36 posts • joined 6 Nov 2007
@ A J Stiles
<< If the new law really "criminalised nothing that was not already illegal" then why the f**k do we need to have a new law? Why not just ..... oh, I don't know ..... enforce the existing ones? >>
We need to have a new law because we've got a bunch if idiots sitting in Westminster taking home fat paycheques (usually on top of the several fat paycheques they get for being on numerous corporate boards). If they didn't keep churning out new, pointless laws banning this, that and the other, they wouldn't know how to occupy their time.
My last post on this one
... Assuming the mods allow it, of course.
@ Anonymous Coward
<< EQUALLY FANATICAL???? >>
Yes. Equally fanatical.
The accusations you direct at 'religious idiots' are fair - to an extent - so long as they're directed at people who are idiots because they abuse religion to justify the crimes they want to commit. If, however, you then extend your assumption of idiocy to everyone religious *and assume based on that that they all commit such crimes*, then that's *not* fair. And at that point, yes, you're the sort of fanatic I'm talking about.
As I said, there are people on both sides who're unwilling to question their own comfortable preconceptions. In the case of the non-religious fanatic, that's the sort of person who blames religion, and all the religious, for all the evils that some have done in its name. It's easy to accept the most obvious cause for these various immoralities, because it saves one having to think - and the fanatic (on either side) prefers not to bother thinking too much. But where religion is offered as justification for wickedness, you'll find - if you look - that there's always something else behind it: the desire for power, or wealth, or whatever.
Religion does not cause people to behave shittily towards each other. People do that anyway. Religion gives them something to hide behind while they do it. Yes, abhor the killers. Abhor the abusers. Abhor the rapists and the thieves. Abhor them *whether they're religious or not*. But save your bile for those who do these things. Those who don't, whether they're religious or not, don't deserve to be treated as though they're guilty, and only a bigot would do so.
<< religion is a pretty big dumb irrational idea, up there with Astrology, Homeopathy, Aliens, etc... >>
I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt here and assume that, by 'aliens', you mean the X-Files kind of alien, rather than the idea of extraterrestrial life. Extraterrestrial life as a possibility causes no particular problems for science, and indeed some would argue that dismissing the possibility out of hand would be irrational in such a big universe.
@ archie lukas
<< But surely debate is a good thing? >>
Sure, it is, if anyone involved has the slightest intention of listening to anyone else's point of view. Unfortunately, where this subject is concerned, as you can see from this comments page, that's not the usual attitude. There are some, yes, but the 'passionate' advocates for each side, safe in the knowledge that theirs is the superior position, usually feel no need to try to see things from the other's point of view. And while debate can be a good thing, endless repetitions of the same fruitless arguments and epithets demonstrably serve no useful purpose except to give the irate types on both sides a chance to indulge themselves.
By the way, to all those quoting and counter-quoting Einstein: first, he wasn't religious in the sense of recognising a personal God. Second, and more important, Einstein's opinions about religion are *absolutely irrelevant*. Both sides clearly want to claim the genius for themselves: but just because Einstein was a genius in certain terms doesn't mean he was any better qualified than the rest of us to know the answer to this particular question. Let the poor guy rest in peace.
<< Why is it the god botherers keep putting up someone for the "hey, look, I'm being reasonable here" spiel who then fuck it up by saying "and all atheists are hateful meanies" in there? >>
I didn't say that. I don't believe that. I said 'anti-religious' people, which means people who're anti-religion, not just those who happen not to believe.
The simple truth is that both sides have their reasonable people and a comparative handful of 'hateful meanies'. The problem is that too many people don't want to bother making a distinction between the two. It's easier, and more comfortable, to hate a preconceived idea of someone than to take time to find out who they really are.
<< There are people who HATE that people don't believe what they do. They are the god-botherers. No atheist HATES the god botherers because of what THEY believe in but they do hate what they try to make everyone else believe. >>
That's the common enough defence, sure. "We only do it because of what they do". But the fact is it's gone on too long now. No-one knows who fired the first shot, and furthermore it doesn't make any real difference at this point. Yeah, sure, there are fanatical religious idiots who want the world to bow before them (in the name of their god/s, of course). There are equally fanatical anti-religious idiots who assume all religion is one religion and that every religious person is the same.
The fact is that religion isn't the root of all evil. Neither is atheism. Neither is money, for that matter; or sex. *Human nature* is the root of all evil, and everything else is just excuses.
<< The god-botherers have some people who have a MASSIVE amount of vitriol for people who don't believe in god. >>
There's more than enough vitriol on both sides: all of it worthless.
<< They keep trying to point out how silly the deep science is. >>
Some, maybe. Not most, and certainly not all. I'll offer my religious belief as an example: as a God-botherer myself, I consider science a way to find out about the universe, and trying to separate the universe from divinity is a pointless exercise akin to trying to separate salt from sodium chloride. The earlier question about whether an apple falls because of gravity or the will of God misses the point that they are, in effect, the very same thing.
<< At the moment, things like The Big Bang is a tentative theory. It does explain things but we don't know yet whether it's true. >>
We're pretty sure. It's not as tentative as you suggest. Theories generally aren't. But if you want tentative, there is plenty of it around. Consider the Copenhagen-versus-Many-Worlds question; or more interestingly still, the question of whether particles (and by extension reality itself) have any objective qualities while they're not being measured. *Those* are tentative we-don't-knows, and fascinating for it.
<< See the difference? Science allows it can be wrong. Religion doesn't. >>
And do you see where *you've* gone wrong? You've assumed that all religion must conform to your preconception of it.
Many of those acting as champions for, or opponents of, science labour under the misapprehension that science and religion are fundamentally (pardon me) opposed. They're not. They're not competing for the same prize. Science is a matter of the objective, the empirical, and the material. Religion is matter of feeling; of the soul (whatever you consider that to be). The one does not require or deny the other.
Still, at 200-odd comments and climbing, it's still worth bearing in mind that this discussion will probably change no-one's mind about anything, or serve any constructive purpose.
Same Old, Same Old...
The article that triggered all these comments isn't as interesting (in a really grim sort of a way) as the comments themselves. The article itself isn't really worth much: it's just another anti-religionist having a pop at people who don't conform to the beliefs (or lack thereof) that he stipulates.
But the comments... I think it's the total predictability of it that I find most depressing. There're some reasonable people in here who've spoken real wisdom, so I'm not slating *everyone* here. But mention 'religion' anywhere where there's a have-your-say facility, and the same argument will fire up, every single time, and it will eventually peter out having achieved precisely diddly squat. It always achieves diddly squat. But we keep on having it all the same. Why? The sole purpose of these 'debates' (and I'm being charitable there, because that implies a level most of them never reach) is for Group A to indulge their desire to insult and mock Group B, who don't believe what Group A think they should believe.
It's so *monotonous*. Every argument has been tried and retried over and over and over again - there are whole websites devoted to nothing other than the endless repetition of pointless nitpicking, each side trying to find a way to prove the other wrong; each side consistently failing to do so.
Truth is, yeah, you can pick holes in any religious belief if you want to. Doesn't make a blind bit of difference to the believer, though, so the only point in doing it really is self-indulgence. Oh, I know the arguments of the antis: they attack religion in some supposed retaliation for the evils of religion, because Religion Causes All The Wars, and Religious People Kill In The Name Of God, and all that guff. Well, yeah, as long as you're looking for the simplest and most convenient explanation, that's true enough to do the job. It gives you something easy to blame, rather than making you face up to the fact that humans kill each other because too many of them are still vicious and amoral little bastards, prone to anger and hatred and all too keen to indulge both. There's always something *behind* the religion, if you're willing to look for it, but the religion bit's a great scapegoat because it makes Them fundamentally different from Us, and we don't like to think we have things in common with our enemies.
By the way, while we're on the subject, contrary to popular atheistic mockery, religion isn't always about easing the fear of death. I'm religious, and I firmly believe that I haven't got the first clue what happens after death, if anything (without knowing precisely what time or space or consciousness actually *are*, as far as I'm concerned the 'oblivion' hypothesis is just as much an assumption as any other, but I don't assume there's an afterlife either).
When push comes to shove, no-one actually knows shit about where we are, who we are, what the point of life might be, or what the universe, or life, or consciousness, actually is. So if someone tells me that they've got reason to believe in some divine authority guiding their lives, well, that's no skin off my nose. Maybe they've got a reason to believe that. Maybe they've seen something I haven't. We've all got to find our own meaning in life. Too many people seem to think they've got the answer sheet for that question and that they're entitled to mark other people's work.
And there I thought I knew Who's Who In Government. I honestly thought 'Woolas' was something to do with the jumpers.
I've always been ambivalent over patio heaters. On the one hand, there seems to be something unavoidably irrational about trying to heat up the open air. On the other hand, it does work, and that's one of the reasons people have always built campfires.
The question, as always, is how much energy these devices use, how much they waste, and whether their increasing use is having a significant impact on Britain's contribution to climate change. Also as always, the answer will be in accordance with the agenda of the person or body issuing it. I'm of the view at the moment that no interpretation of any data relating to global warming is safe: it's unavoidably a political issue, because it affects all of us - but while everyone's so emotional and easily-riled about it, it's difficult for us non-experts to find an opinion we can trust to be rational.
My gut feeling is that, if patio heaters are a problem, they're an insignificant one next to the biggie: the refusal of governments in the developed world to actually tackle the problem of energy generation. While our governments choose to keep us enslaved to the oil monopolies - while research into alternative sources is half-hearted at best - all the good intentions in the world won't solve anything. Simply telling us to stop using energy is an example of how our governments try to palm their responsibilities off on us. The UK government has over 65 million people to deal with, and those people *need* energy, no matter how environmentally aware and cooperative they might be.
UK - "Endemic Surveillance Society"
I went to Privacy International to get some ideas about what might make a surveillance society, and what did I find? Britain's ranking as an "endemic surveillance society". Now I'm not suggesting that particular source is necessarily unbiased, but it does make one wonder.
Let's see. It's said that we've got something approaching half of all the CCTV cameras in the *world* in this country. This little tiny country. And yes, I know: that statement needs a  tag. But whatever the actual figure, it's got to be said it'd be pretty difficult to chuck a brick anywhere in the UK without ending up charged with damaging someone's camera.
(Oh, but you try being a photographer indulging a usually harmless hobby and watch how quickly the obediently terrified public will shop you for being a paedophile or a terrorist...)
ID cards. 'Biometrics'. Increasing snooping power rationalised by the 'War on Terror'. An Information Commissioner in the pocket of big business, and unwilling to rock the boat. Widely ignored Data Protection laws. Communications interception on the authorisation of politicians, not judiciary. Vehicle tracking under the guise of proposed schemes to reduce carbon emissions (ah, The Environment: another great tool for spreading fear amongst the population). A Human Rights Act also widely ignored except when it's of immediate benefit to lawyers.
Truth is, this is - supposedly - the Information Age. And while I admit to increasingly Luddite tendencies where information technology is concerned, I do accept that that means privacy is an even harder thing to ensure. But maybe that's why it's more important than ever to protect it. Some people seem happy to accept that they can no longer expect privacy - I'm not one of those people. I understand that I can't expect *absolute* privacy - but I expect my privacy to be violated only where it's *absolutely necessary and of immediate and obvious benefit to society*. It's no argument at all to pretend that mass monitoring of everyone is justified on the grounds that a tiny few might have dissident or terroristic leanings. The potential benefit is insignificant next to the massively high price.
I am, for the moment, at least, one of those lucky people who doesn't really have anything to hide. But who knows when They might decide otherwise? After all, if they say I've got incriminating material, then their inevitable failure to find it will only prove how adept I am at hiding it - right? And therefore I must be a terrorist - right? After all, that's the policy we used in Iraq, isn't it? We couldn't find the WMDs, so that meant they'd been well concealed or taken away to some stash somewhere. The idea they weren't there in the first place? Inconceivable. (And if I keep posting comments like this, well, someone's going to take a dislike to me sooner or later - no doubt I'm already on some list somewhere.)
Let's face facts. Everything I do is monitored almost everywhere I go, either by an unaccountable and controlling Government or equally unaccountable commercial interests. It might be possible to live 'off the radar', but it's not made easy, and most people won't have the strength of will or the sheer paranoia required to make a good job of it. I'm working on both. Even so, the point is that if this is *not* a surveillance society, then it's terrifying to imagine what might be.
The only real question is, are the people drawing this conclusion astonishingly ignorant, and don't realise what's going on? Or are they astonishingly dishonest, and imagine that if they lie big enough, we'll all buy in?
@ Patrick Byrne
<< Folks are nuts if they think this does not affect them. It affects every person reading this. The connection between this story, and your retirement, is deep. But it is huge.>>
Help me out here. I'm no financial expert and I don't pretend to understand most of what's been said, but the gist here seems to be that many corporate types are bent and are working frauds to obtain money.
I'd offer a more shocking revelation if I told you that water flows downhill.
Which is *not* to say that nothing needs be done about it: crime is crime, and should be dealt with. I've no time for the dishonest.
My point related to Wikipedia's role in all this. Wikipedia *as Wikipedia* is of no consequence. Sure, if it's part of the mechanism of the fraud then fine, let's recognise that - but even then, that doesn't imply that Wikipedia is itself a criminal enterprise. Any more than eBay (and I'm gritting my teeth while I say this - it's the effort of trying to be objective where bloody eBay is concerned) is a criminal enterprise just because it happens to enc... gah... *unintentionally facilitate* fraud and the fencing of stolen goods.
Wikipedia is an interesting idea, and (within certain constraints) a semi-useful information source. If it's approached with the knowledge that it can't be relied upon to be reliable, then one shouldn't have a problem with it. The internal politics, the squabbling and in-fighting, the elitism and the nepotism... as far as I can see these are problems only for the people who want to get involved in them. The rest of us can safely ignore them and use Wikipedia for what it's meant for: the aforementioned strange animals, fruits, and Doctor Who.
@Who is hurt by this
Got to agree. Wikipedia is handy for casual browsing of information for interest's sake, or - with suitably massive caution - as a starting-point resource for research, as long as it's not research for anything even vaguely important.
Other than that, Wikipedia's nothing. Squabbles amongst its editors, the machinations of its so-called 'elite': these are of no consequence to the rest of us. Let the Wikipedians get their undies entangled over this, if they want (although I wonder even how many of *them* might actually be bothered). As far as I'm concerned, while it works for the above-mentioned purposes that's fine. If one day it stops working for those purposes, well, I'm sure we'll all muddle along without.
This is not news.
Wrong side of the road...
<< a continent of people who don't even drive on the correct side of the road to navigate space >>
I'm puzzled. I may have the wrong end of the stick here. If this article was written by an American:
As far as I'm aware - and I'm no big traveller, so I may be wrong - most of Europe drives on the right, which is, to my knowledge, the same side that existing shuttle pilots drive on. *Britain* drives on the left, but then Britain has always refused to get involved in manned spaceflight - and since our government is currently busy extending and centralising its power and feathering its own nest at the expense of absolutely everything else, I doubt there'll be much UK outlay for visionary stuff like spaceflight. So there's not likely to be any British ships up there fouling up the lanes.
If the article was written by a Brit:
Existing shuttle pilots already drive on the wrong side of the road (it just happens to be the side most of the rest of the world drives on as well).
Sorry if I've missed the point completely.
@ Looks like you could prosecute Anders Wik
<< “The duties have been there before, but in this way they will become legal.”
Could be a bad translation, (or misquote) but how can it 'become' legal unless it was previous 'illegal'? >>
I suspect - from context - that it means that a duty that was previously expected but wasn't actually a legal obligation is to become a legal obligation. It's not legal as in the opposite of illegal. It's legal as in the opposite of voluntary or conventional. Mandatory rather than optional.
<< Oh, and always microwave your car number plates for 30 seconds before use. >>
Anyway, the problem I have with 'privacy' issues isn't so much that people might find out who I am or where I live - that information's pretty widely available anyway for anyone who wants to put enough effort into looking. I don't even care that they find out what I buy down the supermarket (it's usually microwave food and other junk - although as above I haven't tried nuked VRM plates yet).
The problem is more that companies and governments keep bloody lying to me about what they're doing and why they're doing it, or trying to hide it from me - and that's fundamentally, unavoidably dishonest, and I won't support anyone who's dishonest. Along with many other people at the more rational end of paranoia (more than merely 'vigilant', but not embracing every nutty conspiracy theory that crops up), I was always convinced right from the start that the rise of the mobile phone was essentially a commercial/government drive to have us all willingly carry tracking devices.
Still, whether that's true or not, the Government lie to me when they tell me that I'm under surveillance for my own safety. I'm not. Statistically, I'm at relatively little risk - and having a camera looking at me doesn't make me less at risk anyway. My ISP* lies to me when they say that Phorm is going to help protect me online. It's not: it's going to make them money by flogging my net usage data to shady spyware types. Like all unwarranted nannying, the 'safety' aspect is merely the sugar for the pill. But again, it's not my privacy that's my main concern - it's the utter contempt that these agencies have demonstrated for me and for all of us.
It's unfortunate that we all seem so happy now to be viewed as nothing more than cattle - mere stock to be exploited by the rich. They even refer to us as such, for gods' sakes: they call us 'consumers', because to them that's all we are. They let us stand in the field and eat grass while they map out our lives for us.
* Yes, there is a reason I remain with that ISP for the moment. The moment I can switch, I'll switch.
Bad, bad, bad idea
Commenters arguing that this database would be fine as long as the subject has the right to challenge allegations made about them have missed one crucial point: *this is the UK*.
This is a country where calm, rational consideration isn't viewed as a virtue any more. We're a proudly knee-jerk society now: the findings of courts and legal bodies are irrelevant in the public mind. Nobody *cares* whether or not anything can be proved. The allegation itself is sufficient - and once it's made, even if it's subsequently deleted and apologised for, it sticks. After all, "there's no smoke without fire" - right? How many people hear about someone accused of paedophilia and *wait to hear the facts* before lighting the torches and sharpening the pitchforks? The accusation is enough! Suspicion is enough! The mere fact that a person is mentioned on this database - no matter for what, how accurately or how briefly - will be enough to destroy their careers. "Guilty until proven innocent" is now a fundamental principle in this country, and we, the public, have made it so.
How many applicants are there for any given job advert? Why should a prospective employer even consider employing someone when there're zillions more who haven't appeared on the database?
Someone earlier on said "make it fair". But the only way to do that would be to put *everyone* on it, so that at least companies have to *read* everyone's entry in some detail before they decide who they think is the lowest risk. Do we really want to go down that route?
The power of companies is increasing; the power of the individual is diminishing - and we seem inexplicably content to let that happen.
I don't know whether the mods'll let me have this one, but having just read through my last hefty post:
"I see no reason to assume that most of them ... are just honest, taxpaying citizens trying to make the best of a bad lot"
Should of course have read:
"I see no reason NOT to assume that most of them ... are just honest, taxpaying citizens trying to make the best of a bad lot"
Okay, okay, I'm really going this time, sorry...
<< Because the main reason for it was to say that the police aren't using it, so it's not being abused and so don't worry about it. >>
Not quite what I meant. I meant that it seems inconsistent to me to imply first that the police are tyrannical oppressors because they're *expected* to abuse this law; then, when it becomes apparent that for the moment at least they're *not* abusing it, to accuse them of being oppressors on the basis of an *assumption* (apparently) that, well, they *must* be threatening people with it instead.
As I said, I can't see how those of an anti-police persuasion can have it both ways - it seems a bit doublethink to me.
<< Why is the law there if the police won't use it? >>
Well, nobody picked up on my earlier comment about the police passing the law... But that was intended to make the point that, despite the pre-emptive accusations being levelled at the police, it *isn't* actually them that pass laws: it's government. The police are simply duty-bound to *enforce* the laws. But, where the law is more a tool, like this one, it seems a positive thing to me that the police aren't (for the moment at least) taking the opportunity to exploit it.
<< Why is the police not abusing it mean that the law is OK? >>
It doesn't, at all. This particular law is very far from okay. But the bulk of the criticisms here - at least the ones I'm responding to - are being levelled at the 'pigs'. But if the law is created by our supposed 'representatives', and the police don't use it (at least as much as we feared they might, and at least at the moment), then the criticism should surely be directed at those who *made* the law.
<< And why is it OK to have a law that CAN be abused, even if the police aren't using it >>
Again, it's not okay. And again, the criticism that I'm responding to is that preemptive variety that's largely based on generalised prejudice against the police and a presumption that, as a law enforcement agency, they must be automatons bent on subjugating the population under the unyielding rule of a totalitarian dictatorship. I see no reason to assume that most of them (bearing in mind I accept that they have their share of idiots and crooks, just as every group does) are just honest, taxpaying citizens trying to make the best of a bad lot, but without the political rights that the rest of us have.
Maybe I am living in fluffy bunny land, at that: but if I'm going to err, I'd rather err towards extending someone the benefit of the doubt until I've reason to assume them guilty. That goes for all citizens, including those who work as police officers.
Again, my only real point is that if you want to criticise law, criticise those who MAKE it, not those who're duty- and mortgage-bound to comply with it.
That's pretty much all I can say on the subject, and since I must've used up a year's worth of comment space already, I'll bow out.
<< It's not a "predetermined image", it's a reasonable expectation based on prior behaviour. >>
And that's a different thing, is it? There have been corrupt police officers in the past, and no doubt still are some, and therefore all police are corrupt?
<< Where did you get all that straw??? >>
I had to shop around. Most places had sold out. Now I see where it'd all gone.
<< code of silence ... close ranks ... back each other up ... >>
Oh, aye, sure they do... It's amazing, though, considering all that, how whenever one of them is accused of anything, they're left in the middle of a widening empty space, with bobbies on every side running for cover and denying they ever knew the guy... Either that or they're suspended pending an investigation, which can go on for years, throughout which they're generally treated like criminals, prohibited from contacting their workmates, and if and when they're found not guilty of whatever it was, they're grudgingly allowed back to work, usually without even an apology. Or both.
Anecdote? Rhetoric? Sure, I guess. But not really any worse than yours.
This article told us one thing: police have used this new power very few times.
After that, it's all assumption. It's assumption by the Privacy International guy that, if they're not actually *using* the law, they must be *threatening* people with it; and it seems that's an assumption a lot of people are happy to take as fact. In my view, this guy's opinion doesn't constitute news.
As a matter of fact, I don't like this law either. I'm wary of any law concerning IT that's passed by a government that quite clearly has no understanding of IT methods and mechanisms (witness the recent idea about forcing paedophiles to register email addresses). In fact, I'm wary of any fiddly little law that requires so much 'interpretation' and has no obvious purpose beyond expanding the surveillance state.
Yes - surprise - I'm a bit of a libertarian myself.
But let's not forget who's the *source* of the surveillance state: the Government, made up of supposed 'representatives' that *WE ELECT*. I don't go for the people whose duty it is to ENFORCE the laws that those uncontrolled, unaccountable 'representatives' create.
I'm not saying don't attack the police when they do something wrong, which I willingly acknowledge they do from time to time. And I'm not saying don't vilify officers who prove to be corrupt. You should. I'm just saying let's focus on the real problem, instead of wasting our energy tilting at windmills; albeit windmills with CS gas and batons. You can't have it both ways. If enforcing this law in large numbers would make the police evil, then you can't call them evil for NOT enforcing it. If it's the *existence* of the law we're worried about, then that's the fault of our politicians, not the police - and in theory, WE decide who our politicians are and what they're like. As the tired old homily goes, people get the government they deserve. So perhaps we ought to stop casting the blame at the easy target, take some responsibility, and actually utilise the democracy we reckon to be living in?
I must be missing something obvious. I mean, disregarding the bulk of the comments that have been essentially just another run-through of all the original complaints about this law, something strikes me as odd.
Obviously, I know that the police are EVIL. Without exception, they're all corrupt, violent and racist and want to take over the country. I know that, 'cos people on the Reg tell me so with some regularity. And I know it was EVIL of the police to pass this law in the first place, and they got rightly slammed for doing so.
But... but now we have a report that seems - at least as I read it, which is no doubt wrongly - to be saying that the police haven't used that law very much... and they're getting slammed for that too?
So let me get this right: if they use it, they're evil. If they don't use it, we *assume* that they're threatening people with it and they're evil anyway.
Are there other possibilities, I wonder? Such as that they're not finding the law all that useful? That they're applying it only in cases where they genuinely think it's required (as opposed to the 'hit everyone with it' technique that was widely predicted)? Or possibly that they don't generally think along those lines when they nick someone? Are any of these conceivable? Or do they just not fit in with the predetermined image?
Call me overly critical...
No doubt repeating a few points already made, but here goes:
@ Gordon Pryra:
He's not a "nasty little thie[f]" until a court's found him guilty, which as I understand it is not yet. He's innocent until the legal system finds him guilty.
<< If someone had posted that about me and my wife, the little scrote’s teeth would have had a visit from “Mr Lumphammer” >>
That sort of stupid attitude is exactly *why* we have problems when it comes to free speech here: the British seem to have lost all sense of restraint, and when faced with uncertainty all too often respond with mindless violence. Ridiculously out-of-proportion violence, too, just as in your case here. Just attacking the chap wouldn't be enough to satisfy your vigilante bloodlust: you wouldn't be happy with less than a lump hammer? Pathetic.
It wouldn't be so bad if you were a one-off, but sadly the same kind of mindset pervades this country at the moment: verbal insult, mild threat, or "lookin' at me funny, innit" has to be met with full-force brutality. Sure, yours were only words on a website - but am I supposed to believe you didn't mean them literally?
<< Besides, we all know what bastards the pigs can be, arresting someone is just an excuse to give them a kicking. >>
I won't try to repeat the discussion you've already had with Tim Donovan about your view of the police. It's enough to know that you're prepared to tar every officer in Britain with the brush of the bad apple(s) you've had experience with. So be it - I've had bad experiences with them, too, but I'm not prepared to do that. These're citizens of the UK. People. As with all groups of people, some of them are toe-rags, some of them are diamonds. Most of them are probably somewhere in between - just trying to do a job to the best of their ability. Is that a generalisation? Maybe - but bad experiences or no, I've no reason to assume anything different. And I'll tell you this: there is no way on this Earth I would *ever* do that job. No matter how well-paid it might be, or how much power it might offer me, it wouldn't be worth it. Spend my career being attacked and vilified - spat at and assaulted, even - by the people I joined to try to help? No thanks.
@ "He is lucky"
<< I'm surprised he wasnt shot in the head 7 times and then accused of being a terrorist, maybe the police over there have gone soft. >>
Oh, sure - cos that happens all the time, doesn't it? This is *exactly* what I meant about proportion. And before you accuse me of making light of a tragic and inexcusable cock-up, I'm not: but of all the police officers in Britain, tell me how many have shot someone seven times in the head?
@ "Wake up ! grow up! scary country"
<< ...when someone has whacked you on the head with a blunt instrument then stamped on your face with their boots having failed to mug you. >>
And the police said "can't help you" after that happened to you (I presume that did happen to you, since as a general example of an average incident it seems pretty extreme), and *you just left it at that*? C'mon, pull the other one. How did it *really* turn out?
@ Tim Donovan
Speaker of Common Sense, thank god. You're absolutely right: the truth is when all's said and done we don't know any of the details of the case. All we've got is what the Reg chooses to tell us - and from there it's just a case of lighting the Usual Suspects' blue touch papers and watching the show. And I'm not a frequent commenter but I'm a regular reader, and honestly, it's depressing how tabloid this place is getting. We've got the same range of extremists parroting the same material, from "hang-em-and-flog-em" through to "we're-living-in-1984"... I bet it's quite a game for the administrators and the writers: "let's see how flared up we can get them with this one". Like a bunch of clockwork toys: wind them up and watch them go.
I won't say there aren't any good points made in amongst all the flames and screeching. But it must be nice to live in some people's heads, where everything is so absolutely clear-cut that you can reach a firm judgement on a situation based purely on a short news article. It's just a shame that such simplicity in the real world only seems to cause problems, rather than solving them.
<< I don't have to reread your article. I got it quite clearly the first time. >>
But clearly you didn't. You decided the article was slagging off Apple - and went off on one accordingly - when it obviously wasn't. The article seemed - to me, at least - to be addressing the foolhardiness of the woman's case, and in fact was remarkably restrained (far more restrained than most of the subsequent comments, certainly) in terms of passing judgement on Apple itself.
Might be an idea to learn to relax a little, there.
@ Huw Jenkins
<< We should STFU till we can at least defend ourselves...>>
But as plenty of people have already pointed out: we didn't STFU when it mattered, and it's way too late now for that argument. We can't reel our past EM emissions back in and pretend we never made them. This argument became moot the moment we started beaming our inane chatter at each other, and it's still moot.
<< I really object to this imported middle eastern death cult called Christmas anyway.
why should I pretend to be a Christian once a year so I can celebrate the winter solstice.
After all pagan festivals are a lot more fun, they are all about food, beer and fertility [...] >>
And, incidentally, the death and resurrection of the sun god, according to modern pagan thinking; but feel free to ignore all that if it helps you complain about someone ELSE'S 'death cult'...
Where's the eye-roll icon when you need one?
Hey ho. Maybe you're being facetious, I dunno - but I know the predictable indignant bleating of some neo-pagans around this time of year about how the Christians 'stole' their midwinter festival does a perfectly good job of satirising itself.
Puzzled By Praise
Whether it's a ridiculous law or not, I don't know; or frankly much care. Personally I've never felt the need to fly with a litre bottle of vodka anyway. So maybe I'm not in a great position to comment on it (saying "it doesn't really affect me" would risk triggering the stock "first they came for the <whoever>" lectures).
But the notion that this was some heroic act of defiance by a noble defender of civil rights? That's deluded. This was an idiot being bolshy when faced with a rule that said he couldn't do what he wanted to do. His supposed 'protest' was foolish, and it's only blind luck he's still around. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad he is: better that than the alternative. But while we can be pleased he's more or less okay, let's not lionise him as some sort of revolutionary, eh?
It's not for me to tell anyone who wants to argue the toss with 'Moon hoax' conspiracy theorists that they can't or shouldn't do so. In fact, it's great that so many people are still willing to do it: the voice of reason *should* be heard in response to the mindless parroting of irrational nonsense.
But it's worth bearing in mind, as well, that no amount of argument, rational or otherwise, is going to change the conspiracy theorists' minds. Logic can't defeat the irrational: those who believe believe because they *want* to believe. They're hugely emotionally invested in their version of 'The Truth'. It is, in effect, a religion of sorts, and its followers can be as zealous and blinkered as the fanatical fringe of any other faith.
But nobody *asked* you to sympathise...
These posts seems to fall, in general, into two categories: those who're criticising the vigilante for taking matters into his own hands, and those who want to express their lack of sympathy for the murder victim.
Well, I'm in both categories. But as far as I can tell, there's nothing in the article asking us to be sympathetic towards the dead guy. I don't particularly care what happens to someone with a history like that. But that's not the point. The point is that this 'concerned father' allowed anger and fear (two characteristics becoming depressingly dominant in both US and UK at the moment) to move him to commit murder and thus make himself a criminal - even if in his own eyes he was some sort of 'hero'.
If we live in an ordered society (and contrary to popular belief around here, 'order' doesn't necessarily equate to totalitarianism), and if we claim to be civilised, then we can't simply ignore the rule of law when we decide we're not satisfied with the justice system. It's often said that the public shouldn't take the law into their own hands - but where else should the law be in a democracy? In fact, the law *should* be in the hands of the public. As Robert Peel said, the police are only those members of the public who devote their full-time attention to the duties incumbent on ALL citizens - such as upholding laws which are subject to the collective democratic will of the people. The law should be in the public's hands *collectively*, not individually - and one member of the public acting on the basis of his or her own fear, anger, frustration or whatever else, does not have the right to re-write or claim exemption from the law.
The history of the victim is irrelevant here, except insofar as it is the root of the motive. But beyond that, it's not a factor. What's relevant is that this guy has demonstrated why a) he's dangerous; and b) Megan's/Sarah's laws are a really, tremendously bad idea until the public show as willing to accept responsibilities as they are to claim rights.
@Anonymous Coward (For Last Time)
<< No, I judge it in accordance with the law (local and international) >>
You've already declared it 'manslaughter', and that without the benefit of all the facts. This board's contributors don't even know the full circumstances: as shown by the disagreements over whether or not the man was mentally ill. But your confident declaration of the officers' guilt shows me that you judge the situation in accordance with your own immediate feelings and preferred interpretation of the law (local and international); not to mention your existing opinion of the police. The same applies to all those who are here making absolute statements in either direction about the incident.
My argument is that one video clip and a few lines in a news article do not constitute the basis for a sound judgement; but that those who already entertain a specific agenda use what they have in the way they wish to use it. Based on your comments I stand by that argument.
<< What do you see when you watch that video? Do you not see a man who, despite his complying, receives violence (independently from its nature and effects) from 4 policemen? >>
I see the culmination of a situation the bulk of which I was not there to witness; and I see the tragic death of a man who, as I've repeatedly stated, should not be dead. Note that nowhere have I claimed that the officers were NOT culpable, nor that action should not be brought against them. My position throughout this discussion has been that one's immediate emotional response, or one's feeling about law, or the police in general, should not be used as the basis of a conclusion; and that those (such as yourself) who happily rely on their emotions to judge this situation are liable to reach unreliable conclusions, albeit ones that satisfy their own preconceived ideas.
<< Do you deny the documented fact that Ian Blair went to great lengths to delay the IPCC? Do you deny that the policemen who shot de Menezes agreed on a version of events (strangely in their favour) that conflicts with all independent witnesses? >>
I deny neither. See above. Now, how would you regard a legal system that, faced with, say, a burglary suspect, found him guilty on the basis of the established guilt of another man, in another country in an otherwise unrelated case? I suspect that any good libertarian would protest such a system fiercely. Yet this is the argument that you offer here: because the Metropolitan Police behaved dishonestly over de Menezes, so the Canadian police are guilty of manslaughter in this case.
Again, for clarity, and as my last comment on this article, if the police officers involved in this case are found guilty of a disciplinary or criminal offence after a *thorough independent inquiry* has weighed all the available facts, then let them face the consequences. However, I continue to believe that our society's current obsession with and preference for immediate and superficial emotional expression rather than considered evaluation is deeply unhealthy.
@ Anonymous Coward
<< Even when we do, hearing them from a court of law, as opposed to a tabloid, it doesn't really make a difference. >>
And that's precisely my point: this is why so many people are so willing to swallow everything the tabloids throw at them, to jump through all the designated hoops and indulge in whatever emotional response the media instruct them to. This is why, to go entirely off-topic, Madeleine McCann's* parents have been alternately the heroes and the villains of her story so many times. The media tell us what to think, and we obediently think it.
<< Just after they shot de Menezes, it was clear to me that something was not right, since the suspect terrorist didn't have any bombs on him - else the police would have bent over backwards to "leak" that to the press. >>
It was clear to everyone that something wasn't right - and sure enough, something wasn't right. But deciding something's not right is one thing: deciding the moment the incident's occurred, and before any inquiry, that you know exactly what went wrong, who's to blame and what should be done to them - well, that's something else entirely.
<< So when I said that this was a summary execution... outrage outrage, "he was a terrorist", "these people deserve to die", blah blah. >>
Both statements are equally ridiculous. First, your remark that it was a 'summary execution' was emotive and based on your own knee-jerk opinions about law and policing.
The responses suggesting that the man deserved it were similarly nonsensical, based primarily, it seems, on the responders' immediate feelings about your initial statement (and others like it).
Yet some people still prefer to reserve judgement, knowing that they do not have enough information with which to make a reliable one.
<< Right. Then it turned out it was a "tragic mistake". Well, that's at least manslaughter then, if not murder. >>
Possibly - but this forum is not a board of inquiry, and therefore declarations of guilt like this are inane at best.
<< So excuse me if I judge the video I see in front of me for what it is: >>
You have made it quite clear that you will judge it in accordance with what you expect and want to see: evidence in support of your prejudices and your predetermined opinions. As I said, you have a truth already - it's clear you don't want another one.
* For those not subjected to the British press, a young British girl who went missing on holiday 200 days ago, whose parents are alternately praised and vilified in the tabloids, depending on which position the editors feel is more newsworthy.
Knee-Jerkin' (and @Tawakalna)
Tiny general points first: TASER is a trademark acronym: it's spelt with an 'S', not a 'Z'; it's in full caps; and there is no verb 'to tase'. And no, I don't work for them. I just have a thing about back-formations (the same thing happened when someone decided you could 'lase' something with a laser - also an acronym).
Right, now in reply to Tawakalna, and sorry in advance for the ludicrously long 'comment':
<< do I have to go back as far as Derek Bentley (executed because the cops couldn't pin it on the real killer) >>
I'd suggest that you think carefully about the words "do I have to go back as far as". It could be argued that the fact that you've had to go back that far in order to come up with enough high-profile examples says something in itself. It's worth bearing in mind the vastly greater number of times that police DON'T shoot before making a judgement that they're all callous thugs who love nothing more than torturing and killing the citizenry. Time and time and time again, the police in our countries are faced with potentially dangerous situations, yet DON'T pull the trigger. But when they bring an incident to a *peaceful* conclusion, where's the praise? There is none: after all, in those cases, they're just doing the jobs they're paid to do, right? By the "I Pay Your Wages" crowd. Right? But when the trigger is pulled or the baton applied then suddenly it's a sign that George Orwell Was Right and the whole place is going to the dogs and Up The Revolution. It doesn't seem to occur to anyone that what happened in this case was, to put it bluntly, a massive screw-up and (like most disasters) an unfortunate convergence of circumstances.
Before you jump on me for having the gall to defend the Evil Copper Filth, as I've said already it's a given that something went wrong here - this man should NOT be dead, any more than Jean-Charles De Menezes or Derek Bentley should be dead. Something went wrong, something was DONE wrong, that's probably someone's fault, and an inquiry must weigh the facts and, if necessary, apportion blame. But I'd draw your attention to this bit, too:
<< Seems like El Reg message boards are turning out like everywhere else these days, split between decent NORMAL people who believe in freedom and peoples' basic rights, and right-wing goons who think that everything is justified in the name of fighting "terrorism" >>
That's precisely what the problem is. Not only El Reg but in just about every net or media forum in the free world, there is a split between those who think one thing and those who think the polar opposite. Seems now there are only ever two sides to any story - and when it crops up on the news you picks your side and grabs your pitchfork.
People settle far too quickly and too easily on knee-jerk extreme responses, and rarely seem to step back, take a breath, and consider the facts of the situation. In this case, for example (and stop me if I'm getting repetitive), there's the fact that none of us were there, and none of us know anything about it other than what we've been told. Even what we see on the video depends to some extent on the context we've been given by others. Does the video show the guy has mental health problems? No. Does the video show he'd been waiting in the airport for ten hours? No. Does the video show that his mother lived in Canada? No. What the run-up to the incident was? No. What the officers had been told prior to their arrival? No. Aside from what we see, all we know is what we're being told by other sources - yet almost everyone here is quite happy to make an enormous emotional investment in that information and adopt a position that determines in which direction they should aim their ostentatious outrage.
We're all too eager to show off our indignation or make our political statements. The simple fact is, and I'm speaking in general terms now, not specifically about this incident, that freedoms and rights have to be balanced with responsibilities and duties, and that our rights have to have boundaries if we're to function as a society. That is why even a free society has to have some form of policing. Some would argue - and I'd agree entirely - that it's the erosion of those boundaries, and the disproportionate focus on individual rights above social responsibilities, that's leading the UK (for one) down its current path. The resultant rising crime and awareness of crime, and accompanying fall in respect for life and property, is fuelling the fear that's now pervading even our once-stoic society and leading us to accept increasing government controls. It's not the terrorists that are terrorising us. They're just enjoying the show. Even the government - and this is heresy, I know - isn't terrorising us: they're just taking advantage of our terror. The only people who are terrorising us is *us*. Our hysteria and our perfunctory, thoughtless, emotionally-rooted responses to every situation are precisely what is making us vulnerable to this sort of manipulation, and the comments page on this article has been a prime example of it.
Jumping The Gun
... No pun intended. But I'm marvelling at the sheer conviction in some of these comments - the absolute declarations of right and wrong from people who, at best, have watched a video of the incident. And from that - not to mention their preexisting opinions of other, vaguely related incidents - they apparently know enough to determine who was innocent, who was guilty, and draw extensive, sweeping conclusions about the state of Canadian policing or about policing in general.
It may well be that these officers acted wrongly - indeed, since the person involved is dead, it's a given that they did. But was this as a result of their lack of understanding? Their misinterpretation of the situation? Or was it malice? Were they simply playing god, as some are keen to suggest police always do, there not being a decent, honest, freedom-loving individual amongst them? Or should we listen to those who soundly condemn the 'suspect', whose behaviour forced the entirely innocent officers' hands?
Or should we consider that every comment here so far - including this one - has been made by someone with at best a remote knowledge of the incident? What a lot of those comments have in common (though not all - some seem pretty balanced) is that they're kneejerk responses, made in the pursuit of a specific political agenda: the police are either the brutal blunt instrument of an increasingly totalitarian regime (or at least they're all criminally negligent); or the suspect obviously asked for it, just look at him, I mean the hair alone proves it... Everyone knows better, would have known better, would have acted differently and ensured a happy ending - except of course that none of those people were there, and ALL now enjoy the benefit of that famously perfect hindsight.
We had precisely the same arguments following the Menezes shooting in London. It's a wonder anyone bothers with inquiries and inquests at all, since the truth is so readily available to everyone with an opinion. Or perhaps it's just that too many people are happy to settle for 'truthiness': the 'facts' that they think seem to confirm the opinions they already hold. After all, once you've got a 'truth' you're happy with, why bother looking for another one?
The only thing that can be said with certainly about this incident - as with the Menezes shooting - is that someone is dead who certainly shouldn't be. Why that is, who if anyone is to blame, and what if anything should be done to them, is something that can only be decided by those in *full possession of the facts*. And that's going to take a full investigation. It certainly can't be determined convincingly on the comments page of a Reg article. And even when it's been investigated, it's unlikely that the conclusion reached could then be extended to include whole wide groups of people, like police, or Canadians, or immigrants, or the mentally ill.
You're intelligent people. And intelligent people shouldn't be leaping to conclusions based on what they'd LIKE to be true.
@ Jón Frímann Jónsson
<< UK is also getting close to hit my travel list ban because of how oppressive the UK government is starting to be >>
Well, boo hoo for you. Pardon me if I don't act all understanding on this one - but ain't you the lucky one? Some of us have to live here, and haven't the option to up sticks and run for it.
I'm not going to bother with the lofty political commentary. I'm just going to pick a quick nit.
This is why punctuation is important:
"... schemes such as the effective anti-child porn collaboration the Internet Watch Foundation ..."
So the Internet Watch Foundation is, apparently, a porn collaboration which is anti-child. One tiny missing hyphen, but a whole world of meaning...
I know, I know. I'm going.
@ Anonymous Coward
<< Mistakes can be made, or do you think the police are all perfect and infallible? Laws created in haste for one purpose can be misused to the detriment of the innocent as well as the guilty. >>
Certainly the police aren't perfect and infallible. Some of them are incompetent; some are corrupt. Most, though, are just men and women trying to do a job that they still just about believe is worth doing, even though the population for whom they're trying to do it increasingly seem to think otherwise. But what the police *don't* do is make law. They merely enforce it, as they're sworn to do. That's not to say that at high levels they don't have an influence - but bodies like ACPO are still a world away from the standard street copper, who generally has less political weight than Mr or Ms Average-Citizen.
Those who genuinely believe that the police are all deeply involved in some great Orwellian conspiracy might do well to peruse some of the numerous UK police blogs out there. Perhaps they'll show you that many of the police are just as frustrated by (and even worried about) new laws like this one, and that there'd be more than one copper breathing a sigh of relief - for just the same reasons as any of us - if this law *were* to be overturned.
@ Ian R
<< Sad to see the old fella maligned so much. Sure, he is getting somewhat past it, but what an incredible man in his day and how he advanced space and astronomy to the masses,especially during the days of 1, 2 and 3 TV channels only. >>
Agreed. He's a great man and a great mind, and not only that but - like Hawking (in this sense) - he's the sort of rare intellect whose affection and enthusiasm for his subject can be surprisingly infectious.
It is a shame he gets such a casual hammering from the media these days, and of course the sadly growing number of people who rely purely on the media for their opinions. Yes, he's said one or two things that don't quite fit into our modern political framework, but with the best will in the world he's been around a pretty long time, and when one focuses so keenly on one area it's only to be expected that one might not spend so much effort on the fads and fashions of expression.
Not so bad
I'm with Chris Miller on this one. All right, you can argue they should've known it was coming, and maybe that's true. But even without knowing it was coming, they still detected it. That's firmly in the Good Thing category - it shows the system works.
<< The other way is to use the lighthouse trick. If you light spins around once per second, 100,000km away the illuminated area moves at twice the speed of light. >>
No, that wouldn't work. The speed of light in vacuum is the absolute limit for light. You seem to be imagining the light from the lighthouse as being a rigid bar sticking out and sweeping around as the light emitter rotates. But the emitter is just firing out a stream of photons in the direction it's pointing at any given moment - we only see the 'beam' as a single straight 'bar' because light travels the sort of distances we're used to dealing with every day in a tiny, tiny fraction of a second. But the illuminated area at the end of the beam isn't a physical object in its own right: it's just the result of the photons scattering off something else. The particles still run into the target object at the speed of light, and no faster.
I sometimes wonder if the whole DNA thing isn't becoming as overestimated as the polygraph - the so-called 'lie detector', the mythology around which leads even law-enforcement agencies to seriously consider using it as an evidence-gathering tool, despite the fact that there's not a shred of evidence that it proves anything.
I'm not disputing that there's actual real science behind DNA identification (unlike the polygraph which is just a series of assumed conclusions); but what concerns me is just how conclusive DNA can possibly be. I mean, as far as I understand it we're each shedding DNA all the time, constantly, everywhere we go. And it doesn't necessarily stay where we put it. We touch someone, they touch someone else; or someone gets on the bus we've not long been on, or whatever, and our DNA gets transferred. And it strikes me that the primary assumption on which DNA evidence is built ("if your DNA is here, you were here") becomes a bigger and bigger leap the more sensitive the techniques for recovering DNA become. It's one thing to identify a suspect by some other means and take their DNA exclusively for the purpose of eliminating them (if their DNA isn't there, then they probably weren't either) - but it's quite another to keep everyone on file and just run a search of the database every time a crime occurs.
DNA should be considered one little spirally thread of evidence - not the be-all and end-all of a case. There might be no end of reasons why traces of a person's DNA could be at the scene of a crime, and for the moment at least (although I genuinely don't think the principle will survive much longer) a person is innocent until PROVEN guilty.
Defacing coins, as mentioned, isn't a crime any more. For the record, neither is attempted suicide - that was removed from the statute books by the Suicide Act 1961; although the same act made complicity in another's suicide a crime.
All that said, the trend towards arbitrary storage of personal data - apparently for no more worthy reason than that it's possible - does concern me. My main worry is based on the fact that it just seems to be taken for granted that if it can physically be done, these agencies and organisations have the right to do it. Not only governments, either, but companies: as I understand it (and I'd love to be wrong) the amount of data that firms like Tesco are taking it upon themselves to hold, apparently for no good reason whatsoever, is quite alarming.
And the less said about Bloody Google the better.
I don't know whether SpitefulGOD is British, but I'm guessing s/he is since s/he did put an 'a' in 'paedophile'; albeit in the wrong place.
<< if she did anything like that to a daughter of mine (i don't have any kids) I'd kill her. >>
The above bit of macho chest-pounding is a shining (?) example of one of the biggest problems in British society today: the increasingly widespread inability of British people to react proportionately. Whatever our various imperialistic wrongs, Britain was once a byword for dignity, restraint and stoicism. Now, we're a nation obsessed with emotion: the most unreasonable attitudes, actions and reactions can be legitimised by appeal to our 'feelings'. We take pride in our anger, we nurture our grievances, and we use a self-righteous sense of injury and victimhood to justify excessive and unreasonable knee-jerk responses to anything we perceive as infringing on our 'rights'.
And in a society that so freely endorses such selfish behaviour, we wonder why our children are beating each other senseless and videoing it for the amusement of their friends.
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