/ Political crime

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damhan-allaidh on 17 Oct 2016
How worried should we (I) be about the developing trend of wanting to make particular political positions/opinion a crime? E.g., Daily Express 'clap them in the Tower' and the recent petition calling for "The Treason Felony Act be amended to include the following offences: ‘To imagine, devise, promote, work, or encourage others, to support UK becoming a member of the European Union; To conspire with foreign powers to make the UK, or part of the UK, become a member of the EU.’

I've lived in the UK for nearly 20 years, attracted in great part by the relative openness and tolerance of British society. I felt safe and at home here. I don't mind saying now that I feel apprehensive. I'm not so naive or insular that I've not met a wide range of people with unpleasant worldviews - but I suppose I never expected them to become mainstream, or seemingly tolerated by the government.

(Can't wait to see if Bootrock has anything to say. In the best tradition of Wheel of Fortune, I'll give you a 'snowflake', 'pink and fluffy', and 'wet lettuce leaf' to start.)
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john arran - on 17 Oct 2016
In reply to damhan-allaidh:

I too always thought the huge majority of the UK population had broadly responsible and liberal attitudes, as reflected for the most part in our laws governing freedom of expression. However, seeing the number of worms that seem to have crawled out of the woodwork in the last year it's impossible to ignore the fact that we may have been overly complacent in allowing the scaremongers and blamemongers in politics and the media to dominate the agenda and give undue credence to some pretty unpleasant views.
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JEF on 17 Oct 2016
In reply to damhan-allaidh:

TBH I don't think you should worry at all about this.
There are many other things to worry about if you need to.
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damhan-allaidh on 17 Oct 2016
In reply to john arran:
I agree with your point about complacency in allowing entry into politics of people intellectually, temperamentally and perhaps, morally unsuited to politics. How do you increase constructive democractic engagement, though? I remember when the Scottish parliament came into being, we were all going to be very active and pay attention, etc. After about 6 weeks, even my SNP friends lost all but a superficial interest. Day to day life just takes over.

What's to be done about the media? Between them, just about every outlet, left to right, seems on destroying the country through poisonous, mendacious, rabble-rousing rhetoric.
Post edited at 11:52
damhan-allaidh on 17 Oct 2016
In reply to JEF:

On what grounds should I not worry? I'd rather not be a frog in boiling water. (And I do plenty of worrying about the other things.) It's not happened to me yet, but 2 close friends have been told to "go home". They have lived here for many years, have jobs and partners here. Like me, they don't really have an ties to place they came from. There home is here in the UK. As long as there are people gaining influence who would like to see people put in jail for their political opinions or sent from their legal home back to their places of origin, I will worry. Are you yourself 'foreign'? If not, try and imaging what all of this might be like if you were.
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MonkeyPuzzle - on 17 Oct 2016
In reply to damhan-allaidh:

I wouldn't worry about what you see in the Daily Express and my life has yet to be affected by a petition. I would worry about the overly right-wing tendency of the media in general, but if the government at any point seriously suggests criminalising political positions expect to see blood on the streets.
Bootrock on 17 Oct 2016
In reply to damhan-allaidh:

Did someone say Snowflake?

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damhan-allaidh on 17 Oct 2016
In reply to MonkeyPuzzle:

I hope you are talking about figurative blood on the streets - it's exactly what I'd hope to avoid. Although, I suppose:

"I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccesful rebellions indeed generally establish the incroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions, as not to discourage them too much. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government."
- Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, Paris, January 30, 1787
MonkeyPuzzle - on 17 Oct 2016
In reply to damhan-allaidh:

Figurative or literal, the majority of right-thinking people are not going to start accepting legal curbs on political discussion. I see so many of these ill thought out petitions fly through my social media feeds and I don't think I've ever seen a single one that would stand serious consideration.
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balmybaldwin - on 17 Oct 2016
In reply to damhan-allaidh:

I have major concerns around the behaviour of our so-called free press over the last 20-30 years that I can remember.

The problem being people believe what they read if they see it often enough, and far too many people seem not to have registered the only school History lesson that I recall well - "beware of what you are reading and the motivation behind it - critically evaluate the facts presented against other sources"

Firstly our press is not "free" it may be free from censorship in most cases, but it's not free from Bias and it is heavily biased (all of it including those that try to be independent). the ownership of the big papers is really questionable, and you can clearly see the opinions&motivation of the owners being put forward irrespective of the "Facts." We also have this horrible need for "clickbait" in news outlets where they are deliberately confrontational and controversial to stir up emotions - this gives an unnecessary legitimacy to abhorrent views... Katie Holmes' column is a classic example of this - it makes the paper money at the expense of society

Unfortunately as a country we seem to have moved from an atmosphere of considered, thoughtful debate and respect for those who have studied and understood subjects towards a horrible "soundbite" based childish name calling game where the person with the big mouth and questionable "facts" seems to be able to hold sway.

tom_in_edinburgh - on 17 Oct 2016
In reply to damhan-allaidh:

> What's to be done about the media? Between them, just about every outlet, left to right, seems on destroying the country through poisonous, mendacious, rabble-rousing rhetoric.

Part of it is that people aren't willing to pay for news any more and the money is coming from selling page views and clicks on websites. They can't afford to pay for journalists to research stories so they take press releases and agency stories and hack them into clickbait that will provoke an emotional response and result in clicks and comments from their target demographic.

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The New NickB - on 17 Oct 2016
In reply to balmybaldwin:

I assume you mean Katie Hopkins, I don't think the former Mrs Cruise writes a column or has anything particularly abhorrent to say.
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damhan-allaidh on 17 Oct 2016
In reply to MonkeyPuzzle:

It's less the petitions or headlines per se thanto what extent they accurately reflect developments in prevailing social thought (I've been here long enough to know what's what about the Daily Express). Complacency (see john arran's comment above) concerns me, and the reticence of liberals (of any political stripe) to combat extremist politics.
Jim C - on 17 Oct 2016
In reply to damhan-allaidh:

You can of course start your own petition to clap others ( with opposite views) in irons.

Either way these petitions are not worth your time worrying about.
balmybaldwin - on 17 Oct 2016
In reply to The New NickB:

Yes. Although her views on science and religion are probably not he best
KevinD - on 17 Oct 2016
In reply to damhan-allaidh:

Looking at that petition it has 761 votes.
If it was edging 100k or even 10k there might be a reason to worry but as it is not really.
Admittedly the bloke who did it is a tory but just local level.
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damhan-allaidh on 17 Oct 2016
In reply to KevinD:

As I said above, I am just wondering how the rhetoric represents the temperature of the politcal and social environment we are living in. And I am happy to admit, I probably feel a bit a sensitive. Even though I've yet to be told myself to go home (probably because I don't look or even sound particularly foreign), I have had numerous people start ranting (not an exaggeration) to me about 'immigrants' and 'foreigners' using various degrees of unpleasant language.

I generally let them go on a bit before revealing that I am an immigrant foreigner. I should be relieved, I guess, that so far, the revelation has been met with embarrassment, and not apologies but "I didn't mean people like you."(i.e., Black, Muslim or Eastern European.) And consternation when I say that doesn't make me feel any better.

That any elected politician would be espousing such illiberal and extremist views is concerning.

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DerwentDiluted - on 17 Oct 2016
In reply to damhan-allaidh:
£To imagine, devise, promote, work, or encourage others, to support UK becoming a member of the European Union; To conspire with foreign powers to make the UK, or part of the UK, become a member of the EU.£

As the UK is currently a member of the EU, if enacted this petition would make every person in the UK guilty of felonious treason by virtue of their existence. I shall therefore regard this petition with the reverence and respect it deserves. The Andrex is safe for a few more hours.
Post edited at 14:07
KevinD - on 17 Oct 2016
In reply to damhan-allaidh:

> As I said above, I am just wondering how the rhetoric represents the temperature of the politcal and social environment we are living in.

I think we have always had them. For example the EU election list was always filled with the local nutters and racists.

> That any elected politician would be espousing such illiberal and extremist views is concerning.

True but if you look back there have always been cases of those sort of tw*ts at a local level and sometimes at a MP level. He might also find his future electoral success somewhat threatened given that there was a majority remain vote in his area.
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JEF on 17 Oct 2016
In reply to damhan-allaidh:

> On what grounds should I not worry? .........Are you yourself 'foreign'? If not, try and imaging what all of this might be like if you were.


No, not foreign, British. As such I firmly believe that not many people would agree with the proposals of the petition (which I can't be bothered to read), hence my suggestion that you shouldn't worry.
The final decision on that is yours, but you did offer it up for comments on UKC.

damhan-allaidh on 17 Oct 2016
In reply to damhan-allaidh:

Theresa May is now avoiding outright condemnation of the petition or the counsellor in question. What sort of moral and ethical games are the politicians of this country playing? And what will happen if we don't hold them accountable? Sorry, not going to worry about other things til I can be satisfied we are not blindly sliding into an authoritarian state.
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winhill - on 17 Oct 2016
In reply to damhan-allaidh:

> Theresa May is now avoiding outright condemnation of the petition or the counsellor in question. What sort of moral and ethical games are the politicians of this country playing? And what will happen if we don't hold them accountable? Sorry, not going to worry about other things til I can be satisfied we are not blindly sliding into an authoritarian state.

He's been suspended by the local party though.
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krikoman - on 17 Oct 2016
In reply to winhill:

> He's been suspended by the local party though.

He should be suspended by his bollocks.
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Trevers - on 17 Oct 2016
In reply to damhan-allaidh:

One thing this referendum has exposed is the number of people with no real how a healthy democracy is supposed to function. Tyranny of the Majority seems to be the favoured interpretation by a worryingly large cross-section of society.
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damhan-allaidh on 18 Oct 2016
In reply to Trevers:

I am mystified as to how someone could dislike your comment (as well as a few others on this thread). Which ever way one happened to vote, your statement is empirical and incontrovertible.
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davidbeynon on 18 Oct 2016
In reply to damhan-allaidh:

The Dunning-Kruger effect explains the majority of internet postings.
Scarab9 - on 18 Oct 2016
In reply to damhan-allaidh:

While that particular petition is not worthy of note and is only being seen because of the clickbait methods of our media, there is certainly reason to consider whether politicians should be free to say whatever they want without repercussion.

Awkwardly remembered, but didn't an MP make slanderous remarks about Sadiq Khan and nothing happened but when a reported reiterated them they got done for slander? Because MPs are immune to such charges. Why? should they not be held accountable for what they say like others?

Also outright lies such as the, might as well use it as it's so often pulled out at the moment, £350 million a week claim (that before anyone says "no one believed that" - yes they bloody did and there's plenty of people that have spoken up saying they personally did). That was a lie to fool those who don't read past the headline. There was never any truth to it but it may have been influential enough to have turned the vote given how close it was. Now, rightly or wrongly - lets not get sidetracked, one of the biggest political decisions of our time and the resultant impact is in progress because of potentially that lie (and it wasn't the only one).

Even newspapers have to print apologies if they mislead, but MPs dont' even have to admit they were 'mistaken'.

I wouldn't jump to conclusion that we need prison sentences, but should there be a debate about repercussions in such situations?

On a side note, did anyone see that Google News is providing a fact checker indicator next to articles going forward to help better inform ? More like this please!
lummox - on 18 Oct 2016
In reply to Bootrock:

I think of you more as a spunk bubble than a snowflake. Hth.
damhan-allaidh on 18 Oct 2016
In reply to davidbeynon:

Thank you. Your comment inspired a fruitful and enjoyable root around Rational Wiki (aka "enumerating favourable circumstances") this afternoon. Not done that for awhile.
ads.ukclimbing.com
damhan-allaidh on 18 Oct 2016
In reply to Scarab9:

Interestingly, the Economist picked up on several items of clickbait in an editorial suggesting the Theresa May might want to take a more 'conciliatory' approach to working with the other member states, with her own MPs, and even with the population she governs.

I would be much against using legal means to prevent people from saying things; I very much believe in freedom of speech, even if it's stupid speech that I don't agree with. It's better to have it out there and tested against evidence, public opinions and norms; it also provides us with useful data. The leader of the country (or at least her spokesperson) could not find the words to condemn one of her MPs fostering persecution on political grounds. At least now, I can now begin to formulate some working hypothesis about the philosophy, attitudes and direction of this government, and begin to test them against emerging evidence. At some point my observations of events may lead me to concludeI am no longer welcome or otherwise able to live in the UK (I hope not).

I think there should be a discussion about repercussions, as you suggest. Is it, for example, reasonable to assume that social and professional norms should make lying an unattractive option, with deviance from those norms leading to a loss of professional and social capital (e.g., credibility, influence)? Clearly that's not the case at the moment for lying about things of grave importance to the health of the country; adultery (imo, fairly low on my priority list of things I don't want my MP doing) seems to come with higher negative outcomes for individuals than serious professional 'misconduct'.

Thanks for the heads up about Google news fact checker; be interesting to see where that one goes.
Bootrock on 18 Oct 2016
In reply to lummox:
Well that's just not nice. Have a like for that!

And I don't think you have grasped the whole snowflake thing, I am not a special little snowflake. I am the dickhead that calls you lot snowflakes.
Post edited at 18:53
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damhan-allaidh on 18 Oct 2016
In reply to lummox:

No name calling on my thread please. Whatever his (?) behaviour on other threads, Bootrock was perfectly civil on this one until provoked.
sg - on 18 Oct 2016
In reply to Trevers:

It's interesting, the tyranny of the majority. In one way, when you think about it, it's perfectly logical for T May to pursue any policy that might chime with them, especially hard brexit, because it's likely to very popular, almost by definition. There certainly also seems to be a kind of 'protection in numbers' to the xenophobia etc. - for years political correctness has been a force for good and a mechanism of social change but there is clearly a degree of unravelling going on at the moment, as the most strident find it easier to find support for their views.
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davidbeynon on 18 Oct 2016
In reply to damhan-allaidh:
At least it wasn't tvtropes. That one is like a black hole!
Post edited at 22:24
damhan-allaidh on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to davidbeynon:

Oh no. I was living in blissful ignorance til now.

Serpent.



Pete Pozman - on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to JEF:

> TBH I don't think you should worry at all about this.

> There are many other things to worry about if you need to.

Phew! Thanks for that. Now I can go back to sleep.
damhan-allaidh on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to Pete Pozman:

Thanks for that; it was the point I was trying to make all along!
davidbeynon on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to damhan-allaidh:

I did warn you!
Bootrock on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to damhan-allaidh:

Och it's alright mate. I can't expect to dish it out and not get some back!


damhan-allaidh on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to Bootrock:

As long as it wasn't you that disliked my comment about Marmite, anchovies and dark chocolate.

Now back to tvtropes. Thanks davidbenyon...

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