Publish & Be Damned

So. A footballer, whose name absolutely everyone with an Internet connection and an interest already knows, got a super injunction which prevents any media organisation reporting the fact that he had an affair with a Big Brother 7 contestant called Imogen Thomas, who to be fair to the guy, does have nice norks.

I’m not going to name him, because I am in no mood to be the blogger out of whom the law decides to make an example, but he plays for Manchester United and Wales, wears a number 11 shirt, and he’s suing Twitter, like, right now.

Now, to my legally untrained mind, the issue comes down to the competing rights of freedom of speech and the right to privacy; specifically articles 8 & 10 and possibly 12 (marriage) of the European convention on Human rights. Just because the public is interested in with whom footballers and their ilk play hide the sausage, doesn’t mean the newspapers have a right to publish and thereby invade peoples’ privacy. But, whatever Lord Justice Eady decides, freedom of speech is, to my mind, paramount. Without a presumption of free speech, it’s the rich and powerful who have the access to super-injunctions and less blessed unfortunates who come into the view of the tabloids but don’t have the resources, get monstered. In freedom of speech, truth should be the defence. Readerships should be asking “why am I interested, I really must be a nasty, stupid, prurient, fuck to be paying to read this drivel, but then I like football and big brother, so duh…”.

This may be a footballer, but if it’s a politician, or in America, a religious hypocrite, the right of people to know the private behaviour of public individuals is stronger. Though it still says more about the prurience of the public, “celebrities” must accept that one has to be able to defend one’s actions. The day of super-injunctions is past. Information is too difficult to suppress in this online world. Perhaps this is healthy – in a global village, every action has consequences. It’s as if the world knows you, just as if you lived in the 10th century. It’s equalising in it’s own way.

Courts can ban media organisations from divulging details, whilst the Internet is awash with the facts. An injunction probably worked until about a decade ago, when a few organisations controlled information. Now any dick-head with a key-board can find out, and spread information. There may be examples made, but you cannot prosecute every twitter user and blogger. To attempt to do so makes the law ridiculous. Sorry. EVEN MORE ridiculous. In this environment, seeking such an injunction merely renders the person seeking the injunction MORE famous than if you’d just said, “

Yes. The Gigg’s Up. I shagged her.”

Footballers, even Welsh ones with a yoga video to sell, shagging d-list tarts is not exactly a ‘man-bites-dog’ story and would be soon forgotten, but for the super injunction. The footballer, who scored a goal against in the second leg of Manchester United’s Champions league semi-final, would have been better advised to accept the media nonsense for a few days than expose himself to the cost and ridicule of legal action. Furthermore, the Footballer in question may be flying Ryan Air in future, as the cost of legal action, suing twitter and obtaining a super injunction may mean, that despite a long career of 875 appearances for Manchester United, he may end up bankrupt. Bankrupt and famous mainly for shagging Imogen Thomas, not the magnificent first goal in the second leg against Shalke, which ended a long goal drought for the 37 year-old forward.

Newspapers, even Britain’s notoriously prurient and intrusive press should have the right to publish the truth, even at the risk of invading the privacy of people paid £100,000 a week to kick a ball. Of course when a mere schoolmistress is “exposed” as a dominatrix, as a rather despicable second prize for the Sun in its campaign against Sir Max Mosley, the high cost of such legal action means people’s lives may be destroyed utterly, to no-one’s benefit. But they’re not famous, so who cares about THEIR privacy? A level playing field would see the truth being a defence in publishing details.

The moral of the story as far as footballers is concerned. If you didn’t shag a d-list slapper, prove it and sue the papers for libel if they print. If you did shag a d-list slapper, fess up, divorce or beg for forgiveness from your wife and accept that this will be tomorrow’s chip-wrapper. The Internet has rendered super-injunctions moot. This isn’t new: It was the Duke of Wellington who first said “publish & be damned”.

Unless this is all a clever strategy to build a media presence at the end of a football career. In which case, well done. I am sure there will be plenty of Giggs for you.

Another Piece of Labour’s Subtle Electoral Corruption

Sometimes the British state amazes me. Sometimes soldiers, both TA and regular get sent somewhere at short notice. The same is true of businessmen, salesmen, and a large number of individuals in the private sector. I imagine fewer people in the public sector have to travel at short notice such that they would not be able to vote.

Such short-notice travel is NOT grounds for an emergency proxy vote. The ONLY grounds for the granting of a proxy vote after the cut-off date, two weeks before the poll, is a medical emergency. This is the LAW, and boy, do public “servants” in town halls seem to enjoy telling soldiers that the democracy they are called to fight to defend is not, at this time, open to them. Unless of course they get shot, when it might be.

Not satisfied with the answer from the “head of democratic services” at my council, whom I suspected of being an officious oik, because he not only didn’t see that this was something to apologise for, but who also refused to give me his name when challenged about his frankly stinking attitude, (his name can be found on the Internet: It is clear that David Miley’s a right dick. I rang the electoral commission (02072710600) who were much more helpful.

It is true that a soldier or businessman called away at short notice cannot get an emergency proxy vote. It has been the Electoral Commission’s advice that people in this position SHOULD be granted an emergency proxy vote, however Parliament has not seen fit to make the change to the law. There can only be one reason for this: who’s been in charge of Parliament for a long time? Labour (the Coalition has had but a year to change the tsunami of horrid Labour legislation). In office, Labour saw fit to grant any turd a postal vote, whether or not they even existed. This allowed them to farm votes in ethnic “communities” where the Pater Familias could be relied upon to tick the “right” (i.e. Labour) box for all the people (and a few “people”) in each family.

People who go on the sick are more likely to vote Labour than those called away to fight (or sell weapons to) the Queen’s enemies at short notice. Ergo sickies could get a vote at short notice, but soldiers and businessmen couldn’t.

Everything Labour does, it sees party advantage before that of the country or even basic, decent fairness. This is why I hate them so very, very much. If you are, or have ever been a member of that despicable organisation, you have my contempt.

International “Law”, the UN & Libya.

Let’s face it, the only country which COULD help the Libyan insurgents in any meaningful way is the USA. But Obama won’t go without a UN resolution, Which Russia will veto, and he’s shown precious little interest in the issue. Britain & France could conceivably mount a half-arsed no fly zone. We could impose some form of trade embargo against the Libyan regime using the handful of remaining Jets or brace of warships our countries still possess, or arm the Rebels & provide some covert military support: sending the SAS and the Foreign Legion into the North-African desert where they were both born. But they won’t do even that without a UN resolution. And do you honestly think Barak Obama will support Britain & France, former colonial powers, taking action in Africa? France is absolutely correct to recognise the insurgents council as the legitimate Government of Libya, but this demonstrates another truth. France only chooses the morally right side, when they are about to lose, horribly.

To wage war without a UN resolution is “illegal”, and therefore we have outsourced out foreign policy, our ability to make timely war on tyrants, to the lawyers. International law is now a joke – with the vile totalitarianism of China & the amoral, oligarchic Russia sitting in the colon of the security council like an impacted turd preventing any coalition of democracies from taking action to support an uprising against dictators, anywhere in the world. Giving nasty totalitarians a veto over the actions of democracies is constipating our efforts to spread democracy, or indeed do the right thing, anywhere, ever.

Meanwhile, Qadhafi demonstrates to tyrants, including those in Moscow & Beijing that exemplary violence against insurgents will go unpunished and that the west is powerless. Hamstrung by a legal regime based on a corrupt, flawed organisation which can never reach agreement in this multi polar world. The window of opportunity to get rid of this capricious clown in Tripoli is closing, fast and is now measured in hours and days, not the weeks it takes to get a UN resolution.

If you are an “international lawyer”, or think that there is some higher court than the electorate to which the leaders of sovereign democracies are subject, the blood of Libyan insurgents is on your hands. You may bleat about ‘Iraq’ but it’s Colin Powell’s fear of “international law” which prevented the coalition supporting the Marsh Arabs (who now basically no longer exist as a people) when they rose up against Saddam Hussein. Iraq II may have demonstrated the futility of imposing democracy un-asked-for, but that is NOT what happened in Southern Iraq in 1991 and it is NOT what is happening now in Libya.

War is risky, but it is the right of sovereign democracies to wage it against tyranny, and the job, it seems of international lawyers to prevent it & thereby support the self-serving (even more amoral and self-serving than ours) foreign policy of Russia & China which is to actively support vile dictators (with whom it’s easier to do business than businesses operating under the rule of law) and loot their countries of resources. Supporters of international Law give, in effect, a Chinese & Russian veto on Western foreign policy. Russia and China are NOT so encumbered, knowing that the west are not going to go to war in support of, say Gerogia. Supporters of international law, and the Chinese/Russian veto, are every bit as responsible for what is going to happen to the people of Benghazi when it falls to the regime as the Libyan soldiers pulling the trigger. Indeed, more so. Most Libyan soldiers don’t really have a choice.

The Libyan insurgents are crying out, begging for our help, yet the Lawyers are saying “Russia says no, so we can’t go”. If the idea of a free Libya is going to be killed, let it at least take the bloodstained UN and the idea that “international law” is in any way binding, with it. I hope the cameras are rolling when Qadhafi’s tanks roll in, so those Lawyers can see clearly happening what the west COULD have prevented. Not that those cold-blooded reptiles will give a shit.

In the mean-time all I can do is hang my head in shame at what my country has become & weep for the lost opportunity for the Libyan people for whom this is not 1989, it’s 1956.

Poison to Political Discourse.

Predictably, there’s a “campaign“, more like one lonely, inadequate woman, whose child is ‘special’ who are demanding that a councillor be fired for describing the public Gallery as “retards”. Not the nicest thing to say about your electorate, but probably not wildly inaccurate either. Let’s see what happens to him at the ballot box shall we? However the humourless bint in question has filed an official complaint saying

One of my children has a severe learning disability and if I was aware that this word was used about her I would consider it a hate crime.”

Apparently, this was said out loud, and without hyperbole, as the councillor described, not as the allegation implies the handful of disabled people there, but a UK Uncut protest as “retards”. Given the extreme economic illiteracy and wanton stupidity on display from UK Uncut, I think the description of them as “retards” is generous, as it removes the mens rea from their extreme cuntularity.

In a separate incident, which arose later (and is in NO WAY part of a politically motivated campaign) he is also alleged to have used the world “wonk” to describe a council worker, used in political circles to describe one rather too interested in policy, specifically a think-tanker without real-world experience, and as such is marginally less pejorative than “nerd”. It is not “offensive and humiliating” though referring to the same person, a danish council worker as “woman” and “Foreigner” are a little less polite, I’ve been called worse, and shouldn’t get the sack for such behaviour. With this complaint I hear the faint sounds of a barrel being scraped by UK Uncut retards.

I am not suggesting John Fareham is a good councillor, or that he is right to say such things. I don’t know the detail & care less. But the professional offence-taking, and the passive aggressive demands that someone be fired for being merely rude, is getting out of hand.

This isn’t about whether someone was offended. It is simply using the excessive laws defining “hate speech” to silence one’s political opponents. Labour, with it’s thought crime legislation is now out of power, but the aim is now clear. It is not to protect minorities from persecution. It is to outlaw a conservative view, especially when robustly expressed by an amateur politician. This is unacceptable & poison to the robust political discourse needed in a healthy democracy.

And if you’re really offended, here’s an idea. Don’t vote for the bastard, and campaign for the other guy. If you want to circumvent democracy and have him fired, basically for having a different world-view to you, fuck off and die, you hateful, miserable, humourless bunch of anti-democratic twats. If you’re shocked and horrified by the word “retard”, you need to get out more. There’s shocking and horrific things going on in Libya or Afghanistan at the moment. Perhaps the UK Uncut retards, would like to join the Army to go and have a look. Or perhaps they should listen to their mother, who no doubt like mine said “sticks & stones (or roadside bombs) may break your bones, but names will never hurt me”.

Grow up and get a life.

A British Bill of Rights.

The news that convicted sex-offenders are to be given the right to appeal their life-time requirement to sign on the sex-offenders’ register has prompted tabloid Paedogeddon and a reprive of the pre-election Tory policy of a British Bill of Rights. This usually comes up in Conservative circles when some Euro-Judge decides some vexatious piece of law which apparently flies in the face of mob rule natural justice. The Daily Mail cliche that “the Human rights of criminals have become more important than those of their victims” is, as ever, complete bollocks. In this instance there is no European element, as the judgement was handed down by the UK’s supreme court applying British Law, the Human Rights Act 1998 – something Conservatives get worked up about too, because this too is seen as a dastardly Euro-plot to undermine common law.

I have no problem with the ruling. It does seem manifestly unfair that a man with no sexual interst in children will be on a list which in public immagination lumps him in with predatory paedophiles, for the rest of his life with no right of appeal, and may therefore get lynched one day when such information is leaked to the baying press. You don’t need to do much to get put on the sex offenders’ register, and the fact that it’s harder to get off than the cold-call list from alternative telecoms providers does fly in the face of the principle that some offenders can be rehabilitated.

On the recent ECHR ruling I have little problem with prisoners being allowed the vote. On the other hand, the restriction of the franchise is not an unreasonable punishment. It takes a court to decide who’s right, and only a vindictive bastard or rights obsessive gets worked up one way or the other. The point is that I would prefer a court rooted in British law, applying law drafed in accordance with the principles of common, rather than continental, law and subject to the Crown in Parliament, to decide rather than some unaccountable foreign body accountable only to itself.

The point to make is that a British Bill of Rights would put human rights law firmly within the British legal system, rather than being an impostition flowing from our membership of the EU. This is why I support a British Bill of Rights to replace the Human Rights Act 1998. However The British Bill of Rights will still enable judges to consider the rights of Sex offenders to appeal against a lifetime of second-class citizen status. British judges will still find in favour of the rights of Prisoners to vote. The idea that the rulings the Supreme Court interpreting the Bill of Rights come up with will be any different to the current system interpreting the Human Rights Act is risible.

Indeed a Bill of Rights which didn’t allow rulings to displease The Sun would not be worth the paper it’s written on.

These rulings are not “legislating from the bench”. It is application of principle, which get lost in the hurly-burly of politics. Politicians who think that the ‘primacy of parliament’ means legislating vindictively in a manner likely to appease the Sun newspaper’s ‘hang em & flog ’em’ approach to criminal justice will be dissapointed. The only difference will be the a reaffermation of the supremacy of British law within the UK, so criminals will still get “rights”, but the Sun will no longer be able to blame “Europe” for this, so I suspect the policy’s most voiciferous supporters today should be careful for what they wish.

Activist state, concentrated harm.

Following on from yesterday’s post, in which I talked about the dispersed benefits of Libertarian policies, cutting special interests’ programs to the greater good of the economy and, indeed, liberty of the population. The costs of that policy are obvious: the people delivering and consuming the service provided, and these will scream loud and clear about the “Cut” to their “vital” service.

But there are concentrated harms in the statist policy closet too. Dick Puddlecote highlights a problem of an over mighty state: in the example a Teenage boy has it explained to him, calmly and professionally by a social-worker and the police that he can no longer stay with his father. The same boy would be subject to the law and found responsible were he to break it, but isn’t thought responsible enough to decide where to live. The police are clear: they will use violence if necessary to enforce the decree on the piece of paper. And they do. A lot of it. It gets quite disturbing from about 8 minutes in.

Now I am sure the police believe in this instance that they are doing a good job, and the social worker believes he’s helping people. But when the state is prepared to use this level of force to over-ride the free decisions of autonomous people who, it should be noted don’t appear to have broken the law, that is a “concentrated harm” of an over mighty activist state that seeks to interfere with your decisions and the way you live. That it does so “for your own good” is neither here nor there: the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and for this family at the moment in question, it is hell – the father does well to stay as calm as he does.

How many Victoria Climbies or Peter Connellys are there? Or more importantly how many such cases do the intrusive Police/social-worker/local-authority care system prevent? Not all, obviously, because such an outcome is impossible. How many children are snatched from adequate and loving homes into an environment that is NOT conducive to a happy upbringing as a result of that system? How many parents are forced into the Kafkaesque nightmare of the family courts where the burden of proof is reversed and justice is anything but public? And more importantly is the cost – forcibly broken loving homes worth the attempt to save a few extra lives? You cannot stop all bad people doing terrible things – should we risk using the awesome power of the state to destroy the lives of innocent people in order to reduce the risk of a tiny number of terrible things?

When the left calls for more “investment” in social workers, the cost is not only borne by the taxpayer, the costs are borne by the families ripped apart as that social worker’s mistakes & misjudgements. This is not a criticism of social workers, but an observation that they are merely human, like the rest of us. If you put an army into a city, civilians get killed. The more soldiers, the more accidents. Why does the left not accept the parallel? That More social workers mean more interventions and therefore more mistakes, which higher staffing and lower case-loads do not and cannot eliminate.

Back to the boy (he’s 16*, young man, surely?) being snatched from a home just before Christmas. I have No idea of the back-story. I don’t know why the social-worker needed three police officers to invade this man’s home. I’ve no doubt there’s a mother, fighting for custody amid allegations and recrimnations. It’s none of my business. What’s more important. I don’t know why the police officer thought it unreasonable that he should be filmed. But nothing suggests that anyone’s being arrested for breaking the law, so why enforce the piece of paper with such alacrity? So there is a concentrated harm of the policy of allowing the state to interfere deeply in people’s lives right there.

Liberty is, in part the right to not have 4 agents of the state enter your home and remove your children in the week before Christmas when it is perfectly clear that the child in question is there of his own free will. This happens to hundreds of people daily and I’ve no doubt it does some good for some of the people involved, by allowing families to sort out issues or children be saved from abuse. But no-one it seems counts the cost. The enormous costs of an over-mighty state are not all economic.

*Update: It appears the boy is 12. Still responsible should he get caught breaking the law, but not responsible enough to decide where and with whom he lives. Perhaps you could argue it makes the court order more legitmate But it does make the violence deployed rather more shocking.

Crime, Punishment & Rehabilitation.

…Or why the Blogosphere is better than newspapers – some of them are written by people with first-hand experience who know what they are doing.

There are too many people in prison who shouldn’t be there. At the same time, serious offences go underpunished. Rather than pay attention to Newspapers who suggest that ANY attempt to cut the numbers in prison will result in a Rapist under every bush, and that the only answer is ever longer, ever less flexible prison sentences for “drug offences”, “sexual offences” or “knife-crime” or whatever is the moral panic du jour, let’s admit that we know nothing of the criminal justice system and see what those who have first-hand experience reckon. The magistrate is scathing about New Labour’s attempts to shoehorn social pathology into the criminal justice system and dealing with the “populist crap” of the ASBO really ends up being just a means to put persistent offenders into prison for low-level crimes. Most of these people aren’t bad, but are instead profoundly inadequate. They need help, not punishment. Treatment and care, rather than prison.

I don’t know what the answer is to a dim and confused alcoholic who staggers around, swears at strangers, and calls the fire brigade for no reason. But I do know that the answer isn’t an ASBO, because ASBOs only deter those with the mental capacity to be deterred. At this point, I would implore any MOJ staffer who has access to Ken Clarke’s inbox and who happens to read this stuff – and I know there are a few of you – to tell him that what’s going to happen here is typical of the reason why prisons are cluttered up with inadequates.

He will be given an ASBO prohibiting various pain-in-the-arse activities. He will breach it within a few weeks. He will probably get a suspended 28 days or so. He will breach it again. He will go inside for, in reality, a few weeks. He will come out better fed and less smelly than he went in. Then he will breach again. JPs will get fed up with him and send him to the wigs for sentence. A Recorder with a busy list will glance at the guidelines and give him nine months. Guess what happens when he comes out? Go on; you know don’t you? Breach, prison, and so on to the crack of doom. And the underlying offences, of drunkenness, Section 5 POA and the rest are all low-level fine-only jobs.

Clear him and his like out of the prisons, Mr. Clarke, and you will be well on the way to your 3000 reduction in the prisoner headcount. But you will have to find something else to do with them.

The Magistrate doesn’t know what to do with them, but knows they’re cluttering up a criminal justice system which is not designed to cope with such profound problems. It’s expensive on the tax-payer and cruel on the unfortunates caught up in a society in which they can’t cope. Jim Brown, the man behind the On Probation blog, and he reckons it ain’t prison, it’s not criminal justice. It’s (for want of a better description) the workhouse which could deal with profoundly disturbed people with chaotic lives.

Over the years many such men have come my way professionally and undoubtedly they continue to pose society a problem. When I started out there were people called ‘tramps’, but the state at that time had a nationwide network of Reception and Resettlement Centres or ‘spikes’ that were open 24/7 and accepted men in any condition….

…The last such facility closed only around 1989, all victims of the growth in political correctness that labelled such places as demeaning and dehumanising, but in the process handily avoided the knotty question of how such people were to be dealt with in the brave new politically-correct world. The sad fact is that there was never adequate replacement provision in either quantity or scope. Some might be tempted to ask if they worked? My answer would be that even if they didn’t, wasn’t it a rather more humane way to try and deal with such people than the situation we have today? We simply don’t have the right facilities anymore and no agency claims any responsibility.

I don’t know whatthe answer is either but I feel more enlightened as to the problem by following these two blogs. If you actually care about society, rather than reading newspapers which simply pander to your prejudices, add them to your daily reading. I suspect this is an area where charity would be the best solution. Maybe there’s something in this “Big society” after all. But who gives to a charity dealing with tramps? After all, who needs that when we have a welfare state…

The Life and Trials Of Julian Assange

Guest post by Mara
Much of the media frenzy surrounding Assange is born of the fact that little is known about him. Thirty nine years old. Australian. No fixed address. Parents ran a touring company. Attended thirty seven schools. Has a child from a failed relationship. Malcolm Rifkind describes him as a ‘frighteningly amoral figure’, Edward Heathcoat-Armory as ‘paranoic and archaic’, one who lives a ‘bizarre peripatetic life’. Assange has been ritualistically demonized by the media as a shadowy, sinister and above all wicked figure who will stop at nothing in order to print a sensational story. In a savage evocation of the McCarthy era, politicians across the world have been baying for his arrest, his silence, and even his blood. It is ironic that some of these politicians, Attorney General Eric Holder who refused to prosecute the CIA for torture in particular, are now mounting a moral crusade using the ‘forces of darkness and light’ narrative to achieve their ends.
The latest move to silence Assange lies in the lap of a Swedish prosecutor who, despite a wealth of contradictory evidence, has issued a European Arrest Warrant in order to prosecute him for the alleged coercion and rape of two women. Prior to the issuing of said warrant, the case had been thrown out by a second Swedish prosecutor for lack of evidence. The first woman invited him to stay at her home, had intercourse with him, and threw a party for him the following evening. The second, evidently starstruck (describing him as ‘interesting, brave and admirable’), invited him to her home and paid for his rail fare in both directions. Later, the two women got together, the first “victim” having attempted to expunge an entry on her blog entitled ‘7 Steps to Get Legal Revenge’ and to erase a Tweet which read ‘Sitting outside … nearly freezing, with the world’s coolest people. It’s pretty amazing!’ They appear to have blown the whistle based on the fact that Assange had Biblical knowledge of them both within a matter of days. Whether this is a case of ‘sexfalla’, which may be loosely translated as a ‘honeytrap’, or two women seething with indignation that Assange shared his sexual favours impartially, there is negligable evidence that any crime was committed. Indeed, Assange has been attempting to meet face-to-face with the Swedish prosecutor for over a year in order to set the record straight.
The typical media response, imbued as it is with a prurient need to know the explicit details of this and every other case involving sex and a kneejerkist Puritannical desire to punish those involved for their morality or lack thereof, has been to define Assange’s character in relation to the allegations. Sex, though a powerful motivation, is not sufficient to explain, or detract, from Assange’s desire to see justice done: to make public a file passed on to him by Bradley Manning, a man whose own character has been torn to shreds, in order that global governance may not get away with covering up its sins. The release of a number of diplomatic telegrams, which has prompted Sarah Palin to call for the death sentence to be imposed on Assange, is both important and necessary. The intelligence that the Obama administration views ours with suspicion, believing that our PM isn’t up to the job and our military is inadequate, has a profound effect on our supposedly ‘joint’ efforts to pacify Afghanistan. Why should we continue to expend resources and lives to assist those who have no faith in us?
The fact that Hilary Clinton deliberately gave orders to pervert the course of justice by covertly obtaining biometric and personal data of UN delegates, including the Secretary General, highlights the fact that the United States believes itself to be above petty legal concerns. Such a profound insult, perversely, may make those waiting to be groped by the TSA at US airports or exposed to radiation via body scanners feel a little more solidarity with the powers-that-be. In relation to Iraq, US troops were commanded not to release details or investigate tortures of Iraqis under an order called ‘Frago 242’. And the latest ‘atrocity’ to be leaked, a list of defence facilities which has been characterised by the US State Department as ‘arrogant, misguided and ultimately not helpful in any way,’ a move that puts the ‘national security of the United States has been put at risk; the lives of people who work for the American people have been put at risk; the American people themselves’ at risk, despite the fact that said information has been available in the public domain for a considerable time. The claim that such an act is tantamount to ‘giving a targeting list to groups like al-Qaeda’ is risible. Though it is easy to represent those committing atrocious acts as the Other, an amorphous mass lacking both in intelligence and self-governance, it is more than likely that said group has both access to the Internet and a fair idea of what they want to target.
On balance, I would applaud Assange’s stance. He has, at personal risk, sought to expose the prim-lipped hypocrisy employed by Western governments towards each other, towards those nations they attempt to subdue and subvert in the name of ‘democracy’ and towards their citizens. This information is very much in the national interest. It is in the interest of each and every working man and woman because they are the ones who bear the financial and moral burden, and the after-effects, of governmental decisions taken on their behalf. Far from villifying Assange, we should applaud his endeavours; to hold those responsible for gross travesties of justice, rather than embarking on a witch hunt. We should overcome the Washington-driven jargon that seeks to make a laughing stock of Assange in order to sweep their dirty dealings under the carpet. Media analyst Glenn Greenwald noted that: ‘this kind of character smear (‘he’s not in his right mind,’ pronounced a 25-year-old who sort of knows him) is reserved for people who don’t matter in the world of establishment journalists – i.e., people without power or standing in Washington and, especially, those whom American Government authorities scorn. In official Washington, Assange is a contemptible loser – the Pentagon hates him and wants him destroyed, and therefore the ‘reporters’ who rely on, admire and identify with Pentagon officials immediately adopt that perspective – and that’s why he was the target of this type of attack.’
And, in making such an attack so personal, all accountability passes to the person being demonised. Higher standards need to be employed by those journalists who, despite bleating about impartiality, hop on to whatever political bandwagon happens to be rolling out that week so they gain approval. Where the bravery, where the unflinching honesty, that once used to epitomise reporting, from Deep Throat to the Killing Fields? Ironically, what most party line journalists seem to have overlooked is that in villifying one of their own, they are encouraging the establisment of a system wherein their own right to free speech, should they ever use it, could be revoked. An unhappy notion for the ‘global’ world we live in. And harping on about ‘responsibility’ and the ‘balance of liberty and power’ simply won’t cut it, for if they are willing to shore up the system unquestioningly, they are willing to shore up its abuses of liberty and power too. As Assange stated, ‘when governments stop torturing and killing people, and when corporations stop abusing the legal system, then perhaps it will be time to ask if free-speech activists are accountable.’Guest post by Mara

Gaol works?

Obviously Gaol works in so far as an offender is off the streets for the duration of the sentence. That is why dramatically increasing incarceration drops crime rates in the short term. This is the approach the US takes and we are heading to. Incarcerating about a third of the cohort from problem groups (white trash and black inner-city boys) during their peak offending years 17-28 keeps that cohort off the streets. It works, but at enormous cost to the individuals AND to the state, who has to spend £40,000 a year keeping them inside. Prison works, but it’s not ideal, and it would be far better to address the underlying social problems which lead to crime.

Jim Brown’s On Probation Blog is worth reading to leaven the Daily Mail-tastic tone of much of the Blogosphere’s crime reportage.

I cannot overstate the dramatic effect a girlfriend can sometimes have on a young man’s offending pattern. She often replaces the control previously exercised by mum and says ‘you’re not going out’

I wonder how much of our feral underclass’ bad behaviour is made worse by the disgusting, perverse incentives in the welfare state which force couples to live apart or lose benefits especially in the event one or other of them get a job? Until this changes, we will continue to bear the burden of an incarceration rate approaching that of the USA.

Iain Duncan Smith’s reforms may cost £3bn to pay more in-work benefits to the low-paid, whilst cutting out of work benefits to the feckless, but how much will they save?

From Tiny Acorns, Mighty Oaks Do Grow…

Revolutions like 1917 don’t come very often. Revolutions don’t normally come from people who usually think of themselves as revolutionary: idiots like Plane Stupid, Climate rush or any of the alphabet soup of Marxist wankers smoking in east-london pubs whilst calling each other “comrade”. Revolutions instead usually happen when someone from the broad mass of working and middle class people says “enough” and makes a stand. Someone in authority overreacts, but the public back the person making the stand, rather than “THE LAW”. The governing authorities either catch the mood or get swept aside. Rosa Parks springs to mind. I’m not going to compare the myriad small injustices of British jobsworthery with the civil rights struggle in the southern USA – the latter clearly is a moral absolute, whereas the former is grumbling by people who are in any historical context, enormously wealthy and lucky, but I am going to compare the process by which change happens. Rosa Parks defied the law, and eventually the law caught up with the people who backed her. Today, in the UK, Every day, working and middle class people break the law. Speeding (remember 80mph on an empty motorway is “speeding”), Running red lights on a bicycle, smoking pot, snorting coke, enjoying a lock-in at the local, taking or offering a discount “for cash”. Next year, millions of us will write “none of your fucking business” on a census, risking a £1,000 fine. Maybe one or two of us will be prosecuted. Buglary and robbery are decriminalsed, and it’s only possible to get the police interested in rape, murder and strict-liability motoring offenses.

The law has already become arbitary, ridiculous and widely ignored.

Given the fact there are going to be a lot of people losing their (mostly parasitic) livlihoods in the next couple of years as a result of benefit changes and public-sector cuts, those of us in the majority, paying for the whole shooting-match ought to see some benefit, but probably won’t, and will endure ever higher taxes to pay for it all. There are going to be a lot of pissed off people. At what point does the dissatisfaction with shitty services, rapacious taxation, jobsworths abusing their positions, turn into politicians dangling from lamp-posts on lenghts of piano wire? Instead of remaining small acts of rebellion like a commuters wandering across an area roped off by workmen?