motive or intent is not supposed to be brought up as evidence against the accused. The criminality of the crime lies in the act of the crime itself, not in the emotions that might have been part of the motivation for it, because none of us is a good enough mind-reader of the accused’s inner thoughts and emotions at the time.”

    “Parliament decided it was a bigger crime to think negatively about certain characteristics (religion and race) and to commit stuff that was already a certain set of crimes hence a hate crime. These get markedly worse sentences.”

    The issue I think this is trying to address is that some crimes are not directed against just the individual, but with the intention of putting an entire community in fear. For example, if you know that wearing a MAGA cap in public can result in random strangers assaulting you, throwing you out of shops and bars, threatening you, threatening your children, vandalising your property, etc. then people will stop wearing MAGA caps. They’ll feel forced to hide their opinions, constrain their speech, limit their freedom, because of the initiation of force by others.

    So, there’s the crime against the particular MAGA cap wearer you beat up, and there’s separately the crime of assault (in common law, assault is the tort of intentionally causing the reasonable apprehension of immediate criminal harm) against the entire community of MAGA cap wearers. The additional crime merits an additional punishment.

    However, this reasoning only applies to apprehension of actual crimes. ‘Hate’ and ‘offence’ are not themselves crimes.

    I suspect the police’s argument may be that hostility and hate tend to escalate – haters start off just disagreeing, but when this doesn’t get them what they want, they keep ramping up the hostility and violence until it gets the response they desire. So it’s more a case of recording ‘criminal intelligence’ about people considered likely to commit crimes, so that when something does kick off, they’ve got some history and context, (and an initial list of suspects).

    The police always have difficulties with this sort of information. It’s like the problem with stalkers. The creepily obsessive ex-boyfriend is following you around, but that’s not actually illegal, and so there’s nothing the police can do to stop it. When the stalker does eventually do something illegal, it’s often too late. So there’s arguably merit in reporting serious disputes and worrying behaviour to the police *before* they become crimes, in the hopes that knowing that if anything *does* happen the police will know exactly where to start looking, that crimes are prevented.

    One of the widely accepted roles of the police is to discourage and prevent crimes, not just to respond after crimes have taken place. And as such, they sometimes need to know about and respond to high-risk situations *before* the crime has taken place.

    It all depends on precisely what they do with the information. There are potentially legitimate uses for it, but there are also a whole host of illegitimate and unjust ones. And the plod on the street are not well-known for their grasp of fine philosophical distinctions. So it’s worth checking, and clarifying what the actual policy is.

  • Nullius in Verba (November 23, 2019 at 12:15 pm), in the sense you discuss, robbery puts in fear all who have whatever (maybe modest) degree of wealth the robber targeted, forcing them to take precautions, be wary of letting their possessions be too visible, etc. And many a feminist has described sexual assault as a crime against all her sex, not just against the victim. You can make this case for any crime, that it has both an ‘against the victim’ and an ‘against the community’ aspect – and conventional legal theory was aware of this long before modern hate-crime nonsense ever infested the anglosphere. Hannah Arendt, in Eichmann in Jerusalem, has a lengthy discussion of whether the holocaust was a crime against the Jewish people or a crime against all mankind, perpetrated on the body of the Jewish people, analogously to how a murder can be seen as a crime against the whole community although perpetrated on the body of one of its members. The old approach treated the victim and community aspects of a crime as incorporated into the law against it – and already had a tendency to exalt community needs (real or alleged) above victim needs.

    The recent ‘hate’ crime laws are PC propaganda of a particularly crude kind. The groups patronised by the PC tend to have higher crime rates than the groups vilified by them, other things being equal. It was therefore convenient to invent a way of weighting otherwise equally-violent crimes by their PC-ness, like an adversity-qualified SAT score, so that propaganda needs could be served despite adverse raw statistics.

    So while Nullius has a point that a crime affects more than its victims, I’d say that is an old truth. ‘Hate’ law is a new method – that rather exploits than addresses it.

    Nullius is right in general that e.g. as regards stalkers and such-like, the police ‘always have a problem’. Of course, when the PC are the most common form of stalker and the ‘hate’ law makes the police act as their assistants, not their discouragers, they (or should I say we? 🙂 ) have a quite different kind of problem. (As Nullius’ closing remarks show, this would have been likely even if it had not been intended, though I’d see ‘the plod on the street’ with their lesser tendency to draw ‘fine philosophical distinctions’ as, for that reason, less certain offenders than their politically-chosen superiors.)

  • Nullius in Verba

    “You can make this case for any crime, that it has both an ‘against the victim’ and an ‘against the community’ aspect”

    Yes, but there are a couple of distinctions. One is that in the case of hated groups, the community effect is often intentional. ‘Pour encourager les autres’ is the whole point and purpose of political/social violence. The other is that some communities feel more directly and intensely targeted than others, and with better cause to fear.

    Within living memory, there are women, jews, blacks, and gays with clear memories of widespread systemic discrimination and persecution, practised by all sectors of society, and by the authorities both legal and moral, that makes our everyday concerns about crime pale. It seems to me arrogant and disrespectful to compare our present tribulations with the PC to theirs. So far, at least.

    Those ‘hate crime’ rules were brought in, and today attract widespread public support, for very genuine reasons. Those now-protected groups *were* apallingly treated. And just as that history is within the living memory of some of its victims, it is also within the living memory of many of the perpetrators. Those attitudes still exist.

    I disagree profoundly with the tactics of the ‘anti-hate speech’ lobby, not because I don’t think they have something of a point about the residual hate and contempt still directed at certain minorities, but because it seems to me self-defeating to replicate the same evil methods, and simply repeat the same mistake against a different target. Authoritarians seeking power need hobgoblins to scare the populace with, and they take cynical advantage of whatever moral norms the populace feels to be under threat. But in this case the new authoritarian bogeyman is simply the last set of authoritarians, now deposed and reviled.

    But it will be interesting to see what the judicial review makes of the issues. The judge’s comments are hopeful, in that he seems alive to the liberal principle. But the formal role of judicial review is not to assert liberal principles, but to determine the law, as set down by our illiberal representatives in Parliament. Whether you agree or disagree, I think something like the above reasoning underlies the Police’s intention for the recording of ‘hate’ incidents, and Parliament’s intention in passing the law. Parliament felt that existing law *didn’t* adequately represent the additional impact on minority communities, and introduced extra measures for that reason. It’s not a question here of whether Parliament were right or wrong to do so (that’s something to be decided at the ballot box, not in court), but of whether the police’s policy is in accordance with Parliament’s intentions.

    “The groups patronised by the PC tend to have higher crime rates than the groups vilified by them, other things being equal.”

    Like women?

    And since when were ‘other things equal’?

  • since when were ‘other things equal’? (Nullius in Verba, November 23, 2019 at 9:29 pm)

    Nullius, were I to say, for example, that there is no gender pay gap in the UK today because men and women are paid equally, other things being equal, you do realise that I would not be saying that other things are equal – on the contrary, I would be saying precisely that they are not (or at least very strongly implying it, else what would be the point of my qualifying clause).

  • Nullius in Verba

    Seems to me that in the case other things aren’t equal, then it would be an untested proposition.

    And a highly dubious one, at that. Crime is strongly associated with being a victim of discrimination; with being an excluded outsider to society. I think it was Freakonomics that reported on the case of black kids being adopted by white families, and being found to have the higher level of educational attainment and behaviour typical of whites. If you truly make other things equal – economics, culture, education, upbringing, etc. – I suspect the crime differences would go away.

  • Nullius in Verba (November 23, 2019 at 10:28 pm), your comment does not sound very statistical-science oriented. I will provide a worked example to illustrate my meaning.

    One of the most basic points of migration theory is that a migrating group is disproportionately young and male, especially at first, whereas refugees from a disaster are, if anything, slightly light in that cohort. The effects of this show up in many historical contexts. Some examples:

    – Westward migration in the US gave Wyoming a six-to-one male-female ratio. This is routinely related to its being the first US state to offer female suffrage as legislators were eager to attract women to the state. Anthony Trollope, touring the US in the mid-Victorian period, noted the effect in the west generally when he joked that Eve tempted Adam to eat the apple “but if she had been a western woman she would have ordered him to make his meal.” Twenty years later, a lesser such imbalance in immigrant-populated Australia and New Zealand encouraged them to have female suffrage first in the British Empire.

    – At the turn of the century, arrogant lefty reformer Jacob Riis despised the Italian migrants he was ‘helping’ too much to think their colluding with landlords to resist his ‘reforms’ showed anything but how much they needed his wise paternalism. In fact they were almost all young men who longed to bring over from Italy their wives and children (left with grandparents) as soon as they could afford it, and so were living seven to a room to save as much money as possible. While Jacob forced them to spend on accommodation instead of saving, an older Italian immigrant founded the Bank of Italy, targeting small regular savers who wanted good money transfer services between New York and Italy. The bank was a huge success since conventional NY banks had little more understanding of the disciplined saving potential of these seven-to-a-room Italian men than Jacob Riis.

    Etc., etc, etc. Another effect happens because more crimes are committed by young males than other groups. Thus even if a migrant group comes from a society with the same (or even somewhat lower) crime rate, neighbours of early immigrants in the host country may experience a rise in crime (and may complain of it honestly, not from prejudice). Such an equal-base-rate group thus creates a sane push one way as regards safe maximum rates of immigration (not to degrade local law enforcement) and a sane push the other way as regards whether to fear a long-term problem once the immigrants complete the cycle and balance their ratios.

    Of course, the immigrants’ base rate may not be equal or lower. In my poem, after ridiculing Merkel’s talk of ‘refugees’, I wrote

    We know they’re really migrants since we see they mostly are young men.
    We know young men commit most crimes in any group – it follows, then,
    That their rate (high enough at home) must here be multiplied again.

    So, putting it all together, if we examine Sweden today, we see three things.

    – The muslim immigrants are disproportionately young and male. If comparing their crime rate to the native Swedish rate, one must first correct the statistics one way for the known tendency of some 40-year-old migrants to claim they were 14, but then correct even more another way for their still being disproportionately young (and male) after this is allowed for.

    – Even by modern western PC standards, the Swedish state has gone to extraordinary lengths to eliminate prejudice or discrimination against the migrants. Even by modern western PC standards, the Swedish public have accepted (one could say endured) extraordinary things to accommodate their state in this. So even if one is not sceptical of the sort of sociology research that attributes crime to poverty, prejudice and victimisation (one should be – but this comment is long enough without discussing that 🙂 ), it seems clear that doing more than the Swedes is beyond the west’s ability at this time.

    – The Swedish muslim immigrant’s statistical tendency to fire an AK47 and throw grenades very greatly exceeds that of the native Swede. It continues greatly to exceed it after these ‘other things being equal’ factors are fully – or even generously – allowed for.

  • Nullius in Verba

    One of the most basic points of migration theory is that a migrating group is disproportionately young and male, […] Another effect happens because more crimes are committed by young males than other groups.

    Interesting point.

    To be generous, let’s suppose that 99.9% of the criminals are young and male, and that 99.9% of the immigrants are young and male, and that back in the home country, 1% of the population are criminals. Then 2% of the migrants will be criminal, even though the males outnumber the females 999 to 1. This is the sort of effect you’re referring to?

    “Even by modern western PC standards, the Swedish state has gone to extraordinary lengths to eliminate prejudice or discrimination against the migrants.”

    Clearly the fact we’re having this conversation suggests it hasn’t worked!

    “The Swedish muslim immigrant’s statistical tendency to fire an AK47 and throw grenades very greatly exceeds that of the native Swede. It continues greatly to exceed it after these ‘other things being equal’ factors are fully – or even generously – allowed for.”

    And yet at the same time their tendency not to fire an AK47 or throw grenades is almost identical to that of native Swedes. Let’s say (just for illustration) it’s 0.0001% for natives firing guns, and 0.01% for Muslim immigrants to Sweden. Then 99.9999% law abiding native Swedes is an almost identical proportion to 99.99% law-abiding Muslim immigrant Swedes.

    The question is, do you judge people in a group by the behaviour of 99.99% of them, or by that of the 0.01%? And very slightly more specifically, do you judge the behaviour of the 99.99% who haven’t done anything wrong by the behaviour of 0.01% who happen to share a particular characteristic with them?

    Wouldn’t it be better to judge people simply by whether they’re criminals, which is the only characteristic we’re really interested in?

    I disagree that ‘other things being equal’ factors are accounted for. Cultural change takes decades to centuries to take effect, as does economic integration. The first generation of immigrants have a completely different upbringing, completely different social norms, assumptions, a completely different education. The second generation grow up with local schools and local friends, but are heavily influenced by family. They know both worlds, and are a diluted mixture of both. The third generation then grows up with parents who know the system.

    Another family I know – British ancestors going back centuries. Great grandfather was an agricultural labourer, clever but with no education at all, barely literate. Grandfather worked in a factory, sticking labels on cans. Father worked as an unqualified accountant, the family couldn’t afford university, but it was a white collar job and he progressed into management. Sons were the first generation to go to university, got good jobs, not wealthy, but comfortably off. Near enough a hundred years from first to last.

    I remember my grandmother talking about how much she loved maths as a girl, but couldn’t study it because girls weren’t normally taught it back then. It’s taken us 100 years to get here. We’re only in the second generation of women’s equality, but we can already see where it’s going. Back when they started, there were plenty who didn’t believe it was possible.

    It takes time to build up that cultural capital. You can’t jump from illiterate subsistence farmer to upper-middle class white-collar worker five minutes after walking off the boat. But I suggest that people with the same accumulated cultural capital have far closer to the same chances of success in life, and the crime level drops as legitimate routes to survival and success improve. The left complain bitterly about gentrification, but it’s how things progress.

    The problem is, people today expect and demand instant solutions. “We’ve had equality for 20 whole years, why isn’t it working?!!” We’re not conscious of all the background infrastructure, all the assumptions, cultural expectations, habits and behaviours, all the background knowledge needed to make it possible. And we have a tendency to concentrate our vision on the small proportion of problem cases, and are blind and oblivious to the huge progress being made where everything is going fine. It’s slow by our ‘instant response’ expectations, but fast by the standards of history. It’s a bit like when Hans Rosling did his talk about what people in the West believed the developing world was like, compared to what was actually happening there. The statistics say the world is advancing and progressing at (historically) an enormous rate. Our beliefs are all of doom and impending disaster.

    I’m guessing it’s because we get our beliefs from the media, rather than from the statistics.

    “your comment does not sound very statistical-science oriented. I will provide a worked example to illustrate my meaning.”

    I hope this comment is a little better!

  • neonsnake

    The question is, do you judge people in a group by the behaviour of 99.99% of them, or by that of the 0.01%? And very slightly more specifically, do you judge the behaviour of the 99.99% who haven’t done anything wrong by the behaviour of 0.01% who happen to share a particular characteristic with them?

    May I play with your numbers a little, NiV?

    What if 6 out of every hundred Swedish nationals have a tendency to fire Ak47s?

    What if immigrants have an 18% higher chance of a tendency to fire Ak47s?

    18% higher is a big scary number, right?

    Takes it from 6 in a 100 to 7.

    Scary.

    Presumably we’ve all stopped eating bacon and associated types of foods, and cooking them for our loved ones, right?

  • neonsnake

    The additional crime merits an additional punishment.

    I don’t agree with this, incidently. Not through any principled stance, but out of sheer self-preservation 🙂 (as odd as that might sound coming from me)

    Your theory is golden, no argument.

    In practice, I’m increasingly worried about the implications of the backlash – you can see it above with comments that state people will only vote for straight white middle aged males (which is precisely the same argument as minorities use for voting for minority candidates) – as people view expansion of freedom for minorities as being restrictions of freedom on themselves.

    The majority still has the numbers to win that fight, if it comes to it, and appear to marshalling their forces.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “The majority still has the numbers to win that fight, if it comes to it”

    Which fight are you talking about? The one on free speech, or the one on hate crime?

    The backlash is on curtailment to free speech, the law I was discussing was about hate crime.

  • neonsnake

    The one on hate crime.

  • Nullius in Verba

    Well, so far as I know, the majority of the British public support the laws, and even the extension of the definition of hate crimes to new categories (~70% IIRC). So the ‘majority’ aren’t with the ‘backlash’.

  • AFT

    Late to this party and thanks for the interesting discussion. However, I’d like to go back to the issue raised in the first few comments: what did the judge mean? My initial reading was that he had either mis-spoken (inadvertently omitting ‘not’ much in the way that Neil Armstrong omitted ‘a’ in his famous words upon stepping onto the moon) or been mis-reported. In that case, it would appear that what he wanted to say is that I have no right not to be offended analagous to my right not to be robbed, or assaulted, or arbitrarily detained. So far, so good.

    But what if he didn’t mis-speak? What if he said (and was reported to have said) what he actually intended to say? In that case, what can he possibly have meant? Could he have meant that while I do have a right not to be offended, what I don’t have is a right to decide arbitrarily that someone has offended me, just as I have a right not to be assaulted but I don’t have a right to decide that you’ve assaulted me (and get you arrested for assault) if you haven’t actually assaulted me. In other words, there has to be some objective criterion to determine offense. So far, so not quite so good. It’s preferable to the logic of ‘all-that-matters-is-what-the-victim-claims-to-feel‘ but it’s far from ideal…

  • Mr Ed

    AFT,

    what can he possibly have meant?

    Nov. 21 at 5.33pm I made a comment, picking up on that.

    Perhaps it was something like:

    There is no right to be offended = If you are offended, you do not gain anything from that, the law is neutral on it. You cannot leverage from taking offence, any claim or action, nor is it something of which the civil or criminal law can, in general terms, can be held to have been broken.

    or

    That comment is offensive.

    Pray tell me, how that matters in law. I know of no basis under which being offended is actionable or in any way a matter for the law.

    or “You cannot claim to have been offended and make that into a case.“.

    But as judges often say ‘Unless you can persuade me otherwise.’.

  • AFT

    Mr Ed,

    I had seen that. But there’s a big difference between arising from being offended and to be offended. A slip is forgivable; language so sloppy less so, particularly from a judge.

  • Mr Ed

    AFT,

    We are, of course, speculating on the basis of a media report on a case, which is brief and cannot give the whole context even if it is accurate (and I have seen media reports quite far removed from the gist of a case in my time).

    I would say that it would not surprise me had the judge said that, as I have said, and it may be that such a remark arose after an exchange with, say, the College’s barrister, who might have been droning on about the need to prevent people from being offended by remarks, which might have sparked such a response from the judge. As and when the judgment comes out, I will seek if anything can be discerned, looking at the tea leaves or entrails from a second-hand report is hardly likely to be conclusive for us.

    And for those interested, Mr Miller has a crownfunding page.

  • I hope this comment is a little better! (Nullius in Verba, November 24, 2019 at 6:22 pm)

    I respect the debating courtesy with which you invite reply. The answer is no.

    1) You speculated a 2:1 ratio which neonsnake then trumped by suggesting 7:6.

    – My particular example was AK47 and grenade crime, effectively unknown in Sweden till very recent years and now occurring at a rate of hundreds per annum. Obviously, the raw ratio may be infinity, obliging one to include all Scandanavia (for the Anders Breivik incident) to reduce it to a finite number. On any assessment, the ratio makes a mockery of 2:1 and 7:6.

    – You and neonsnake should each have had an alarm bell go off in your minds while typing those suggestions without any need to consider that specific type of crime. You surely know (and the Swedish state will be happy to point out) that, despite its taking in numerous immigrants, there is still a many-to-one ratio of native Swedes to immigrants. You certainly should know (though the Swedish state would rather talk about something else) that it has endured the revealing embarrassment of no longer letting their TV display mockups of suspects the police would like to interview. So do the calculation.

    * As there are many ethnic Swedes to each one immigrant, if the crime ratio were 7:6 or even 2:1, how many blond blue-eyed aryan identikit mockups would Swedish TV viewers see for each less-nordic ‘wanted’ picture

    * Conversely, if off-narrative ‘wanted’ pictures are so crowding out the others that Swedish authorities would rather endure the implicit confession of no longer showing them because the explicit command “don’t be prejudiced” not longer cuts it for the most accepting audience in the western world, what can you persuade yourself the minimum underlying ratio would have to be that yet produces that visible ratio out of that counter-ratio’ed population?

    My point isn’t that you failed to use actual Swedish population and immigration figure in a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation before writing your guesstimate (I assume you have a life and a day job as I do). My point is that you should have seen as you typed yours, and neonsnake as he typed 7:6, that these were not numbers to type.

    If you think Sweden an exception (it isn’t – it’s an outlier but not counter-trend). or that I should discount yet more the immigrant-population-imbalance effects, etc., consider the US.

    – In a comment a while back, bobby b noted his rational survival-oriented awareness of greater risk from blacks, and the personal experience ratio that that was based on.

    – If you think bobby was remembering with prejudiced advantages, consider the echoing remarks of the Rev. Jesse Jackson who, in a rare, admirable moment of honesty, confessed that when he heard footsteps behind him while walking alone of an evening and turned, he could not hide from himself that his emotion on seeing that the man was white, not black, was relief. I invite you to estimate how much higher than 7:6 or 2:1 the activist reverend’s personal and friend experience must have been for that to be so overwhelmingly his reaction that he could no longer deny it, not only to himself but in public.

    In our lifetimes, there have been years when an absolute majority of murders in the US were committed by blacks, despite their being most correctly called a minority of the US population. Guestimate the minimum ratio that could allow that. Observe its relationship to 7:6 or 2:1.

    Something is wrong with a way of thinking and not-thinking, of noticing and of turning away, that produces guestimates like yours in response to an example like mine. I was raised a lefty. I thought I no longer was as early as my 20s but it took decades longer to clean item after item of spoonfed-narrative-junk out of the basement of my mind, to notice area after area where my casual underlying assumptions were narrative-guided silliness (something I see also in defector literature and similar). Paul’s latest post may indicate an area where I still have work to do in that line. You too, I think.

    2) The reverse problem occurs in the ‘only few are criminals’ part of your comment. I am immensely hurt that you think so little of my talent that you did not read my poem. 🙂 🙂 🙂 OK, I’m not – but I joke you did not read it because your only-small-percentage-criminal/nothing-to-see-here argument so did not engage my rebuttal. The lines after the ones I quoted above are

    Think you, if most of them don’t kill, it will not be like World War Two?
    (When, as you know, most Germans did not personally kill a Jew;
    When most are scared or hate-filled, acts of killing only need a few.)

    (And now in boring prose) during the Holocaust, it is estimated that less than one German in every four hundred committed holocaust-related acts for which they could be prosecuted for murder or as accomplice, for conspiracy, etc. under e.g. British municipal law of the time. Even a stern definition could not raise that low fraction to equal the one German in every two hundred that was Jewish before 1933, let alone to equal your 1% / 2% guestimates. Apply them to the holocaust and see how reassuring your argument sounds in that context.

    When the Seljuks converted one of the weathlest provinces in the world into a land of briars and thorns in the decade after Manzikert, it seems indisputable that an actual majority of the Seljuk military-age male population (but not a majority of their whole population) must each have hacked numbers of unarmed defenceless Byzantine men, women and children to death, but in general only minorities of military age males, often very small minorities, commit actual crimes and atrocities, even when their larger culture is showing a distasteful indifference or worse to the victims. So in this second part, your guestimates are in one sense unnecessarily high and your particular hammer of an argument would crush almost every nut – and for that reason makes a weak, not strong, case.

    3) This will not (and is not trying to) discourage you from commenting. Comments may be far from science, but as science is not science that does not welcome challenge, so comments are all the better for constructive critique. If we achieve nothing but understanding another viewpoint, we achieve something. Niall ever-the-optimist Kilmartin is happy to read good news whenever he can credit it. I do not see even Sweden’s present as our most probable future, still less do I see Sweden’s darkest possible future as probable for us or even for them. However to say (as you seemed to in earlier comments) that a minority group’s higher crime rate reflects prejudice and discrimination it has suffered, and only that, is to say it would not exhibit that higher crime rate if other things were equal. That sentence contains two claims that history leaves very open to challenge – and one phrase that I continue to think is very open for either of us to use.

    4) Finally, I note your consistency when you tell neonsnake that supporters of the ‘hate’ laws comfortably outnumber possible backlashers. Whereas the PC treat even mere critical questions as proof of prejudice, and prejudice as proof of an imminent backlash that only their taking our freedom can restrain, you are equally optimistic (but I would use another word 🙂 ) about assimilating both immigrants and backlashers. So I note one form of prejudice you clearly do not have.

    Given how long these comments are getting, I will leave it to you and neonsnake to discuss the support-v-backlash point any further if you wish. 🙂

  • neonsnake

    On any assessment, the ratio makes a mockery of 2:1 and 7:6.

    The 7:6 ratio is a reference to the recent manufactured scare around bacon and similar products. (I make no claim to the accuracy of the scare, only that apparently 6% of people will contract cancer of the colon, rising to 7% in people who eat bacon/hotdogs/etc)

    The touted statistic is “raises the risk by 18%”, which is often read as “rises the risk to 18%”, which is kinda scary, albeit utter bollocks. And I would guess that those of us who like bacon have considered the advice, and continued to eat bacon, since a 93% chance of not getting cancer vs a 94% chance is not enough of a difference to change our behaviours.

    I posit that the same approach should be taken with regards to immigrants. Even if the immigrants disposition to fire AK47s is 18% higher, or 50%, or 200%, than the average Swede, it’s the wrong way to look at the statistic. It’s the percentage of immigrants that are disposed to fire AK47s that’s important, not the variance to base, otherwise (even in my very extreme analogy of 94%), you’re in danger of treating an overwhelming majority on the actions of an extreme minority.

    As to the support/backlash question, hopefully Nullius is correct, and I just spend too much time on sites like Samizdata and am extrapolating incorrectly.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “My particular example was AK47 and grenade crime, effectively unknown in Sweden till very recent years and now occurring at a rate of hundreds per annum.”

    The two-to-one ratio was about me disputing your proposed mechanism, about the proportion of males. If the mechanism for the excess was entirely due to the sex ratio, then the biggest effect you could get would be two-to-one. I was assuming that this would make it obvious that sex ratio couldn’t be the cause, because the crime ratio is obviously greater than that. Reductio ad absurdam. My apologies if that wasn’t clear.

    You might have noticed that the other example I gave (also with purely illustrative just-to-make-a-statistical-point numbers) showed a 100-to-1 ratio. 0.01% versus 0.0001%. Assuming there were 10 million Muslims in Sweden, 0.01% would be 1000 grenade-launching criminals. If it’s actually only hundreds, then I clearly over-estimated!

    “You and neonsnake should each have had an alarm bell go off in your minds while typing those suggestions without any need to consider that specific type of crime.”

    Alarm bells do indeed go off. The red light is flashing over “Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy”!

    Picking an extremely rare crime so specific to a particular group, rather than considering crime generally, is a classic way to insert the group into a conversation where it otherwise would not occur. I expect that if we picked a crime like ‘Islamophobic assault’, we’d find the crime rate for the native population far exceeded that for the immigrants. Same argument, same conclusion?

    The more conditionals get attached to the crime category under discussion, the more unusual it is: the more one should suspect a Texas Sharpshooter.

    “(And now in boring prose) during the Holocaust, it is estimated that less than one German in every four hundred committed holocaust-related acts for which they could be prosecuted for murder or as accomplice, for conspiracy, etc. under e.g. British municipal law of the time.”

    Right, and this is exactly my point. It would be wrong to accuse people of committing atrocities simply because they were German. Almost all Germans are innocent of that.

    This is the part that keeps being missed in all these discussions. I am absolutely *not* saying “nothing to see here”. I’m not excusing crime. I’m not saying it’s unimportant, or should be ignored. I’m not saying the victims don’t matter. What I’m saying is that you should only be condemning the criminals, not the whole of some other mostly-innocent group that they happen to share a characteristic with!

    Condemn the concentration camp executioners – Yes! Condemn the Germans – No!

    We *all* share characteristics with some group of despicable criminals or another. The same tactic can be used against *all* of us.

    This will not (and is not trying to) discourage you from commenting.

    Agreed. It may be a comfort to you to know I didn’t see it that way. Debate here is far more tolerant and respectful of dissenting views than in many places I’ve visited.

    Comments may be far from science, but as science is not science that does not welcome challenge, so comments are all the better for constructive critique.

    Absolutely! I’m all in favour of people arguing with me. It’s a way to test the validity of my own opinions. Scientific claims can only gain credibility by surviving competent and motivated attack by clever people trying to pick holes in them. The only things that can happen as a result of them doing so are either that I learn something new and correct an error in my understanding, or I can justifiably feel more confident about an opinion I hold. Both are good!

    If we achieve nothing but understanding another viewpoint, we achieve something.

    Agreed. I hope that benefit’s mutual.

    “Given how long these comments are getting, I will leave it to you and neonsnake to discuss the support-v-backlash point any further if you wish.”

    By local standards, sure. 🙂 I’ve commented on forums where a thread can have getting on for a thousand comments or more.

    It is only my wish to debate with people who want to debate with me – who enjoy the process. I’m never offended if people don’t want to, or who choose to drop out, or who have a life. And it’s rarely my wish to upset people, by controverting their deeply held beliefs. (I can’t say there have never been people who annoyed me sufficiently to be exceptions – but generally I prefer it to be a gentlemanly, sportsmanlike debate.) Debate should only go on for as long as everyone is enjoying the experience.

    And in case you do decide to drop out here, my thanks for being such a good sport. 🙂

  • bobby b

    “It would be wrong to accuse people of committing atrocities simply because they were German. Almost all Germans are innocent of that.”

    And yet the allies attacked Germany generally, and we do consider that to have been a rational decision. As a practical matter, what else could they have done? Do we consider them to have been evil for not restricting hostilities to only those who first took a shot?

    As we advanced into Germany, the residents were treated as a monolithic enemy – the anti-German prejudice ruled – until we gained individual knowledge of each person. Only then could they be ruled out as an active threat.

    Group prejudices are a rational defensive tool – until individual knowledge is gained. Humanity has been governed in this manner forever, and it still has utility. It was unfair to anti-war Germans, and it’s unfair to blacks who are viewed with hostility even while the viewer lacks individual knowledge of that particular black person, but it continues to have a pure statistical value.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “And yet the allies attacked Germany generally, and we do consider that to have been a rational decision.”

    As I recall, even back then the Hague conventions had rules on the treatment of non-combatants in war. For example: “The attack or bombardment, by whatever means, of towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings which are undefended is prohibited.” Or: “Besides the prohibitions provided by special Conventions, it is especially prohibited:- […] To kill or wound an enemy who, having laid down arms, or having no longer means of defence, has surrendered at discretion; […] To destroy or seize the enemy’s property, unless such destruction or seizure be imperatively demanded by the necessities of war.” Also, war criminals have to be specifically identified and tried in court, with evidence presented – you can’t just execute everyone of the enemy nationality. So no, I don’t think we attacked Germany generally (if by ‘Germany’ you mean the people of Germany, rather than its state and armed forces), or held Germans collectively to account for the crimes of the few.

    And of course, post-war the laws of war were greatly extended in the Geneva conventions to make collective punishments and killing non-combatants war crimes.

    “Humanity has been governed in this manner forever, and it still has utility.”

    I would accept that war crimes like collective punishments and shooting non-combatant civilians do “have utility” in war. Crime sometimes pays very well, and history is written by the winner. Nevertheless, moral law is based on the idea that we’re supposed to give up a certain amount of personal utility, on a reciprocal basis, in exchange for everyone else giving up the same short-term utility when it comes to their treatment of us.

    As I said – We *all* share characteristics with some group of despicable criminals or another. The same tactic can be used against *all* of us. Our best ‘rational justification’ for morality is reciprocity.

    Humanity has been governed by authoritarians forever, who all do so for rational, self-interested reasons. They wield power so that they can win, can get their way, can rule society and impose their standards of behaviour on its members for their own good and for the good of society. ‘Utility’ and ‘tradition’ are always excellent excuses for the iron boot of the oppressor!

    But I would suggest, the fact that lots of people throughout history have done it and gained advantage from it doesn’t make it right. Don’t you think so?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Herewith my musings on the issue of innocents killed in the aggressing country during wartime.

    .

    It is a great mistake to think that two principles, right in themselves and all else being equal, can never be at odds in real life.

    This is only achievable in the real world if all else is equal. But it is an unreachable ideal, since in the real world “all else” never is equal.

    .

    It is no more right to let one’s own nearest and dearest be slaughtered by an aggressor, than it is to kill those innocents (assuming for the moment that they are such) who have the misfortune to be in the line of fire between the defenders and the aggressors. Unless, that is, the defenders deliberately put them there, in full knowledge that they are innocent in every respect. (The Palestinians and the North Vietnamese — aggressors both — do and did exactly this when they put important military targets in schools and hospitals.)

    As is true in the case where somebody has taken hostages, and in the responsibly-conducted attempt by somebody else at their rescue, one or more of the hostages is killed. That is not a fault of the would-be rescuer, but rather of the hostage-taker. The “innocents” under any warmaking regime are at risk not through a moral fault of the defending country, but rather because the initiating regime started the war.

    That is not the sort of situation where a target grabs an innocent bystander to shield him from his potential assassin’s bullet. It’s that situation in which the target is (probably) acting immorally — although in some conceivable circumstances, one might argue otherwise.

    I am perfectly willing to consider that many Germans really were innocent in the most meaningful sense, but the proper standard in real life is not “all else being equal,” but rather, “things being as they are,” or, “Reality being as it is.”

    We strive for moral improvement by reaching toward “perfection” (if such a thing existed except as a fantasy, which mostly it does not), but to seriously argue for bringing the full ideal about is a fool’s errand unless the word is very narrowly defined in a very narrow context. That is why we have words like “optimum” and “maximal”; they refer to that which might, in reality, be almost achievable.

    .

    bobby, of course, is quite correct. In response to individual encounters, as in response to all else in life, one can only play the odds. In the Wyndham book that Niall and I have been discussing lately, one of the characters observes that Sherlock Holmes was right when he said (paraphrase from memory), “It may be true that one lacks much information, but it is suicide to funk the data one has.”

    This is just as true when the actors are those groups of people known as “countries” or “nations” or “states” as it is when the actors are individuals.

    .

    Of course “lots of people throughout history have done it and gained advantage from it doesn’t make it right,” for certain particular referents of “it”; but there’s a particular question at issue, namely, whether war in which innocent (or more-or-less innocent, since it’s always arguable just who is or isn’t “innocent” in an inter-group war) people are killed is such an “it.”

    It is also more moral to feed first your own children and family than to give all you have to the starving in Africa and let your own family die of starvation (or leave them to be saved by some third party out of the kindness of his heart when he has enough to spare after looking out for his own.) You are answerable for the conditions of your family ahead of the conditions of strangers.

    We may disapprove of the Great Frog’s having designed the world so that such is the case, but its/her/his will prevailed and not mine or yours.

    .

    Nevertheless, the U.S. (at least) and Israel have gone to extraordinary lengths to alert innocent persons whose regime is making war with them, by dropping leaflets explaining that there will be an attack on their territory and that the “innocents” should get out of the way.

    That, as far as I know, is unprecedented in the history of war.

    .

    (Although again, I think that in the past there were times when advance troops have warned the villagers to get out of the way because if they don’t, the next troops will chop their heads off. It is said that there’s nothing new under the Sun.)

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Nevertheless, the U.S. (at least) and Israel have gone to extraordinary lengths to alert innocent persons whose regime is making war with them, by dropping leaflets explaining that there will be an attack on their territory and that the “innocents” should get out of the way. That, as far as I know, is unprecedented in the history of war.”

    Have you ever read the Hague and Geneva Conventions on the Laws of War? They’re quite interesting, in that regard.

    https://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/hague02.asp#art26
    https://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/geneva07.asp
    https://avalon.law.yale.edu/subject_menus/lawwar.asp

  • It is a great mistake to think that two principles, right in themselves and all else being equal, can never be at odds in real life. (Julie near Chicago, November 26, 2019 at 1:55 am)

    Agreed (and thank you for using the phrase “all else being equal” 🙂 ). I have written more than one comment over the years about the fire-storming of Hamburg and Dresden.

    It can also happen that two principles, one of which you think is evil but both of which someone else thinks are good, can be shown to conflict – which can create subtle situations in debate, whether to argue your whole philosophy or defend a practical point that may be more persuasive to the other party.

    For example, If anyone wants to find those years I spoke of in my comment above where a majority of murders in the US were committed by blacks, the best time to look is in the middle of those 1960s through 1980s decades during which Jesse Jackson was learning to breathe an embarrassed sigh of relief on recognising that the stranger behind him was white, not black. By contrast, if Nullius, or anyone, wished to find a time when a 2:1 ratio or suchlike was less distant from the statistical reality, they should look at US statistics for years well after the zero-tolerance reforms were imposed and had taken full effect.

    The zero-tolerance approach reflects a legal attitude as remote as can be from the ‘hate crime’ approach – which was the origin of this subthread debate. I could see neonsnake, for example, being more swiftly persuaded to reject hate crime arguments by those considerations than from philosophical presentations of its fundamental misconception, no matter how splendidly (and/or long-windedly) I presented the latter.

    I think that in the past there were times when advance troops have warned the villagers to get out of the way because if they don’t, the next troops will chop their heads off.

    During the battle of Berlin, there are recorded instances of front-line Russian soldiers warning German women they encountered that “the men behind us are pigs”.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Thanks for the specific example, Niall. As well as for the kind words, and for the examples from WW II and your remarks about conducting debate.

    As I said elsewhere, I don’t like competitive debate and I abhor it when it goes disguised as discussion. The purpose of proper debate should be to arrive at either truth or a compromise, as when leaders debate the best course of action. Otherwise, friendly, non-adversarial discussion is far more pleasant and often more productive.

    .

    I would like to note that my para beginning “It is also more moral to feed first your own children and family….” does not really stand as written. It depends greatly on what you mean by “family” and also on the familial circumstances. A grownup bitterly abused in childhood by his parents owes them nothing beyond what his heart feels moved to give them, assuming there were no mitigating circumstances in the abuse and no attempts by them to try to make up for the abuse.

    As my Dad used to say, ‘Circumstances alter cases.’ And in the inexperienced hubris of youth, I took this to mean he was ready to abandon principles. Nothing could have been farther from the truth.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Sigh … it is impossible to be true to one’s meaning without rewriting the world.

    Namely, there is a fine line indeed between discussion — the exposition of your ideas and the response from other parties about their ideas and about their ideas of your ideas — and what I might call “soft” or “friendly” debate. The one slides so easily into the other, and if the soft debate is genuinely courteous throughout and if dishonest arguments and below-the-belt jabs at interlocutors are not made, that is not unacceptable to me. But whether that really is “debate” is maybe determined only in the mind if each person.

    Noted just in hopes of improved accuracy as to my meaning.

  • neonsnake

    I could see neonsnake, for example, being more swiftly persuaded to reject hate crime arguments by those considerations than from philosophical presentations of its fundamental misconception, no matter how splendidly (and/or long-windedly) I presented the latter.

    I’m not positive that I’ve followed your argument correctly – could you clarify?

    (FWIW, if you mean what I think you mean, then you’re probably right – I just want to make sure I’ve understood correctly)

  • neonsnake (November 26, 2019 at 10:41 am), beware of asking Niall prolix Kilmartin to explain at (yet) greater length. I may despise men of many new words, but I’ll use the old ones over and over – unless of course there’s a work crisis. 🙂

    One may decide hate crime law is simply wrong and misconceived. Earlier in this thread I suggested hate crime law was a PC scam (an example of ‘wrong’), and also that all crime has its social victims as well as its individual victims and this duality is always already embedded in legal definitions of crime and punishment (often to the excessive consideration of social, not the reverse), so a separate social-aspect crime is otiose at best (an example of ‘misconception’). As Hayek, put it in a broader context, “Justice is inherently social by definition, so to speak of ‘social justice’ is incredibly devoid of meaning … dishonest … an insinuation by some special interest that can give no true justification for it …” (from memory).

    Now let us suppose that my wonderful elucidations of the law’s deepest mysteries fail to win from you that wholehearted unqualified acceptance they deserve. 🙂 I could as well or instead offer a merely practical, experiential argument. Suppose someone is attracted to the hate crime law idea because they want to equalise once-despised minorities with the majority, and minimise gross statistical inferiorities alleged to reflect that past history. Suppose we observe that the relative crime rates of a minority and the majority diverge under a legal regime that changes to be more sympathetic to such ideas, and then move closer together again under a legal regime that changes again to be less sympathetic to them. That would be a side-effects argument that the temptation to having hate crime laws should be resisted, in the same way that your ‘backlash’ argument offered a practical reason for not having them.

    HTH

    BTW, as regards

    It’s the percentage of immigrants that are disposed to fire AK47s that’s important, not the variance to base,

    I suggest the wisdom of monitoring both. In early 30s Germany, one could monitor the very very small number of nazis who perpetrated criminal violence against Jews or the quite large number who treated “the Jews caused the World War” as a sensible idea, well worth considering.

  • neonsnake

    As indicated above, I’ve flip-flopped on the subject most of my life.

    You can perhaps guess (and hopefully understand) the trajectory – I’d have been very very pro “hate crime laws” in my teens/twenties. I then did an absolute about-face, where I thought they were a nonsense in my thirties (mid to late 2000s), and have since settled into a milder view. As I’ve said a couple times – I think there’s a distinction worth drawing between “treating someone badly due to their behaviour” and “treating someone badly due to their characteristics”.

    Suffice to say, I believe that “hate crime” is a real thing, and that discrimination occurs, despite or even because of laws to prevent it, and the 30 year old me might have said that rationality will win out, but the 40 year old me thinks (sadly) otherwise.

    I’ve seen the Hayek quote before, but I confess to not having read it in context. My instinct is to disagree – allowing for my lack of context!

    Social Justice, to me, is very separate from laws, legislation and so on. It’s more about respecting individuals as individuals, not as members of “category X” – as Nullius points out, we all share characteristics with some group or another, which is why I’m so against Identity Politics. It’s about avoiding the Tyranny Of The Majority.

    It’s about not “cancelling” a punk singer who says they think capitalism is, on the whole, a good thing – or at least, fighting back against those who would do so. It’s about fighting against those who would destroy a politician for a possibly misjudged comment about Grenfell. It’s about fighting against those who would use the word “monkey” about Dianne Abbot. It’s not about “left vs right”, basically. In my mind, at least 🙂

    To your second paragraph…

    There’s a concept that I call “Phaedrus’ Knife”, from a book I read. It essentially means that the same thing can be cut in many different ways, and looked at in many different ways, all of which are valid and don’t contradict one another.

    In (vague) context of the book, it means that my car (a convertible 1976 MGB Roadster that I inherited when my Dad passed away) can be considered as a collection of parts, a chassis, an engine, the carburetors, the battery, the fanbelt, etc – which in certain contexts is relevant. In another context, it’s a memory of my father. It another context it’s a romantic expression of open-road travelling with the top down, camping and “getting away from it all”.

    In the context of your second paragraph, I can do the philosophical bit, if you like. I happen to believe it. If you can show me the stats, I’ll likely believe those two. All we’re doing is cutting the same object in two different ways, in two different contexts, both of which are appropriate in their own context. It’s just that the failure of the laws to produce the desired result is more important to your context, and the backlash is more important to my context. It doesn’t imply disagreement, right? And I’m sure you understand why one context is more important to me than another 😉

    one could monitor the very very small number of nazis who perpetrated criminal violence against Jews or the quite large number who treated “the Jews caused the World War” as a sensible idea, well worth considering.

    Sorta agreed. I’ve some privacy related concerns, but that aside (an entirely different matter!), I agree that we should be monitoring people who are perpetuating ideas like “The Great Replacement” theory (your Anders Brevik example). Goes back to the first paragraph – I tentatively agree that people who are disseminating ideas related to characteristics rather than behaviours should probably be monitored, at least. If nothing else, if we agree that reducing crime is a legitimate role of the state, then understanding it’s basis (characteristics vs behaviours) is likely worthwhile.

  • bobby b

    “So no, I don’t think we attacked Germany generally (if by ‘Germany’ you mean the people of Germany, rather than its state and armed forces), or held Germans collectively to account for the crimes of the few.”

    Thinking of just a few examples from that overall war – Dresden, Hamburg, Berlin, Tokyo, Nagasaki, Hiroshima . . .

    We certainly did attack Germany and Japan generally. Was that rational? I think so. Was it moral? I wouldn’t even try to answer that.

    And, aside from the difficulties of distinguishing between “combatants” and civilians, there is the idea that a person within the larger affinity group of a sub-group that is violating social norms has more leverage to affect that sub-group than do outsiders, and more incentive to exercise that leverage if they are held to account for the acts of their co-members.

    I think that Christians have more of a moral duty to rein in the fundamentalist Christian racists than do non-Christians. I think Muslims have more of a moral duty to rein in radical Islamists than do non-Muslims. I think Finns have more of a moral duty to rein in small bands of depressed-and-acting-out Finns than do Hondurans. I think urban blacks have more of a moral duty to rein in black urban gangs than do Iowa farmers. I think Germans in general had more of a moral duty to put down the Nazis than did the Inuit.

    The duty arises, first, because they belong to the same root groups and might benefit if those radical groups succeed, and, second, because that very belonging gives them more power to affect change in their more radical co-religionists.

    And so, in an entirely rational approach, we pressure those larger groups to work to rein in their transgressing in-laws. I hold all Finns to account for their more depressed brethren. I don’t know if it fits into “moral”, but it is rational.

  • bobby b

    “There’s a concept that I call “Phaedrus’ Knife”, from a book I read . . . “

    Small world. He was a local guy. I took several law school classes from his dad, Maynard, and met Bob a couple of times at Prof’s home. Troubled man, but brilliant writings. Read Zen probably ten times. Still not sure I got it.

    (ETA: never made it all the way through Lila.)

  • APL

    neosnake: “If a bloke says on twitter, that anyone from outside the UK should be deported, am I allowed to lamp them?”

    Yes, but then you would be guilty of a crime, assault. Which I hope, might be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

    Is this what passes for a Libertarian these days. So much for the principle of ‘non aggression’.

    Nial Kilmartin: “that there is a clear and present danger to your girlfriend, then you should protect her.”

    Terribly, terribly Patriarchal. And sentiments that might well get you locked up too, these days.

  • neonsnake

    Read Zen probably ten times. Still not sure I got it.

    Heh.

    Brother, I’ve spent nearly two decades up to the hilt in Daoist philosophy (what he calls “Quality”), with occasional excursions into Beat, Bushido, Zen and Transcendentelism (yeah, I’m proper weird, like that 😉 )

    I only sorta get it, still. It’s a “total philosophy” vs “rational break down” thing.

    I keep meaning to read Lila, and avoiding it. Zen hit me kinda hard. I’m emotionally unable to separate the bike from My Car 🙂

  • neonsnake

    Yes, but then you would be guilty of a crime, assault. Which I hope, might be prosecuted to the full extent of the law

    APL – point being, no. I’d be wrong to do so. Morally, let alone legally, thats my point.

  • APL

    Itellyounothing: “Parliament and MPs all don’t care.”

    Recently, I was struck by an exchange in Parliament between some outgoing Labour wallah, and a Tory – difficult to tell them apart these days.

    But it was on the topic of ‘on line harms’ and how we should protect people from ‘on line harms’, it was for the children, natch.

    I frequently refer to the ‘othering’ by certain groups that have occurred ( and is occurring now ) in our Towns and Cities over the last thirty years or more. Where the Police were, by some accounts told to ignore complaints by the victims of these groups because, the victims had chosen a lifestyle ( being raped ) and were pursuing the ‘lifestyle in the full knowledge of the consequences’. Many of these individuals were below the age of legal capacity*.

    Parliament is mute, the Police impotent in the face of actual physical abuse, but our Parliamentarians witter on about ‘online harms’. Which is nothing but a cipher for censorship. Contempt for these worms it not sufficient. And I freely apologise to all earth worms that don’t deserve to be grouped with such vermin. Now I’m going to have to apologise to Rats too.

    * The law in Scotland explicitly states that a minor, ( one under the age of 16, 18 in England & Wales ) has no legal capacity to make certain decisions.

  • APL

    neosnake: “point being, no. I’d be wrong to do so. Morally, let alone legally, thats my point.”

    neosnake: “Some of you are going to say that one should not threaten, nor perform, violence upon people expressing a “simply different point of view”, no matter that it is expressed in public. That’s fine, but I’m still going to, while you pretend that hate crime doesn’t exist.”

    Huh!

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Parliament is mute, the Police impotent”

    It’s not that Parliament is mute. They talk about the problems of gangs frequently, and throw money at it in political gestures. And the police have been trying to shut down organised crime since forever. (Read Oliver Twist.) But short of imprisoning children – exercising total control over what they do, where they go, who they meet with every minute of their lives – how do you propose the police stop them joining gangs? How do you propose they shut down all the Mafias?

    And having set the totalitarian precedent, doesn’t the same solution apply to every other perceived social problem?

  • APL

    NiV: “how do you propose the police stop them joining gangs? How do you propose they shut down all the Mafias?”

    While ‘gangs’ are a mutual and mutually agreed organisations, and while gangs seek out and assault other similar gangs. I don’t much care what they do. Most of the violent ‘knife crime’ is one group of individuals against another group. The more of them that kill each other the better as far as I’m concerned.

    I’d be happy for mutual knife crime gangs to fight until there was only one man standing. That would be a good result. Then the Police could lock that fella up for the rest of his life. Our cities would be a better place for it.

    NiV: “and throw money at it in political gestures. ”

    It is not a ‘political gesture’, it is bribery. (Its the same tactic the British establishment used in its attempt to neuter the IRA/UDF, that worked out quite well, NOT. As we now find the promises of ‘putting weapons beyond reach’ wasn’t what we all pretended to think is was. As the argument over BREXIT and the threats of renewed paramilitary violence have proven). Note: I’m not interested in discussing the paramilitary problem of NI, nor the resurgence of politically motivated violence as a result of BREXIT, not this thread anyway – it serves here to illustrate the cowardly supine nature and the utter failure of the British establishment.

    NiV: “And having set the totalitarian precedent, doesn’t the same solution apply to every other perceived social problem?”

    You can be quite slippery when you put your mind to it. No precedent has been set, if the Police are not prepared to combat violent behaviour on the streets, we’d be better off without the Police.

    Note: I’ve just clicked through the the article. Quote: A female former gang member has exposed the growing levels of sexual violence against young womem – Unquote.

    Crocodile tears, don’t wash here.

  • I’m with APL in the debates between my last comment and this one.

    As regards gangs, Glasgow was alleged to be the most violent city in Europe at the start of the 1930s, in large part because of its gangs. In the days before he ran MI5, Police Constable Sillitoe was credited with breaking the power of the gangs. He “scuffed the razors doon the stank” as the locals put it, in no small part by organising the Glasgow police into a bigger and better gang that took the fun out of the rumbles by always showing up and always winning.

    IIUC it did not involve throwing any special amount of money at the problem – just deciding to solve it instead of pussyfoot around it.

  • neonsnake

    APL, in the specific example I raised in my post, I ended up having to get hands-on with the bloke, in a way that I might not have done had I not stood there meekly hoping he was going to go away while he was approaching.

    This was a mistake on my part; had I done something earlier, there’s a good chance I could have defused it without having to touch him, and before he got in my other half’s sister’s face. I wonder at which point it would have been appropriate to do so, at which point it would have been appropriate to decide that his words were going to turn into actions.

    But even then, an earlier intervention in that situation would still have carried with it some danger, which I’d have to have been prepared for.

    God willing, I’m not in the position again, but if I am, I will intervene earlier, I hope.

  • neonsnake (November 27, 2019 at 3:27 pm), a potential aspect of ‘clear and present danger’ / ‘imminent threat’ situations is that words that justly fall into those categories may be probing attacks, testing for weakness (which can of course be hard to distinguish from meekness):”Will this guy’s reaction reveal he’s an easy victim to bully?” Whether it is antifa making PC accusations to see which victims cringe and how much, or a drunken thug of a different sort of politics, it is possible for words to be clearly the opening skirmish in what will very presently be violent – hence first amendment law’s preserving that specific exemption. I’m guessing you are post-hoc analysing your experience in these terms: that it is possible a more aggressive verbal and stance-wise response to the drunk’s verbal probing attack would have backed him off without a blow. You may be right or you may be wrong – drunks can be poor at picking up verbal and social cues. (Aside: they can also be more civilised people when sober.)

    Such wisdom after the event is easy. Over and above blatant prejudice, many a PC critic of a police shooting clearly makes no attempt to put themselves in the situation and say, “If I were rationally scared that I have one second to save my life – what then would I decide?” And split-second is not the only case: maybe some bomb-aimer fire-storming Hamburg in 1943 reflected, “A bit more sense ten years ago and I would not have to be doing this!”

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