Posts Tagged 'Freedom of Speech'

Farage meltdown

Confession time.  No way did I think Nigel Farage would inflict so much damage on himself so quickly after such a high profile improvement in his party’s fortunes.

His badly thought out appearance in Scotland was bad enough.  Requiring a police escort away from protesters was humiliating.  But what has followed – his ill-tempered name calling and undignified petulance in putting the phone down during an radio interview when walked into confirming the somewhat  embarrassing fact UKIP has no elected members north of the border, suggests the shine is coming off the blessed Nigel incredibly quickly.

UKIP insiders are all too well aware of Farage’s ignorant refusal to brook any challenge or opposition to his views.  But Farage’s demonstration of his inability to rise above the abuse he experienced on the street and defuse its sting won’t play well with voters, who are entitled to expect potential leaders to deal with such things in a gracious and magnanimous way.

I honestly pity Farage’s press adviser.  I am certain in my own mind that Farage would have been told how to handle this incident and respond assuredly to the unpleasant and seemingly intimidating experience, but refused to take the advice on board.  He could have told the media that seeing those Scottish protesters enjoying their freedom of speech was a welcome sight because such freedom is essential in a democracy – and that the political class increasingly censors people and the deeper we are integrated in the EU the less democratic this country becomes.  He could have added that while he strongly refutes and disagrees with their arguments and accusations he defends their right to express them and he would respond fully and openly to their claims.

Instead we have seen a senior politician engaging in pathetic namecalling that would be considered immature on a playground.  Far from being the bloke one would he happy to have a pint with, I would now be more concerned he would smash some glasses and kick some tables over if he hears something he doesn’t like.

Farage, as predicted, has just done some damage to UKIP and its credibility.  That party deserves better.

Where is the justice?

Following on from our post about people being imprisoned for giving offence to others online and through nasty messages written on clothing, this story from Northamptonshire underlines how crimes of violence are being ignored as prosecutors seek to clamp down on what people think and say.

What provides society with the greater protection?  Prosecuting offensive people for what they think and say resulting in them being jailed, or refusing to prosecute a thug who has committed a violent assault resulting in physical injury and leaving him at liberty on our streets?

These things don’t happen without an agenda at play behind the scenes.  As James Higham, in the comments on the previous post rightly says, ‘thin edge of the wedge all right’.

Rather than celebrate the jailing of people who have done nothing but offended others with sentiments (not incitement to violence or crime) however disgusting, we should be very concerned about how speech is being criminalised.

 

Reprehensible, abhorrent, dispicable… criminal?

After being convicted and imprisoned for four months at Minshull Street Crown Court, what he daubed on his T-shirt was described by police as ‘morally reprehensible‘.  No one denies what Barry Thew wrote and then paraded around Radcliffe was grossly offensive.  Many people will agree his actions were appalling, odious even.

This follows on from the jailing for three months of Matthew Woods for ‘abhorrent’ and ‘dispicable‘ comments made about missing children Madeleine McCann and April Jones, after he pleaded guilty in court.

But in jailing Thew for ‘a public order offence’ and Woods for ‘sending a message or other matter that is grossly offensive by means of a public electronic communications network’, the powers that be have gone too in criminalising expressions and viewpoints that, while disgusting and probably demonstrating severely warped minds, incite neither violence nor any other crime.

Quietly over the years the constraints on speech that were designed to prevent incitement to engage in criminal actions have been altered to fold in words that offend.  No matter how much outrage and upset we feel about the views and comments people like Thew and Woods decide to spew forth, what we are seeing is increasing restriction and a disturbing erosion of an individual’s freedom of expression.

While in itself this erosion may seem like no bad thing in the case of Thew and Woods, we should be feeling real concern about how further restrictions and erosions may be applied in order to criminalise normal and necessary dissent against the authorities, or even a supposed consensus view on an issue.

These two episodes show we do not have a free society where no one has the right to not be offended, but an increasingly authoritarian and paternalist society where periodical fits of morality – that phrase to beautifully turned by Thomas Macauley to describe the ridiculousness of the public getting on its high horse to exhibit virtue – among members of the public are seized upon by ‘the powers that be’ to further curtail essential rights and freedoms.

Sending these grotesque specimens to prison for what they have thought and said, when people convicted of offences against the person such as assault, or who kill people through poor or dangerous driving, are allowed to retain their liberty should be sounding warning bells.  The State is more concerned about going after people for their thoughts than going after those who commit harmful and criminal acts.  It’s an injustice.  But it is also a very real danger.

We must protect freedom, by restricting your freedom

Richard North, writing on his EU Referendum blog, draws attention to a communique following a joint meeting yesterday of the two Council of the European Union working groups on terrorism – the Terrorism Working Party and COTER.  The release explained that:

Representatives of the Norwegian authorities informed the meeting about the events and the ongoing investigation. This was followed by a debate which included experts from EU member states, representatives of several EU bodies and institutions (Europol, European External Action Service, European Commission) as well as the office of the EU Counterterrorism coordinator. Delegations seized the opportunity to express condolences and solidarity with Norway and the Norwegian people.

This is an all-too-predictable self insertion into the fallout of the massacre in Norway in an effort to make the EU appear relevant and strengthen its control over member states.  Although this meeting is quite noteworthy as Norway is not a member of the EU.  It seems to suggest that this horror will also be seized upon by the EU to add weight to its effort to court Norway and enjoin Oslo to put EU membership on its to-do list. 

But reading between the lines this communique is deeply disturbing as what we are seeing is the groundwork being laid for an assault on our freedom.  The clue is there in the last paragraph (relevant section in italics) which reads:

The issue of ‘lone-wolf terrorism’, represented by terrorists that are self-radicalised (e.g. through the internet) with no obvious attachment to any terrorist organisation, seems to require increasing attention. The experts also agreed that in confronting the threat of a terrorist attack, regardless of its underlying motivation, the effective exchange of information is vital. The importance of strengthening response capacity was another issue that was highlighted.

Alarm bells should be ringing already because the whiff of censorship of dissent is in the air.  There is a mood for it among those who advocate big government and its agendas.  It is inconceivable that those who have the power to legislate these things beyond our control are not accumulating a raft of justifications for shutting down free speech and only permitting views and opinions that fit in with their worldview.

In the piece above we have the clear reference to internet centric radicalisation.  In the last week there have been similar assaults on the notions of free speech and openness that have arisen from very separate topics.  There was  Thomas Hylland Eriksen writing in the Guardian who said Anders Breivik has been ‘brainwashed’ by websites and that if he had:

instead been forced to receive his information through a broadsheet newspaper, where not all the stories dealt with Europe’s loss of confidence and the rise of militant Islam, it is conceivable that his world would have looked slightly different. 

Indeed. He would have been brainwashed with the state sanctioned approved truth instead, and the topics that don’t pass official muster are censored out of existence. 

Then there was Professor Steve Jones’ report commissioned by the BBC Trust into its science coverage, where the esteemed snail geneticist and doyen of the corporation openly argued that the BBC gives too much air time to people who are sceptical of the ‘consensus’ on global warming.  The thinking is that their views should be struck from the airwaves because they might strike a chord with other people, who in turn might choose to reject the position adopted and pushed by government and its media friends.  As this blog said at the time:

We are witnessing the most successful and far reaching attempt yet by the liberal left to censor the news and information delivered to the public and indoctrinate us with their selective worldview – and do it with our money.

Watch them come for the blogs next.

They are already on their way. 

Their mission is to deny us access to information, views, opinions and commentary they have not created and they do not sanction.  It is a dangerous leap forward on the path to a totalitarian form of control.  But maybe they are their own worst enemies.  For we have just seen what happened when one dangerous man in Norway felt his views and wishes were being ignored by his government.  He tried to assassinate the Prime Minister then set about murdering his supporters in the Labour Party youth organisation.

Does the EU not realise, do national governments not realise, that restricting freedom of speech and the ability to share views and opinions – no matter how daft some might seem to others – will not dissolve the threat?  It will result in duplication and replication of the very extremism exhibited by Anders Breivik and a consequent escalation in violent acts.

The censorship that seems to be under consideration or construction to control ‘extremism’ will not passify the people, instead it will turn frustration and resentment into real anger, and it will only drive more people to adopt an extremist path trodden by Breivik.  And we all know how that turned out.

Abuse of the law and public inertia

Or, The State We’re In.

Our current condition throws up some examples of how power crazed bureacurats are falsely charging themselves with the power to stamp on individuals who rightly stand up against bureaucracy and public service failings and challenge unaccountable and unsanctioned decision making. Two cases make the papers today that should be spread far and wide.  But as always there is little or no ‘follow through’ by the journalists to connect the dots and display the bigger picture for people, so we have to rely on the blogosphere to do that.

Firstly we have the case of blogger Jacqui Thompson, author of ‘Camarthenshire Planning Problems and More’. She tells the story of how she was arrested for allegedly breaching the peace this week for filming part of a Camarthenshire County Council meeting from the public gallery to bring events to a wider audience.

Ms Thompson then goes on in a follow up blog post to describe her treatment after being arrested and presents readers with an evident example of the law being abused by Camarthenshire Councillors and the police to suit the ends of the establishment. A polite refusal to acquiesce to an unreasonable demand – namely to stop filming when filming is not banned by the Council’s own standing orders – is not a breach of the peace.

A legal action for false arrest seems justified as to deny this woman her liberty for wishing to highlight failings in the supposedly democratic process is an abuse under the law. There was no need for the Council to suspend proceedings and no grounds to instructing her to leave the public gallery. The police were not only heavy handed, they were resorting to stereotype number one, that the establishment is in need of protection and the ordinary taxpaying member of the public is the aggressor.

Secondly we have the case of blogger Daniel Sencier, author of ‘Prostate Cancer – My Journey!’ and a former cancer patient at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle.  He tells the story of how North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust are bullying him using threats of legal action for daring to speak out about the experience of newly diagnosed Prostate Cancer patients at his local hospital in Carlisle.

The Trust is giving the impression of having more power than it actually possesses, as once you read the content of their solicitor’s letter to Mr Sencier you can see how little they can do to prevent a protest they believed Mr Sencier was planning. But the abuse becomes evident when you see the Trust’s threat against Mr Sencier if his blog contains what they consider to be:

…unsubstantiated criticism of the care you received at the Trust the Trust will have no hesitation in considering taking legal action against you

Criticism is subjective and if Mr Sencier considers the care he received was substandard then he has the right to say so. It is his opinion and there should not be any need for his opinion to be substantiated by anything. At any rate, as if to underline the blowhard position the Trust is only saying they won’t hesitate to consider taking legal action. They know they will almost certainly have no grounds for doing so, but that doesn’t stop them trying to intimidate a dissatisfied member of the public into silence.

This is the reality of Britain in the 21st Century. We supposedly boast the mother of all Parliaments and the finest model for legal systems that has been much duplicated around the world. But what we see here is not only examples of the corruption of our democracy but the extent of the assault on our liberty and individual rights by the State in service of its own interests against ours.

For how much longer will the public stay silent on matters such as these and shy away from taking back from the establishment the power that is ours by right?  It cannot continue. We need to make a stand.

(Cross posted at Orphans of Liberty and Independent Political Bloggers – links on the right).

The demonisation of people for what they think

We are on a very slippery slope.  Today was the day the media reached a sickening new lows in its unjust and disproportionate treatment of people it makes the objects of supposed news stories.  The media has appointed itself the judge, jury and assassin of the characters of people for daring to say what they think.

Story One
Listeners to BBC Radio Five Live have endured near saturation coverage of what is probably being called ‘SkySportsGate’ behind the scenes.  At the time of writing the story of Sky Sports presenter Richard Keys and pundit Andy Gray engaging in some misogynistic conversation about Premier League linesman assistant referee Sian Massey and West Ham vice chairman Karren Brady remains the number two news item on the BBC News website.

It was the major news item this morning.  Then it became the hastily promoted discussion piece on Nicky Campbell’s phone in.  As the BBC’s editors salivated uncontrollably and developed moist loins at being able to put the boot in to Sky, the story rolled over into Victoria Derbyshire’s show. There the listeners were subjected to an all women prosecution, jury and judgement on the two men as speculation mounted about the appropriate punishment for this ‘offence’.

At this point Karren Brady was rolled out, without any hint of irony, to explain how these sexist comments made her ‘blood boil’ and castigate Keys and Gray for their comments.  This of course is the same Karren Brady who was so opposed to sexism she left her advertising job at LBC radio to work for pornography publishing baron, David Sullivan.  Not that La Derbyshire brought that up – although a number of listeners did via text and email. Being offended by sexism, it seems, is a selective condition in Brady’s case.

To say this is out of all proportion is the understatement of the century.  Were their comments inappropriate?  Were they laced with resentment at the spectacle of a female official?  Were they ungentlemanly or downright rude?  You know what, it doesn’t bloody matter because it was a private conversation between the two men.  They were not comments made for public consumption.  Yet some opportunist toad listening across the ‘talkback’ function before the coverage started made a copy of the comments; and instead of complaining to management, sent it to the press to turn it into a big story.

Nevertheless the BBC has lapped it up.  After all, it’s their big rival Sky, a part Murdoch-owned organisation that achieves commercially what the BBC dare not attempt.  The demonisation is total.  Having been admonished and making an apology, the BBC coverage has pushed Sky into a public relations corner and so Keys and Gray now face disciplinary action.  Not for a failure to do their job well, not for doing anything wrong on air, but for expressing their personal thoughts in a private conversation.  The BBC have gone hunting for scalps and will not be satisfied until Keys and Gray have lost their livelihood.  So now the two men are to be punished for what they think.  It is deeply disturbing.

Update: After another clip of Gray being offensive was released he has been sacked by Sky Sports. It was justified but the manner of this coming to light, via the leaking of a private conversation, remains of great concern.

Story two
Readers of the Belfast Telegraph in recent days will have experienced near saturation coverage of the tragic honeymoon murder of Michaela McAreavey, the daughter of three-time Tyrone All-Ireland winning GAA manager Mickey Harte.

A beautiful, popular and by all accounts talented girl, Michaela was killed by hotel staff when she caught them stealing from her and her husband’s room.  However the Belfast Telegraph’s intimate coverage of the story makes it feel like she has been elevated to the position of Northern Ireland’s Princess Diana.

The killers have been caught and made confessions.  Michaela has been repatriated and buried.  But still the Telegraph’s coverage continues unabated. To date, in the 13 days since the story broke, the Belfast Telegraph has published no less than 60 related articles about the killing, family grief, funeral, family background, calls for an inquiry etc. etc.  Maybe you could expect such a number over a period of time if the case was open and police were still trying to catch the killer.  But this case is all but over.

Not everyone appreciates the excessive coverage.  One such person is a 19 year old girl called Susanne Morrison.  Writing on her Facebook page, this witless kid – a part time photographer for an obscure paper in County Down:

ranted that she was “sick of hearing” about Michaela’s murder because she could not see “what makes her so special”.

Susanne also made other sickening remarks which we are not repeating.

Morrison’s comments are at best inelegant, and if her other remarks (removed from Facebook) are indeed ‘sickening’ then she is clearly unpleasant and inconsiderate as well.  But the reaction of the Belfast Telegraph gives great cause for concern.  Like the BBC in the casestudy above, the Telegraph has a self serving agenda.  It has gone after Morrison in a faintly sinister manner that is deeply disturbing.

Without any good reason, the Belfast Telegraph has told readers where Morrison lives, Rathfriland.  In a society where religious denomination is often denoted by the football team one supports, the BT tells readers that she supports Rangers and Linfield (predominantly protestant supported teams).  To help readers identify Morrison, the Telegraph goes on to name her employer, the Co Down Outlook – while inflaming the matter by pointing out the paper ‘circulates in the area where Michaela’s devastated widower John McAreavey plays football for the Down county side’.

Despite Susanne Morrison’s comments having nothing to do with her part time employment, the Sunday Life (from where the Telegraph picked up this story) contacted the Co Down Outlook’s editor Joanne Ross – who then issued a statement saying that they were horrified by the Facebook comments and the paper was investigating.  This is an example of the media attempting exact retribution by trying to harm someone’s career prospects and livelihood by dragging the employer into the story, where the employer feels compelled to take action for PR purposes. Why also is there any need to tell readers which High School Morrison attended and provide details of her HND qualification in photography?  The Telegraph appears to be making Morrison a target for abuse by going to extraordinary lengths to give as many details of her as possible, while including a large colour photograph into the bargain.

It is both cynical and vicious, but it is also personal.  For at the heart of the Telegraph’s determination to nail Morrison to the wall is her criticism of the Telegraph’s over the top and disproportionate coverage of the story.  It says that Morrison had already widely circulated her comments on the Internet. But there is no evidence this idiotic and mouthy youngster did anything other than make comments on her Facebook page to her 600 or so ‘friends’ – a very different circulation to the tens of thousands of people who read the Telegraph.

This is another example of the media trying to silence people through direct bullying and the threat of intimidation and the potential loss of employment.  It is an effort to dissuade people from expressing their thoughts and views, whether they are considered or obnoxious. It is by extension a form of censorship and attempt to stifle any opinion but that of the media outlet indulging its editorial whims.  It is unacceptable, but it underlines the loss of freedom of expression and the growing intolerance in our society.  It shows we are on a very slippery and disturbing slope.

Update: Following the Belfast Telegraph’s successful witch hunt, Susanne Morrison has lost her job.  Her comments on Facebook were unpleasant but the Telegraph has twisted the story, claiming Morrison was criticising ‘the outpouring of grief’.  She was not, she was criticising the completely disproportinate and self serving saturation coverage in the media, particularly in the Belfast Telegraph which is now up to 62 articles covering every conceivable angle of the story and family’s private aftermath. After what are alleged to be spiteful comments by Morrison the Telegraph sunk to her level and was equally spiteful because she had pointed out the overblown coverage.

What have we allowed this world to turn into?  What have we allowed the self appointed elite to get away with?  Is there any way to redress the balance?

Warsi opens prejudice can of worms

This morning I started shaping my response to that antithesis of meritocracy, Baroness Warsi, who is now directing her hectoring tones to the issue of ‘Islamophobia’ and what she describes as prejudice against Muslims.

The focus of my post was on the definition of the words prejudice and phobia and how these two words are now routinely abused by those who seek to unjustly demonise people for what they think. But I have just seen that Longrider has already said it all with great clarity, and therefore I warmly commend his fine post to you.

There are people who are ignorant and hostile to a group of people purely because of their identity or race.  That stereotyping makes them bigots.  But for many people their dislike of certain individuals has been formed through experience and knowledge gained through interaction and close observation.  There is a big difference.

When such discerning people are criticised for possessing the informed viewpoint they do – which is what Warsi risks doing – that makes the critics the bigoted ones.  It is something Baroness Warsi would be well advised to be mindful of, before her comments form the central plank of a new attack on freedom of thought.

Update: Gawain also offers a valuable contribution to the debate.  Lord Tebbit explains why Warsi should not have plunged into this argument.  His Grace also turns his formidable intellect to the discussion. Dick Puddlecote says Warsi should not be surprised at concern about Muslims after the hysterical security measures against Islamist terror attacks.

Oh piss off (yes, another)

It really is the silly season. This one will result in much gnashing of teeth.

With a large hat tip to Witterings From Witney, who asks some pertinent questions about this story that are well worth reading, the Police blog of Inspector Gadget has revealed the latest advisory issued to our crimefighters.

Something that will help make our streets safer perhaps? Something that will improve the pisspoor detection rate? Think again:

‘In another nonsensical, empire-building, silly, frothy, pathetic and downright insulting example of political correctness gone mad, we at Ruralshire Constabulary have been told not to use the term “as sure as eggs are eggs”. Apparently this may upset any women listening, especially those who may suffer from fertility problems. This is true.

‘Can the department which thought this up be considered for abolition in the forthcoming cuts? Apparently not. Here in the Shire, Diversity Training Departments are considered as “front-line” teams.’

Inspector Gadget no doubt speaks for many frontline officers who suffer this lunacy. Can there be any clearer example of a well resourced department spewing forth any old crap in an attempt to justify its dubious existence?

If anyone needed evidence that police ‘managers’ are not fit for purpose and have warped priorities that do not match our priorities then consider this… With the amount of taxpayers’ money spent on policing being cut, why are senior police ranks talking about cutting the number of police officers when the psychologically damaged idiots who dreamed up this directive will continue to be employed?

Silencing Gilfoyle is an outrageous injustice

After 18 years behind bars, found guilty of a murder he has always maintained he did not commit, Eddie Gilfoyle has been allowed out of prison on parole. However, he has only been allowed out on condition that he does not comment on the case.

Last year, police investigation notes that the Merseyside force had always maintained did not exist, were uncovered. They showed that the doctor who declared Mrs Gilfoyle dead told police that she had died six hours earlier – when her hospital porter husband was at work. Paula Gilfoyle had been discovered dead by hanging and there was a suicide note. The police detectives working on the case argued that Gilfoyle had tricked his wife into writing the suicide note, convinced her to put a noose around her neck and climb a step ladder, and then pushed her to her death.

The information that the time of death coincided with Eddie Gilfoyle being at work was withheld from the jury and never mentioned during his trial. Clearly they would have cast reasonable doubt on his guilt. So they were conveniently left out, which is a travesty of justice.

But the injustice continues with this news that the Parole Board made it a condition of Gilfoyle’s parole licence that he must not comment to the media, either himself or via a third party. Who the hell do these people think they are? Presumably they will argue this is for Gilfoyle’s own good, but you can be certain their motives will be entirely selfish. No one must have their freedom of speech curtailed in this way.

There are safeguards under the law to deal with incitement to violence or slander. It is perfectly proper that there should be. But there is absolutely no justification to silence a man, whose conviction was demonstrably unsafe, from speaking about it. It is an outrageous injustice, a wrongful infrigement of liberty and an example of the censorious nature of bureaucrats in this supposed democracy.

Justice must be done but it must also be seen to be done. But increasingly we are seeing people prevented to telling their story in order to protect the establishment from scrutiny and embarrassment. There is this current instance and there are many instances, as Christopher Booker keeps highlighting, such as families that have been ripped apart as their children have been taken from them in kangaroo court hearings who are similarly gagged from speaking about their cases to suit the interests of the authorities.

This enforced silence is utterly wrong. The right of free people to speak to whomsoever they wish must be protected under the law. But instead the law is being used as a cudgel against the people rather than a protection for them. There is something rotten about a country whose officials abuse the law in order to withdraw the rights of others to suit their own ends or hide their failings. The self serving parasites who seek to operate with impuntiy in this way must be stopped if the people of this country are to be genuinely free.

The FitWatch Conundrum

During the course of today certain sections of the blogosphere including one of my regular favourite reads, Longrider, have been up in arms about what appears to be a disturbing example of police exceeding and misrepresenting their authority.

Without applying for, or being in possession of, a court order, an Acting Detective Inspector from the Met Police’s CO11 department requested an ISP shut down the FitWatch website because:

In connection with our criminal investigation into registration or use of the domain name set out in this letter, we hereby confirm that:

• The domain is being used to undertake criminal activities

Attempting to Pervert the Course of Justice, contrary to Common Law We hereby request [redacted] to de-host this website for a minimum period of 12 months.

The site in question, FitWatch, styles itself as standing against the activities and behaviour of police Forward Intelligence Teams. Continuing in the same manner the site’s editor(s) published advice to those people involved in violence during the student protests in London. In addition to advising students who were engaged in unlawful activity not to give themselves in and to change their appearance, the advice also recommends such individuals dispose of the clothing they were wearing to hinder identification and remove the possibility of the clothing being used as identification evidence. It is this that the police have taken exception to and used as justification for their actions as detailed below:

REASON FOR CLOSURE

This website are committing offences of attempting to pervert the Course of Justice under Common Law.

The website is providing explicit advice to offenders following a major demonstration in Central London. The demonstration was marred by violence and several subjects have already been arrested with a major police operation underway to identify and arrest further offenders.

The person controlling these websites has posted material held to be contrary to Common Law within the UK.

I hope everyone who was engaged in violence or criminal behaviour during the student protest is caught and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. But what is written above will be deeply disturbing to anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of the law, for here the police are presenting as a fact something that is only alleged until a court determines otherwise.  Note that last sentence – ‘held to be contrary to Common Law‘. Held by whom? That is the commonly accepted legal language for a matter that has been put before a court and judged upon. Despite there being none, the Acting Detective Inspector has deliberately given the impression that his request has legal force. As such the ISP immediately shut down the site.

A pertinent question would be, since when did the police take over the role of the judiciary? No doubt this officer feels the end justifies the means, but where does that slippery slope end? Will blogs like this be shut down if it makes a criticism a police officer takes exception to? Will politicians or civil servants task the police with getting sites closed down if they share inconvenient or embarrassing information? Could such action be used to silence opponents of, say, EU membership? What about climate change?

Make no mistake, what FitWatch did was ill advised and leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth. They clearly want people who committed criminal acts to get away with what they did. At the very least no one could dispute they are trying to offer support and advice to people who are trying to evade justice. But it does not follow FitWatch have broken the law. The advice is no different to what a legal representative would say in a private consultation with a client and it is only the view of a police officer that such advice is illegal.

It is worrying in the extreme that police officers feel able to exceed their authority and misrepresent themselves in this way to censor speech or silence dissent. There must be consequences for this unacceptable over reach.

Greenpeace activist issues threat to climate sceptics

Greenpeace is an organisation that has long styled itself as taking on people and groups it disagrees with through confrontation.  Be it via sailing the Rainbow Warrior to remote atolls in the hope of preventing nuclear tests, or trying to prevent whaling vessels chase down their quarry, Greenpeace activists like to further their viewpoint in an ‘in your face’, but generally non violent manner.  But one of their activists, ‘Gene Hashmi’ writing on Greenpeace’s ‘Climate Rescue weblog’, (Hat tip: Devil’s Kitchen) is encouraging a change of tack:

The proper channels have failed. It’s time for mass civil disobedience to cut off the financial oxygen from denial and skepticism.

If you’re one of those who believe that this is not just necessary but also possible, speak to us. Let’s talk about what that mass civil disobedience is going to look like.

If you’re one of those who have spent their lives undermining progressive climate legislation, bankrolling junk science, fueling spurious debates around false solutions, and cattle-prodding democratically-elected governments into submission, then hear this:

We know who you are. We know where you live. We know where you work.

And we be many, but you be few.

In response to this, the weblog editor has had to implore people in the comments section to ‘stay polite and don’t make death threats or incite violence’.  He goes on to say, in an attempt to evade possible legal action, ‘Gene’s blog entry is about encouraging PEACEFUL civil disobedience – the kind of peaceful methods that liberated Gene’s country (India) from imperialism.’  Desperate stuff. But the threats, implied and explicit, are clear for all to see.


You can get an insight into the foul mouthed ignoramus on ‘Gene’s’ Twitter page (profile image above has been condensed to fit on the screen).  In a further irony, his last Twitter post seems to suggest to his followers that he is off to Thailand where he will be visiting the ‘Freedom Bar’ (presumably that doesn’t include freedom of speech) on Tonsai Beach.  I wonder if he did his bit for the environment by flying there..?

The fact is Greenpeace has become increasingly focussed on the opportunity for argument and confrontation provided by climate change.  But it is hard for groups like Greenpeace to take on those who are sceptical of climate change in a confrontational way, because it is a battle of ideas largely conducted on the internet and through examination and discussion of scientific method and papers.

Scaling the house of a sceptic or navigating a ship into the path of a sceptic walking to the Post Office are respectively impractical and impossible.  What is becoming clear is that as the public increasingly questions the climate orthodoxy put in place by the warmists campaigners, Greenpeace is becoming impatient and frustrated.  Without the adrenalin rush of physical protest against a visible target on which they can vent their self righteous anger, Greenpeace activists are becoming more extreme.

We are starting to see the true, intolerant and controlling nature of the people who devote their time to telling other people what is permissible and how they should live their lives.  Anyone thinking of donating money to Greenpeace might want to think twice about the kind of activity their money will be funding.

Update:  Following howls of protest, Greenpeace finally and reluctantly removed the posting from their site – but it can still be read in full here.  Regardless of the Greenpeace spin, the posting was not taken out of context.  The threat was clear and the editors acted as apologists and spin doctors for Gene Hashmi. See Watts Up With That? for full details of the public climbdown by Greenpeace that masks a hidden endorsement of threats and intimidation being made people who disagree with the Greenpeace worldview.

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British libel laws isolating UK

Before creating Autonomous Mind I read an article in The Times that reported American newspapers and magazines may stop selling copies in Britain and block access to their websites because of our draconian libel laws.  This was not only disturbing, but annoying on a personal level because having a strong interest in US current affairs and sport, many of the newspapers considering such action are on my reading list, including The New York Times, The Boston Globe and the Los Angeles Times.

But while those papers still consider their next move, An Englishman’s Castle blog tells us that US magazine, the National Enquirer, has already taken action and blocked online access to web users in the UK in an attempt to prevent possible libel actions being brought in London.  We have now set off down a slippery slope where our laws are damaging our ability to gather news and information from around the world.

It is both ironic and embarrassing that largely because of this country’s archaic much abused libel laws that are in desperate need of reform, other states are being forced to take action to pass their own laws that render claims under foreign libel suits unenforceable.  California recently became the fourth US state to pass such legislation because while American courts allow the press to make mistakes as long as they have exercised due diligence and shown no harmful intent, our system can make the press pay a harsh penalty for even unintentional and corrected errors.

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