So we all know about last week’s thrashing around of Liverpool vs. Old Holborn. I won’t repeat the whole history, there’s a decent summary here by the Fat Councillor.
For me, the argument goes like this.
Say what you want, to anyone, at any time. Want to walk up to the mad bloke in the pub and declare that his wife sucked worse last night than his dog? Fine. You have the absolute right to do this.
You also have the absolute responsibility to account for your own actions. If you go out of your way to behave like an absolute cunt, then sooner or later someone will, as Father Woland put it, take you out with a snooker ball in a sock. Or alternatively, if you go around wanking out bees, then you best be ready for cock stings.
Anyway, though, this particular initial point is rather obvious. If we can’t agree that there is a simple balance of absolute right and absolute responsibility, then you may as well stop reading now; the point is basic enough that it simply takes us round in circles. (“I don’t like what he said”/ “Well he’s taking responsibility for it”/ “Yes but I still don’t like it”/ “etc.”)
The real point is this. Who, ultimately, enforces the responsibility.
Old Holborn evidently goes out of his way to be a complete cunt in a variety of fashions. This, itself, is not against the law. Critically though, he does not force anyone to listen. Blogs may be left unread, Twitter has unfollow, and it also has blocks. If you choose not to listen, you would not know of his existence. Be offended if you wish, knock yourself out, but don’t expect anyone to care that you are – I’ll come to the legal boundaries in a bit. (In general though, if you would have someone, presumably the State on your behalf, prevent outright some speech simply because you personally happen to find it completely beyond the pale, then you need to take a long hard look at yourself.)
His attackers, though, apparently behaved differently. Having taken offence (as is their right), it seems they additionally chose to :
- take responsibility to act themselves;
- act with actual physical threats and violence (see Fat Councillor’s blog in the rubric above);
- take those threats to a variety of random bystanders (family, workplace, and so on);
Or put another way, those who took offence would choose, by apparent threat of violence, to force others to hold to their individual view. This is the key difference between what Old Holborn did and what appears to have been done at him.
The evidence for all this is well in the public domain; I won’t repeat here, to avoid queering the pitch for ongoing legal actions. (I qualify with “apparently” simply because it’s all sub-judice &c.). I will, though, highlight the rank idiocy of some of those involved via a minor threat I myself received, as a bystander – where the threat helpfully CC’d Essex Police into the same tweet. *insert slow hand-clap here*
(As an aside, there’s the case of Sir Olly C. Here, the end-game was (simply speaking) that the law, not the populace or Olly, decided that “cunt” was not grossly offensive. Whether or not there should be any laws at all determining anything “grossly offensive”, is a separate question. And BTW, the question of offence itself is not the same as that of, say, racial abuse or incitement to hatred.)
So the real problem here, is not any offence itself. Instead, the problem is a presumption of an absolute right not to be offended, and also that of impugnity of vigilante action in response to any perceived offence. The real position is, simply, the absolute right to speak vs the absolute responsibility to account for it under the law.
Free speech is, and must be, an absolute. Chew out the scouse? Fine, expect them to throw darts at you. Send a death threat dart? Fine also, but expect to get nicked for it. And the latter is simply and quantifiably a more serious matter in the eyes of the law.
Here are some searchable PDF versions of the unsearchable scanned-image PDFs which were provided by the BBC alongside the Pollard Report released today.
(Original PDF –> Acrobat OCR, downsample ref image to 300dpi –> searchable PDF.)
appendix_11_vol_1_OCR (UPDATE : note that the link on the BBC site to the nominal second volume of Appendix 11, just points also to the first volume)
UPDATE : all the PDFs merged, here :
I had an interesting exchange on Twitter today, with a UKIPer, about work, entitlement and immigration. It went like this (I paraphrase) :
Me : “Open all the borders, kill all the benefits. Sorted.”
Him : “You can’t do that. I haven’t had a pay rise since whenever, and can’t find work.”
Me : “Why are you entitled to be paid the rate you desire?”
Him : “It’s not desire! Wages are depressed by economic migrancy!”
Me : “That’s merely the free market.”
Him : “You can’t flood the country with cheap foreign labour. That’s insane.”
Me : “Who would you have pay the difference between what you can earn, and what you think you should earn?”
Him : “Ha! you’re just trolling. You can’t possibly have just anyone over here taking our jobs, and no benefits. Ha ha.”
Me : [endex]
Anyway, this started me thinking about what UKIP may actually expect or want from an exit from the EU.
Personally, I’d rather melt my own teeth than stay in the hated EU a second longer than forced. The EU will destroy whole peoples for its own vanity; it will steal your money whilst refusing to be bound by any legal or moral accounting; it will prosecute and imprison you for mocking it. The list is endless.
So I object profoundly to the EU on grounds of its Statist and Stasi principles, its dehumanising, its enforcing of the State will upon the individual. Conversely, I expect myself to be able to act as an individual; I ask nothing of the State, I take what I can from it merely as slight recompense for the tax I am forced to pay. And this means living by my own wits, with no safety net – if someone does what I do better and/or cheaper, then I lose. And I may I go down, and I’m taking me and mine, only, with me. And that’s my look-out.
But it occurred to me, this morning, that perhaps UKIPers expect a different outcome from the EU exit they too desire. They, too hate the EU – for many reasons I expect – but, apparently, and possibly especially, with the reason to pull up the drawbridge to prevent “them” taking “our” jobs.
Why? Why this particular aspect of the EU? What is to be gained by exiting the EU and the state of UK independence that would follow? It would certainly stop this cheap foreign labour coming in (at least from the EU itself); perhaps my UKIP pal from this morning would then be able to find work.
But, what of the problem of his wages – the difference between what he can earn, and what he feels he should earn. What he feels entitled to, if I might speculate. I wonder if he feels that EU exit would not only provide work, but would drive wages up. And I wonder if this is a realistic expectation.
Why should an independent UK be able to support wages for, say, carpentry, at a rate higher than if still in the EU? The work has a value; there is a market; merely having fewer people immediately willing to take the work at a low wage, does not equate directly to there being more wealth to pay for the work to be done at a higher wage. For of course, an independent UK could not be expected to print money – and a free independent state will never be able to operate its economy by social engineering on the absurd “relative poverty” measure.
Nonetheless, my pal expects EU exit to help him out. Naturally, apparently, we, on our own, could somehow support the wages of our citizens, simply because of, and at the rate of, what they think they’re worth. This, though, would simply be the EU writ large in England – as per the French farmer filling his boots from the CAP, “because he’s worth it” – except the house of cards would fall faster, as there are no spare Germanys in England to foot the bill for a few decades. Three day weeks, I expect, the 70s have a lot to teach us.
So for me, the critical economic thing prevented by the EU is a truly free movement of labour. And the EU also prevents a pitch un-queered by benefit handouts to anyone and everyone who can duct-tape themselves to a Eurostar. (Remember, it’s critical also to cull all benefits for migrant workers. Personally I’d cull all benefits full-stop, but that’s a separate matter.) To achieve this, I believe we should leave the EU – it’s so impossibly Statist that there can be no freedom without leaving – and should open our borders to truly free international trade. We will flourish, for people will come and go freely, trading their labour independently and efficiently. Those who would not respond, will be obsoleted – tough luck for them.
But perhaps some UKIPers feel differently. (As an aside, they have form for big-Statism, in supporting the NHS – the EU would kill, possibly literally, for such a tool as the NHS to control free independent action in its citizens.) Perhaps they feel that EU exit is the solution to their current problem – having their wages and work undercut by [an aspect of] a free market. But my fellow this morning didn’t want a free market, by EU exit – he merely wanted, unwittingly, State dependence and managed economics – just like he has already in the EU.
So yes. “Let them all in”. But do so in a truly free market. And if you lose, then you lose. Such is the price of true freedom.
On Monday, we discovered (read ‘applauded’) the Barclay Brothers’ Ritz Hotel paying zero corporation tax – and their company Littlewoods suing the Govt for £1Bn in compound interest.
On Wednesday, we saw what happened when the BBC tried to serve a warrant of entry to a premises without a TV licence.
On Thursday, we saw a traffic warden up his revenue by slapping a ticket on some disabled kids while they were singing in a carol concert. We also heard the tale of a man who takes benefits because he refuses to get up at 8am.
On Monday, we discovered a tax rebate for teachers based on their Union contributions. Another way for the left to minimise their own tax.
On Wednesday, the French PM declared that paying a tax is an act of solidarity, a patriotic act.
Also on Wednesday, the chairmain of Google Eric Schmidt declared his company’s behaviour optimising their tax affairs to be merely capitalism.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t know where to begin.
UK Uncut are an organisation whose aim is to make us all pay as much tax as possible to the State. In general, their approach is that it is “fair” for those “who can afford it” to “pay their tax”. It is not clear why sticking to the standard tax codes & laws doesn’t count as “paying your tax”, nor is it clear what a “fair” amount would be.
This suggests that UK Uncut merely have one view, of many possible, on what is fair. I myself have my own views on tax fairness; they differ somewhat from UK Uncut’s, and I follow them as I may and as is my private right. I will point and laugh at UK Uncut’s charitable donations to the State, but it is their right to spend their money this way; they are manifest morons, in my view, but after all it’s their own money. (Leaving aside the question of where their funding comes from – Unions, perhaps? – and whether or not they pay any due tax at all.) But, when they would force, by violence, their own mere opinion on others, then a line is crossed between maintaining differing views into aggressive partisan intimidation, and this is just dumb thuggery.
The purpose, of course, of all this “fairness” whereby more money is granted to the State, is, well, to enlarge the State. I’m fairly sure UK Uncut don’t realise the implications of this – the irony of nominal Anarchists knowingly demanding that that State be strengthened, would be just too much to maintain a protest march with a straight face. However, for me, the bigger point is the gap between UK Uncut’s insistence that the State be funded, and what it is that the State apparently will spend tax revenue on. I bet that every single UK Uncut activist is anti-Trident, anti-free-school, anti-anything-not-on-their-personal-agenda; would you enforce greater funding for these things, o Activists? Or would you demand also that the Government and agenda is changed, to your own? If so, what mandate do you claim? I hope you don’t rely on the manifest lie of Occupy’s “99%”. And even if, somehow, 99% of the population did support your position, then this does not excuse rank robbery. You, and a mob, simply declaring a right to take private property, does not make it acceptable. Or legal. It is, however, the standard Socialist way, and we all know where History tells us that this path leads.
The Socialist way itself, has a dubious record of honesty and logic when it comes to brass tacks of tax. Guido Fawkes maintains an excellent broadside against the Graun, where the difference between the editorial line on tax avoidance and the editorial-supporting finances in the Caymans is so hypocritical as to be basically incomprehensible. (It’s quite a good effort in terms of outright tax avoidance though, and I applaud it.) But of course, leftist tax optimisation serves a greater and noble purpose than do the affairs of the common man; I’m sure UK Uncut feel that anything is justified in the pursuit of their own personal agenda, be it the violence of themselves, or the behaviour of those who share their views. This may turn out to be particularly painfully visited on those Starbucks employees who will suffer loss of money and conditions to cover UK Uncut’s demands; Anna Raccoon has summarised the basic economics.
I wonder also how many of these UK Uncut activists protested the Poll Tax. Leaving aside their first excuse of it all being wicked Thatcher’s fault, we’re left either with simple logical errors (“Pay less tax!” “Pay more tax!”), or with the position that UK Uncut simply demand that others do as they say. Similarly, there is the apparently-acceptable use of tax to disincentivise, say, smoking; if tax may be used as a stick, then why would UK Uncut offer it also as a carrot of optional extra donations to HMRC?
Anyway – enough. Enough of this UK Uncut BS. I expect that the obvious idiocy of their current effort will eat itself in the end – usually a scandal in Labour’s finances is enough, and/or the Graun will soon be bust, perhaps the EU will fail sooner than we may hope. But something has changed. This whole UK Uncut position is so blindingly stupid that I fear we must actively fight back – and I am not alone, the good Captain has summarised his views here, as has Old Holborn.
So join us. Join the Taxpayer Strike. Do it for your own situation, do it for the cheeeldren, do it against the State – but also do it for the sheer reasonableness.
“THE OCCUPIER’S PROGRESS” :
A cautionary TALE
- for those lately OCCUPYING in the yard of St. PAULS –
by the hon Wm HOGARTH Esq &c
1) “Fortune found! I shall forsake my goodly home and family, and thence to St PAULS with my new-found and noble friends!”
2) “The levee – and the fine-ness of mine minstrel friends Bragg and Yorke, and Morello verily Raging against certain famed and new-fangled Machines”
3) “Night – a brothel, Tranquility is the team – but whence is my watch, and mine favour’d Blue Ukelele? Lost!”
4) “The creditors come … and mine pocket picked, mine beloved forsaken! Woe is me!”
5) “Married, saved! to the old wench Westwood and her fine hosiery. Her fortune is plentiful, for her Tax lawyer is the finest”
6) “… but lost again – and, a fire! Fire in the library!”
7) “Madness – my play REJECTED, along with yon writings of mine accomplice upon topic of the National Debt”
8) “Finally, insane and violent, BEDLAM and all entailments! Oh me!”