Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Archive for the tag “big government”

Thought crime

Back in the bad old days of apartheid we had all sorts of repressive laws in South Africa. There was detention without trial, a long list of banned books and films and laws restricting press freedom. The democracies of the world, including the UK, rightly criticised us for these things, and eventually we repented and abandoned them and opted for a free society.

But now those democracies seem to be adopting the evil ways that we discarded back in 1994. Hat-tip to The Ergosphere for this example:

Just seen on the Telegraph: a story about a woman convicted of a crime for downloading a banned magazine that promotes Islamicist terror. Her story, which the judge believed: she wanted to see what had convinced her brothers (both convicted terrorists) to become terrorists. She was given a short jail sentence, just a month after the time she has spent awaiting trial.

I have a problem with this. Thought crime is NOT crime. Acting on what she read would almost certainly have been criminal, but reading it? I’ve downloaded and read a bunch of terror material, starting with the Turner Diaries and Mein Kampf. I had no interest in becoming a Nazi: quite the contrary. I was merely interested in these documents that convinced people to support Hitler and led to the Holocaust. I wanted to understand what could cause people to do such things.

Is this British justice in the 21st century?

It reminds me of Pontius Pilate “having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him… I will therefore chastise him, and release him” (Luke 23:14, 16).

What was the “therefore” there for?

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Twitter strikes a blow for freedom

There’s quite a lot of talk about “big government” these days, so kudos to Twitter for striking a blow against it and standing up for Wikileaks. Twitter’s Response to WikiLeaks Subpoena Should Be the Industry Standard | Wired.com:

Twitter and other companies, notably Google, have a policy of notifying a user before responding to a subpoena, or a similar request for records. That gives the user a fair chance to go to court and try and quash the subpoena. That’s a great policy. But it has one fatal flaw. If the records request comes with a gag order, the company can’t notify anyone. And it’s quite routine for law enforcement to staple a gag order to a records request.

That’s what makes Twitter’s move so important. It briefly carried the torch for its users during that crucial period when, because of the gag order, its users couldn’t carry it themselves. The company’s action in asking for the gag order to be overturned sets a new precedent that we can only hope that other companies begin to follow.

Fighting for the right to dry clothes

I was amazed to discover that many people in the USA do not have the right to dry clothes.

Debate Follows Bills to Remove Clotheslines Bans – NYTimes.com:

Like the majority of the 60 million people who now live in the country’s roughly 300,000 private communities, Ms. Saylor was forbidden to dry her laundry outside because many people viewed it as an eyesore, not unlike storing junk cars in driveways, and a marker of poverty that lowers property values.

In the last year, however, state lawmakers in Colorado, Hawaii, Maine and Vermont have overridden these local rules with legislation protecting the right to hang laundry outdoors, citing environmental concerns since clothes dryers use at least 6 percent of all household electricity consumption.

Laws that stop people from drying clothes in their own backyards is surely big government gone mad, and must be one thing that liberals and conservatives (however defined) could agree to fight. For liberals it is an issue of human rights, the freedom to dry clothes. And for conservatives it can be seen as an issue of conserving a tradition thousands of years old.

I wonder who were the petty fascists who sought to introduce it in the first place?

Hat-tip to Notes from a Common-place Book: Fight For Your Right to Dry!, who also has some pretty good things to say about this particular piece of bureaucratic idiocy.

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