An effective speech by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen on how social media companies have become “the greatest propaganda machine in history.”
Here’s an interesting example of how misinformation spreads through subtle misrepresentation of the facts.
‘Party refuses to let ‘gender-critical’ woman join’ reports The Times (£):
The Liberal Democrats have told a “gender non-conforming” woman who does not accept that humans can change sex to join another party.
This is accurate. The woman in question wrote an email to the Liberal Democrat’s, describing her views on transgender people and stating “I do not believe people can change biological sex.”
Someone from the Liberal Democrats responded. They recognised that the woman’s views on transgenderism were at odds with party policy, and politely told her she would be better off elsewhere. Continue reading “Trans rights: a short case study in how the media spreads misinformation”
I posted a Twitter thread on the Labour Party’s Brexit Policy, and thought I’d post it here. Continue reading “Labour’s Brexit Policy is Actually Fairly Simple”
A General Election has finally been called. The outcome is by no means certain but there is a good chance that Boris Johnson will secure a majority for the Conservative Party in the House of Commons. They will then be able to deliver Brexit.
Needless to say, I do not favour this outcome, for several reasons: I think exiting the EU is a bad idea; leaving under the current proposed ‘deal’ is one of the worst ways to do it; Scotland will vote for independence; and it’s utterly galling that Boris Johnson’s lies, incompetence and meanness of character might somehow result in political success.
If all that happened, what might be the silver linings around those dark clouds?
I can think of three.
What do people mean when they use the term ‘woke’ in a political context? By the time it crossed my radar, it had come to mean, simply, an acceptance that racism, sexism and other prejudices were still a problem for society.
With that definition in mind, I always thought it slightly weird for anyone to seriously describe themselves as ‘woke’ – especially if one was white and male. For a short time my Twitter bio was tautological-for-fun: Woke Free Speech Bro (until an incredibly embarrassing case of context collapse involving a famous author that I’m too embarrassed to link to).
I just realised that I don’t ever recall hearing the word ‘woke’ (in its new, political/social sense) used in a way that wasn’t pejorative or ironic. Are there still communities where it’s used seriously?
On Twitter, the author Tom Chatfield shares some charming photographs of the menu for his son’s new ‘restaurant’…
Starting the day with breakfast at my son's new restaurant. pic.twitter.com/6iROxGdfgl
— Tom Chatfield (@TomChatfield) October 16, 2019
I just love the way that children misspell words. I think that the particular mistakes they make are actually very hard for adults to fake. Continue reading “Rudimentary Creativity and the Nature of Intelligence”
In 2016, Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the United States Supreme Court. In a historical break with precedent, the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused to confirm Garland to the Court, or even hold the traditional confirmation hearings.
In doing so, he dredged up a 1992 speech from Joe Biden, who was then a US Senator for Delaware. Back then, Biden had floated the idea that the president (at the time, George H. W. Bush) should wait until after the presidential and congressional elections before appointing a Supreme Court judge. Justifying his inaction in 1992, Senator McConnell cited the ‘Biden Rule’ in speeches, as if it were an established congressional custom. The seat remained open until after the 2016 presidential election, when Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch instead. Continue reading “Let’s rebrand the #PeoplesVote as ‘The Cummings Plan’”
Here we have one of those fascinating and incredibly tricky cases where different human rights seem to be in conflict. Whatever the outcome of the case, it will make some people very angry. Continue reading “Notes on Seyi Omooba’s Religious Discrimination Case”
In the late 1990s I lived in Zimbabwe for a while. Following the recent death of Robert Mugabe, I’ve been re-reading the diary I kept while I was there. I just came across this report of a conversation I had, with a former solider in the Rhodesian army. Continue reading “Did Margaret Thatcher Foil An Assassination Attempt on Robert Mugabe in 1980?”
Jolyon Maugham QC is the director of the Good Law Project, who has co-ordinated several of the big Brexit-related court cases, including the Cherry and Miller cases currently at the Supreme Court.
Interviewed on the Remainacs podcast earlier this week, Maugham pointed out that many of the people who cheered on Boris Johnson’s dodgy prorogation of parliament would not be at all happy to see the same power in the hands of a political opponent. What would Jeremy Corbyn do with the power to shut down parliamentary scrutiny when it got too inconvenient?
Well, the recent hullabaloo at the Labour Party conference in Brighton demonstrates that there are plenty of people in the Labour party who share the anti-democratic instincts of Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings. Continue reading “Would You Hand The Proroguing Power to Labour’s Hard Left?”