miss_s_b: (Mood: Oh dear)


The picture above is an excerpt from DCM's standard terms and conditions for accepting advertising. They have been this way for a year or so, when they were changed to remove "party" from before "political" after so many people in Scotland complained about the Yes and No referendum campaign adverts. You will note that the small change I mention happened before the CofE even thought about filming their advert.

I am sure you are all aware of the maxim that one doesn't talk about religion or politics in public because someone is bound to get upset? DCM have this policy for that reason: whatever religion (or lack thereof, you'll note) is mentioned, someone is bound to get upset, demand their money back from the cinema, start protests, whine on social media, etc, and it's just not worth it. From a commercial point of view, if the money you make from accepting an advert doesn't cover the cost of the trouble the advert will cause, why would you even bother? As Ian Dunt points out here, it's not like the British Humanist Association, among others, haven't fallen foul of the same policy*. How anyone can claim with a straight face that this is discrimination is beyond me.

So no:
  • the CofE are not being discriminated against: this policy applies to groups of all religions and none. As LegionsEagle put it earlier, it's a category-based exclusion, not a content-based one.

  • this is not a new policy, nor should it have been a surprise to the CofE, nor was it suddenly brought in for some nebulous reason to do with muslims (try not to let your naked islamophobia show there)

  • The church of England is not some persecuted minority. They have a reasonable percentage of the legislature of the country all to themselves


I've spent half the day telling all and sundry from BBC Radio Leeds to everyone on twitter that this is a big fuss about nothing, is being massively misrepresented by the church for whatever ends, and it annoys me that the media are falling for it like they did for the sodding Winterval Myth; and so now I have typed it all out in a blog post I can just C&P the link.




*it's a shame Ian doesn't make the intellectual leap to apply the same logic to the other frozen peaches he's been trying to stop from thawing recently, but I think Ian and I just fall on different sides of the fuzzy-like-peach-skin generational divide line so eloquently described by Andrew here
miss_s_b: (Who: Dalek Pest Control)
Waaaaaaaay back in the mists of time I was very active in Harry Potter fandom. Bear with me, because there is a point to this. The official Harry Potter website forums had a very active mod team and a very restrictive policy on what was suitable for posting on a forum aimed at children*. After some degree of protest about this, a quite large group of us went and set up our own forums. I did most of the building and running of those forums. Some time after that, and after much growth of the site I was running, a group of people decided they didn't like how I was running that website. You know what they did? They went off and set up their own.

Not one of us at any point in any of those processes had their free speech infringed: the WB were perfectly within their rights to decide that babies are not a fit topic for children to possibly stumble on a conversation about**. I was perfectly within my rights to decide the policies for my site, and the people who moved on from it were perfectly within their rights to decide the policies on their site.

You see, the thing is, if a person, or a set of people, have made the effort to build something - be that a house, a blog, a website, or anything else - those people have the right to decide what they will and will not put up with within that place. If you want to build a website or set up a blog where people can come and shout obscenities at you, you can do so, just as if you wanted to let people into your house to shout at you you could do so. In a lot of cases it won't even cost you any money.

The thing is, whatever you decide to do in terms of comments on a website, there is going to be someone who doesn't like it. So you have to decide which people you want to make unhappy. In my view, the vast majority of websites - including lib dem voice - are far too nice to the sort of arseholes who make everybody who just wants a civil discussion unhappy. And that makes the people who just want a civil discussion unhappy, and when they're unhappy they go away. And then the only people you have commenting on your website are the arseholes. There is lots and lots of research out there on this, but even without the research it's perfectly blindingly obvious that websites with incredibly "free" comment policies quickly become cesspits of bile.

To be specific about Tony Greaves: a peer of the realm does not have his free speech infringed by being banned from a private website when he has been repeatedly told that his behaviour towards other people on the website is unacceptable and he needs to tone it down. He is perfectly free to be published elsewhere, or even set up his own website, as are any of the rest of us who don't like the way lib dem voice run their comments and/or forum. As, indeed, I don't, and therefore I have.

In my view it would do Lib Dem Voice good to have some competition. I am a Liberal, and I don't like monocultures and overcentralisation. Lib Dem Voice was set up by and is run by volunteers. There is nothing to stop other people doing what they did, and making a success of it. All it would take would be time and effort. Admittedly, quite a lot of time and effort, but the people who run lib dem voice have already put that time and effort in, and therefore it is their site and they can decide what they will accept people doing on it. I personally think that the Liberator Collective are best placed to set up a site in competition to lib dem voice at the moment, and I'd actually quite like to read such a website. Tony Greaves is a member of the Liberator collective regular contributor to Liberator and I'm sure would be welcome to contribute to any website they might build***.

So, liberator people: instead of being whiny entitled idiots and complaining about censorship when someone won't let you abuse them on their own website, how about putting some effort in yourselves and building your own?



* I got banned from it for tlking about being pregnant with my now 12 year old daughter, which I personally think is a little censorious.
** stupid and wrong, but within their rights.
*** corrected after being contacted by someone who IS a member of the Liberator Collective.
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: (Politics: Post Feminism)
So Mike Fabricant* tweeted a tweet expressing his dislike for Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in colourful and over the top terms. And Twitter exploded. And now he has reluctantly apologised, apparently under threat of having the whip withdrawn**.

I am very uncomfortable with this.

I quite regularly say that various people give me violent urges. I am - or was - under the impression that everybody knows I never actually would rip someone's head off and spit down their neck, or tear their arm off and beat them to death with the soggy end. Such "threats" are so clearly over the top and unlikely that it's obvious I am indulging in hyperbole, surely? We all remember the Twitter Joke Trial, right? We all thought it was dead obvious that Paul Chambers was only kidding. And I would say the same applies to Mr Fabricant's "threat" to punch Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in the throat to save himself from brainsplosion. Mike Fabricant might be a total arsehole, but I think it's vanishingly unlikely that, were he booked to debate on TV with Yasmin, he would crush her windpipe in front of the cameras. If only for self preservation.

But even if he were likely to follow through on his "threat", I still don't think that's reason to stop him fom saying it. I would rather arseholes say arsehole-ish things so we can point and laugh at them*** and recognise them for the arseholes they are than that they silently think arsehole-ish things and we all think they are not really arseholes.

I am also deeply uncomfortable with him being forced to apologise under threat of being sacked. If he apologises of his own free will that shows he has learned that being an arsehole hurts people and hurting people is bad. If he is forced to apologise like a reluctant toddler, all that teaches him is that he can't express his views without suffering opprobrium, not that his views are the problem. If the Tory party think his tweet was unacceptable they should take some disciplinary action****, not threaten him with disciplinary action unless he makes an apology he clearly doesn't mean.

I am a big defender of freedom of speech because misogynists and racists and homophobes and transphobes are people I want to avoid*****, and to avoid them I need to know who they are. If we ban them from expressing their views then it makes them much harder to spot. I'd like misogynists and racists and homophobes and transphobes to feel perfectly free to spew as much bile as they like.

Of course I'd like it even more if society didn't reward them with airtime and newspaper columns and positions of power for being misogynists and racists and homophobes and transphobes, even while po-facedly shaking its head and making them fauxpologise, but I realise that's a pipe dream.



* you have NO idea how hard I have had to try to avoid childish purposeful misspelling of his name throughout this post
** according to Cathy Newman, anyway.
*** or shake our heads and tut disapprovingly, or whatever.
**** I am bang behind freedom of association, as well as freedom of speech, and if I were the Tory party I'd sack Fabricant for being an unrepentant arsehole, not make him pretend to repent like that makes everything OK.
***** Some days I have enough spoons to want to debate with them, but not today.

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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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