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Tag Archives: Politics

UKUncut Yob Jailed For ‘Happy Slapping’ Attack on Pensioner

Tough crowd expected at Marbles' next gig

Tough crowd expected at Marbles' next gig

A short Twitter exchange ensued between yours truly and Liberal Conspiracy’s Sunny Hundal today following the news that Jonathan May-Bowles – aka failed comedian Jonnie Marbles – has been sentenced to six weeks for his ‘foam pie’ attack on Rupert Murdoch. To put the identity of the victim to one side, as one should in the cause of blind justice, it was to all intents little removed from a happy slapping attack – one carried out primarily for the benefit of the camera.

Let’s be frank: in being handed down the sentence of such apparent (in the view of the squealing Left) severity May-Bowles was being made an example of. What does that mean? It means the punishment is intended to draw attention to the offence and type of offender – in other words to attract publicity.

And what, exactly, was the purpose of May-Bowles’ act? To attract attention and publicity to him and his “cause”. That is why, in my view, the sentence was entirely right and proportionate.

Sunny Hundal had suggested that the sentence was too harsh because (in part) it was an explicit political act. Yet the fact that May-Bowles was politically motivated is irrelevant. Allowing political motivation to be a ‘get out of jail card’ for violent attacks is a very slippery slope; Sunny didn’t respond to my questioning of his logic. (Or quite possibly he had better things to do than get into an argument with an unknown right-wing tweeting troll. Ho hum.)

Then again, come to think of it, in some ways it is very pertinent to exactly why the sentence was right. To recognise a political (or indeed religious) belief as a motive would suggest that they will be quite prepared to do it again.

An act of desperation can be a fleeting episode. The repetition of drug-fuelled, or drug-feeding crime could be prevented by proper re-hab (though given the inability of our prison system to keep the drugs out, this is a very theoretical proposition for now). Political or religious beliefs, however, can often hold the relevant laws as subsidiary or even irrelevant in achieving the ends which are sought by committing the crime; just as dear old Jonnie and his (ex-)friends in UKUncut try to blur the boundaries between what is and isn’t legal according to their own particular and peculiar moral code.

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@RichardJMurphy Bemused By Display Of Principles

I won’t say that Richard Murphy, the black sheep of the accountancy profession, has lost it: for as any regular reader of his (or indeed any follower of Tim Worstall will realise) that train left the station some years ago, the track has since been ripped up on Dr Beeching’s orders, the platform has now gone to grass and even the railway preservation societies aren’t interested.

However, this morning we have yet another reminder of just why only the likes of the BBC among the mainstream media still seek his opinion on anything.

Are the Tea Party the political equivalent of suicide bombers?

Yes, that really was the headline. No attention grabbing there then.

Let me stress, straight away, I’m not suggesting the Tea Party are physical terrorists.

Fear not, I wasn’t about to fall into that elephant trap.

Suicide bombing changed the whole environment of terrorism. Suddenly we faced people for whom what had been presumed to be the ultimate deterrent – risk of their own death – held no threat….

The Tea Party may be politically similar.

Wipe the coffee off your screen, you’ll have to get used to this sort of thing.
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Why Should Religion Trump Politics? Thought For A Sunday

Suppose someone worked for an organisation that asked you to hang up an EU flag. As a sound Euro-sceptic you refuse on principle. (For our purposes, we will assume the organisation hasn’t taken the EU shilling and thus agreed to display said dirty rag – if so, more fool them.)

Now suppose a colleague is asked to help put up the Christmas decorations; the tree, some tinsel and – uh oh – some cards that have been received with the baby Jesus on. He refuses, because he is (say) a devout Muslim.

Now, finally let’s suppose that both cases had been the last straw and your employer dismissed both of you. Which case, under equalities legislation, would (a) even be considered by the courts and (b) benefit from the support of the EHRC (headed by Trevor “our business is defending the believer” Phillips)? Yup, not the Euro-sceptic, even though his views could be as strongly held as the Muslim’s.

Adam Smith; engraving

Adam Smith, or any excuse for a picture of the great man.

The fundamental question is this: why should religious beliefs get any more protection than political ones? Discrimination on grounds of race or gender – qualities that the subject has no control over – is another kettle of fish entirely. Yet what of religion and politics, those twin taboo subjects of polite conversation? In truth (though the more devout would dispute this) they all are about choices of belief. There is also choice about how such beliefs are practised and demonstrated. Both are philosophies of sorts, but the one difference is that religion, by the very definition of “faith”, is not necessary based on any process of logical reasoning or sound evidence. Political beliefs, however, flawed though one side may think the other’s are, are often drawn from experience, reality-based thought processes and/or theories as to what is practically feasible in making the world a better place. Communists may revere Marx, and free-marketeers will hold Adam Smith in similar esteem, but few on either side would ‘worship’ their respective historical leading thinkers.

Yet base your views of the world on a belief in a supernatural power and suddenly your lifestyle choices become near-unassailable and benefit from protection under the law of far greater weight than, and trumping that of, freedom of speech and association. What’s with that?

Perhaps the separation is a more modern phenomenon. For centuries, religion and politics have been so intertwined that the distinction has been moot. Even within our own shores political divisions can closely follow sectarian lines, even though the religious element has become largely irrelevant in the ‘Irish Question’ other than as a synonym for the Nationalist/Loyalist divide (indeed, it could be argued that it always was a primarily political issue, right back to the plantation of Ireland under Elizabeth I and the struggles against Papal power).

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Is the difference in treatment a function of how far followers are ‘willing to go’? Many wars and genocides have been – and still are – carried out on religious grounds but, equally, political genocide is hardly unknown: we’ve seen 45 million killed under Chinese communism, 20 million under Stalin, around 1.5 million under Pol Pot and of course the 6 million under National Socialism (though the motivation behind the latter could be seen as a grey area between religious and political). On the flip-side, most political beliefs would not lead followers to murder any more than ‘true’ or ‘ordinary’ Christians, Buddhists or any other religion might.

Maybe it’s all just a little more mundane. Political views are by their nature open to argument; criticism, testing, cross-examination, subject to variation in the light of experience, and so on. With religion, criticism can simply be dismissed as blasphemy, and followers can be motivated without any remotely ‘legal standard’ of proof. If religion cannot be subject to a legal process of examination, perhaps the law shies away from testing it at all.

I rather think that the solution is to offer no legal protection to either, beyond that of free speech, association and the norms of a civilised free society.

* You know this, of course, so although you don’t like the idea, you otherwise like working there, so you do as asked, holding the flag like a dirty nappy and washing your hands thoroughly afterwards.

(H/T The Heresiarch, who came at this from the thought-provoking ‘believer/non-believer’ angle.)

What If My Politics is My Religion?

Suppose I was back working on the tills at Safeway* (remember them?) and I walked into work wearing a t-shirt with a picture of Milton Friedman, or Hayek on the front.

My supervisor would have told me to take it off and don the then regulation white shirt and bow tie. I then decided to take the company to court for restricting my political freedom and right of free speech. Fair? No. Even now, in the age of the Human Rights Act, I wouldn’t expect to get away with that one. I would accept that my employer has rules and if I don’t like them I should find another job.

Now suppose that, instead of my Hayek t-shirt, I was wearing a symbol of religion. Then I would have, at least by today’s standards, a case for (religious) discrimination. So while an employer, owner of a property or indeed, say, a headteacher who is responsible for the day to day running of a school, can (I would say reasonably) exert some restriction on my freedom of speech, if I claim that my strongly held beliefs are part of a religious belief system, rather than a political one, I can sue under equality law.

Now I happen to think that there are aspects of the law on discrimination and equalities that do need to have some common sense applied. Some protection of religious freedom is justified, but in the same way as free speech generally should be. Equally, though, there are some justifiable restrictions on free speech (such as incitement to murder, to take an easy extreme example) which should apply to religions. More particular points can be argued around the balance between tackling unfair discrimination and respecting the rights of property ownership. Perhaps more esoterically, there is recognising the fact that minors might not yet have the free will to make up their own minds about their beliefs. I also think there is a necessity that head teachers, for instance, should be able to demonstrate fairness by treating all pupils equally, and not to see rules aimed at maintaining discipline in the school undermined (too many left-liberal educationalists have done plenty of that already).

These points alone could generate a good series of posts, but the basic question remains: why should religion be treated differently to any other type of philosophy? Whatever exceptions – restrictions or allowances – one might concede, they should be applied equally to religion and politics. Regardless of whether you or I agree with the treatment, why should a CND badge or my (now sadly lost) pound badge be treated differently from a Sikh bangle?

* My first (part-time) job while at school, when I had a Triumph Herald to run, at Biggin Hill. It escaped the clutches of Morrisons and is now a Waitrose, and joins a Marks and Spencer as evidence that Biggin Hill is “on the up”.