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The Royal Opera House did not perform as expected, and nor did a woman surrounded by a mob

Sometimes I start to make a Samizdata post and then that silly business of Real Life gets in the way and the post is left to languish as a draft. And sometimes Real Life comes back months later and tells me I was right the first time: there was a story there worth talking about.

That is how I come to be posting about a Times report dating from early June on August 27th.

On June 10th 2020, the Times reported:

Royal Opera House under fire for ‘silence’ on Black Lives Matter protests

The Royal Opera House has been described as an “unrelentingly white organisation” by a senior employee who said he was “ashamed” of its silence over the death of George Floyd.

Mark Dakin, the organisation’s technical director, said it had paid “lip service to the inclusion and progression of a black and minority ethnic workforce”.

In an email which has been posted on the Royal Opera House intranet Mr Dakin said he had “only an exhausting, burning rage and desolate sadness that still nothing has changed . . . you continue to exclude us”.

He said that during the Black Lives Matter protests over the killing of Mr Floyd the Royal Opera House was “silent and chooses to not even show public solidarity”.

Mr Dakin, who joined in 2016 to run Covent Garden’s technical and production department after 20 years with the National Theatre, said that unlike other organisations the Royal Opera House had not sufficiently supported #blackouttuesday on June 2.

Mr Dakin, who grew up as an adopted child in Bristol with a white family, also claimed that the Royal Opera House had continually declined to publicly support Black History Month.

In an open letter posted on the website of Stage Sight Mr Dakin said he was “ashamed the organisation for which I work has chosen to exercise the privilege of staying publicly silent about the racist murder of the African American George Floyd, proactively choosing to ignore #blackouttuesday, as it always publicly ignores Black History Month.”

Mr Dakin’s “burning rage” at the Royal Opera House for the horrible crime of not participating in his favoured hashtag campaigns that were utterly unrelated to opera seemed almost comical in June. Less so in August.

America’s Woke Red Guards Enforcing Goodthink by Harassing D.C. Restaurants Patrons

That was from PJ Media. A little to my surprise even the Independent seemed to have cottoned on to the idea that a mob surrounding a random woman and berating her for not making a gesture of solidarity at their demand might be a bad look. Interestingly the woman in the pink top, Lauren B. Victor, is herself a supporter of BLM but was commendably resistant to being coerced.

Edit: The story about the harassment of the diners has been reported worldwide.

Une foule agressive de manifestants BLM accostent des convives blancs à l’extérieur des restaurants de DC

Los huéspedes del restaurante estaban rodeados de manifestantes enojados de Black Lives Matter: “Un regalo para Trump”

„Heb deine Faust!“ – US-Aktivisten bedrängen Restaurantbesucherin

At the time of writing neither the BBC nor the Guardian had any mention of it.

Another edit: The Guardian is not merely declining to mention the Lauren Victor story, it is actively deleting mention of it by readers in comments to this opinion piece on the US election by Nathan Robinson. I assure you that my own two comments were polite and relevant but they were instantly deleted. I think I saw a couple of comments from other readers mentioning unsavoury behaviour by BLM supporters that, like my two, have now disappeared.

74 comments to The Royal Opera House did not perform as expected, and nor did a woman surrounded by a mob

  • As an American, I warn you (the yous who think we give a shit about the Royal Anything) — stay the fuck out of our domestic politics, or you will be the worse for getting in the middle.

  • At the time of writing neither the BBC nor the Guardian had any mention of it.

    I’m kinda guessing that the picture of the female diner being intimidated by the Antifa/BLM terrorists will be one of those images that becomes a defining illustration of 2020. The fact that neither the BBC nor the Grauniad are highlighting the issue illustrates how captured they are by the bogus Antifa/BLM narrative, how invested they are in its continuance and that they recognise that such images threaten and undermine it.

    The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the apparent victim of the intimidation was a supporter of Antifa/BLM, so hard to undermine as “Just some racist Karen who was blind to her white privilege”. So yes, all things told it is a big problem for them.

    It is because of the left’s enabling of Antifa/BLM (especially in places like Portland), that they have gotten out of hand. If they had felt the justified wrath of the police in such places then the rioting, arson and looting would have been ended the day it began, but leftist “Useful Idiots” felt that it would play to their own agenda without realising that it was something that they could not control.

    As an American, I warn you (the yous who think we give a shit about the Royal Anything) — stay the fuck out of our domestic politics, or you will be the worse for getting in the middle.

    Sure, there is a point at which you can say “Don’t interfere in the internal affairs of my country”, but when your racist bullshit leftwing madness starts getting exported to the UK where it is a meaningless irrelevance then it does become our problem. It will only stop here when it is stopped at source. So maybe you should put your own house in order rather than bitching about the Brits interfering.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Phelps, we will write about what the hell we want, thanks. This is an international site.

  • APL

    Mark Dakin: “only an exhausting, burning rage and desolate sadness that still nothing has changed . . . you continue to exclude us”.

    1. Astonishing lack of self awareness.
    2. From the extremely well remunerated belly of the beast.
    3. Mr Dekin an adopted orphan, the Stage claims he has Asian ‘lineage’, but I rather think a little Latina clambered over the fence.

    Phelps: “stay the fuck out of our domestic politics, or you will be the worse for getting in the middle.”

    Sooner or later, Americans are going to notice that Christopher Steel has happily been in the thick of those individuals attempting to subvert the President of the United States. Steel is usually introduced by CNN or CNBC as a former British spy, but I assert you don’t retire from spying. Then there was that fellow Stephan Halper, right smack in the middle of Oxford. I suppose if I were being contentious, I might invite the Americans to get their CIA agents out of our intelligence services. But that’d just be argumentative.

  • Rob

    “stay the fuck out of our domestic politics, or you will be the worse for getting in the middle.”

    If only, I’d like nothing better. Unfortunately we have a media class which is utterly obsessed with America, and a political and academic class which delights in selecting the worst possible parts of US domestic politics to joyfully inflict upon their own captive, lumpen electorate.

  • TomJ

    1. As has been pointed out by various tweeps and highlighted here, the mobbing and shouting in the face of people refusing to toe the line is the meatspace manifestation of cyberspace behaviour. Neither is a Good Thing and anyone taking part is, in my opinion, unlikely to be a a Good Man. It goes without saying that a ruler who goes along with it is neither a Good Thing nor a Good King.

    2. BLM and Antifa seem to me to be part and parcel of a larger movement which includes Extinction Rebellion and which evolved from the Occupy movement. All share the same certainty that society needs to be torn down, even if the ostensible reason for that destruction varies. And I can’t help thinking there is a corps of core organisers who graduated from Occupy who are pumping out the same tactics with slightly different messages to different groups useful idiots who can’t seem beyond the headline message (black lives mattering, fascism is a bad thing, protecting the environment is wise) or evaluate whether the claims being made to justify the protests actually stack up to see the core demands of end the social and economic system that has evolved and made the West the least bad place to live in human history to date. These useful idiots form the mass of protests, lending legitimacy to the radical core; the sabot that helps deliver the projectile if you will. It feels a bit conspiracy theoristy to even think that, but it seems to fit the facts.

  • Mr Ed

    Striking that he hasn’t noticed Monostatos who must at some point have been right under his nose. This was apparently Justin Trudeau’s first go as an opera singer. Although on a proper reading of the libretto, he is saying that he is a person like anyone else ‘Bin ich nicht von Fleisch und Blut?‘.

  • I would find such a confrontation… Interesting 😈🌩️☠️💪🏻👊🏻

  • llamas

    Rob wrote:

    ‘Unfortunately we have a media class which is utterly obsessed with America, and a political and academic class which delights in selecting the worst possible parts of US domestic politics to joyfully inflict upon their own captive, lumpen electorate.’

    which I now nominate for SQOTD.

    llater,

    llamas

  • Sigivald

    The Royal Opera House has been described as an “unrelentingly white organisation” by a senior employee who said he was “ashamed” of its silence over the death of George Floyd.

    I never would have considered that a British opera company would have any obligation to “speak” about a local policing matter on the other side of the world in another country.

    (I’m an American, and I have this crazy idea that subsidiarity is important, and protests on the other side of the United States because of local policing failures and culture even in the same country are utterly pointless stupidity.

    But I also paid attention to civics class.)

  • Phelps
    August 28, 2020 at 1:19 am

    As an American, I warn you (the yous who think we give a shit about the Royal Anything) — stay the fuck out of our domestic politics, or you will be the worse for getting in the middle.

    I’m an American, and I wish I could stay the fuck out of our domestic politics.

  • John

    My impression on reading Phelps’ comment was that he was offering a not-unfriendly warning rather than a veiled threat.

    Anyway most people already know that attempts to interfere in other countries domestic politics rarely go well as President “back of the line” discovered. Yet there is usually little establishment backlash on either side of the pond unless orange man can be tied in.

  • APL

    Ellen: “I’m an American, and I wish I could stay the fuck out of our domestic politics.”

    Unfortunately, for the rest of us. You have at least one party that insists on prosecuting its domestic interests at the international level. Please can you and Phelps do something about that?

  • bobby b

    “Unfortunately, for the rest of us. You have at least one party that insists on prosecuting its domestic interests at the international level. Please can you and Phelps do something about that?”

    Sadly, a narrative knows no borders. I’d bet that it’s only the narrative that has come from us, and that it’s being prosecuted by your own. Because it works for their purposes just as it works for our killers’ purposes.

  • The Jannie

    Mr Dakin could usefully start his letter with “I resign from my position at this Racist Opera Hellhole”.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Ellen writes, “I’m an American, and I wish I could stay the fuck out of our domestic politics.”

    I think that is why this little incident has struck a nerve. They won’t let you stay out.

    Rioting is bad but it has been seen before. In the UK and the US we get riots every decade or so. But there seems something new in the air now. Think how strange it would have seemed a couple of years ago to read a furious denunciation of the Royal Opera House, not for doing anything, but for not issuing a statement of support for an American political movement. And sensible people would have accused me of paranoia if I had said that we would see incidents like the one with Lauren Victor.

  • DP

    Dear Miss Solent

    Meanwhile in other news:

    https://www.bl.uk/press-releases/2020/july/british-library-commits-to-becoming-an-anti-racist-organisation

    Chief Librarian Ms Jolly has an interesting verdict on matters judicial in foreign countries.

    The Bristish Library has a very specific interpretation of ‘anti-racism’. See also the masthead on their home page.

    In next week’s news: The British Library burns Nineteen Eightyfour to inaugurate Project Fahrenheit 451.

    DP

  • Fraser Orr

    I’m interested for those of you with a legal background, is it a crime for a group of people to get up in your face, start yelling and screaming obscenities and insults at you? I imagine that the restaurant owner asked them to leave so it is probably trespass, and if they had said anything that would make a reasonable person think they were in imminent harm of battery it would be assault. But if it was just vile screaming up in someone’s face with permission (or more likely submission) from the owner, surrounding the person making it very hard to leave, is there an actual crime being committed?

  • bobby b

    Varies by state. Here in Minnesota, Minnesota Statutes Sec. 609.02 defines “assault” as “1) an act done with intent to cause fear in another of immediate bodily harm or death; or. (2) the intentional infliction of or attempt to inflict bodily harm upon another.”

    So, if they were looking to cause fear of immediate bodily harm for the patrons, it was assault.

    And then there’s this:

    “609.72 DISORDERLY CONDUCT.
    Subdivision 1.Crime.

    Whoever does any of the following in a public or private place, including on a school bus, knowing, or having reasonable grounds to know that it will, or will tend to, alarm, anger or disturb others or provoke an assault or breach of the peace, is guilty of disorderly conduct, which is a misdemeanor:

    (1) engages in brawling or fighting; or

    (2) disturbs an assembly or meeting, not unlawful in its character; or

    (3) engages in offensive, obscene, abusive, boisterous, or noisy conduct or in offensive, obscene, or abusive language tending reasonably to arouse alarm, anger, or resentment in others.”

  • I think that is why this little incident has struck a nerve. They won’t let you stay out.

    Well Natalie, “Silence = Violence” as the Marxists of Antifa/BLM would say.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I’m interested for those of you with a legal background, is it a crime for a group of people to get up in your face, start yelling and screaming obscenities and insults at you?”

    Is it free speech?

  • Is it free speech?

    No. Quite the opposite. It is “Compelled Speech” as Jordan Peterson pointed out in his opposition to enforced pronouns. Same applies here. People are being compelled to make expressions of support for Black Lives Matter in situations which are subject to intimidation.

    No different than forcing people to give the Nazi salute or weep hysterically at pictures of the Kim Dynasty.

  • bobby b

    So long as the prohibition on screaming threateningly in the face of a diner is content-neutral, it is not a free speech issue.

  • APL
    August 28, 2020 at 6:04 pm

    Ellen: “I’m an American, and I wish I could stay the fuck out of our domestic politics.”

    Unfortunately, for the rest of us. You have at least one party that insists on prosecuting its domestic interests at the international level. Please can you and Phelps do something about that?

    You do realize that you have not specified what party is doing the insisting? It could make life very uncomfortable if I assume the wrong party, and speak about it.

    So all I’ll say is that the Democrat party is bugshit insane, and I pray not a one of them gets into office. They’ve been giving support and comfort to the rioters all summer, and blaming Trump for it. Now that they realize the riots are not playing well with the electorate, the ones that are only bugshit insane are trying to backpedal, while the ones that are doubly-bugshit are telling us we deserve it, and the riots won’t stop until they get everything they want. But I don’t think they all agree on what they want.

  • But I don’t think they all agree on what they want.

    They want “Fried Ice” is what they want

    …and Whitey has to pay the bill for everything while the rioters run screaming and intimidating through the streets, NOT ONLY unimpeded by the police, but actually enabled by them (albeit mostly in Democrat run shitholes like Portland).

    Anyone who thinks Sleepy Joe Biden is gonna get elected in this climate is literally certifiably insane. It’s like a rerun of 1968. That wasn’t a big win for the Democrats that time either.

  • bobby b

    “…and Whitey has to pay the bill for everything while the rioters run screaming and intimidating through the streets, NOT ONLY unimpeded by the police, but actually enabled by them (albeit mostly in Democrat run shitholes like Portland).”

    One thing we ought to be careful of here:

    I’ve watched the Minneapolis riots close up. I watched the Kenosha attacks on vid. I’ve seen many many scenes from Portland and similar places.

    Who’s mostly doing the attacking and burning and window-smashing?

    Whitey.

    Sure it’s the blacks doing the looting once the storefronts are opened – poor people loot, and blacks are over-represented in that group – but these are mainly white riots.

    In the new Minneapolis riots, someone grabbed a bunch of people running around and trashing and screaming and asked them “didn’t you hear that the dead black guy actually killed himself? That it wasn’t the cops that killed him?”

    Their responses made it clear that they knew nothing about any dead guy. They heard there was rioting, and they jumped in their cars and came down. And they were mostly white.

    They’re ultra-progressives trying to bring down the system, and pure shi#heads looking to party. This is not a racial thing anymore. We don’t force them to endure any consequences of this supposed “race rioting” because we’re so scared of being called racist, but when we do jail some, the booking photos are white. When someone finally shoots back like in Kenosha, it’s not blacks getting shot – because it’s not blacks doing the damage.

  • They’re ultra-progressives trying to bring down the system, and pure shi#heads looking to party.

    You misspelled “Marxist scum”.

    As for Whitey, I was referring to the taxpayers who are net payers of government taxes, rather than recipients of government largess. They are the ones who will get the bill for the rioting, the cleanup and the generally scandalous disregard of the police about the activities of the rioters.

    Yes, the rioters are overwhelmingly white, but then again, so are most of the attendees of the indoctrination centres they attend (laughably called “College”). This will continue until the “Long March Through The Institutions” is brought to an end. If this is achieved through obsolescence and bankruptcy, then I’m fine with that, but some of those endowment funds will take a long ass time to burn through.

    I blame the nest of Marxists that calls itself a faculty rather than the hard of thinking scum they have produced. Both need to be purged though. One way or another.

  • Eric

    Their responses made it clear that they knew nothing about any dead guy. They heard there was rioting, and they jumped in their cars and came down. And they were mostly white.

    That’s my impression as well. There’s a certain type of person who gets enjoyment from smashing windows and burning things. They’ll travel to wherever the rioting is and join in, regardless of the cause.

  • neonsnake

    Is it free speech?

    It’s not a free speech issue, here.

    It’s not the content of the speech that was the issue – it’s the intimidation and implied threat brought about the volume of the chanting, the size of the supporting crowd, the cameras etc.

    You might contend that it’s all free speech, all the way up until the point someone grabbed the woman’s arm and forced it into the salute position – I contend otherwise.

    (Dunno about legality, as such, but if someone had smacked the little shit who kept getting in her face and tapping his bicep, I’d not have felt morally outraged. I can understand why no-one did, given the size and apparent temperament of the crowd)

  • APL

    bobby b: “Who’s mostly doing the attacking and burning and window-smashing?

    Whitey.”

    Joseph Rosenbaum, convicted pedophile. Served 12.5 years for sexual contact with a minor.
    Gaige Grosskreutz, a convicted burglar who was illegally carrying a gun.
    Anthony Huber, convicted domestic abuser. Convicted of multiple domestic abuse counts, ADW, battery, false imprisonment, and “strangulation and suffocation”
    .

    Well, yo’ don’t have to worry about two of ’em any more.

    Looks to me as if the rioters are fresh out of prison. That seems to be somewhat of a coincidence. Didn’t Democratic governors just release their prison population, ‘coz COVID-19?

    Back in the day, I proposed that COVID-19, the whole shebang, was an attempt to oust Trump by the ‘deep state’ which is, these days an international operation. Steele, Halper et al.

    Somebody on Samizdata refuted that assertion, no prize for guessing who. But I still haven’t seen anything to contradict the suspicion.

    The timings of the riots, the tacit support of the rioting by the Democrat establishment, the timing of the economic damage, the blowing of COVID-19 out of all proportion – including shipping elderly vulnerable folk into places where they would be guaranteed to catch COVID-19 thus inflating the death statistics, and dragging out the Winter flu to last the whole year prior to the US presidential election.

    Just a train of random unconnected coincidences.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “It’s not a free speech issue, here.

    It’s not the content of the speech that was the issue – it’s the intimidation and implied threat brought about the volume of the chanting, the size of the supporting crowd, the cameras etc.

    You might contend that it’s all free speech, all the way up until the point someone grabbed the woman’s arm and forced it into the salute position – I contend otherwise.”

    Free speech is legally protected in the US, and that includes the right to protest. ‘Implied threat’ can depend on how you look at it – is that from the point of view of the protestor, who claims they never intended any threat of violence, or the point of view of the victim, who claims they perceived one? Is ‘intimidation’ in the mind of the giver, or the receiver, or is there an objective definition? Are cameras a threat? Does having a big crowd constitute a threat? Is being loud a threat?

    How, then, can anyone hold a protest?

    Legally, it’s all free speech up to the point where someone says “salute or we’ll hit you”. Or they hit you. Or the story gets around that when the crowd forms like that, they’re definitely about to hit you. From the couple of videos I’ve seen, it doesn’t look to me like the crowd have any intention of getting violent, and from the way the woman just sits there and argues with the crowd, instead of trying to escape into the restaurant, I don’t think she anticipated violence, either. The pressure to comply was all psychological.

    In fact, I got the strong impression that the crowd were very self-controlled, and were executing a planned and practiced tactic in which they knew very well where the legal red lines were, and were trying to psychologically intimidate people into compliance without crossing over into illegality. It was a bluff, and it got called. This time, at least.

    Morally, of course, this is another side in the ‘hate speech’ debate. I’ve had the same debate regarding the intimidation felt by some trans person surrounded by a hostile crowd, getting verbally bullied. Some people have had to put up with that feeling of psychological pressure and intimidation on a regular basis for years. Plenty commit suicide over it. But until they brought in ‘hate speech’ laws, that was just free speech. I sympathise deeply with all the victims of such norm-enforcing verbal bullying, but it’s a difficult issue. “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.” Where, as a matter of principle, do you draw the line?

    Like other tyrannies, the tyranny of the majority was at first, and is still vulgarly, held in dread, chiefly as operating through the acts of the public authorities. But reflecting persons perceived that when society is itself the tyrant – society collectively, over the separate individuals who compose it – its means of tyrannizing are not restricted to the acts which it may do by the hands of its political functionaries. Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practises a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough; there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling; against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development, and, if possible, prevent the formation, of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own. There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence; and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs, as protection against political despotism.

    That was written 160 years ago, and it’s still just as true today. Human society imposes its own rules, independently of the law. The particular rules being imposed may have changed, but the methods remain the same.

  • neonsnake

    How, then, can anyone hold a protest?

    I agree with the sentiment behind that – I thought about making a broader statement that “polite” protests are unlikely to work, but decided against it, for the sake of brevity (and some other reasons, harder to articulate).

    Legally, it’s all free speech up to the point where someone says “salute or we’ll hit you”. Or they hit you.

    Legally, maybe it is. I genuinely don’t know, particularly from a US perspective (I confess also to not really knowing whether that’s the kind of thing that varies from state to state).

    From the videos I’ve seen, my sense is that if she had tried to leave, she would have been kettled. But I wasn’t there, so I don’t know.

    As to the differentiation between “they say they’ll hit you” and “they hit you” – there’s one that you’ve alluded to, which is that you *think*, given all the cues, that they’re about to hit you. They don’t tell you first, they just do it.

    Thing is, if you wait for them to swing, it’s often already too late. One punch may well do nothing other than leave a slight bruise; but if they get lucky, it can knock you out. Or bounce your skull off a wall or pavement. One punch can kill, in some very unlucky but not unheard of circumstances.

    Morally, of course, this is another side in the ‘hate speech’ debate.

    I genuinely don’t think it is, at least not in the terms that Fraser originally posited the question.

    It wasn’t what was being said/protested/shouted, it was the manner in which it was done, and how far into someone’s personal space it’s permissible to get (morally) – or the converse, which is how far into my personal space should someone get before it’s permissible for me to say “That’ll do.” and potentially back the words up with force.

    Like the woman in question, remember: I’m supportive of BLM. It’s the method used here that I object to, not whether it’s hate speech or not. I think they’re separate issues.

    Where, as a matter of principle, do you draw the line?

    I don’t think that can be answered with a black & white “at the tip of my nose”, or even “a socially distanced 2m away”.

    In the video in the Telegraph article, there’s a young woman who is constantly leaning forward to an extent that the seated diner is leaning back and away (ie. she’s felt forced to physically change her position – red flag). The young woman is also jabbing her hand and finger threateningly (enormous red flag). At about 40 second, the young man to the right starts leaning in (red flag), and making what could be interpreted to be “come on then” gestures with his left hand. Maybe he’s leaning in to be heard and to give his point in a very calm and rational manner? Maybe, maybe not. But the diner is leaning away.

    Context matters. There’s a whole bunch of stuff in the video that’s setting off red flags for me in terms of “imminent violence”.

    Frankly, I’ve nothing but 100% admiration for the woman for being calm in the face of it.

  • I’m reminded of the incident in Christabel Bielenberg’s autobiography ‘The Past Is Myself’. She and husband Peter were in a German tavern in late 1933 when six brownshirts entered – and then noticed that three Jews were sitting quietly at one of the tables. Without (IIRC) immediately approaching them, the brownshirts begin making remarks and focussing on the Jews, whereupon Peter instantly stood up – as did his loyal wife, but she tells us her thoughts:

    Six burly SA men. Three not very athletic-looking Jews, Peter and me – and my state of mind would not have won the Victoria Cross.

    The obvious intention of the very Aryan-looking Peter and Christabel to stand with the Jews if required delayed (she believes) any advance of the SA men beyond verbal aggression. The three Jews were eager to leave the scene and soon did. As she sat down again, Christabel reflected on the fact that no-one else in the establishment had shown the slightest sign of doing anything.

    I realised then that something nasty had come to town.

    (All quotes from memory.)

    There’s a whole bunch of stuff in the video that’s setting off red flags for me in terms of “imminent violence”. (neonsnake, August 29, 2020 at 12:26 pm)

    Likewise to Peter and Christabel, who could of course instead have sat and pretended to themselves that their inaction was their respect for the brownshirts’ right to free speech.

    We should notice when something nasty comes to town – lest something nastier then come to stay with it. As I quoted here recently,

    It is impossible to understand the politics of the Left without grasping that it is all about deniable intimidation.

    As the article at my link describes, it’s about intimidating the not-woke-enough left as much or more than the right, as the SA men in that Tavern were concerned to ‘educate’ the other Germans there as much or more than the three Jews. The woman who resisted in the OP video was ‘having her consciousness raised’ but so, far more, were the other ‘compliant’ diners who, in Washington DC, were surely already disproportionately PC.

  • JohnK

    If the Royal Opera were to feel the need to comment on recent events in the USA, I think they should confine themselves to pointing out that:

    i) Fentanyl is a very dangerous drug, and anyone who overdoses on it is very likely to die;

    ii) When instructed to stop by armed police officers, it is a good idea to comply with their order, rather than walking away and reaching into your car for the knife you keep in there.

    This is good advice and if followed, will help to avoid any future unfortunate misunderstandings.

    Still nothing to do with the work of an opera house, mind you.

  • neonsnake

    Christabel reflected on the fact that no-one else in the establishment had shown the slightest sign of doing anything.

    I have stayed sitting in situations where the moral thing would have been to stand up. Obviously, in my later recriminations of my cowardice, the sheer sight of me standing up would have defused the whole situation. Or, it would have encouraged everyone else to stand up. And if push came to shove, the whole thing would have ended with me standing on the far side of a pile of bruised and groaning bodies, ostentatiously not looking back at them, in some kind of back-lit pose. Some of the action would have potentially been in slow-motion.

    Equally obviously, the scenarios I imagine are possibly utter nonsense, and I’d have got the crap kicked out of me, or just roundly ignored. You never know. I totally understand why no-one else got involved, as mournful as that might be.

    We should notice when something nasty comes to town – lest something nastier then come to stay with it.

    I read a story a little while ago, I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it before.

    Guy’s sitting in a bar, half-heartedly looking at his phone. Other guy comes in, well-dressed, but a couple of nazi-looking-tattoos on his arm, peeking out of his sleeve. Well-spoken and polite, mind.

    Asks for a drink. Barman immediately refuses, and orders him out the door. Nazi-tattoo objects – “I just want a drink, come on?! I’m not going to start anything!” Barman stands his ground, and throws him out.

    Phone-looker asks what that was about. Surely the bloke, well-spoken after all, wasn’t as bad as his tattoos made him out to be? Maybe just made some bad decisions when he was young? Aren’t you being judgemental?

    Barman explains – “No. The first guy is always well-spoken. Well dressed, respectable. You think, well, it’s just a couple of drinks, for one evening. He keeps himself to himself, spends the night on Facebook or whatever on his phone, quietly drinks his drinks, and causes no trouble. We’ve all made mistakes, right?”

    “Week or so later, one more night. Then, another night, with an equally well-dressed, respectable friend. They’re no trouble, they keep themselves to themselves. They come back a few days later. Still no trouble. A third friend joins them…”

    “And a month later – you’re the local Nazi bar.”

  • neonsnake

    the other ‘compliant’ diners who, in Washington DC, were surely already disproportionately PC.

    What if they weren’t, though?

    Other than the immorality of it – what of the tactical nature of the “action”, (I avoided this previously, but now that someone else has brought it up…)?

    You’ve been handed this one a silver platter. You can easily now go with “there’s no support for BLM that’s not done except through fear and intimidation”.

    Or, charitably: “Sure, a bunch of people that haven’t been able to eat out for months raised their hands with a mild sense of ‘yeah, sure, if you like. Maybe if I raise my hand, you’ll piss off so that me and my partner can continue our long-overdue date night in peace?'”

    Bad tactics. Bad “praxis”, to use the vernacular.

  • Flubber

    “The Royal Opera House has been described as an “unrelentingly white organisation” by a senior employee who said he was “ashamed” of its silence over the death of George Floyd.”

    Why should they care about some scumbag criminal who died from a drug overdose?

  • Dyspeptic Curmudgeon

    APL August 28, 2020 at 7:20 am
    >> Mark Dakin: “only an exhausting, burning rage and desolate sadness that still nothing has changed . . . you continue to exclude us”.

    > 1. Astonishing lack of self awareness.

    You mean MALIGNANT NARCISSISM.

    Read something in the last couple of days which pointed out that the most noticeable psychological disorder manifested by the BLM etc. is narcissism. Narcissism of a particularly malignant and dangerous kind. The DC restaurant event is a prime example: “WE are right and YOU WILL OBEY. It is YOUR FAULT that we have to do this, to make you acknowledge our manifest correctness.”

    And it strikes me that the ENTIRE STRUCTURE of the educational establishment over the last 30-40 years, has been in real effect, to make all of the ‘tabula rasa’ into narcissists. That may not have been the intended result, but if you think about it, ‘participation trophies’, and the constant declamation that ‘you are special’ will validate in the poor little bastards’ mind, the concept that he did not ‘win’ because the ‘others’ falsely prevented him from winning: it was *their* fault. Start doing it at age 5, and no wonder, by age 18 you have a maniac.

  • Flubber

    Read something in the last couple of days which pointed out that the most noticeable psychological disorder manifested by the BLM etc. is narcissism. Narcissism of a particularly malignant and dangerous kind. The DC restaurant event is a prime example: “WE are right and YOU WILL OBEY. It is YOUR FAULT that we have to do this, to make you acknowledge our manifest correctness.”

    Paul Joseph Watson recently noted the overlap between BLM protesters and the dark triad of personality traits.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jQ9x9gFY7A

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Thing is, if you wait for them to swing, it’s often already too late.”

    Thing is, if you swing first before they’ve done anything to merit it, you started it.

    Don’t you think the other guy says the same thing?

    “It wasn’t what was being said/protested/shouted, it was the manner in which it was done, and how far into someone’s personal space it’s permissible to get (morally) – or the converse, which is how far into my personal space should someone get before it’s permissible for me to say “That’ll do.” and potentially back the words up with force.”

    ‘Personal space’? You think you own it?

    My interpretation of ‘personal space’ might be different to yours. Like for example, you’re not allowed within a hundred yards of me. Do I get to be able to say that, and back it up with force? What if I’m stood in your way? Do you have to go the long way around me rather than walk through my ‘personal space’?

    People vary widely in what they consider justification for starting a fight. For some it takes the first punch, or an explicit invitation to fight. For some, being insulting or using offensive language is enough. Or expressing the wrong opinion. Sometimes wearing the wrong football club colours, or gang colours, or walking down the wrong street is sufficient. Gangs have their ‘turf’, their ‘personal space’ over which they have proprietorial rights, and anyone else intrudes there at their peril. Who decides? On what basis?

    If you know the streets belong to Antifa, and you walk there anyway, you started it! Right?

    “As she sat down again, Christabel reflected on the fact that no-one else in the establishment had shown the slightest sign of doing anything.”

    It’s a question we’ve asked here before. Does every libertarian have a duty to stand up for other people’s freedom? Or can we choose to only fight for our own?

    “Obviously, in my later recriminations of my cowardice, the sheer sight of me standing up would have defused the whole situation. Or, it would have encouraged everyone else to stand up. And if push came to shove, the whole thing would have ended with me standing on the far side of a pile of bruised and groaning bodies, ostentatiously not looking back at them, in some kind of back-lit pose. Some of the action would have potentially been in slow-motion.”

    🙂

    Of course. But most people are not fighters. They have no training, no experience, and they’ve spent the last 40 years sat in an office chair eating far too many biscuits with their tea. And even experienced fighters can lose when they’re outnumbered. Even I’ve heard of that one – one guy is on his own out front causing trouble, while twenty of his mates are just round the corner waiting to ‘rescue’ him from your unprovoked attack.

    “And a month later – you’re the local Nazi bar.”

    Or the local gay bar. Or the local Jew bar. Or the local Brexiteer bar. … Substitute your minority.

    I’m sure Antifa are saying things like: if you tolerate one polite white supremacist sat eating dinner outside a restaurant, by next month there will be dozens of them! What categories can society apply such a rule to? And how many of those categories might you belong to?

    “Frankly, I’ve nothing but 100% admiration for the woman for being calm in the face of it.”

    Likewise! My sympathies and support are very much on the side of the diners being harrassed here. As I said, I’ve had the same argument about the way my trans friends get treated, and I’m very much aware of the courage it takes to sit there in the face of it, week after week. I, too, have felt the urge to use violence in their defence. I get very angry about it. But this business of stepping on one another’s norms is generic to living in society, applies to both sides, and we need a universal principle that can be applied from either direction. If we don’t apply the principle even to the people we hate and despise, what argument can we give for why the people who hate and despise us should apply it to us?

    And while I’m no expert on US law, my understanding is that protests are covered by the first amendment, and so long as there were no unambiguous threats of violence, it’s legal. Protests involve making a noisy nuisance of yourself to people who don’t agree with you and don’t want to listen to you. I don’t agree with their cause, I think the protestors’ behaviour here is disgusting, but it’s free speech. The ones who use violence and vandalism, on the other hand, are crossing the line.

    I realise I’m probably alone here on this. But we should stand up for everyone’s rights anyway, right?

  • neonsnake

    Don’t you think the other guy says the same thing?

    Oh, I’m sure he does.

    “All I was doing, y’honour, was wagging my finger aggressively in his face and remarking on the sexual proclivities of his mother. Can’t see any reason why he grabbed my fingers and forced to me to my knees. He started it!”

    Fun fact: despite appearances, the opening segment of pinan nidan (traditionally, but not always, the first kata you learn in Okinawan karate) is about locking up and defusing someone who is waving their fingers in your face (it’s really not about doing some kind of weird downward block on a gut punch from your left 🙄 ), since that’s how a significant proportion of fights actually start.

    Whether someones does or doesn’t “Merit it” is about context, and it’s messy, and it’s not black and white. It’s very difficult to come up with a hard and fast solid rule to apply under all circumstances.

    It’s not easy – and I know you’re not saying that it is – but it really isn’t.

    Do I get to be able to say that, and back it up with force?

    If you like – but, here’s the thing: you won’t. You’re not actually going to.

    99.9% of the time, people don’t. They can be trusted to do so, to act sensibly, and not to be silly. And we’re largely ok with that. We don’t need rules (or rulers) to tell us what the limits are. People work it out for themselves, and don’t take the piss.

    What you might do, if I step into your way, and force you to change direction, or to step aside, is to indicate some displeasure. Anything from a “tut” all the way through a “mate, c’mon” to a shoulder barge – all dependant on your context and mine.

    There is, generally, not a need for those kind of hard and fast rules. And if there were – as you say – who gets to decide them? The law? The LAW (all-caps)? The “I AM the law?” types (I’m not sure why people don’t get that Judge Dredd was pretty vicious satire, not an instruction manual, but there you go).

    No. People. They can work it out for themselves, in 99.9% of cases.

    And even experienced fighters can lose when they’re outnumbered.

    Wanna learn self-defence? Learn to sprint.

    The outnumbered guy almost always loses. I was taking the piss. Everyone thinks they’re going to go make some quippy remark (“No, Mr Creedy, what you have are bullets”) and come out of the other side still standing (Ok, V wasn’t standing for long). They won’t. They’ll end, at best, vomiting on the floor with blood bubbling from their nose.

    Or the local gay bar. Or the local Jew bar. Or the local Brexiteer bar. … Substitute your minority……white supremacist

    Ah, but there’s some distinctions, aren’t there?

    Some of those are characteristics, and some are beliefs.

    I would LOVE libertarians to actually BE libertarians, and to understand that if people choose a lifestyle that they don’t agree with – but which doesn’t affect them in the slightest – for them to nod and go “cool. that’s what liberty is.” To respect, not just tolerate that. But, I’ve lost all hope on that one already.

    The best I can hope for (here) is a sense of “Well, that’s a characteristic, rather than a belief, so I will defend it”. There’s no Libertarian worth the label who goes after people for characteristics (rather than beliefs), and still deserves the label.

    we need a universal principle that can be applied from either direction.

    There isn’t one.

    But we should stand up for everyone’s rights anyway, right?

    No, Niv. We shouldn’t.

    Not those whose world view is dependant on taking away the rights of others.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    neonsnake writes,

    “Week or so later, one more night. Then, another night, with an equally well-dressed, respectable friend. They’re no trouble, they keep themselves to themselves. They come back a few days later. Still no trouble. A third friend joins them…”

    “And a month later – you’re the local Nazi bar.”

    The same thing can happen to blog comment sections.

  • remember: I’m supportive of BLM. (neonsnake, August 29, 2020 at 12:26 pm)

    How very, ah, broad-minded of you, neonsnake. BLM are not just racist in the literal sense of that word; they also know which groups are below them in the intersectional hierarchy. White lives may not matter – but theirs are not the only lives that matter less to BLM. (Of course, women are even further down the intersectional hierarchy, and know it; feminists are keeping very quiet about this.)

    It’s the method used here that I object to

    There was a National Socialist (called Jensen IIRC) who was executed by the Nazis during the war. His long-time friend Ohlendorf (who commanded Einsatzgruppe D in Russia) spent the night before the execution with him, and promised to look after his family. As a historian wrote:

    The two men were both still National Socialists by their lights, but they differed over the central issue: whether a regime that mass-murdered millions should continue to rule.

    By contrast, you and I appear to agree on ‘the central issue’ – that this BLM tactic to intimidate and compel speech is wrong in itself – but we differ on some other matters.

  • neonsnake

    How very, ah, broad-minded of you, neonsnake.

    Yeah, thanks for that, Niall. Next time, do the decent thing and warn me what I’m about to see?

    Look, there’s a certain subsection of culture, all Christian, in Jamaica and other Caribbean countries, who are hugely homophobic. You see it all through reggae, in particular (that’s my intersection with it). I’ve had a few instances of “ah, crap, I really liked this guy’s music. Turns out he’s a prick”.

    Means nothing to me in the scheme of BLM. None of the black people I know in the US are homophobes. They’re all, in fact, massively “not”, from a stance of “no gay man ever called me nigga”.

    The “anti-homosexual” thing, it’s not black vs white – it’s Christian vs…I dunno.

  • neonsnake

    The same thing can happen to blog comment sections.

    🙂

    That was gentle. Thank you.

    I’ll take the hint and sign off.

  • sonny wayz

    Isn’t screaming into a stranger’s face in the midst of a supposedly deadly pandemic clearly a case of assault?

  • Fraser Orr

    @Nullius in Verba
    Free speech is legally protected in the US, and that includes the right to protest. ‘Implied threat’ can depend on how you look at it – is that from the point of view of the protestor, who claims they never intended any threat of violence, or the point of view of the victim

    I guess it depends on what they say, right? When an angry mob surrounds a senator and tells them they are going to fuck up him and his wife, it seems to be pretty clearly assault. (As legal eagle Bobby pointed out assault is making a credible threat of battery, whereas battery is the actual physical touching or violence.)

    I really am a free speech absolutist. I have many, many times here pointed out the Holmes’ declaration of “fire in a crowded theater” was in a case where the supposed imminent threat from the free speech was in fact people protesting against a war — speech that if any should be protected it is that. I am even extremely uncomfortable with slander and liable laws. Obscenity laws and pornography laws make me think of camels noses in tents. And, although I think it is necessary, even copyright laws make me squirm too. I think people should have the right to say whatever they want.

    But it is a gross mistake to suggest that that extends beyond actually saying something. You are welcome to speak freely, but you are not welcome to clog up a public highway. You are welcome to speak freely, but you are not welcome to trap someone and force them to listen to you. You are welcome to speak freely, but you are not welcome to demand I give you a microphone. You are welcome to make whatever art you think communicates your expression, but you are not welcome to demand that I pay for it by my taxes. You are welcome to speak freely, but you are not welcome to blast my home with noise in the middle of the night. You are welcome to speak freely, but you are not welcome to tell me you are going to kill me and my children.

    You are welcome to protest, but you are not welcome to insist I listen to you. The idea that “this situation makes me uncomfortable so I am going to make you uncomfortable” is not free speech, and the basic laws of human decency that have been part of human societies for a thousand years apply here.

    The reason why we have this situation is an unwillingness of the police to distinguish between people protesting their government and people going beyond that. Looting is definitely terrible, but blocking the highways, blasting sound into people’s homes in the middle of the night, hassling people on the street or preventing them from peacefully living their lives are all crimes that should be prosecuted.

    Go ahead and protest, but you need to recognize that while you have that right, I also have the right to ignore you and be left the hell alone. And I would say this about people on the left protesting police racism just as much as I would say it of people on the right protesting outside abortion clinics.

  • Rioters have attacked old people en passant – knocked little old ladies over into the street, and beat up old men in wheelchairs. I’m in my late seventies, in passable health but hardly vigorous. I’ve taken care of my bucket list, and I’m starting to wonder. If a burning, looting crowd is coming in my direction with hostile tread, and I’m armed, how close should I let them get before I start shooting? I can’t run away – that’s no longer an option for me. How terrible would it be, being locked up? And how many other people are beginning to wonder?

    It’s starting to happen. It happened in Kenosha. People can only take so many barbarians. And while I really shouldn’t go to places where these things happen, it’s becoming clear these happenings may well come to me.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    neonsnake writes,

    That was gentle. Thank you.

    I’ll take the hint and sign off.

    Not permanently, I very much hope. I did not mean you. I meant Nazis.

  • bobby b

    ” . . . blocking the highways, blasting sound into people’s homes in the middle of the night, hassling people on the street or preventing them from peacefully living their lives are all crimes that should be prosecuted.”

    This is what I meant about “content neutral” prohibitions on the time, place, or manner of speech in the US.

    So long as a law doesn’t differentiate between POV’s – so long as a law isn’t aimed at banning BLM speech over conservative speech, or banning Christian proselytizing and not Islamic – and so long as there is a valid purpose to the law (such as allowing people to eat a meal in peace), you can prohibit such behavior. You’re not prohibiting speech qua speech – you’re saying that engaging in certain forms of speech (irrespective of what you say) is inappropriate in some settings.

    So, had any civil authority been willing and able to enforce the law, the louts getting in the diners’ faces could clearly have been stopped and arrested.

  • bobby b

    neonsnake
    August 29, 2020 at 6:59 pm

    “The “anti-homosexual” thing, it’s not black vs white – it’s Christian vs…I dunno.”

    Just had lunch in Little Somalia. I’d have to disagree with you about this Christian thing.

  • So, had any civil authority been willing and able to enforce the law, the louts getting in the diners’ faces could clearly have been stopped and arrested.

    Sure, but he police can’t be everywhere and you notice that this took place in Washington DC whose populace are effectively disarmed and therefore you know that the ordinary citizenry can’t protect themselves. Try that shit in some backwoods berg in Texas and you might be looking down the barrel of a gun. The narcissists of the BLM might be nuts, but they’re cowards to a man, woman and tranny.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “But it is a gross mistake to suggest that that extends beyond actually saying something.”

    Indeed. I agree that actions that are other than speech are not covered by a free speech principle.

    Although I’d note in passing that “making demands” is speech. It’s enforcing those demands that is not.

    And if clogging up the highway is to be made illegal, that would apply to traffic jams! Does that mean we all get home on time? Or will the traffic jams continue but we all get fined? 🙂 – But seriously, I’m not sure how you can forbid one person going into public spaces and doing things there that other people are allowed to do, in a content-neutral way. I agree you can’t legally be “trapped” and prevented from leaving, but they could follow you. Unless you introduce some sort of complex segregation rules restricting other people’s movements based on your own.

    You’d get a lot of celebrity endorsements for an anti-paparazzi law, though!

    “You’re not prohibiting speech qua speech – you’re saying that engaging in certain forms of speech (irrespective of what you say) is inappropriate in some settings.”

    I’m not sure I understand what you mean. Do you mean that you could introduce a law forbidding people to approach a person at a table on the street outside a restaurant and speak to them? So approaching someone and saying “Hi! It’s been ages since I’ve seen you! How are the kids?” would also be illegal? Or how about “Are you ready to order yet?”

    Or does the phrase “certain forms of speech” mean somehow distinguishing the welcome from the unwelcome sort?

  • bobby b

    “I’m not sure I understand what you mean. Do you mean that you could introduce a law forbidding people to approach a person at a table on the street outside a restaurant and speak to them?”

    You introduce a law such as Minn.Stat.Sec.609.02 or 609.72 as I laid out above. You gather a jury and present them with evidence of what happened – the facts, the vids, the testimony. You read them the law, and you ask them “did the conduct of the defendant violate the proscriptions found in the law?” And then they decide.

    If the defendant has merely walked up and said “hi!”, then the jury will likely decide that the defendant’s act was NOT “done with intent to cause fear in another of immediate bodily harm or death”, and find him not guilty. If the defendant has done what we all saw in that video, they will likely decide that it WAS done that way, and find him guilty.

    If you’re asking how a juror makes such a decision internally, I’ll beg off here.

  • Fraser Orr

    Nullius in Verba
    And if clogging up the highway is to be made illegal, that would apply to traffic jams! Does that mean we all get home on time?

    I mean this is plainly a silly point. There is a huge difference between people deliberately blocking the highways and those who are just going about the business. For example, if you and fifty people are sitting down yelling and waving signs blocking the entrance ramp onto the freeway, you are not just going about your business, you are deliberately blocking the highway and robbing people of their right to use it. Of course there are some cases where it isn’t clear cut, and certainly the police should err on the side of caution here. But come on NIV, there is a huge difference between people approaching your table in a restaurant and saying “can I take your order” and “fuck you I hope your children die. I wish their umbilical cords had strangled them” yelled in your face, especially when done so in an extremely intimidating manner surrounded by twenty belligerents.

    Just because there are some gray areas doesn’t mean there aren’t any black and white areas.

    FWIW, since I have seen that video I have been thinking carefully what I would do were I approached in this manner. I find it outrageous that I really think it is necessary for me to make a plan for that, but I do, and I have one.

  • Eric

    If the Royal Opera were to feel the need to comment on recent events in the USA, I think they should confine themselves to pointing out that:

    i) Fentanyl is a very dangerous drug, and anyone who overdoses on it is very likely to die;

    ii) When instructed to stop by armed police officers, it is a good idea to comply with their order, rather than walking away and reaching into your car for the knife you keep in there.

    If you haven’t seen it, here is a good primer on dealing with police from Chris Rock:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uj0mtxXEGE8

  • Nullius in Verba

    If the defendant has merely walked up and said “hi!”, then the jury will likely decide that the defendant’s act was NOT “done with intent to cause fear in another of immediate bodily harm or death”, and find him not guilty.

    Ah! I understand! That would be the standard definition of assault. I agree on that.

    I was confused because that’s not content-neutral. It’s not “irrespective of what you say”. Saying “Hi!” is different to saying “Die!”

    If the defendant has done what we all saw in that video, they will likely decide that it WAS done that way, and find him guilty.

    Is that a jury of Republican-voters or Democrat-voters?

    I think what I’m saying is that I saw the video, and that wasn’t my interpretation. I couldn’t make out what was said, so there may have been threats involved, but based on what I saw, I don’t think the mob had any intention of using force, or doing harm. What I think they were trying to apply was the psychological pressure people feel to merge into the herd and fit in with the crowd. The protestors didn’t sound actually angry, they held back, the mob intent on violence only talks long enough to identify the enemy before they attack, but these guys were talking – the crowd were too controlled, as if they were following a script.

    But it’s actually a well-known bit of social psychology that people see what they expect to see. There was an experiment published in 2012 where they showed a group of subjects with known political views a video of the same political protest. Half of them were told it was a protest outside an abortion clinic, the other half were told it was a protest against the military’s policy excluding gays. They were then asked questions about whether the protestors obstructed or threatened pedestrians – supposedly objective facts. People only saw force and threats when they thought the protestors were politically opposed. They didn’t see them when they considered them to be ‘on their own side’. And both political sides were affected the same way.

    I don’t think that’s a tactical manipulation on their part. They genuinely don’t see it. The world is too complicated and comes at us too fast for us to process our perception of it from scratch, so the brain usually starts with a theory and then looks for confirmation. If it sees the sort of things it expects to see, the confidence in the theory gets stronger. If it sees things that strongly conflict (and the bar is set higher the more the theory is a priori believed), it starts modifying the existing theory to fit the new observations. People’s perceptions and memories are warped by their preconceptions and loyalties.

    “But come on NIV, there is a huge difference between people approaching your table in a restaurant and saying “can I take your order” and “fuck you I hope your children die….””

    Yes, I agree. But my point is that the difference depends on the content of the speech. I had understood bobby b to mean “engaging in certain forms of speech (irrespective of what you say) is inappropriate in some settings”. I had understood him to mean that the law got round the first amendment by being neutral to the content of the speech and instead legislating the act of speech. I didn’t see how that could possibly work, and I gave an example to illustrate why I thought it couldn’t work.

    It’s a problem I’ve been thinking about for years. I have some friends who get hassled by strangers quite a lot. Snide comments. Insults. Expressions of disgust. Social rejection. Shouting crowds. Pointing fingers. Subtly insinuated intimidation. They’re being deliberately unpleasant and nasty, but their aim is to express/enforce conformity with social norms, not immediate physical harm. My friends tell me it’s a really bad idea to answer back or argue, because that escalates the situation, turns it into a challenge, and that can lead to violence where violence was avoidable. The scene in the restaurant in the video is one I’ve seen before several times. And I’d quite like to figure out some way to stop it happening, short of banning free speech.

    My conclusion so far is that it’s not possible. Free speech necessarily includes the freedom to be offensive, to say things that seriously upset and distress and frighten people. It’s unavoidable. You can try to persuade people not to, but “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”

    It’s an uncomfortable conclusion, believe me. But I think you now find yourselves suddenly sitting in the seat the minorities have sat in for all of human history. This is not something new. This is how humans have always behaved. You’re just seeing it from the other viewpoint.

  • Yes, I agree. But my point is that the difference depends on the content of the speech. I had understood bobby b to mean “engaging in certain forms of speech (irrespective of what you say) is inappropriate in some settings”. I had understood him to mean that the law got round the first amendment by being neutral to the content of the speech and instead legislating the act of speech. I didn’t see how that could possibly work, and I gave an example to illustrate why I thought it couldn’t work.

    But when you talk about “Content of speech” that’s really just a proxy for intent and goes back to the classical judicial issue of “Mens rea” ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mens_rea ).

  • GregWA

    John Galt at Aug 29, 3:14am, “…some of those endowment funds will take a long ass time to burn through…”

    Not if we use endowments to pay off student debt. This is what the Dems want, right, cancelling student debt. Well what about those holding the debt? Use the endowments of those who ripped off all these students and parents all these years. Harvard’s endowment alone could pay off half of all US student debt.

    While we’re at it, let’s not limit it to US students–let anyone who ever attended Harvard have a piece of their endowment. Every student in the US gets a financial aid statement each year, just submit those to the executor and get paid–including interest using whatever the annual growth rate of the endowment was. Tax free of course since the Uni costs were paid with already taxed money.

    Of course, if you’re going to do this, first step is to freeze the endowment funds/stocks/whatever wherever they are. Those Harvard types know how to move funds into secure locations.

    “Long ass time” could be reduced to a couple of years.

  • As the caseloads in Stalin’s great purge grew, the NKVD very abruptly (on Stalin’s order, on a day in mid-1937) started mass-use of excruciation to get confessions and information. Before that, although inflicting pain had always been very much part of their repertoire, most purge cases used “the conveyor” – continuous interrogation along with other techniques to wear down the subject and above all deprive them of sleep for days on end. Robert Conquest remarks the conveyor’s propaganda usefulness: clearly it amounted to a form of torture after a certain point, but it was not wholly facile to draw the exact line at which that point was reached.

    Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland understandably did not spend last night in his condo; BLM were shining strobe lights into it and doing other forms of sleep-depriving protest. Not everyone in Portland has the same opportunities to evade what the mayor will not prevent.

    Paraphrasing my quote above, BLM politics are about deniable intimidation (on calculated occasions; about intimidation they do not bother to hide on others). As Heinlein said,

    Free speech gives a man the right to talk – but I don’t have to listen.

    This right of privacy, of silence, this right not to listen, is part of free speech. (One of the features of Orwell’s 1984 was that you could never turn the telescreen off.) Various dead giveaways in the OP incident are their invasion of an area where they have no legitimate presence (they are not seeking to dine) and their denial of the ability of those who are dining simply to be silent – their demand for compelled speech. (Late in the purge, Stalin announced it was time to go after “the silent ones”. As Hannah Arendt remarks, the job of totalitarianism is “to organise the guilt of all under its dominion”.)

    The ability to be silent, and to have many private and semi-private (e.g. restaurant) areas where one may choose not to listen, let alone to be coerced into signalling compliance with some currently fashionable opinion, is part of freedom.

    Put more simply, private property – the privacy of homes and the semi-privacy of of pubs, restaurants, etc. – is part of a base on which free speech rests.

    As with the conveyor, there have been and will be edge occasions – and movements such as BLM whose goal is no edge case.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “But when you talk about “Content of speech” that’s really just a proxy for intent and goes back to the classical judicial issue of “Mens rea””

    Mens rea is the question of whether you knew it was against the law. The content is only relevant to mens rea if the law you intentionally break is content-specific.

    I was thinking of the distinction between rules like “Silence in the library” or “No talking during the exam”, and rules that depend on the content of the speech. If you’re caught talking while sitting an exam, it doesn’t matter what you said, it only matters whether you knew that talking was forbidden and that you was breaking the rule by doing so.

    “Silence in the library” isn’t legislating against beliefs or opinions, it’s legislating against the act of speech itself, in a totally content-neutral way, for reasons that have nothing to do with suppressing particular points of view. I can see (kinda) how that could avoid stepping on the spirit of free speech protections. I thought it was an interesting idea with some possibilities (providing ‘safe spaces’ to act as a refuge against hearing speech you found distressing), but I couldn’t understand how it could be applied in practice to an outdoor restaurant on a public street. As it turns out, I had misunderstood what bobby meant.

  • Mens rea is the question of whether you knew it was against the law.

    Absolutely not, no, since “Ignorance of the law is no defence”.

    What “Mens rea” requires is that there was specific intent by the individual (or co-conspirators) to carry out an act and it is usually the conjunction which defines the crime, not the act or the intent on their own*.

    * – Statutory offences notwithstanding.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Absolutely not, no, since “Ignorance of the law is no defence”.”

    Good point. You’re right. Neverthless, a mens rea intention to speak, where speech is a crime, can still be independent of content where the definition of the crime is content-neutral.

    If you yell involuntarily because someone drops a heavy book on your foot, I guess you could argue that you didn’t intend to speak and thus break the “Silence in the library” rule. It still doesn’t matter what you yelled.

  • Sure, but again the “crime” was neither of thought nor speech. If any crime was committed it was along the lines of harassment or intimidation (the specific word even the victim used when she said that she refused to be “intimidated”).

    Washington DC, being the unique precious egg of the US Congress, doesn’t have state laws and tying down the specific statutes covering such intimidation is a bit difficult. However, the Spectator seems to think than the intimidation tactics used in Washington DC break a number of their specifically enacted statutes.

    DC passed a first of its kind law in 2018 making street harassment illegal. Its intent was to protect women from catcalling and other forms of harassment in public areas, but it applies to all protected categories under the DC Human Rights Act, which includes political affiliation. The law defines street harassment as ‘any disrespectful, offensive, or threatening statements, gestures, or other conduct directed at an individual in a high-risk area without the individual’s consent and based on the individual’s actual or perceived protected trait identified in the DC Human Rights Act of 1977.’

    It is also illegal in DC under disturbing the peace laws to ‘crowd, obstruct, or incommode’ the use of any public street or sidewalk, particularly after they are ‘instructed by a law enforcement officer to cease the crowding, obstructing, or incommoding.’ The mob’s behavior could also be covered under disorderly conduct laws, which make it illegal to ‘intentionally or recklessly act in such a manner as to cause another person to be in reasonable fear that a person or property in a person’s immediate possession is likely to be harmed or taken’, to ‘incite or provoke violence’, to ‘direct abusive or offensive language or gestures at another person…in a manner likely to provoke immediate physical retaliation’, to ‘engage in loud, threatening, or abusive language, or disruptive conduct with the intent and effect of impeding or disrupting the lawful use of a public conveyance’, or to interfere with someone in a public space by ‘jostling’ them or unnecessarily crowding them.

    https://spectator.us/rand-paul-blm-dc-street-harassment/

  • Paul Marks

    According to the Frankfurt School Marxists of “Black Lives Matter” culture is racially specific – this is an opinion they share with the late Mr Adolf Hitler and his National Socialists.

    According to both Nazis and Marxist “Black Lives Matter” Opera is part of “whiteness” which Marxist Black Lives Matter holds to be EVIL, a racial culture of “exploitation” and “oppression”.

    So the only logical position for Marxist “Black Lives Matter” is to seek to destroy Opera – as an example of the evil “whiteness” they wish to exterminate.

    By the way Karl Marx himself despised black people, he regarded them as subhuman, and he would not have wanted them at a Opera event – but do not tell Marxist Black Lives Matter this, it might upset them.

  • Snorri Godhi

    The “anti-homosexual” thing, it’s not black vs white – it’s Christian vs…I dunno.

    That is one of several reasons why i believe that the British diet is more brain-damaging than the Dutch diet.
    British LGBT activists have been spewing this sort of ruling-class propaganda for a long time. (Or more properly, they have been spewing this sort of hegemonic-culture propaganda.)
    Meanwhile, Dutch gays have massively turned their support to the “”far””-“”right”” at least since the murder of Pim Fortuyn.

    Mind you, the British diet is still preferable to the “progressive” American diet. I base this conclusion on the fact that British Jews tend to vote more conservatively than the general population, while American Jews overwhelmingly vote against their best interests.

  • Snorri Godhi

    As for opera, i support a total defunding.
    Let those who enjoy it, pay for it!
    It’s not a working-class thing, after all — and even if it were, there would be no need of taxpayer funding.

  • Fraser Orr

    @snorri, there is in fact a Yes Minister episode dealing with your point precisely. I looked it up.

    https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6mn0zk

  • Snorri Godhi

    Fraser: thank you for the link.
    I meant to look at Yes Minister for a long time, but this is the first time that i i have watched an entire episode!
    I always enjoy Machiavellianism in stories, but it is not often that one finds it combined with humor.

  • Snorri Godhi

    BTW i read about an experiment of sham heart surgery on mice/rats. IIRC mice listening to Verdi recovered faster+better than mice listening to Mozart, which in turn recovered better than mice listening to white noise, or nothing.

    Maybe opera will eventually be subsidized by the NHS!

  • The “anti-homosexual” thing, it’s not black vs white – it’s Christian vs…I dunno. (neonsnake, August 29, 2020 at 6:59 pm)

    That is one of several reasons why i believe that the British diet is more brain-damaging than the Dutch diet. (Snorri Godhi, August 30, 2020 at 7:56 pm)

    For once, in jest, I might sort-of agree with Snorri about this diet thing. 🙂 The kindest explanation for that particular comment of neonsnake would be that he was “not drunk but having drink taken” (or similar) when writing it. 🙂 (He once indicated he was, in an earlier folly-without-warrant comment of similarly BLM-sympathetic tendency.)

    “I dunno”, neonsnake says. Well, I guess Islam is not Christian. Middle stage National Socialism (the three years after the night of the long knives, say) was not Christian. Stalin’s slave labour camp of three thousand Moscow homosexuals on the white sea was not Christian (that is, it had three thousand at one point but the homosexuals showed themselves fully equal to other categories in other camps in their ability to die of starvation, overwork and abuse). So I dunno – are these all candidates for neonsnake’s ‘versus’ slot, alongside those not-very-Christian-looking BLM supporters that my linking to provoked such neonsnakian denialism? 🙂

    It is not Christians who get to decide the intersectional hierarchy order, where women come last (there are reports of intermittent shadow banning on the second link – if twitter refuses to show it, clicking the link again may clear it, or look here). It was top-dog BLM supporters versus two not-quite-so-intersectionally-lowly-as-women men that led me to comment wryly on neonsnake’s ‘broad-mindedness’. Like Natalie (Natalie Solent (Essex), August 29, 2020 at 9:51 pm), I did not remark it to drive him off samizdata – which, as the sub-dialogue was kicked off when he proclaimed his general support for BLM, argues at least a little broad-mindedness in us. (As for his demand to “do the decent thing” – ? by warning him more explicitly of an approaching conflict in his narratives ? – Brandon Straka’s text was as clear and explicit about what clicking his video would show as anyone could demand.)

    I expect neonsnake will return. I had no quarrel with his remark that

    Context matters. There’s a whole bunch of stuff in the video that’s setting off red flags for me in terms of “imminent violence”. Frankly, I’ve nothing but 100% admiration for the woman for being calm in the face of it.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Well, I guess Islam is not Christian. Middle stage National Socialism (the three years after the night of the long knives, say) was not Christian. Stalin’s slave labour camp of three thousand Moscow homosexuals on the white sea was not Christian”

    The term is ambiguous. In this case, I think it’s referring to all the cultural descendants Judeo-Christian Old Testament homophobia, which includes the genocidal slave-taking dictator Moses, the globe-dominating Catholic Church, the no-less-authoritarian Puritans/Protestants, the slave-empire of Islam, the National Socialists, and Uncle Joe Stalin. ‘Christian’ is being used as a culturally-in-context one-word shorthand for an inherited feature of three and a half thousand years of global history.

    It’s not 100% accurate, but it’s probably more accurate than other cases of cultural inheritance shorthand like the way the word “Marxist” is used hereabouts! And it’s certainly a more accurate characterisation than black/white.

    I think maybe that’s a kinder explanation? 🙂

    The ‘versus’ I think may be referring to the cultural inheritors of Enlightenment liberalism. Or perhaps just the modern post-1960s part of it, when the sexual liberalism aspect of it gained significant influence. But I agree with neonsnake, it’s not very clear.

  • TheHat

    George Floyd died because of drugs he took. The cops were window dressing.

  • Phelps, we will write about what the hell we want, thanks. This is an international site.

    Apparently you missed the point of my clarifying which “you” I referred to.

    In any event, the warning stands. If you get in the middle of the fight, don’t act shocked when both sides pummel you. This is family matter.

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