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]

A shockingly misinformed tweet by Tim Worstall

Someone called sarahknapton tweeted, “I know lateral flow is important etc but all these millions of bits of plastic ending up in landfill every day makes me feel a bit ill.”

Mr Worstall replied, “Umm, why? Lots of bits of plastic in landfill is where those lots of bits of plastic are safe. Dig up the oil, use the products made from it, stick the used plastic back in the ground – the cycle of non-life perhaps. Maybe we should get a warthog to sing about it for the kiddies?”

IT ISN’T THE WARTHOG WHO SINGS “CIRCLE OF LIFE”, YOU HEATHEN.

I love that song, despite the fridge horror of all those sentient animals submitting to being eaten. A happy new year to all our readers. May we find that place on the path unwinding that does not involve eating others or being eaten ourselves.

Free market squirrel

Buitengebieden tweets, “This squirrel always brings dried seed to trade for some nuts..”

I have put this under the category of “Twitter nonsense” because we have no category for “Twitter video that is so adorable that gratitude for it almost makes me hope that Jack Dorsey succeeds in his attempt to escape the righteous vengeance of the populace.”

Azeem Rafiq’s own racist tweets do not excuse the racism he suffered but the double standards are astonishing

On 16th November the UK press featured dozens of stories about the former cricket player Azeem Rafiq’s testimony to a Parliamentary committee about his experiences of racism, particularly when playing for Yorkshire. A typical story was this one from BBC Sport, “Azeem Rafiq: Yorkshire cricket racism scandal – how we got here”

Surprisingly, that BBC report did not include what surely must be the most serious of the allegations Mr Rafiq made, that when he was fifteen and playing cricket at club level for Barnsley, he was pinned down by other players and had red wine poured down his throat. (He is a Muslim.) To hold someone down and force them to do something that they consider religiously forbidden, and in many cases something that also disgusts them, is an assault on their bodily integrity that ought to horrify anyone.

However it was widely covered elsewhere, as was every word of Mr Rafiq’s testimony to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee hearing.

This Google search for mentions of “Azeem Rafiq” between 16th and 17th November shows how seriously his allegations were taken. “Azeem Rafiq’s testimony exposes how power works in cricket – and in Britain”, said the Guardian. Azeem Rafiq: ‘A trailblazer who has created a watershed moment’, said the BBC. Azeem Rafiq: Sport England could cut cricket funding after ‘wake-up call’, said the Times.

Though I do not believe that the government should fund sport at all, and I would prefer it if the horribly-named Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport did not exist, given that it does exist and does fund cricket I broadly agree: government money should not go to bodies that tolerate racism.

Well, that was the situation on the 17th. On the 18th it all fell apart.

Azeem Rafiq apologises for historical anti-Semitic Facebook messages said the BBC. The Times reported:

The Times has seen an exchange of messages that appear to have been sent ten years ago between Rafiq and the former Warwickshire and Leicestershire player Ateeq Javid. Sources believe they are discussing another Asian cricketer, at the time playing for Derbyshire, whom they seem to accuse of being reluctant to spend money on a meal out because “he is a jew”. Rafiq jokes that he will “probs go after my 2nds again ha . . . Only jews do tht sort of shit”.

Mr Rafiq was quick to apologise. The same Times article said,

Rafiq said: “I was sent an image of this exchange from early 2011 today. I have gone back to check my account and it is me. I have absolutely no excuses. I am ashamed of this exchange and have now deleted it so as not to cause further offence. I was 19 at the time and I hope and believe I am a different person today. I am incredibly angry at myself and I apologise to the Jewish community and everyone who is rightly offended.”

In most respects I think we should accept that apology. The business of excavating tweets made by sportsmen years ago has reached absurd lengths – the footballer Marc Bola was charged with “aggravated misconduct” by the Football Association for a tweet he made when he was fourteen.

But the double standards rankle. Mr Rafiq said, “I have gone back to check my account and it is me.” In other words, he had no memory of making that racist tweet in 2011. But if Mr Rafiq cannot remember what he himself tweeted in 2011 then should we not at least allow for the possibility of error in his memory of the racist remark that he says he remembers the former England captain Michael Vaughan making in 2009? Or if it turns out Mr Vaughan did make that remark (Vaughan denies it), should we not grant that Michael Vaughan might well be “a different person” after twelve years, just as Azeem Rafiq says that he is after ten?

More generally, the revelation that Mr Rafiq was exchanging racist banter with Ateeq Javid did not call forth anguished calls for reform from MPs and newspaper columnists. Apparently it did not reveal anything in particular about how power works in cricket, or in Britain. It was not a watershed moment, it was not a wake up call, and cricket’s government funding is not imperilled.

I am going to end by repeating what I said in the title of this post: Azeem Rafiq’s own racist tweets do not excuse the racism he suffered, particularly not the physical assault. But I agree with what Andrew Hills said in the most-recommended comment to that Times article:

I think it is important this has come out; wokeness creates the lie that there is the pure “righteous” group over here and the racists and the homophobes over there. Let’s punish them whilst we glory in our own greatness. The reality is that we are all screw ups, and we should be working together as a bunch of messed up people to make a better society for all.

Charged with ‘aggravated misconduct’. For a tweet he made when he was 14.

Here is an extract from the report in today’s Times:

The Middlesbrough defender Marc Bola has been charged by the FA [Football Association] with aggravated misconduct for comments he made on social media when he was 14, nine years ago.

The FA has alleged that Bola, now 23, who signed for Middlesbrough from Blackpool in 2019, posted a ‘reference to sexual orientation.’ He is facing a written warning, an education course or a potential three-game ban for the post from 2012.

An FA statement read: “Middlesbrough FC’s Marc Bola has been charged with misconduct for a breach of FA Rule E3 in relation to a social media post on April 14, 2012.

If, rather than mouthing off on Twitter, the fourteen year old Bola had had the forethought to instead commit a violent crime meriting up four years imprisonment, the sentence would have been considered “spent” by now under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

Samizdata quote of the day

The Taliban is getting its message out on social media, too, giving live updates on its seizure of power. A man claiming to be an official representative has had an active account on Twitter since 2017 and has over 280,000 followers. He has had a lot to tweet about in recent days.

This might seem unusual, considering how censorious Twitter usually is. It has punished people for stepping out of line on numerous issues from transgenderism to Covid-19. Most infamously, it banned the sitting US president, Donald Trump, earlier this year. Even more extraordinarily, the ban largely related to Trump’s behaviour off the platform. Many months on, as the Taliban tweets freely about its progress, Trump is still banned.

Paddy Hannam

“We need information crimes”

Until Brexit, “Green Molly” a.k.a. Molly Scott Cato was a Green Party MEP. She is currently the Green Party External Communications Coordinator and Speaker on Economy and Finance.

On July 29th she tweeted,

UK Covid patients tell of regrets over refusing jab

These stories make me terribly sad

She was referring to this Guardian article. Thus far, I agreed with her. The Guardian article by Sarah Marsh is unashamedly emotional, but it derives its power to convince by letting named ordinary people speak for themselves. However Ms Scott Cato thinks that humans speaking to other humans about their own brush with death or the deaths of their relatives is not a good enough persuasive strategy. She continued,

But they also make me angry with people who spread lies on social media

In the information age it seems to me we need information crimes

And punishments to match

In a sense Ms Scott Cato is right. She does need information crimes. Her party and the worldwide Green movement (of which parties with “Green” in their name are a minor part) have a vision for humanity that goes far beyond trees and whales, and they know they will not get the public to comply if gadflies and malcontents are allowed to bring up information that contradicts the official line. In particular they need information that shows how many of their previous predictions never came to pass to be criminalised.

Related:

“George Monbiot comes out in favour of censorship”, a post I made in January about Mr Monbiot’s article “Covid lies cost lives – we have a duty to clamp down on them”.

And found via Instapundit today, “‘Health misinformation’ should be a federal crime, First Amendment law professor says”.

Manufacturing the grass roots…

“And the propaganda continues. Implausible figures and bogus narratives actively staged by human bots. Who is behind for this? The same happened with CCP promotion of lockdown.”

Nick Hudson

This has been a recurring theme over the last last few years but has gone into overdrive as of late.

Readers’ poll: what on earth did Boris mean?

Sky News on Twitter: “Boris Johnson has suggested the world’s leading nations should support a more ‘gender-neutral and feminine’ way of post-COVID economic recovery.”

“Gender neutral and feminine”? Click on the words below* that in your opinion best match what was going through Boris’s tousled head as he said these words.

(a) Pay up, Matt, I did it.

(b) Hey, if Joe can get away with “Those RFA pilots”, I can get away with this.

(c) You’re looking awfully pretty today, Carrie.

(d) You’re looking awfully pretty today, Ursula.

*Nothing will happen when you click. But you will feel better for having expressed yourself.

A dastardly personal attack

I thought it was a photoshop prank when I first read Matt Walsh’s tweet, but this does appear to be a genuine Independent headline: “Rightwing blogger launches gofundme for AOC’s Puerto Rico grandmother in latest personal attack”

In an attempt to shame Ms Ocasio-Cortez, Mr Walsh then started a gofundme to raise money for the congresswoman’s grandmother’s home repairs, paying just under $500 into the fundraiser himself.

Ben Shaprio, another conservative commenter who regularly attacks the congresswoman, also donated $499 and called on other conservative media personalities to do the same.

The fundraiser’s goal of just under $50,000 was met and exceeded by Friday afternoon, currently sitting at just under $60,000.

“Hi @AOC, we are raising money to help your abuela. It’s been inspiring to see the response so far. Can you send me a DM so that I can get the necessary information to ensure that this money makes it to your grandmother? Thank you!” he wrote on Twitter.

So long as the money is transferred as promised, and is transferred without strings attached so that Ms Ocasio-Cortez’s grandmother can turn right round and give it to her granddaughter’s re-election campaign if she wants to, I felt that the Independent‘s description of this as an “attack” was… incomplete.

Just as a discussion point for the libertarian argufiers out there: in what circumstances would giving someone money, or giving their relatives money, actually violate the non-aggression principle?

Ribbons tied in a bow

Eight days ago I posted about Marion Millar of Airdrie, Scotland, who was summoned to a police station for a compulsory interview over allegations that she had posted homophobic and transphobic tweets.

She has now been charged.

“Activist Marion Millar charged with sending homophobic and transphobic tweets”, reports the Times.

Marion Millar, 50, from Airdrie, was charged under the Malicious Communications Act for tweets published in 2019 and 2020. If convicted she faces up to two years in prison.

The messages investigated by officers are understood to include a retweeted photograph of a bow of ribbons in the green, white and purple colours of the Suffragettes, tied around a tree outside the Glasgow studio where a BBC soap opera is shot.

It is one at least six tweets reported to Police Scotland. The nature of the others is unclear. Millar, who owns an accountancy business, was bailed to appear at Glasgow sheriff court on July 20.

Her supporters said that the prosecution was an attack on the rights of women to express themselves.

Added later: The Times has turned off the comments to its account of the Marion Millar case, presumably for fear of committing contempt of court, so the readers have taken to making veiled allusions to it when commenting on other stories in the paper’s Scotland section.

A couple of the Scottish papers have also reported on the case:

Feminist campaigner charged with ‘hate crime’ – Tom Gordon in the Herald.

Woman charged with malicious communication over ‘transphobic’ tweet – Gina Davidson in the Scotsman.

The point is that anyone can do this to anyone

Don’t like what someone says on social media? Don’t worry, with just one phone call you can arrange for whoever said it to have to tell their autistic kids that mummy has to go away and doesn’t know when she’ll be allowed to come back.

“I can’t sleep, says accountant Marion Millar in trans tweet row”, reports the Times.

Marion Millar, an accountant from Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, was told to report to a police station over allegations that she had posted “homophobic and transphobic” tweets.

Her account of her ordeal has been viewed by millions of people on social media. Millar, who works for For Women Scotland (FWS), a feminist group, wrote: “On April 28 I received a call from a PC Laura Daley from Police Scotland requesting I attend an interview under the malicious communications act. She told me I had to attend East Kilbride police station so I could be then transported to Cathcart station in a police car because I would have to go to a station where there are holding cells.”

Millar was told that social workers would be sent to look after her young twin boys, who are autistic, while she was questioned.

“This nonsense has been hanging over my head for a month,” she said. “I still don’t know what the offending tweet is. Anyone who knows me knows I am not homophobic or transphobic. ”

A spokeswoman for Police Scotland said: “We received two complaints regarding comments made on social media, enquiries into this are ongoing.”

To comply with human rights legislation interviews have to take place at a station with custody suites, which East Kilbride does not have.

I cannot but admire the elegance of using the supposed protections offered by human rights legislation into a vehicle for twisting the knife a little more. Shame if you aren’t allowed to return home, love. But don’t worry, we have a nice custody suite.

Some of you might think this is an example of what a oppressive place Scotland is becoming now that the Hate Crime (Scotland) Bill has been passed. If so, you are wrong. It is an example of what an oppressive place Scotland already is under existing law. Ms Millar was summoned for offences under the Malicious Communications Act. And before English, Welsh or Northern Irish readers feel superior, let me say that as far as I know that same 1988 Act applies to the whole of the UK. As I said in a post from 2012 called “The kraken wakes”, despite its obvious potential for oppression, for the first twenty years or so of its existence the Malicious Communications Act 1988 did not seem to do much harm … but you are not safe just because a monster sleeps.

The Streisand-Challenor effect

On the evening of the 22nd March, visitors to the main UK politics subreddit, /r/ukpolitics found a mysterious message saying that the subreddit, which has nearly 400,000 members, had been set to “private” by its own volunteer moderators.

It was the beginning of a cascade. The lights are going off all over Reddit! Subreddit after subreddit was set to private in sympathy with /r/ukpolitics. Most of them dealt with topics unrelated to politics. At its peak the wave of protest closures affected subreddits collectively having tens of millions of members all over the world.

To understand why this protest against Reddit by its own users gained such traction, we need to go back to the 8th of March when the Spectator published an article by its unlikeliest new writer, the radical left wing “gender critical” feminist Julie Bindel, called “The Green party’s woman problem”. It contained the lines,

The formidable feminist author and journalist Bea Campbell, a former Green party candidate, resigned from the party last year after being disciplined, in part for refusing to keep quiet about the shocking and disturbing Aimee Challenor case.

That brief reference to “the Aimee Challenor case” was to have dramatic consequences. A hyperlink on the word “case” linked in turn to this Independent article dated 13 January 2019:

Aimee Challenor: Green star failed to properly alert party of father’s child rape charges Independent investigation found transgender activist only alerted two colleagues in ‘informal’ Facebook message

Having parted ways with the Greens, Aimee Challenor joined the Liberal Democrats. Once again her association with the party ended as a result of child safeguarding issues related to someone with whom she lived. This time it was her fiancé Nathaniel Knight. He claims his twitter account was hacked.

A point to note: these events were widely reported. Given a prompt about a person who had left both the Greens and the Lib Dems under a cloud, anyone who follows UK political news would probably be able to dig up her name in half a dozen keystrokes.

Getting back to the main story, at about quarter to eleven on the morning of the 23rd, the ukpolitics subreddit reappeared. It now carried the following announcement:

→ Continue reading: The Streisand-Challenor effect