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]

Ask not for whom the tik toks

“TikTok and WeChat: US to ban app downloads in 48 hours”, reports the BBC.

All things considered, I do still want Trump to win the US election, but this sounds like a stupid measure. Banning things is almost always intrinsically stupid, as is running your politics by the threat of bans. It will also lose him votes from people who happen to like TikTok.

I suspect that like Sadiq Khan’s ban on Uber operating in London (the appeal against which will be heard on 28th September), Trump’s move is basically a shakedown. Note the delay before implementation in both cases. Either ban could be reversed at a moment’s notice for the right price. So far as I know Londoners can still use Uber now, and that will continue until the appeals process is exhausted, which could mean ten days or ten years. As for Tiktok in the US,

If a planned partnership between US tech firm Oracle and TikTok owner ByteDance is agreed and approved by President Trump, the app will not be banned.

“I know that I will not be able to avoid destroying humankind.”

That was a line from a Guardian op-ed written entirely by a robot. The machine was instructed to focus on why humans have nothing to fear from AI. I do not find this reassuring.

It’s not like anyone needs to know what a killer still at large looks like

The biggest UK news overnight was this:

Birmingham stabbings: Manhunt as one killed and seven hurt.

That BBC report dates from last night when the man who had already randomly murdered Jacob Billington was still at large. It reads:

A knifeman who killed one man and wounded seven other people in a two-hour stabbing rampage across Birmingham city centre is being hunted by police.

The first stabbing was in Constitution Hill at 00:30 BST then the killer moved south, apparently attacking at random, officers said.

The stabbings did not appear terrorism related, gang related or connected to disorder, West Midlands Police said.

Murder inquiry detectives said they were hunting a single suspect.

The force urged anyone with CCTV or mobile footage to contact them.

One man died, another man and a woman suffered critical injuries and five other people were left with non-life-threatening injuries.

Ch Supt Steve Graham said the attacker went on to stab people in Livery Street, Irving Street and finally in Hurst Street, where the city’s Gay Village meets the Chinese Quarter, at about 02:20 BST.

Police said there was no evidence the stabbings were a hate crime.

I expect they were the non-hateful sort of stabbings. The BBC article continues,

Ch Supt Graham said officers – some armed – remained across the city centre to reassure people.

He added they had received a number of descriptions of the suspect but would not be releasing any details for the time being.

So while a man who had already killed one person and murderously attacked several other men and women was still on the streets looking for more victims, the police felt the need to issue a statement about his motives, about which they could not possibly know. They did not feel the need to tell the public what he looked like, which they did know, being in possession of multiple statements from the surviving victims and other witnesses, plus CCTV footage.

To be fair, anyone familiar with modern policing could deduce what the absence of a police description actually meant.

*

A related post from six years ago: Politically correct evasiveness fails on its own terms.

There seems to be a stage missing

Lest anyone look at the previous post and think that it is only the Yank media that thrills to the sound of breaking glass, here is our very own Evening Standard giving over its pages to Gail Bradbrook, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion: “Roof spikes and the noble art of window smashing— protesting for Extinction Rebellion”.

She writes,

Just having left an impromptu roadblock on Millbank, I found myself yesterday suddenly among a swarm of cyclists pedalling friendly mischief around the city. There’s something about the spirit of this rebellion. When people join together in courage and love for life on earth, willing to take the punishment that will come, the system doesn’t know how to handle it. The Government itself declared a climate and ecological emergency last year, but little more than lip service has followed. On Tuesday, together with environmental organisations, academics, lawyers, and now more than 30 MPs from seven parties, we handed to Parliament on a plate a Bill fit to address the crisis. All they need to do is pass it — and all we need to do is tell them we want it.

Away with all that pettifoggery about persuading the public. That XR want it done should be enough to make it law.

Edit: Further demonstrating that persuasion is not their thing, Extinction Rebellion protesters block newspaper printing presses.

Darren Grimes said it well:

Extinction Rebellion hasn’t been ‘infiltrated’.

Black Lives matter hasn’t been ‘infiltrated’.

These movements were never about the environment or racial justice.

These movements were always about control.

They cannot win at the ballot box, so they have to use other means.

Actually, I think there was enough context

“It’s actually a Republican myth that has, over the last 20 years, really crawled into even leftist discourse: that the small-business owner must be respected, that the small-business owner creates jobs and is part of the community.”

That was said by Vicky Osterweil, author of In Defense of Looting. Ms Osterweil was given such a fawning interview by Natalie Escobar of the American state radio station npr (note the cool lowercase initials) that it became an embarrassment, and the record of it is now prefaced by the words:

This story was updated on Sept. 1, 2020. The original version of this story, which is an interview with an author who holds strong political views and ideas, did not provide readers enough context for them to fully assess some of the controversial opinions discussed.

Samizdata quote of the day

“Western governments may have strong words for the Russian president, but we’ve been here before. Every time a Russian opposition figure is assassinated, from journalist Anna Politkovskaya to MI6 informer Alexander Litvinenko to politician Boris Nemtsov, there is a chorus of international outrage and demands for action to rein in Putin. Yet little is done, as world leaders don’t want to jeopardise their business dealings with Russia – or face more hostile acts by the Kremlin – and Putin emerges emboldened. A few months after the Salisbury attack, for instance, Russia hosted the World Cup, and opposition activist Petr Verzilov was poisoned after running onto the pitch during the final wearing a police uniform.”

Sarah Hurst

I suppose you could say that Mr Putin has almost “normalised” the idea that when dealing with political opponents or any sort of perceived threat, the approach favoured is to kill them, lie about it, smirk a bit, and go back to undermining whatever particular nearby country or cause happens to be in play. And then hold a soccer tournament. Rinse, repeat.

A half hour video of the incident in Portland on 16th August 2020

If I have understood correctly, this video of the incident involving Adam Haner and Marquise Love, in connection with which Mr Love is being sought by Portland Police, was taken by a man called Drew Hernandez. Here is his twitter post directing viewers to the YouTube channel where the video is hosted.

This Daily Mail story includes a much shorter (1 minute 49 seconds) video of the same incident.

Obviously, both videos show scenes of violence.

I am a strong believer in the presumption of innocence, so I will say no more than “Watch for yourselves”.

Edit: “It’s a stain on the movement”: Portland Protest Organizers Condemn Truck Driver Assault, reports the Portland Mercury. However at the time of writing the Twitter account of the national (US) Black Lives Matter movement has said nothing about it.

Discussion point – was Churchill right about the atomic bomb?

There was never a moment`s discussion as to whether the atomic bomb should be used or not. To avert a vast, indefinite butchery, to bring the war to an end, to give peace to the world, to lay healing hands upon its tortured peoples by a manifestation of overwhelming power at the cost of a few explosions, seemed, after all our toils and perils, a miracle of deliverance.

– Winston Churchill, writing of the decision by the Allies to use atomic weapons on Japan. Victory over Japan day was seventy five years ago today.

There should be no law to forbid people parading in paramilitary uniforms

“BRIXTON’S POLICE SURRENDERED THE STREETS TO BLACK-SHIRTED PARAMILITARIES”, writes Guido Fawkes.

The Black Lives Matter paramilitary-style march in Brixton has had a lot of coverage, including videos of protestors yelling at police and calling them “terrorists”. Only three arrests were made despite the widespread “threatening, abusive or insulting” behaviour being clear public order offences…

That tiny arrest number is even more surprising when taking into account photos of dozens of men wearing matching para-military outfits with face coverings and branded stab vests reading “FF Force” (Forever Family).

In 1936, a new public order act was introduced to counter the rise of Oswald Mosley’s fascist Black Shirts, banning political uniforms

Guido goes on to quote chapter and verse from the 1936 law, and asks, as many are asking, why it was not enforced.

I would like to step back a moment. “Forever Family” do come across as sinister. I think their resemblance to Mosley’s Fascists should be pointed out often and loudly. But wearing an anti-stab vest is not the same as stabbing someone. Who did they hurt by marching in columns? They looked threatening in a general way, but who specifically did they threaten? Let them march. Let them disfigure the London scene wearing whatever outfits they like. Let them discredit their cause and discredit the media’s whitewashing of it. I will go further and say that Mosley’s followers should have been allowed to march in uniform as well. Not to riot, not to beat people up, just to swank around in pretendy uniforms and look like the silly asses they were.

OK, that ship has sailed. This law has been on the books for more than eighty years. I am conscious that when I ask whether one should support the equal application of a bad law I am merely repeating the question Niall Kilmartin asked more eloquently in this post from last year, “The equal oppression of the laws”. Don’t blame me for copying him, blame him for asking a good question that is widely applicable.

What is so bad about Russian “interference” with UK referendums anyway?

“49% of voters believe Kremlin interfered in Brexit referendum”, reports the Guardian.

Almost half the British public believes the Russian government interfered in the EU referendum and last year’s general election, according to a poll. The latest Opinium poll for the Observer found that 49% of voters think there was Russian interference in the Brexit referendum, with 23% disagreeing. Some 47% believed Russia interfered in the December general election.

The poll findings come after the long-awaited publication of the report into Russian interference by parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee last week. It found that the government had not attempted to investigate potential Russian interference in the referendum. It said the UK had “badly underestimated” the Russian threat.

I am busy and must be brief. Vladimir Putin belongs at the end of a rope for his crimes: crimes like murdering his political opponents, sponsoring terrorism and waging aggressive war against neighbouring countries. But most of the events described in this hyped up list are technical crimes of a sort that should not be a crime at all. Most rules on election spending and use of data to target potential voters are nothing but political protectionism. We call it “interference” when the Russian government tries to influence the political opinions of British people and “outreach” when the British government or the European Union tries to influence the political opinions of Russian people. You hear the words “interference in elections” and are meant to think of stolen ballot boxes and forged votes. But Russians posting anonymous, dishonest and obnoxious opinions on Twitter and Reddit for money – who cares? They are lost in the crowd of Brits doing the same for free.

A dilemma if you think private individuals shouldn’t own firearms

Here’s a thought for today: If the Democrats claim (the cynic in me suggests that party is full of BS on this) that police forces must be “defunded”, ie, that fewer resources should be steered to said police, how are they also going to make good on any threats to outlaw the private possession of firearms?

I know that those of a more libertarian slant have no problem with wanting to reform policing to reduce abuses and so that police actually protect life and property rather than enforce victimless crime laws, and be corrupted by the likes of asset forfeiture rules, politically-motivated “woke” crime enforcement, and so on. One thing to be clear on is that if qualified immunity is removed from cops, cops are also entitled to be protected against frivolous lawsuits from idiots since otherwise no rational man or woman will want to serve as a cop in such a situation. And that applies to any kind of policing or security, including private security guards.

And a more libertarian model of policing is congruent with a population of law-abiding persons being free to own firearms and competent to look after themselves. In fact, having law-abiding people own guns, and be trained in their responsible use, is a net plus for civil society and peaceful order. (An armed society is a polite society, as R A Heinlein liked to point out.) But what is NOT compatible is to claim that we should shut policing down, empty the jails, and all the rest of it, and still push for gun control. To take that stance is to treat the public as idiots.

Police free zones – do they always have to end this way?

“One dead and one wounded in shooting in Seattle police-free zone”, the Guardian reported an hour or so ago.

Let me say at once that I know nothing about the circumstances of this killing, other than that it occurred and that young men should not die by violence at nineteen.

But almost regardless of the circumstances, a lot of people are going to be saying, “I told you so” to the leftist protestors who formed CHAZ, the so-called Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.

They might also say it to us. “Hey, you ‘libertarians’ or ‘anarcho-capitalists’ or whatever you call yourselves, this is what you want, isn’t it? No state, no cops, citizens with their own guns making their own rules?”

How would you answer?