What I’ve been up to, week ending 2009-10-25

  • Weird lurker Cruise, you are wrong: the Lulu & The Lampshades song is properly lovely, and you have no sense of joy or sweetness #
  • is now departing London Heathrow on British Airways Powered by Lufthansa – http://myskystatus.com/ #
  • Forsaking night out in Hyderabad with former colleagues (now vaguely-sister-company types) in favour of work and sleep. LAME #
  • …in which jetlag catches up with me. Utterly pole-axed, and it's only midday. #
  • Is there a hashtag for "I hate Royal Mail's management, but don't care about posties or whether their obsolete service continues to exist"? #
  • Maybe #unionrightsneedtobedefendedevenwhentheworkersinquestionarecompletelyuseless? #
  • bored in India airport so going thru old txt msgs. #
  • My favourite so far is "Gone 2 meet icelanders after all. If u fancy collecting theremin, post office card & my credit card on dining table" #
  • …and it's 100% truth not euphemism/metaphor/nickname. #
  • Latest exciting airline innovation: handing out card labelled "lounge card" which doesn't actuallly get you into lounge. #
  • drinks with my dad. discovered that messrs Griffin & Winner are alumni of his college. mine are Tolkien & Kristofferson. Not sure who wins #
  • top 5 crazy welshmen: dr william price; gruff rhys; howard marks; dylan thomas; owain glyndyr #
  • Non-UK tweeters (inspired by @themanwhofell's comedy reviews), is Peep Show widely shown outside these shores? #
  • Mmm, sunshine, sea view, next week off… shame I have to do LOADS OF BASTARDING WORK this afternoon, then. #
  • Restaurants: maintain an air of exclusivity by having a website solely in Flash & no-text PDFs, so you don't show up on Google #toptips #
  • #oneletteroffmovies The Story Of Q #
  • #oneletteroffmovies The Story Of M #
  • #oneletteroffmovies The Story Of E #
  • #oneletteroffmovies The Story Of [Mr] T #
  • #oneletteroffmovies The Story Of [Baby] P #
  • #oneletteroffmovies The Story Of [Ali] G #
  • #oneletteroffmovies The Story Of H #
  • #oneletteroffmovies The Story Of K #
  • #oneletteroffmovies The Story Of [John] B #
  • Have I won yet? #
  • "I was a member of *an* Al-Qaeda, and an almost entirely non-violent one" #latetothegriffinparty #
  • Anyone got the gen on why ex-NuLab Andy Neather is telling BNP-ish lies in the Telegraph http://bit.ly/2Whh6N – pitching for Tory job? #
  • Note to 'very real WWC concerns' eejits: tougher immigration controls mean that *the BNP have won*, even if Griffin remains a derided oaf #
  • Ghetto = 'place where nearly everyone's the same race'. No borough in London is a ghetto. The closest is Havering, which is 95% one race #
  • Voodoo poll by nasty Puritans: do your bit and vote 'no': http://bit.ly/fz1xQ #
  • Bleedin' hell, the appalling Fraser Nelson is now promoting AIDS denialism: http://bit.ly/18AWM4 #
  • Missed this story – http://bit.ly/X69qg – I've previously blogged re: no evidence of forced sex trafficking in UK, good to see it confirmed #
  • outside a third world airport in the middle of the night waiting for my sister to clear customs. this still beats #xfactor #
  • Off to absolutely nowhere for a week: http://bit.ly/3lJ5bk #

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A quick note on free speech

As far as I can make out, “the right to free speech” means something like “the state will not take action against you for voicing your opinions, no matter how vile, and people who commit illegal acts against you for voicing your opinions will not avoid prosecution just because your opinions are deemed vile”.

If “the right to free speech” meant “the right to be on TV”, or “the right to write a column in the Daily Mail”, then I’m not sure many people would be in favour of it.

For example, I’m distressed that I don’t get to write a column in the Daily Mail, as I’d love to watch the number of breakfast-time heart attacks across Middle England soar whilst I advocated free immigration, heroin on the NHS and legalised bestiality [*]. A six-figure salary would be nice, too.

But I’m not sure that I’d agree with someone who suggested that my right to free speech was being infringed by Paul Dacre’s bizarre refusal to grant me that position. Indeed, given the number of passable writers who’d love a columnist position on the Daily Mail (hell, even if you only include the ones who’re actually right-wing rather than trolling), I’d question that person’s sanity.

And this is why Matthew Parris’s latest column is complete nonsense: he thinks that if the BBC had refused to invite Nick Griffin on Question Time, and if the Daily Mail had refused to publish Jan Moir’s mean-spirited rant about Stephen Gately, it would have been an assault on free speech.

But obviously, it wouldn’t.

Nick Griffin has the right to tell anyone that he’s mates with an “almost-non-violent chapter of a (not the, of course) KKK”; Jan Moir has the right to tell anyone that “those gays are always with the drugs and the suspicious deaths”. But neither of them has the right to expect anyone to listen to them, and they certainly don’t have the right to expect anyone to publish or broadcast their opinions.

(there’s an argument that, because some semi-evolved chimps support the BNP and also pay the TV licence fee, the BBC ought to reflect their views. That isn’t a completely stupid position, but it’s not about freedom of speech.)

The usually-sensible-on-these-kind-of-issues libertarian Mr Eugenides gets this wrong too:

Even if so – even if I agreed [that it’s wrong to give scumbags a platform] – who is to decide who are the scumbags, and who are not? The Electoral Commission? The controller of BBC1? David Dimbleby? The editors of Liberal Conspiracy?

But in this case, the editors of Question Time did make a decision: that Nick Griffin was a man who should be on Question Time. The same week, they decided that me, Mr Parris and Mr Eugenides were all not people who should be on Question Time. Editorial decisions here are essential, not optional…

[*] subject to animal cruelty laws, obviously.

Being away

I’m sitting in the 18th floor of a tower block somewhere subtropical, overlooking the sea. Currently I’m inside, but with the large bay windows open, getting some evening sunshine – I may shortly head out to the terrace for full-on last rays action. On the minus side, I’ve been working today, but it hasn’t been absolute hell. Almost pleasant, even.

Meanwhile, back in Britain… I hear the weather has been OK, in the sense of ‘only quite cold and only a bit rainy’. I hear the entire world and their dog has gone into spasms of lunacy after a daft fat bigot got vaguely humiliated on a TV show, but also picked up a few new idiot fans (even though a similar-looking bigot with the same views is accepted and awarded as a national newspaper columnist with barely any fuss from anyone).

On that one, I’m glad I wasn’t around for the debate. As far as I can make out, the assembled Great And Good [*] made a stupid and ignorant man look stupid, ignorant but also victimised, whilst actually agreeing with his fundamental thesis (“immigration is terribly bad and BNP voters are right to be concerned about it, so we’ll make our already-lunatic-hard restrictions even tougher”).

It’s another reminder of how, if you’re a socially liberal supporter of a market-driven economy with around-OECD-average levels of taxation and regulation [**], free migration and free speech, who also thinks that UAF are a daft bunch of tossers, British politics at the moment is a bit depressing.

The fact that the mainstream parties are engaged in a deeply stupid (tough on crime, tough on immigration, ‘too many human rights’, ‘we must cut the deficit now’) consensus on most issues is hardly surprising. The fact that the far Right are scumbags is pretty much definitional. But what else is there? The Greens don’t believe in markets and are more or less the opposite of liberal; the left-of-Labour narrative hasn’t yet been set but is unlikely to focus on social liberalism (if it did, I’d excuse the economics); and to the extent that the Lib Dems have expressed an opinion on anything, they’re mainstream-consensus.

And I’m frankly bored of London, bored of long work-weeks and infinite stress from above and below, bored of endless overpriced drinks in the same pubs, bored of the Tube, bored of mornings, bored of blogging (see: number of posts on this blog that aren’t Twitter roundups).

The sun’s setting. I’ll head outside. It’ll be pleasant. It’ll be different. It’ll be warm.

I could stay here.

[*] yes, I’m aware of the irony in using the words ‘great’ and ‘good’ to refer to Jack Straw.

[**] including banking regulation. The reason we and the US are so screwed right now is due to underregulation in the banking system; it has absolutely no bearing on the vast majority of companies that aren’t banks, and using it as an argument against market capitalism is Just Silly. Using it as an argument against dogmatic US Republican-style deregulation is exactly right, and should be done, but even the current Tory leadership isn’t daft enough to advocate that.

What I’ve been up to, week ending 2009-10-18

  • now using MySkyStatus – http://MySkyStatus.com/ #
  • Duncan Bannatyne: prick – http://bit.ly/FkAyr #
  • "I agree with C Hitchens that champagne among 4 most overrated things in the world, with lobster, picnics and anal sex" http://bit.ly/1pD6n8 #
  • (note to self: do not go on a champagne and lobster picnic with C Hitchens) #
  • New rule of thumb: anyone who uses the term "simples" is an idiot who can safely be ignored and/or horsewhipped #
  • Denying Poles' involvement in Holocaust isn't as bad as Holocaust denial, but still pretty vile: http://bit.ly/Hto4o #yayFry #booCesarani #
  • disappointed to miss @herring1967's live solo podcast, and this is my last Monday in the UK for 3 weeks. eh well, fun night anyway #
  • my cleaner charges gbp45pw = gbp2340pa for 2-bed flat. agree with @krishgm on this. #thescandalistheincompetencenottheexpenses #
  • In case you aren't following @realnickgriffin, do. NB 'real' may be artistic license #
  • delighted to see the planib #
  • delighted to see libel laws protecting fine #trafigura folk vs implication they may be callous bastards who'd let Africans die for a few $ #
  • Injunctions evil. Civil law shld be 'you did this, it hurt J Bloggs, pay him some $', not 'you might do this, but you'll get jail if you do' #
  • Alex Massie great, eg http://bit.ly/QY81H – but only matter of time b4 Speccie notice he's not identikit Bufton-Tufton & fire him #Trafigura #
  • Finally, an area where Tory policy is unequivocally better than Labour's: http://www.nfrnonline.com/item/949/23/5/3 #stillnotvotingforem #
  • Check out "Let's Gag Carter-Ruck" on Oct 15th. RSVP at http://twvt.us/gagcarterruck #gagCarterRuck #twvt #trafigura #
  • RT @chickyog #trafigura is trending. #
  • Haha, nice: RT @LonelyWonderer Are British libel laws #toxic and should we give a #CarterRuck ? http://bit.ly/3tBM9y #trafigura #
  • RT @PressGazette Guardian gagged from reporting Parliament http://bit.ly/2fMMOs #
  • If you pay a 3rd-world co' to do something and they don't, is it necessarily your fault – or is that a bit of a colonialist assumption? #
  • That part of original Grauniad piece also a bit ropey: http://tr.im/BC9v "unqualified local man" had a government hazardous waste license #
  • …none of which excuses the gagging attempts, obviously. Oh, and nice to see Carter-Ruck trending #trafigura #
  • It isn't illegal to buy booze and *give* it to kids, only to *sell* it to them. Disturbing that booze retailers don't understand the law #
  • RT @chickyog I'd like the whole world to know about my blog. How much do Carter-Ruck charge for an injunction? #trafigura #
  • RT @mrjohnwilkes "You, Sir! Will you with me come to Westminster and fight 'pon the matter of LIBERTY?" #trafigura #
  • RT @nickjbarlow Guardian front page now mentioning #Trafigura and Paul Farrelly – Carter-Ruck now known as specialists in epic legal fail #
  • Does anyone still care about MP expenses? I mean, actually just not want the whole pointless, annoying saga to bugger off #
  • Anyone care to make a defence *in principle* of injunctions? What's wrong with just applying damages in civil cases? #
  • I like this, and suspect it's 90% true: http://bit.ly/OURNC #
  • I hear that @jonnelledge is tipped to be chief photo editor for Playgirl #
  • The Wehrmacht. They lost the war, now they've lost us the quiz #
  • Always listen to your PRs, not your lawyers – Pottinger-Bell was not behind Trafigura's decision to take legal action – http://bit.ly/2u509B #
  • Well, always listen to your PRs on stuff you're doing for PR, which includes libel. On H&S/employment law, always listen to your lawyers… #
  • Iraq. We're not there. We were there once (all-party-endorsed). We also held Calais. Relevance to any current debate is…? #
  • (reference to Afghan debate noted. But saying 'XXX voted for Iraq -> XXX is a war criminal' is moronic, unless XXX is actually Dick Cheney.) #
  • Some Yanks build phones that are nearly as good as Taiwanese ones from 2 years ago: why is this BBC news? http://bit.ly/3afuDD #
  • RT @antonvowl: The penny drops for Londoners. Hilarious straw haired buffoon, great, but right here's where you start paying… #
  • If Parliament were to pass a Bill of Attainder against Adam Tudor, it'd be hard to oppose it… http://bit.ly/2OnXjS #
  • Officious Tube twunt needs fired – please RT: http://bit.ly/1Bwqq7 (via @LDN) #
  • RT @rblandford: http://bit.ly/2cCQJ7 Read this, then RT. Let's see if Twitter can bring down a homophobic Daily Mail columnist. #janmoir #
  • "Mark Speight's death strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of straight partnerships" #janmoir #
  • Just got given a free subscription to the Staggers. Huzzah! #
  • Rude-Tube-man Internet WIN: http://bit.ly/ROw7G #
  • Pub gossip: "that go-go dancer who owned the Spanish kebab shop is now in the Taliban". WIN #
  • That last tweet was courtesy of @thebuddhasmiled by the way #
  • I was planning to get up, but flatmate seems to be watching Coronation Street -> staying in bed appeals #
  • Does a point need missing? Does ignorant bigotry need spouted? Just call Frank Fisher http://bit.ly/jInVh #
  • liam gallagher is in the pub. he's smoking a fag and looking like a grumpy twat #

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…and while I’m on the ‘tort law’ topic

What’s the point of injunctions in cases of breach of civil law?

If someone breaks the criminal law, they should be punished. That’s why we have criminal courts.

But if someone’s planning to do something which might, if they do it, be against civil law, what on earth is the justification for turning *that* into a criminal, enforceable offence?

Concretely: if I call Robert Maxwell a fat, thieving, lying crook, then it’s fair enough that he should be allowed his day in court where I have to prove that he is a fat, thieving, lying crook [*].

But how in hell is it fair, just or rational that if Robert Maxwell hears that I’m planning on calling him a fat, thieving, lying crook, that he’s allowed to find a judge who’ll ban me from doing so on pain of criminal penalties?

[*] yes, again with the libel law reform. No, I don’t think that I *actually* ought to have to prove that, I think he should either prove the opposite in court or persuade interested parties that I’m not worth listening to: but I’m willing to concede all kinds of vile concessions against free speech for the purpose of debate.