Here’s the outrage

by Daniel on September 17, 2005

Chris asked, quite correctly, where the blogospheric outrage was about the UK government’s current “anti-terrorism” legislation was. I didn’t have any particularly intelligent analysis to add, which is why I haven’t posted so far, but upon reading the bloody thing, I realise that this is hardly an excuse. So here we go.

For Christ’s sakes !! A Labour government (A LABOUR GOVERNMENT!) is trying to pass a law whereby you can sit down at a pub table, spend the evening talking and come away having COMMITTED A CRIMINAL BLOODY OFFENCE!! THIS IS A BLOODY SPEECH CRIME PEOPLE!! THEY ARE QUITE LITERALLY SAYING THAT THEY ARE GOING TO PUT PEOPLE IN JAIL FOR EXPRESSING THEIR POLITICAL VIEWS!!Do I have to start using the f and c words before anyone notices that there is something quite serious going on? I am as concerned as the proprietor of Shot by Both Sides for my long term career path, but this surely has to be more important. THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND IS PROPOSING TO PUT PEOPLE IN JAIL FOR POLITICAL SPEECH CRIMES!! If anyone is proposing a quick sing-song outside the gates of 10 Downing Street singing “Glory Glory O Bin Laden” I think I am probably up for it. What the by-our-lady hell is going on?!

{ 96 comments }

1

RJT 09.17.05 at 6:44 pm

What is there to be outraged about , UK let freedom of speech go far enough, muslim hate groups chanted “death to Blair, UK, US, etc. just a few months ago, and look what happened.

It is about time stiffer laws where put in place.

2

Ben Alpers 09.17.05 at 6:48 pm

This makes me feel even better about the fact that I probably would have voted LibDem had I been a British voter in the last election (not that hypothetical votes in other country’s elections are anything to feel particularly attached to).

Blair and Co. are rotten to the core. Iraq is only the tip of the iceberg.

3

Kieran Healy 09.17.05 at 6:54 pm

A Labour government (A LABOUR GOVERNMENT!)

Perhaps the Home Office will “hire a fleet of taxis”:http://www.politicos.co.uk/item.jsp?ID=4105 to scuttle around London handing out Speechcrime notices to its own workers.

4

Bob B 09.17.05 at 6:55 pm

If you think use of the term “Orwellian” has become over-worked, read on:

“Even now, of course, there’s no reason or excuse for committing thoughtcrime. It’s merely a question of self-discipline, reality-control. But in the end there won’t be any need even for that. The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect. Newspeak is Ingsoc and Ingsoc is Newspeak,’ he added with a sort of mystical satisfaction. ‘Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?’ “
George Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-four, Bk.1 chp.5

But by the end, Winston loved Big Brother.

5

SomeCallMeTim 09.17.05 at 7:09 pm

You guys in the UK up for a race to the bottom?

6

vivian 09.17.05 at 7:11 pm

Glad to hear some outrage, but do you have any insight into the general lack of upsetness in the UK? Apart from some asides by BBC World Service anchors, that is. I mean, you folks rioted about poll taxes, turned up in huge numbers to protest the war – it’s not a passive citizenry by any means, so what gives?

7

Austin 09.17.05 at 7:30 pm

Well, I’ve written about the issue twice thus far.

8

P O'Neill 09.17.05 at 7:59 pm

Aside from the use of block capitals to express outrage, which I fully support, it may also be helpful to point out the ridiculousness of legislation that in principle (depending on this 20 year rule and the list) could end up making a Yeats poetry reading illegal:

For England may keep faith
For all that is done and said.
We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead;
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?
I write it out in a verse -
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

9

dp 09.17.05 at 7:59 pm

Maybe the lack of popular outrage has something to do with feeling screwed in a much more pervasive way, by circumstance, by the injustices of everday life, by the very real erosion of individual autonomy in so many ways. It would be hard to have sympathy for those who get jerked around by a law on speechcrime when everyone is already being royally fucked over in ways that go unremarked.

10

David W. 09.17.05 at 8:03 pm

OutSTANDing bit of high dudgeon there, Daniel. Now go relax and start a riot after a soccer match somewhere so you don’t go popping a blood vessel, alright? You Brits do seem to have your priorities backwards, I must say…

11

a 09.17.05 at 11:27 pm

helllloooo? They can already jail you for speech crimes. Try expressing some robust opinions about Islam or dark people, for example.

One assumes it’s the nature of the speech which
has you such high dudgeon.

What does that make you?

12

Barry 09.17.05 at 11:55 pm

Daniel, I’ve felt that this last UK election should be viewed as the end of real democracy in the UK.

Blair sent the UK to war, against the wishes of the majority of his constituents, and the majority of everybody in the UK. Afterwards, it was revealed that the pretext was a known fraud. In adidtion the war, due to malpractice, is going to turn out badly.

The British people responded by keeping Blair in charge of the Labor Party, and returning him to power.

At that point, is it really surprising if Blair holds the British people in the respect that they have merited – the same respect that the Republican Party holds the US people?

13

djw 09.18.05 at 12:00 am

much better, thanks.

14

Naive Yank J. Goard 09.18.05 at 12:40 am

I always took it that “bloody” (which you use freely) was, in the UK, generally considered as profane as “fuck” (which you refer to obliquely). Or perhaps “the f-word” meant “fanny”, for which the linguistic gulf is clearly a great one?

15

Jonathon Martin 09.18.05 at 2:11 am

This is a bit overblown. The reason there is no outrage is the same reason there was no outrage about ID cards – because most people know that whatever the law, in practice it will have no impact on their lives – much as the sovereignty of the Queen does not really restrict our democracy.

People haven’t read the law but the feeling is simply that the UK has been too liberal about allowing extremists to express their views and in so doing indoctrinate people to do hateful things. Since most people in the UK don’t encourage youngsters to bring down the state, they don’t much care about the interests of those who do.

It looks like a bad law but that’s nothing new. The intention behind it however, I have some sympathy with.

16

abb1 09.18.05 at 2:11 am

Is this one of those ‘when they came for the Jews I said nothing’ moments?

17

bryan 09.18.05 at 2:21 am

RJT of course knows the true value of these laws, by making certain types of speech crimes they can target members of ethnic groups that are most likely to use these types of speech, without having a law specifically targetting ethnic groups which would be against EU rules and probably other previous laws.

what happens three years down the road when some bloke in a pub says “as long as Bin Laden is blowing up those bloody yanks he’s okay in my book” has not yet been addressed.

18

Andrew Brown 09.18.05 at 3:18 am

It is one of the “I came for the jews” moments — but the Blair government has given us so many; and I know that my lack of outrage is based on the belief that such a law would never get through parliament, and never stand up in the courts. This may be witless optimism.

19

Wednesday 09.18.05 at 3:34 am

Maybe the lack of outrage is due to the fact that people are more concerned with their right to live their lives without being victimised by Islamist extremists than they are with the rights of said Islamofascists to spout their poisonous hatred.

Or maybe it’s the fact that people think the high-intensity overblown rhetoric from this law’s opponents sounds so ridiculous. Sent to jail for a pub conversation? Get real!

20

Bob B 09.18.05 at 4:26 am

“Is this one of those ‘when they came for the Jews I said nothing’ moments?”

Not really.

“The three most important groups who have been pressing this country toward war are the British, the Jewish and the Roosevelt administration.”

Charles Lindberg’s speech at Des Moines on 11 September 1941
http://www.charleslindbergh.com/americanfirst/speech.asp

21

Darren 09.18.05 at 6:03 am

I enjoy seeing the spectacle of the erosion of the legitimacy of the state. They should pass a ‘law’ – yeah, right as if a state could actually pass a law; it’s a bit like the golf club rules supported by violence and stupidity – to arrest people for walking on the cracks on pavements. Honestly, Daniel … why get so excised: you don’t really believe that these cyphers, mediocraties and general no-marks have any legitimacy do you? If so, why … ?????

22

Daniel 09.18.05 at 7:13 am

a few comments:

There was in fact outrage over ID cards the last time they were seriously proposed (for football plans in the 1980s) and there has been a considerable campaign already against Charles Clarke’s plan, despite the fact that he is some way away from having a practical proposal (to say the least).

They can already jail you for speech crimes. Try expressing some robust opinions about Islam or dark people, for example.

No, not analogous. “Incitement to hatred” is and always has been a crime, like “harassment”, and it should be. There is a real difference of legal principle here between the mere expression of an opinion and the attempt to cause a specific act of violence. The current Clarke proposal is apparently intended only to stop people from inciting terrorism, but the law does not actually contain any test that the speech concerned is intended to incite, which is what makes it a speech crime law (which I am against) rather than an incitement law (which I am in favour of). I was opposed to the draft religious hatred incitement law precisely because it contained a weakening of this test.

23

Steve 09.18.05 at 7:32 am

Where’s the outrage? It was stifled over the last 20 years by the entire PC speech movement (i.e. a left-wing movement). The harsh fact is that for at least a generation it has been known that rote conformity is required-REQUIRED- in order to be a professor in the West. In the US, mere expressions of opposition to affirmative action would lose you a job in any university you care to teach at-I’m sure its similar in the UK (feminism, anti-Western, liberal, you know the list). In the US (in Kentucky), the ACLU is suing parents, and students, of a public school, obligating them-OBLIGATING THEM- to attend gay rights teaching that they don’t want to attend.
So where’s the outrage? You’ve nicked and nickelled and dimed and trivially picked at the very concept of freedom of speech, and freedom of thought, for twenty years. With the intelligensia willing to, and actively, shrilly dictating to the hoi polloi how to speak and how to think, it should come as no surprise that threats of violence, followed by bus bombings, qualify for limitations just as much as opposition to feminism or disagreement with Edward Said. Let’s face it, nothing is absolute (relativism-another liberal concept, n’est pas?)-not even freedom of speech. I suspect this is an awful, Orwellian, oppressive, odious law. But you reap what you sow.

Steve

24

Clayton 09.18.05 at 8:25 am

With all due respect, I’m calling bullshit on this one:

. In the US, mere expressions of opposition to affirmative action would lose you a job in any university you care to teach at.

I have stacks of anti-affirmative action pieces to sift through if you care to do so. It just so happens that that is what I’m doing this morning as I think about my courses for next semester. All were written by university professors over the past few decades. All have positions I would kill for if only there were someone who could arrange such things.

Myself, I’m curious to know why it is bad that the children of Kentucky might be forced to listen to someone talk about gay rights even if they don’t want to (Oh, the humanity!) and how that is any different from obligating (OBLIGATING!) them to read Shakespeare even if they don’t want to (Oh, the humanities!). Or, you know, you might just explain what this has to do with the issue at hand.

25

Brendan 09.18.05 at 9:03 am

We live in a world where the likes of RJT can demand that his own right to free speech be curtailed. It’s time to realise the darkest truth about totalitarianism: it chimes in with deep fears we all have about taking the responsibility for our own freedom. Some of us give in to these fears and start to demand a ‘leader’ to take away this irksome responsibility.

Of course, as another poster points out, another reason the chattering classes are less than concerned about this is they think (and in the short term they are probably right) that these laws will not be used against them. These laws are aimed (as some posters have perceptively commented) solely at immigrants, arabs, and others in the ‘underclass’.

However, as another poster even more perceptively commented, this is the thin edge of the wedge, and this is indeed a ‘first they came for the Communists’ moment.

Is anyone still up for my idea of having a public praising of terrorism outside parliament when this freedom-destroying law is passed, incidentally?

26

Uncle Kvetch 09.18.05 at 9:22 am

In the US (in Kentucky), the ACLU is suing parents, and students, of a public school, obligating them-OBLIGATING THEM- to attend gay rights teaching that they don’t want to attend.

It’s not “gay rights teaching”; it’s anti-harassment training. And it’s part of a court-ordered settlement that arose from an earlier suit, which was brought by students who were prohibited–or, if you prefer, PROHIBITED–from forming a gay-straight alliance at their school. (It wasn’t the “PC left” doing the prohibiting…does it still count?)

And why did those students feel the need to form a gay-straight alliance?

The school district agreed to implement the training last year after a federal judge found that there is a widespread problem with anti-gay harassment in the school. At least two gay students are known to have dropped out of Boyd County High School because of harassment, the school’s Model United Nations once adopted a resolution declaring an “open hunting season” on gay students, and students in an English class once stated that they needed to “take all the fucking faggots out in the back woods and kill them.”

27

Brendan 09.18.05 at 9:36 am

Incidentally I didn’t realise that when I wrote my post above that Matthew McGratten had replied to me. We are thinking about setting up some form of Pledgebank pledge against this law.

“‘In fact, if someone was to, say, set up a Pledgebank pledge to do exactly that, I’d be happy to sign it…’

What does everyone else think? Is anyone else up for it? I certainly am…..”

Brendan, I’m definitely up for it. If you are interested in taking it further, maybe email me? (matthew DOT mcgrattan AT philosophy.ox.ac.uk)’

I will be back from holiday on the 27th (yes i think about this sort of thing even when lounging on the beach…no rest for the wicked….) and will pursue it then if anyone is interested.

Brendan

28

Matt McGrattan 09.18.05 at 9:46 am

Will expect contact some time after the 27th and we can see if we can take something forward. Pledgebank seems like a logical way to go, something in the manner of the recent anti-ID card pledge…

29

Ben Alpers 09.18.05 at 9:50 am

The harsh fact is that for at least a generation it has been known that rote conformity is required-REQUIRED- in order to be a professor in the West.

The precise phrasing of Steve’s little rant is significant. “It has been known” because the right has been spreading these lies in this country for at least a generation (though to be honest, I had always heard that this was only the case in the U.S….when did it become “the West” in general? or can we simply assume that decadent, godless Europe is leading us into the abyss?).

Of course, as has already been pointed out upthread, it is simply not the case that conservatives are systematically prevented from achieving academic success in this country (or, so far as I know, elsewhere in the West). And much cited conservative causes célèbres, such as Winthrop Professor of History Stephan Thernstrom’s course at Harvard University being publicly criticized by a number of undergraduates in the 1980s, constitute poor evidence indeed for Steve’s case.

30

shpx.ohfu 09.18.05 at 10:02 am

Here’s the free speech Steve [#21] advocates: Those poor PC-oppressed Kentucky students stated in an English class that they needed to “take all the fucking faggots out in the back woods and kill them.”

The ACLU is suing to force the school district to live up to the terms of the settlement it voluntarily entered into a year ago and then recently breached.

As to your passively stated “knowledge that rote conformity is required to be a professor in the West” goes, Steve, the fact that you and people like you are unable to convince others to be ill-informed hysterics is less an indictment of conformity than it is of the speciousness of your views.

Outrage is dead in the US because the so-called conservative government in the US has had less press conferences than any other administration in history; has brought male prostitutes in to the few that they have had; has restricted press access in Iraq and New Orleans; has paid dupes to do press releases in the guise of news, uses their tools in the press to do their dirty work, including the betrayal of non official cover CIA agents, etc etc etc…. not because of “PC” liberals.

31

nick 09.18.05 at 10:58 am

On the lack of outrage: I think there’s the presumption that either those dangerous radicals in the House of Lords or the ‘activist’ Old Etonian judiciary will do the job and keep this ridiculous turd out of the statute book, or strike it out as soon as a conviction is achieved.

I’d say that while those Carlton Club keepers of the revolution may have bailed out BlairCo from some of its more fuckwitted knee-jerks in the past, having to rely upon them now is somewhat dangerous.

Let them try to enforce it. But any Blairite lickspittle that votes for this one deserves to be woken by pizza deliveries at 4am for the rest of their term.

32

Alex Gregory 09.18.05 at 11:07 am

I’m certainly up for some form of protest – there must be some ‘normal’ literature out there which is now techinically glorifying terrorism (e.g. the 1995 film ‘hackers’), which a public reading of might make clear how absurd this really is.

Of course in practise the law will only be targetted against certain minorities (and not, say, philosophical literature on terrorism), and that makes it ten times worse: Responding to a section of society feeling marginalised by silencing their views is a ridiculous policy.

33

Tim Worstall 09.18.05 at 11:08 am

Daniel, come on, you read the Brit blogs. Chris Lightfoot, Nosemonkey, myself, Samizdata, John B, Chicken Yoghurt, Backword Dave…we’ve all got entirely different economic and political views and we’ve all been shouting at Nu Labour over civil liberties for a year at least. ID Cards, Civil Contingencies Act, Belmarsh, suspension of Habeus Corpus and now this. Perhaps there hasn’t been all that much on this specific idiocy but that’s because we’ve come to expect it, just view it as part and parcel of the Project.

34

Steve 09.18.05 at 11:51 am

“The harsh fact is that for at least a generation it has been known that rote conformity is required-REQUIRED- in order to be a professor in the West.”

I will grant that I was slightly lazy with my language. I’ll rewrite. “The harsh fact is that for at least a generation it has been known that rote conformity is required-REQUIRED- in order to be HIRED AS a professor in the West.” Tenure does wonders for intellectual freedom. Happy now?

“The ACLU is suing to force the school district to live up to the terms of the settlement it voluntarily entered into a year ago and then recently breached.”

Not true. The school district fulfilled the terms of the settlement by presenting the class. Unfortunately for our nation’s uberclass, approximately 1/3 of the class called in sick that day, because they, or their parents, didn’t want to receive the reeducation (its so much easier to enforce this education if the camps are located in Siberia, you see). The ACLU is suing the school district to force the parents to force their children to attend attitude training that they don’t want their children to receive. Were it religious training, or Intelligent Design, or pledging allegiance to the flag, or Military Recruiters Day, the tables would be turned.
And that’s the point. Selective outrage doesn’t work. If you believe in freedom of speech, or freedom of conscience, you’ve got to accept it for the causes you don’t happen to agree with, lest people (accurately) assume you are a hypocrite.

Sorry, but you are supporting my argument. The original question posed was “Where’s the outage over limitations on freedom of speech?” My response (summarized), “The Left doesn’t believe in Freedom of Speech, it only believe in Freedom of Speech for leftists.” If the best you can muster is “Yes, but at least we’re not as close-minded as the Religious Right,” well, you’ve kind of made my point, haven’t you? I mean, if the Left imposes gay rights, and the Right imposes Intelligent Design, is there any real confusion over where the “outrage” went?

Steve

35

Chris Bertram 09.18.05 at 11:56 am

“The harsh fact is that for at least a generation it has been known that rote conformity is required-REQUIRED- in order to be HIRED AS a professor in the West.”

But this too is utter bollocks. Just one example off the top of my head – a mate of mine was hired recently for a permanent job by a major British university. His job talk was a defence of ethnic profiling by law enforcement agencies. Hardly PC.

36

Uncle Kvetch 09.18.05 at 12:08 pm

I’ll rewrite. “The harsh fact is that for at least a generation it has been known that rote conformity is required-REQUIRED- in order to be HIRED AS a professor in the West.”

You’re still wrong.

I mean, if the Left imposes gay rights

Steve, if you honestly feel that allowing gay people to live without being harassed, threatened, assaulted or killed constitutes an “imposition” on you or anyone else, I really don’t know what to say. How about, “Boo-hoo”?

I find it unspeakably tragic that there could be anything remotely controversial about the message “Don’t beat up gay people just because you don’t approve of them.” But then again, we’re talking about a school that found the notion of a student gay-straight alliance so threatening that their response was to ban all student clubs. Nice.

37

Steve 09.18.05 at 12:11 pm

“The harsh fact is that for at least a generation it has been known that rote conformity is required-REQUIRED- in order to be HIRED AS a professor in the West.”

But this too is utter bollocks. Just one example off the top of my head – a mate of mine was hired recently for a permanent job by a major British university. His job talk was a defence of ethnic profiling by law enforcement agencies. Hardly PC.

This point is so clear and so obvious as to be nondebatable. Polls have long established that the professoriat (and the main-stream media, by the way) track better than 90% liberal, in a nation where liberals and conservatives are evenly split (can’t speak for Britain). After all the snickers and jokes (“Liberals are just smarter” haw haw), imagine if the professoriat were 90%+ male (in a nation where the sexes are evenly split…)? Imagine if even one school had a faculty that was better than 90% male? How many excuses would you accept (“men are just smarter” haw haw, “women are simply attracted to other professions, like business and think tanks” haw haw). This entire train of argument is and has been decided by anyone with a lick of common sense. Feel free to continue to argue (yes, the Emperor’s new suit IS quite fetching), but that fight is done.

Steve

38

Another Damned Medievalist 09.18.05 at 12:27 pm

Another vote for bollocks on Steve. And people should be outraged. What surprises me (admittedly an outsider, but a fairly well-informed one, I hope) is that people are willing to revert to a mindset that ignores the (eventual) outcry against the measures taken against IRA and suspected-IRA members.

It should be pointed out that the UK has never had more than an implicit right of free speech, though. That makes it something very easy to abrogate. What scares me is the fact that there seems to be little differentiation being made between speech inciting violence or hatred and speech about things we don’t like. And it’s very unclear what the rules are — If one advocates an ultra-Zionist position, is that covered? Or only ultra-Islamist positions? What if someone said that at least Mussolini made the trains run on time? Or that strikes should be put down at gunpoint because trade unionists are all a bunch of commie traitors?

39

Dan Simon 09.18.05 at 12:51 pm

No, not analogous. “Incitement to hatred” is and always has been a crime, like “harassment”, and it should be. There is a real difference of legal principle here between the mere expression of an opinion and the attempt to cause a specific act of violence. The current Clarke proposal is apparently intended only to stop people from inciting terrorism, but the law does not actually contain any test that the speech concerned is intended to incite, which is what makes it a speech crime law (which I am against) rather than an incitement law (which I am in favour of). I was opposed to the draft religious hatred incitement law precisely because it contained a weakening of this test.

Looks like we have another irregular verb….

I’m EXPRESSING MY POLITICAL VIEWS!!You’re glorifying terrorism.He’s inciting hatred.

Or, if you like,

I’m merely criminalizing harassment.You’re weakening the test for incitement law.He’s PROPOSING TO PUT PEOPLE IN JAIL FOR POLITICAL SPEECH CRIMES!!

Daniel, the line between “glorifying terrorism” and “incitement to hatred” or “harassment” is probably definable, but it’s way too fine and blurry for you to be huffily defending one while screaming about the other in upper-case letters. As I’ve said before, I’m not thrilled about the idea of criminalizing “glorifying terrorism” myself. But dealing with the problem of terrorism–and, more particularly, terrorist front groups–will require the drawing of some important fine lines–a task that will be easier if those discussing it are a little more sparing in their use of the “shift” key.

40

Dan Simon 09.18.05 at 12:54 pm

Sorry–the preview understood the HTML much better…

41

Daniel 09.18.05 at 1:07 pm

Daniel, the line between “glorifying terrorism” and “incitement to hatred” or “harassment” is probably definable, but it’s way too fine and blurry for you to be huffily defending one while screaming about the other in upper-case letters

No it isn’t. Incitement is incitement to a specific act and contains a mens rea test. The mens rea test was weakened in the proposed religious incitement legislation (the clause “or likely to …” showed up in the legislation with no explanation of why it was there) and the draft glorifying terrorism legislation doesn’t have it at all. Mens rea isn’t a little detail of the criminal law, and nor is the difference between incitement to a specific act and generalised “glorifying”.

42

Kevin Donoghue 09.18.05 at 1:19 pm

Dan Simon: what you referred to in the linked thread as the “front-based approach” adopted by terrorists has not been a “spectacular success”, nor has the UK been unable to deal with it, as you claim. The IRA/Sinn Fein double-act was and is just such an approach. It has been a dismal failure. It may appear to be succeeding but remember that the IRA’s objective is a united Ireland, not providing a bit of publicity for Gerry Adams.

Back in the days when Britain was “ratchetting up the pressure” as you put it, Adams was in an internment camp. That didn’t hurt IRA recruitment at all. There is no reason to suppose that putting some firebrand cleric in the slammer for proclaiming his admiration for Bin Laden will be any more effective in depriving al-Qaeda of bomb-fodder.

43

Ben Alpers 09.18.05 at 2:11 pm

Steve’s comparison between the number of liberals and conservatives in the academy and the number of liberals and conservatives in the U.S.population at large is simply not evidence for his claim (which is now that you need to be a conformist in order to get an academic position).

First, presumably the relevant comparison would not be to the general population, but to people with PhDs, or perhaps applicants to graduate programs. If one found that these populations politically resembled tenured (and tenure-track) faculty — and I think you would — where exactly would discrimination be taking place? Self-selection seems like a better explanation.

Let me put this another way. Medical doctors are more Republican than the population at large. But it would ridiculous to use this fact as evidence that medical schools are discriminating against liberals.

Secondly, even if one somehow proved that American academic departments were hiring an unusually large number of liberals in relation to a relevant population, how does that = conformity? There are many bitter arguments, both about politics and about professional matters, to be found among American liberal academics (e.g. Nader vs. Gore in 2000).

Professional disciplines do tend to reproduce themselves methodologically (this is a very old story), and that rather limited form of conformity can be seen throughout the academic professions. But that does not universally work in favor of the left. See, for example, the fortunes of radicals in most economics departments in the U.S.

44

bryan 09.18.05 at 2:58 pm

“Another vote for bollocks on Steve”
That’s strange, given that I have a sneaking suspicion that there are no bollocks on Steve whatsoever.

45

Jason G. Williscroft 09.18.05 at 4:11 pm

If anyone is proposing a quick sing-song outside the gates of 10 Downing Street singing “Glory Glory O Bin Laden” I think I am probably up for it.

I’m sure Osama appreciates the irony here. Do you?

46

Jim Miller 09.18.05 at 4:17 pm

I’d find it easier to believe Daniel’s description of the law and to support his cause if I could recall any post where he had defended the free speech rights of conservatives. Which are sometimes threatened, though you might not know that from reading Crooked Timber.

If he has supported free speech for conservatives in the past, I would like to see an example or two.

But, assuming he is correct in his description of this law, then it does seem like a bad thing and something I would oppose were I a British citizen. But I certainly would have to check his description for accuracy first.

(Need an example from the United States outside academia? Look at the sides on campaign finance laws, such as McCain-Feingold. On the whole Republicans and conservatives oppose them. On the whole, Democrats and leftists support them. With, I must add, the honorable exception of the ACLU.)

47

Peter Clay 09.18.05 at 4:59 pm

While it’s pretty bad, it’s just the latest in a long line of bits of illiberalism (ban on foxhunting, Belmarsh, various Terrorism Acts, ID cards, “incitement to religious hatred” etc.) to come from this government. It’s going to be hard to get a general push against illiberalism until something is done to address the fears which bring it out.

I’d just like to say that the main giveaway that the incitement to religious hatred law is bad is that prosecutions can’t be brought under it without leave from the DPP. It’s not a law of the people in any meaningful sense, it’s a pure weapon of the government. In fact, I would be very surprised if there were more than one or two prosecutions under it in the next few years. Passing the Bill was, like the foxhunting ban, more a payoff to supporters than actual policy.

48

Chris Lightfoot 09.18.05 at 5:27 pm

…a mate of mine was hired recently for a permanent job by a major British university. His job talk was a defence of ethnic profiling by law enforcement agencies.

That is worrying, and not because it’s un-“PC”.

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Dan Simon 09.18.05 at 5:50 pm

No it isn’t. Incitement is incitement to a specific act and contains a mens rea test. The mens rea test was weakened in the proposed religious incitement legislation (the clause “or likely to …” showed up in the legislation with no explanation of why it was there) and the draft glorifying terrorism legislation doesn’t have it at all. Mens rea isn’t a little detail of the criminal law, and nor is the difference between incitement to a specific act and generalised “glorifying”.

Okay, let’s play “Spot the Intent”:

“Attack A was a glorious act.”

“Attack A was a glorious act, and we need more glorious attacks.”

“Attack A was a glorious act, and we need more such glorious attacks.”

“Attack A was a glorious act, and we need more such glorious attacks, in places throughout the country.”

“Attack A was a glorious act, and we need another such glorious act next week at location B.”

Now, one may well have a clear opinion as to when this chain of statements shifts from “expressing a political opinion” to “incitement”. But I’d hope that we can all agree that the distinctions are (1) independent of whether the attack is a terrorist attack on the host country or a racist attack on one ethnic group of its citizens, and (2) subtle enough that reasonable people can differ about them without being yelled at by other reasonable people.

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snuh 09.18.05 at 6:37 pm

I’d find it easier to believe Daniel’s description of the law and to support his cause if I could recall any post where he had defended the free speech rights of conservatives.

since [presumably] the law we’re discussing does not contain a clause excluding all tories from being prosecuted under it, you should find it very easy to recall a post where daniel has defended the free speech rights of conservatives.

51

djw 09.18.05 at 6:46 pm

In Steve’s world, once a supermajority reaches a a sufficient size (90%?) it simply goes without saying they will discriminate against the minority. No further evidence is needed. Perhaps this explains why he finds it so offensive that these namby-pamby liberals want to teach the youth of Kentucky that beating up the gays isn’t on. As long as the gay population is a tiny minority, we should just accept that straight people can’t help but discriminate against them.

52

Saheli 09.18.05 at 7:45 pm

The punctuation if not the contact does make one wonder if you are being sarcastic.

53

derrida derider 09.18.05 at 9:51 pm

The RWDBs, for all their crap about poor widdle oppressed conservatives etc, have one valid point: hate-speech legislation opened the door for this sort of shit. The UK’s hate speech laws are, like this proposal, wrong in principle and counterproductive in practice – the common law already had plenty of things to cover incitement that leads directly to specific acts of violence.

Which reinforces my view that far the best thing about the US Constitution is its First Amendment.

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abb1 09.19.05 at 1:15 am

I’d find it easier to believe Daniel’s description of the law and to support his cause if I could recall any post where he had defended the free speech rights of conservatives.

Islamic terrorists are conservatives: they are deeply religious, they are patriots, they’re concenrned about family values and they are for smaller government.

“Attack A was a glorious act, and we need another such glorious act next week at location B.”

How about this one: “this Boddingtons is excellent and we need to blow up X”. Would this be a reason to ban glorification of Boddingtons beer?

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Bob B 09.19.05 at 7:06 am

“Church of England bishops have suggested Christian leaders apologise to Muslim leaders for the war in Iraq. A report from a working group of bishops says the war was one of a ‘long litany of errors’ relating to Iraq.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4259062.stm

Have the Bishops learned nothing from what happened to Thomas A Becket in 1170 and to Archbishop Cranmer in 1556?

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Jim Miller 09.19.05 at 7:40 am

Radical Islamists are not conservatives, even within their own societies.

And they are now often allies of convenience with those on the left, both in the United States and in Europe. George Galloway is the obvious example, and I am sure you can think of many others.

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James Wimberley 09.19.05 at 8:18 am

Commenters seem to have missed that the proposal, as shown by the link on Daniel’s original post, is not to create a new criminal offence of glorifying terrorism. That would be bad enough, but clever barristers and sane juries would probably make it unenforceable. It is an extension of the proposal to give the Home Secretary enormous powers to confine people to house arrest etc. etc. if it looks like a good idea to him, on the mere balance of probabilities. The proposal is doubly toxic.

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dsquared 09.19.05 at 9:05 am

Dan, your supposed slippery slope might have worked a bit better if you hadn’t started it with a paradigm case of something that ought not to be illegal but which in fact now will be.

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Aidan Maconachy 09.19.05 at 9:39 am

I find it ironical in the extreme that liberals in here are on the bandwagon attacking Blair for an attack on free speech.

Liberals have been in the business of creating a CULTURAL MACHINE designed to shut people up – aka political correctness. Universities in the States have resident liberal “gestapos” who enforce speech codes, and if they don’t succeed in getting offical mechanisms to punish the guilty, they ensure that any person they deem incorrect is socially ostracized.

Eric J. Wasserman of FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) puts it this way …

“Speech codes are tools that administrators use to quash speech they do not agree with, and to punish students and faculty members for expressions they do not agree with.”

An example in these rooms, was the casual use of the neologism “Eurabia” – obviously a satirical reference to a contemporary demographic shift, and a term also occasionally used by muslims in a humorous vein. The appearance of the word evoked calls by a liberal poster to have posts disabled!!!!

Give me a break. Liberals have NO RIGHT to assume a righteous stance on this issue of free speech, when they have been engaged in an orchestrated effort to control speech in public forums.

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catfish 09.19.05 at 10:29 am

Aidan,

Liberals have funded the ACLU for over 75 years. If you look at the major court cases that have preserved or extended freedom of speech in the US, chances are that the ACLU has been a part of those cases. What conservative insstitution or organization has a comparable record? (Have NAM, the National Review, the Christian Coalition, the John Birch Society, the Heritage Foundation, or Conservative Religious denominations been consistintly out front in the protection of free speech in the last half century?)

Catfish

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Kevin Donoghue 09.19.05 at 10:30 am

Several commenters have presented an “argument” along these lines: American leftists have stiffled freedom of speech in US universities, so a Welsh financial analyst living in London has no right to complain if Her Majesty’s Government restricts his right to sound off about the benefits of terrorism (should he so desire) over a few pints down at the Pig and Whistle.

Even if we grant the premise, how does the conclusion follow? Are Brits under some obligation to succumb as feebly as those poor, downtrodden Yanks, beaten into submission by PC academics and the liberal MSM?

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Aidan Maconachy 09.19.05 at 11:01 am

Kevin – I grew up in Belfast and I know for a plain fact that the the hateful ranting by leaders on both sides contributed weightily to fomenting the climate of violence.

Hate speech on both left and right in N.Ireland – by both SinnFein and Ulster Unionist factions helped to propel the violence and fuel the antagonisms. Secetarian marching and overt para-military provocations likewise create polarization.

I believe that any bigot of whatever stripe in Ulster who climbs up on a soap box and attempts to whip up ancient hates and antagonisms should be charged with hate speech. The communities in Ulster, both catholic and protestant, that are struggling to breach the divide that cost thousands of lives, don’t need some goon to have the luxury of venting at will.

There is a huge difference though, between clamping down on incendiary street talk that can result in a worsening secetarian climate and deaths of innocents, and the undemocratic attempts of liberal PC apparatchiks to control ideas in university forums.

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Matt McGrattan 09.19.05 at 11:19 am

Aidan, while vaguely reluctant to engage with you at all, do you have ANY evidence at all that this:

“Universities in the States have resident liberal “gestapos” who enforce speech codes, and if they don’t succeed in getting offical mechanisms to punish the guilty, they ensure that any person they deem incorrect is socially ostracized.”

is true?

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dsquared 09.19.05 at 11:24 am

I believe that any bigot of whatever stripe in Ulster who climbs up on a soap box and attempts to whip up ancient hates and antagonisms should be charged with hate speech

this has actually been the law of the land in Northern Ireland for quite some time under the catchily-titled “incitement to religious hatred” laws.

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Aidan Maconachy 09.19.05 at 11:31 am

I’m familiar with the “incitement to religious hatred” law dsquared. Not always enforced as rigorously as it could be though.

Matt I’m reluctant to engage with you period. Starting your comment in this fashion reflects precisely the type of arrogance I’m referring to …

try googling for it.

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Ray 09.19.05 at 11:31 am

How dare you know that, and still refuse to protest the LIBERAL GESTAPO in US colleges? What kind of Welshman are you?

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Matt McGrattan 09.19.05 at 11:37 am

Aidan, I’m reluctant to engage with you since you are a) clearly trolling and b) knocking about phrases like ‘liberal gestapo’ …

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Dan Simon 09.19.05 at 11:55 am

Dan, your supposed slippery slope might have worked a bit better if you hadn’t started it with a paradigm case of something that ought not to be illegal but which in fact now will be.

….And ended it with a paradigm case of something that I assume–based on your own remarks–you’d consider to be obviously incitement, and therefore quite properly illegal. My question to you is, is the line between any of these examples so bright, or is the chain of them so long, as to justify your apparent belief that one end is, and obviously should be, illegal, while criminalizing the other end is an outrage worthy of flying spittle and shift-lock keys?

(Abb1: I think constructing the chain linking, “this Boddingtons is excellent” with, “this Boddingtons is excellent and we need to blow up X”, would require either much bigger–and hence more easily distinguishable–leaps, or many more steps.)

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abb1 09.19.05 at 1:49 pm

Dan, this way you will be able connect almost anything with incitement; most obvious example is computer games, like the notorious Grand Theft Auto, where players shoot and kill cops, hijack cars, etc. Or movies, like Natural Born Killers. You really want to fight this – ban glorification of any violence. And better ban and take out of circulation the words that describe any violent acts too.

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Aidan Maconachy 09.19.05 at 3:03 pm

In an earlier post I rather facetiously referred to the liberal PC “gestapo” (note the quotation marks) of academia.

In reference to hate talk, I was wondering what the esteemed liberal pundits in here make of the following remarks (and this is only a tiny sampling of liberal hate speech that is available for review) … should this stuff be punished too?

“African-American conservatives have a right to exist, but why would I want to walk around with a swastika on my shirt after the way Hitler done messed it up?” Dick Gregory

“Hitler had a lot of Jews high up in the hierarchy of the Third Reich. Color does not necessarily denote quality, content or value,” Harry Belafonte

“The ratings success of Fox News is not unlike Hitler’s popularity before World War II.”
Ted Turner

Helen Thomas references to Bush as “a fascist” and Condoleezza Rice as “a monster” and “a murderer”.

If there is retributive justice he [Sen. Jesse Helms] will get AIDS from a transfusion, or one of his grandchildren will get it.” Nina Totenburg / PBS

“I hope his wife feeds him lots of eggs and butter and he dies early like many black men do, of heart disease.” Julianne Malveaux / USA Today – speaking of Clarence Thomas

“Kenneth Starr is cunning, ruthless, and about as well mannered as Heirich Himmler.” Arkansas Times

“Whenever I hear Trent Lott speak, I immediately think of nooses decorating trees. Big trees, with black bodies swinging from the business ends of nooses.” Karen Grigsby Bates / NY Times

“In 2004 there wasn’t even a week when two videos explicitly comparing George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler didn’t appear on the website of the liberal group MoveOn”. Boston Globe

“A tool of white leaders,” like “a Jewish person working for Hitler.” -Chuck Turner / Boston councilor

“Brown shirts” – Gore in reference to GOP

“We’ve got a new bunch of Hitlers.” Linda Ronstadt

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Ray 09.19.05 at 3:39 pm

Aidan, you idiot, the ‘esteemed liberal pundits’ here have been arguing _against_ punishing speech that is not direct incitement. If you want to ask someone ‘should this be banned too’, you should be asking Charles Clarke.
Somewhere else.

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Aidan Maconachy 09.19.05 at 3:53 pm

Ray – when I said “punish” any 3rd grader would grasp that I was asking to what degree should this type of speech be subjected to censure – not PRISON TERMS!!. There are different types of punishment raymondo – any nincumpoop can understand the fine distinction between generalized hate speech and speech designed to incite, without me including an “out” by way of a disclaimer.

The left is all over speakers like Coulter when she makes comments that are MILD, compared to the above comments I cited. Apparently there are different standards of public censure when it comes to the person who deploys the “nazi” word.

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Kevin Donoghue 09.19.05 at 4:53 pm

A sample of that mild Coulter person, courtesy of arch-liberal Andrew Sullivan:

DERBYSHIRE AWARD NOMINEE: “When contemplating college liberals, you really regret once again that John Walker is not getting the death penalty. We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed too. Otherwise they will turn out to be outright traitors.” – Ann Coulter, at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

How such Coulter be punished? She shouldn’t, unless being ignored is punishment, in which case she should be punished continuously.

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Uncle Kvetch 09.19.05 at 5:05 pm

Let me get this straight, Aidan. You “facetiously” refer to liberal academics as a “Gestapo,” then turn around and ask why people on the Left aren’t outraged by the use of Nazi comparisons directed at the Right.

And you expect to be taken seriously? Matt McGrattan was on the right track.

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Aidan Maconachy 09.19.05 at 5:19 pm

There are degrees uncle kvetch. When I used the term it was tongue-in-cheek because it’s part of my cultural inheritance too – I’m far from being some sabre toothed ultra-right idealogue.

You guys need to chill out. You are way, way too defensive and you are killing debate.

If this site is designated for one point of view, tell me. There are a lot of other sites I post on. I won’t be grieving.

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Donald Johnson 09.19.05 at 6:15 pm

Aiden, the quotes you cite are over the top, but when we’ve got an Administration that tortures people, sometimes it’s hard to stick to the strict terms of Godwin’s law. So I’d tell those people to tone it down a notch, but only a notch.

Speaking for myself, I get bored by the competing claims about whether liberals or conservatives indulge in more hate speech. The fact is the Bush Administration is pretty loathsome and it’s hard to talk about them in terms that aren’t extremely harsh if one has any sense of decency. As for Ann Coulter , I don’ t actually care what she says, because I have the same regard for her opinion that I would have for some Islamic extremist. So long as she’s not actually inciting violence, she can say whatever she wants and an insult from her means no more to me than an insult from Bin Laden. It only matters if some members of her witless fan club might be inspired to hurt somebody–the same problem exists, of course, if some over-the-top rhetoric from a lefty inspires a mentally unbalanced listener to take violent action.

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Aidan Maconachy 09.19.05 at 6:48 pm

Donald – I don’t actually agree with everything you have said, but I sure appreciate your civility and fair minded approach.

Yes, I do agree that the tit for tat regimen can become tiresome.

This site has the potential to be a catalyst for understanding and mutual respect between debaters with diverse opinions. While I disagree with a lot of the opinion I have encountered here, I would say that Crooked Timbers hosts some of the best minds of the net.

It’s always easy to latch onto an inflamatory word or phrase in order to mount an attack on an opponent. I’m guilty of this also. The partisan sparring is hard to resist. Having said that I have a great deal of respect for all who come on here and have the guts to give their opinion in real time, political stripes notwithstanding.

I’m trying to find a football game from the U.K. right now lol – so I’m outta here :)

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soubzriquet 09.19.05 at 10:03 pm

Aidan,

You keep stating as fact pretty strong statements about the state of US academia. As far as I can tell, while there are clearly individual cases (in both directions, consider some business schools…) that can be shown to have acted questionable, on the whole it seems a bit of a wash. Certainly the time I’ve spent in academic circles didn’t support your point of view but a) that is anectdotal and b) I may just be in the `wrong’ discipline.

I’d really like to see an actual demonstration of such bias. `google for it’ gives me a lot of pages, but most of it is empty blather. I’ve seen some reasonable statistics on the distribution of particular political views amongst faculty, but I’m sure you realise this is irrelevant to your claims. Other than that, all I could see was baseless assertions. Care to provide a few decent references to real research? I couldn’t wade far enough through the propaganda to find any…

Seems to me that for some people I seem to run into, this supposed PC lockup of campuses, much like the `liberal media bias’ is an article of faith, to be trotted out often and loudly, but never questioned.

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Aidan Maconachy 09.20.05 at 12:16 am

Hi soubzriquet -

The liberal bias in academia is understandable when you consider the demographic breakdown … the last stats I came up that cover the main universities in the States showed 1,397 registered Democrats and 134 registered Republicans. A fairly dramatic imbalance simply on the basis of political affiliation.

Of course, I’m not suggesting that rank and file faculty are part of some wide ranging PC cabal – this would be absurd. The average prof doesn’t have either the time or energy to be an activist on the side. However, there is an energized and influential culture within academia that has has been pushing an agenda that many characterize as “radical” or “leftist” – and even “anti-American”.

At present I don’t have time to search out sources on the net, but you can refer to the writings of authors such as David Horowitz, Mona Charen, Thomas E. Woods, Daniel J. Flynn … these are a few that come to mind … oh, and of course the notorious Coulter has much to say on the topic. Some of these writers are more balanced than others in my opinion. Flynn goes over the top sometimes.

The exploits of and the objections to … the leftist “police” (I’m avoiding the “G’ word) are legendary. A scan of Google will yeild TONS of anecdotal stories, complaints, accusations etc etc, going all the way from affirmative action wrangles to battles over speakers and billboard displays.

On the academic side of things, there is an unfortunate tendency, certainly in the Arts (my area) to excise sub-text from overall context and then magnify with a powerful lense – be it “evil” western imperialism, oppression of women, racism or whatever sub-textual caveat is deemed to be a “minority concern”. So there are major knowledge related concerns also. I do agree with you though that such conflicts will be more typical of one discipline than another.

David Horowitz was actually a prominent Marxist in the 60’s, and he has done a complete about turn. You might be interested in taking a look at his “Academic Bill of Rights,” a manifesto intended to protect students’ academic freedom by removing partisan politics from the classroom.

Doris Lessing, who was certainly no screaming Tory, had this observation to make about PC culture …

“Political correctness is the natural continuum from the party line. What we are seeing once again is a self-appointed group of vigilantes imposing their views on others. It is a heritage of communism, but they don’t seem to see this.”

I’d love to get into this on the thread but I’m short of time at this end.

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abb1 09.20.05 at 2:20 am

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_speech
Hate speech is a controversial term for speech intended to degrade, intimidate, or incite violence or prejudicial action against someone based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or disability.

Aidan, do any of your quotes qualify?

No, I don’t think so, unless you want to argue that ‘GOP’ is disability or sexual orientation. If you do, we may just agree on something.

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Aidan Maconachy 09.20.05 at 4:32 am

Yes abb1 you’re correct – by this definition it doesn’t apply – nor would I want it to apply.

I am extremely leery of any type of official control of speech, unless it is clearly and demonstrably warranted … as I argued earlier in the N. Ireland case.

However even your wikipedia example speaks to ambiguity in terms of the actual definition –

“Many courts cannot even decide the definition of hate speech…”

My examples … let’s call them “hateful commentary” … do indeed fall into a different category from the one you outlined and the only “punishment” I would deem appropriate would be censure as opposed to legal prosecution.

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Brendan 09.20.05 at 5:05 am

I might add since one of my own posts was alluded to above that I regard talking about ‘Eurabia’ as about as ‘satirical’ as someone in the ’30s talking about ‘Jewrope’ in response to ‘demographic shifts’. However, I am a complete libertarian in all aspects of free speech, and I wasn’t suggesting that comments should be stopped on the basis of censorship: only that when people start using phrases like Eurabia the intellectual level of any ‘debate’ that follows will be of such a low level that, frankly, what’s the point?

When I co-ran ‘Stand Down’ the No War Blog we never terminated any comments thread, and never banned any posters. The only posts that got deleted were obviously anti-semitic (‘You Jews are all going to get your come-uppance’ etc.), or spam advertising pornography etc.

Incidentally, I’m not a liberal in the ‘modern’ sense, but if you mean it in its old fashioned sense of ‘liberty loving’ then I’m proud to be a liberal, and I wonder why anyone else would not be.

Finally, as Juan Cole pointed out many months ago, the debate about ‘diversity’ in academia is highly one sided. For example. He quoted statistics (not to hand now) that in the 1950s the political allegiance of the US armed forces was split roughly 50/50 between democrats and republicans, which is what you would expect and hope for.

Recently, however, this has shifted in favour of the Republicans (especially in the higher up echelons). Where are the Republicans protesting about this and demanding diversity in the army?

One last point: is anyone actually deluding themselves that the Republicans would be protesting about the lack of ‘diversity’ in academia if this ‘bias’ was in favour of the THEM?

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abb1 09.20.05 at 5:59 am

“Brown shirts” – Gore in reference to GOP

…Gore said media who challenge Bush and Cheney’s claims of a link [between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda] are intimidated by the administration.

“The administration works closely with a network of rapid-response digital Brown Shirts who work to pressure reporters and their editors for undermining support for our troops,” Gore said.

http://edition.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/06/24/gore.bush/

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RS 09.20.05 at 6:15 am

“I’d find it easier to believe Daniel’s description of the law and to support his cause if I could recall any post where he had defended the free speech rights of conservatives. Which are sometimes threatened, though you might not know that from reading Crooked Timber.

If he has supported free speech for conservatives in the past, I would like to see an example or two.”

“Give me a break. Liberals have NO RIGHT to assume a righteous stance on this issue of free speech, when they have been engaged in an orchestrated effort to control speech in public forums.”

Are these people really unaware of the distinction between creating laws against things people say, and saying that you disapprove of these things and seeking to prevent them being repeated through the limited means at your disposal as a private citizen (e.g. by saying ban this person from a message board)?

And why does Daniel need to have defended the free speech rights of conservatives? He hasn’t argued that they should be legally curtailed as far as I can tell, so what makes you think he needs to explicitly defend them over other groups? Surely his defence of their right to free speech is implicit in his whole position.

It seems that the Right has now decided to dissolve the distinction between the right to free speech (e.g. going down to speakers corner to rant) and the right to have access to any media or other outlet for your views (e.g. spouting shite on someone else’s website) – the latter being, as far as I can make out, a call for the right not only to free speech, but to make everyone else listen to what you have to say too.

Barmy.

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RS 09.20.05 at 6:35 am

In other words, it is perfectly consistent to oppose criminalising Holocaust denial while also opposing the appointment of David Irving as Professor of Modern History at Oxford.

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Aidan Maconachy 09.20.05 at 6:41 am

I personally think you’re overworking the “Eurabia” objections. I’ve heard much worse. But I agree that in a public forum it can indeed be inflammatory and isn’t particularly conducive to “higher” discourse.

Interesting on the army stats. And no Republicans would almost certainly NOT be objecting if the bias in academia was in favor of them. Crooked timber are we all!

Have a good one y’all!

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soubzriquet 09.20.05 at 10:50 am

Aidan:

Those statistics don’t mean anything in terms of proving an intentional and/or policy bias. It is a logical fallacy to compare them to population-at-large statistics…

I know there is a *lot* of material out there, what I was commenting was the apparent lack of material of any real quality. Anectdotal evidence is shaky at best (as I commented w.r.t my own). Wading through a pile of rants that similary unsupported isn’t going to get me anywhere useful.

By the way, quoting people of the calibre of Coulter (only Flynn goes over the top sometimes?) really weakens your argument. Horowitz I have read a bit of, not a fan of the `Academic Bill of Rights’ (which I believe has been discussed here, also).

Look, I know (as previously stated) that you can find extreme examples of people and departments. And I noted that (without comment on the ratio, as I am not knowledgeable about this) this at least exists in both directions. This in no way proves a general intentional bias, or any sort of “PC police” controlling academia. Yet you, like many, trot that out as *fact*. I’m objecting to that sloppy practice, not the existence of extremes.

Unfortunately, I lack time to follow this either, at the moment.

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jen 09.20.05 at 1:55 pm

I’ve been following this thread and biting my tongue. When I hear terms like “pc police” I know exactly what it means, as did everyone else who attended the school I went to. It’s obviously in the main a satirical reference. Looking for evidence of its existence is a little silly. A bit like getting hysterical about “eurabia” !! Look up the meaning of “irony” and …

take a pill!!!

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jen 09.20.05 at 1:57 pm

Bearing in mind that being ironical about something in no way precludes that it’s true.

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abb1 09.20.05 at 2:15 pm

Well, PC is Political Correctness, etiquette. It has nothing to do with crminalization of speech. Picking your nose, spitting on the floor or, say, calling blacks lazy is not going to get you arrested, but yeah – you may not get that faculty position you craved for.

Tough shit, ain’t life a bitch.

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Aidan Maconachy 09.20.05 at 2:44 pm

This is my last comment on this thread cos it’s getting a bit long in the tooth and I’ve started chasing recent posts elsewhere.

Soubzriquet … a few points on your response …

1. I at no point provided the statistics relating to card carrying Democrats/Republicans in higher education in an effort to “prove” anything. I merely stated them as interesting facts. The “logical fallacy” you accuse me of is a non-starter because it stems from your assumptions and not my argument re those particular stats. If I had wanted to extrapolate “evidence” from the the stats I would have done so. I didn’t because you can’t stereotype either Democrats or Republicans. Some Democrats can be very right leaning and conservative just as some “progressive” Republican types can be fairly liberal in their postions. It’s impossible to make such labels stick.

2. In the case of students/staff who have been victims of pc policies, it’s hardly like a crime scene where forensics can be gathered and proof presented in the clinical way you appear to demand. We are dealing often with closed door affairs, not unlike unjust proceedings within a club that all hear and know about without necessarily being able to see it all on BBC in a blow by blow expose. Some of these cases will be more thoroughly documented and investigated than others, as is always the case with institutions that maintain is some cases an in-house police force and an administration intent on avoiding scrutiny by the society at large.

3. It may be your opinion that Ann Coulter is someone of questionable “calibre”, this certainly is not my position at all, nor do I think it takes away from the validity of my argument in any way. Coulter may be many things, but I have yet to see her condemned as a congenital liar. She may have her own spin, but she gets her facts straight to support it.

4. I never said that “PC police were CONTROLLING academia” – that’s a misreading of what I was suggesting. It’s a phenomena that relates more to certain universities than others, some departments more than others. In some universities it influences student politics more than others … and so on. To imply that I was inferring some type of “order” with any type of objective existence, akin say to a paramilitary oufit, is verging on the fantastical. To get a realistic assessment of what is really going on along these lines, universities would have to be looked at individually.

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soubzriquet 09.20.05 at 5:32 pm

Aidan:

just a quick comment before I too bow out for similar reasons.

I probably was not clear enough, and although some of my comments were directed at exactly what you said, some of it was more generally aimed at those who make similar claims (re dem/rep statistics).

To restate concisely: You, and many others, state *as fact*, things such as:

“Liberals have been in the business of creating a CULTURAL MACHINE designed to shut people up – aka political correctness. Universities in the States have resident liberal “gestapos” …”

You do this again and again. However, I have never seen real support of this idea. You do touch on a few of the reasons that such support might be difficult to obtain. That doesn’t matter.

In the absense of real evidence, your statements and many like it are simply intellectually dishonest. You came here making strong and contentious claims, but seem to be unwilling to back them up, falling back to posturing `oh, everybody knows that, just look it up.’. No, everybody doesn’t know that, and it appears possible that in fact *nobody* knows that. Repeating such claims often and loudly doesn’t make them true, you know? It is ironic that you complain of `killing debate’, when you seem to be most interested in mere regurgitation of received knowledge.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m genuinely nonplussed by these claims simply because they don’t match my experience. I would be really interested in the results of a serious investigation… but what I’ve seen so far hasn’t been serious, and as far as I can tell is most often being used as a rhetorical device to promote the agenda of those using it.

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Aidan Maconachy 09.20.05 at 6:14 pm

Wait a sec – what I have noticed is that you misrepresented what I said earlier and made no effort to explain why you chose to distort it that way, for example re – stats. Apparently spin goes both ways.

If you REALLY BELIEVE that everything that has been argued, debated and exposed over the years in media as unbiased toward the left as PBS,TV Ontario in Canada and the venerable BBC relating to the leftist agenda in US universities is some kind of chimera, some sort of hallucination dreamed up by people eager to create some politically convenient fantasy – then nothing I can say, do or concoct will convince you otherwise. Please enjoy your convictions to the contrary.

No judge will EVER sit in judgement on the sum total of this issue and no ultimate verdict will EVER be passed. As I said earlier it’s not a case involving forensics.

You don’t agree with me – fine. Am I trying to convince YOU personally? No. Do I care if you think statements made earlier need to have all their i’s dotted and t’s crossed … maybe … but I don’t feel a pressing need here and now to launch into a research project to satisfy your personal requirements.

Live with it.

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soubzriquet 09.20.05 at 8:46 pm

Aidan:

I didn’t distort your statement. Please read a bit more carefully. I said only that the there is no logical connection between the demographics of faculty members and the demographics of the population as a whole, as I didn’t want us to get side-tracked.

You will note that nowhere did I state that I am convinced one way or another, just that I object to your stating *as fact* something that you have not demonstrated to be factual, nor can I see that anyone has demonstrated this. Why do you find this do difficult to understand? You made strong statements to the effect that it is an established fact that `the universities’ (which is quite different than `a university’ or `a discipline’ or `a department’) are pushing a `leftist’ agenda, or however you would rather word it. I simply do not believe, and I have seen a lot of rants about this but little reason, that this has been demonstrated. I invited you to either demonstrate it, or stop pretending it is established fact. Certainly `google it’ or `there was a tv bit about it’ doesn’t constitue solid evidence, but that is hardly demanding that `a judge sit in judgement on the sum total of this issue’. I just want something with actual substance to it. Is that so much to ask?

Oh, please explain how you believe I have misrepresented you. I certainly didn’t mean to.

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Tom Doyle 09.20.05 at 8:55 pm

“If anyone is proposing a quick sing-song outside the gates of 10 Downing Street singing ‘Glory Glory O Bin Laden’ I think I am probably up for it. “

How about “Osama Abu?”

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Aidan Maconachy 09.20.05 at 9:31 pm

Maybe in another life :)
Movin’ on … there is only so much time allocated to the individual life and I don’t want to die in here.

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