“The cupcake has always been a gentrifying force … you could get a huge mass of people to participate in a reactionary endeavour if you dressed it up in nice, twee, cupcakey imagery, and persuaded everyone that the brutality of your ideology was in fact a form of niceness.” — Tom Whyman for Critical Legal Thinking, Guardian “Comment Is Free”, my Tweet h/t @Ben_McGinnis.
I’ve been blogging about a different political poster each day this week at Cato:
* Monday, “Socialism Would Mean Inspectors All Round,” 1929 British Conservative Party poster;
* Tuesday, “Come on, Dad! We’re going to vote Liberal,” 1929 British Liberal Party poster;
* Wednesday, “I Need Smokes,” World War One American poster;
* Thursday, Art Deco Prohibitionist traffic safety poster.
Update: and here’s Friday’s final installment, a contemporary freedom-of-the-press poster from Jordan.
“A police officer branded a ‘laughing stock’ for using a truncheon to smash a pensioner’s car window was awarded more than £400,000 compensation from his former force on Wednesday.” Mike Baillon, 42, says colleagues at Gwent Police teased and hazed him after a YouTube video went viral showing him battering a 74-year-old driver’s Range Rover, amounting to “constructive dismissal.” [Telegraph]
“A British woman attempted to sue her former lawyers for professional negligence, claiming that, alongside a number of other allegations, they failed to advise that finalizing divorce proceedings would inevitably cause her marriage to end.” [Independent, U.K.]
London real estate values have soared, and a furor has broken out on the Left over one large landlord’s announcement that it no longer welcomes government-assisted tenants (related story on U.S. Section 8). According to at least one professor of law, international human rights treaties require the United Kingdom to take affordable housing steps [Aoife Nolan, HuffPo U.K.] Good to be aware of these things before we start ratifying any more of them…
The country’s notoriously plaintiff-friendly law of defamation will be a tad less so under legislated reforms now taking effect. Under the Defamation Act 2013, complainants will need to show “serious harm,” peer-reviewed scientific publications and material published in the public interest will gain a new defense, a single-publication rule will be introduced, and new rules intended to combat libel tourism will exclude cases with little connection to England or Wales. [BBC]
Authorities in Rugeley, Staffordshire, England, detained sandwich shop owner Neil Phillips for eight hours, searched his computer, fingerprinted him and swabbed him for DNA after a local elected official complained that Phillips had engaged in online jokes and comments on Facebook, including jokes about Nelson Mandela. [Birmingham Mail, The Star] Afterward, Phillips complained that the constabulary had “over-reacted massively”: “There was no hatred. What happened to freedom of speech?” Charles Cooke explains at NRO:
Well, the Public Order Act of 1986 happened to freedom of speech – in particular, Section 5, which makes it a crime in England for anyone ”with intent to cause a person harassment, alarm or distress” to
(a) [use] threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or (b) [display] any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, thereby causing that or another person harassment, alarm or distress.
In other words, Section 5 allows anybody to have anybody else investigated for speaking. And they have. The arrests have run the gamut: from Muslims criticizing atheists to atheists criticizing Muslims….
Is it still legal for Britons to laugh at this Mark Steyn column?
Organizers at a church in Neath, Wales don’t mind rules requiring the donkey-riding Mary in a childrens’ Nativity play to be wearing a crash helmet, or as the case may be “riding hat.” They say the eight-year-old’s costuming can readily be arranged to conceal the anachronistic headgear during the Christmas procession. No word on whether, as at petting zoos, participants coming in contact with the animal will need to apply hand sanitizer before proceeding. Critics term the rule “‘elf – ‘n’ – safety.” [BBC, Telegraph]
An “international legal fantasy,” as one observer puts it. [New York Times; earlier on Haiti and France; more on reparations]
Unthinkable here, one presumes. But the United Kingdom has no First Amendment, and a noisy lobby has been demanding press regulation to curb the periodic misconduct of the tabloids, made worse by what is perceived as the irresponsible and, well, unreliable (cf.: Rupert Murdoch) political stands and cultural practices of those papers. [Daily Telegraph and editorial ("unacceptable"), Andrew Gilligan ("Hacked Off is a campaign not just to tame the press, but to claim the country for the authoritarian Left.") and followup]
More: “NO” [The Spectator]
“Prosecutors claim Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio was guilty of insider trading, and that his prosecution had nothing to do with his refusal to allow spying on his customers without the permission of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. But to this day, Nacchio insists that his prosecution was retaliation for refusing to break the law on the NSA’s behalf.” [Andrea Peterson, WaPo; earlier here, here]
Also on surveillance: “One NSA analyst was recreationally surveilling women for 5 years, until a girlfriend realized he was wiretapping her.” [Kevin Poulsen, Wired] “To boldly snoop where no snoop has snooped before” [Lowering the Bar on NSA grandiosity] No, it’s not creepy at all for the British government to put up big peeping-eyes posters to remind taxpayers they’re being watched [Telegraph last November]
Regarding the right to publish illicitly obtained secrets, the venerable Guardian would come off as a nobler martyr had it not been in the front lines cheering a police-led legal war on British tabloids [Brendan O'Neill, Spiked Online; The Spectator]
U.K.: “Dame Stella Rimington, the former head of MI5, has warned that the fear of terrorism is being exploited by the Government to erode civil liberties and risks creating a police state.” [Telegraph]