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

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

The Guardian takes the lid off the pot

I avidly followed the coverage in the British press of the the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court. In this post I will look at one paper in particular, the Guardian. When it was founded as the Manchester Guardian in the nineteenth century, this newspaper’s name was meant to indicate that its role was to “zealously enforce the principles of civil and religious Liberty”, which included an earnest concern for legal protections such as the presumption of innocence. The modern Guardian published many, many news and opinion pieces describing how to tell that Kavanaugh was a bad ‘un. I was more interested in the readers’ comments.

The Guardian used to allow readers to comment on practically every news article and opinion piece. Sometimes this meant that its editors and writers would be made painfully but usefully aware that many of its readers were not “with the program”. That changed under the current editor, Katharine Viner. Throughout most of the Kavanaugh saga comments were firmly closed. There was at least one story that I cannot now find for which comments were opened in error and then quickly slammed shut again. Then on 5th October came a story in which comments were intentionally opened: “Trump and Kavanaugh claim we live in a meritocracy. Don’t believe a word of it” by Arwa Mahdawi. The tone of the piece is that of a shared joke: “… Brett Kavanaugh. You know, the judge who really likes beer and seems to hate women having autonomy over their reproductive systems”. I think the writer may have been surprised at the trend the comments took. The top rated comment was by “SpringinAmsterdam1” and said,

Arwa can I ask, how would you feel if an event someone else felt had happened, had no issue was raised at the time, and when it was raised and people know there is no proof of the event, but thousands of people had decided through the court of social media, believed you to be guilty?

How would you deal with that, and can you see how this could be used to assassinate a persons character? Lastly, do you believe in innocent till proven guilty?

October 8th saw the breaking of a tiny little Berlin Wall: two pieces which acknowledged that all was not well with the narrative. For Jessa Crispin’s article “Women aren’t united against Kavanaugh. That’s a dangerous myth” the top comment came from “HarSingh” and said,

It might be because women are sensible? There was no corroborating evidence, she can’t recall if he was there, or even where it happened. She listed 4 people who could provide evidence but none of them decided to.

The timing of the allegation points to a witch hunt and a political hatchet job. It backfired, male or female, the majority realise this

Also on October 8th came this article by Cas Mudde putting forward the novel argument that Kavanaugh’s confirmation might boost the Republicans. The most recommended comment was by “Truewordshere” and said,

The Republican senator Susan Collins once again broke the hearts of many naive liberals

True liberals should watch her speech explaining her choice. A calm and reasoned explanation based on deeply-ingrained liberal principles. “Liberals”, however, branded her a “rape apologist”.

Comments were pre-moderated for “Trump sees only his own victimhood as he apologises to Kavanaugh” by Gaby Hinsliff on 9 October. The top one came from “HappyExpat50” and started by quoting Ms Hinsliff,

For a moment, as Donald Trump spoke of the “pain and suffering” endured by one noble individual in his wretched supreme court nomination process, you almost wondered if he might find some gracious way to acknowledge Christine Blasey Ford.

HappyExpat50 then went on,

Has he been charged with anything ?

Has he been convicted of anything ?

I would have thought that the Cliff Richard fiasco in the UK would have at least taught some people that people are innocent until proven guilty.

The lid is off the pot and there is something bubbling up within.

Oh my God, they killed Godfrey!

“I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.”

― Obi-Wan Kenobi, sensing the destruction of Alderaan by Darth Vader

The circumstances are complicated. Lisa Graves, the satirist behind the most recent incarnation of Elfwick, was reported to Twitter for using an expletive during an exchange on her personal account with another user. The complainant additionally made the demonstrably false claim that Elfwick was an ‘alt-right account’ engaged in ‘targeted harassment’. Before long, all of Graves’ accounts had been subject to a blanket ban. Given Twitter’s curiously draconian response to such groundless accusations, it is hardly surprising that many are assuming that the punishment is politically motivated.

― Andrew Doyle, sensing the destruction of Godfrey Elfwick by Twitter

Unfortunate Adjacencies in BBC News

Yesterday, the BBC 10 o’clock news covered wicked Mr Trump’s treatment of immigrant children (which, it was implied, was very unprecedented, nor ever praised by the left). The beeb’s Washington correspondent told us that

“In a series of tweets that will further strain the transatlantic alliance”

Mr Trump asserted Germany’s immigrants were causing that country problems such as more crime,

“but that is false. Germany’s crime rate is lower than it has ever been.”

(The emphasis on the word false was in the original.)

Soon after came their coverage of Merkel’s woes. The beeb’s Europe correspondent told us that, instead of a cooperative pan-European policy (which, she seemed to be implying, was what had been needed), individual European countries had raised barriers (references to populism and stuff), so now Merkel was meeting with the Italian PM one day, the French president the next, in

“a race against time”

to salvage things in a Europe

“more disunited than ever.”

I can’t understand why Merkel doesn’t just point out to her German voters that crime in Germany is lower than ever now they’ve imported such vast numbers of people from areas where crime rates are notoriously low – uh, well, notorious, anyway. 🙂 If any wicked right-wing populist dared to question her own crime statistics, Merkel could point to the happy experiences of Austria or Sweden, and if that doesn’t do the trick, she can always quote the majestic authority of the BBC: suggesting an immigrant-related rise in crime is false.

I also can’t understand why the BBC’s correspondents don’t coordinate their narratives better. That emphatic false from the Washington correspondent at the end of his story really wanted to be further from the somewhat downbeat report from the Europe correspondent – like, in a whole different news broadcast.

[I wrote down the BBC correspondents’ words from memory immediately after the programme aired yesterday.]

Politically correct v. formally correct v. actually correct: distant thoughts on the Tommy Robinson affair

Prime Minister George Grenville was the author of the 1765 stamp act – which led, in time, to the creation of the United States, but that was very far from his intent. In terms of mere formal law, Grenville had a good case for believing he could do what he did. In an obituary, Edmund Burke explained how a well-meaning man of some ability could cause so much trouble. After studying law, Grenville

did not go very largely into the world but plunged into … the business of office, and the limited and fixed methods and forms established there.

Men who only know the world of government administration are dangerously limited:

habits of office are apt to give them a turn to think the substance of business not to be much more important than the forms in which it is conducted. These forms are adapted to ordinary occasions and therefore persons who are nurtured in office do admirably well, as long as things go on in their common order, but when the high roads are broken up, and the waters out, when a new and troubled scene is opened, and the file affords no precedent, then it is that a greater knowledge of mankind, and a far more comprehensive understanding of things, is requisite than office ever gave, or than office can ever give.

As regards Tommy Robinson:

– Sending him to jail for 13 months was ever so politically correct.

– As discussed in the comment threads of a couple of posts below, it may well also be formally correct – not in terms of some new-minted ‘hate speech’ law but in terms of established UK trial precedents. We will not know for absolute certain till we hear more (including what – if anything – Mr Robinson can say for himself), but between those who wonder if he engaged in deliberate Gandhi-style law-breaking, those who wonder if he had a layman’s (mis)understanding of the law, and those who think he’s an idiot or worse, there is ample scope for it.

– Who thinks it is actually correct to send Mr Robinson to jail for 13 months while we have yet to hear of the Rotherham councillors (or any of their imitators elsewhere) serving 13 days? (Being ordered to apologise for what they did to whistleblowers does not quite compare.)

As Burke told the MPs who voted to tax the north american colonies,

All we have a right to do is not always wise to be done.

One day the Times headline writers might figure out what actually helps save rhinos

The paper edition of the Times that hit my doormat this morning had an interesting headline: “Hi-tech kit keeps rhinos safe from poachers”.

The online version has an even more interesting headline: “Hi-tech kit and ex-spies keeps South Africa’s rhinos safe from poachers”.

Neither headline is untrue, both the hi-tech gadgetry and the spies are helping preserve the rhinos, but both are missing something. My use of the “Deleted by the PC Media” tag is a little inaccurate, as is my use of the “Hippos” tag, but we seem to lack a tag for “Rhinos” or for “Never even entered the PC Media’s pretty little heads despite the facts staring them in the face from their own reporting”. See if you can guess what the missing factor is from this excerpt:

South Africa, home to 80 per cent of the world’s 29,000 rhinos, loses about three a day to poachers, the vast majority in state parks. Private reserves have become essential to preventing the animals from extinction, as long as the owners can afford to protect them.

Turning the 150,000-acre reserve into a 21st-century fortress in the African bush costs £1 million a year but the investment has paid off. The park has not lost a rhino in the past two years. It is hardly surprising. At each of the park’s four gates, guests visiting its five-star lodges, as well as staff, only enter after systems have checked numberplates and fingerprints against a national criminal database and are tracked and monitored until they leave.

Kruger National Park is far less secure and the rate of survival among its 9,000-strong rhino population is poor. Sixty per cent of all poaching incidents in South Africa occur there. Too often its rangers, police and officials are in the pay of poachers. Rhino horns can fetch up to £70,000 per kilogram in Asia, where they are imagined to cure a range of ills from hangovers to cancer.

The analogy might strike the uninitiated as coming somewhat from a distance.

The strangest things remind the BBC of the evils of the west – and fail to remind them of the evils of socialism.

If you watch through the BBC’s ‘Why mums-to-be are fleeing Venezuela’ and then wait, you will see an earlier piece ‘Begging for food in Venezuela’. Watch that and keep waiting and you will see ‘Where a coffee costs wads of banknotes’ after which you’ll be offered ‘Venezuela indigenous group flees crisis’. Finally, having worked back to 2 August 2017, you will encounter ‘What’s going on in Venezuela?’, during which you will learn that in 2013, Chavez was succeeded by “fellow socialist” Maduro. This is the first – and AFAICS the last – encounter with the word socialist or any word resembling it.

If watching late-stage-socialism-reporting-that-dares-not-speak-its-name depresses you, you can cheer yourself up by watching Tony Robinson (Baldrick as was 🙂 ) in a series of programmes on Britain’s cathedrals. If cathedral architecture and history is your thing, these are perfectly watchable – he even comes across an actual baldrick at one point – with only occasional excursions into BBC-style history.

Liverpool Cathedral was built in the 20th century, funded by public contributions. Building began before WWI and was not yet finished when German bombers hit it several times without managing to flatten it in WWII.

– Did you know that the Earle family contributed £25,000 of its £500,000 building cost? Did you know that a full century and more before the first plans for Liverpool cathedral were drawn up, an ancestor of the Earle family made money in the triangular trade? Well, you would if you’d watched the programme on May 4th.

– Did you know that in the century between these two events, British people – possibly including an Earle ancestor and of-statistical-certainty including ancestors of other donors – made the slave trade and then slavery itself rare in the world. Well, if you didn’t, you wouldn’t have learnt it from the programme.

I liked the cathedrals, though. And if you watched through all those Venezuela shorts then you would likely suspect that something that government was doing was unwise.

Definitive Texts: 1984 as PC’s self-stupifying how-to manual

I get the question, in another form, from teachers, who suggest I should write about ‘real’ things like racism and unemployment. Sometimes the teachers claim that fantasy is too difficult, or ‘beyond the average child’, but a lot of them complain that it doesn’t give them opportunities enough for class discussions of important modern issues.     (‘Why don’t you write real books?’, Diana Wynne Jones)

In Orwell’s 1984, one of the many acts of the IngSoc (English Socialist) party is to write garbled versions (called ‘Definitive Texts’) of books whose message undermines the totalitarian ethos but whose titles are too well known just to repress. A review (h/t instapundit) shows that the recent film version of Madeleine L’Engle’s ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ has given it this treatment. Meg and her mother are now black, and the child actor chosen to play Charles Wallace adds so considerably to the rainbow effect that the film makes him adopted, lest even the most woke viewer notice the impossibility of his being the offspring of Meg’s mixed-race parents. The twins are missing entirely

which may be a blessing, considering that political correctness probably would have dictated they be played by a Native American dwarf and a disabled transsexual

etc. And all this merely serves as a distraction from the ruthless gutting of the Christian resonances that are as much a part of L’Engle’s books as of the Narnia stories. (The numerous other incoherent plot changes may reflect the scriptwriter’s wokeness or their poor memory or both.)

The review presents all this well enough. I’m not writing here to repeat it, but to reflect on how it hurts the PC themselves, not just us. To explain, I have to provide a worked example (so this post is longer than mine usually are).

Sadly, I missed the chance Natalie once had to meet the late Diana Wynne Jones, so I never asked her the questions I had. One of the more trivial was about her third reason why her early books all had male leading characters. (Her first reason is by far the more worth discussing – but that is another story.) Her third reason was she wanted to write a book that her children (all boys) would read and “in those days, boys would not read books with a girl as lead character.”

Obviously, Diana knew that was not literally true. Swallows and Amazons (written long before “those days”) stars twice as many girls as boys, and a later book in the series has thrice as many girls as boys. However she could have replied that none of those girls ever think a thought that would bring a blush to the cheeks of a young boy. When Nancy and Peggy are obliged by their great-aunt to dress in party frocks rather than the sailing gear they prefer, their reaction is almost as horrified as a boy’s might be. Susan’s femininity is strictly practical – boys know that when children camp or sail, someone has to manage the cooking. Perhaps Dorothea, with her dreams of Dutchmen bringing her tulips across the north sea and her yearning to be a writer, gets closest to thinking girlish thoughts: one can just about imagine her writing “The Tale of the Twin Princesses” if there were the slightest chance any of her friends would read it – but since she knows they wouldn’t, she writes “The Outlaw of the Broads”, which is clearly a swashbuckler.

So what I would have asked Diana was, “Did you ever try ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ on your sons?” (It was published in 1963 – their ages suit). I read it at age seven or eight and could not put it down, so I think she could have got her sons to read it – despite the fact that Meg, for all her mathematical genius, is not at all like the Amazon girls. Page one of ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ finds Meg angsting away in her bedroom. The next day she meets a boy and, after a shamefully brief period of caution, goes gooey over him. She’s embarrassed when her mother accidentally reveals she still plays with dolls – but that’s nothing to what a small boy identifying with her would feel.

Now part of why that boy keeps reading is because if small boy reader gets as far as page 2, he may think for a bit that the book will be about Charles Wallace. Adoring elder sister Meg knows Charles is a genius, despite the neighbours thinking he’s an idiot. Every small boy relates to this. Every small boy knows he’s a genius but, for some strange reason, the people around him treat him as if he were an idiot. Maybe this book is really about the amazing deeds of superboy Charles Wallace, as chronicled by Lois-Lane-like sister Meg?

If this brief mistake were in any way contrived, it would be a huge turn-off to re-reading. “The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tyler” was praised by all the usual suspects. Aided by deceptive cover art, its writer works hard in the first half of the book to persuade you that first-person-narrator Tyke is a boy. Then she reveals Tyke is a girl. It’s as easy as ringing a doorbell and running off. “Yes comrade, this proves you too still suffer unconscious gender micro-stereotyping. Report to your assigned gender deconstruction re-educator immediately.” I assume some boys with feminist mothers read it once. I’d guess fewer read it twice. (Of course, these days, the making of those fixed binary assumptions about Tyke’s she-it-he gender identity would be the verboten thing. It is so hard for the woke to stay ‘relevant’.)

In a ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ however, this initial impression is wholly natural and innocent. It is close to how Madeleine L’Engle really does see Meg’s and Charles’ later relationship. (In the later books of the series, more-grown-up Charles is usually pointman, with Meg in a supportive role.) In the first third of ‘A Wrinkle in Time’, Charles takes the initiative in trying to rescue their lost father. Meg is the observer of the action but also the weakest: the slowest to recover from multi-dimensional travel, the slowest to learn the lessons their guides teach, the least patient (though the value of this is slightly more ambiguous). In a character-displaying scene the children confront the wall that sucks in the forms which define everyone on the totalitarian planet of Camazotz. The two boys each reach out a hand to touch it – “Ugh!” says Charles, “It’s like ice”, says Calvin – while Meg, between them, is intensely conscious she has no desire whatever to let go of their other hands to touch this vile wall herself. The boys can explore the wall; her job is to give (and receive) moral support. Already however, we’ve had hints that Charles is too young, too confident, more at risk than he realises. When he first attempts a dangerously overconfident move, Meg, terrified, temporarily saves him by almost knocking him out but when he recovers the two resume their relation of Charles taking the lead. Assuring her he can handle it, he advances open-eyed to his doom. The first third of the book ends with Meg, her rescued father and her boyfriend fleeing in the nick of time from Camazotz, where Charles is now far more enslaved than his father was.

In the middle part of the book, Meg is desperate to rescue her beloved baby brother – and her plan for doing so is that her father and boyfriend should come up with a plan for doing so and carry it out. Her job is to motivate them, so she gets angrier and angrier as, despite their best efforts, they make little progress at the impossible task before them. Finally, they manage to contact the guardians who have guided them, only to be told that both father’s plan and boyfriend’s plan are pure suicide. In the awful silence that follows, the unbelieveable idea occurs to Meg (for the first time) that she is expected to do something. Her immediate reaction is to shout, “I can’t go”, and when the cuttingly dismissive response shows her that in fact that is the idea, she has a tantrum. Only after that can she face the facts. It is Charles mind that is enslaved. Her boyfriend has known him for less than a day. Her father has been a prisoner since before Charles could speak. Only Meg knows him well enough to have any chance of freeing him. An impossible task for them, it is only almost impossible for her. Father and boyfriend protest vigorously against sending her – and it is clear both Meg and Madeleine L’Engle would be immensely unimpressed with them if they didn’t – but there is no escaping the logic to which the plot has naturally led her (and the small boy reader). If anything defines Meg, it is that she loves her brother, and to this, everything else she thinks about herself must give way.

Thus we reach the final part of the book, and it is Meg who must “do the hero bit”, as Dianna Wynne Jones puts it. She is the one who must walk, alone and terrified, towards the dark tower, armed only with the usual cryptic clue – that only a single weapon can save her “but you must find it for yourself”. I won’t spoil it for you by telling whether she wins through or not – but I suspect you can guess.

So (for those who have managed to endure reading this far) not only could ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ be made the subject of “classroom discussions” but I have (I hope) demonstrated that a lefty teacher with at least two brain cells to rub together – and, much more important, the ability to set their inner PC censor temporarily to a low enough setting while reading it that they can think about it – could make remarks about roles and expectations and all that stuff they like to go on about. But “you can’t say that” silences their ability to think more than our ability to speak. Gross crude effects – make Meg black, replace the Christian themes – plastered onto the tale like Pollock-style paint blobbed onto a Rembrandt, provide the ‘definitive text’ for a socially-aware classroom discussion, a woke review, an idiocy of political correctness – but nothing that relates the actual work to their actual (supposedly) concerns.

The Parable of the Man of Many New Words

The teacher told the crowd a parable. In a village in the old South in the year 1866, there were several men who had owned slaves, and fought for the confederacy, and been forced to free their slaves, all of them unwillingly, some bitterly so. And there was also in that village a man who had repented of slavery and freed his slaves many, many years before, and had fought for the union, and so returned to that village with their authority and commanded the freeing of all the others’ slaves. And there came to that village a man of many new words. And he said to the man who had freed his slaves long before, “You deplorable sinner. You have owned slaves, therefore you are vile, and you have used force upon these others, therefore you are vile, so you must wear sackcloth and ashes and cringe before these others; and though you repent thus all your days, which I shall make as short as I can, yet you will never be cleansed, you will never be forgiven.” (Except that the man of many new words said this with his many new words, not as I have told it to you.) And he said to the other men, “You have been terribly wronged by that deplorable man. You have no power therefore you can do no wrong and he has used power over you – wrongfully, since he in his past has done evil, and I tell you he still does evil this day and every day. Therefore you must hate him with all your heart and all your mind and all your strength.” (Except that this too he said using his many new words, not as I have told it to you.)

Afterwards, the disciples asked the teacher to explain the parable. He told them the men who fought for the confederacy represented the non-European cultures of the world, all of whom had at times been much enslaved and at other times had done much enslaving, and had sold and bought and owned those they themselves enslaved, and also others. The man who fought for the union represented the English-speaking culture that long ago had been much enslaved, and later had themselves bought and sold and owned slaves (more than some, fewer than others), and then had repented of slavery and made it rare in the world. The man of many new words was the attitude that praises all the cultures that were forced to free their slaves, especially those that were most bitterly unwilling to do so, and hates the only one that freed them by choice.

The disciples asked the teacher why he had not spoken this plainly to the crowd. “If I had done that”, he said, “the men of many new words would have interrupted me before my first sentence was done – and if I had then rebuked them roundly, they would have arrested me for hate speech. But because it is their absurdity to see the ex-confederates in that village as like their enemies, not like their proteges, they did not notice my meaning.”

“But”, replied the disciples, “they’re still not noticing – and they’re still inventing new words.”

The pitchforks are out for Count Dankula

“M8 Yer Dugs A Nazi.” That link takes you to a video in which a man who wished to annoy his girlfriend trained her cute pug to lift its paw in a “Nazi salute” in response to Nazi slogans. Well, it used to. At present for me it takes me to a video of a black screen saying “This video is not available in your country”. Mark Meechan, the man who made the video, is from Scotland and I am in England, but I do not think that explains it.

From the Telegraph‘s account and even more from a swing round Mr Meechan’s “Count Dankula” YouTube channel, it does sound as if his humour tends towards the crass and tasteless. But do these words from the beginning of the video sound to you like the voice of a man committed to the triumph of Nazism?

The court heard that at the start of the clip, he said: “My girlfriend is always ranting and raving about how cute and adorable her wee dog is so I thought I would turn him into the least cute thing I could think of, which is a Nazi.”

In the video, the dog is seen perking up when it hears the statements and appears to lift its paw to the “Sieg Heil” command in the video, which has now been viewed more than million times.

Mr Meechan is currently on trial at Airdrie Sheriff Court for committing a hate crime. If convicted he faces up to a year in prison. The verdict was due two days ago but has been delayed for reasons unknown.

One of the more detailed reports on the case came from the Washington Post:

The dog is also seen watching a Hitler rally during the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. The dog appears to raise its paw when Hitler proclaims “Sieg Heil.”

“Who’s a good wee Nazi?” Meechan praised the dog.

The video ricocheted around the Internet and has now been viewed more than 3 million times. Some found it amusing; others feel it was crude and anti-Semitic, including a woman who Meechan says confronted him, then spread dog feces on his front door.

Prosecutors say it’s a hate crime.

That April, soon after the video was posted, police knocked on Meechan’s door in Coatbridge, a town in North Lanarkshire, Scotland, he told Alex Jones. The officers told him that he was being charged with a hate crime and that the video could be seen as promoting violence against Jews. They told him to change his clothes, took pictures of his apartment and hauled him off to jail.

He spent a night there and is now on trial for violating the Communications Act of 2003, which prohibits using public telecommunications to send discriminatory religious messages.

The Heart of Emptiness

“It is no strange thing … to find a violent persecutor a perfect unbeliever of his own creed.” (Edmund Burke)

I can’t have read 1% of what’s been written about Harvey Weinstein and Hollywood in the last few days, so to say there’s a point I’ve not seen spelled out may mean very little. But as I’ve not seen it yet, I’ll say it here.

Of course, I’ve seen much that I agree with – and much that I already knew.

– Long before this story broke, I knew that the very industry that virtue-signalled its devotion to PC in public was certain to be the very place where vile conduct would abound, just as Sweden is rated a world-leader in feminism – and is where a raped girl waits more than a month for the police even to interview her. Only someone stupid enough to be surprised that the workers are starving in socialist Venezuela would be surprised to find the politically-correct victimising a group they patronise.

– I see, as Virginia Postrel does, that Hollywood’s recent rush to escape Harvey includes a preference cascade – far, far, far more of one than the way everyone in East Germany had always hated communism after the wall fell. (For a rare exception, if you can pass the Times paywall, read the revolting Matt Frei’s revoltingly sympathetic account of his revolting East German apparatchik relations’ feelings in the October 24th 2009 edition.) It’s easy to see why the PC mantra ‘regret is rape’ is so well liked by those who remember how unenjoyable their career-enhancing trysts with Harvey were  – and remember less well how indifferent they themselves were to others. I have not a moment’s doubt there were actual crimes; the details of Harvey’s technique that have emerged scream that there were. And I have not a moment’s doubt that the acted pleasure of others, who knew well the bargain they were making, was as fake as the better sex under communism that the NYT believes in (but I don’t). Who wouldn’t ‘regret’ spending time with the elephant in the hotel bedroom? Thay say power is an aphrodisiac; it would need to be.

– I see, as many do, that this phoniness of many Hollywood women is grossly (in every sense) matched by that of many Hollywood men. I’d like to write that I can’t imagine a less convincing apology that Tarentino’s – except that I don’t have to imagine it. Hillary Clinton, let alone his fellow Hollywood types, offered still worse or still less honest or still slower, or all three. If Brad Pitt had carried out his threat to beat up Harvey long ago – if he had done it somewhere so public that the story was unkillable – then he might have spared more than just Gwyneth Paltrow from future unpleasant encounters. That would have meant taking a risk; that would required him to act like the heroic characters he acts. But Brad took it out in unpublicised venting – which still puts him well above the filthy norm of Hollywood, I guess. Far lower is writing a blank-verse poem (after the story broke!) about your shameful inaction in all the years before. It shows some contrition, but my poems rhyme and scan, so I rate low the value of one that doesn’t make that much effort. At least the author’s poetic form lets him naturally repeat again and again his refrain: “Everybody-fucking-knew”. Finding out that Harvey’s contract included a clause protecting his company from paying his harrassment suits is as if we learned Hillary’s pre-nup included a protection against her money being used to pay off future Juanitas, Paulas and Etceteras. We don’t need that to know Hillary is full of it – and we didn’t need that clause to know that the poem tells less than the whole truth, not more.

– I see that Sarah Hoyt writes sense about passes, and that Stephanie Gutmann describes a real un-Hollywood workplace. I see just as clearly that those who took their pay-offs in career-boosting gigs or confidentiality-agreement payouts or both have yet another reason to indulge the left-wing tendency to blame society as a whole, not specific individuals typical only of their specific self-chosen society. On recent data, Harvey perpetrated one-and-a-half incidents per year over decades. My not-so-left-wing views tell me that many crimes are committed by far fewer criminals, so I agree with those who say that number will rise.

So (if you’re still reading 🙂 ), what have I not seen? Well, John Ringo, repeated in instapundit, tells a parable about how many in Hollywood (and it would be men as well as women) might need, for their own self-respect, to believe men outside Hollywood are far worse. It’s a well-written piece and it could explain the crazy antics of an Ashley Judd. But Occam whispers a simpler explanation in my ear. THESE PEOPLE ACT. The one thing we truly know about them is they can act – all of them competently, some exceptionally.

(To pick a name entirely at random) I never believed Chloe Grace Moretz drank blood for dinner because her vampire character does in ‘Let Me In’. I never thought she loved guns better than Dana Loesch because Hit Girl does, or that Hit Girl’s mocking, “Dude, that is one gay-looking taser”, meant Chloe never bowed to the tyranny of “you can’t say that”. So when I see her nervously praising Hillary at the Democrats 2016 convention, why would I believe her? I don’t mean, why would I believe she is a good judge of political character, I mean why would I believe this is not just a career-serving acting gig in her own mind? It is easier, and less demeaning, to feign liking for Hillary in public than liking for the elephant in the bedroom in private – isn’t it? (Female commenters, please feel free to correct my victorian-valued mansplaining if I’m wrong about that.) In a Hollywood where some were enduring Harvey and more were covering for him, and this is far from the only such scandal, why on earth would we assume that anyone’s enthusiasm for PC is any more sincere than the eagerness for Harvey that was feigned on the casting couch? That Harvey never believed in his public creed is well, kind of obvious, but isn’t it the simplest explanation to assume that pretty well none of them do?

Some things I will miss about the now defunct Bella Caledonia web magazine

Bella Caledonia is, or was, a magazine style website devoted to a far left vision of Scottish Independence. I lurked there often and commented seldom. When I clicked on the link http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/ this morning I saw a message abruptly announcing its closure, and when I visited it again just now I saw the “404 Not Found” message. (Update: the site is now back up, though its future is still in doubt.)

I hope that was just a glitch and they haven’t really taken the whole site down. However far from them I am politically, I can have nothing but sympathy with someone who has been writing for or commenting at a website for a decade and then finds it has all been wiped. I would cry if that happened here.

As someone interested in languages, I shall miss the writing in and about Scots. I shall miss the commenters. Some of them were refreshingly, some worryingly, far from the mainstream of politics. A feeling of kinship… I shall say no more. Above all I shall miss their clarity about what they wanted for Scotland.

Three years ago I was so struck by an essay by regular Bella contributor Robin McAlpine, director of the Common Weal thinktank, about his desires for press regulation in a future independent Scotland that I copied it to my clippings file. The title alone was an Orwellian masterpiece. It originally appeared at this url: http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2013/03/19/real-freedom-sounds-like-many-voices/. Since that piece now seems to have vanished along with the rest of the Bella Caledonia archive, and since it is a mirror to the latest efforts by a Conservative UK government to end press freedom, I shall preserve it by posting it below.

I have put the phrase “Above all, this would require that titles other than the franchised ones would be banned” in bold, but other than that have made no changes. Here it is:

Real Freedom Sounds Like Many Voices

by Robin McAlpine 19TH MARCH 2013

“What we are actually having a debate about is the right of very, very rich people to control our society outside of any oversight or regulation …”

I have unburdened myself of the frustration I feel at the way I feel about how the media regulation debate has been covered in the Scottish press (here). Since then I’ve been contacted by a number of people who share my frustration but who want to know if there are other options for media regulation or other possibilities or arguments that are being censored in this debate. Yes there are – all of them.

→ Continue reading: Some things I will miss about the now defunct Bella Caledonia web magazine

Nice job breaking it, Huffman

Amelia Tait, writing in the New Statesman, says,

Reddit’s CEO edited comments on a pro-Trump thread and everyone should care

Reddit CEO Steve Huffman has publicly admitted to editing comments on the pro-Donald Trump subreddit r/the_donald in a move he has described as “trolling the trolls”. Huffman – who goes by “spez” on Reddit – deleted comments from the pro-Trump community on the site, and also altered comments that insulted him. He replaced comments reading “fuck u/spez” with those of the users who moderate the thread. This meant the criticism directed towards him appeared to be attacking the thread’s own moderators.

[…]

Yet although this might seem like a small and temporary lapse in judgement, the implications are huge.

Normally when a comment is edited on Reddit – by a user or a moderator – a small asterisk will appear after the time stamp to indicate that it has been changed. In this instance, no such asterisk appeared, meaning Huffman ostensibly has the ability to edit comments without a trace. This is crucial because two months ago, a Redditor was taken to court for comments he left on the site. Huffman’s editing powers could clearly be abused to cause trouble for individuals.

Beyond this, however, Huffman chose the wrong Reddit community to anger. Those on r/the_donald are already deeply convinced by conspiracies, and, in a way, Huffman has now validated their claims.

I first came across r/the_donald when news was breaking of the terrorist massacre of 49 people attending a gay nightclub in Orlando carried out on behalf of Islamic State by Omar Mateen. I say “news was breaking”, but it was not breaking at r/news. As one Reddit user said, “They deleted EVERY other thread about the shooting”. Another said, “You know whats crazy? I live in Orlando and I had no idea this was going on. I depend on reddit for my news 100% since it can rapidly deliver news from many sources that I can validate or discard. I have literally been up all night on Reddit and due to the apparent thread lockings and deletions, this story took 9 hours to make it to me — I probably live within thirty minutes of this place.” Yet another said, “This situation has been unfolding for hours, it’s the deadliest mass shooting in US history, and the only evidence of it on the front page is stuff from /r/the_donald?”

The talk is all of “fake news” at the moment, with a presumption that the fakery is coming from the right. But many of those Americans who saw with their own eyes the main Reddit news page attempting to play down a major news story while the Donald Trump subreddit reported it freely will have concluded that those Trump guys were telling the truth and the other guys were fakers – and who can blame them? Some of them will have switched from r/news to r/the_donald as their first news source and will have gone on to vote for Trump as a result. It is always fun to watch the “Nice job breaking it, hero” trope play out in real life, but r/the_Donald is not itself a good news source. The comments that Huffman altered were the usual conspiracy rubbish that is thrown at any politician these days. I don’t believe that Hillary Clinton is running a paedophile ring for the same reason that I never believed that Ted Heath was. Apart from anything else, major political figures are too closely watched. Steve Huffman had the right and was right to ban the “Pizzagate” subreddit, which made claims absurd even by the standards typical of such things and had caused real harm to innocent people. As ever, the believers in the conspiracy took any opposition to their theories as PROOOOF that the opposer was in on it too. Mr Huffman would have been completely within his rights and acting in the interests of his company to have banned the people who were libelling him. Instead he chose to play games with his own site’s credibility. A few weeks ago I would have dismissed the idea that the Reddit CEO would personally hack the accounts of his own customers on the r/the_donald subreddit as yet more conspirazoid rubbish. As Amelia Tait said, Huffman has now validated their claim to be persecuted. He has also validated their claim to be important.