We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

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

Samizdata quote of the day

The wise & incorruptible state can be trusted to decide what people are allowed to watch, read & listen to, no way would they abuse such capabilities once they are in place

#MakeOrwellFictionAgain
#TheStateIsNotYourFriend

– Perry de Havilland in response to this.

23 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • +1. Everyone need to shout loudly to Boris that he, and even more his supporters, will be censored under such a regime – his supporters so he’ll lose the next election and him as soon as he has. (Also, I recall stuff about ‘protecting free speech’ in the Tory manifesto. I did not think it meant ‘protective custody’.)

    How will you stop the PC abusing you and your voters with it may be the most useful question to push on them – though I can think of others.

  • JohnB

    Ronald Reagan – 40th president of US:

    The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’

    There was, for a few brief years, a time when liberty seemed possible?

  • Tim the Coder

    Arrest that postman! Put that byte out!
    This is probably why FB etc are so keen on E2E encryption: it takes them out of the loop on policing the content. Not possible.
    VPN will do the same. Ban VPN? But how, since if it’s encrypted traffic, how do you tell what is VPN and what is merely private/financial data being properly protected as per GDPR?
    Make examples of people…when tens of millions are doing it?

    Ordering ISP to start blocking sites (i.e. IP addresses) just starts a game of whack-a-mole that no Government could win.
    There are only two outcomes: a humiliating climbdown by the politicians whose ignorance & impotence are demonstrated for all to see, or the isolation of the UK “internet” to an entirely standalone network of Government approved content. No international phone lines either.

    They’ll be banning typewriters next 🙂

    “But what about the children!” they screech. That’s what parents were for…before they were banned!

  • Itellyounothing

    Priti Patel – “I won’t stop government approved rape gangs, or ethnic minority crime gangs running round London stabbing each other, or shedloads of drugs shipments round the country on public transport carried by children allegedly in government run social care, but I can pretend to support some marginal social conservatism by making pointless frowny faces at the internet, because the public support for PC Plod patrolling the inter is famously so high”.

    Why does every Home Sec in recent memory turn into some kind of incompetent Darth Vader? Are there polls indicating these kind of pronouncements have some kind of broad support? Are the kinds of people with Oxbridge PPEs really so terrified of the internet, perhaps because it’s so obviously beyond their control? Is the Home Office so completely bound over by the ECHR and otherwise empty of ideas that there is nothing left but flaccid tinkering round the edges?

  • Rudolph Hucker

    As a small consolation prize, good news from Harry Miller.

    The “thought police” – who called him to “check his thinking” – have been stopped (this time).

    The police response to an ex-officer’s allegedly transphobic tweets was unlawful, the High Court has ruled. Harry Miller, from Lincolnshire, was contacted by Humberside Police in January last year after a complaint about his tweets. He was told he had not committed a crime, but it would be recorded as a non-crime “hate incident”. The court found the force’s actions were a “disproportionate interference” on his right to freedom of expression.

    Speaking after the ruling, Mr Miller said: “This is a watershed moment for liberty – the police were wrong to visit my workplace, wrong to ‘check my thinking’.” His solicitor Paul Conrathe added: “It is a strong warning to local police forces not to interfere with people’s free speech rights on matters of significant controversy.”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lincolnshire-51501202

  • David Roberts

    Does anyone with telecoms knowledge here, know why the police and/or authorities are unable to prevent or prosecute the many telephone scams which are daily defrauding many unsavvy people and annoying the savvy people? It is obviously of lower priority than prosecuting the grooming and rape gangs, but surely more important than identifying the so called hate speech.

  • David Roberts (February 14, 2020 at 12:25 pm), in Scotland it is because resource allocation massively favours ‘crimes’ of interest to the politically correct over crimes of interest to a pre-2000 police constable. State prosecution resources are heavily focussed so, which would oblige the police to follow suit even if they wished otherwise, and the various regional police forces have been unified under the Scottish executive, which reduces the risk of any embarrassing contrasts being tried out.

    I have many suspicions, but less actual information on the state of things down south. Anyone know?

  • Nullius in Verba

    “As a small consolation prize, good news from Harry Miller.”

    I’d have thought it was a rather larger prize than that! I’ve been reading the judgement.

    https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/miller-v-college-of-police-judgment.pdf

  • Gene

    Re the Harry Miller episode, could I have an explanation from someone? I was under the impression that these non-crime hate incidents in Britain had been frequently investigated for some time now. Surely this isn’t the first time a court has actually ruled on this, is it?

    And is this ruling from a court high enough to essentially end the practice?

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Re the Harry Miller episode, could I have an explanation from someone? I was under the impression that these non-crime hate incidents in Britain had been frequently investigated for some time now.”

    Non-crimes are routinely investigated. That’s the police’s job. You have to investigate to find out if a crime was committed. If the answer turns out to be “No”, then by definition a non-crime was investigated.

    If guilt was predetermined before the investigation even started, that would be worrying.

    However, this case isn’t about a criminal investigation or sanction. The tweets in question were immediately recognised as not a crime. The police record reports on non-crime incidents reported to them to gather general ‘intelligence’ on community tensions that might lead to crime and to help them understand the background to incidents that might later occur, as part of their general crime prevention role, and to gather statistics. They’re not supposed to take any enforcement action on the basis of it. The problem in this case was that the police did.

    “And is this ruling from a court high enough to essentially end the practice?”

    Which practice are you talking about? The ruling determined that recording non-crime incidents was perfectly legal and a legally authorised part of the police’s job. However, it was *not* legal for a copper to go round and tell him to stop doing it, or threaten prosecution if he continued.

    I have no doubt the police will learn lessons, and change their training accordingly. So in that sense, yes, it ought to end that particular practice.

  • bobby b

    Nullius in Verba
    February 14, 2020 at 4:21 pm

    “I’d have thought it was a rather larger prize than that!”

    Any judge who opens his opinion by quoting Animal Farm is okay in my book.

  • The wise & incorruptible state can be trusted to decide what people are allowed to watch, read & listen to, no way would they abuse such capabilities once they are in place

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

    I like to think (and
    the sooner the better!)
    of a cybernetic meadow
    where mammals and computers
    live together in mutually
    programming harmony
    like pure water
    touching clear sky.

    I like to think
    (right now, please!)
    of a cybernetic forest
    filled with pines and electronics
    where deer stroll peacefully
    past computers
    as if they were flowers
    with spinning blossoms.

    I like to think
    (it has to be!)
    of a cybernetic ecology
    where we are free of our labors
    and joined back to nature,
    returned to our mammal
    brothers and sisters,
    and all watched over
    by machines of loving grace.

    Richard Brautigan

  • llamas

    NiV wrote:

    ‘Non-crimes are routinely investigated. That’s the police’s job. You have to investigate to find out if a crime was committed. If the answer turns out to be “No”, then by definition a non-crime was investigated.’

    and in a literal sense, of course, he’s right. (I assume NiV is a he, no doubt I will now be visited at work by Humberside police investigating the non-crime of ‘misgendering’.)

    But what NiV overlooks is the extent to which the ‘investigation’ of a non-crime has now become in itself a non-judicial punishment for the commission of a non-crime.

    In a sane and reasonable world, the investigation of this incident would have gone like this:

    1. Report of bad words on Twitter.
    2. Policeman reads bad words on Twitter.
    3. Policeman finds no credible threat to life and limb.
    4. Case Closed.

    Instead, we have the Orwellian/Kafkaesque consequence of showing up at a person’s place of work, a move deliberately designed to create the maximum amount of suspicion and negative consequences for the person. There is simply no law-enforcement purpose for having done this, except to advertize to as many people as possible that the person was wanted by the police.

    And then to lecture the person in the most sinister way possible about how they were not committing any crime, but that the officer obviously felt that it should be a crime (‘I’ve been on a course!’) and trying to persuade them to stop committing this non-crime because committing this non-crime again would still not be a crime but the officer thinks it should be.

    As to whether this action will end this practice – no, of course it won’t. Not in any practical sense. The deckchairs will be re-arranged a bit. The forms that contained unfortunate and incorrect terms will be altered. But the police and the criminal justice system have 100 ways to coitus up your life for any reason or no reason, if somebody in power wants it done. The political will is clear – people must be punished for badthink. And the UK police are now so entirely in thrall to their political masters that ways will be found to continue to harass and intimidate those who express politically-unpopular opinions.

    The only way that practices like this would be curbed is if there were real and immediate consequences for the people that set these policies and carried them out. But you’ll note that there have not. It’s the usual Sir-Humphrey formula – Changes will be Made, Lessons will be Learned – which assures the discriminating listener that the real message is ‘we’re going to keep doing this, just in an ever-so-slightly different way.’

    Free speech. What a lovely concept. I hope you get to enjoy it, one day.

    llater,

    llamas

  • Nullius in Verba

    “In a sane and reasonable world, the investigation of this incident would have gone like this:”

    Yes, of course. That’s what I said. That’s what the judge said, too.

  • The only way that practices like this would be curbed is if there were real and immediate consequences for the people that set these policies and carried them out. But you’ll note that there have not.

    Sure, but in the absence of that the best way to achieve it is to defund the police or at the very least freeze their budget until they see the benefits of doing real policing (like arresting the arab diversity causing people to spontaneously bleed to death, for no reason at all, on the streets of East London).

  • Nullius in Verba

    “but in the absence of that the best way to achieve it is to defund the police or at the very least freeze their budget until they see the benefits of doing real policing”

    That’s not how bureaucracies work. When funds are tight, they first drop the most difficult, dangerous, expensive, and popular parts of the operation. If they only dropped the stuff you didn’t want, what incentive would you have to increase their funding?

  • Unlike Nullius in Verba (February 14, 2020 at 7:00 pm), I have some doubt, not “no doubt”, about how much and how fast the police will learn lessons – and I have these doubts partly for reasons like the one stated by Nullius in Verba (February 15, 2020 at 1:59 pm).

    1) Communist enforcers, comparing the Russian Civil War with the late 1920s situation, occasionally remarked how much easier to arrest state-designated ‘politicals’ in the 1920s than smaller numbers of either guilty criminals or of the political opponents of a few years earlier. Both criminals and political opponents (the latter especially in time of civil war) expect trouble and know ahead of time that fight-or-flight may be needed. Finding them and detaining them is work. By contrast, those who think it will be all right because they have done nothing wrong often cooperate with the investigation, realising their mistake only when they are under lock and key. Orwell, when on the run in Spain immediately after returning from the front, details how hard a time his wife had explaining to him that his “Englishman’s” feeling that they couldn’t arrest him because he’d done nothing wrong was dangerous.

    2) A group whose crime is to make a remark may average fewer doughty fighters than one that perpetrates actual crimes, or pursues violent political activity.

    Therefore some of today’s police have not only to ‘learn lessons’ but to re-acquire a taste for unsocial hours, seedy locales and dangerous confrontations that those who specialise in investigating ‘hate’-speech crimes can avoid. In asking why some policeman spent his time visiting the tweeter and lecturing him, we should consider the policeman’s devotion to the vile narrative of wokery – but we should also ask, what other duty would the policeman have had to be doing if that one had not offered?

    The judgement is good news. Removing the law that served as an excuse for the rebuked behaviour would be better. Meanwhile, let’s see if lessons are learned.

  • Paul Marks

    What the elected government fails to understand is the nature of the unelected government.

    The Home Secretary has been told by Civil Servants and others “censorship is needed – otherwise we will have snuff videos and….” THERE ARE ALREADY LAWS AGAINST SUCH THINGS.

    What “Ofcom” will do is censor political and cultural dissent – the Home Secretary will not be told that, because it is her own supporters that leftist organisations such as “Ofcom” wish to censor – as Niall has already pointed out.

    I have said before that Prime Minister Johnson has pro freedom instincts – not on government spending, but on things such as censorship.

    Sadly the unelected government of officials and quangos is busy undermining his anti censorship instincts.

    Remember only one country in the world has any real Freedom of Speech protection (without “small print” about “under law” or other stuff that make the protection of Freedom of Speech meaningless) and that is the United States.

    And a few justices of the Supreme Court appointed by a Democrat President (all the Democrats HATE Freedom of Speech) will de facto end the First Amendment.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Therefore some of today’s police have not only to ‘learn lessons’ but to re-acquire a taste for unsocial hours, seedy locales and dangerous confrontations that those who specialise in investigating ‘hate’-speech crimes can avoid.”

    A quote from the judgement:

    “Just had son on from Oxford. The anti-Jenni Murray crowd were out baying, screaming and spitting at students who went to see Steve Bannon, and barricaded their way, not just to the meeting, but when they attempted to retreat to their rooms.Twats.”

    Sounds like a seedy locale and dangerous confrontation…! And there’s plenty worse goes on.

    Specialists in hate-speech crimes are more likely to be dealing with marches and “lads’ nights out” by the National Front and their ilk (most hate-crime is racist rather than anti-trans), violent attacks by drunks late at night, people getting hassled, threatened, or beaten up on buses and in bars and nightclubs. And for the more political stuff, by people trying to organise talks and protests, holding running battles with violent counter-protestors.

    The trans-activists hate the feminists, and the feminists hate the trans-activists, and activists generally tend to be obsessives with no sense of proportion. I expect the coppers think the whole argument is bloody stupid, a waste of their time, and that they’d prefer it if everyone on both sides stopped picking fights and stirring up trouble. A policeman’s idea of happiness is to be sat quietly in the patrol car with a coffee and a bag of doughnuts and nothing to do. Not trying to make peace between two sets of wankers fighting about some obscure issue nobody else understands or cares about.

    But they know very well that if a politically-connected member of the public Makes An Official Complaint and the police do nothing about it, there will be trouble. And probably lots of paperwork, and enquiries from the bosses, and a black mark when it comes round to promotion and payrise time. So they resort to the bureaucrat’s defence of ‘Only Following Procedure, Guv’. Fill in the forms. Have a quiet word. Job done.

    And I’m sure it was with a sinking feeling that they found out that the ‘quiet word’ had led instead to another complaint from the also-politically-connected fellow on the other side, and the entire circus of judicial enquiries and High Court Judges and super-super-senior people in the police force saying “Who is this police constable Gul, anyway?” Like bugs found under flat rocks, bureaucrats hate that sort of spotlight.

    The police will do whatever avoids trouble. As you say, the process is the punishment, and that goes for the police as much as it does for the public. It doesn’t matter if there’s no official punishment (and frankly, I wouldn’t want to bet on it – the police have internal disciplinary procedures outside the courts, and a chain of superiors who are about to be told to ‘do something’ about this publicly embarrassing and politically damaging incident), because they’ve just been dragged through the courts, and the media circus, and no doubt all sorts of internal investigations gathering the evidence for their defence that are probably not designed to make the cause of all this trouble comfortable. No, coppers everywhere will be watching, and taking the lesson to heart.

    The result, of course, will be that when you make a complaint to the police about being stalked by some unstable internet obsessive offended by your views, they’ll (rightly) shrug and say ‘not a crime’. That’s less work for them, and now they’ve got a judicial enquiry judgement to back them up.

    “The judgement is good news. Removing the law that served as an excuse for the rebuked behaviour would be better.”

    As the judgement itself explains, there’s nothing wrong with that part of the law. It’s supposed to be a background-information-only sort of thing. When you’ve got furious disputes going on in the community that can lead to actual fighting (as at the Steve Bannon meeting mentioned above), it’s useful to know who’s who in the argument, and what the hell everyone in it is talking about. If you remember, they were compiling a list of Extinction Rebellion supporters on their list of extremists, until they got told off for it – same sort of thing. The problem is with the common mis-understandings of it.

  • TomJ

    While it is entirely proper for the police to investigate whether a crime has been committed or not when there are reasonable grounds to believe one may have bee (which will inevitably lead to the investigation of non-crimes), this is different from investigating incidents where they havve no reason to believe a crime has been committed, which is the implication of operating under guidelines for the investigation of “Non-Crime Hate Incidents”. To conflate the two is, to my mind, somewhat disingenuous.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “this is different from investigating incidents where they havve no reason to believe a crime has been committed”

    So are you saying they should investigate *no* crimes, since until they have investigated, they have no reason yet to believe a crime has taken place?

    The problem wasn’t the *investigation*, which was over before anyone outside the police even knew about it. The problem was the attempt at *education*, where the police went round and told Mr Miller to stop causing trouble.

    Do you likewise consider it somewhat disingenuous to conflate ‘investigation’ with ‘education’?

    Picture this. A Birminghan City football fan goes up to a bunch of Millwall fans and starts talking about how Millwall are rubbish and a bunch of losers. The Millwall fans appeal to the copper stood there watching them, asking if they have to put up with that. The copper finds out what was said, and determines that yes, they do have to put up with that because it’s free speech and not a crime. But he also has a word with the Birmingham City fan and warns him that if he does it again and it starts a punch-up, he could be charged with a Breach of the Peace.

    Having a word with the Birmingham City fan was not part of the ‘investigation’. It was an attempt to carry out the police’s role of maintaining/promoting public order and ‘community cohesion’ and avoiding fighting in the streets. But it has the effect of deterring the Birmingham City fan’s right to free speech, by effectively threatening police action against him if he ever criticises Millwall football club in public again. The copper, I’m sure, wouldn’t see it that way, but that’s what it is.

    Community education is fine, but you have to be very clear about what you’re doing. It’s not an investigation. There’s no punishment. There’s no official sanction. It doesn’t say the speech used was illegal. It doesn’t make further speech on the topic illegal. It’s just supposed to be friendly advice intended to avoid future trouble before it starts. But it wasn’t worded that way, and it didn’t come across that way, and it was way over the top for what was actually said, and that caused trouble.

    People should have free speech, even if that offends. The judge confirmed that they do, and the speech concerned was not a crime under the current law (and was probably not even a hate incident, in this case), and the police response to it was over-the-top. Which is good. But he also judged that the law was legal, that the police can and should record non-crime hate incidents as they see fit, and that this is no threat to free speech.

  • NickM

    From the website of West Yorkshire Police

    What is a Hate Incident?

    A Hate Incident is any non-crime incident which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity or perceived disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.

    The bold is mine. It ain’t just “thought crime” – it’s now “non-crime”.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “The bold is mine. It ain’t just “thought crime” – it’s now “non-crime”.”

    Surely you meant “It ain’t just “thought non-crime””? 🙂

    That’s the definition straight out of the College of Policing’s ‘Hate Crime Operational Guidance’, discussed in paragraphs 101-114 of the judgement. The bit you quote is in para 107. It’s legality is discussed primarily in paras 152-185, with further technicalities covered subsequently, up to para 237.

    Note that in para 114 they say the guidance is in the process of being revised, including a lot more detail on the issues in this case. The “thought police” issue is mentioned in para 112. Para 154 makes clear that it’s not a crime, and involves no sanction against the one complained about.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>