Shutdown, blah blah.

The whole web is full of dumbass articles with screenshots of federal agency websites like this:

Due to the US government shutdown, this website has died.

I’m not an expert, but I know a thing or two about websites. For example, I know these bastards don’t rent server space by the day.

I mean, come on! One day without a budget and they can’t leave their fucking websites up? Is this some kind of joke, or are federal government agencies so shite they can’t keep a website running for ONE FUCKING DAY without a budget being passed?

And these are the people who run the free world. Jesus wept.

…comes from Heresy Corner’s latest, ‘Screwed by the state‘:

You’d think, though, looking at it from the outside (as I do) that the actual fucking police literally fucking duped activists and then using an obscure legal procedure to deny their victims open justice would interest people who call themselves radical and progressive rather more than a throwaway remark made by one self-identified feminist journalist, or even the genuinely offensive comments made by another high-profile feminist journalist a few days later in her defence, which is at the end of the day just words. You’d think so.

So, archaeologists from the University of Leicester think they may have found Richard III’s earthly remains under a council car park in Leicester, although the DNA tests they’re conducting won’t be finished for another 3 months.

This is a subject rather close to my heart: I even used to be a member of the Richard III Society and everything. If those remains do turn out to be Richard III’s, I will probably have to have a private moment. Ten years ago, when I was first studying all this, it was a source of pain to all Ricardians everywhere that, to the best of everyone’s knowledge, Richard’s bones were sleeping with the fishes in the river Soar thanks to Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. Now that might change, and Richard III will get the site of cultic worship his supporters have always wanted.

However.

That site might be, of all places, in the Anglican cathedral in Leicester. Which—really? This deeply Catholic man is going to have his final resting place in the Anglican cathedral of the city where he was freaking bludgeoned to death? And all because the University of Leicester, who dug him up, and Leicester City Council, whose car park he was found in, would like to reap the benefits of Ricardian tourism?

How insulting.

I’m not going to claim I can read the mind of a man who’s been dead since 1485, but there are probably a lot of better alternatives which might have been more palatable to the man himself. It’s not his fault he didn’t have the luxury of specifying his wishes about a final resting place, so I’m not sure it’s particularly tasteful to be treating the poor man’s bones like the private property of the institution that dug them up.

If the royal family themselves don’t get involved—I mean, come on, if those bones are really Richard III’s, he’s basically their cousin forty times removed or something—it really ought to be up to whoever’s paying for the interment, which I suspect will be the Richard III Society, to decide where the burial is located.

If I were still a member of that society, I’d certainly be arguing for some alternative place that had something to do with Richard III other than being the place where he was done to death by his own allies. York, maybe, which bravely paid tribute to him in their city annals after the battle of Bosworth, or one of the castles where he actually lived, or even Berwick-upon-Tweed, which he won back from the Scots.

I mean, of all the places the dude probably would have hated to be buried, the only place worse than the Anglican cathedral in Leicester would be in Henry VII’s lap at Westminster Abbey. Geez.

UPDATE: @Fat_Jacques points out that Leicester Cathedral was Catholic in 1485, as indeed were all of the lovely ecclesiastical buildings at the time that the Church of England later stole. Which is a good point, but of course it’s not the building that’s the problem, it’s the funeral rite itself. What medieval Catholic would want an Anglican funeral service?

There’s also the political point to think about; Richard III isn’t any medieval Catholic, he’s a medieval Catholic who was snuffed by the father of the man who founded the Anglican church. Which is kind of why the title of this blog post is “Give the poor man a break”—he’s suffered enough indignities without piling this one on, too.

Punk is dead,’ asserts Chris Dillow today.

In this, music reflects a wider social fact—that today’s young people are much less gobby than we were. Last summer’s riots, for example, contained less political motive than their 1981 equivalents. And much as I love them, today’s “voices of their generation” are pretty tame…This is not because of a lack of cause. Today’s youngsters have the same grievances as my generation – youth unemployment and police harassment—and then some.

So why are young folk so passive?

He presents a number of possibilities: today’s oldsters are more tolerant, today’s youth are the captive slaves of mega-materialist capitalism, etc.

At no point does he consider that today’s youth are passive because that’s how Chris Dillow’s generation taught them to be.

I’ve written about this before…

But we live in a curiously dishonest world, wherein baby-boomers hold all of the power and then complain that the youth are disaffected and disengaged, unlike themselves when they were ‘the youth.’ In fact, most of the policies advocated by the baby-boomers in power seem deliberately designed to keep ‘the youth’ dependent on them, which is a perfect recipe for further disaffection and disengagement.

Let us consider recent proposals in Britain dealing with ‘the youth.’

(a) Compulsory education or training to age 18. This keeps ‘the youth’ under the control of the state (read: baby-boomer run) education system until legal adulthood.

(b) Sending more of the population to university. This keeps ‘the youth’ under the control of the state (read: baby-boomer run and operated) education system until well into adulthood.

(c) Government-provided work and training for graduates who can’t find jobs. This keeps ‘the youth’ (who are now into their twenties) dependent on the state (run by baby-boomers) for sustenance and the acquisition of skills.

(d) Parent training courses. This sends the message to ‘the youth’ who have dared to reproduce that despite their biological fitness for the job, they are mentally and emotionally unfit to raise offspring without guidance from the state (i.e. baby-boomers, those proven experts in child-rearing).

All of these policies could not make more perfectly clear the belief of baby boomers that ‘the youth’ of today are unfit to make decisions for themselves, support themselves, or support other humans; and yet still the baby boomers complain that ‘the youth’ don’t take responsibility for themselves and agitate for their own benefit.

…more than once:

Mind you, our ex-hippy [ex-punk?] overlords seem particularly distraught that the voice of the new generation is a weak one. A couple of days ago, I wrote that it was a key feature of the baby-boom generation to strangle the life out of today’s youth and then demand to know why it wasn’t trying to breathe.

And lo, what should be in the newspaper on Monday but the results of a poll showing that today’s youth are ‘more boring’ than their parents.

Having been told from birth to shun smoking, drinking, sex, drugs, and pretty much anything else that could be interpreted as either exciting or ‘interesting,’ the yoof turn out to be rather hard-line Puritans. Quelle surprise. And for this, the baby-boomers have the nerve to complain that their kids are no fucking fun.

If you want angry, empowered youth, then don’t spend the first 25 years of their lives teaching them that the bland, unquestioning, isolating conformity which suits your desire to retain cultural and social dominance is for their own good.

Your methods of upbringing are what created today’s 23-year-olds who fret over whether they can afford to buy a house in Barnes. Your parental indulgence is why others of your children still live in your council house with three kids of their own, no spouse, and no job.

You didn’t teach them to see the value in standing up for their future because you didn’t want them to do that—because it might hurt yours. You’ve told them all of their lives that somebody else would sort out their problems, take their part, and make the world right for them; you’ve taught them that dependence has no cost and entitlements have no price and one’s desires are automatically others’ debts to pay—why should they not believe you now? You have no right to complain. You promised them the earth; they’re just waiting patiently for you to provide it for them.

From the Mail, I can confirm that this statement:

It is understood a neighbour or member of staff at the apartment block called police after the woman tearfully asked for help just after 1am

Is true. The call to the police was made not by the woman in question, but by the building concierge, who saw the state she was in. This can be confirmed with video evidence which apparently exists.

Since Anna Raccoon’s initial shot across the bows of the LPUK a month ago, I have been following with interest the on-going responses—the publicly available ones, I should add. I am not a party member, nor have I ever been, so I am merely an interested observer, albeit one who has met many of the people involved in the party, including those who are part of this dispute.

A number of things stand out from this internecine dispute that have clearly made it difficult for some people to continue supporting the LPUK. Anna’s first post produced a fair few disappointed responses; these individuals were urged by the party leadership to reserve judgment until an investigation of Anna’s allegations was carried out.

That investigation has now taken place, and the chairman of the party has produced a report.

Anna made two significant accusations in her narrative:

(a) A loan made to LPUK at the request of Andrew Withers during his term as Treasurer was neither properly recorded nor paid back on time.

(b) Andrew Withers was able to make contact with the lender by asking Anna to identify the person from a list of LPUK members sharing the same name.

The first accusation casts doubt upon Andrew Withers’ management of the party’s finances; the second casts doubt on Andrew Withers’ commitment to privacy and data protection.

The chairman’s report, in Section 8, confirms that a loan was made to the LPUK, that the loan was not paid back on time, nor has the full balance yet been paid back, and that the loan ‘has not been recorded as well as it might.’

Furthermore, the report makes clear in Section 7 that the party’s accounts ‘are only now in the final stage of being handed over to the new Treasurer, four months after he should have taken up his duties’ and that ‘the Party’s financial control is not all it should be.’

Section 8 of the report also appears to confirm that Andrew Withers did share a part of the membership list with Anna.

The report concludes that, despite the confirmation of these accusations as valid, Andrew Withers did not act unlawfully. However, it does recommend that the party’s NCC consider the following actions, amongst others:

(1) To determine whether Andrew Withers did contravene privacy and data protection rules, and if so, decide upon what action to take.

(2) To determine what, if any, action should be taken to verify the integrity of the party’s accounts from previous years.

(3) To implement clear guidelines for the management of the party’s finances.

Further to this, the minutes of a meeting of the NCC on 8 May 2011 have been published. Andrew Withers was a participant in this meeting as stated in the minutes. Among other matters, the three recommendations above were discussed and the following decisions were reached:

(1) Andrew Withers did not contravene privacy or data protection rules.

(2) No action will be taken to verify the integrity of the party’s accounts in the immediate future.

(3) New guidelines for management of the party’s finances will be drawn up by, in part, Andrew Withers.

I confess that I am unable to understand the position of the NCC on these points, nor am I able to understand a number of other issues, which I will list below.

First, it is unclear from the chairman’s report exactly who was involved in the investigation of Anna Raccoon’s claims. The LPUK has a judicial committee whose purpose is to investigate and report on such matters, especially when the allegations of misconduct are levelled at a member of the NCC. Although I have looked around the LPUK website, I have not been able to find a list of the party’s officials or judicial committee. Perhaps the list is indeed there, but there is no sitemap, so I am unable to confirm this. In any event, the only name appearing on the chairman’s report is that of the chairman himself.

Second, it is unclear from the chairman’s report whether those investigating this matter ever had access to the full record of the party’s financial transactions. Whether they did or didn’t, the report’s admission that ‘the Party’s financial control is not all it should be’ and financial activity ‘has not been recorded as well as it might’ suggest that some audit or review, undertaken by someone not involved in this investigation, is advisable. That the NCC concluded this was ‘neither essential nor indeed possible’ therefore seems misguided, especially when other members have volunteered to undertake such an audit at their own expense.

Third, while there is nothing to suggest he was involved in the investigation of his alleged misconduct, Andrew Withers was obviously involved in the NCC’s deliberations over what action to take in light of the report’s findings. He was involved in the discussion about whether his own behaviour constituted a breach of privacy and data protection rules. He was involved in the discussion about whether his own management of the party’s finances should be independently audited. And he was one of the individuals deputed to prepare new financial guidelines for the party, despite it being his own activities as Treasurer that highlighted the need for such guidelines in the first place.

Regardless of whether or not he acted improperly, Andrew Withers’ participation in these matters seems highly inappropriate. Whatever his official standing within the party, and I am given to understand that despite temporarily standing aside from the role of Leader, he is still a member of the NCC, he could have recused himself as having a conflict of interest, and should have done so. Failing that, he should have been asked to do so by the other members of the NCC. Nothing in the minutes indicates that he was so asked. Furthermore, with the resignation of the new Treasurer, this office has now reverted to Andrew Withers in his capacity as Leader, putting the party’s financial records and activities back under his control.

It also appears that, despite the initial expectations of the party leadership, these two publications have not restored confidence among the party membership. To the contrary, at least two of the individuals involved in the investigation and subsequent NCC meeting have resigned their official positions within the party. Further concerns have been raised about the possible involvement of non-NCC members in NCC deliberations. Long-time members have published their intentions not to renew their membership. Further accusations have been levelled, and Anna Raccoon has claimed that ‘nobody except Andrew has yet set eyes on a full set of accounts.’

The chairman himself has stated that a ‘faction’ in control of the LPUK website blocked the publication of his report for some unspecified duration of time, and expressed that ‘the allegations about Andrew’s conduct as Party Leader cannot be substantiated.’ A Special General Meeting is being arranged. Insults have been exchanged and threats to contact the Electoral Commission have been levelled.

If Anna Raccoon is correct, and no one other than Andrew Withers has had full access to the party accounts, then the chairman’s investigation of her claims cannot have been either comprehensive or objective. The apparent inability of the NCC to determine whether the financial records are in order casts doubt upon their ability to discharge their legal duties, and brings into danger all of those individuals who have held legal responsibility for the party during the period when misconduct is alleged to have taken place. The admission that the party has not adequately controlled its finances raises more questions than it answers.

I hope, for the sake of all those who have contributed to the LPUK, and for the sake of those who wish to reassure themselves of libertarians’ commitment to transparency, honesty, and financial probity, a new judicial committee of uninvolved party members is elected at the SGM and undertakes a full inspection of the party’s financial matters and rules pertaining to privacy and data protection. I sincerely hope it finds that all is well.

As an interested observer, I really don’t have any right to comment on these things—but all of this information has been deliberately placed in the public domain, and as a libertarian I find that the LPUK and what it does reflects on me whether I’m a member or not. This has happened before, and I have stated my position, which still stands:

I do not hold the idea of a Libertarian Party in the UK in quite the same hopeful regard as John Demetriou. I support them in the ways that I can, I believe in them so far, I hope they win electoral success by the bucketload, and I would vote for them if I could. But if the LPUK fails, or splits into factions, or becomes associated with fringe nutjobs, I don’t believe it will necessarily set back the cause of libertarianism. For failure, factionalism, and fringe movements are exactly what has happened to the Libertarian Party in the US, and yet libertarianism as a politico-philosophical position is more popular and more successful there now than it has been in my lifetime.

In short, I want the LPUK to enjoy tremendous electoral success while maintaining their ideological integrity. But if they don’t, well… no biggie. Libertarianism abides.

I urge those who are disheartened by this affair not to become too discouraged, and not to abandon the cause of libertarianism in Britain because of it.

So. After two years of slowly building itself in the wilderness, crafting press releases that media outlets file carefully in the bin, organising speeches, events, and awareness campaigns, and spreading the libertarian word to individuals bit by bit (from giving party cards to shopkeepers to chatting with taxi drivers and barmen), the LPUK has finally appeared on the national scene, doing two television appearances in one week. It never rains but it pours, eh?

Publicity bite number one came this past Sunday, when LPUK leader Chris Mounsey was invited to debate the question, ‘Should the drink-driving limit be dropped from 80mgs to 50?’ on The Big Questions.

As a matter of fact, he was not being asked to form part of the panel – a detail which the producers failed to mention until he actually walked onto the set for the live broadcast. In reality, he was to present a single point of view, in company with a doctor from the BMA, a grieving mother whose son was killed by a driver over the 80mgs limit, and a representative of an auto association. He also discovered when he walked on set that the question was not, ‘Should the drink-driving limit be dropped from 80mgs to 50?’ but rather ‘Should drivers drink?’

Now, it is not for a political actor to complain that the media do not play fair; when he realised his carefully researched data were going to be useless in context, Chris manned up and did his level best to demonstrate that there is no statistical benefit to prohibiting drivers from drinking at all. Unfortunately, he ran straight into:

Maxim 1 of Political ‘Debate’: Your opponent will always lie.

The doctor from the BMA had come armed with her own ‘data’ to prove that, hey, a tiny bit of alcohol slows reaction times by 12.5%, and with 80mgs of drink in the blood reaction times are 10 times slower than with 50. Subsequent research has shown these claims to be rather dubious.

Furthermore, he encountered:

Maxim 2 of Political ‘Debate’: The victim (or his mother) is always right.

Never mind that only a tiny proportion of people are killed in drink-driving accidents; never mind that only a tiny proportion of drink-driving journeys result in accidents at all. Anyone who does not utterly oppose the conjunction of alcohol and driving, however limited, is essentially an advocate of manslaughter – and, incidentally, a total monster for making a grieving mother cry.

That said, he did at least have the opportunity to say one or two things about libertarianism, and it was encouraging to find the audience applauding rather less enthusiastically for the bansturbators than they had done earlier for those guests who averred that priests abusing children was a disgrace. If banning drivers from all alcohol consumption was such an obvious no-brainer, surely the audience would have given it the same acclamation they gave to the many other no-brainer statements made on the programme that day.

Publicity bite number two occurred this very morning. Again, LPUK leader Chris Mounsey was invited to speak about the party, this time on The Daily Politics. The producers contacted him to say the interview would be part of a segment on the ‘small parties’ and their policies – as if to suggest that, alone of all media outlets, The Daily Politics was responsible and engaged enough to tell its viewers that there actually are more than three political parties in the United Kingdom. Again, Chris agreed to appear.

And again, he found himself wrong-footed. The ‘interview’ would turn out to be a two-and-a-half minute segment during which Andrew Neil actually did most of the talking. Outliers of all types have to be kept in the liminal spaces, of course, and with small parties, there is a distinct danger that if the media actually report their actual views in any kind of detail, those parties might cease to be quite so small.

Andrew Neil obviously entered the ‘interview’ with that in mind, and ensured that every one of his questions reinforced that marginalisation. He asked not one single question about the party’s policies, manifesto or activities during the course of its two-year existence; instead, he asked, ‘Why are you so small?’ and ‘Why are you standing only one candidate?’ These are not invalid questions, per se, but they have as much relevance to what the party advocates as why they chose blue and gold for the party colours, or a gryphon for its logo.

Maxim 3 of Political ‘Debate’: If your position is generally perceived to be marginal, your opponent will focus solely on marginalising you.

During a general election when the media is prepared to demand ridiculous levels of detail about main-party policies, they are certainly not going to waste valuable time asking what is the general goal, outlook, or most prominent policy of any small party. It might suck up the time they’d rather spend reporting on Sarah Brown’s wonky toe.

But fair enough. Chris was there to answer Andrew’s questions, and he did a good job. He explained that the party is young and not well enough funded to pay deposits for many candidates, but that the membership is growing steadily.

Then, perhaps unsurprisingly, Andrew asked about Chris’s blog. And thereby made a colossal tactical error. First, Andrew named the blog, breaking:

Maxim 4 of Political ‘Debate’: Never give your opponent free advertising.

Then, he repeated several times that he was not permitted to articulate the blog’s content on television! He made it forbidden fruit, thus also breaking:

Maxim 5 of Political ‘Debate’: Never make your opponent’s position look attractive or intriguing.

Unfortunately, Chris was not prepared for a fuck-up of this magnitude on Andrew’s part, and found himself rather at a loss. Should he apologise for the unrepeatable content, or should he remain unrepentant (and thus raise his danger appeal even more)? In the end, because he is a gentleman, he plumped for an non-committal statement of regret. One wonders whether he regretted writing ‘inappropriate’ remarks about public figures, or whether it was simply that he regretted Andrew felt the blog was at all relevant to the LPUK manifesto.

The LPUK, and libertarians in general, have now learned some valuable lessons.

First, Chris was right to go and speak on these programmes. Most of the speaking engagements we libertarians do tend to be in front of other libertarians, which is great but is also preaching to the choir. Although these appearances will not have enlightened anybody about libertarian views, they have nevertheless made a lot of people aware of the existence of a libertarian party. We on the series of tubes lose sight of this sometimes (pace Boaty & D), but there are lots of libertarians out there who aren’t bloggers or blog readers, but who do watch television. Now some of them will know there is a substantial, organised community of libertarians out there that they can be part of.

Second, our assumptions about the media have all been true. They are not interested in reporting, nor are they in any way responsible holders-to-account of public actors. They are a business, and like all businesses they exist to sell their product. Consumers of news media enjoy both outrage and scandal, which unfortunately run-of-the-mill public figures do not provide in great supply. Liminal public actors, therefore, must take up the slack by submitting themselves not to questions designed to elucidate, but to statements designed to confront and incite. There is nothing necessarily wrong in this, but it does require the we liminal types adjust our own strategy accordingly. If the media want shocking interviews, we must shock unapologetically. If the media want to focus on what makes us marginal, we must learn to wear those marginal views with pride. After all, we have nothing to be ashamed of. Pity and guilt have no place among libertarians.

We often wish that public figures did more straight speaking during interviews – the constant diet of pabulum fed to us by the news outlets is so wearying. This criticism still applies to print news, of course, but I think we can all recognise now that live interviews are very different. Whether you’re a shady MP or a total nub, your interviewer’s goal is the same: to ask you only questions that put you on the back foot. I guess that’s why MPs have obfuscation techniques drummed into them from the second they join the party. We, at least, don’t have to obfuscate, so I suggest a different strategy. Instead of assuming that such questions are meant to draw us into a discussion, we should realise their purpose is to back-foot. And instead of stepping neatly into this trap, we should refuse to play – by answering the question, and nothing more.

So that when Andrew Neil says, ‘So you’re a five-man band?’ we don’t explain. We simply say ‘No’ and wait courteously for the next question. So that when he says ‘Do you think this kind of unrepeatable language is appropriate?’ we don’t qualify. We simply say ‘Yes.’ Because that’s the honest answer. And if Andrew Neil wants to call us unmitigated monsters, then the only appropriate response to such idiocy is an insolent shrug. That’s the only response it deserves.

Finally, we know that preparation is pointless. For a twenty-minute speech to other libertarians, we come armed with facts. In such company, we expect to be asked to justify our views with reference to reality. Well, plainly facts and reality are not wanted by media hosts and audiences – and even if they are wanted, the host will negate any you’ve gathered by changing the question at the last moment. So no more data, no more evidence, no more statistics. Why bother? Even when people do listen, they have no idea whether or not you’re telling the truth. If our integrity is such that we can’t permit ourselves to lie outright, then we simply emphasise over and over whichever single statistic most powerfully proves (or supports) our point. Otherwise, extemporise. Then we’ll be flexible enough to respond to the questions we actually end up facing.

After his appearance this morning, Chris offered his resignation to the party. The LPUK refused to accept it. Libertarians, we are who we are. Chris’s only mistake was assuming his hosts actually wanted a calm, logical defence of libertarianism. He was nevertheless magnificent. And the LPUK were right to refuse his resignation. What they need is a leader who is fearless, unapologetic, and completely certain of the rightness of his position. As we all know that’s exactly what the Devil’s Kitchen is, Chris Mounsey need only be himself to succeed.

And lest you think my point of view is biased, allow me to direct you to other apologia here and here and here and here.

UPDATE: And here. And here and here and here and here (sort of) and here and here.

UPDATE 2: And here and here and here and here.

On the other hand, if self-congratulatory I-told-you-sos are more to your taste, go here. With what horrific vocabulary is the Devil’s Kitchen accused of crimes against decency! Bad Conscience is tearing into first place in this contest of the vapours: ‘Highly offensive’ – ‘frequently deliberately outrageous’ – ‘heinously and wilfully offensive’ – ‘personalised, pornographic, narcissistic, grievously offensive invective and vitriol’ – ‘heinously offensive [again]‘ – ‘disturbing’ – ‘nasty vitriolic crap.’

Please, dude. Don’t make yourself such a Victorian lady. I bet you’re the first to proclaim what a magnificent satire of the selfish Thatcher-and-Reagan era is Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho. And the Devil’s Kitchen has nothing on him.

If you ever doubted that the United States is a bizarre place, think again. Three major television networks (unnamed, naturally) have refused to air a tampon advertisement containing the word ‘vagina,’ reportedly because use of the word is ‘a bit too frank.’

I can only guess this is out of deference to male sensibilities, since all American females from approximately the age of 12 are well aware they have vaginas and that vaginas are where tampons go. Even girls younger than twelve are generally aware of these facts.

Many men, however, may naturally be ignorant in this regard, having become accustomed to referring to the birth canal and its associated organs as the pussy, box, snatch, cunt, twat, quim, honey pot, slit, hairy/bearded clam, penis glove, clunge, minge, beaver, cooter, poon, muff, fanny, gash, hole, cooch, camel toe, fuck hole, cock sock and similar.

I can see why the word ‘vagina’ might be ‘a bit too frank.’

VISA!!!!!!!!

*celebrate*

I’ve discovered Mencius Moldbug, thanks to a comment left here by sconzey.*

I shall not even bother linking to particular posts I like, because I like them all (so far). Tearing myself away to do such necessary self-maintenance as eating has become difficult.

However. There is one bit of Moldbuggery I’d like to share with you. He’s articulated, quite tangentially and by accident, exactly why I enjoy British politics and find American politics so depressing. I used to think it was because the spectacle was better (it’s not), or because I could observe with equanimity since it doesn’t affect me (it does). But here’s really why:

If you’ve ever lived in a foreign country, you know exactly what life is like without the nanoslice [of power conferred by the franchise]: pretty much what life is like with it. Except for the Zen of abandoning the constant, unrequited longing for control that is the cruel karma of the democratic citizen, and the breath of honest fresh air in exchanging a first-person government for a third-person one, not “we” but “they.”

*Why don’t my comments have permalinks? Argh, must fix.

I’m glad I never exerted myself to write that exegesis of libertarian theology I’ve been promising arch-doubter Don Paskini, because somebody called James Redford has already done it at anti-state.com, and done a fantastic job.

Socialists, no more will I demur when you claim that, as a Christian, I really ought to be a socialist. You’re wrong, and I’ve got proof.

I’m aware, of course, that many on the left do not subscribe to Christianity; demonstrating its libertarian character will simply bolster their existing belief that Christianity is nonsense: ‘Made-up sky fairy and icky libertarian? How right I have been to view it with contempt!’

Many libertarians also do not subscribe to Christianity; but they can have no real objection if more people, Christians though they be, join the libertarian cause.

So. Libertarian Jesus FTW on all counts.

H/T Wh00ps and the anonymous commenter at Samizdata.

From Ayn Rand on Donahue:

I judge myself in the following way: Have I absorbed and practised all of the principles of behaviour which I preach? Then I would say yes, resoundingly.

Would that we all judged ourselves in this way.

Here.

Somehow I doubt this is going to have much effect, especially when you consider all those Americans who have BP loyalty cards and never buy their petrol anywhere else…

An aside by Leg-Iron sparked off the frothing spite this morning:

Ordinary people who, as any wander along any street will demonstrate, are mostly idiots who will believe any damn thing they’re told. I have convinced several people that the Romans built straight roads because they hadn’t invented steering. There are people out there now who believe it and who are probably spreading it. When it ends up on your child’s history curriculum, that was me. Sorry about that.

He’s talking about the evidence for ‘third hand smoke,’ which apparently consists of a public survey of idiots; but my immediate reaction was: ‘Ha! They don’t teach the Romans in the history curriculum.’

I’m wrong, of course; the Roman influence in Britain is there, bold as brass, in the national curriculum (provided the teacher chooses to teach the Romans rather than the possible alternatives of Anglo-Saxons or Vikings):

9. An overview study of how British society was shaped by the movement and settlement of different peoples in the period before the Norman Conquest and an in-depth study of how British society was affected by Roman or Anglo-Saxon or Viking settlement.

This is at Key Stage 2 (primary school), fertile ground in which to introduce the ‘Romans hadn’t invented steering’ theory pioneered by Leg-Iron. The tinies won’t know geometry, of course, so this’ll make perfect sense.

Perhaps the curriculum can also include such facts as ‘the Romans counted backward’ and ‘everyone before Columbus thought the Earth was flat.’

When LPUK take over the nation, as surely they must do and soon, I’m putting in my bid to be Ed Balls…

Further to my previous post about the Sun’s campaign against the M&S ‘boob tax,’ i have discovered a new website:

harrietharmansucks.com

For a moment, I was delighted – until I discovered that the reason ‘Harriet Harman sucks’ is because she ‘hates men.’

Oh, the poor men! They live (on average) shorter lives, are more likely (on average) to commit suicide, get conscripted into the trenches, and have to suffer under the hideous cultural burden of being providers and caretakers of the family!

Allow me to offer up this (unfortunately untenable) bargain to the gents at harrietharmansucks.com, and to any other men out there who think it’s all beer and skittles being a woman: switch places with one of us for a day. I’ll even be generous and let you switch with a Western woman, instead of one of the many down-trodden of the Third World. Then you’ll discover just how lovely it is (what with our living longer and not topping ourselves and not providing for the family) to do things like menstruate, give birth, endure the menopause, have every bad mood or irritable moment ascribed to PMT, be deliberately wound up and then called ‘shrill,’ represent irrationality personified, and suffer the indignity of losing one’s husband in middle age to a younger model.

kthx. Nobody has it that great – men or women – so let’s not whinge on and on about how unfair things are. Life is what it is. Harman goes overboard: at this stage, women are not merchant bankers not because of sexism generally, but because most of them don’t want to be. But men: your shorter life span is a result of the cultural role you assume. If you want to live longer, quit the stressful job of, largely, running the world.

Can we please agree that attempting to treat women as human beings does not discriminate against men, whilst also agreeing that Harriet Harman sucks? I’m sure such an accord would mark the tentative beginnings of a pleasant human experience.

Opposition to the death penalty is discriminatory, when there are differential benefits from its application, between different groups in society. The obvious example is the possible introduction of the death penalty for discrimination. Discrimination by ethnic origin is well-evidenced on the labour and housing market in western societies, for instance. Existing anti-discrimination laws have made no impact: enforcement is minimal and limited to extreme cases. Introduction of the death penalty would, through its strong deterrent effect, reduce discrimination – and therefore benefit minorities.

If there is a case of discrimination, and if the death penalty can be applied, then there is a conflict of interest between the victim and opponents of the death penalty, including Amnesty. Some victims may also reject the death penalty, and some may even prefer to suffer discrimination, rather than see someone executed as a result of their complaint. But suppose the victim is a Somali woman refugee in a western European state, discriminated by a racist employer. What if she does approve the death penalty? What if she did complain, and what if she wants the perpetrator to be executed, in order to deter similar discrimination in future?

Can a successful white middle-class lawyer (a typical supporter of Amnesty International) legitimately deny the woman the implementation of her preferences? Isn’t that simply another discrimination – “white middle-class lawyers count for more than Somali women”? Amnesty’s answer would presumably be, that they are not appealing to individual preference, but to universal rights. However, that’s simply another way of saying “Our views are superior”. The rights can’t be shown to exist, they are simply claimed to be universal and binding. The value preference of the privileged group (non-immigrant ethnic majority) is imposed on the weaker minority, using this appeal to universality.*

Now, as any fule kno, there is a very good argument for limiting capital sentences, if you are going to have them at all, only to the most destructive and physically damaging of crimes. There are very good reasons, as chappie claims elsewhere in the post, for believing the death penalty to be a deterrent to crime, but a simple thought experiment flags up his error:

You are a bigot who lives in a country where discriminators, rapists, murderers, etc., can be executed. One day, a dark-skinned lady applies for a job you have advertised. So incensed are you at her presumption that, momentarily unable to control yourself, you call her a filthy name and assure her that you would die before you gave a job to a pathetic dark-skinned specimen like her. As she stares at you, affronted, you realise that you have now opened yourself up to prosecution for discrimination with a possibility of capital sentence. In your panic, an idea blossoms: you can silence her! After all, the state can only kill you once; and if she’s not around to inform on you, maybe you’ll never get caught at all. What have you got to lose? So you throttle her and bury the remains in a landfill. Problem solved.

The moral of the story is: the death penalty, if applied to minor crimes, will deter neither those nor the more serious ones. It is only an effective deterrent when applied to the most serious of crimes, and then only because they can’t be covered up using worse ones.

I leave you with the words of a far greater mind than mine:

One day when I was dining with him there happened to be at the table one of the English lawyers, who took occasion to run out in a high commendation of the severe execution of justice upon thieves, who, as he said, were then hanged so fast, that there were sometimes twenty on one gibbet; and upon that he said he could not wonder enough how it came to pass, that since so few escaped, there were yet so many thieves left who were still robbing in all places. Upon this, I who took the boldness to speak freely before the Cardinal, said, there was no reason to wonder at the matter, since this way of punishing thieves was neither just in itself nor good for the public; for as the severity was too great, so the remedy was not effectual…

St Thomas More, Utopia.

*[For further context, this is the same chappie who petitioned the Dutch government to censor the websites of LPUK and the Adam Smith Institute on the grounds that both groups seek to subject others, against their will, to freedom - as well as to exclude Drs. Madsen Pirie and Eamonn Butler from the country (ha! not possible under EU law) because 'they obstruct the work of the financial regulatory authorities.' In the case of lpuk.org, at least, he was unsuccessful.]

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