Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Looking through the little square Palantir

Bibs and bobs from this morning's fly-over:

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Some Irish people are saying that the country's most recent troubles are the result of a fairy curse after the government ran the M 3 motorway through Tara Skryne Valley, destroying a number of the ancient hill forts. The "desecration" of the Hill of Tara, the ancient seat of Irish kings, has particularly placed Ireland under a curse.

"The Hill of Tara: Activists claim an ancient curse lays over Ireland for the destruction of the fairy forts"

Apparently, part of the curse is the loss by Irish journalists of the knowledge of the difference between "lays" and "lies".

I'm therefore inclined to believe this theory.

Among the sites destroyed for the motorway was Lismullin Henge, a 4,000 year old astronomical observatory and place of worship hailed as one of the most important archaeological finds of the century.

The order for this piece of desecration was signed by then-Minister for the Environment Dick Roche, who
was since held up by an armed gang in the Druids Glen Hotel and also lost his job and was then demoted.

Martin Cullen, the then Minister for Transport nearly got sucked out of a helicopter when the door fell off on one of his extravagantly expensive trips. The chief Health and Safety Officer was seriously injured by a falling tree when felling began at Rath Lugh in 2007.A worker was killed when he became trapped at Fairyhouse where there have been many accidents on this stretch of road.

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David Cameron (that's the Prime Minister of Great Britain for our 'Merican readers) has enjoined schools to teach "happiness" lessons. This, as you might expect, has raised some eyebrows from various quarters.

David Cameron is obsessed with happiness...and is spending millions of taxpayers’ money on surveys to chart our every mood.

He wants the National Well-Being to be calculated and incorporated into future social policy. Does this mean the Government plans to penalise the people (like me) who are what I call creative pessimists?

Recently, Dave ordered the Office for National Statistics to ask 14,000 of us to complete ‘time diaries’, and another 4,000 to calculate (on a scale of one to ten) just how much they enjoyed each and every activity in their day.

That exercise is costing £1.5 million — which given the millions of people looking for work, many might feel we can ill afford.

I have one or two reactions: first, if he is the leader of Britain's ostensible "conservative" wing in politics, why are he and his party working so hard to barge into the inner lives of Britain's citizens? It is an axiom of conservative thought that free British people have a right to be as miserable as they want. It is the Left's modus to be interfering busybodies.

Second, and perhaps in contradiction to the above, it strikes me as not such a bad thing for a very stupid person to think. It seems as if Cameron's instincts are to try to make people happier, which is good, but equally instinctive is his assumption that it is the government's place to do so, which emphatically is not.

Mr. Cameron, apparently, needs a lesson in what government is for. Government, according to conservative thought, exists to keep the country safe from foreign invasion, to keep the peace at home and to create an environment in which citizens may get on with their lives unmolested by centrally imposed Bright Ideas. By these, I offer Bright Idea examples of the past like collectivisation, mass deportation of populations, gulags and "happiness courses". In the very furthest stretches of our theory, it might be allowed that a government may, with proper controls by the citizenry, keep the trains running on time, maintain the roads and help local communities build and maintain schools and hospitals (though these last two really should be the purview of the Church who, after all, invented them).

But I excuse Mr. Cameron on two grounds. First that he is a thoroughgoing, liberally educated modern who therefore is too stupid to know how to find his head with both hands and a Landsat and, like nearly every other British person I've ever met, does not know what "conservatism" means. They have been told all their lives by the BBC and hte Guardian that "conservative" simply means "evil". I will grant him good intentions, with his Bright Ideas like "Big Society" and "happiness courses" in schools, but give him an overall F- for failing to grasp the purpose of his office.

However, even in this last, I find it easy to forgive him. As we have stated above, he is a typical modern, morally illiterate British heathen who does not, therefore, have the faintest notion how a society is supposed to be structured and run. Like most Britons he simply assumes that government is supposed to dictate and run every aspect of people's lives for them. Crucially, he has forgotten the purpose and function not only of government, but of religion. If he wanted to spend his life making the British people happy, he should have become a priest. But as it is, he wants to give citizens the meaning of life and the secret to happiness without knowing it himself.

I can help with this.

Mr. Cameron, it is not the job of government to make people "happy". That is the job of religion. Specifically it is the purpose of the True Religion (which, of course, they have not had in Britain since 1534) to teach people how to live their lives and be happy.

You're welcome.

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18 year-old Marc, who I understand is quite the up-and-coming thing among Catholic bloggers, tells those who don't know what it is like to be a Catholic:
It's like sex.
Wait, no, people will think I'm 18.
It's like waking up in the morning, looking outside, and realizing that someone had replaced your ordinary route to work with a roller-coaster, your pen with a sword, and your friends with gods.
Not really.
It's like everything smelled of your favorite smell and you never got sick of smelling it.
But not quite.
It's steak and cigars.
It's like being constantly punched in the face.
Closer, warmer.
It's the feeling you get when you think you've reached the top of the stairs, but you haven't, you actually have one step left, and so you trip over it, and while you're laying sprawled out on the floor, crying, you check Facebook and realize that you have 37 notifications and 700 new friend requests, so you smile to yourself, pour a large glass of red, and read a 1000 year old book about some one who had a similar experience.

* ~ * ~ *

It has come into the news many times in recent years that British Christians often find themselves on the wrong side of the law when they dare to assert any aspect of their faith in public. Many, many stories have appeared, too many for me to keep track of. Fortunately, I don't have to, since the Christian Institute is doing that work.

Briefly, a Christian cafe owner in Blackpool, James Murray, was threatened with arrest by local police because he plays bible verses on a flatscreen TV in his cafe. No music or audio of any kind, just the verses with pictures of candles and things in the background. Now, while it is not illegal to show bible verses in public, it becomes an offense if someone takes offense.

And this is at the core of the whole problem, this major shift in the focus of law. The law in Britain no longer concerns itself with real, verifiable, objective acts, but is now focusing on phantasmic, internal, subjective experiences that are "verified" only by the word of the person experiencing them.

The law that is usually breached in these kinds of cases is the Public Order Act, section 5 of which states,

"(1) A person is guilty of an offence if he:

(a) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or
(b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting,

within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby."

That little bit at the end is the kicker. "...a person likely to be caused..."

The statutory defences are as follows:

(a) The defendant had no reason to believe that there was any person within hearing or sight who was likely to be alarmed or distressed by his action.
(b) The defendant was in a dwelling and had no reason to believe that his behaviour would be seen or heard by any person outside any dwelling.
(c) The conduct was reasonable.

Do you see it? The whole concept behind such a law should be anathema to British Common Law. An offense has only occurred when someone has the subjective experience of being offended.

If no one takes offense, then the same act, playing bible verses in a shop, is totally within the law.

But should someone be offended, then it is an offence for which the perpetrator may be arrested, detained and ultimately fined up to £1000. This perp. it must be emphasised, has committed no individual act that is in contravention of any law...until someone who sees it becomes offended.

Moreover, under the list of statutory defences is one, the first and most important, that requires the putative offender to have the ability to read minds and see the future.

A society based on the rule of law cannot start making laws that are subject to the whim of the individual citizen.

* ~ * ~ *


Martial Artist said...

Dear Miss White,

Your closing observation, that a "society based on the rule of law cannot start making laws that are subject to the whim of the individual citizen," is quite correct. However, I would humbly, and sadly, contend that the historical evidence supports the conclusion that the three principal Anglophone nations of which both you and I have some experience (Britain, Canada and the U.S.) have been steadily marching away from being "societies based on the rule of law," for something like a half century (at the very minimum—it could easily be twice that length of time, or even more). What has happened seems to me, not so much that the trend has changed, but that the rate of change in the trend has gathered speed during our respective adult lifetimes.

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

John said...

Bit #1. Ah, yes, I know how the old lady in the story felt. You know the story, the one about the old countrywoman who was approached by one of those cultural heritage surveyors and asked if she still believed in leprechuans and the little people. "Not at all," she said. "Those are just ignorant superstitions. Neither I nor anyone else believes in them any more. It's all nonsense." And as the surveyor turns to go she says "But they're there just the same."

Bit #4. The WSJ had something to say about that this morning. It's here:

The writer narrows it down to the death of the mens rea concept.



Andrew Cusack said...

Aha! This is actually what we're working on in Parliament at the moment! Specifically the proposed New Clause 1 to the Protection of Freedoms Bill, which would remove the word 'insulting' from Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986.

Dropping that one word will expand free speech and remove spurious grounds for arrest or citation. It's proposed by an MP from the governing party and we've got a good number of MPs from all three major parties to add their names to New Clause 1, and of course its completely in line with Coalition Government policy regarding civil liberties and the freedom of speech.

So the government's supporting it, right? Of course not. They're officially poo-pooing it and may even whip against it, and when the order of debate on amendments came up, they kicked this one ALL THE WAY TO THE BACK. We're trying to fight back by kicking it to number 1 on the agenda (for 10th Oct.), which is rarely done, but we shall see.

Oh Conservative government! How puerile and immature you are!

Anonymous said...

This 'Merican wonders why you think all Americans are idiots.