Commenting on the social media banning of Donald Trump, Adam Wagner describes Twitter as a “semi public square”
In reply, a few people assert that there is no such thing. Twitter is a private company with its own T&Cs that can be enforced as it sees fit. This allows them to dismiss the President’s suspensions as “not censorship” and “not about free speech.”
This might be true in a legal sense but it is certainly not in a moral or social sense, where the term ‘semi-public square’ is useful and instantly understandable.
Semi-public squares are places where there may be no formal right to expression, but where the particular historic, societal or cultural circumstances have created the expectation of that right. In the case of social media, that expectation is actually cultivated by the tech companies themselves.
Continue reading “The Semi-Public Square”
One of the awful things about COVID-19 is that the moment of infection passes unnoticed. It’s the asymptomatic period that drives up the exponential spread and makes it so difficult to stop. This point by Christina Paget is chilling:
Those who die, do so after about two weeks in hospital on average. This means that almost all the people who are going to die from covid over the next four weeks already have covid.Christina Paget, ‘A circuit-break will save thousands of lives’ Politics.co.uk
There’s a marvellous line at the end of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently:
Continue reading “Rosencrantz, Guildernstern, Coronavirus Incubators and The Rule of Law Are All Dead”
GUILDENSTERN: There must have been a moment, at the beginning, where we could have said — no. But somehow we missed it.
This comment by David Allen Green on Monday has stuck in my mind.
David also notes that the solution to this constitutional wrecking is political, and the challenge is to make the public care. Continue reading “The Undermining the Rule of Law Bill”
I want to say something quite precise about the nature of the ‘debate’ about transgender rights. It is not about the substance of the argument itself, but about how we are arguing about it.
The prompt for this is last week’s furore over a Suzanne Moore column in the Guardian, and the No Platforming of the historian Selina Todd. But it could just as easily be about any of the other controversies that have generated news media coverage and social media heat over the past few years.
First, did you notice how I put apostrophes around the word ‘debate’ above. I do that to acknowledge a point that transgender rights activists make constantly: that their right to exist should not be up for debate.
Continue reading “When does a moral argument become ‘settled’?”
Are you the sort of person who gets annoyed with ‘political correctness’? Are you fed up with ‘woke’ students and minority rights activists seeking to police your thoughts? Exasperated with civil servants attempting to social engineer us all?
Well then you had better get behind the campaign to save judicial review.
Last week Mr Justice Julian Knowles of the Administrative Division of the High Court handed down his judgment in R (Miller) v The College of Policing and another  EWHC 225 (Admin). Continue reading “If You’re Worried About Political Correctness Going Too Far, then You Had Better Oppose The Threat to Judicial Review and Human Rights”
The idea of human rights being valuable in themselves doesn’t wash with a lot of people. Instead, they want to see a practical benefit to rights. Seeing horrible people benefit from the same rights as the rest of us undermines people’s support for such rights.
I worry about this a lot.
This attitude is particularly apparent this week due to the horrific knife attack in Streatham, which mirrored the awful murders at the Fishmonger’s Hall in December. In both cases the perpetrator had been released from prison following a conviction for terrorism, and so now there is discussion about retrospectively changing the release and parole procedures for such criminals. Continue reading “When Defending Human Rights, We Must Tell Pragmatic Stories That Appeal To Self Interest”
‘Actress who lost her dream role after quoting Bible on Facebook sues for religious discrimination’ reports the Daily Mail.
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”
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?”
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, the two Reuter’s journalists unjustly imprisoned in Myanmar, have been released.
I have written a short piece for the New Statesman, commenting on how presidential pardons do nothing to tackle the underlying injustice, and perpetuate the chill on freedom of expression.
Pardons have a particular place in judicial systems. There may be unusual circumstances where a person has indeed broken the law, but the sentence imposed is inappropriate. A pardon asserts that the conviction was correct, but alleviates the punishment.
That is wholly unsatisfactory in cases where the law has been abused, as it was in the case of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. Although they are out of prison, there has been no acknowledgement by the state that the convictions were a clear miscarriage of justice. In fact, the pardon reasserts the just opposite – that there was nothing wrong with the imprisonment.
Read the whole thing on the New Statesman website. Continue reading “‘That Bastard Pardon’ –Writing on Myanmar Journalists for the New Statesman”
The Shamima Begum story keeps on rumbling, in part because ordinary folk like thee and me keep blogging about it. This is my third post in a row about the controversy.
But the main reason it persists is because it suits the media and the politicians to keep the argument going. The question of whether to facilitate Ms Begum’s return to the UK or to revoke her citizenship, is perfectly polarising, which makes it ideal click-bait. Every news item on each fresh new interview, and every clipped soundbite from presenters and politicians on LBC gathers angry comments. Perfect ‘engagement’ for the algorithms. Continue reading “Shamima Begum: We’re Being Played By ISIS and the Tories”