UK: Labour leader promises to criminalize “Islamophobia”

April 26, 2015

“Big Brother as a young man”

Great Britain is holding a general election on May 7th, and it’s clear that Ed Miliband, the Labour Party leader, is getting desperate. In an interview with the Muslim News web site, Her Majesty’s would-be first minister promised to outlaw Islamophobia:

“We are going to make sure it is marked on people’s records with the police to make sure they root out Islamophobia as a hate crime,” he said, adding: “We are going to change the law on this so we make it absolutely clear of our abhorrence of hate crime and Islamophobia. It will be the first time that the police will record Islamophobic attacks right across the country.”

Now, lest you think “attacks” just means physical assault, bear in mind the UK has a growing problem with the tolerance of free speech. Given these and other examples, it’s clear that what Mr. Miliband has in mind includes the punishment of free speech, which is the expression of a person’s thinking. In other words, Ed Miliband would make “incorrect thinking” a crime — thoughtcrime.

George Orwell, call your office.

I’ll be frank, Eddie, this is pretty damned disgusting. For a major party leader in the land that gave the world the concepts of individual liberty and natural rights –including free speech– to advocate the creation of a crime based on the holding of abhorrent thoughts is, well, almost unspeakably sad. Shall Great Britain, patriarch of the Anglosphere and the font of our liberties, cast off its heritage and become tyrannical out of fear of hurtful words? Do you, Ed Miliband, seriously propose policing people’s thoughts just to pander for votes among the Muslim community?

If Labour had any sense, they’d toss you to the curb for even making the suggestion.

PS: It’s not as if we don’t have a growing problem here, too, with Leftists and their allies assaulting free speech on our college campuses. And the “hate crime” in general is a troublesome concept, criminalizing a person for his or her thoughts, if they can be known with any certainty, and not just their actions. It also creates privileged classes of victims: declare hatred of red hair a crime, and suddenly assaulting a redheaded person is a worse offense than assaulting a blonde person in the exact same manner. That’s not treating all citizens as equal, as the law should.


Another call to arrest climate “deniers”

April 7, 2015

Phineas Fahrquar:

The “authoritarian Left,” Gaea Division, strikes again. One may only dissent on approved topics and with approved thoughts. Failure to comply will lead to punishment.

Originally posted on Watts Up With That?:

They believe people should be punished for being climate skeptics They believe people should be punished for being climate skeptics.

Adam Weinstein, of the Gawker, has added his voice to the growing list of greens, who demand a brutal authoritarian response to the vexing problem of people who have a different opinion.

According to Weinstein;

Man-made climate change happens. Man-made climate change kills a lot of people. It’s going to kill a lot more. We have laws on the books to punish anyone whose lies contribute to people’s deaths. It’s time to punish the climate-change liars.

This is an argument that’s just being discussed seriously in some circles. It was laid out earlier this month, with all the appropriate caveats, by Lawrence Torcello, a philosophy professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Read More: http://gawker.com/arrest-climate-change-deniers-1553719888

Weinstein bases his claim that man made climate change “kills a lot of people” on a WHO page, which estimates that 150,000 people…

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The Indiana #RFRA, Memories Pizza, and the Left’s Fascist Orgasm

April 6, 2015

satire left tolerance liberal fascism

(Credit: Michael Ramirez)

“I know there is an authoritarian Left in this country, and I fear it.”

Daniel Patrick Moynihan to Richard Nixon (1970)

(Preface: I should clarify something from the start — I am not a religious person. Born and raised Roman Catholic, I haven’t been to a Mass for anything other than a wedding or funeral in over 35 years. While I respect the Church (and most other faiths) and the opinions of the faithful (Well, most of them), I feel no need or urge to go to church on Sundays or offer up my voice in prayer; the existence or not of God is not of great importance to me, though I don’t doubt that God exists in some form. Neither atheist nor agnostic, perhaps the best description for me is “apatheist.” I just don’t care.

What I do care about passionately, however, is the promise of the American Revolution, the political and social settlement represented in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and the freedom of all decent people to live their lives as they see fit without fear of being picked on or persecuted for who they are. What I write below should be read in that context.)

What happened in Indiana over the last week was an utter, damnable disgrace, and a good portion of this nation should be ashamed of themselves for acting like a digital lynch mob.

How did this start? A bit over a week ago, the Indiana legislature passed a bill, similar to a federal act and laws in 19 other states, allowing defendants in lawsuits, including those brought by non-governmental actors, to offer religious belief as a defense when accused of discrimination. It was not a “safe harbor” or anything that precluded a suit or encouraged discrimination. A court still had to determine whether the professed religious defense was outweighed by a pressing state need. Its only purpose was to provide a possible shield to those who felt their religious beliefs were being trampled. (Further essential reading.)

The reaction to the bill made one wonder if Indiana hadn’t opened death camps for gays.

The hysteria generated by progressive reactionaries and other fools who I’m sure didn’t read the bill was appalling to behold. Monumental hypocrites such as Apple’s gay CEO Tim Cook roundly denounced Indiana for bigotry against gays and for denying their rights… while Apple makes iPhones in Communist China and sells them in Iran, where gays are regularly murdered by the state for being gay. Other ignoramuses called for the NCAA basketball tournament to be moved from Indiana next year, or ran to the microphones to condemn Indiana while pretending their own state’s RFRA didn’t exist..

Eventually the pressure from the howling horde of progressive corporate execs, the MSM, and “activists” proved too much for the cowardly lions in the Indiana legislature and their jelly-spined governor, and they amended the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to gut its provisions. The mob had won, and the democratic will of the people as expressed through their elected representatives was left beaten and bleeding in a back alley. If that were the end of it, it would be bad enough.

But it wasn’t.

During the week of furor over Indiana’s RFRA, a “reporter” at ABC’s Channel 57 affiliate in Indiana,  Alyssa Marino, went looking for devout Christians mouth-breathing, hate-filled homophobes who would refuse service to homosexuals.

And she found them at Memories Pizza

You can read Scott Ott’s report on how the media created the Hell that was about to descend on the O’Connors, owners of “Memories.” But I want to point out one especially egregious example,  a tale of two headlines:

headlines

(h/t @TDelovely)

The top is the first headline to run over Marino’s story, and below is the “corrected” version. See the enormous difference between the two? The first claims the O’Connors declared a blanket denial of service to gays. Pretty despicable, right? The later limits that to catering a gay wedding. (And who would order pizza for a wedding, anyway?) But, here’s the kicker: Marino’s question to Crystal O’Connor was wholly hypothetical! There was no gay couple seeking pizza for their wedding. Marino has simply walked in and asked a question along the lines of “What would you do if…?” O’Connor then made the mistake of answering honestly: gays would be welcome to eat at the restaurant, presumably also to get takeout or delivery, but that her business would decline to cater a wedding because it would require them to participate in an activity that went against their Christian faith. Again, a hypothetical answer to a hypothetical question. The hypothetical gay couple could then go to another pizza parlor for catering, which would profit.

Simple, right?

No. This was the crime of “wrong thought,” and for that the O’Connors became vragi naroda, “enemies of the people.” Thanks to the media and the firestorm ignited on the Internet, Memories Pizza’s social media presence was attacked, and threats of violence, arson, and even death were received. It got so bad the O’Connors closed their shop and went into hiding. While through the efforts of Dana Loesch and her crew at The Blaze TV, the O’Connors more then recouped their losses (1), one has to ask: Did they really deserve this for simply holding an opinion not popular with our media and urban elites?

Of course not! What happened to Memories Pizza and to the Indiana government was disgusting: Thinking they had found their new Emmanuel Goldstein, the ignorant, reactionary Left began with a ritual Two Minutes Hate and ran with it until it became nearly a sexual ecstasy of rage. The state government was intimidated, a couple was left in fear for their lives, and the rights of people to freedom of conscience and freedom of association were torn apart in a political Bacchanalia.

There is a sickness in our body politic, one brought about by the authoritarian Left the late Senator Moynihan cited at the start of this article. One key component of the American settlement is the idea of political and religious tolerance, that we can all hold different beliefs –and we don’t have to like those beliefs or even each other– but not be punished for them. Our English forebears, Catholics and Protestant Dissenters, experienced just that sort of oppression and came to a New World to escape it. Later it was the Jews fleeing persecution in Europe; a letter from President Washington to the Jews of Newport, Rhode Island eloquently describes that idea:

The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy—a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.

It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

(…)

May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants—while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.

Emphases added. Washington, I’m almost certain, would be nauseated by what happened this last week.

What the authoritarian Left is doing strikes at the heart of the American settlement by refusing to honor the “liberty of conscience” we have long made room for in this land. Remember the conscientious objectors of the Vietnam War era (and earlier wars), who refused to engage in combat because of religious objections? Then, the Left lionized them as heroes. Would they now be spat upon because they used religion as a defense? It was for moments like these, when the power of the State impinges on the deeply felt religious beliefs of people, whether in matters of war or simply participating in a wedding, that Congress passed nearly unanimously and President Clinton signed the federal RFRA, and the states followed with their own.

But the Left leaves no room for dissent, unless it is dissent they approve of. All others are not just disapproved of, but must be actively harassed and punished until they publicly recant and think right thoughts, like some Maoist “struggle session.”

I’m going to close with a long quote from attorney Kurt Schlichter, who served many years in the Army, including Kosovo, where he saw first hand what happened when the consensus of tolerance broke down:

Which brings us to America in 2015. It’s becoming a nation where an elite that is certain of its power and its moral rightness is waging a cultural war on a despised minority. Except it’s not actually a minority – it only seems that way because it is marginalized by the coastal elitist liberals who run the mainstream media.

Today in America, we have a liberal president refuses to recognize the majority sent to Congress as a reaction to his progressive failures, and who uses extra-Constitutional means like executive orders to stifle the voice of his opponents. We have a liberal establishment on a secular jihad against people who dare place their conscience ahead of progressive dogma. And we have two different sets of laws, one for the little people and one for liberals like Lois Lerner, Al Sharpton and Hillary Clinton, who can blatantly commit federal crimes and walk away scot free and smirking.

Today in America, a despised minority that is really no minority is the target of an establishment that considers this minority unworthy of respect, unworthy of rights, and unworthy of having a say in the direction of this country. It’s an establishment that has one law for itself, and another for its enemies. It’s an establishment that inflicts an ever-increasing series of petty humiliations on its opponents and considers this all hilarious.

That’s a recipe for disaster. You cannot expect to change the status quo for yourself and then expect those you victimize not to play by the new rules you have created. You cannot expect to be able to discard the rule of law in favor of the rule of force and have those you target not respond in kind.

Read the whole thing.

The Left is discarding the rule of law for the rule of force, substituting the power of the mob for the “immunities of citizenship,” and while you may think it silly to compare America to Kosovo, it may also be that Col. Schlichter has simply reconnoitered farther down the road they want us to walk and seen where it ends.

“I know there is an authoritarian Left in this country, and I fear it.”

And we should, still.

Footnote:
(1) Fair disclosure: I was one of the donors and was honored to do so.

RELATED: The Power Line podcast has an excellent discussion of the Indiana situation, and RFRAs in general, with law professor John Yoo.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#RaiseTheWage – In which Seattle Leftists gets a needed lesson in economics

March 16, 2015
"But at least we won the election! Obama!!"

“But at least we raised the minimum wage!”

It must be nice to be a progressive; you never have to worry about the real-world consequences of your actions. Fighting for social justice? Great! Let’s raise that minimum wage in the interests of (all bow) fairness. Surely those petit bourgeois small business owners can afford it — they’re probably making more money than they should, anyway. It’s time to spread the wealth around. You, the city councilors and progressive voters of Seattle know better than any shop owner what he can afford to pay!

Strangest thing about choices: they have consequences.

Seattle’s $15 minimum wage law goes into effect on April 1, 2015. As that date approaches, restaurants across the city are making the financial decision to close shop. The Washington Policy Center writes that “closings have occurred across the city, from Grub in the upscale Queen Anne Hill neighborhood, to Little Uncle in gritty Pioneer Square, to the Boat Street Cafe on Western Avenue near the waterfront.”

Of course, restaurants close for a variety of reasons. But, according to Seattle Magazine, the “impending minimum wage hike to $15 per hour” is playing a “major factor.” That’s not surprising, considering “about 36% of restaurant earnings go to paying labor costs.” Seattle Magazine,

“Washington Restaurant Association’s Anthony Anton puts it this way: “It’s not a political problem; it’s a math problem.”

“He estimates that a common budget breakdown among sustaining Seattle restaurants so far has been the following: 36 percent of funds are devoted to labor, 30 percent to food costs and 30 percent go to everything else (all other operational costs). The remaining 4 percent has been the profit margin, and as a result, in a $700,000 restaurant, he estimates that the average restauranteur in Seattle has been making $28,000 a year.

“With the minimum wage spike, however, he says that if restaurant owners made no changes, the labor cost in quick service restaurants would rise to 42 percent and in full service restaurants to 47 percent.”

Restaurant owners, expecting to operate on thinner margins, have tried to adapt in several ways including “higher menu prices, cheaper, lower-quality ingredients, reduced opening times, and cutting work hours and firing workers,” according to The Seattle Times and Seattle Eater magazine. As the Washington Policy Center points out, when these strategies are not enough, businesses close, “workers lose their jobs and the neighborhood loses a prized amenity.”

I imagine reaction of residents must be like that of fans of a beloved local bookstore were shocked when it closed after The Special City raised its minimum wage — they cry “I had no idea!”.

Damn straight. It’s also called “magical thinking,” in which you get to do whatever you want with no blow-back. Then you wake up and realize it was all a dream.

Like I’ve written many times before, there are basic rules of economics our economically illiterate progressive compatriots need to hear. Again:

Labor is a cost, because the business owner has to provide wages and, often, benefits that cost him more money. When a government mandate increases that cost, the business owner has three choices: pass the cost along to the customer, who may decide it’s too much and stop shopping there; cut employee hours and stop hiring to save on labor costs, thus costing potential jobs and putting a burden on workers still employed; and, finally, just decide it’s not worth it anymore and close up shop. In the low-margin bookseller business, Borderlands’ owner chose the last course as the only one viable.

Do recall this mandated wage increase comes on top of any additional expenses required under Obamacare. No wonder owners in the thin-margin restaurant business are calling it quits!

Dan Mitchell calls it “Destroying Jobs with Innumerate Compassion.” Perfect.

Of course, this won’t stop the progressives who run the LA city council from making a similar mistake, here, because… magical thinking.

Via Rick Moran, who also quotes a great explanation from Reason about the connection between the value of labor and the minimum wage.

RELATED: Earlier posts on Seattle and the minimum wage.


Tales of the Nanny State: taxing your dessert, timing your TV watching

February 20, 2015
I said, no fun allowed!

I said, no fun allowed!

Because what Americans are yearning for right now is even more government intrusion into their daily lives:

The federal committee responsible for nutrition guidelines is calling for the adoption of “plant-based” diets, taxes on dessert, trained obesity “interventionists” at worksites, and electronic monitoring of how long Americans sit in front of the television.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) released its far-reaching 571-page report of recommendations to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Thursday, which detailed its plans to “transform the food system.”

The report is open for public comment for 45 days, and will be used as the basis by the government agencies to develop the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The guidelines are used as the basis for government food assistance programs, nutrition education efforts, and for making “decisions about national health objectives.”

DGAC proposed a variety of solutions to address obesity, and its promotion of what it calls the “culture of health.”

“The persistent high levels of overweight and obesity require urgent population- and individual-level strategies across multiple settings, including health care, communities, schools, worksites, and families,” they said.

And if that isn’t enough, DGAC wants to monitor your TV watching — for your own good, of course:

The amount of sedentary time Americans spend in front of computers and TV sets is also a concern to the federal panel.

They recommended “coaching or counseling sessions,” “peer-based social support,” and “electronic tracking and monitoring of the use of screen-based technologies” as a way to limit screen time.

The screen-time recommendations came from The Community Guide, a group affiliated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reviewed studies that used an “electronic monitoring device to limit screen time” of teenagers.

Progressive America — where TV watches you!

Really, if these bureaucratic scolds wanted to annoy people so much they would elect even more small-government conservatives who would then take a meat ax to the bureaucracy, they couldn’t find a better way to go about it. “Sin taxes” are already so popular with the public.

I encourage them to press on.


Shock study results: Calling climate skeptics ‘deniers’ just pisses them off

February 3, 2015

Phineas Fahrquar:

I don’t see why it should, just because CBS’ Scott Pelley used the term in a deliberate comparison to Holocaust deniers meant to delegitimize their arguments. How sensitive does one have to be to be upset by that? /sarc

Originally posted on Watts Up With That?:

Academics discover civlity –

civility

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

A study into why skeptics are not persuaded by the apocalyptic predictions of broken climate models has concluded that the solution is better communication.
According to the Toronto Star;

““When talking to skeptics it is probably important to focus on aspects that both skeptics and believers have in common rather than the differences between them,” said Ana-Maria Bliuc, a behavioural social scientist at Australia’s Monash University and one of the authors of the study.

As an example, the focus could be on “things like cleaner air, low power consumption, improved public transport, better waste management, efficient agriculture, reforestation … (they) are all in public interest, regardless of position on climate change,” she said.

Improving communication between the two sides of this big divide could be an effective pathway to reaching consensus, said Bliuc.
http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2015/02/02/different-tack-needed-for-climate-change-skeptics-study-says.html

According to the study abstract;

“Of the…

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The death of free speech in Scotland: “Cultures rot from the bottom up”

January 4, 2015

liberal tolerance

That’s the assessment of Charles Cooke, who also saw that “Big Brother” tweet from Police Scotland about which I wrote a few days ago. He notes that, while the police statement was offensive enough, the fact that 20,000 Scots signed a petition demanding a columnist be investigated for her annoying comments was downright disturbing. In Cooke’s view, it’s a sign of serious rot in the culture of liberty, itself:

In situations such as these, it is easy and tempting to blame the police for their excesses, and to contend with irritation that they should know better. And so, of course, they should. It is easy, too, to slam the British parliament for continuing to permit such behavior. And, of course, it should be so slammed. Nevertheless, the ugly truth here is that, like the Canadians and the Australians and the New Zealanders and pretty much every people in the world apart from the Americans, there is a significant contingent within the British electorate that believes that the state should punish people who utter words and sentiments that the majority dislikes. Of course the police are looking into the rude and the eccentric. Their employers want them to do exactly that, and there are no constitutional prohibitions to prevent them from doing so.

Cultures rot from the bottom up. In a democracy, the authorities come to reflect societal trends — both good and ill. How sad to see Adam Smith’s body decaying in the streets.

(Emphasis added)

Cooke is right to remark on the difference between the political culture of the United States and its Anglospheric cousins when it comes to free speech, and it’s a fair observation to say we almost fetishize it. But alone among the UK and the it descendants, we assume that the right to speak one’s mind is a natural, unalienable right that is inherent in humans and preexists government. In that regard, we went beyond the 1689 English Bill of Rights, which grants rights via statute, and declared “life, liberty, and happiness,” to be rights superior to the law; that laws, indeed, are instituted to protect those rights. In Scotland and in the UK overall, the beliefs that gave rise to these rights seem to be fading in favor of a “right not to be offended.” (See also Australia, where a lesser commitment to free speech lead the prior government to try to use punitive fines to silence critics of a carbon tax.)

But I think Charles is too sanguine when he writes:

…like the Canadians and the Australians and the New Zealanders and pretty much every people in the world apart from the Americans, there is a significant contingent within the British electorate that believes that the state should punish people who utter words and sentiments that the majority dislikes.

Sadly, we have Speech Police, too; they generally, but not wholly, reside on the political Left. And it’s true that here, especially in an age of alternative media, they experience serious push-back from from defenders of the right to free speech. But they regularly try to punish “wrong” thought and words. Recall, for example the howling mob that went after Brendan Eich, then head of Mozilla, just because, years before, he had exercised his right to free speech to quietly donate to a group supporting traditional heterosexual marriage. Or the feminist banshees who attacked an astrophysicist for wearing a slightly tacky shirt, until he had to issue a tearful apology for his wardrobe.

“Ah,” you say. “It’s true their behavior was reprehensible, but surely the authorities wouldn’t themselves stoop to the level of the Scottish police!” Oh, no? Well, consider this:

Dig around, and you’ll find plenty more.

Our politicians would have been far less likely to attempt these and other speech-suppressing measures, if they didn’t think there was a significant number of people in favor of such things.

It may not be as advanced as in the UK, but the “cultural rot” Cooke wrote of is a danger here, too, and we need to always be on guard against it.

RELATED: Mark Steyn on the death of free speech. Jazz Shaw on how the UK is now less free than the US.

Footnote:
(1) Remember when I said it was “mostly” on the Left?


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