miss_s_b: (Fangirling: Cthulhu the Six!Fan)
Like shoring up your support if you're a tory leader.
Like legitimising the demonisation of muslims that you've been insidiously supporting for ages.
Like dropping bombs on people who can't fight back and you'll never have to meet.

I'm sorry.

I recognise that there IS such a thing as a just war, and that the ISIS (or whatever they're called this week) probably is as near to a just war as we're going to get. But I don't think any of our politicians are doing this for just reasons* and I have too many family and friends in the forces to EVER celebrate going to war. Ever.

So if you're going to do gung ho cheering for this, do me a favour? Don't do it in front of me, or I will find it very difficult to remain civil.



*and I include the leadership of the Lib Dems in this. We appear to have found yet another untapped reserve of people who were clinging on to supporting us to piss off. YAY!
miss_s_b: (Default)
miss_s_b: (Self: Innocent)
Poll #15952 Yoghurt
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 33


Licking the lid of the yoghurt pot is...

View Answers

... a necessary part of eating a yoghurt
25 (75.8%)

... disgusting
4 (12.1%)

tickybox!
14 (42.4%)

miss_s_b: (Default)
miss_s_b: (Default)
miss_s_b: (Default)
Firstly, Calderdale Local Party has it's policy working group meeting to consider amendments to motions this Saturday. If you have an amendment to a motion that you need support for, email it through to me or Alisdair and we'll put it in front of PWG for consideration for our support.

The other thing that will happen at PWG is that we will consider our OWN amendments. There are several motions that I have an eye on for some minor tweaking (and probably some of the things I am thinking of will be accepted as drafting amendments by the submitters of the motion) but there is ONE motion in particular that I think has the potential to be as controversial as Floella Benjamin's motion on censoring the internet protecting children was.

Heartbreakingly, that is the Crime motion which has had Julian Huppert's name applied to it. After the farrago over DRIP I am less surprised than I might have been, but it's still depressing to see him put his name to something so chock full of sneaky legalese, hidden authoritarianism, and puritanical attitudes. My problems with this motion are so many and varied that I am actually considering doing a full speech against it, rather than trying to amend it. But what do YOU guys think I should do?

Poll #15928 F13 Conference motion on Crime
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: Just the Poll Creator, participants: 10

In response to the bloody awful Crime motion, Jennie should:

Speak against the motion at conference
7 (70.0%)

try to get lots of amendments submitted
7 (70.0%)

do a line-by-line fisking of the thing on her blog
7 (70.0%)

despair at the damn thing being accepted in it's current form
3 (30.0%)

none of the above
0 (0.0%)



ETA: I should say that I am not against SOME of the proposals in this motion, and that's what makes it so frustrating. I'd really love to vote for some of them. But there's not enough there for me to want to support the motion as a whole.
miss_s_b: (Mood: Liberal)
There does appear to be a huge amount of confusion about this in various parts of the internet, so I'm going to break it down into almost patronising component parts.

What Free Speech is:

Free Speech means that you are free to say whatever you like, and so is everybody else.
Free Speech only works if everyone has it. If one person is free to say what they like but others are prevented from doing so then it's not really free.

What Free Speech isn't:

Free Speech means that you are free to say whatever you like: it does not mean that anyone else has to listen.
Free speech means that you are free to say whatever you like: it does not mean that anybody else has to give you a platform for your speech. Example: Internet forums and blog comment sections can have whatever moderation rules they like and this does not infringe upon your right to free speech in the slightest. You are perfectly free to go and set up your own website; nobody else's website has to give you room.
Free Speech does NOT mean that you are free to say whatever you like without there being any consequences. Example: If you say something racist, it is perfectly reasonable for people to conclude that you are racist. This is not them "shutting down debate" or repressing you. This is also where legal restrictions on free speech cut in. You are free to break those laws: but you must expect there to be consequences. If the laws are unjust then that is something to campaign about.
Free Speech does NOT mean that you are free to say whatever you like and once you have said it that is the end of the matter and nobody is allowed to argue with you. Example: If you make a factual error, nobody is infringing upon your right to free speech or your right to hold an erroneous opinion by telling you that you have made a factual error. They are merely engaging in their own right to free speech by telling you this.

The Basic Thing To Remember is:

Freedom of speech cuts both ways; it only works if everyone has it. You are free to speak, but others are free to respond. Then you can respond to them in turn. And then we have conversation. Or possibly debate. Or possibly bloody great blazing row.


Previous Posts in This Series:


Coming Soon (not necessarily in this order):

  • The Liberal approach to Education, and why Education is fundamental to Liberalism
  • Non-Conformity, and why celebrating it rather than just tolerating it matters to Liberals
  • Why Liberalism is Intrinsically feminist, anti-racist, pro-LGBT+-rights, etc.
  • The Liberal Approach to the Elimination of Poverty
  • The Rule of Law, or why Liberalism is not Anarchism
  • Bodily Autonomy and Consent: not just about sex.
  • Weatherwaxian Liberalism: "Treating People As Things" as a Root of Social Evil
  • Solving The UNIT Dating Controversy: or why Liberalism Appeals to Geeks and Why Most of Us Are Obsessed With Scifi



miss_s_b: (Default)
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miss_s_b: (Britishness: Tea)
I got the train into Bradford to go to work today. I get the train into work a lot. Sometimes it's late, and I gripe. Sometimes it's full, and I gripe about that too, especially if it's a smelly ancient Pacer. Sometimes it's empty, and the seats are nice, and I get a table to myself. Sometimes I get the sexy driver with the long hair and beard*. Sometimes I have chats with @NorthernRailOrg on twitter**.

Today is the first time I have ever been on a train that hit a person.

Bradford Interchange's platforms are all bay platforms, so I usually try to sit as close to the driver's cab as possible, to minimise the number of people I have to squeeze past when I get off the train. Today I was sitting at the nearest table to the drivers' cab. I was playing a game on my phone, and intermittently glancing at twitter and email. There had been a lot of emails in the morning because of an administrative error causing problems for one of my members who is attending Lib Dem Conference next month. I was checking to see if things were getting sorted out. I wasn't really paying attention to the train. The train just was.

Then there was a noise like crump and the train jerked. I think I swore. I looked across at the two girls sitting at the table across the aisle from me and was about to say what the hell was THAT? when a human body described a graceful arc past the window we were all three looking at.

Suddenly talking seemed a bit pointless.

The train pulled up and stopped for a while then took us in to Bradford. I texted someone I knew was in Bradford, because I needed a friendly face. As I got off the train I tried not to look at the dent on the front of it, but I couldn't help myself. It wasn't that big a dent, really. Not for a human life. There was a dead pigeon too, stuck to the rubbery bit which I don't know the name of on the front of the train.

The person I texted met me at the entrance to BDI and gave me copious hugs. They were very necessary hugs. He's a good hugger anyway, but today those hugs were especially appreciated. When you've witnessed a thing like that, any form of human contact is good, just to confirm that you're still alive and that people care about you.

And then I went to work. Because you've got to carry on, haven't you?

I have since heard that the incident was a fatality. I hope that the person who was hit is at rest, and that their family are coping, and that the driver of the train is OK, because Cthulhu knows that's got to be a horrible thing to happen to you at work.

I have the urge to contact everybody that I love and tell them all that I love them and how valuable they are to me, but that's impractical and they'd probably just call me a soppy bugger anyway.

I'll say one more thing. The next time I am umming and ahing about doing something, and the person who has asked me to do it says to me Oh go on, you could get hit by a train/bus tomorrow... I'm going to have some pretty mixed feelings about that. Life is short, and should be grabbed with both hands; this is an idea I am fully on board with, and today has renewed my determination to do just that. But every time someone says that now, I am going to see a train window, and a horizontal human body curving past it in slow motion...



*Not that I have a crush on a train driver. Nope. Not me O:-)
**often enough that I can usually tell when Tim or Lindsay is the one manning the twitter account, because those two are the ones I talk to most often.
miss_s_b: (Blogging: Mod hat)
After a few recent comments I thought I would remind everybody of this:
  • Anonymous commenting is enabled, although anon comments may be screened before publication; please, if you comment anonymously, give yourself a name. It gets very confusing talking to two anons at once.
  • I don't censor comments unless pushed VERY hard. Red lines include racism, misogyny, homophobia, unjoking advocation of violence, and being horrible about or to people I love.
  • If you want to point out cock-ups I have made, please direct them to Pedants' Corner; likewise if you want to ask me something off the topic of the post please go to this entry - this saves readers' scrolling fingers.
There have only been TWO comments from anons who haven't identified themselves, and I've not been too stringent about it, but I don't want to be pushed.
miss_s_b: (Default)
miss_s_b: (Default)
miss_s_b: (Default)
miss_s_b: (Mood: Liberal)
I can't help but notice, these days, that many people do not have an understanding of what Liberalism is. Others often have their understanding altered by the USian usage of the word, which is more akin to what we in the UK would call socialism. So I asked on twitter this morning whether people would welcome a series of blog posts on the very basic tenets... And was met with a resounding yes.

Because this is me, these pieces are going to be conversational rather than academic in tone, and posted sporadically rather than to a schedule; hopefully that won't put off too many people. It's also, obviously, going to be just my take on it. Your mileage may vary. Other people may have equally valid viewpoints. And all the other stuff one puts in the standard Liberal disclaimer.

In the beginning was the word, and the word was John Stuart Mill*

I have deliberately chosen a religious form of words for that heading, because that what it felt like to me. I was in my second year of university, having studied various philosophers from the age of 15**, when I took a module called State, Self and Society. It had one set text, and that set text was this.

At the time, all I knew of JS Mill was that he had a line in the Drunken Philosophers Song***. I was at the time rather fond of Kant, but knew that a lot of philosophy could be rather dry****, so I wasn't particularly looking forward to reading On Liberty. And then I read it.

It was - still is - the closest thing to a religious experience I have ever had.

Now, for those of you who don't have the time or the inclination to read Mill and Taylor's beautifully constructed, logical and passionate prose, and want a Cliff's Notes version... Well, I feel sad for you, but I can understand. If you do get the time, sit down and read the whole thing, it's not long and it is gorgeous. But the bit we are going to concentrate on today is...

The Harm Principle

The Harm Principle, exactly as stated in On Liberty, goes like this:
The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right... The only part of the conduct of anyone, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.
Now, rather like SEFS*****, people will quite often quote the first clause of this without bearing in mind the most important bit. In my view the pivotal part is His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant - pivotal because it leads onto the bit about the opinions of others. Many people read the first part of the harm prinicple and think that it means you can't do anything that might upset other people because you would be harming them by upsetting them; this is why the second, emphasising, sentence is so important. If you are upsetting someone else by harming yourself, they still do not have the right to force you to stop******.

This is the bedrock of Liberalism, as far as I am concerned

You should be able to do what you want, as long as you're not hurting anyone else. Nobody should be able to force you to stop doing something because they disapprove of it, or because they find it distasteful. The only reason you should be stopped from performing any action is to prevent you from harming somebody else.

There are, of course, other principles which Liberals hold dear, and which apply in many or most situations, but for me the Harm Principle is the absolute basic test that everything must pass. Thus, I am in favour of the legalisation of all drugs. I have no problem with any person having whatever relationship structures they wish to have, so long as everyone involved is fully informed and consenting. I am in favour of assisted dying, because anyone denying you your right to die at a time and place of your choosing is doing you far more harm than you are doing them by asking them to help you*******.

...And I am looking forward to having spirited discussions about those three, and any other examples people wish to come up with in the comments, because I'm a Liberal and we love to debate :)



Coming Soon (not necessarily in this order):

  • Free Speech: what it is and what it isn't
  • The Liberal approach to Education, and why Education is fundamental to Liberalism
  • Non-Conformity, and why celebrating it rather than just tolerating it matters to Liberals
  • Why Liberalism is Intrinsically feminist, anti-racist, pro-LGBT+-rights, etc.
  • The Liberal Approach to the Elimination of Poverty********
  • The Rule of Law, or why Liberalism is not Anarchism
  • Bodily Autonomy and Consent: not just about sex.
  • Weatherwaxian Liberalism: "Treating People As Things" as a Root of Social Evil
  • Solving The UNIT Dating Controversy: or why Liberalism Appeals to Geeks and Why Most of Us Are Obsessed With Scifi



* And, of course, Harriet Taylor, but to go too deeply into her contributions in this post would be to go off on one tangent too many, even for me. Lets put it this way: there is a pretty solid and compelling view that Harriet did as much of the stuff Mill is credited with as he did, and was only not credited herself due to overwhelming patriarchy, patriarchy which Mill himself abhorred.
** thank you Mr Rushton for including the Ethical Theory and Practical Ethics modules in A-level RE :)
*** Clearly dear old JS was only poorly after half a pint of shandy because they'd watered his beer down with nasty lemonade.
**** especially philosophy written by English lawyers and politicians, having tried and failed many times to get through more than a page of HLA Hart's The Concept of Law without falling asleep.
***** Stronger economy, Fairer Society ENABLING EVERYONE TO GET ON IN LIFE
****** Mill and Taylor do, of course, make some exceptions for those not capable of self-determination due to mental incapacity or youth, but even then, argue that these people should be allowed to self-determine in so far as is possible within the limits of safety.
******* although of course, you only have the right to ask; the person you are asking absolutely has the right to say no, particularly under the current law where helping someone to die could result in you going to prison for murder, which is a pretty serious potential harm to yourself.
******** NB: this is different from Vlad the Impaler's approach to the elimination of poverty, which was to put all the poor people in a barn, lock the doors, and set fire to it.
miss_s_b: (Default)
miss_s_b: Captain Kathryn Janeway (Feminist Heroes: Janeway)
"I think we should train the dogs to make breakfast"
"A fine idea in theory, but I fear it would not work in practise. Spike would go into the kitchen, get the butter dish to butter the toast, and hide under the dining table eating it. Roxy would spin round in small circles making Wookiee noises while the toast burnt."
"But that means one of us has to get out of bed..."
miss_s_b: (Default)

About This Blog

picture of Jennie Rigg

Hello! I'm Jennie (known to many as SB, due to my handle, or The Yorksher Gob because of my old blog's name). This blog is my public face; click here for a list of all the other places you can find me on t'interwebs.






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