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

Samizdata quote of the day

Why do people outside USA give a damn about technical legal rulings regarding which tier of American government gets to make certain American laws? Particularly bizarre coming from people in countries with more restrictive abortion laws than Mississippi (France for example). I find that far more noteworthy than the underlying issue of abortion-in-America.

Not seen much concern overseas about UK’s horrendous Online Safety Bill, I guess folks too focused on cosplaying Americans and pretending changes in US laws will have any influence on long settled issues elsewhere.

– Perry de Havilland

32 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Roué le Jour

    I presume Boris is doing his celebrated “buffoon” routine when he pretends not to understand that this is simply a matter of jurisdiction. Abortion is not covered by the constitution and therefore cannot be ruled on by the supreme, i.e. constitution, court. Is there any nation’s constitution that does actually address this issue?

  • Mark

    I don’t think people do, it’s the political class/clique/enter label of choice and their wannabes.

    Why do they? Well, lot safer ground (in their eyes) than talking the issues that people DO want addressing

  • Martin

    I suspect Boris and Macron’s bluster is largely due to their own unpopularity at home. Boris seems a busted flush and Macron a 2nd term lame duck. Better to focus on events abroad where one can be easily self-righteous.

    That events in America tend to excite and incite certain influential groups outside America, often more so than events in their own countries, I suspect has much to do with the influence of American cultural imperialism. Ironically many of these people tend to be outwardly anti-American (or at least the likely out of date caricature they think America is) but their obsession with BLM, trans rights, gun politics, and American abortion laws betrays how throughly ‘Americanised’ they are.

  • events in America tend to excite and incite certain influential groups outside America

    True, but those groups are going to go on hating Boris whatever he says about it! So while I could easily understand ‘no comment’ or suchlike, the greater question is why would people elected on unPC votes cringe to a narrative that intends to deprive them of power. I do Boris the courtesy of assuming he does indeed think the Ukraine right and Russia wrong, while also seeing he may prefer talking about that issue to more domestic ones. But why he imagines there are any votes for him in a strong left-leaning statement about Roe rather than in something more non-committal is strange. He is doubtless 99.999% focussed on other stuff, and being advised by cultural allies of the US left in the civil service and elsewhere, and I never thought he had that deep a grasp of things, but might have hoped that a mere desire not to be manoeuvred out of power might have made him keep in touch with a trustworthily unwoke source of information. But this is not the first time when I have noticed that Boris has a good deal in common with many in Britain: stuff the BBC could not put over on them about Britain can be sold to them about the US, of which they know so very much less.

  • Martin

    Oh I should have perhaps better clarified that in my latter paragraph I was referring to the activist/Twitter warrior liberals/centrists/leftists that start BLM or anti-US Supreme court demonstrations, etc in the UK, Germany, France etc. I think these people are pathological and are basically Americanised liberals even if they identify as Labour supporters, German Greens etc. They’re different to Boris, Macron, etc, who seem to be commenting on the American abortion situation for more opportunistic reasons.

    It is a good question though why so many supposed right-wingers pander to leftist and liberal narratives.

  • Not seen much concern overseas about UK’s horrendous Online Safety Bill

    The quietening horror of that is that the government (the Tory front-bench at least) is not opposed by the ‘opposition’. As with lockdowns, the other parties want more of it, not less. One of the reasons abortion was and is a much quieter issue in the UK is because it was (in part deliberately) handled as a non-party issue. IIRC, when abortion was made legal up to 28 weeks in the 1960s, it was a Liberal MP (Liberal in the UK party sense, i.e. a member of the 3rd party) who presented the bill. When it was proposed to lower that to 18 weeks in the 1980s, it was again a Liberal MP who proposed the bill. So, just as with the EU issue for a long time, although it could make a bit more sense to vote for one party than for another, you could not simply vote for (or against) a given policy. When your realistic choice is between two major parties, then things their front-benches either agree on or agree to let their MPs free-vote on are things you cannot easily vote for or against – and that affects how much they are covered, how much noise people can muster up the will to make about them, etc. (For example, never mind the lack of overseas fuss about the online harms bill – the columns of Samizdata have said less on it than on several topics no nearer our hearts.)

  • William H. Stoddard

    As an American, I can’t really comment on the motives of people outside the United States. But for Americans, it’s not simply a technical legal ruling. Americans think very much in terms of basic moral rights that are supposed to be protected by very strong laws at the constitutional level, laws that can’t simply be changed by a democratic majority. This is true in the case of abortion for both sides: the fetus’s right to life on one hand, and the pregnant woman’s right to bodily autonomy (“my body, my choice”) on the other. So both sides want there to be constitutional protection for the right they think is essential.

  • bobby b

    “Why do people outside USA give a damn about technical legal rulings regarding which tier of American government gets to make certain American laws?”

    We are the center of the universe.

    (Running away now . . . )

  • But for Americans, it’s not simply a technical legal ruling.

    But it actually is.

    “Abortion is bad & we will outlaw it” or “Abortion is acceptable & we will legalise it” are political/moral statements.

    “Federal judges have no constitutional basis for ruling on abortion, that is a matter for state legislatures” is a technical legal ruling, even if people choose to see it as something else.

  • Snorri Godhi

    […] Boris has a good deal in common with many in Britain: stuff the BBC could not put over on them about Britain can be sold to them about the US, of which they know so very much less.

    It’s the same all over Europe, i suppose.
    Except, while the folks at the BBC know better*, it is questionable how many “continental” journalists know better. It costs a lot of money to keep journalists in the US.

    * Or would know better, if they were willing and able to put their minds to it.

    It is a good question though why so many supposed right-wingers pander to leftist and liberal narratives.

    Again, if this refers to US issues, most people are rationally ignorant about them.
    See also the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect.

    Plus, why would somebody question a narrative that things are better at home than in the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world?

  • Agammamon

    They’re more worried about this than Canada’s C-11 bill vote.

  • Agammamon

    And they’re shocked and dismayed about this – but not a peep about China’s repression of the Uighur (or China’s oppression in general).

  • Philip Scott Thomas

    “Federal judges have no constitutional basis for ruling on abortion, that is a matter for state legislatures” is a technical legal ruling, even if people choose to see it as something else.

    Justice Alito said as much in his majority opinion. He said, in effect, that the rights and wrongs of abortion were the concerns of moral philosopher, and that even they could not find a consensus. The Supreme Court’s duty wasn’t to rule on questions of moral philosophy but on the law and that’s how they’d approached the case before them.

  • Snorri Godhi

    It seems to me that Perry’s position is compatible with that of William H Stoddard.
    The latter claims that, for most Americans, it is all a question of natural rights.
    The former claims that, in the abstract, it isn’t.

    My own objection to WHS’s claim is different.
    From what i read on Instapundit, and links therein, it seems to me that, ostensibly, the main argument of the “pro-choice” faction is that women are going to die from back-street abortions. That does not strike me as a question of natural rights.

  • William H. Stoddard

    Perry,

    While the Dred Scott decision could be described as addressing a technical question regarding legal standing, it had broader implications that were ultimately resolved by a constitutional amendment passed after a massive war. People in the United States are not getting intense about this issue because they have passionate convictions about the delegation of powers, but because that question (like the original decision in Roe v. Wade) is a stalking horse for more primal issues.

  • Rudolph Hucker

    I refer my honourable colleagues (once again) to BBC News and “framing the debate”.

    To paraphrase H.L.Mencken:
    “The whole aim of practical News Broadcasting is to keep the populace shocked (and hence clamorous to be led to more of the same) by an endless series of fear-porn shock-horror stories, most of them imaginary.”

    The USA being a particularly good source of this, and the theatre of news presentation.

    Remember, good news is no news on BBC News.

  • William H. Stoddard

    Snorri,

    I’m not sure I see much that I would call “argument” in the current controversy. But those signs saying “My body, my choice” are putting forth an ideological and arguably an ethical position, and one that I think does assert a natural right. Indeed I think it’s a basically libertarian position, even if the bearers of those signs have not always been consistent about adhering to it.

  • “My body, my choice” is all very well for pregnant women wishing to do a bit of legalized infanticide, but when it comes to not being injected with some random concoction of who-knows-what, then it’s a different matter.

    Hypocrisy abounds.

  • Stonyground

    But that’s different you see because, by refusing to be vaccinated, you are putting everyone else at risk. The fact that this isn’t remotely true doesn’t seem to matter at all.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    Well, the abortionists could have mustered broad political support and amended the Constitution to include abortion rights.

    They didn’t do so and assumed the SC will always think their way, interpreting the Constitution in ways it was never meant to be.

    Oops.

    If they had not gone outright batshit insane (abortion up to 3rd trimester and beyond), and instead aimed for a reasonable compromise similar to what most of Europe has (somewhere in 2nd trimester), they could very well have convinced enough people and representatives to amend the Constitution and taken it off the table as a political matter, similar to other amendments such as universal suffrage.

  • bobby b

    “But that’s different you see because, by refusing to be vaccinated, you are putting everyone else at risk.”

    Some seem to think that an abortion might put someone else at some small risk, too, so I think the “but others!” vax argument is a bit weak on its face.

  • Paul Marks

    I have tried to reason with some of the Conservative Members of Parliament over the “On Line Safety Bill” – those who keep off the internet (rightly knowing that any mistake they make will be viciously used by the media against them) are open to arguments – but those who do go on Social Media tend to be rather more closed minded, for the following reason….

    Conservative M.P.s who go on the internet (especially Social Media) get a tirade of personal abuse every day – it really is terrible, the endless swearing, lies, threats against them and their families and-so-on. And they have got into their heads that the On-Line-Safety Bill will end this – with its ban on “harmful” stuff on Social Media. They have not yet gasped that officials (both of Quangos like “Ofcom” and of the corporations) will not, for example, censor threats to rape the children of Conservative M.P.s to death (they will just giggle over such things), but will censor pro Conservative opinions.

    I have tried to point out that, for example, that many effective supporters of President Trump were picked off by Corporate internet censors in the United States from 2017 onwards – but I just get “Trump bad man” type responses. Conservative Members of Parliament really do believe that the censors (corporate and government) will protect them and their families (which they will NOT) and will not censor their supporters (which they WILL).

    Essentially it is like dealing with people who are suffering from what used to be called shell-shock (now called PTSD) – the endless abuse and threats “on line” have really worn them down, they are not thinking clearly. So arguments such as “threats against you and your family are already illegal – perhaps you should ask yourself why this is not enforced, and why the police are obsessed with crushing “Transphobic Tweets” and so on, instead” just do not work.

    It is such a shame – as such simple things as disabling comments on posts (so that people can not “reply”) would remove a lot of the abuse and threats they are subjected to. Instead they (including the Minister) are being manipulated by officials and “experts” into supporting a new law that will be used AGAINST them.

  • Paul Marks

    Looking at the “Western Leaders” meeting at the G7, it is rather clear that they do not have much in common with the conservative side of the debate (on most things) – the Prime Minister of Japan would be polite to conservatives (rather than mocking them as the other Western leaders would), but even he essentially ticks all the boxes of the Progressive international elite.

    Remember in the United Kingdom that during the lockdowns not all medical treatment stopped, it became hard to get treatment for cancer and heart disease – but abortions carried on, the government made a special point of pushing on abortions, and abortions have been extended to Northern Ireland – by a judge finding a right to abortion in the European Convention on Human Rights (there is no such right to abortion in that document – but the judge did not care about that).

    Now abortion may be wonderful (I express no opinion on the matter), but it is the same for every other major issue – there is a “correct” (“Progressive”) point of view, and there is a point of view that must be crushed – punished.

    It is an outrage to the international establishment that, say, the people of (say) South Dakota might get to end abortion, just as it is an outrage to the same international establishment that the people of South Dakota might get to allow “Hate Speech” (say dissent on “Climate Change” being caused by human C02 emissions – remember such dissent is “racist”), or that people of South Dakota and other “Red States” (I think the United States and Paraguay are the only two countries where the colour red is used to indicate ANTI socialist) might be allowed to own firearms.

    The President of Columbia University in New York (a university who once had Eisenhower as their President) has listed a whole series of subjects (covering just about everything of importance) where dissent is “disinformation” to be punished – and “Blue” Americans (again that bizarre use of colours – but then, thinking about it, it is no more arbitrary than using the colour coding the other way round) would agree with the censorship of non leftist opinions (on anything), just as the international establishment (the Davos types – government and corporate) would.

    Saying “all the court is doing is sending the matter back to the States – with the people there making the decisions” is exactly what the international establishment will NOT accept, indeed is totally outraged, by. They do not want the people making decisions – on any vital matter.

    This is why it is vital, from an international establishment point of view, for elections in the United States to be rigged – and/or for the electorate to be changed.

    Where elections do not really matter (because whoever wins the election they will follow the same “liberal” left policies under the guidance of officials and “experts”) there is no need to rig elections.

    But where elections DO matter, say the American State of Florida, it is vital (from an establishment “liberal” left point of view) to rig elections – otherwise someone like the present Governor might be elected and policies that were not “liberal” left followed.

    So the international establishment are reasonably consistent.

  • Jacob

    Concerning the position of Britons on technical legal matters of the US – I have a related question.
    There was a football match recently between England and Hungary, in Budapest. The English took a knee, the Hungarians didn’t, and the Hungarian audience jeered.
    Why did England adopt this idiotic knee, imported from the US?
    Why is the knee ceremony obligatory in all Premier League matches?
    Is it obligatory to import and copy every US idiotic gesture?

  • Sigivald

    If it helps, it seems from here in Americaland that most of my fellow Americans literally have no idea how our government and institutions work.

    Though unlike the Frenchman in the example, they at least live here, and have some excuse for emotional involvement.

    Just wish their emotional involvement was based on any sort of plausible or realistic understanding of how government works here and what actually happened.

  • @Sigvald. That puzzles me. Outside of the US, I can sort of understand that people don’t get it, but I’d expect US citizens to. We at least have the excuse that our press is so goddamned thick, ill-informed and too lazy to do the most basic research that they peddle us blatant falsehoods and most people simply absorb it as if it is a fact, because they also are too are thick, lazy and ill-informed, preferring emotional incontinence over reason, logic and evidence.

  • bobby b

    Longrider
    June 27, 2022 at 3:58 pm

    “That puzzles me. Outside of the US, I can sort of understand that people don’t get it, but I’d expect US citizens to.”

    They don’t, as a rule. To most people, the USSC is simply “the highest court in the land.” They have never been taught the idea of limited jurisdiction, that the USSC is entirely (in theory) to be concerned with enforcement of the US Constitution. They expect the Court to “do good”, not understanding that it has no such mandate or empowerment.

    We elect legislatures to “do good”, to codify morality. That’s not the job of the USSC, and most people never learn that, in school or in reading.

  • Paul Marks

    Jacob – Frankfurt School Marxism is just as powerful in the United Kingdom as it is in the United States.

    Even in the 1970s the Home Office had Marxist academics advising it.

    In Hungary Marxism is not very popular – for historical reasons, not just the Soviet Occupation from 1945 to the end of the 1980s, but also the Bela Kun regime of 1919 – even “Lenin” thought that Bela Kun was a sadist. Lenin was prepared to murder any number of people to impose and maintain Marxism – his objection to Bela Kun was not his murders, but the fact that he clearly enjoyed torturing and murdering people. “Sex Education” (specifically designed to sexually corrupt children) was also a mark of the 1919 Marxist regime in Hungary – what is happening in American schools now is nothing new.

    When Hungarians see Association Football players doing the work of Marxist BLM they know exactly what it is – in Britain people can be punished (lose their jobs and so on) for even mentioning that BLM is Marxist.

  • Paul Marks

    As other people have already pointed out – it is not just that the President of France is ignorant of the laws of the United States (that is understandable), he is also ignorant of the laws of FRANCE.

    Under FRENCH law abortion is stopped after a certain number of weeks (I believe it is 14 weeks) – but the President of the Fifth Republic seemed to think that France has abortion-on-demand.

    So much for the great “intellectual”.

  • tr

    I think the United States and Paraguay are the only two countries where the colour red is used to indicate ANTI socialist

    I don’t think that many outside the US understand American journalism. Colo(u)ring the Democrats red comes uncomfortably close to telling a truth. This is something the media is adverse to doing.

  • Paul Marks

    tr – excellent point.

  • pete

    The modern ‘liberal’ feels free to criticise the UK, the USA and Israel.

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