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]

Exposing baby racists

“‘Cancel culture’ grows increasingly cruel”, writes Jeff Jacoby.

…A working man fired because his hands fell into what some read as a “white supremacist” gesture and someone took a picture He had never heard of this gesture and was not even white.

…A woman denounced by name in the Washington Post because she wore blackface to a party two years ago. She was a private citizen, not famous or active in politics. Once upon a time that would have meant that she was safe from the level of scrutiny that we expect to fall on those who seek office – but in these times ordinary people can be plucked out of obscurity to be pelted by the mob while the Prime Minister of Canada is forgiven for almost the same offence.

I had heard of these cases, and most of the others that Jeff Jacoby writes about. I thought I knew about the cruelty of the American Red Guards. But the next example of it that Mr Jacoby wrote about took my breath away:

Even children are being targeted as racist, with the encouragement of adults who explicitly call for the destruction of the kids’ future prospects.

Skai Jackson, a former Disney Channel star, urged her young social media followers to expose their classmates or peers for posting racist comments or videos. “If you know a racist, don’t be shy! Tweet me the receipts,” Skai tweeted on June 4. On Instagram, she posted a similar threat, saying she would spotlight “Caucasian teens” who say or write something inappropriate: “Let me say this: If I see you post it, I WILL expose you!! If you think you’re big and bad enough to say it, I will most definitely put your own words on blast!!”

What followed, predictably enough, was a flood of submissions from informers eager to publicly accuse young people of racism, sometimes expressed in online remarks years ago. Jackson readily publicized the accusations, making sure to include the targets’ full names and social-media handles. And for going out of her way to ruin the reputation of people for being young and foolish, she was extolled as a heroine. Entertainment Tonight hosts applauded Jackson’s “bold move” in ensuring that “justice can be served.” Essence magazine commended her for “using this time to reverse the blatant racism she’s seen on social media.”

“I am so proud of you, @skaijackson,” tweeted actress Yvette Nicole Brown. “The good work you’re doing exposing all these ‘baby’ racists will ensure that their names, faces & deeds will be known as they enter the work force down the line. Which will protect everyone from the havoc racists cause in the workplace.”

Note that the children whose lives Skai Jackson and Yvette Nicole Brown want to ruin for having succumbed to the common infantile desire to say shocking things are not the only children being harmed. The children who Jackson and Brown tempt into informing on their schoolmates and siblings will also have to live for a lifetime with the consequences of hasty words spoken before they were old enough to know better.

But what if she did consent?

The BBC reports,

‘Rough sex’ defence will be banned, says justice minister

The so-called “rough sex gone wrong” defence will be outlawed in new domestic abuse legislation, a justice minister has told MPs.

Alex Chalk said it was “unconscionable” that the defence can be used in court to justify or excuse the death of a woman “simply because she consented”.

“Simply”? Is the fact of her consent unimportant, then? If a woman (or indeed a man) chooses to engage in rough sex and as a consequence is accidentally killed by their partner then that does excuse their death, in the sense that any person who accidentally kills another person is excused from the guilt of murder. Depending on circumstances they may be guilty of a lesser crime, reckless endangerment perhaps – I do not know the legal details. But murder requires an intent to kill or cause grievous bodily harm.

He said it would be made “crystal clear” in the Domestic Abuse Bill that it was not acceptable.

The bill, for England and Wales, is due to become law later this year.

Jess Phillips, Labour’s shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, spoke on an amendment proposed by Labour MP Harriet Harman and Conservative MP Mark Garnier to the legislation, to prevent lawyers from using the defence, but withdrew it following assurances from Mr Chalk.

The campaign group We Can’t Consent To This, which wants the defence outlawed, said the minister’s response was “a big step forward”.

The very name of their group treats adult women like children. If this group wants to ban rough sex, they should have the guts to come out and say so. Some of their complaint seems to be that the rough sex defence has been used by men who truly were murderers to delude a jury into acquitting them. But the same could be said of any defence against any criminal charge: all of them will have at some time been successfully used to enable guilty men to go free. What alternative system do they suggest? The great eighteenth century jurist William Blackstone said, “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.” Would they prefer to reverse that ratio?

Discussion point: Don’t lock me down, baby

It seems that the Mekon might be about to be knocked off his levitating chair. Dominic Cummings is in trouble for breaking the lockdown. He joins the epidemiologist Professor Neil Ferguson, for whom the lockdown was no obstacle to pantsdown, in the list of those caught violating the quarantine they urged others to obey. Oh and let us not forget Scotland’s (former) Chief Medical Officer, Catherine Calderwood, though I must admit I had.

Should Calderwood and Ferguson have resigned? Should Cummings resign now? Are there any principled reasons for differentiating between the three cases, by which I mean principles better than which political parties each of them are associated with?

Kieren McCarthy criticises the proposed coronavirus contact-tracing app

Here is a link to yesterday’s article by Kieren McCarthy in the Register:

UK finds itself almost alone with centralized virus contact-tracing app that probably won’t work well, asks for your location, may be illegal

Is he right?

Update: Guido Fawkes is also on the case. He is engaged in a vigorous and very public debate with the government, specifically the Department of Health. Earlier he sent this missive their way: 10 Problems With the NHS’s New Coronavirus App. Fair play to them, they did respond, and he has now issued this: NHS App: Rebuttal and Response. (Hat tip to Niall Kilmartin, who independently mentioned this link in the comments.)

The homeschooling menace

One trend that has been a big push in recent weeks is – for obvious reasons – homeschooling. And those who run the education system in North America (and I presume, in other places) are worried that if youngsters learn at home, they’ll be less prone to teachers’ ministrations. Kids will start to think for themselves. This must be resisted because it undermines civic spirit, apparently, according to this Harvard Review article:

She views the absence of regulations ensuring that homeschooled children receive a meaningful education equivalent to that required in public schools as a threat to U.S. democracy. “From the beginning of compulsory education in this country, we have thought of the government as having some right to educate children so that they become active, productive participants in the larger society,” she says. This involves in part giving children the knowledge to eventually get jobs and support themselves. “But it’s also important that children grow up exposed to community values, social values, democratic values, ideas about nondiscrimination and tolerance of other people’s viewpoints,” she says, noting that European countries such as Germany ban homeschooling entirely and that countries such as France require home visits and annual tests.

Here’s another gem:

She concedes that in some situations, homeschooling may be justified and effective. “No doubt there are some parents who are motivated and capable of giving an education that’s of a higher quality and as broad in scope as what’s happening in the public school,” she says. But Bartholet believes that if parents want permission to opt out of schools, the burden of proving that their case is justified should fall on parents.

The problem with this article is that the author of the piece appears oblivious to parents’ worries about the poor quality of much public schooling in the US. There is also the default assumption that the State is entitled to impose a certain view and set of aptitudes and attitudes on children and that the burden of proof is on those who want the family, not the State, to be the primary decision-taker on education. An article in Reason magazine last year also directly challenged the idea that homeschooled kids are less likely to be well-adjusted adults. (Like with all these issues, there are clear exceptions, such as with children who are maltreated by parents, etc).

I will be interested to see if any of you fine Samizdata commenters have been schooled at home for any part of your time, and what your experience has been.

In times of crisis, certain viewpoints are challenged. Now is such a time.

This might work. And then?

“NHS phone app holds key to lifting UK’s coronavirus lockdown”, the Times reports.

Ministers have ordered the creation of an NHS mobile phone app the government hopes will help end the coronavirus lockdown.

The app would allow mobile phones to trace users who have come into contact with infected people, alerting them to get tested.

This would make it possible to start lifting the most stringent social-distancing measures from late next month, ministers hope.

Senior sources say NHSX, the health service’s technology arm, has been working on the app with Google and Apple at “breakneck speed”. The system will use Bluetooth technology to alert those who download the app if they have been in close proximity with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

Combined with a vast expansion in testing, which ministers claim will hit 100,000 a day by the end of the month, the app is a central plank in the government’s push to lift the lockdown. “We believe this could be important in helping the country return to normality,” a Whitehall source said.

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, is considering how to incentivise people to install the app. Experts say the “track and trace” concept only works effectively if 60% of people adopt it.

One idea under consideration would mean people being told they could resume normal work and home life if they installed it on their phones.

As I said in the title, the worst of it is that this might be the way to control the epidemic, an outcome greatly to be desired. And then it might be the way to control us.

Nigel Farage says ‘Say No to House Arrest’ – and a perspective on Red China

A video blog from Nigel, asking questions in his usual style about the lockdown and what it is for, police behaviour, and posing some questions about the UK’s relations with China. Then a China Uncensored video giving a view on the Red China ‘cure’ for coronavirus. He also has a good word for Stephen Kinnock going to see his Dad on his Old Man’s birthday.

A British politician calling for liberty, there is one.

And from China Uncensored, (a Taiwanese-backed channel I believe), a contrast on the American media’s soft touch on China with what has been going on.

This chicken has more freedom than anyone in Britain

A free chicken

Here is a free-range chicken in a layer flock at a site somewhere in Northamptonshire in the English Midlands. It roams free, it does not risk an unlimited fine for leaving its home without just cause, it can associate with chickens other than its flock, or any feathered or non-feathered friend. It does not have to queue to get into shops to buy basics, (nor did it ever), nor justify itself if it wishes to stroll around more than once a day. Although its parents were cooped up because of bird ‘flu a few years back, it knows only liberty. Mind you it doesn’t have the right to bear/bare arms, nor any right to free speech, nor protection against unreasonable searches or seizures. No one is going to ask it to self-incriminate, well, perhaps next week.

It is not required to keep itself 6 feet, 6 and three-quarter inches (or 2 metres) from other chickens not from its yard. It is not under sentence of death as it is not raised for meat. Welcome to the UK, where the chickens run free and there once was liberty. Do you think the concept might catch on?

Mind you, at least we are safer from the virus now, aren’t we.

We are all Uighurs now.

The ramblings of our Prime Minister this evening, no data, no projections, no reasoning other than the projected incompetence of our nationalised health care system, no laws cited (but they are there), and have been since 10th February 2020, backed up by threats and fear-mongering, announcing restrictions on the UK in an echo of what the Chinese Communist Party is imposing on Uighurs, evidence the triumph of the Chinese Communist Party in crushing the West, without (and indeed on account of not) lifting a finger.

And yet the borders remain open, as far as we know, to flights from hotspots such as China, Italy, Spain and Iran. This has all been thought through, and Johnson is content that it be so, is he being played or a player? if we wanted loo roll shortages and economic chaos and inflation we’d have voted in Corbyn last December, a man who is in power in terms of outcomes, but is not in office.

In France you now have to download a permit to go for a walk

At first I thought this was une blague pratique. Apparently not, unless Tim Worstall’s denial is merely evidence that he is in on the joke. He writes in today’s Times:

Among the measures introduced in France to deal with the coronavirus is a requirement to fill in a form before going out for a walk.

No, really, this is not a joke. As part of the lockdown it is necessary, before leaving the house, to complete and sign a download from the Ministry of the Interior. Name, address, what you think you’re doing and so on.

This is not filed with anyone, nor registered. It must simply be carried during the errand. Absence, if caught, will lead to a €135 fine. A new form is required for every exit from the house. And yes, there’s a box to tick for “aux besoins des animaux de compagnie” which my memories of exchange visits have as “for the needs of our furry friends”.

The solution to a global pandemic is a form for walking the dog. Of course, it is easy to mock the French but there is an important point here, for this is an example of a pernicious worldview. That we, the people, are only able to cope if we are told what to do, what we may do. All must be decided and enforced by the clever people in power and nothing left to ordinary folks to get on with.

Our own tradition is vehemently different. I have surprised people in a number of countries by pointing out that a British policeman isn’t actually allowed to ask — or at least not to insist upon knowing — what it is that you are doing. If accosted, a cheery “Going about my lawful business, constable” is all that is required. Such liberties might not apply in moments of crisis but they are indicative of a different manner of thinking.

A similar restriction is being applied in Italy, according to The Local.it:

Now that justification is required simply to be on the street, you’ll need to have a copy ready as soon as you leave the house.

If you have access to a printer, you can download the form here.

Ther’s also now an application able to generate an electronic version of the ‘autocertificazione’ form as many times as needed, to keep handy on your phone with a digital signature.

Police at checkpoints (such as those at train stations) should also have a stack of paper forms available, and you can ask to take a few.

But what if you do not have access to the internet?

Alternatively you can copy out the whole thing by hand: make sure to write everything exactly as it appears on the form, in full.

Samizdata quote of the day

I’ve Got Mine Now Sod Off Says Zuckerberg

Tim Worstall providing a typically succinct summation.

Down the slippery slope

riot police in Ankara

I was in Ankara on December 23 last year, in the commercial centre of town in the middle of the day. I walked past a street with a number of cafe/restaurants. I realised I was hungry. I sat down at an outdoor table, looking away from the street. I ordered a sandwich. My sandwich came. It was mediocre, but satisfied the “I am hungry” problem. (This was slightly disappointing of me. Turkey is a country of terrific food, and one should plan one’s meals better than just going for the nearest food when one finds oneself hungry). I got out my phone and started reading a book on the Kindle app as I was having my lunch.

After an indeterminate period of time, I realised I was hearing a high pitched scream behind me. It was probably a woman, but I couldn’t be sure about that. I turned around. There was an almost literal phalanx of riot police, separating the public from what was going on. There was a police van on the other side of the riot police. The person who was screaming was somewhat violently pushed into the van. The rear doors of the van were then closed fairly violently. The van drove off. The riot police then dispersed. They looked like this was heavily rehearsed, and this was something they did every day.

There was no riot. There was no demonstration. I don’t know how this started, because I was looking in the opposite direction and I was distracted until I heard the screaming. This looked like a well planned operation to grab a particular person off the street. In broad daylight. In the middle of a busy city. So that people would notice.

When I saw that this was happening, I noticed that other people in the cafe were taking pictures with their phones. So I briefly stood up and took a picture with my phone. The police were looking in other directions. One day I will get myself into trouble doing things like this, but in this case, well, I think the police wanted to be noticed. By locals, at least. Maybe not foreigners such as myself.

A few days later, after visiting a few wonderful archaeological sites in parts of Turkey, I was on a bus travelling along the Turkish Black Sea coast from Trabzon to the Georgian city of Batumi. During this journey there were two stops at police checkpoints. At the first one, a police officer got on the bus and everyone was required to show ID. The Turkish people had bar codes on their ID cards scanned electronically by a reader being carried by the police officer. (I held out my passport – the policeman looked at it and nodded). At the second one our ID documents were taken off the bus and into the police checkpoint building, before being brought back on the bus.

When you book a train ticket in Turkey and you are Turkish, you don’t even need a ticket. You simply give your ID card number when booking the train, and when you board they scan the ID card and associate it with the booking.

Turkey tracks the internal movements of its citizens electronically. They do it like this if you catch a bus or train or plane. If you drive your own car, I suspect it is done with number plate recognition.

Turkey is a wonderful country full of magnificent things. I visit often. It is also a police state, and a very nasty one.

I enjoyed my trip to Turkey, but I felt some relief when I reached Georgia. A much freer country.