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]

Progressivism, the shield against Covid

This tweet by “the Rabbit Hole” is possibly the most damning, and the funniest, single image of media double standards I have ever seen:

In case someone else buys Twitter and it goes away, the image shows matched pairs of headlines from Vox, the Washington Post, Forbes, ABC News, the Insider, CNN, CNBC, the New York Times, the Verge and the AP. Every one of these outlets decided to run essentially the same pair of stories a few months apart. Taking but two examples,

The Insider said “Don’t blame Black Lives Matter protests for the spike in coronavirus cases across the US” and “The Capitol insurrection seems to have caused a superspreader event among lawmakers. Some Republicans refused to mask up.”

The Verge said, “Blaming protesters for COVID-19 spread ignores the bigger threats to health” and “COVID-19 cases in the Capitol are only the tip of the iceberg.”

And so on for the rest of them.

I can remember a time when if separate reports written by many different journalists in a whole bunch of famous newspapers and TV channels all said the same thing, it made me more likely to believe them.

Matt Taibbi gets the Burke treatment

It’s always puzzling to people who value ‘the revolution’ more than its alleged benefits to discover that a former comrade actually cares what is true, so chooses a different side if they see the truth is there. When people who value political correctness over actual correctness meet such a puzzle, their way of avoiding having to understand it is often to explain away the change as the result of bribery. Accusing Burke of:

“… praising the aristocratic hand that hath purloined him from himself …”

…helped Thomas Paine explain away Edmund Burke’s prescient criticism of the French revolutionaries. “This is at least an elegant formulation of that perennial hypothesis of venality”, remarks Connor Cruise O’Brien in his biography of Burke – before noting that Paine’s lesser prescience meant he was lucky to escape France before the revolutionaries did to him what they did to so many fellow travellers, as things developed the way Burke had predicted.

Nothing ever changes in these brave new worlds. When it came to curing poverty and suchlike, said Burke, the French revolutionaries were happy to let any quack try out the latest nostrums, but when it came to seizing power, they used historically tried and tested methods “because there they were in earnest”. Matt Taibbi – having reported information Elon Musk made visible about how Twitter helped censor the Hunter Biden laptop story – is getting the same treatment. Journolist has done its best – and it appears that its best is to agree that a bunch of people beholden to Soros, to Pritzker (to Bankman-Fried, till just now) and so on, and their supporters, should all tweet how shameful they think it is that Matt is having anything to do with Elon, because Elon is rich.

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THAT IS THE END OF THIS POST. WHAT FOLLOWS IS JUST BACKGROUND ON BURKE FOR ANYONE WHO WANTS IT.

Ten years ago, I wrote the first of my (very few) instalanched posts. (It was put up for me by Natalie Solent – I was not a poster on samizdata back then.) It was about Edmund Burke. As its old instalink has succumbed to bitrot, I quote the meat of that old post below, in case anyone wants background on his role in my post above.
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When I first started reading Edmund Burke, it was for the political wisdom his writings contained. Only many years later did I start to benefit from noticing that the Burke we know – the man proved a prophet by events and with an impressive legacy – differed from the Burke that the man himself knew: the man who was a lifelong target of slander; the one who, on each major issue of his life, gained only rare and partial victories after years or decades of seeing events tragically unfold as he had vainly foretold. Looking back, we see the man revered by both parties as the model of a statesman and thinker in the following century, the hero of Sir Winston Churchill in the century after. But Burke lived his life looking forwards:

– On America, an initial victory (repeal of the Stamp Act) was followed by over 15 years in the political wilderness and then by the second-best of US independence. (Burke was the very first member of parliament to say that Britain must recognise US independence, but his preferred solution when the crisis first arose in the mid-1760s was to preserve – by rarely using – a prerogative power of the British parliament that could one day be useful for such things as opposing slavery.)

– He vastly improved the lot of the inhabitants of India, but in Britain the first result of trying was massive electoral defeat, and his chosen means after that – the impeachment of Warren Hastings – took him 14 years of exhausting effort and ended in acquittal. Indians were much better off, but back in England the acquittal felt like failure.

– Three decades of seeking to improve the lot of Irish Catholics, latterly with successes, ended in the sudden disaster of Earl Fitzwilliam’s recall and the approach of the 1798 rebellion which he foresaw would fail (and had to hope would fail).

– The French revolutionaries’ conquest of England never looked so likely as at the time of his death in 1797. It was the equivalent of dying in September 1940 or November 1941.

It’s not surprising that late in his life he commented that the ill success of his efforts might seem to justify changing his opinions. But he added that, “Until I gain other lights than those I have”, he would have to go on being true to his understanding.

Burke was several times defeated politically – sometimes as a direct result of being honest – and later (usually much later) resurged simply because his opponents, through refusing to believe his warnings, walked into water over their heads and drowned, doing a lot of irreversible damage in the process. Even when this happened, he was not quickly respected. By the time it became really hard to avoid noticing that the French revolution was as unpleasant as Burke had predicted, all the enlightened people knew he was a longstanding prejudiced enemy of it, so “he loses credit for his foresight because he acted on it”, as Harvey Mansfield put it. (Similarly, whenever ugly effects of modern politics become impossible to ignore, people like us get no credit from those to whom their occurrence is unexpected because we were against them “anyway”.)

Lastly, I offer this Burke quote to guide you when people treat their success in stealing something from you (an election, for example) as evidence of their right to do so:

“The conduct of a losing party never appears right: at least, it never can possess the only infallible criterion of wisdom to vulgar judgments – success.”

Samizdata quote of the science – censoring day

The participants in our study, as well as those mentioned in the introduction and many others not included in our sample, are not fringe scientists. Most of them are leading figures: researchers and doctors who prior to the COVID-19 era had a respectable status, with many publications in the scientific literature, some of them with books and hundreds of publications, some headed academic or medical departments, some of them were editors of medical journals, and some had won significant awards. Nevertheless, as our findings show, they were not protected from censorship, nor from the suppression and defamation campaign launched against them. This fact indicates that the message is that no one is exempt from censorship and no academic or medical status, senior as it may be, is a guaranteed shield against it.

– Study: Censorship and Suppression of Covid‐19 Heterodoxy

Free speech on Twitter: my hopes, their fears (Samizdata quotes of today’s Guardian and yesterday’s Independent)

Today’s Guardian warns:

Twitter’s mass layoffs, days before US midterms, could be a misinformation disaster

Internal chaos at the company – and the decimation of its staff – has created ideal conditions for falsehoods and hateful content.

The mass layoffs at Twitter, that diminished several teams, including staff on the company’s safety and misinformation teams, could spell disaster during the US midterms elections next week, experts have warned.

What would the woke do without experts – for example Paul Barrett, described as “an expert in disinformation and fake news at New York University”. I’m sure he’s very committed to it, but as to being expert at it – well, judge for yourselves. The Guardian quotes Paul as saying Twitter’s “chaos”, and:

“lack of staff and resources dedicated to counteracting misinformation, has created ideal conditions for election misinformation to thrive … Twitter is in the midst of a category 5 hurricane, and that is not a good environment for fostering vigilance when dealing with inevitable attempts to spread falsehoods and hateful content.”

Yesterday’s Independent shared Paul’s concern. The headline

Man arrested on suspicion of tampering with voting machine

did not prepare me for reading that their concern about this Colorado man was not that he might have affected the June primary but that

it heightened concerns among election officials and security experts that conspiracy theories related to the 2020 presidential election could inspire some voters to meddle with – or even to sabotage – election equipment

Oh, those wicked election deniers! If only they had not raised the idea that such things had already happened, that registered Democrat would never have thought of inserting a thumb drive into a voting machine.

Despite this ingenious framing, I suspect what these ‘experts’ find really hateful is that the ‘information’ they’ve been supplying for two years seems to be missing its target anyway. A recent poll says that 40% agree, and only 36% disagree, that the 2020 presidential election was stolen – and of the 36%, one in three find it “understandable” that others might believe it was, which was not at all the idea meant to be conveyed by always putting ‘baseless’ before ‘claims of election fraud’. (And when the Rasmussen poll a month ago had the don’t-knows choose which side they thought more likely, they did not at all split the way the experts thought they should.) So if that happened despite all those safety and misinformation staffers banning tweets and accounts here, there and everywhere, how safe will the narrative be (I can understand the experts worrying) if Twitter lets reports of vote fraud be seen and assessed by the community, not just the experts?

So much for their fears, now a word about mine. The worst thing about vote fraud is not that it is lied about but that it happens. How much vote fraud will there be in the mid-terms? (Given the conveniently long lead-in times, how much has there already been?) My expectation is: a lot. My hope is: not enough. Hope is not a strategy. This article on the election integrity movement (h/t instapundit) notes some successes but concedes other failures:

Even with the recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court victory, that state remains essentially lawless when it comes to election integrity.

– and IIUC, the counting of post-dated or undated ballots in Pennsylvania only got prevented because a judge recently died, leading to an even-numbers stand-off in a key case.

But I can see it will be inconvenient to the lawless if Twitter hasn’t the censors or the will to bring a halt to users showing poll-watching being prevented. No wonder the Guardian and the Independent are upset.

The attacks on Paul Pelosi and Gabby Giffords: some parallels

There is no doubt that Paul Pelosi, husband of Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, has been the victim of a vicious assault. There is no doubt that the person who carried out this attack was David DePape. There is widespread doubt about many other aspects of the story. The most common theory is that far from breaking into to the Pelosi residence as an assassin, DePape was invited in as a male prostitute, only for the two men to quarrel over payment or drugs. I will not rehash the arguments put forward in support of this theory, which are available to be read all over the internet. I do wish to stress that if all or any of this is true, it in no way excuses the crime. It would, however, make it a different type of crime from the one the media say it is.

The media would have you believe that these doubts come only from mad conspiracy theorists. They are not helping their case by silently changing details of their own reporting.

Look at these screenshots of two Politico accounts of this story, presented side by side by Stephen L. Miller under the apt caption “Seriously WTF”.

The screenshot on the right takes you to a Politico story about the attack on Paul Pelosi written by Jeremy B. White and Nicholas Wu. I was familiar with this version because I had read it myself a few hours earlier. The title is “Police offer new details in Paul Pelosi assault” and the dateline (in American format) is given as 10/28/2022 09:46 PM EDT. The URL is https://www.politico.com/news/2022/10/28/police-pelosi-attack-intentional-00064098. Do I labour the point? That’s because I think this version of the story will disappear soon. Read it while you can. It says:

→ Continue reading: The attacks on Paul Pelosi and Gabby Giffords: some parallels

The innocence of Derek Chauvin

Two years ago, a post of mine looked at why people were falling for the BLM narrative about Floyd and Chauvin – not just the usual suspects who’d already fallen for the ones about Zimmerman and Wilson, but people like this guy, eloquently aware that Floyd was simply…

“a violent misogynist, a brutal man who met a predictably brutal end”

…yet swallowing the idea of police guilt in his death. (Before or after reading this post – or instead, if this post seems too long – by all means (re)read my old one.)

Now that poor (literally) Chauvin’s appeal seems to be overcoming his lack of funds for a lawyer, and the Minnesota Supreme Court’s refusal of a public defender, it’s time to remind people why it is folly to look at a picture of prone Floyd dying while under police restraint and confabulate belief in BLM’s narrative about it. My old post told people to read the story forwards, not backwards. This one tells people to know the background before studying the foreground. The usual suspects will continue telling the usual lies, but after two-and-a-half years of experiencing what believing BLM brings, maybe more people are prepared to review things they fell for back then.

Two superficially-contradictory statements are key to grasping what happened:

→ Continue reading: The innocence of Derek Chauvin

Paypal have shut down the account of the Free Speech Union

“PayPal shut down the accounts of the Free Speech Union, its founder the journalist Toby Young and a news website he created after alleged Covid-19 vaccine misinformation”, the Times reports:

Recent tweets by Young appear to question links between excess deaths and the Covid-19 jab, despite no evidence of a link between the two. The Daily Sceptic, of which he is editor-in-chief, also publishes articles on the topic. In 2021 Young was rebuked by Ipso, the press regulator, over a “significantly misleading” column that claimed the common cold could provide “natural immunity” to Covid and London was “probably approaching herd immunity”.

However, he insisted he was not anti-vaccine: “I believe the risks of the mRNA vaccines outweigh the benefits for those under 65 and without any medical conditions. We have repeatedly made it clear in The Daily Sceptic that while we have reservations about the efficacy and safety of the mRNA vaccines we do not take a position on whether people should take them or not but encourage them to do their own risk assessments.”

For the record, I have had all the Covid vaccinations, and plan to have the booster. But if Big Tech wanted to spread doubt about the safety of Covid vaccines there would be no better way to do it than what they are doing now. The purpose of this is obviously to censor. Like all types of lying, censorship can often work well for the liar at first, but once people know that censorship is occurring, they start to doubt every subsequent statement from a censored source. Every line is read through a lens stamped with the words “What else are they hiding?” In this case, “Are they hiding reports of adverse reactions? Do they even know if adverse reactions are occurring, given that you can’t talk about it?”

What about the argument that Paypal are a private company and ought to be able to exclude whoever the hell they like? This is one of many things I would gladly leave to the free market if we lived in anything like a free market. Unfortunately, in the real world the big companies are locked in a loving embrace with the State. They are quite happy to squelch troublesome people like Toby Young in exchange for regulators squelching troublesome competitors. In an industry where there are very few big players, it does not take long for a senior civil servant to make all the necessary calls. Then suddenly all sorts of ordinary things get difficult. Want to buy or sell on eBay? This is the list of permitted payment methods. Short, isn’t it? How long before all of them follow Paypal’s lead?

I miss the days when these verses from the Book of Revelation were the preserve of wild-eyed men walking the streets wearing sandwich boards:

16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand or in their foreheads,

17 that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark or the name of the beast or the number of his name.

Konstantin Kisin delivers a master class…

… in calmly ripping an interviewer a new orifice. Behold and enjoy.

If we had…

…a free market in money then we wouldn’t have inflation. (Please note that with zero inflation prices can still move relative to one another.)

…a free market in housing then we wouldn’t have a housing crisis.

…a free market in healthcare then queues for cancer care would be much shorter, perhaps even non-existent.

…a free market in energy then – all things being equal – things would be looking a lot better for this winter. Of course, if we had a genuine free market in energy – all things not being equal – then polluters would be compensating their victims. This could lead to some very odd outcomes and I wouldn’t like to predict what they would be.

…a free market in education there would be a lot less wokeness and a lot less student debt.

…a free market in social media we would have pile-ons, doxing and cancel culture.

“The media could not be played”, and that frightens me even more

The video embedded in this tweet from Laurence Fox apparently shows someone being arrested for tweeting. I cannot see the video, but the top comment says,

“Chap shares a post by @LozzaFox and the police arrest the chap, even though Laurence is actually stood there 👀

This is disgraceful. People upset by hurty words need to turn the Internet off and remember the old children’s rhyme – Sticks and Stones.”

Apparently the arrest had something to do with that meme that shows four LGBTQ+ Progress Pride flags (my goodness, “Newsround” has changed a lot since John Craven presented it) arranged so that the triangular inserts form a swastika. Fox’s Wikipedia entry says, “In June 2022 Fox tweeted an image of a swastika made from the LGBTQ+ Progress Pride flag with the caption ‘You can openly call the [Union Jack] a symbol of fa[s]cism and totalitarianism on Twatter. You cannot criticise the holy flags’. This led to him being temporarily suspended from Twitter for a day.”

This tweet from Richard Taylor of GB News may show the same video.

As you can probably tell, I am not at all sure what is going on. Is my inability to play the video censorship by Twitter, or just my old computer not being up to the job? Some accounts seem to imply that that the threatened arrest was not carried through, although that reassures me very little. As we have all seen, making the process the punishment has been a very successful way for the police to chill free speech while avoiding having to defend their actions in court.

Rotherham 1400, Telford 1000

Twenty-two years after 16-year-old Lucy Lowe, her mother and her sister were burned to death in a house fire started by Azhar Ali Mehmood (the 26-year-old who impregnated her when she was 14), the inquiry into grooming gangs in Telford has released a report on the phenomenon of which that was an example.

the authorities dismissed the 1,000 figure as ‘sensationalised’ and suggested the newspaper had ‘made it up on the back of a fag packet’. This week, inquiry chair Tom Crowther QC described the Sunday Mirror’s estimate as a ‘measured, reasonable and non-sensational assessment’. (h/t spiked)

It’s another example of how one of the things Blair made it unsafe to say back then was not only true in Telford (and true enough to compete with Rotherham – and with Rochdale, Aylesbury, Oxford, Derby, Halifax, Keighley, Peterborough, Huddersfield, Manchester and Newcastle) but became much more common, much more true, because the resulting politically-correct suppression of anything resembling basic policing “emboldens offenders”.

‘Islamophobia’ is not the only ‘phobia’ restricting free speech. But it has a certain claim to priority in this century’s war on free speech in Britain, so if we want to know what’s coming up for the others, we’d better pay attention to what the effects of hating free speech were as ‘Islamophobia’ permeated culture and law.

“In none of these places were any human remains unearthed.”

You have probably heard the shocking story, reported worldwide, of the discovery of mass graves in Canada containing the bodies of what were then called Indian and are now called First Nations children sent to residential schools.

What you heard was exactly that, a story. It is not true.

Canada’s National Post carries an important and well-researched article by Terry Glavin: “The year of the graves: How the world’s media got it wrong on residential school graves”.

As for the most recent uproars: not a single mass grave was discovered in Canada last year. The several sites of unmarked graves that captured international headlines were either already-known cemeteries, or they remain sites of speculation even now, unverified as genuine grave sites. Not a single child among the 3,201 children on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 2015 registry of residential school deaths was located in any of these places. In none of these places were any human remains unearthed.

Mr Gavin rightly acknowledges that the treatment of these children was shameful. It was denounced as such a full century ago:

…it was exactly 100 years ago this year that Peter Henderson Bryce, the former medical inspector for the Department of Indian Affairs, published a shocking account of the federal government’s indifference to deaths from infectious diseases and heartless neglect in the Indian residential schools. The 24-page booklet was titled, “The Story of a National Crime: Being an Appeal for Justice to the Indians of Canada; The Wards of The Nation, Our Allies in the Revolutionary War, Our Brothers-in-Arms in the Great War.”

The passage of a century has added other charges to the heartless neglect that Peter Henderson Bryce denounced. Beatings and sexual abuse were common at these schools, most of which were run on behalf of the government by the Catholic church. Their openly-stated purpose, at least at first, was to strip away the children’s native languages and cultures. While not every child’s experience was bad, the policy of taking children away from their parents en masse to be compulsorily educated in the majority culture was a monstrous act of repression.

The historical facts were not dramatic enough for the media. Perhaps not maliciously, but certainly recklessly, they promoted a different story, a new story:

The “discovery” of unmarked graves at the Marieval cemetery was one of the most dramatic front-page sensations that circled the world last summer. The June 24 headline in the Washington Post was typical: Hundreds of Graves Found at Former Residential School for Indigenous Children in Canada. The number of graves reportedly discovered: 751.

Except that’s not what happened.

The Cowessess people noted from the outset that they didn’t discover any graves; the crosses and headstones had gone missing under disputed circumstances decades earlier, and ground-penetrating radar had been brought in to enumerate and pinpoint the location of each burial. Cowesses Chief Cadmus Delorme told CBC News: “This is a Roman Catholic grave site. It’s not a residential school grave site.”

The predictable result of the sensationalist reporting of this and other grave sites was a wave of church burnings and vandalism that in any other context would have been called “hate crimes” but in Canada are known as “protests”. (Official Canadian terminology inverts the previous meanings of these two terms – peaceful protests for unapproved causes are deemed to be hate crimes and suppressed by force, as the disabled Indigenous woman trampled by police horses at the truckers’ Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa could tell you.) I know from reading the comments to many of these news stories that an awful lot of people got the impression that the children buried in these graveyards were murdered. That might simply be because many people are happy to comment on newspaper stories they have not read past the headline, or it might be that some reporters do not work very hard to dispel misunderstandings that will get them more clicks, or it might be due to the existence of a full-blown conspiracy theory to that effect. Mr Glavin links to this piece by Frances Widdowson that describes how Kevin Annett, a defrocked United Church Minister,

…has been disseminating the stories of Combes and others about the residential schools for about 25 years. One of these stories, recounted by Annett, claimed that Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip took a group of students from the Kamloops Indian Residential School (KIRS) on a picnic and then abducted them. Thorough fact-checking has shown that the Royals did not even travel to Kamloops in 1964.

While the Queen Elizabeth abduction story probably would be regarded with skepticism by most, many similar improbable accounts of “murders” and “missing children” are being repeated by Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc “Knowledge Keepers” and are now accepted as “truth.” Knowledge Keepers, after all, cannot be questioned, because to do so would be perceived as “disrespectful.” This raises questions about the extent to which the “oral tellings” of the Knowledge Keepers, which have been provided as evidence for the existence of “secret burials” at KIRS, have been influenced by the lurid stories circulating over the past 25 years. These stories were given additional momentum in May 2021 and are now firmly ensconced within the Canadian consciousness.