Quotulatiousness

September 1, 2017

“Antifa looks increasingly like the militant wing of Safe Space fanaticism”

Brendan O’Neill posting to Facebook a few days back:

People are shocked by images of antifa activists beating up normal, peaceful right-wing protesters in Berkeley or physically shoving right-wing people off Boston Common. Why? This is what happens when you tell an entire generation that other people’s ideas are dangerous, that their speech is toxic, that their words can wound you and traumatise you: you invite that generation to shut people down, to use any means necessary to ensure “dangerous” ideas are not expressed and do not cause injury to people’s self-esteem or sense of safety. We are starting to see what happens when speech is talked about as a form of violence: it green-lights actual violence against certain forms of speech. If speech is violence, shouldn’t it be met with violence? Antifa looks increasingly like the militant wing of Safe Space fanaticism, the bastard offspring of a culture that elevates mental safety over intellectual liberty, and people’s feelings over public freedom.

January 22, 2014

Thai protests trigger state of emergency declaration

Filed under: Asia, Government, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 07:52

BBC News on the Thai government’s attempts to deal with the ongoing protests:

The Thai government has imposed a 60-day state of emergency in the capital, Bangkok, and the surrounding provinces, from Wednesday, to cope with unrest.

The decree gives the government wide-ranging powers to deal with disorder.

Anti-government protesters have been blocking parts of the capital to try to force PM Yingluck Shinawatra to resign.

They accuse the government of being run by exiled former leader Thaksin Shinawatra, the brother of the current prime minister.

Ms Yingluck has refused to resign and has called an election on 2 February to pacify the protesters.

The state of emergency was announced after a cabinet meeting on Tuesday and comes after a spate of attacks with explosives and firearms on the anti-government protesters blockading central Bangkok for which the government and the protesters blame each other.

On Sunday, 28 people were injured when grenades were thrown at one of several protest sites set up at major road sections in the city.

“The cabinet decided to invoke the emergency decree to take care of the situation and to enforce the law,” Deputy Prime Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said.

The emergency decree gives the government power to censor the media, ban public gatherings and detain suspects without charge.

George Talusan, a friend and former co-worker of mine was on vacation in Thailand recently and posted some brilliant photos to his Facebook feed. I’ve asked his permission to include a few of them here:

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A protester stops his motorcycle and holds up a handmade sign near Lumpini Park (Jan 13)

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PDRC protesters wave flags at Victory Monument (Jan 14)

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Suthep Thaugsuban delivers a speech at Asok BTS (Jan 15)

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PDRC protesters are offered water during a sit-in at Royal Thai Police HQ (Jan 15)

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PDRC security guard poses outside Royal Thai Police HQ which had been vandalized after a sit-in (Jan 19)

June 25, 2012

The rot began at the top: Britain’s rotten state

Filed under: Britain, Government, Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:06

David Conway reviews The Rotten State of Britain by Eamonn Butler:

In fourteen pithy, well-documented chapters, Butler guides the reader through the maze of political, economic and social changes to which New Labour subjected Britain during their period in office. After noting that ‘the rot starts from the top’, Butler summarize the main political changes the country was made to undergo so:

‘From Magna Carta in 1215, our rights and liberties have been built up over the centuries. Trial by jury, habeas corpus, the presumption of innocence — all these and more grew up to restrain our leaders and prevent them from harassing us. Yet within a decade almost all these protections have been diluted or discarded. Our leaders are no longer restrained by the rule of law at all [22]…The Prime Minister and colleagues in Downing Street decide what is good for us and then it’s nodded through Parliament. It’s hardly democracy: it’s a centralist autocracy.’ [31]

One by one, Butler explains how each of the country’s traditional constitutional restraints on uncurbed executive power was deliberately weakened, if not altogether discarded, by New Labor in pursuit of their master political project which was, having come to equate the national good with that of their own party, to perpetuate their hegemony indefinitely. Their first step was to effect a massive centralization of power in the hands of the Prime Minister and a small clique of unelected advisors that led to a systematic downgrading of Parliament, the Cabinet and civil service.

To observers of the Canadian system, this critique sounds hauntingly familiar: change “Downing Street” to “Sussex Drive” and it’s equally valid here. Some of the centralization was already well underway before 2001, but it was accelerated by terrorist attacks and governments’ response to them:

9/11 also served New Labor, Butler argues, as a pretext for making a power-grab in the name of security that turned Britain into ‘a surveillance state’ where ‘freedom exists only in name’. [106] He chillingly observes:

‘Of course, the terrorism threat is real… But in response, we seem to have given our government powers to track us anywhere, stop and search us in the street, arrest us for any imagined offense, imprison us for peaceful protest, hold us without charge for 28 days, extradite us to the United State without evidence, ban us for being members of non-violent organizations that they don’t happen to like, export us to other EU countries to stand trial for things that aren’t a crime here, take and file our DNA samples before we’ve been convicted, charged or even cautioned for any offense — and much more as well. In the name of defending our liberties against terrorism, we seem to have lost them.’ [92-93]

February 2, 2012

In Arizona “any time two or more people work together to influence a vote … they instantly become a ‘political committee'”

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Law, Liberty, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 13:08

What’s all this about “free speech” if you are legally encumbered with ridiculous regulations even before you speak?

Dina Galassini does not seem to pose a threat to Arizona’s civic integrity. But the government of the desert community of Fountain Hills believes you cannot be too careful. And state law empowers local governments to be vigilant against the lurking danger that political speech might occur before the speakers notify the government and comply with all the speech rules.

Last October, Galassini became annoyed — like many Ron Paul supporters, she is easily annoyed by government — about the city’s plan to augment its spending with a $29.6 million bond issue, to be voted on by mail by Nov. 8. On Oct. 6, she sent emails to 23 friends and acquaintances, urging them to write letters to newspapers and join her in two demonstrations against the bond measure. On Oct. 12, before she could organize the demonstrations, she received a stern letter from the town clerk: “I would strongly encourage you to cease any campaign-related activities until the requirements of the law have been met.”

State law — this is the state of John McCain, apostle of political purification through the regulation of political speech — says that any time two or more people work together to influence a vote on a ballot measure, they instantly become a “political committee.” This transformation triggers various requirements — registering with the government, filing forms, establishing a bank account for the “committee” even if it has raised no money and does not intend to. This must be done before members of this fictitious “committee” may speak.

November 22, 2011

QotD: Our Charter of “rights” and “freedoms”

On the evening of January 12, 1981, justice minister Jean Chrétien sat in front of the special parliamentary committee on the Constitution. “I am proposing that Section 1 read as follows: The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society,” he said.

“This will ensure that any limit on a right must be not only reasonable and prescribed by law, but must also be shown to be demonstrably justified.” Translation: “This will ensure that even though we pretend the public has rights that are fundamental to any free and democratic society, we can take them away at will, so long as we can convince a judge that such measures are justified.”

The language used by Mr. Chrétien would eventually become Section 1 of the Charter, which gives government the constitutional cover to infringe the supposedly “fundamental freedoms” that follow it. In order to figure out when such infringements are in fact justified, the Supreme Court came up with the Oakes test.

Using this two-step process, laws that violate our Charter rights must have a “pressing and substantial” objective, and the means of effecting the limit must be reasonable and proportional. The infringement has to be connected to the law’s objective; it has to be as minimal as possible; and it must balance the consequences of such a limitation, with the objective that is being sought.

Jesse Kline, “Freedom shouldn’t come with caveats, but it does”, National Post, 2011-11-22

November 17, 2011

Updating 1984 to 2011: tweetcrime replaces thoughtcrime

Patrick Hayes in the Independent:

Who’s afraid of the English Defence League (EDL) clicktivists? Well the police for a start, who decided to undertake a mass pre-emptive arrest of 179 EDL supporters, while they were drinking in a Westminster pub on Armistice Day, for supposedly planning an ‘attack’ on Occupy London protesters at St Paul’s. The police were tipped off by bloggers who had scoured the EDL’s Facebook posts for threatening remarks, and were apparently also assisted in the arrests by some Occupy London supporters, with the administrator of an Occupy London Facebook page boasting he played a role.

These arrests have rightly chilled civil liberties activists. As human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell tweeted at the time: ‘Democracies don’t arrest people who have committed no crime. EDL today, who next? Civil liberties are for all, even odious EDL.’ Brendan O’Neill has argued on spiked, ‘it seems pretty clear that [EDL] supporters were arrested for committing a tweetcrime, the modern-day equivalent of Orwell’s thoughtcrime, where you’re nicked for what lurks inside your head rather than for anything you’ve done in the real world.’

Strikingly, this illiberal, anti-democratic crackdown on EDL protesters came less than a fortnight after the publication of the most extensive research into the EDL yet: one that reveals the EDL to largely be all tweets and no action.

November 6, 2011

QotD: The Occupy movement

Filed under: Cancon, Media, Politics, Quotations — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 15:01

There are lessons in this history for the leftist protester. The Occupy movement is bristling with changes it wants made (I’m told we’re not supposed to call them “demands”); these changes won’t, and shouldn’t, happen outside the ballot box. The goal of protest in a liberal-democratic society must therefore be to advance one’s pet issue further ahead on the agenda of the sympathetic, for when they do attain power, and to weaken the morale of moderates on the other side. One must locate specific injustices rather than nebulous cosmic ones, confronting them and defying their perpetrators directly. Deeds will accomplish more than any amount of eloquence. And it should not be necessary to claim to be a majority (let alone a majority of 99-to-one); one individual suffices, where he has a true claim to our attention.

It’s not really clear, anyway, how an “Occupation” that is meeting no serious resistance from authorities anywhere is supposed to elicit sympathy. The main effect of the movement so far seems to have been an elaborate proof-by-demonstration that Canadian municipalities are incredibly respectful of political protest and fawningly deferential to the Charter of Rights. So . . . hooray?

Colby Cosh, “Want political change? Talk to a farmer”, Maclean’s, 2011-11-06

June 16, 2011

QotD: The tendency to riot among Canadians

Filed under: Cancon, Government, Quotations — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:44

Just as cities have to anticipate trouble, ordinary law-abiding folks who think a trip downtown to watch the fun have to accept that they won’t necessarily be protected from it, or from the police response. Ontario courts are still dealing with cases of people claiming their rights were trampeled when police reacted to the G20 violence by abandoning their own duties and discipline, and lashing out at anything that stumbled into their path. Hearings are being held to sort out what went wrong, and the force is struggling to retain some respect after doing its best to avoid being held accountable for its own indefensible actions. In other words, once the trouble starts, all bets are off, and anyone who thinks they’ll take the kiddies down for a peak, and will somehow be protected when things get out of hand, is deluding themselves.

There is something bizarre going on just beneath the surface of our supposedly decent and civilized society. Canada is prosperous and peaceful, and does as much or more than any country to preserve and protect the rights and opportunities of people fortunate enough to live here. There are certainly inequalities and injustices, but anyone who thinks they’ll find a society that tries harder to eliminate them, or is more concerned with trying to spread the benefits equally among all citizens, will have a lengthy search on their hands. It’s doubtful in any case that the dolts who ignited the trouble in Vancouver think that deeply, or have any purpose other than mindless mayhem. They deserve no sympathy, and should be treated by the law as harshly as allowed.

Kelly McParland, “Lessons to learn from dolts at a hockey game”, National Post, 2011-06-16

January 20, 2011

QotD: The ongoing retreat of freedom of speech in Canada

It used to be there actually had to be a violent protest before public institutions caved in and cancelled controversial events. That was unjustifiable, too. Police and officials should always seek to protect law-abiding speakers and organizers from the angry mob. Those who seek to disrupt events just because they disagree with the speakers should be the ones inconvenienced, not those exercising their constitutional rights.

Now, though, it seems the mere whiff of protest is enough for officialdom to bow to would-be protestors’ demands. Get together a group of unhinged radicals or zealots in someone’s rumpus room, make a couple of angry phone calls and — poof! — you can get your way and silence free speech and free assembly. Organizers, especially those connected with public institutions such as universities, museums and galleries, apparently care not a whit about free expression or individual choice. Their first instinct is to crater to protestors; let the forces of oppression and extremism have their way. Forget about preserving democracy and open debate, officials will act as the forces of censorship want.

Some of this has to do with the increased anger and vehemence of protestors, no doubt. In recent years, young lefties in particular have convinced themselves that only their positions are fact-based and only their positions can save the world. All other opinions are lies, as well as being threats to mankind and the planet. Therefore they are justified in any action they take to stymie opposing views, which they also believe are unworthy of free speech protection. They truly believe they are doing a public service when they shout down speakers or force the cancellation of events by smashing windows or jostling attendees outside the doors.

Lorne Gunter, “We’ve become a wimpy state, as well as a nanny state”, National Post, 2011-01-20

August 24, 2010

“One of the few thrills of working as a bylaw enforcement officer is making people cry”

Ezra Levant looks at the bylaw enforcement regime in Clarington, just east of Toronto:

It’s not a lemonade crime wave that the brave city elders of Clarington are combating. It’s the menace of backyard barbecues.

Peter Jaworski has been holding backyard barbecues at his parents’ property there for 10 years. It’s a house in the country on 40 secluded acres. Once a year, Peter invites a few dozen of his friends to spend the weekend eating his mom’s cooking and camping next to the swimming hole. I’ve been there: it’s one part family reunion, one part picnic and one part political talk.

So clearly, the Jaworski family must be stopped.

First came the health department. They poked and prodded, and even took water samples. No one has ever got sick at a Jaworski barbecue — the opposite; everyone comes for the food — but the government ordered that no home cooking would be allowed. The Jaworskis complied with these costly and ridiculous demands, catering the whole weekend and serving only bottled water, at great cost.

But bureaucrats travel in packs. A local bylaw enforcement officer waited until the barbecue itself, and marched right onto the property — no search warrant needed! — and started peppering the guests with questions.

He wasn’t a health officer; he was a bylaw officer. Yet he demanded to know what the guests had for lunch. In the name of the law!

Armed with this devastating information, the officer charged Peter’s parents with running an illegal “commercial conference centre,” which carries a fine of up to $50,000. The officer, a burly, tattooed, six-foot-something man, told Peter’s mom to “be very careful.” She burst into tears.

Why do people get this insane idea that they should be able to do what they want on their own property? If we wanted that to happen, we wouldn’t appoint bylaw officers and arm them with bylaws to quash your fun and destroy your ability to enjoy your own property!

This scourge of backyard entertainment must be defeated, and Clarington is leading the way!

August 9, 2010

Lovely little bit of legal legerdemain

Filed under: Cancon, Law — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:44

Colby Cosh points out that Catch-22 was really a highly accurate predictor of Canadian law:

To put it another way, you can conceivably be tried for “participating in or contributing to” a criminal organization even if it didn’t get around to committing any crimes, you didn’t do anything to help it actually commit crimes, you didn’t know what particular crimes it might be thinking of committing, and you couldn’t possibly pick anybody else in the group out of a lineup.

This might seem to make things pretty easy for the police and the prosecutors. Nonsense! According to them, their job can never be easy enough. Like farmers and civil servants, they cease complaining only intermittently to inhale oxygen, and there is no shortage of Joint Multi-Level Integrated Discussion Committees before which they can retail their grievances.

[. . .]

Justice Minister Nicholson, in introducing the new schedule of patently less serious and mostly victimless “serious offences” on Wednesday, offered a dazzlingly simple heuristic: “The fact that an offence is committed by a criminal organization makes it a serious crime.” You will note that this introduces a curious logical circularity into our manner of upholding justice. How does the law define a “criminal organization”? See above: a criminal organization is a group of people that bands together to commit serious crimes. How do we know what a serious crime is? It’s any activity that is characteristic of criminal organizations. What, you thought Catch-22 was fiction?

July 9, 2010

Poll numbers understate unhappiness with police over G20

Filed under: Cancon, Law, Liberty — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas @ 18:11

Publius makes a very good point here:

The Greater Toronto Area holds a population of about 5.6 million, stretching from Burlington in the west to Oshawa in the East. The City of Toronto comprises less than half the total population, and less than one-tenth of the total land area. The summit, protests and general mayhem occurred in the downtown core, itself a small area of the City of Toronto. In the lands north of Bloor, west of Bathurst and East of the Don River, the summit meant traffic delays, not riot cops.

Travelling on the 400 series highways that weekend entailed some delays — much of the Gardiner Expressway was closed — and the most notable police presence was at highway interchanges and on / off ramps. Even for those who live in the City of Toronto itself, the vast majority saw the violence of the summit weekend on television. A large number of Torontonians had simply evacuated the City altogether, either to the suburbs to stay with relatives, or to cottage country. As a result, the images fixed in most Torontonians minds are of police cruisers burning — played again and again — and not of officers dragging middle aged men with prosthetic legs across city streets. As the stories of that weekend seep out, expect those poll numbers to change.

I was one of those who chose not to hang around in the city for the entire week leading up to the summit: I didn’t see the point in putting up with the delay and hassle. I still think it was a remarkably stupid idea to hold the G20 meetings in downtown Toronto, and that the police were handed a duff hand to play. But even given that, the police played their hand very badly.

There may or may not be a serious inquiry into the affair, but the police lost a lot of support between Friday night and Saturday night: letting the geeky nihilists get away with dramatic street theatre on national TV, then turning around and arresting innocent bystanders. It took remarkable effort to squander public support, but the police or the politicians directing the police managed to do it. Bureaucratic bipolar disorder isn’t pretty.

June 28, 2010

Running with the nihilists

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , — Nicholas @ 12:13

Tony Keller walked with the main union-led protest marchers on Saturday, pointing out that there was no single, unifying principle — it was a “grievance smorgasbord, an all-you-can-eat buffet of complaints, and apparently anyone protesting anything — anything — was invited”. What interested him the most, however, were the “hobbits”:

Standing in front of Cafe Lettieri, which was still open and doing a booming business even as protesters were packed so tightly outside that they pressed up against its windows, I heard someone to my right say, “Black Bloc, meet up on Queen!”

I turned to see six hobbits in black hoodies shuffling past me. It was on. Whatever “it” was going to be.

[. . .]

And then the non-peaceful part of our program started. The crowd suddenly began to surge away from the police lines at Spadina and Richmond, and back onto Queen Street. We were now heading east, violently following the route the non-violent march had just taken. A mass of maybe 100 people in black hoodies and balaclavas was moving at almost a run, accompanied by several hundred journalists and riot tourists. Occasionally someone would dart out from the group to smash a window or spray paint a slogan: “Against Police Against Prisons,” “F– the Police,” “F- Corporate Rule.”

[. . .]

The hoodie people weren’t just small in number, they were also small in stature. A lot of skinny white boys. And white women. (Some skinny, some really not). They looked like the kind of people who spend a lot of time playing video games in their parents’ basements. Or the graduating class of an art college. They were not marauding toughs. More like marauding geeks. Geeks marauding in a spontaneous yet carefully choreographed manner.

There’s a point in most peoples’ lives when getting out and protesting seems like such a good idea. And then you graduate and get a job . . .

June 26, 2010

What other “secret laws” did they pass?

Filed under: Cancon, Government, Law, Liberty — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas @ 11:37

Much noise and confusion over the discovery of a recently passed law allowing police to arrest anyone who fails to show ID within 5 metres of a “public work”. The law itself isn’t new, but the secret was the silent addition of the area of the G20 meetings as a “public work” for the definition of that law. Hijinks ensue:

Police are now able to jail anyone who refuses to furnish identification and submit to a search while within five metres of a designated security zone in downtown Toronto.

Critics reacted furiously to the new rules, which remained unpublicized until Thursday when a 32 year-old man was arrested in Toronto for refusing to show ID to police.

New Democrat MPP Peter Kormos said Friday the provincial Liberals created a “Kafka-esque” situation where people could be arrested for violating rules they didn’t know existed.

“This is very very repugnant stuff and should be troubling to everybody,” he said.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) said it was “extremely concerned” that the new measures violate constitutional safeguards.

I’m not a fan of violent protests, but I don’t believe the police need this additional tool in order to arrest people who attempt to breach the barricades or attack other people: this is granting too much arbitrary power to police officers. The way the power was granted is even more disturbing . . . it shows that the government knew there’d be an outcry if they did it in the public view, so they arranged it so that nobody would know about it in time to do anything about it. Nice work, Ontario, got any other nasty legal surprises you want to spring on us?

Update, 29 June: According to a report in the National Post, the Ontario government denies that there was any such regulatory change and that no arrests were made using the authority of this act.

May 20, 2010

QotD: Recruiting protesters for the G20 in Toronto

Filed under: Cancon, Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 17:07

Are you a woman, person of colour, indigenous person, poor person, queer, trans-gendered or disabled?

If so, the G8/G20 Toronto Community Mobilization team assumes you must sympathize with civic disruption, lawbreaking and maybe even a little good old fashioned terror. They want your help. They’re mobilizing to disrupt the gathering of democratically elected politicians who are meeting in Toronto next month and they assume — just because you’re a woman or a disabled person — that you must hate civilized society as much as they do.

That’s their logo, above.

The CN Tower, torn from its roots, used to stab the G20 like a knife in the heart. Gee, isn’t that inclusive, co-operative and non-violent. Hard to imagine anything more likely to attract widespread public support than an image like that. Hey, women and indiginous people, wanna stab some white guys? How about you, queers and indigenous people? Because we here at the Community Mobilization team take for granted that you must be as twisted, angry, vengeful and keening for violence as we are.

Kelly McParland, “Anti-G20 activists want your help in spreading the hate”, National Post, 2010-05-20

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