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]

Let us follow the righteous policy of Iran

Postrel’s kidney lasted Satel 10 years. By the time her immune system rejected it, aged 60, she had found another donor. Satel is now on her third right kidney and is feeling fine.

She was fortunate – twice. But as a policy expert the experience left Satel deeply dissatisfied with a system that relies on luck and the kindness of strangers. The reason so few kidneys are available for transplant, she contends, is that under the National Organ Transplant Act of 1984, paying for organs is illegal.

The US is not exceptional – Iran is the only country that allows such transactions and it has no kidney shortage. Satel is not advocating an Iranian-style market for body parts.

But I am.

By the way, the “Postrel” mentioned as having given Sally Satel her first donated kidney is Virginia Postrel, whose writing will be familiar to many of you.

“The real will of the people”

“A citizens’ assembly on climate is pointless”, writes Stephen Buranyi in the Guardian, “if the government won’t listen”.

Perhaps a better person than I am would not have split the quotation at precisely that point. But no one who uses the phrase the “real will of the people” has any call to complain about misrepresentation.

This is what Mr Buranyi says a “citizen’s assembly” is:

Its conceit is that it offers direct access to the real will of the people: 110 citizens – chosen to be representative of the British population – attend sessions where they are briefed by experts on the issue; they then come up with a set of policies to solve it.

“Conceit” indeed. Mr Buranyi’s complaint is that the elected government does not obey this body. I would complain if it did. I do not see why the very atypical 0.00016% of the UK population who agreed to participate in this Citizen’s Assembly lark have any better claim to mystically represent “the real will of the people” than 110 customers of your local Wetherspoons who turned up last Thursday for the Curry Club.

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.

How the quality of mercy is strained

Prosecutorial discretion is a power jealously protected by prosecutors, who will tell stories about forgoing prosecution of 18-year-old guys for “rape” of their 17-year-old girlfriends, of not prosecuting people for technicalities when the equities demanded they violate those technicalities. It all sounds so decent and commonsensical.

That’s how people like Epstein go forever in safety, how Clinton escaped prosecution for the same acts that put others in prison regularly, how the Jussie Smollets of the world walk away from their troubles . . .

You don’t need to be that well connected to benefit. Bobby b, commenter of this parish, worked for a time as a criminal defence lawyer in the twin cities of Minneapolis / St. Paul.

In my relatively short crimdef career, I asked prosecutors to use that kind of discretion many times. It worked for the judge’s kid, for the cop, and for two staffers of the St. Paul City Councilperson. They were the only ones deserving of the city/county attorneys’ mercy.

We’ve seen the US Department of Justice exercise a lot of ‘discretion‘ recently (and not so recently). Bobby warns us that this bit of the deep state runs a lot deeper than that.

(After ‘discretion’ finally ran out for him, I assume it was a different but liaising bit of the deep state who arranged that one fine day in the middle of the night the ‘forever’ safe Epstein would suddenly expire in his ‘guarded’, ‘suicide-watched’ cell.)

I hope so

Harry Miller: “This is a warershed moment for liberty”

The police response to an ex-officer’s allegedly transphobic tweets was unlawful, the High Court has ruled.

Harry Miller, from Lincolnshire, was contacted by Humberside Police in January last year after a complaint about his tweets.

He was told he had not committed a crime, but it would be recorded as a non-crime “hate incident”.

The court found the force’s actions were a “disproportionate interference” on his right to freedom of expression.

In a separate story from the one I quote above, the BBC goes on to report that

Mr Justice Julian Knowles said the effect of police turning up at Mr Miller’s place of work “because of his political opinions must not be underestimated”.

He added: “To do so would be to undervalue a cardinal democratic freedom.
“In this country we have never had a Cheka, a Gestapo or a Stasi. We have never lived in an Orwellian society.”

I did not know we still had judges like that.

Edit: This is the text of the judgement: Miller -v- College of Policing, 14 February 2020.

Samizdata quote of the day

The wise & incorruptible state can be trusted to decide what people are allowed to watch, read & listen to, no way would they abuse such capabilities once they are in place

#MakeOrwellFictionAgain
#TheStateIsNotYourFriend

– Perry de Havilland in response to this.

Bringing a criminal to justice at the cost of telling their victims what they would rather not have known

A horrible thought occurred to me while reading press accounts of the recent trial and conviction of Reynhard Sinaga, who may have been Britain’s most prolific rapist.

Sinaga’s modus operandi was as follows:

He would wait for men leaving nightclubs and bars before leading them to his flat, often offering them somewhere to have a drink or call a taxi. Giving them a drugged drink, believed to have been spiked with GHB, Sinaga would then assault the victims while they were unconscious and video the attack with a mobile phone.

In this fashion he got away with more than a hundred rapes because his victims did not know they had been raped. Finally,

In June 2017, his last victim, an 18-year old, regained consciousness during the rape, fought off his attacker, and reported the incident to the police. Sinaga was badly beaten and was taken to hospital, while police initially arrested his victim on suspicion of grievous bodily harm. Subsequent examination of Sinaga’s iPhone by the police led to the discovery of more than 3 terabytes of digital video evidence of his assaults and rapes. Many of his victims were traceable because Sinaga kept their phones, watches, ID cards, etc., and he had used social media to reach his unknowing victims online.

Note the word “unknowing”. The horrible thought that occurred to me was this: some (not all, but a substantial number) of Sinaga’s victims have said that their lives were seriously damaged by the police tracing them and telling them that they had been raped while drugged and unconscious. They would have preferred not to know. More painful yet, the fact that they had been raped became public knowledge at the trial. But if the police had not traced Sinaga’s victims and marshalled the evidence against him for the judge and the jury to see, he would have been able to continue with his crimes indefinitely.

In the end, I would say that in Sinaga’s case the public interest had to take precedence: he had to be stopped. Yet I think that situations could occur where it might be justifiable to let a criminal go unpunished in order to save his or her unknowing victims from the pain of discovering that they had been wronged.

Samizdata quote of the day

Math is “oppressive,” Enlightenment art is “oppressive”…the list goes on and on and on. My favorite little form of “woke” ignorance — combined with utter ignorance of Romance languages — is the term “Latinx.”

I showed it around to some actual (aka non-“woke”) Latinos and Latinas at LA City Hall, and they were like, “Wut? How do you even say that?”

Additionally, my personal experience with some of the woke, along with my observation, is that many are 20-something and have accomplished nothing yet, but, oh does it ever feel good to knock down the tall, accomplished poppies on “woke” grounds.

Amy Alkon

Samizdata quote of the day

The Chinese regime has a deadly calculus put before it, weighing up between suppressing numbers to save face or stopping the epidemic and potentially more deaths. A public choice theory disaster played to the extremes.

It would be nice to say, “well let’s wait and see how they manage it” as many reporters say. But if we still do not know the whole story about how the government managed SARS there’s no guarantee we will know how they managed this epidemic. Worse still, if another epidemic arrives down the line then we will not be anywhere closer to learning from past mistakes.

It would be nice to counter the propaganda videos circulating with facts about how well the government is managing the crisis but sadly this is not possible. All this proves to demonstrate the risks of a state that plays by its own rules, and is unaccountable to the very people it is supposed to serve.

Charles Paice

Samizdata quote of the day

The reason John Bercow doesn’t deserve to be honoured isn’t because he picked the wrong side. It’s because he picked a side.

Toby Young

Bercow is the recently removed Speaker of the House of Commons. The Speaker is supposed to be a referee, not a player. Bercow says there’s a conspiracy to keep him out of the House of Lords. I hope that there is, and that it succeeds.

Another political question …

This time, I have a question for people who follow Irish politics more closely than I do. Why is Sinn Fein doing so well?

Following Brexit, Ireland could find itself facing some economic ‘issues’ that might prove quite serious. Is a rabidly anti-British political party more or less likely to be able to deal with such emerging problems?

What is really behind this purported surge by Sinn Fein?

The Spoils of War

Frank Falla was a Guernsey journalist when the German occupation began in 1940. He became involved in the production of an underground newspaper and when he was eventually caught he was sent to a German prison (not – please note – a concentration camp). By the time the Americans liberated him he was little more than a bag of bones and close to death. The Americans put him up in a hotel so that he could recover. There he was served breakfast in bed by a German civilian. He writes:

I think her name was Trudi – and she was to spell trouble for some of the American boys. She was a young, attractive brunette who a week later had a pretty rough handling from some soldiers who found out where her bedroom was. Three of them took turns to sleep the night with her. Some of these boys were completely sex-starved after long training in England and fighting their way through France and Germany, and they took it out on this poor girl, who was a week recovering from the ordeal. Still, c’est la guerre!

And all this in an area that was later handed over to the Soviets.