Hysterical claims that Christians are “under attack” are rubbish


by Guest    
3:47 pm - February 12th 2012

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contribution by Lee Durbin

In a thunderous broadside over at Conservative Home, Tory MP Nadine Dorries has responded to a High Court ruling deeming it unlawful for Bideford council in Devon to hold prayers as part of their formal proceedings.

Directing her ire against the “zealots” of the British Humanist Association and the National Secular Society, Ms Dorries highlights a pattern of “attack upon Christian belief in this country”, which she says must be countered by legislation or a Statutory Instrument.

As one example of this perceived religious persecution, Ms Dorries points to a van driver who lost his job “for hanging a crucifix from his cab mirror”, apparently referring to the case of electrician Colin Atkinson.

Mr Atkinson came under investigation following a complaint made by a tenant to his employer, Wakefield and District Housing (WDH), over the 8ins cross he had displayed on the dashboard of his company van. It was and remains WDH policy that employees are not allowed to publicly display personal items in company vehicles, although nothing prevents them from attaching such items to their clothes or keeping them on their desks at work.

Contrary to Ms Dorries’s assertion, Mr Atkinson was not fired at all – in fact, just days after the story was reported by the Daily Mail under the headline “Banished for his Christian beliefs”, he came to a compromise agreement with WDH, in which he was allowed to keep the cross attached to the more discreet area of the front of the glove compartment.

The Daily Mail itself mentioned a court ruling that a Christian couple broke the law when they turned away a gay couple from their Bristol guesthouse in 2008. It cited this and the Bideford council case in order to justify its “Christianity Under Attack” headline.

So to summarise, the evidence for this “attack” amounts to one court ruling against a homophobic couple whose views even their QC admitted are “outdated”, another against a local council who see fit to impose their Christian pronouncements upon equally-elected representatives of other faiths or no faith at all, and a decision made by an organisation, prompted by a complaint, to insist that all employees adhere to company policy.

The tendency for the likes of Ms Dorries, the Mail, and former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey to claim victim status, expressed in hysterical headlines and backed up by poorly-researched examples, is not only disingenuous but inimical to the need for a sensible dialogue between the faithful and the non-religious in Britain.

Simon Barrow, co-director of the Christian thinktank Ekklesia, is a rare but welcome voice in this respect, and commented yesterday that Mr Justice Oseley’s ruling “is about preserving freedom of religion and belief in public life, not curtailing it.”

Rather than put on a show of wounded hysteria, it is time those who claim that it is to engage in a more mature and reasoned dialogue – who knows, doing so might even encourage some of the majority who self-identify as “Christian” back onto the pews.


Lee Durbin tweets from here.

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Reader comments


Given that we have an established Church, the Head of State is also the Head of the Church and takes a Coronation oath to defend and protect the faith, and given that Bishops are automatically elevated to the Lords as unelected representatives to the legislature for life, I’m fairly confident that if Christianity were under attack in the UK, it’s got a pretty secure defensive position.

If I was them, I wouldn’t be particularly worried.

Quite so.

Oh come off it, Lee Durbin.

Do you seriously expect anyone to believe that the National Secular Society supported the Bideford case because they wanted to preserve freedom of religion?

That’s really not their metier.

Of course they want to drive religion out of public life.

That’s what they’re for.

That’s only CofE, mind you – other denominations of course hardly enjoy the same level of protection by the state.

If any branch of the Christian faith might have cause to feel “under attack”, it must surely be the Catholics, given our history of trying to make laws barring them from access to public office and the line of royal succession amongst other things.

But again, I wouldn’t be particularly worried; given that most of those laws (with the exception of Royal Succession, and that’s being increasingly challenged) are no longer on the books and have long since been forgotten, it’s hardly an issue. And since there are now core members of the royal family who either are or have converted to Catholicism and given that Tony Blair was effectively a closet Catholic (quietly converting formally shortly after leaving office) and given that Catholicism is clearly no barrier to Cabinet service (in the case of Hazel Blears, she was not only devoutly Catholic, but also rumoured to have close ties with no less than Opus Dei), I can’t see how on earth it would be an issue.

You can argue why Blair felt the need to conceal his Catholic leanings, and I’m sure as with most of what he did, his reasons were as much political as they were political, but the last faith-based Judeo-Christian electoral stink to occur at the top level in politics was Michael Howard trying to make hay from the alleged anti-semitic undertone of featuring his face on the “Pigs Might Fly” election campaign posters, which just came across as equally pathetic and reaching on his part.

I think this one can be solved fairly easily – if any Christians feel under attack or not sufficiently defended by this society, take it up with the Queen.

It is, actually, after all, her job.

Meanwhile, let Parliament, the BBC and all our other major publicly funded institutions get on with the much harder and more nuanced job of defending and protecting the interests of every other solemn practitioner of a minority faith that doesn’t enjoy automatic royal patronage and the full protection of the Crown.

The militant secularists are ”attacking” Muslims too – any thoughts on this?

Apparently the student’s union have ”seen through” the racist islamobhobia at UCL, where the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist society were being provocative by promoting a mocking ”Jesus and Mo” cartoon on their website.

This is known as ”dog whistling” (or something) I believe.

http://hurryupharry.org/2012/02/12/when-did-universities-become-such-hotbeds-of-conservatism/

Or do we tell the complaining muslim students that it’s just tough if they don’t like it?

But of course the point is not that Christianity is actually under attack, it’s that Nadine Dorries’ worldview requires that it must be. The evidence can be fabricated later. This particular brand of Conservative, not being socialists, can never represent a real democratic, grassroots movement. Likewise they can’t locate the need for such a movement in the exclusion of ordinary people from power, education and opportunity by capitalism – because they are the primary defenders of capitalism.

They can reconceptualise the whole question so that the means of exclusion is nothing so fundamental as capitalism, but becomes “political correctness” – a conspiracy of the elite to get rid of traditional values. This neatly creates a space for those a few rungs down from real power, but who only seek to move up rather than overthrow the whole edifice. Enter Nadine Dorries. The people up the rungs – the elite – are portrayed as cultural, not economic. They are portrayed as out of touch (which is an easy thing to show, but is equally true of the Liddles, Dorries and Phillips of this world) and through each new instance of government incompetence or unresponsiveness, these A-grade mediocrities attempt to harness the genuine people’s anger, and force their conceptual universe on those who are angry.

In many respects this is our version of the Tea Party movement; it is the sentiment preyed on by the Sun, the Daily Mail and the Telegraph. Despite such solid backing from elements of the political and media elites, it’s a telling testimony that this element to our political life is still so weak relative to what one might expect.

Is this the same ‘Christian’ Nadine Dorries who had an affair with her friends Husband?

If the hypocritical Dorries is the best defence Christian religion has then, well……

I think it is high time for the secular and the humanist movements to strike against the over reaching and sometimes frightening hold that religion has on the state.

The hypocrisy of the religious right knows no shame. So so called small govt conservatives want legislation so that religion can be imposed on those that don’t want it. Also, the right, who always defends employers right to impose whatever ludicrous views on their staff. From hideous outfits, to weird corporate speak think those companies can’t keep religion out of the workplace.

Just change Christian to Islam and you see how mad these views are.

@8

“I think it is high time for the secular and the humanist movements to strike against the over reaching and sometimes frightening hold that religion has on the state.”

It’s a worthy goal, but a practical achievement to reach for with things as they stand, given that structurally, the CofE and the State are so fundamentally joined at the hip in the form of the Monarchy.

This isn’t America. We don’t have a formal and codified separation of Church and State, nor do we have any formal guarantees of religious (or irreligious) freedom.

The best you can hope for is a series of Chinese Walls between the Church, Parliament and the Crown and a non-interventionist Monarch who takes no active or public position on matters of law and faith, which is what we have now. That’s the best deal we are going to get.

You can’t disestablish the Church without affecting the relationship between the Monarchy and Parliament, and almost as significantly (to an equal level of complexity and entanglement), you can’t change the relationship between the Crown and the Church without affecting the relationship between the Crown and the Commonwealth; there are still enough countries (other than Britain) which still have the Queen as either the Head of State or Head of the Church for it to cause major headaches and the middle of a major and intractable global ecconomic crisis, now is not the time to waste valuable time or political capital on it.

As an atheist, I’m content to leave it the way things are currently, content with the assurance, that QEII, Charles III, Wills and whoever comes after them will be content and understand well enough the situation to leave well alone.

There’s little to be gained by having that fight and much to loose. I personally won’t be loosing much sleep over it either way.

@ Flowerpower

“Do you seriously expect anyone to believe that the National Secular Society supported the Bideford case because they wanted to preserve freedom of religion?

That’s really not their metier.

Of course they want to drive religion out of public life.

That’s what they’re for.”

What they’re for is the promotion of secularism – the non-interference of state and religion in each other’s business. (E.g. the state refrains from telling people what churches they can and can’t belong to, and churches refrain from telling people what state schools they can and can’t attend.)

It does rather tickle me when attempts to make the UK more of a US-style secular democracy are painted as attempts to restrict religious freedom and/or ‘drive religion out of public life’. Has the incorporation of secularist principles in the constitution cost the US dearly in terms of restricting religious freedom and driving religion out of public life, do you think? Obviously not – but it has provided a line of defence against people who might want to replace genuine science textbooks with creationist ones, say. Religious freedom would be in far more danger if the constitution wasn’t there to prevent people from imposing their own religious beliefs on others via the state.

12. Just Visiting

Talking of the USA – school classes, and Congress, open with everyone making the pledge:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

See that phrase ‘under God’ ?

While the claims of christian persecution are unfounded, there is a tincy bit of truth that comes out of the farce.

As a member of the NSS I think when issues of religon and state collide, then rightly, out come the teeth unrepentantly.

However, I have seen and see trends in the BHA and NSS where they look to use state power to regulate the private sphere or the semi-private sphere. This makes me uncomfortable as it weakens what secularism is, looks to the state or legal authorities as an arbiter and frankly doesnt impact on my life at all. Im a secularist because I do not believe in an established state religion and I oppose and see danger in religion and the state being intertwined. However, while being a anti-theist, Im not particularly bothered if someone wants to place a cross on the front of their works van dashboard. While theoretically, the issue was that the company stated no personal items should be displayed, under their own rules, the driver broke them. However, I would support his right to do so because of the already de-humanising aspects of work. Who cares if he gets to express some personality on his work van, I would back him on the grounds that the company rules are very authoritarian and anyone should be able to place small personal items within the cab of the van.

I didnt sign up to and campaign for secularism to stop this petty issue and others like it, I take aim at real power like bishops in the HOL (though I believe the lords should be scrapped anyway), faith schools, the church of england and various other legal, legislative and political power religion posseses throughout society.

So yes, dorries and the screaming layers of the faithful dont realise they have it so good, but Im afraid elements within the secularist and humanist movement do overstep the mark.

14. Just Visiting

Do a little thought experiment – imagine that for hundreds of years one little council in Britain had been in a predominently Muslim area – imagine that their council session started with Islamic prayers.

How would LC describe the attempt to stop such prayers – efforts not made by a majority of the council but one member?

Well actually, maybe we know what may have happened – as Damon pointed out above because after the mere publication of cartoons featuring Jesus and Mohammed having a beer, the President of the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist soc. at University College London stood down.

Meanwhile other groups on the left leap in and described the cartoons as: “a deliberate attempt to offend Muslims serve to highlight a festering undercurrent of racism.”

Flip the word Christian for Muslim – and that’s a phrase I don’t recall hearing LC –
“a deliberate attempt to offend Christians serve to highlight a festering undercurrent of racism.”

This woman is only interested in grabbing headlines and cheap attention for her silly and idiotic ideas!

The “under God” bit was only put in about the 1950s. It was not in the original pledge. Something that is ignored by mad religious tea party morons. And yes they are the same people.

@10 Prince Charles has already made it known that he intends to use his kingship in a presidential manner. How successful he’ll be with that endeavour given the limited powers that will be available to him remains to be seen.

18. Just Visiting

Sally

> The “under God” bit was only put in about the 1950s

So what – we aren’t discussing history, we are discussing religion in political life as it is today.

(in the case of Hazel Blears, she was not only devoutly Catholic, but also rumoured to have close ties with no less than Opus Dei)

You mean Ruth Kelly, I think.

@13
Yep, you nail it.

Just Visiting

blah Muslims blah “stop such prayers” blah

Except that the prayers aren’t being stopped, are they? They’re just stopping being compulsory. That’s why the whole furore is so overblown. Christians are not “under attack”, they still have exatcly the same rights to worship, pray, whatever, as they always have (rightly so, of course).

The only rights that are bing removed are their rights to force other people to join in against their will. Well, good!

And yes, I can’t speak for any other LC commenters of the NSS, but exchange ‘Christian’ for ‘Muslim’, and my attitude would exactly be the same.

21. Chaise Guevara

@ 6 damon

“Or do we tell the complaining muslim students that it’s just tough if they don’t like it?”

Yep. Since when do people have the right to silence other people’s views on the grounds that they find them offensive?

22. Just Visiting

Step left

> While the claims of christian persecution are unfounded, there is a tincy bit of truth that comes out of the farce.

I admire your certainty that there is no christian persecution.
Can you share with us any serious sources, academic articles that have led you to this conclusion?

I guess you’d agree that there is plenty persecution of Christians in other countries:
try googling for:
- Syrian Christians Fear Genocide
- Egypt’s Revolution, Christians Are Living in Fear

And though my experience is of course anecdotal – in my small Uk town several of my Afghani friends have been attacked, GBH and Attempted murder: and have had to flee the town and move elsewhere. They were attacked by Muslims, threatening them with death because of their apostasy at having given up being Muslims.

23. Chaise Guevara

According to the Christian Institute, via that Guardian article: “Individual councillors were free to not take part in the prayers if they wished, and the register of attendance was not taken until after the prayers had finished.”

If, and only if, the above is true, I think the wrong decision was made here. I’m not particularly comfortable with the idea of my local area being managed by a prayer group, but if some of the councillors feel like praying before the meeting, I don’t see what harm it does. If non-believers and secularists were forced to join in, that would be a different matter.

The most idiotic troll in the world……..

” we aren’t discussing history, we are discussing religion in political life as it is today.”

BWWWWAAAAAAA

So what happened or did not happen 2000 tears ago is not history, or is religion or something

And the fact that the Founding fathers were not (as claimed by the religious right wing nincompoops) as religious, as they claim is not relevant in your tiny mind? You brought up the under god pledge.

No one is stopping you from practicing whatever religion you wish to, in your own time. But I, and a lot of other people don’t want you pushing your religion on us, in our time. thanks.

23. Oh look, right on cue our very own concern troll to tell us that he is a little concerned , but no matter because he backs the religious freaks.

26. Chaise Guevara

@ 14 JV

“Meanwhile other groups on the left leap in and described the cartoons as: “a deliberate attempt to offend Muslims serve to highlight a festering undercurrent of racism.”

Whoever said that is a) a moron and b) dishonest enough either to comment on an issue without finding out about it or to find out about it and then lie. Jesus and Mo makes a point of being equally offensive to Christians and Muslims, and the picture in question (if I’ve got the right one by doing an image search for the name of the cartoon and the name of the organisation) is no exception. Ironically enough, it’s a cartoon about people taking needless offence…

But so what? Should the rest of the left be held to account for this? Shall I start digging up stupid quotes by stupid right-wingers and demanding that you apologise for them?

What these people seem to be demanding is not freedom from discrimination, but rather that the state should discriminate in favour of Christianity. I have no doubt that the great majority of practising Christians don’t share these ridiculous views.

Furthermore, since Christians are the majority and Anglicanism is still the state religion and enjoys special privileges, it seems to me that these activists belong in the same category as those who claim that men are victimised, or heterosexuals. In other words, they’re reactionaries upholding an unjust social order.

“And though my experience is of course anecdotal – in my small Uk town several of my Afghani friends have been attacked, GBH and Attempted murder: and have had to flee the town and move elsewhere. ”

I smell odious troll bullshit here. Evidence please?

America has a threadbare tea party astroturfing spree, all Dorries / Daily Fail can whip up is a ripple in a tea cup… & both are pathetic, especially when you know the “god” they truly worship is Mammon.

They are less Christian than me, & I’m atheist.

I suppose what strikes people as odd is the claim that they shouldn’t be praying because legislation doesn’t explicitly permit them to. I was under the impression that in the UK everything is permitted unless explicitly forbidden. Will there also be a ban on serving tea and biscuits as there are no express provisions?

Furthermore this has been going on ever since the 1972 Act was passed: so why only outlaw it now?

@Justvisiting

“I admire your certainty that there is no christian persecution.
Can you share with us any serious sources, academic articles that have led you to this conclusion?”

Burden of proof is on you, or the people who claim it. Also I think there is a distinct difference between persecution by the state or powerful institutions and someone individually carrying out persecution. Im not trying to downplay the experience of persecution by an individual, but in this case, I am refering to persecution or discrimination in relation to institutions of political power, and I dont think there is any evidence to suggest that christians are persecuted or oppressed in that sense.

“I guess you’d agree that there is plenty persecution of Christians in other countries:
try googling for:
- Syrian Christians Fear Genocide
- Egypt’s Revolution, Christians Are Living in Fear

And though my experience is of course anecdotal – in my small Uk town several of my Afghani friends have been attacked, GBH and Attempted murder: and have had to flee the town and move elsewhere. They were attacked by Muslims, threatening them with death because of their apostasy at having given up being Muslims.”

For sure, in many of those states there is most likely a legal and political system that disenfranchises christians to some (im not sure exactly) extent. Its quite likely too, that through institutional setups that arent too keen on religious minorities (in this case christian) then there is perhaps a multi-faceted climate in which christians face serious violence and persecution from ordinary citizens, perhaps even occassionaly from the state apparatus too. I would agree that in those cases, christians face institutional and personal persecution.

On the anecdotal example, I would note that they have stopped being muslims, not necessarily have become christian instead, they might have, but im reasoning from a position of ignorance here. While it sounds and undoubtedly is horrible and is a problem. I think a political distinction should be made between institutional persecution and persecution by individuals if the two are not linked together. Thats not to degrade or pooh pooh your friends experiences, but merely to note that they are different parts of this debate.

32. Just Visiting

Chris

> What these people seem to be demanding is not freedom from discrimination, but rather that the state should discriminate in favour of Christianity.

Can you point out somewhere they have actually said this?

@ Just Visiting:

Yes, there’s an ongoing debate over whether that ‘under God’ is constitutional or not.

Re different attitudes to Islam/Christianity: surely this is a powerful argument *for* secularism? If we have a clear set of principles that applies to everyone, there’s less room for debate about whether a particular group is being singled out either for persecution or for special treatment. And I’m happy to go on the record on this one: if there was a council in a mainly Muslim area that had ‘prayers’ as the first item on the agenda for each meeting, I would think that was inappropriate and risked making non-Muslims feel unwelcome or uncomfortable.

This is a very series matter because the religious right has begun to form an alliance with the Catholic Church to try to enforce their will. The signed up to something called The Manhattan Declaration.

As Sarah Posner documented

“The Manhattan Declaration is billed as “A Call of Christian Conscience,” drafted and signed by Catholics, evangelicals, and Orthodox Christians, an “ecumenism” celebrated by its promoters as evidence of its far-reaching appeal. The document targets reproductive freedom (enemy of the “sanctity of life”) and LGBTQ equality (enemy of the “dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife”) as foes of Christians’ religious freedom. It’s a new document but an old canard. And it’s proof that the culture wars are not only not over; there hasn’t even been a truce…

The Manhattan Declaration assumes that in a country with constitutionally protected religious liberty, any law intended to protect the citizenry’s other freedoms should be subject to the veto threat of the signers of the Manhattan Declaration itself. This is not a new strategy for the religious right. Since the 1970s the Hyde Amendment has “protected” the “conscience” of people who find abortion morally objectionable and don’t want tax dollars paying for someone else’s (although many of those people of “conscience” also oppose war but have barely lifted a finger to stop us from paying for the killing of innocents in Iraq and Afghanistan). Religious right legal groups have used the courts to try to dismantle the separation of church and state on similar grounds, claiming that everything from LGBTQ equality to prohibitions on the public display of the Ten Commandments infringes on their religious liberty as Christians.”

“Religious Liberty” is the new buzz phrase of the religious right wing. In essence it means that anything that goes against what they believe in, can be opted out of. Abortion, contraception, gays, anything they don’t like. And anything they do like. For example displaying religious symbols in public places like local councils or courts is just fine.

Nobody takes any notice of what that fruitcake Nadine Dorries says.

36. Just Visiting

Chaise

> But so what? Should the rest of the left be held to account for this? Shall I start digging up stupid quotes by stupid right-wingers and demanding that you apologise for them?

You’re quite right – blaming the whole left would be silly.

But the situation does fit a pattern, that in general organisations on the left will speak out strongly supporting religious minorities – but fail to do that for christian minorities.

In this case, it seemed that the various student left organisations felt it more important to fall in line with defending an alleged offence to Muslims, than it was to speak out in support of sister organisations that share their own views on freedom of speech!

Apparently freedom of speech can be trumped by Muslim issues.

LC itself shows this bias – Sunny allows threads like this one in on a issue in which no one got hurt – but somehow avoided one on the case last week of the Muslims the BBC report as: “Nine jailed over bomb plot and terror camp plan”.

But I know that you and have agreed before that Sunny has a blind spot in this area.

@12

Talking of the USA – school classes, and Congress, open with everyone making the pledge:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

See that phrase ‘under God’ ?”

Not that it makes the least bit of difference to the present discussion here (since it’s not our law, our constitution or our schools), but the last time the Supreme Court heard a case regarding the Oath of Allegiance and whether it could be made a mandatory part of the school day was around the late 1940s; as someone rightly has pointed out, the “under God” bit was inserted subsequent to that decision and no case has come before the Supreme Court regarding the Constitutionality of making an explicitly religious, montheistic oath a compulsory part of public schooling.

There is good reason to believe that were the case to be heard today, the Court would be obliged to rule the current Pledge as it is presently worded to be unconstitutional and a violation of the separation of Church and State under the First Amendment. There is also fairly good anecdotal evidence to suggest that the current (firmly conservative) Supreme Court as well as the lower courts are striving fairly hard to avoid having to rule definitively on the issue again by tying it up in the lower courts.

But that’s America. They have formal separation of Church and State, we do not. The official state religion is the Church of England, and as was pointed out yesterday on Any Questions by both Menzies Campbell and Anne Widdicombe, each session of Parliament begins with a daily session of prayers and (presumably) some kind of affirmation of the Queen’s authority over both the Church and of Parliament.

As an atheist, I don’t have a problem with that, it’s the nature of doing business and in as much as the church is the official, endorsed faith of the nation, it doesn’t bother me and I don’t bother it, I have no problem with it.

If it’s done in Parliament, it makes sense that it’s done in local councils and other devolved branches of the state. Again, that makes sense to me, even if it is probably a bit arcane and weird to watch councillors engage in a formal prayer before convening a meeting.

Surprisingly, Widdicombe (who, it must be remembered was but is no longer a member of the CofE, having converted to Catholicism a few years back and thus not arguing precisely from a perspective of self-interest) chimed in with a rare valid and sensible point; it’s all well and good (perhaps even expected) that Anglican prayers should be undertaken at the start of a meeting of a regional branch of HM Government; she’s our Queen, but it’s her government and her church, after all (technically and legally speaking).

The issue wasn’t that prayers were said or expected to be said at the start of the meetings; it’s that the agenda for the meeting was Item 1: Prayers. I.e, the prayers were a part of the meeting, not part of the pre-meeting procedures, and that if you elected to remain outside and skip the prayers, you would be marked down as late and not attending the meeting for all points on the agenda, that you were partially absent from deliberations and that could be misreported or distorted and used against you.

Furthermore, if the prayers were moved to say, Item 6 on the agenda, the fact that council members got up and left during the meeting while it was in session could be claimed.

Whether or not it was done deliberately, the people on the council who structured the meeting in that way did so in a self-confounding manner; if the council is expected to say prayers as a key element of convening the actual meeting before getting down to business, why were the prayers scheduled to be part *of* the business to be discussed,

It was this that the Judge had ruled was inconsistent and nonsensical, not the fact that prayers were expected to be said as part of the council meeting or that Christian members expected to have the right to say prayers at a council meeting – quite uniquely amongst the faiths, they *do* in fact have a legal right and expectation to claim the right to make their God and his teachings a part of a public meeting, what they do not have a right to do is make it a compulsory part of the meeting itself, rather than something that is done as one aspect of calling the meeting to order and convening it before settling down to business.

By it’s very nature, “prayers” cannot be an item on the agenda for discussion; it’s an act, and a personal one, not a matter of council business to be resolved.

Otherwise, that would be one LoOOOOOOng-assed committee meeting…

38. Chaise Guevara

@ 36 JV

“But the situation does fit a pattern, that in general organisations on the left will speak out strongly supporting religious minorities – but fail to do that for christian minorities.”

Mirror image of organisations on the right, there. Fairly normal bias, to be honest (although that doesn’t excuse it): accentuate your enemies’ failings and your friends’ positive achievements.

“In this case, it seemed that the various student left organisations felt it more important to fall in line with defending an alleged offence to Muslims, than it was to speak out in support of sister organisations that share their own views on freedom of speech!”

Which organisations? You’ve got a quote from one, who are the others?

“But I know that you and have agreed before that Sunny has a blind spot in this area.”

Agreed, but I have to say you seem to have the opposing bias. See my reply to you on the Dorries/Osborne thread (though given your honest and courteous response here I’m now regretting its sarcastic tone).

“The “under God” bit was only put in about the 1950s. It was not in the original pledge.” Indeed. Just another consequence of the Cold War, as the west strove to persuade workers that capitalism (godly) would be better for them than communism (ungodly). Now that there is no communism, of course, the willingness of capitalists to recognise the rights of workers and ensure their financial, educational, medical and social security is no longer driven by an urgent desire to fight off a possibly more attractive alternative (if you aren’t in the upper or coddled and bought off middle class). And guess what, the workers and middle class are left with that Olde Time Religion and no welfare state as compense for having accepted the superior claims of capitalism. But they can pray for a better life in the hereafter.

The British Humanist Association and the National Secular Society argue that religion has no role in how that state operates or treats citizens.

Nadine Dorries argues that Christianity deserves a role in the state.

The argument is boolean: One or Zero, True or False.

The British Humanist Association and the National Secular Society permit councillors and MPs to use their consciences and morals — politically or religiously derived — to vote on things that affect citizens. But religion — any religion — does not have a special place.

Dorries believes that religion has a special place.


The David Cameron argument (no, I am not a fan) about whether the UK is a “Christian country” is different. Morality and culture are unavoidably influenced by past Christian hegemony.

Christian morality will inevitably dominate UK government because decision makers predominantly come from a Christian background, whether or not they follow the faith. The Christian element may decline owing to population change but the odds are that influences will be Abrahamic.


Humanists and secularists within their organisations have differing views about how Christian monuments and buildings are treated. I consider them as historic entities and I am very happy that my taxes maintain them for me to enjoy. Perhaps it is a subsidy to a faith organisation, but it is one that I am happy to swallow to understand our history.

@6 “The militant secularists are ”attacking” Muslims too – any thoughts on this?”

Yes, it’s a pretty stupid thing to say.

“Or do we tell the complaining muslim students that it’s just tough if they don’t like it?”

Well ….. yes. If they’re offended by a cartoon, it’s tough. The “right not to be offended ever by anything” is pretty much the same as the “right to make people stop saying, writing or doing anything we don’t like.” Why should a religious group (or any other group, for that matter) be recognised as having such a right? Your idiotic characterisation of the situation at UCL is, well, idiotic.

And as for the attack on christians that some people (erm, mainly christians) are whining about, what can anyone with a functioning brain say (after they’ve stopped laughing hysterically) apart from “what on earth are you talking about?” As pointed out by Spike and others, our head of state is also the head of a christian church, the same church is entitled to appoint up to 26 (yes, 26) of it’s members to our senior legislative body the House of Lords, our state owned broadcaster sends out several hours of christian programming a week on both radio and tv, the house of commons begins each day with christian prayers, christian groups are allowed to set up and run their own schools …. and all this before we get on to the subject of how much money the various churches are sitting on and how much, if any, tax they’re paying on it.

In the light of all this, listening to christians (should I say militant christians? it’s an adjective they like to throw about) whining about the attack they honestly believe they’re being subjected is, obviously, very, very funny. It has a kind of Kevin & Perry feel to it “you can’t take away my hugely priveleged position, that’d be soooo unfair, I hate you”

Mrs Dorries of course was involved in fiddling her expenses, running away with a married man, and fiddling money on a programme on Channel Four about having to live on JSA, in which she took part with a £50 note stuck down her bra. The stupid woman actually told someone else involved in the programme, would you believe, which is how she was caught out.

She’s hardly a shining example of a Christian.

I suspect that the Christian god probably wishes Mad Nad wasn’t on his side.

I know that America is different, but we should not be complacent here in the UK. At the election that Michael Howard lost in 2005 the head of the Catholic church said he wanted to see religion more involved with politics. Which is a bit rich since the churches pay no freaking taxes.

In fact , the Catholic church both here and in the US has started to flex a few muscles. Obama is currently trying to negotiate with the Very conservative catholic Bishops about contraception coverage in health care plans. Seeing as most Catholics don’t take a blind bid of notice in this piece of doctrine it seems a bit rich for the Bishops to be trying to impose their will on other people when they can’t convince their own flock. The Catholic church is also opposed to the death penalty but surprise , surprise they don’t make a fuss about campaigning against that.

Here the Catholic Church recruitment of Blair and Widdicome has been seen as a propaganda coo. And the promotion of leading Labour figures in Catholic fringe groups is seen as another example of their increasing influence in high places. Not many centuries ago we burned Catholics at the stake if the got a bit uppity. They never change, and their long held ambition is to overthrow the Enlightenment.

Those claiming an attack on Christianity might like to refresh their knowledge of the history of what happened when Charles Bradlaugh (1833-91) was elected to Parliament for Northampton and tried to take his seat without taking the Christian oath required. He was repeatedly ejected from Parliament and his seat declared vacant but was duly re-elected:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Bradlaugh

Lord Randolph Churchill, the father of Winston Churchill, roused the Conservatives by leading resistance to Bradlaugh.

The historic issue at stake was not the civil right to practise Christianity but the right not to practise Christianity.

The laughs just keep on coming.

@ 22 “Can you share with us any serious sources, academic articles that have led you to this conclusion?

A militant christian asking for evidence is, in and of itself, amusing. A militant christian asking for evidence, in the form of “serious sources,” that something isn’t happening, is hilarious.

@22 “And though my experience is of course anecdotal” and, therefore, of no real value from an evidenciary point of view, so why mention it? Because you can’t actually produce any real evidence to support the view that christians are being attacked or marginalised in the UK, today?

46. Frances_coppola

40 Charlieman

I’m not sure which “Christian monuments and buildings” you had in mind, but your taxes don’t support the vast majority of Christian buildings. They are maintained by the contributions of the people that visit them and worship in them.

I find it irritating when people who are not Christians speak enthusiastically about the need to preserve our “Christian heritage” – meaning ancient monuments and enormous buildings – but make no contribution towards doing so. We Christians don’t need ancient monuments and enormous (cold) buildings in order to worship “in spirit and in truth”. It seems that (atheist?) Christian-heritage-preservers need them more than we do. Natural justice would suggest that maybe they, not we, should pay to preserve them…..

47. Frances_coppola

@43 Sally

Are you anti-Christian, or just anti-Catholic? Whichever it is, I do hope you are not suggesting that we should start burning people at the stake again…..

Firstly, I don’t understand this website’s ongoing obsession with Nadine Dorries.

Secondly, as people have mentioned, the humanists have more of a fight on their hands against the muslims at the LSE who are vigorously attempting, seemingly with the backing of the student union, to stomp their freedom of expression into the ground.

@43. Sally: “Here the Catholic Church recruitment of Blair and Widdicome has been seen as a propaganda coo. And the promotion of leading Labour figures in Catholic fringe groups is seen as another example of their increasing influence in high places. Not many centuries ago we burned Catholics at the stake if the got a bit uppity. They never change, and their long held ambition is to overthrow the Enlightenment.”

For the record: humanists, secularists and believers in Enlightenment (with or without faith) reject hatred of Catholics.

Sally, you used to be bonkers but now you are promoting hate.

12. Just Visiting

” Talking of the USA – school classes, and Congress, open with everyone making the pledge:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

See that phrase ‘under God’ ? ”

There are zero references to God in the Constitution. The words “under God” were only added to the pledge during the communists are everywhere paranoia in 1954. It is absurd to have a Republic founded on dissent requiring citizens to swear allegiance to the state. If everyone is compelled to recite the same pledge that is compulsory unification of opinion. Therefore, requiring the pledge violates the First Amendment. The Supreme Court have ruled that students cannot be compelled to recite the Pledge.

” Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. ”

Furthermore, the use of ‘ In God We Trust ‘ on paper dollars only appeared during the Communist paranoia era in 1957. Nothing about ‘ In God We Trust ‘ in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. The words only appeared on U.S. coins in 1864.

@46. Frances_coppola: “I’m not sure which “Christian monuments and buildings” you had in mind, but your taxes don’t support the vast majority of Christian buildings. They are maintained by the contributions of the people that visit them and worship in them.”

Your argument is fine by me, Frances. Publicly funded Christian monuments and buildings are those for which there is a genuine public interest beyond religious observance, and the buildings are not necessarily owned by CofE.

@44

The oath is what the oath is, and I myself would struggle to take such an oath if I was consciously being insincere whilst doing so, but the problem is not unique to atheists and non-members of he CofE.

Tony Benn’s strategy of dissent was to affirm the oath with his fingers crossed every time, and when he went to Kiss Hands at the palace when appointed to his various ministerial positions was to kiss his own thumb instead.

Dennis Skinner’s decades long record of high-grade banter and heckling of Black Rod (agent of the Crown) is well known and well documented.

Unlike American democracy, there are certain things you have to swallow if you want to participate directly in British democracy, but no-one these days is checking particularly hard.

Bradlaugh’s case is probably more analageous to the refusenik Sinn Feign MP-elects who never took up their seats, like Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and Bobby Sands, who refused to take the same oath pledging faith and allegiance to the Crown. Although, in Sands’ case, that was the least of his problems by the time it came for him to take his seat.

You can argue whether their cause was furthered more by participating or by standing in defiance to Westminster democracy, but it was a powerful statement either way, both by them and their electors.

Things did get very confusing with Adams recently, when he wanted to retire from his Westminster constituency (which he had been repeatedly elected to, but never assumed) to stand in the Dail instead; normally, a retiring MP would take the Chiltern Hundreds, but since that’s an appointed position as an officer of the Crown, and since he’d never been affirmed to take his sear and since he refused to apply to the Queen for a position within the gift of the Crown or formally resign his claim to his seat….

I don’t want to burn anyone at the stake. However I don’t believe that the Catholic church has changed that much. The only thing stopping them from burning me at the stake is the law.

They would do well to remember that such was our dislike and distrust of their allegiance to Rome that we did not even let them into parliament until quite recently. I am equally as suspicious of the Evangelicals, and the Muslims and all the other creepy old men who want to control me.

I’ve never quite managed to figure out why Christians are inclined to invoke Biblical authority in justification of some holy causes but not others. Why exactly is it that we gave up on killing unchaste damsels and adulterers as prescribed in Deuteronomy 22:20-22?

@53 ” I am equally as suspicious of the Evangelicals, and the Muslims and all the other creepy old men who want to control me.”

Psychiatrists? It’s probably for your own good. As a committed secularist, I’d just like to say that I want you on my side as much as I would imagine many christians want Dorries on theirs. Now go and take your medication.

56. Chaise Guevara

@ 48 Trooper

“Firstly, I don’t understand this website’s ongoing obsession with Nadine Dorries.”

To be fair, she’s pretty funny.

“Secondly, as people have mentioned, the humanists have more of a fight on their hands against the muslims at the LSE who are vigorously attempting, seemingly with the backing of the student union, to stomp their freedom of expression into the ground.”

While I imagine we see eye-to-eye on the rights and wrongs of the LSE thing, you’ve got to bear in mind that Dorries is a member of parliament, has the ability to influence a lot of people, and is talking more-or-less nonsense about an issue at a national scale. None of which applies to the aforementioned Muslims. The LSE issue is clearer-cut, but the “Christians are discriminated against” meme is a bigger issue.

It’s largely a question of perspective. Cases of discrimination against traditionally dominant groups are over-reported, especially by certain newspapers, and quite often the real events are twisted to make it look like discrimination happened when it didn’t. So if you read certain newspapers you might honestly get the impression that white Christian straight able-bodied males are Britain’s new second-class citizens. Which they ain’t.

57. Chaise Guevara

@ 40 Charlieman

“Christian morality will inevitably dominate UK government because decision makers predominantly come from a Christian background, whether or not they follow the faith. The Christian element may decline owing to population change but the odds are that influences will be Abrahamic.”

What are we talking about here? Obviously morality that directly relates to religion is a given, but to what extent do you think that Britain is driven by morals that are sourced from (as opposed to being shared by) Abrahamic religions? I mean, sexuality and abortion, sure, but I don’t think it applies to most issues.

You don’t know me, obviously, but could you think of anything that I (an atheist) might believe that I wouldn’t believe had I been raised in a religion-free society?

Reading stories like this reminds me that for all my disagreement with this blog’s broadly socialist economic stance, I am still firmly in the liberal (in the actual correct sense of the word) when it comes to social matters such as these. The Mail is completely hysterical. It deliberately simplifies and sensationalises matters for its dim and reactionary audience. The fact of the matter is that quite rightly councils in this country are statutory bodies which may only act where they have been specifically enabled to do so by legislation. Everything and anything beyond this is wh at we lawyers call ‘ultra vires’. This simple doctrine prevents a great deal of tyranny. That Pickles in his Localism Bill appears to be wishing to grant them a general competence bodes ill for those who value their liberty from the overpaid knuckle-dragging twats at town hall, whatever their political hue.

Bob @ 54:

Maybe you ought to try reading St. Paul on the relationship between the New and Old Testaments.

60. So Much For Subtlety

56. Chaise Guevara

So if you read certain newspapers you might honestly get the impression that white Christian straight able-bodied males are Britain’s new second-class citizens. Which they ain’t.

Yet. They have a long way to fall after all. But there is no denying that this is the intent and purpose of a lot of the Left’s policies.

61. So Much For Subtlety

11. G.O.

What they’re for is the promotion of secularism – the non-interference of state and religion in each other’s business. (E.g. the state refrains from telling people what churches they can and can’t belong to, and churches refrain from telling people what state schools they can and can’t attend.)

Sorry but that is an absurd definition of secularism and, worse, it is a deliberate confusing of two Western definitions of secular. The American definition is that all forms of religion are welcomed but none are preferred or enforced, and the French-Soviet definition which is religion is actively driven out of the public sphere. Britain is, to all intents and purposes, the former, but these people clearly want to go one step further and adopt the French model. A council holding a prayer before their sessions discriminates against no one, hurts no one, and it is of no importance whatsoever. Except to those that hate religion.

And to go back to the first point, it is the job of Churches to tell people what they should do. That includes what schools they should send their children to. There is no sane definition of a secular society where they can’t. Unless you mean that a secular society is made up of 100% atheists.

It does rather tickle me when attempts to make the UK more of a US-style secular democracy are painted as attempts to restrict religious freedom and/or ‘drive religion out of public life’. Has the incorporation of secularist principles in the constitution cost the US dearly in terms of restricting religious freedom and driving religion out of public life, do you think?

Not yet. But traditionally Americans have been happy with non-denominational prayers. It is not minority religious groups that object either, by and large, but the aggressively secular. It is not a push to be more like America. It is a push to be more like France. It is an effort to restrict religious freedom. There is simply no denying it. As can be seen by, for instance, Obama forcing Catholics to pay for abortion. There is simply no respect for individual conscience. Not from most people, but from a small but powerful minority.

Religious freedom would be in far more danger if the constitution wasn’t there to prevent people from imposing their own religious beliefs on others via the state.

Except the threat to religious freedom comes from the secular who are determined to make everyone else adopt their values. As with the people who refused to take Gay guests.

62. Matt Wardman

I think you’re being too sweeping here Lee; there’s a spectrum of cases – some sensible, others worrying.

Ladele is fairly cut and dried; that was about a refusal to deliver a public service.

The Electrician case seems to me about a management that switched its brain off and went way OTT, and into a months long disciplinary process in response to an anonymous green ink letter from person or persons unknown alleging that they were upset. They should have binned it until the person had the balls to identify themselves.

You can see the NSS complaining about similar (but not identical) principles in the Harry Taylor (Manchester Airport) case.

We have a problem with huge bureaucratic machinery labouring in response to trivia.

Clearly Christians (and other religious) are under individual and general attack every day, from all sorts of directions. You see that day by day on eg CiF, and for individual. How was the campaign against eg Michael Reiss at the Royal Society not an ‘attack”? I wouldn’t call it persecution though. Secularists/atheists make exactly the same claims on their own behalf.

Not particularly worried about it, though, until the unpleasant tone of debate we seem to have imported from the US turns to actions on a regular basis.

61: A council holding a prayer before their sessions discriminates against no one, hurts no one, and it is of no importance whatsoever. Except to those that hate religion.

But they didn’t. If they had held prayers before the meeting, that would have been, and, indeed still is, legal. They held them as part of the meeting. This left non-belieevers and non-Christians the option of either arriving late for the meeting of sitting through them.

63 You logic and arrogance just shows how wrong you are. Why should they come late because some selfish people want to push their religion on other people.

You would not be so sanguine if they wanted to get prayer mats out and wail to Mecca.

That Mr Atkinson had to be ‘discreet’ about his religion is sinister. Just change ‘Crucifix’ for ‘Yarmulka’. I am going to pray on the streets. Will that be OK with everyone ?. Or have liberals become too illiberal for that. Are there ary liberals left ?

66. So Much For Subtlety

63. MarkAustin

But they didn’t. If they had held prayers before the meeting, that would have been, and, indeed still is, legal. They held them as part of the meeting. This left non-belieevers and non-Christians the option of either arriving late for the meeting of sitting through them.

And so, as I said – “A council holding a prayer before their sessions discriminates against no one, hurts no one, and it is of no importance whatsoever. Except to those that hate religion.”

You have done absolutely nothing to show otherwise. Did they have a single non-Christian on the council? It does not look like it. Not one that objected anyway.

What is more, they were not minuted. It is hard to maintain there is a vital distinction between prayers that are held at the start of a session and prayers that are held before the session when they have no influence or impact at all. Presumably getting everyone but one-pain-in-the-arse to arrive five minutes early makes the other pains-in-the-arse warm and fuzzy inside, but otherwise it is utterly meaningless. All you are asking is that they minute that the meeting started at 9:05 instead of 9:00. Big deal.

As I said, this is a problem with one arsehole who can’t be bothered being even mildly polite to others and as such is destroying a 500 year old tradition. For no other reason except he can. After all, given he does not believe the prayer can no more offend him than reading a poem would.

67. Chaise Guevara

@ 60 SMFS

“Yet. They have a long way to fall after all. But there is no denying that this is the intent and purpose of a lot of the Left’s policies”

Yes there is, if you’re not a paranoid conspiracy theorist.

68. Chaise Guevara

@ 64 Sally

He’s on your side, you idiot.

69. Chaise Guevara

@ 63 MarkAustin

“But they didn’t. If they had held prayers before the meeting, that would have been, and, indeed still is, legal. They held them as part of the meeting. This left non-belieevers and non-Christians the option of either arriving late for the meeting of sitting through them.”

Is it THAT big a deal, though? Sitting through a few prayers? TBH, based on the info so far it sounds like the non-believer was going out of their way to be offended. It’s not oppression to accept the fact that you share the world with religious people.

70. So Much For Subtlety

67. Chaise Guevara

Yes there is, if you’re not a paranoid conspiracy theorist.

Well I did not mention a conspiracy. You did.

But if you do not think that the net effect of pretty much every single policy of the Left is for the white and/or the Christian and/or the straight and/or the able-bodied and/or those born male to give up what they have earned to people who did not, you are simply not paying attention. Which policy of the Left is actually in favour of the white Christian straight able-bodied male? Which pretty much amounts to being Britain’s new second-class citizens. Except, as I said, they have quite a long way to fall. They do produce most of the wealth in Britain after all.

@ SMFS

“it is the job of Churches to tell people what they should do. That includes what schools they should send their children to.”

Fine. My objection isn’t to Churches telling people what schools they *should* go to; it’s to Churches being empowered to tell people what state schools they *can* go to (by being given control or influence over admissions).

“the threat to religious freedom comes from the secular who are determined to make everyone else adopt their values. As with the people who refused to take Gay guests.”

Ah, the old ‘you’re discriminating against me by not letting me discriminate against other people’ line. This is so absurd on its face, it’s hard to know what to say to make the absurdity any more apparent; it’s as if a slave owner protested at having his freedom restricted/having other people’s values forced on him by being told he can’t keep slaves.

You can’t protect the freedoms *both* of person A to treat person B differently because of their sexuality/religion/race/whatever, *and* of person B to be treated no differently from other people. Something has to give, and to most people it’s pretty obvious what that something is. A country in which businesses are allowed to refuse service to gay people/Muslims/black people/whatever is plainly not doing a better job of protecting individual freedoms than a country in which such discrimination is illegal.

72. Chaise Guevara

@ 70 SMFS

“But if you do not think that the net effect of pretty much every single policy of the Left is for the white and/or the Christian and/or the straight and/or the able-bodied and/or those born male to give up what they have earned to people who did not, you are simply not paying attention.”

Nah, it means I simply disagree with you. At a guess, you’re conflating correlation with cause. E.G. “we tax the rich heavily, most rich people are white, ZOMG tax is racist!!!”.

Unless, of course, you can explain how “pretty much” every left-wing policy has the effect of making these groups give up what they earned. I can think of precisely one example: so-called positive discrimination. What about all the rest?

Finally, you’ve shifted from “intent and purpose” to “net effect” – very different things, and it was that “intent” line that led me to call you paranoid in the first place.

“Which policy of the Left is actually in favour of the white Christian straight able-bodied male?”

Oh, you got me, the Left isn’t bigoted in favour of traditionally dominant groups! So what?

“Which pretty much amounts to being Britain’s new second-class citizens. Except, as I said, they have quite a long way to fall. They do produce most of the wealth in Britain after all.”

So in other words they’ve got a long way to fall before they (we, really) are even on an even footing with everyone else.

Two points here. The first is that the legal ruling is:

A local authority has no powers under section 111 of the Local Government Act 1972 to hold prayers as part of a formal local authority meeting or to summon councillors to such a meeting at which prayers are on the agenda.

The saying of prayers in a local authority chamber before a formal meeting of such a body is lawful provided councillors are not formally summoned to attend.

Which means that when Richard Porteus says;

We are delighted that the court has decided to make a ringingly secular decision, which will make the saying of prayers of whatever religion unlawful in local councils.

He’s talking out of his arse. Also, given that at Bideford the prayers were apparently held before meetings started, and members weren’t required to attend – who actually won this case?

The second is that Clive Bone (a local councillor called Clive Bone, who’s a member of the Secular Society. Doesn’t that conjure up an image?) describes prayers in councils as “bad for local democracy”. I find that sits oddly with:

He twice championed motions trying to get the practice halted but they were defeated.

Can’t get your way by democratic methods? Go to the courts! This is usually something frowned on at LibCon in my experience.

74. So Much For Subtlety

71. G.O.

Fine. My objection isn’t to Churches telling people what schools they *should* go to; it’s to Churches being empowered to tell people what state schools they *can* go to (by being given control or influence over admissions).

Then you should have said so. The State has got the Churches to provide a raft of services on the cheap. Usually of vastly better quality than the State can or does provide. I think we shouldn’t mess with a winning formula.

Ah, the old ‘you’re discriminating against me by not letting me discriminate against other people’ line. This is so absurd on its face, it’s hard to know what to say to make the absurdity any more apparent; it’s as if a slave owner protested at having his freedom restricted/having other people’s values forced on him by being told he can’t keep slaves.

No, it is more of a “you’re intolerant if you are not willing to tolerate other people’s views if they happen to be the sort of intolerance you don’t like”. Even your version of the argument is not absurd. It has nothing to do with slavery at all and is not remotely like it. The question is whether the State has any business micro-managing every petty detail of everyone’s life or not. Whether the State has any business regulating every single transaction between two consenting adults or not. And no, it does not.

You can’t protect the freedoms *both* of person A to treat person B differently because of their sexuality/religion/race/whatever, *and* of person B to be treated no differently from other people. Something has to give, and to most people it’s pretty obvious what that something is. A country in which businesses are allowed to refuse service to gay people/Muslims/black people/whatever is plainly not doing a better job of protecting individual freedoms than a country in which such discrimination is illegal.

I suspect you are partly right. I think if you leave people alone, in the end tolerance and common sense will win. So if we ignore the problem it will go away, thus protecting both sides. But maybe not. In that case I expect you do not get out enough. Most people are on the side of the the landlords, not the Gay couple in this case. As can be seen by the Daily Mail’s coverage.

I do not agree with the last sentence at all. A country where the state thinks it has the duty to inspect and regulate every last transaction, every exchange, every word used, between two consenting adults has no individual freedoms at all. At least not in any other sense except that we can keep what they cannot yet be bothered to take. Once you accept that I am not free to do what I like, without any measurable harm to anyone, because the state says so there is not a lot of freedom left. A country that is free is one where people can discriminate by definition – the right to be free is also the right to be an arse.

Christian: The British religion. All Christians are law-abiding, peaceful people and will be forgiven for any breaches of this due to anti-Christian laws. Are currently being persecuted.

Clarkson, Jeremy: A man willing to stand tall against the evil forces of political correctness gone mad. Should be Prime Minister, or at least Minister for Cars– sorry, Transport.

Read more: http://angrymob.uponnothing.co.uk/daily-mail-dictionary#C#ixzz1mFZvhmEW

Whether the State has any business regulating every single transaction between two consenting adults or not. And no, it does not.

But that’s a bit of a straw man isn’t it? Shouldn’t the question be whether the State has any business regulating any transaction between two consenting adults?

@ 71, G.O.

“Ah, the old ‘you’re discriminating against me by not letting me discriminate against other people’ line. This is so absurd on its face, it’s hard to know what to say to make the absurdity any more apparent; it’s as if a slave owner protested at having his freedom restricted/having other people’s values forced on him by being told he can’t keep slaves. ”

The absurdity is in your formulation of the issue. There is a categorical distinction between a slave owner keeping slaves and a hotelier turning away a customer. In the first instance, slavery is, in and of itself, a violation of somebody’s inalienable liberty (i.e. their inalienable property in themselves). In the second case, the property under discussion is a room in a hotel, which belongs to the hotel owner. If he chooses not to rent that room, it is his business, and he will bear the cost, i.e. the lost earnings. The would-be customer has no right to the room. To compare somebody being refused a hotel room to the state of slavery, now that is absurd.

“You can’t protect the freedoms *both* of person A to treat person B differently because of their sexuality/religion/race/whatever, *and* of person B to be treated no differently from other people. ”

Your problem – and the problem with the mass of legislation that has accumulated – is that there has been a purposeful undermining of property rights as the foundation of the law. With this obscured, it is only to be expected that disputes arise, which pitch one man’s purported ‘rights’ against another’s. Also, people like you have burdened the law with the task of enforcing what is essentially a moral campaign. You don’t mind this, as you share the moral view that is being imposed, but the law should not concern itself with morality. If a hotelier turns away gay people, by all means object, denounce, boycott and whatever else you deem appropriate within the constraints of the law, but to make it a criminal matter is a step too far.

“Something has to give, and to most people it’s pretty obvious what that something is.”

This is just an appeal to the majority, and no doubt the majority of lib con readers agree with you. But, look at a place like Kenya. There, you’ll find the majority take a very different view on matters homosexual. By the logic of your arguments, you will be impelled to agree with the monstrous persecution of gay people there, whereas, if you’d kept a clear understanding of property rights, and how fundamental they are to individual liberty, you wouldn’t make this mistake.

the law should not concern itself with morality

Too glib, Trooper.

Your belief in people’s rights to do absolutely whatever they want with their own property is just as much a moral position as e.g. my belief in people’s rights not to face humiliating sexual disrimination when trygin to book a holiday.

And you too want your version of morality to it to be supported by law (i.e. state).

By the logic of your arguments, you will be impelled to agree with the monstrous persecution of gay people there

And so will you, so long as the persectution is taking place on private land.

@76 If it doesn’t then contracts become worthless and unenforceable.

Trooper Thompson @ 77

In the second case, the property under discussion is a room in a hotel, which belongs to the hotel owner. If he chooses not to rent that room, it is his business, and he will bear the cost

But isn’t there a valid distinction to be made about the extent of private property rights in a social/public space and those in a private space?

A bigot is perhaps within his rights not to invite blacks/gays/Jews to his home for dinner on account of their colour/sexuality/religion but should a bigoted publican be allowed to put up a No gays/blacks/Jews sign?

A hotel may be private property, but it’s also a social space where the law/State has a legitimate interest.

If it doesn’t then contracts become worthless and unenforceable.

I’m not sure that’s entirely true – contracts can contain exclusive arbitration clauses taking the role of the courts out altogether. And given the difficulty and expense of enforcement procedures, the back-up provided by the courts is of limited value anyway. The overwhelming majority of contractual disputes are resolved without the need for formal legal involvement.

@73, @69

He’s talking out of his arse. Also, given that at Bideford the prayers were apparently held before meetings started, and members weren’t required to attend – who actually won this case?

He *is* talking out of his arse and claiming that the judge ruled in his favour more than he actually did, but the actual ruling was legal and measured and strictly in accordance with the existing statute, which was upheld.

It’s NOT illegal to incorporate Christian prayers as part of convening a council meeting to order, in fact it’s more than likely expected, if not compulsory, given that we that we have an established Church and there are also prayers at the beginning of every session of Parliament (as I now know from this story, but are not televised, like actual Parliamentary business.).

It *is* illegal to incorporate prayers into the actual business of the meeting once the meeting itself has been called to order, which was what was done and what the Judge ruled was illegal in this case.

You can say prayers. It can’t be an item on the agenda that you say prayers, as it was in Bideford.

What was being objected to in this case (by the snotty secularist gentleman who is talking out of his arse, but he was actually in the right) was that if you wanted no part in the prayers, the minutes and public record of council meetings would indicate that you failed to fully attend all of the council meetings for all council business, which gives the distorted view that you were failing to show up or in some way lacklustre in your attendance and so were to some extent contemptuous of the confidence of your electors. They elect councillors to do a job, and the record appears to show that you take responsibility for doing that job casually at best.

You can pray. You can’t schedule prayers on the agenda and force people into either attending the prayers against their will or not attending the whole meeting.

83. Chaise Guevara

@ 81 TimJ

“I’m not sure that’s entirely true – contracts can contain exclusive arbitration clauses taking the role of the courts out altogether. And given the difficulty and expense of enforcement procedures, the back-up provided by the courts is of limited value anyway. The overwhelming majority of contractual disputes are resolved without the need for formal legal involvement.”

Without at least the possibility of legal intervention, what good would those clauses be, and why would I bother to fulfill my contractual obligation to pay you for services rendered? Reputation, maybe, but that’s about it.

Without legal support for contracts, the only way you could enforce one would be by sending guys with baseball bats to collect your money. At which point you can get the money regardless of whether you’re entitled to it.

If the council meeting starts with prayers does that mean God is responsible for all the spending cuts, any failures in the council’s services and the annual assessment of the council by the auditors?

Without at least the possibility of legal intervention, what good would those clauses be, and why would I bother to fulfill my contractual obligation to pay you for services rendered? Reputation, maybe, but that’s about it.

Hey, I’m the last person to be arguing that litigation is itself worthless (in public anyway). And the courts do form a backstop, and perform an extremely valuable service in so doing. But I think saying that contracts are ‘worthless’ without them is a little bit of a stretch.

And the reason companies and individuals would bother to fulfill their obligations under contracts even if enforcement wasn’t possible is that most companies and individuals have ongoing commercial relationships, and have an interest in maintaining them.

This is also, I think, a little bit of a distraction from the underlying point I was challenging SMFS on. It would take a particularly extreme view to argue that the state has no role even in providing a legal framework to contractual relationships, so that parties can be compelled to honour them. But the principle of freedom of contract is pretty strong in English law too.

86. Chaise Guevara

@ 82 Spike

“You can pray. You can’t schedule prayers on the agenda and force people into either attending the prayers against their will or not attending the whole meeting.”

Spike, have you got a source for the claim that councillors would be marked down as not having fully attended if they turned up after the prayers?

But isn’t there a valid distinction to be made about the extent of private property rights in a social/public space and those in a private space?

A bigot is perhaps within his rights not to invite blacks/gays/Jews to his home for dinner on account of their colour/sexuality/religion but should a bigoted publican be allowed to put up a No gays/blacks/Jews sign?

It doesn’t make a difference make a difference. A crime in a social space is still a crime on private property, unless the actual statute in question makes the distinction.

These are American arguments. In America, there is a constitutional guarantee of free speech and freedom of expression under the law (you can certainly post a “No gays” sign as a statement, regardless of whether it reflects a policy or not). There is also a right of protection against reasonable search and seizure of your property (they can’t enter your property to see if you are actively discriminating unless they can produce evidence before a judge to support the belief that you are and obtain a warrant and catch you doing it) and there is equal protection under the law for all citizens under the fourteenth Ammendment (everyone has the same rights under the law and everyone is free to sue through the courts for any infringement or redress of their rights).

Libertarians like Barry Goldwater (and he was sincere in this) in 1964 opposed the Civil Rights Act because it was an attempt to legislate morality and force people not to discriminate on their own property, rather work towards a natural development of acceptance and understanding. I think that’s a naive arguement, but it’s nonetheless compelling.

From an American point of view, it may very well in fact be unconstitutional to compel people to practice tolerance for people and things they aren’t comfortable with on their own property. That debate is ongoing and polarising.

None of which applies in Britain. We don’t have those rights, particularly property rights enshrined in law as inalienable. It’s a lot more fuzzy and inconsistent.

We have plenty of statute laws forbidding discrimination. All are of the order of “discrimination is bad” and very few contain unambiguous details as to what discrimination is and isn’t and what you are and are not allowed to do, some of which impose stiff bureaucratic tests on companies, employers and other institutions which are often of dubious and questionable value (although, I’m first to say, vital and important in many others)

The thing about British anti-discrimination laws is that we’re not vet efficient with them and it’s often unclear as a result what is and isn’t legal. But, sure to say, there is no guaranteed equal protection under the law, and there is equally no guarantee of absolute freedom of speech and expression either.

88. Chaise Guevara

@ 85 Tim J

“And the reason companies and individuals would bother to fulfill their obligations under contracts even if enforcement wasn’t possible is that most companies and individuals have ongoing commercial relationships, and have an interest in maintaining them. ”

Sure, but if this (plus reputation etc) were enough on its own, we’d never have cases where a contractual dispute was resolved in a court, or settled out of court simply to avoid fees. What you’re basically saying is that, without courts, companies would resolve contracts in cases where a court wouldn’t be needed in the first place.

“Do a little thought experiment – imagine that for hundreds of years one little council in Britain had been in a predominently Muslim area – imagine that their council session started with Islamic prayers.

How would LC describe the attempt to stop such prayers – efforts not made by a majority of the council but one member?”

Seriously? I doubt many people would oppose any effort to prevent these (hypothetical) Muslims forcing non-Muslims to pray to their God in order to take part in the democratic process.

The issue is that Bideford Council made Christian prayer compulsory for a non-Christian councillor, and the NSS objected. The Daily Mail does not wish to give you this impression, because it wishes to tell you there is vicious anti-Christian persecution going on. Rumours of terrifying waves of anti-Christian persecution sell papers.

“Well actually, maybe we know what may have happened – as Damon pointed out above because after the mere publication of cartoons featuring Jesus and Mohammed having a beer, the President of the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist soc. at University College London stood down.”

That is an utterly different situation. No-one is trying to make Bideford Council start meetings with a series of calculated insults directed at any Christians present, and I think many liberals, including me (although admittedly some dyed-in-the-wool atheists would rejoice) would object to that. They’re trying to stop them starting meetings with a compulsory statement of Christian faith.

@86

Spike, have you got a source for the claim that councillors would be marked down as not having fully attended if they turned up after the prayers?

I don’t have one to hand, but it should be fairly easy to find one; as I emphasised, the prayers were scheduled as an item on the meeting agenda, as part of the business, once the meeting had been convened and called to order.

The original complaint, which was upheld, was that consequentially, the minutes of the meeting would reflect a non-praying councilman who wanted no part of the prayers and remained outside of the council chamber for that part as being “Not in attendance” for part of council business or “arriving late”, which was not accurate.

@ SMFS

“Then you should have said so”

I said ‘can’; you read it as ‘should’. This is hardly my fault.

“The question is whether the State has any business micro-managing every petty detail of everyone’s life or not. Whether the State has any business regulating every single transaction between two consenting adults or not. And no, it does not.”

Huh? The transaction in question was one between a B&B owner and a wannabe customer. The former did not consent to serve the latter, and the latter did not consent to be refused service by the former. Hence the transaction was not one between ‘consenting adults’. In such cases, the state needs to take a view on whose wishes should be overridden.

“Most people are on the side of the the landlords, not the Gay couple in this case.”

So? There’s a difference between democracy and mob rule. In a democracy, the rghts of minorities have to be protected even if that’s against the wishes of the majority.

“Once you accept that I am not free to do what I like, without any measurable harm to anyone, because the state says so there is not a lot of freedom left. A country that is free is one where people can discriminate by definition – the right to be free is also the right to be an arse.”

The key words here are ‘without any measurable harm to anyone’. If you can’t walk into a shop/hotel/pub without wondering whether the owners are going to refuse to serve you on the basis of your sexuality, religion, race etc., it looks to me as if measurable harm has been done to you; your basic freedom to go about your business as an equal member of society has been curtailed.

@ Trooper Thompson

“To compare somebody being refused a hotel room to the state of slavery, now that is absurd.”

Yes, of course there’s a difference. But SMFS wasn’t making some nuanced point about property rights; he appeared to be baldly stating that personal freedoms include the freedom to restrict other people’s freedoms. If things worked that way, the slave owner would have a legitimate complaint.

“Your problem – and the problem with the mass of legislation that has accumulated – is that there has been a purposeful undermining of property rights as the foundation of the law. With this obscured, it is only to be expected that disputes arise, which pitch one man’s purported ‘rights’ against another’s.”

You say ‘problem’, I say ‘solution’. Should we return to the days of ‘No Irish, no Blacks, no dogs’ signs in the windows of hotels in order to avoid needless disputes?

“the law should not concern itself with morality.”

Absurd. On what grounds should the law condemn murder, rape, theft etc., if not on moral grounds? (Framing you answer in terms of ‘rights’, including property rights, is no use, since the question of what rights people have is itself a moral question.)

“This is just an appeal to the majority, and no doubt the majority of lib con readers agree with you. But, look at a place like Kenya. There, you’ll find the majority take a very different view on matters homosexual. By the logic of your arguments, you will be impelled to agree with the monstrous persecution of gay people there”

There’s a world of difference between ‘most people think that P, so P must be the case’ and ‘most people share the moral intuition that P, so let’s think about what follows from that’.

If you think you can establish the existence/importance/nature of property rights, say, without making any kind of appeal to widely-held moral intuitions (about e.g. the wrongness of theft or the rightness of keeping things you’ve worked for), I urge you to do so. If you can succeed where Kant failed, in deriving moral principles about rights and duties from pure reason, you can expect to be hailed as perhaps the greatest mind of your time.

92. Chaise Guevara

@ 90 Spike

Going off the Guardian article linked in the OP, we have one claim vis-a-vis attendance, and that one says that the register was not taken until AFTER the prayers. Granted, said claim is by the Christian Institute and could well be untrue, but I raised this ages ago in the thread and nobody seems to have any evidence of that.

Those quoted in the article as supporting the action say that prayers were inappropriate as they sent the wrong message or made non-believers uncomfortable. Nothing about attendance.

If your claim is true, it changes the issue completely, as it means non-Christians are being penalised for not joining in with prayers. However, nobody seems to have a source for it, and you just repeating the claim isn’t much help.

93. Chaise Guevara

@ 89 Jungle

“The issue is that Bideford Council made Christian prayer compulsory for a non-Christian councillor”

People keep saying this. Where’s your source?

Sure, but if this (plus reputation etc) were enough on its own, we’d never have cases where a contractual dispute was resolved in a court, or settled out of court simply to avoid fees. What you’re basically saying is that, without courts, companies would resolve contracts in cases where a court wouldn’t be needed in the first place.

To be honest, without courts companies would come up with something rather like the courts system to replace them (cf. international arbitrations). I’m absolutely not arguing that the courts are valueless, just that contracts wouldn’t be entirely ‘worthless’ without them.

And as I said the real thrust of the point was that while (I assume) most people would agree with SMFS that it’s not the job of the state to intervene in every transaction between consenting adults, that’s a different argument to saying that its not the job of the state to intervene in any transaction between consenting adults.

When I wrote that, I didn’t consider the existence of a legal system as being an ‘intervention’ in contracts, but I can see why you might argue that it is.

@86, @92

http://www.secularism.org.uk/uploads/bideford-judgment-final.pdf

The relevant sections of the ruling are paragraph 21 and 25.

The Town Clerk’s statement in paragraph 5 makes it clear that although they typically did not take attendance as part of their meetings until after the prayers, both activities were indeed formal orders of business on the agenda (Presumably “Item 1: Prayers; Item 2: Attendance and Apologies).

For that reason, anyone not attending the prayers but attending the rest of the meeting historically had not been marked down for not attending.

But the point was in the ruling that they could have been; and any councillors leaving the room could not reasonably be expected to know for sure whether or not they would be penalised for it or be able to dispute it.

There’s good reason to believe our complainant might believe that he was having this used as a stick to beat him by the rest of the council ganging up on him because they didn’t like him; hell, *I* don’t like him and I haven’t even met him and I agree with him, so it’s not unreasonable.

It’s fairly obvious that neither the prayers or the attendance should be a part of the business. Apologies for non-attendance, yes. But you can’t take attendance as part of the meeting and say definitively that everyone who should be there right from the start of the meeting is already there, because by the time you’ve done that, the meeting itself is already underway; you have to take attendance *before* you start, not at some point *after* you’ve started. If that makes sense.

97. Chaise Guevara

@ 95 Spike

“For that reason, anyone not attending the prayers but attending the rest of the meeting historically had not been marked down for not attending.”

Sorry, where in the source are you seeing this?

@97

Paragraph 5, the Town Clark’s statement on how meetings he minutes for the council are typically conducted.

99. Chaise Guevara

@ 96

Spike, that source CONTRADICTS Jungle’s claim. See paragraph 64. So why are you presenting it as if it’s a source for what he said?

100. So Much For Subtlety

72. Chaise Guevara

Nah, it means I simply disagree with you. At a guess, you’re conflating correlation with cause. E.G. “we tax the rich heavily, most rich people are white, ZOMG tax is racist!!!”.

I don’t see why you wouldn’t agree with that. After all we hear the reverse argument all the time, e.g. “we impose tests on admission to University and this discriminates against poor people and BMEs, so it is racist. And sexist too.” I don’t recall you ever objecting. However that is not my point. It is not that the Left’s policies happen to hit the rich and the White. IT is that they are intended to target White people. That the Left is openly in contempt of the White, the male, the able-bodied, the straight and so on. This is most obvious when it is a steadfast member of the feminist Left who clearly has a problem with men. You have no problem hearing it when Julie Bindel does it for instance. But presumably that is because you do not hear your own prejudices.

Finally, you’ve shifted from “intent and purpose” to “net effect” – very different things, and it was that “intent” line that led me to call you paranoid in the first place.

No I haven’t. I tried to seek areas of agreement. Once we can agree that is the effect we can agree about the intent. The intent, however, is obviously and utterly undeniable. It is clearly going to take a little while to get you to agree.

Oh, you got me, the Left isn’t bigoted in favour of traditionally dominant groups! So what?

It may have escaped your notice, but the vast majority of the white Christian straight able-bodied males in Britain are not members of the dominant groups. In Britain. They are, actually, the majority of the working class and indeed the majority of poor still tend to be precisely these people. But it does explain why the past Labour government had an open policy of replacing British people with Third World Labour-voting immigrants. It is this disdain for the White working class that has driven them to vote Tory.

So in other words they’ve got a long way to fall before they (we, really) are even on an even footing with everyone else.

That depends on what you mean by equal. The white Christian straight able-bodied males produce most of the wealth of Britain. Women are heavily over-represented in government jobs for instance. So in a sense, dragging them down is not equality except in the narrow equality of outcome sense. If everyone started out on an equal basis you would expect the white Christian straight able-bodied males to do better than most. If they were treated equally. But they are not.

However we are there in some aspects. Women do better at A Levels now they have been dumbed down and changed to help women do better. So now women make up most University students. So naturally you would support changes to the A Level system to bring male numbers up, right? So would LC? Oddly enough I don’t recall anyone asking for that. You see how hollow claims of equality are? There is no demand for giving up a damn thing once equality has been achieved. Male students are, indeed, second-class citizens given the system is designed to keep their numbers down and indeed their numbers are down. But the Left does not give a sh!t. It is not about equality. It is about power.

101. Chaise Guevara

@ 98

“Paragraph 5, the Town Clark’s statement on how meetings he minutes for the council are typically conducted.”

What? Where does it say that people who didn’t turn up for prayers were registered as not attending?

@97

The Town Clark’s testimony is essentially “Yeah, well the prayers are a part of the meeting an they’re optional and we don’t take attendance until afterwards and no-one is marked down for not attending the prayers, so it’s not a big deal.”

That doesn’t matter. His testimony is pretty clear that they *were* on the agenda and they *were* part of the meeting business and the statute law is pretty clear that they can’t be, which the judge affirmed.

No-one in the case is saying that the prayers are illegal and can’t be part of proceedings; they just can’t be part of the business.

The issue here is that the meeting chair and the Town Clark were simply doing things and minuting things the wrong way and in the wrong order, rather than doing things that couldn’t be done.

The prayers are perfectly legal. Putting them in the business of the meeting, which councillors have a reasonable expectation placed on them that they will attend for all of, is not.

That the Clark didn’t correctly minute people not attending the prayers as not attending the whole meeting he might think is a mitigating factor, but actually he’s incorrectly recording the council session proceedings by doing so, even if he thinks he’s doing something nice by doing so.

95 – rather a depressing judgement to be honest. The compromise will presumably be that rather than having the meeting started, then prayers, then attendance there will be prayers then the start of the meeting. No substantive difference will be made to anything, and since Mr Bone has since lost his seat, he won’t even get the benefit of, um, whatever it was that he wanted.

@101

What? Where does it say that people who didn’t turn up for prayers were registered as not attending?

It doesn’t say that. It says the opposite of that. People not attending the prayers were registered as attending the whole meeting.

But he does say that prayers *were* a formal part of the meeting, albeit an optional or elective one.

You can’t have an optional part of council business; you either attend for all the business being discussed, or you don’t. If you take an oath to represent people, you don’t get to decide which bits not to involve yourself with and which you don’t.

There’s no such thing as an optional part of the agenda – and even if there was, a single unelected official like the Town Clark has no place making an arbitrary judgement or ruling on what parts are or are not compulsory.

Plus, if the prayers *are* a part of the business, someone doesn’t sit in for them, he records that person as being present for the whole meeting, his minutes of the meeting are administratively inaccurate and wilfully so.

105. Chaise Guevara

@ 102

Spike

Okay, but I’m not arguing whether the correct decision was made under the law. I’m saying that this doesn’t seem to be a victory for justice, liberty or democracy; law aside, it doesn’t even seem like the right thing to do.

Are you now conceding that a) councillors were not marked down as failing to attend if they weren’t around for the prayers and b) the prayers were in no way compulsory?

106. So Much For Subtlety

91. G.O.

I said ‘can’; you read it as ‘should’. This is hardly my fault.

No, that is not what you did. What you said was:

(E.g. the state refrains from telling people what churches they can and can’t belong to, and churches refrain from telling people what state schools they can and can’t attend.)

The Churches do tell people what schools they should attend. They also run schools and as such are in complete control of who can and cannot attend those, but only those, schools. Some of those schools fall under a variety of funding models. But in general your phrasing was, at best, woefully bad.

Huh? The transaction in question was one between a B&B owner and a wannabe customer. The former did not consent to serve the latter, and the latter did not consent to be refused service by the former. Hence the transaction was not one between ‘consenting adults’. In such cases, the state needs to take a view on whose wishes should be overridden.

Except the transaction was between consenting adults. If I approach a girl in a bar, we both consent to, at least, a conversation. If she does not fancy me, she may refuse further consent. She may also withdraw her consent to talk to me. Up to this point there has been no agreement but no lack of consent. In the same way a party approached another party with an offer. No agreement was reached and there it should have ended. You can’t refuse to accept being refused service – except because the State chooses to intervene. At that point it ceases to be between consenting adults. Just as it would in the bar if the State insisted.

So? There’s a difference between democracy and mob rule. In a democracy, the rghts of minorities have to be protected even if that’s against the wishes of the majority.

So it is wrong to claim popular support when you don’t have it, and no, that is not what democracy means. That is manifestly not what democracy means. That is why America chose the Electoral College. That is why it is a Republic and not a Democracy. We have some 3000 years of political history telling us precisely why democracies are like mob rule and why too much democracy is a bad thing. And if you are claiming otherwise you are either trolling or you’re a fool. Which is it? Britain used to jail homosexuals. It was still a democracy. Or at least as much of one as it is now. There is nothing inherent in democracies that require them to respect the rights of minorities at all.

The key words here are ‘without any measurable harm to anyone’. If you can’t walk into a shop/hotel/pub without wondering whether the owners are going to refuse to serve you on the basis of your sexuality, religion, race etc., it looks to me as if measurable harm has been done to you; your basic freedom to go about your business as an equal member of society has been curtailed.

No it hasn’t. As there is no right to be served. You never know if you’re going to be served or not. Service is often withdrawn for a variety of reasons. That is the right of the owner. And it is not the business of the State to engage in the fool’s errand of rectifying every little wrong brought before it by every petty minded little fool who thinks he is a victim of discrimination.

Yes, of course there’s a difference. But SMFS wasn’t making some nuanced point about property rights; he appeared to be baldly stating that personal freedoms include the freedom to restrict other people’s freedoms. If things worked that way, the slave owner would have a legitimate complaint.,/i>

Self-evidently freedom does include the freedom to restrict other people’s freedoms. As even you would probably accept if you thought about it. Should I wish to join a Gay Gym, I would be denied membership. Legally. According to you I am a victim of discrimination and unfree right there. Oddly enough I can’t become a Imam either. What I am saying is that no one has the right to use someone else’s property without consent. So you cannot even paraphrase my argument in a half competent manner.

You say ‘problem’, I say ‘solution’. Should we return to the days of ‘No Irish, no Blacks, no dogs’ signs in the windows of hotels in order to avoid needless disputes?

I take it you’re a lawyer? Yes, why not? I don’t believe for a moment that we would return to such days, but if we did, so what?

Absurd. On what grounds should the law condemn murder, rape, theft etc., if not on moral grounds? (Framing you answer in terms of ‘rights’, including property rights, is no use, since the question of what rights people have is itself a moral question.)

We no longer use moral grounds to condemn murder. Every time the Left has a discussion of this, they object to the use of moral frames of reference. Morality no longer has any particular role in the legal system. We have laws that condemn murder, rape, theft, etc because it is socially damaging. Because it causes objectively measured harm to society. Nothing else.

If you think you can establish the existence/importance/nature of property rights, say, without making any kind of appeal to widely-held moral intuitions (about e.g. the wrongness of theft or the rightness of keeping things you’ve worked for), I urge you to do so. If you can succeed where Kant failed, in deriving moral principles about rights and duties from pure reason, you can expect to be hailed as perhaps the greatest mind of your time.

Property rights work in that they produce free and wealthy societies. Which most people would regard as important and just. Unlike the poverty of Africa which tends to lack property rights and so wallows in disease to the extent that millions of children die. Avoiding those deaths is not automatically a morally just cause, but most people might think so.

@ 78 Larry,

“Too glib”

If in doubt, start with a vacuous insult, huh?

“Your belief in people’s rights to do absolutely whatever they want with their own property is just as much a moral position as e.g. my belief in people’s rights not to face humiliating sexual disrimination when trygin to book a holiday.”

Firstly, you are attempting to bury the obvious qualifier on doing what you want with your own property, that being that you cannot harm someone else. This should go without saying, but from what you say, it’s clear you are, either honestly or dishonestly misrepresenting the argument, as seen in the line “And so will you, so long as the persectution is taking place on private land.”

I guess this depends on whether you can define the difference between bloody murder and not being welcome in a particular hotel.

Unlike morality, property rights are not subjective. That is why they are fundamentally important in settling disputes between individuals and between individuals and the state.

@ 80 Flowerpower,

“But isn’t there a valid distinction to be made about the extent of private property rights in a social/public space and those in a private space?”

I would say that a business falls under the category of private space. Municipally-owned streets and parks, these are public spaces, but a business is private.

“A bigot is perhaps within his rights not to invite blacks/gays/Jews to his home for dinner on account of their colour/sexuality/religion but should a bigoted publican be allowed to put up a No gays/blacks/Jews sign?”

Yes. I know that people don’t like the idea of such things, but you do accept above that there is a private sphere, i.e. that individuals are free to disassociate from people who they are bigoted against in their private life. My interpretation is that this private life is wider than yours. This doesn’t mean I advocate such bigotry. I am, rather, certain that if such things were not prohibited, as they are now, most people would boycott such establishments, and they would pay a heavy price for their exclusivity.

@9 G.O.

I said the law should not concern itself with morality. You said:

“Absurd. On what grounds should the law condemn murder, rape, theft etc., if not on moral grounds? (Framing you answer in terms of ‘rights’, including property rights, is no use, since the question of what rights people have is itself a moral question.)”

Of course in terms of property. Murder, rape, theft are all aggressive violations of another person’s property. Morality does not come into the equation of deciding whether such a crime has taken place. It does, certainly, have a bearing on how you treat the perpetrator, but not on whether the particular act was a crime. As one example, consider someone who murders a despicable brute who raped his child. In law, it’s still murder, even if everybody thinks the bastard deserved to die. Likewise with theft, whether stealing money to feed an orphan or feed a crack addiction, it’s still theft. The morality is secondary to this. I’m not saying it’s not important, it’s vital for ensuring justice is done, but not for discovering whether an act is theft – that is based on property rights.

What the argument over the hotel room boils down to, is whether being told you can’t stay in a hotel, on the basis of something or other, constitutes a violation of your individual rights. I say it doesn’t, because you have no property right in the hotel room, and the annoyance, humiliation or whatever you will suffer does not constitute an assault or aggression against your person. It doesn’t fall into the category wherein you find being punched, kicked or knocked over the head. It should thus be dealt with by taking your business elsewhere and encouraging others to do the same.

108. Chaise Guevara

@ SMFS

“I don’t see why you wouldn’t agree with that. After all we hear the reverse argument all the time, e.g. “we impose tests on admission to University and this discriminates against poor people and BMEs, so it is racist. And sexist too.” I don’t recall you ever objecting.”

I don’t really give a fuck what you do and don’t recall, as it has no bearing on what I think on the subject.

“However that is not my point. It is not that the Left’s policies happen to hit the rich and the White. IT is that they are intended to target White people. That the Left is openly in contempt of the White, the male, the able-bodied, the straight and so on.”

Source please! This should be good, as you’ve yet to find an official mouthpiece for “the Left”.

“This is most obvious when it is a steadfast member of the feminist Left who clearly has a problem with men. You have no problem hearing it when Julie Bindel does it for instance. But presumably that is because you do not hear your own prejudices.”

What are you on about? What do I have no problem hearing? Please answer this question instead of employing your usual dodging tactics.

“No I haven’t. I tried to seek areas of agreement. Once we can agree that is the effect we can agree about the intent. The intent, however, is obviously and utterly undeniable. It is clearly going to take a little while to get you to agree.”

Self-contradictory. If it were undeniable I wouldn’t be able to deny it. And if that sounds like a puerile point (which it is), what else am I to do when you, as always, essentially say “I’m right cos I’m right cos its obvious I’m right”? Where do you get the impression this could possibly be convincing, or even relevant?

“It may have escaped your notice, but the vast majority of the white Christian straight able-bodied males [straw man blah blah blah]”

“But it does explain why the past Labour government had an open policy of replacing British people with Third World Labour-voting immigrants. It is this disdain for the White working class that has driven them to vote Tory.”

So black and Asian working class Brits are unaffected by immigration, then? Or if not, what’s your point?

“That depends on what you mean by equal. The white Christian straight able-bodied males produce most of the wealth of Britain.”

So?

“Women are heavily over-represented in government jobs for instance.”

Learn to count.

“So in a sense, dragging them down is not equality except in the narrow equality of outcome sense. If everyone started out on an equal basis you would expect the white Christian straight able-bodied males to do better than most. If they were treated equally. But they are not. ”

No, you’re confusing me with you. You would expect that, because you’re a sexist, racist, homophobic religious bigot. I’m not, so I wouldn’t.

“However we are there in some aspects. Women do better at A Levels now they have been dumbed down and changed to help women do better.”

Source please.

“So now women make up most University students. So naturally you would support changes to the A Level system to bring male numbers up, right?”

Yep.

“So would LC? Oddly enough I don’t recall anyone asking for that.”

Again, I don’t give a fuck about your personal experiences.

“You see how hollow claims of equality are?”

Nope, kindly back up the statement.

“There is no demand for giving up a damn thing once equality has been achieved. Male students are, indeed, second-class citizens given the system is designed to keep their numbers down and indeed their numbers are down.”

Again, source please.

“But the Left does not give a sh!t. It is not about equality. It is about power.”

You do know that the Freemasons and the lizard people are spying on you through your power sockets, right?

109. Chaise Guevara

@ Trooper

“Unlike morality, property rights are not subjective.”

Um, what? What possible basis have you got for saying that? Are you aware that there’s a difference between “objective” and “what Trooper Thompson likes”?

@105

I’m saying that this doesn’t seem to be a victory for justice, liberty or democracy; law aside, it doesn’t even seem like the right thing to do.

Justice, liberty or democracy have little to do with it in this case; it’s just not that much of an issue. It’s an issue of admin and clerical procedures being incorrectly followed in my view, a technical lapse, rather than an intentional or a moral one.

The Humanists are claiming it as a huge victory for them, which it isn’t. It’s a minor detail that was resolved and they were in the right all the time.

The Christian backlash is painting this to be a massive threat to them. It isn’t. It’s just a gentle warning to remember to do things in the right order and write them down accurately if they want to be compliant with the law and give people and give people and excuse to get pissed off with them. If it were an article of Christian faith that God should be part of a meeting of earthly authority, rather than acknowledged prior to it, there might be a conflict of interests. But there isn’t.

Are you now conceding that a) councillors were not marked down as failing to attend if they weren’t around for the prayers and b) the prayers were in no way compulsory?

I never disputed either of those things, and that’s not the basis on which the case came to court. If the Town Clark says that he never marked down anyone for not attending the prayer bit of the meeting, I’m content to believe him, and no doubt his own meeting minutes reflect that. The point is that if the minutes do say that and do say that everyone who didn’t attend the prayers attended the full meeting, then he’s admitting under oath that he recorded factually inaccurate meeting minutes that did not reflect the true nature of the meeting.

Obviously he was only doing it to be sporting (for want of a better word), but the fact that he was doing it at all covers up the fact that you’ve then got a situation where the minority is dependent on the benevolence of the majority, who are in control. That they didn’t use it as a means to f*ck him over by distorting his attendance record or use it as a stick to beat him with when they lost patience with his bullsh*t doesn’t over-ride the fact that they had inadvertently (albeit with pure intentions) engineered a situation whereby they could have used that power over him unfairly, had they chosen to.

If you want to argue the merits of the case on the grounds of justice and democracy, that has to be a consideration; it’s like the speaker having an additional means of sanctioning or punishing an elected member for lawful and reasonable behaviour or conduct that he doesn’t have over any other member of the assembly and turns the chair and the officials into partisan figures where otherwise they strive not to be.

The Humanists are claiming it as a huge victory for them, which it isn’t. It’s a minor detail that was resolved and they were in the right all the time.

Arguably it’s more of a defeat for them than otherwise. Bideford Council was acting ultra vires, but the statutory basis for local governments is coming up for change – Eric Pickles has already said that the decision whether or not to have voluntary prayers within council meetings is the sort of thing that ought to be decided at a local level.

On the wider point of discrimination/human rights, the NSS were blown out of the water. They led argument on these two lines, with the ultra vires point being little more than a throwaway third (according to the judgment). The ruling that minor inconvenience/embarrassment is neither discriminatory nor a breach of human rights is something of a setback in the wider NSS campaign.

@109

“Unlike morality, property rights are not subjective.”

Um, what? What possible basis have you got for saying that? Are you aware that there’s a difference between “objective” and “what Trooper Thompson likes”?

He’s right from the point of view that property rights are written down in large part in statute law, whereas morality is not. The answer to that is that a great deal more of property rights (under English law) is laid down as common law, which absolutely *is* subjective and ephemeral.

Property rights are also not guaranteed firmly in English law, as they are under the US Constitution. They do not even appear in a clear way in the English Bill of Rights (although intruigingly, the right to bear arms as private citizens *does*).

You can make a firm claim of individual property rights being totally objective under US law. You cannot make such a firm claim under English law, it’s far more interpretive and subjective than that.

Libertarian arguments make sense under the framework of the US Constitution. If you’re going to make such a claim under English law (without firmly opposing and claiming Natural Ownership Rights), you can’t do it. It’s like building a house on shifting sands.

Unlike morality, property rights are not subjective.

Yes they are. Of course they are!

The major subjectivity resides in the definition of ‘harm’? Does causing suffering to an animal count? What about causing serious emotional distress to a human without physically touching them? If so, how serious/permanent need it be?

A particularly hilarious instance of this debate was when fake libertarian Old Holborn came on here arguing that Swiss Muslims putting minarets on their buildings was ‘harming’ their neighbours.

We can also ask what counts as property. Do I own my children? (So I can do what I like with them, right?) Do I own my future? (i.e. Can I sell myself into slavery for the rest of my life?)

And who gets property rights? Children? After what age? Mentally disabled? How disabled? What about aritificial intelligences? Etc.

I’m not asking for the answers to these questions (I really don’t care). The point is that you could argue them either way. The answers are subjective, relative, and a matter of balancing out competing claims, not clear cut yes/no answers as libertarians like to pretend.

(Incidentally, perhaps saving the life of a straw-man, I’m not saying property right aren’t important, just that they’re not the be all and end all.)

@111

Arguably it’s more of a defeat for them than otherwise.

I agree, it was a case worth fighting but it was a stupid choice to big it up as being a total vindication and complete victory on their part, plus from the little we know of Cllr. Bone, the horse they chose to back seems like a bit of an unpopular tw*t anyway.

This reminds me of the background to the Birmingham Bus Boycott – the NAACP had been gearing up their campaign and preparing to make a national legal challenge to separate and equal over buses for several years and went through several potential figureheads for the cause before settling on Rosa Parks to champion her case.

It took them around two or three years to find the right case to push and fight for; some of the early candidates were rejected because they were light-skinned, mixed race, convicted felons, un-wed mothers, beat their wives, had white boyfriends or had caused some kind of violent or abusive scene when they were ordered to move to the back of the bus.

Rosa Parks was perfect because she wasn’t an activist, she was a polite, professional, middle-class married mother of two, regular church goer, with a good family with no record to attack. She was well-liked and well-respected by the local community (black and white) and she responded to the request she move to the back of the bus by declining quietly and politely.

(Former) Cllr. Bone is certainly no Rosa Parks.

Spike @ 104:

“You can’t have an optional part of council business;”

Maybe I’m being slow here, but why not, exactly? If a Council decided to make attendance at part of its meetings optional, why shouldn’t they be able to do so?

116. Chaise Guevara

@ 112 Spike

Sure, property rights may be objectively defined from a legal standpoint. But I assume that isn’t what TT is saying, unless he’s claiming that legal = moral.

In the question of what SHOULD be legal, property rights are as subjective as anything else.

117. Chaise Guevara

@ 110

“Justice, liberty or democracy have little to do with it in this case; it’s just not that much of an issue. It’s an issue of admin and clerical procedures being incorrectly followed in my view, a technical lapse, rather than an intentional or a moral one.”

That’s how you see it, and fair enough, but it’s fair to say that the noisiest people on both sides think it’s a moral issue.

“I never disputed either of those things”

Fair enough.

“If you want to argue the merits of the case on the grounds of justice and democracy, that has to be a consideration; it’s like the speaker having an additional means of sanctioning or punishing an elected member for lawful and reasonable behaviour or conduct that he doesn’t have over any other member of the assembly and turns the chair and the officials into partisan figures where otherwise they strive not to be.”

I agree, and there’s no way that the council should be allowed to make a faith-based ceremony part of official proceedings and then use that to mark the record of people who won’t comply (or to keep them out of the conversation etc.).

I think having a prayer session at the start of the meeting is thoughtless and tasteless, and certainly unnecessary. However, I also call bullshit over claims that it is offensive or oppressive to the extent that it should be stopped for moral reasons.

@115

Maybe I’m being slow here, but why not, exactly? If a Council decided to make attendance at part of its meetings optional, why shouldn’t they be able to do so?

Because you’re elected to represent the electors in your constituency/ward to represent them in all matters, not just the ones you feel like participating in or the ones you feel are or are not important.

(Former) Cllr. Bone’s contention was that his opponents could have campaigned against him saying that “Cllr. Bone failed to attend a single council meeting for the discussion of all elements of council business; he consistently turned up late, showing complete contempt for the proceedings and the job he had been elected to do and the people who put him there to do it.” and that would be accurate, if misleading.

He’s right – if the religion is part of the meeting, part of the democratic process, then you cannot show your contempt and/or disapproval for the religious practice by not participating in it without also expressing contempt and/or disapproval for the democratic process it’s embedded in.

It’s just a shame he had to be such a dick about the way he went about highlighting that fact. But presumably, he felt on some level it was the only way to make the point and to get the law enforced, which is why the Humanists stumped up the cash for hi to fight the case.

@117

I think having a prayer session at the start of the meeting is thoughtless and tasteless, and certainly unnecessary.

I wouldn’t go that far. Smarmy, perhaps. Possibly bullish.

And your contention accepts the premise put forward by (former) Cllr. Bone that the practice was initiated with the sole or main intent to isolate or victimise him, which I doubt; I have no reason to believe that the expressions of faith by the other people there was anything other than sincere. It’s certainly a straw-man position to assume that it was vindictive.

I personally prefer to rely on my earlier appraisal of (former) Cllr. Bone that he was just a dick and a bit of a cry-baby who no-one really liked anyway before all of this but who, nonetheless, was in the right with his assertion that it shouldn’t have been a formal part of the meeting.

But as long as we have an established church (and we do, can’t deny it), it’s legitimate and there’s no disputing it. It’s a Crown body, and the Queen is both Head of State and Head of the Church and the Church of England is the official state religion of English government. They have a better claim to making it part of proceedings than we do to say that it has no place being there.

I can live with that fine. It bothers me, but not very much.

120. Frances_coppola

Although I generally think she’s not only barking but hypocritical, on one point I agree with Dorries. This was a very minor issue blown up out of all proportion by the NSS in order to further its anti-religious agenda. And in no way can they regard it as a victory. Had the judge agreed that Mr. Bone’s human rights were being violated, I have no doubt the NSS would have followed up with a legal challenge on those grounds to all public institutions that have “compulsory” prayers and acts of worship – starting with schools. That the judge did not agree is a major setback for them. Sadly, because she’s not very bright, Dorries didn’t notice this.

I think having a prayer session at the start of the meeting is thoughtless and tasteless, and certainly unnecessary.

Really? One of the things accepted in the judgement here was that the Bideford local council have been starting meetings with prayers since the first Elizabeth. They’re done on a non-denominational basis, and they take 2-3 minutes. I don’t see this as the Council being especially unreasonable – it’s not as if this were a new thing they’d only just started doing.

@ SMFS

“No, that is not what you did. What you said was:

(E.g. the state refrains from telling people what churches they can and can’t belong to, and churches refrain from telling people what state schools they can and can’t attend.)”

Yep. See that ‘can’ and ‘can’t’?

“in general your phrasing was, at best, woefully bad.”

Seems a bit harsh. But yeah, maybe ‘is not empowered to tell’ would have been better than ‘refrain(s) from telling’.

Re the business about ‘consenting adults’: you can’t just abstract this transaction from its social and legal context, as if there’s some ‘natural’ state of affairs that exists before the state takes a view. Either the state respects the right of the owner to refuse service on the basis of sexuality (and places an obligation on the would-be customer to accept that decision), or it respects the right of the customer to receive the same service as a heterosexual customer (and places an obligation on the owner to offer that service). In neither context would both parties be ‘consenting’, since in neither context would they agree on who gets to make the final decision. (You and the woman in the bar *do* agree on that, hopefully, and so you converse/negotiate as ‘consenting adults’.

“That is manifestly not what democracy means.”

Oops, and there was me thinking that ‘While there is no universally accepted definition of ‘democracy’,[7] equality and freedom have both been identified as important characteristics of democracy since ancient times.[8] These principles are reflected in all citizens being equal before the law and having equal access to legislative processes. For example, in a representative democracy, every vote has equal weight, no unreasonable restrictions can apply to anyone seeking to become a representative, and the freedom of its citizens is secured by legitimized rights and liberties which are generally protected by a constitution.[9][10]‘

When you’ve finished here, you’d better go and edit that Wikipedia entry. Won’t take long – you just have to replace the existing text with ‘Democracy is majority rule’.

“you are either trolling or you’re a fool”

Oh, come off it SMFS – you’ve eaten more billy goats than I’ve had hot dinners.

“What I am saying is that no one has the right to use someone else’s property without consent. So you cannot even paraphrase my argument in a half competent manner.”

When did you say that? I must have missed it.

“I take it you’re a lawyer?”

Huh? Why?

“Yes, why not? I don’t believe for a moment that we would return to such days, but if we did, so what?”

‘So what’ if hotels routinely and legally refused to accept black guests? You can’t be serious.

“We have laws that condemn murder, rape, theft, etc because it is socially damaging. Because it causes objectively measured harm to society. Nothing else.”

But why do we have laws to prevent harm being done to society? Because we think such harm ought not to be done, and is a Bad Thing. We think it’s a Good Thing to have a healthy, functioning society in which people can go about their business in peace, pursue happiness, etc. These are moral beliefs.

@ Trooper Thompson

“Morality does not come into the equation of deciding whether such a crime has taken place.”

No, but the reasons we have for making some things crimes in the first place are moral reasons. It’s for moral reasons that the law takes a different attitude to someone who sets light to a firework, and someone who sets light to their mum.

“The morality is secondary to this. I’m not saying it’s not important, it’s vital for ensuring justice is done, but not for discovering whether an act is theft – that is based on property rights.”

Fine, but as I say, things ‘based on property rights’ are ipso facto based on moral considerations. Such rights are the stuff of morality. So you can’t separate out the extent to which things are based on property rights and the extent to which they’re based on moral considerations. You may as well say ‘Fruit is a secondary consideration when making a smoothie – it’s bananas that come first’.

@117, @121

I think having a prayer session at the start of the meeting is thoughtless and tasteless, and certainly unnecessary.

The provision of tea and biscuits as part of council meetings has long been argued to be unnecessary.

And I’m quite sure a great many of them are also tasteless.

My ego can take it. I don’t see it as an issue or personally offensive.

124. Chaise Guevara

@ 119 Spike

“And your contention accepts the premise put forward by (former) Cllr. Bone that the practice was initiated with the sole or main intent to isolate or victimise him, which I doubt”

Not at all – I said thoughtless, not malicious. I suspect they just failed to properly consider that not everyone shares their views.

Agree that Bone was being a bit of a dick. I think that’s true of everyone involved, really.

Timj @ 121

The point is that prayers were done in the council’s time, as part of an agenda for sessions. No body objected to prayers, but it was the fact that such prayers appeared to be part of the official business of the council that causes the problem.

As you say, in the future, such prayers will be voluntary and before official business of the council. Don’t see a problem with that and nor can I see the alleged persecution, either.

The Christian Right are playing the victimhood card again.

126. Chaise Guevara

@ 121 TimJ

I think it’s arrogant for someone to assume that their personal faith should be marked out for special treatment (and it’s still personal faith unless the prayers were so non-denominational as to cover for Muslims, Hindus, atheists…), considering that not all councillors and certainly not all constituents share it. And “we’ve always done it this way” is a dreadful argument; the last refuge of people who resent or are scared of progress but don’t have a decent argument to back their view. I’m sure I don’t need to give you the list of things that could have been defended with that argument.

I doubt that my local council starts its meetings with a prayer, but it’s possible. If so, I hope it isn’t on my time.

@126

“I doubt that my local council starts its meetings with a prayer, but it’s possible. If so, I hope it isn’t on my time.”

It probably does.

Your Parliament certainly does. Every day, before the start of every session.

You just don’t know about it, because that part of Parliamentary proceedings is not routinely televised.

Because it’s inconsequential.

@126

http://www.parliament.uk/about/how/business/prayers/

“Sittings in both Houses begin with prayers. These follow the Christian faith and there is currently no multi-faith element. Attendance is voluntary.

The practice of prayers is believed to have started in about 1558, and was common practice by 1567. The present form of prayers probably dates from the reign of Charles II. Members of the public are not allowed into the public galleries during prayers.”

129. Chaise Guevara

@ 127 Spike

No, I do know that, and while I’d prefer it didn’t happen it’s hardly the most pressing issue.

I think it’s arrogant for someone to assume that their personal faith should be marked out for special treatment (and it’s still personal faith unless the prayers were so non-denominational as to cover for Muslims, Hindus, atheists…), considering that not all councillors and certainly not all constituents share it.

I’m not sure that argument flies in the UK. There is explicitly no separation between Church and State here. Equally though, if in a council like Tower Hamlets where there is a clear Muslim majority they decided to have a short optional reading from the Koran, I don’t see that would be arrogant or offensive either.

After all, there were two votes taken to decide whether the practice should continue – if it’s the settled will of the majority (and isn’t illegal) shouldn’t that matter?

And “we’ve always done it this way” is a dreadful argument; the last refuge of people who resent or are scared of progress but don’t have a decent argument to back their view.

Cf Chesterton’s Gate, and Viscount Falkland.

Incidentally, an ancient piece by Matthew Parris that I suspect sums up the Dorries tendency almost too perfectly.

The P[olitically] S[ound] voice is confident of the sympathy of the pack. It is the whimper-bark of the natural bully, eternally convinced that his victim is picking the fight.

http://www.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/7643583/from-the-archives-are-you-politically-sound.thtml

@116 Chaise,

“Sure, property rights may be objectively defined from a legal standpoint. But I assume that isn’t what TT is saying…”

Why assume that I’m not saying that? I am saying that! The fact that property rights can be objectively defined from a legal standpoint is of central value in their use to determine matters of law, and that objective measure is the key to whether something is a crime or not. Some examples of this: Burglary: it’s not burglary, if it’s your house, and you’ve lost your keys. Theft. It’s not theft if you take something that belongs to you. Etc etc.

“.., unless he’s claiming that legal = moral.”

Eh? Where have you got that from? I’m certainly not saying that. I’m saying that crime should be based on violating property rights, including of course a person’s physical body, not on violating morality, this latter being subjective, unlike property rights, which are objective.

There are many things which are immoral in my eyes, but I don’t want them prohibited by law. Likewise there are other things which are moral, as far as some people are concerned, but if they violate property rights then they should be prohibited.

@113 Larry,

as you state that you’re not interested in the answers to your questions, I’ll try not to spend undue effort casting these pearls of wisdom before you :)

“The major subjectivity resides in the definition of ‘harm”

Surely you would agree that such terms as ‘harm’ need to have clear definitions? Otherwise, the law becomes totally arbitrary. The fact (contrary to your denial) that property rights can be objectively defined does not mean that there won’t be difficult and complicated cases, that require effort and good judgement to resolve. Matters of noise pollution for instance.

“Does causing suffering to an animal count? What about causing serious emotional distress to a human without physically touching them? If so, how serious/permanent need it be?”

This is a tricky one, I must admit. I have no desire to see cruelty to animals, and would be happy to bodge the purity of my conception of the law to ensure it was prohibited. Perhaps animals need to be treated unlike mere property. Such difficulties do not affect the bulk of the law, which deals with human interaction. As for causing serious emotional distress without physically touching someone, I would say certainly it is possible to do this, and the courts deal with such matters, and differentiate as best they can.

“We can also ask what counts as property. Do I own my children? (So I can do what I like with them, right?) Do I own my future? (i.e. Can I sell myself into slavery for the rest of my life?)

Parents have a duty of trust with regard to their children, who will in time come into their majority. The principles of parental authority are well established in society. As for selling yourself into slavery, no you cannot, because you cannot alienate your future will. Voluntary slavery is a contradiction in terms. If it’s voluntary, it ain’t slavery. If it’s slavery, it ain’t voluntary.

“I’m not asking for the answers to these questions (I really don’t care). The point is that you could argue them either way. The answers are subjective, relative, and a matter of balancing out competing claims, not clear cut yes/no answers as libertarians like to pretend.”

Settling disputes between people will always be complicated. All the more reason to make the law as clear and concise as possible. Property rights give a firm foundation. Morality, yours or mine, does not.

@ Spike,

I’m not arguing that the English law holds property rights sacrosanct. It does not. I’m arguing that it should :)

133. Chaise Guevara

@ 130 TimJ

“I’m not sure that argument flies in the UK. There is explicitly no separation between Church and State here.”

There ought to be, although that’s another story.

“Equally though, if in a council like Tower Hamlets where there is a clear Muslim majority they decided to have a short optional reading from the Koran, I don’t see that would be arrogant or offensive either.”

If I were serving on that council, I’d find it to be inconsiderate. And if that council represented me I’d find it worrying. But I wouldn’t seek to have it banned under the law, this is “you have the right to be an arsehole” stuff.

“After all, there were two votes taken to decide whether the practice should continue – if it’s the settled will of the majority (and isn’t illegal) shouldn’t that matter?”

There are some places where I think neutrality should be the standard. Obviously council meetings aren’t neutral but the setup should be. Ideally they shouldn’t start with a prayer, or the singing of the national anthem, or be conducted under a giant photo of Margaret Thatcher / Tony Blair / Karl Marx / whoever.

Are you another person who thinks legal and moral are the same thing? Imagine a council voted not to let one of the council members into meetings on grounds of their religion, race, sex, sexuality or whatever. I assume this would be illegal, but if it wasn’t, would you be a-ok with it?

@122

“things ‘based on property rights’ are ipso facto based on moral considerations. Such rights are the stuff of morality. So you can’t separate out the extent to which things are based on property rights and the extent to which they’re based on moral considerations. ”

I disagree. My starting point is the individual, but you seem to be using morality as a starting point. But where does this morality come from? Surely either God or man (or some kind of amorphous blob of collective consciousness?). Whatever of these origins you choose, I would still maintain that the best starting point is the individual, as we are unlikely to agree on exactly what God (or the blob) is saying.

135. Chaise Guevara

@ TimJ again

“Cf Chesterton’s Gate, and Viscount Falkland.”

I’m gonna plead ignorance (and my Googling of the first one brought up something that didn’t seem relevant). Can you expand?

Spike @ 118:

“Because you’re elected to represent the electors in your constituency/ward to represent them in all matters, not just the ones you feel like participating in or the ones you feel are or are not important.”

I don’t see why. Nobody expects MPs to be present every time the House of Commons is sitting.

@ Trooper Thompson

“Property rights give a firm foundation. Morality, yours or mine, does not.”
:
“morality, this latter being subjective, unlike property rights, which are objective.”

Why do you insist on trying to make this distinction between ‘morality’ on the one hand and ‘property rights’ on the other?

If you think it’s wrong to murder because of something to do with property rights, right to keep your promises because of something to do with property rights, etc., what you have there is a particular moral system based on property rights – not an alternative to moral systems in general. And I don’t see why it’s any more ‘objective’ than a moral system based on rights and obligations of other sorts. What makes it ‘objectively’ true that property rights even exist?

138. Chaise Guevara

@ 132 Trooper

“Why assume that I’m not saying that? I am saying that! The fact that property rights can be objectively defined from a legal standpoint is of central value in their use to determine matters of law, and that objective measure is the key to whether something is a crime or not.”

Firstly, you can objectively define all sorts of laws, property rights are not a special case. And even when you can’t that doesn’t mean no law should exist, although it does mean caution is a good idea.

“Eh? Where have you got that from? I’m certainly not saying that. I’m saying that crime should be based on violating property rights, including of course a person’s physical body, not on violating morality, this latter being subjective, unlike property rights, which are objective.”

This simply doesn’t make sense. Property rights are only objective in that they’re defined in law. The exact same thing is true of other moral concepts defined in law. There’s no difference. Furthermore, your opinion that law SHOULD be based on property rights is in itself based on a subjective moral opinion about property rights!

Let’s say I become Prime Minister and ban alcohol but legalise taking other people’s stuff. At this point, the illegality of alcohol is objectively enshrined in law, while your feeling that it’s wrong to take other people’s stuff is a subjective opinion. I assume you’re cool with this system?

“There are many things which are immoral in my eyes, but I don’t want them prohibited by law. Likewise there are other things which are moral, as far as some people are concerned, but if they violate property rights then they should be prohibited.”

…because you think violating property rights is immoral (if not, why do you care?). So you DO want something you consider immoral prohibited by law.

Trooper, what you’re doing is equivocating between two different definitions of “objective” and “subjective”. Then you’re arbitrarily claiming that stuff you like is objective but stuff you don’t like is subjective.

135 – Sorry, yes of course.

Chesterton’s Gate (or fence) is a parable. There’s a gate (or a fence) that a passer-by doesn’t see the purpose of. “I can’t see any reason for this gate being here,” he says, “we should get rid of it.” “Ah,” says Chesterton, “in that case you are the last person who should make the decision to get rid of it.”

In other words, don’t be too quick to get rid of things that look to you like an anachronism – there may well be a good reason for them being like that, that you simply haven’t seen.

As for Lord Falkland (a true Conservative quote this) “When it is not necessary to change; it is necessary not to change.”

Both of them pretty trite answers to a good point (tradition is not, of itself, a knock-down reason for anything), but making the point that the burden of proof is on the person wanting to sweep away the clutter of history.

There are some places where I think neutrality should be the standard. Obviously council meetings aren’t neutral but the setup should be. Ideally they shouldn’t start with a prayer, or the singing of the national anthem, or be conducted under a giant photo of Margaret Thatcher / Tony Blair / Karl Marx / whoever.

Um, on this bit, is there a problem with the national anthem? And I’m pretty sure that it is a legal requirement (if it isn’t then it is, at least in my experience, a universal feature) that there be a portrait of HMQ. Because local Government is an arm of the State no? State religion, state’s national song, a picture of head of state. It’s a large part of what the UK actually is.

@136

I don’t see why. Nobody expects MPs to be present every time the House of Commons is sitting.

I think a lot of people do, because you’re elected to do a job. In reality, it’s not practical and most people accept that.

It’s not really comparable with local councils though, since Parliament sits on every weekday it’s in session, whereas local councils sit every few weeks and local councillors are expected to fit council commitments around their other commitments, rather than have it be their main job or occupation, which is why they generally meet in the evenings.

The point is, if things are set up so that by skipping that part of the meeting it can be made to seem as if you have a 100% record for failing to attend the whole meeting for all business under discussion, that looks bad when really it isn’t.

142. Chaise Guevara

@ 139 TimJ

Thanks for the roundup.

“Both of them pretty trite answers to a good point (tradition is not, of itself, a knock-down reason for anything), but making the point that the burden of proof is on the person wanting to sweep away the clutter of history.”

Is it, though? We’re not talking about a yes/no answer here, we’re talking about something more like a cost/benefit analysis. Shouldn’t the people who want to keep the traditional thing be able to marshall arguments for it? While I certainly agree that we shouldn’t condemn what we don’t understand, I don’t think oldness should arbitrarily grant something a few points in that analysis. I could just as well say “burden of proof is on the people wanting to stand in the way of progress” or similar. And you could argue that the conservative in such an argument might be motivated by ignorance too.

@132

I’m not arguing that the English law holds property rights sacrosanct. It does not. I’m arguing that it should.

It doesn’t. Jog on.

@132

If you think any government is going to be able to aggressively push through a comprehensive program of legislation that inverts the present balance of personal rights to favour things over people, that’s a tough sell.

Won’t stop the present lot having a good try though.

@132

Added to which, the supremacy of property rights over human rights was the legal basis and justification for American slavery. And it was legal. And constitutional.

Prior to the Civil War and the Thirteenth Ammendment, slaves may arguabley have been people in the eyes of the law, but they were not citizens. And according to the Dredd Scott ruling, no black person or African could *ever* be a citizen and were not under the protection of either the courts or the US Government; there *was* no right to life, liberty and the persuit of happiness.

But black people could be property.

The slave owner had citizens’ rights and property rights, but the slave had no rights; human rights as a concept had not even been concieved in law, domestically or internationally, so they had no rights to anything whatsoever.

But if you owned a slave and someone murdered them, you could sue that person for destruction of your property.

Good model to work from, is it?

146. Chaise Guevara

@ 140 TimJ

“Um, on this bit, is there a problem with the national anthem?”

If you’re a royalist, a Christian, arguably a nationalist and happy to push those views down unwilling throats? No problem at all…

“And I’m pretty sure that it is a legal requirement (if it isn’t then it is, at least in my experience, a universal feature) that there be a portrait of HMQ. Because local Government is an arm of the State no? State religion, state’s national song, a picture of head of state. It’s a large part of what the UK actually is.”

I tend to react to the “It’s part of Britishness” argument pretty much identically to the “It’s tradition” argument. It seeks to imply value without explaining why.

@ Chaise,

“Property rights are only objective in that they’re defined in law.”

No. They are objective because it is a matter of fact, not opinion to whom something belongs.

“The exact same thing is true of other moral concepts defined in law.”

A property right is not a moral concept. It is a fact. I’m stating the bleeding obvious. I don’t know why you’re struggling. If I say ‘my car’, it’s not a moral concept. It means ‘the car which I bought, insured and taxed’. Likewise, judging a case of rape, the issue is ‘was there consent?’. There may be uncertainty as to the truth, but that doesn’t make it a matter of opinion or morality. It is a matter of establishing the fact.

“Let’s say I become Prime Minister and ban alcohol but legalise taking other people’s stuff. At this point, the illegality of alcohol is objectively enshrined in law, while your feeling that it’s wrong to take other people’s stuff is a subjective opinion. I assume you’re cool with this system?”

Why would you assume I would be cool with that system, when it is directly counter to what you know I think? How is your system going to work? It would lead to a complete breakdown in society.

“…because you think violating property rights is immoral (if not, why do you care?). So you DO want something you consider immoral prohibited by law.”

I want violations against property rights to be prohibited, not because they are immoral, which they usually are, but because I think this is the best way to organise the law in a society based on individual liberty.

It is also the case that law throughout history has been based to a large extent on this principle, so there’s no point you making out this is some kind of absurd concept.

@ G.O.

“Why do you insist on trying to make this distinction between ‘morality’ on the one hand and ‘property rights’ on the other?”

Er, because I think it is an important distinction. I am sure you would agree that there are some things which are immoral which should not be prohibited by law. I would suggest committing adultery is one such thing. Therefore, as I don’t want immorality to be prohibited, what, then should be prohibited? I say; those acts which harm other people or their property i.e. property right violations.

“If you think it’s wrong to murder because of something to do with property rights, right to keep your promises because of something to do with property rights, etc., what you have there is a particular moral system based on property rights – not an alternative to moral systems in general.”

I am not arguing about moral systems. I am arguing about a system of law. As to your examples, murdering someone is clearly a violation of someone else’s property, and thus would remain prohibited. Breaking a promise is immoral, but it is not a property right violation, as no one else has property in your promise, so it would not be prohibited under my system. You see how it works?

“What makes it ‘objectively’ true that property rights even exist?”

I’ll leave you to argue that with the Tesco security guard, when he catches you with a frozen chicken in your underpants.

To be honest this ‘help we’re being oppressed!’ nonsense from Christians is just the culture war imported over from the states. It doesn’t really gel all that well over here though. For a start we have a lack of evangelicals compared with the states, which is important in the culture war stakes because it’s not unusual to encounter American evangelicals who simultaneously hold two contradictory beliefs about their faith and its relationship to the larger American culture. These beliefs are opposite and incompatible, yet both are, equally, essential to these evangelicals’ sense of identity. They are beliefs not just about the larger culture, but about who they consider themselves to be.

Belief A: America is a Christian nation, the majority of which is composed of godly, Christian people. Christians therefore ought to be allowed to express this majority faith both officially and unofficially — with Christian prayers in public schools, Ten Commandments (Protestant formulation) placards on courthouse walls, and pervasively sectarian Christmas greetings on the lips of every store clerk — and religious minorities will just have to deal with the fact that they’re outnumbered.

Belief Not-A: Christians are a persecuted minority, the righteous remnant in the Sodom and Gomorrah of 21st-century America, a nation so sinful and decadent that it deserved the attacks of 9/11 and the devastation of Katrina. Public expressions of faith by Christians are always retaliated against, yet brave Christians demonstrate their courage in the face of adversity by continuing to thank their creator at awards shows and sporting events, to invoke his blessings at election rallies, and even to take the radically counter-cultural step of sending greeting cards on Christian holidays.

It’s possible to skim through religious right websites and encounter both beliefs expressed in the same paragraph. Yet while these folks may be two-faced, in a way, they’re not duplicitous – they really, sincerely believe both things. They believe that their sect has – and ought to have – hegemony in their culture. And when evidence arises that this is not the case, or when someone challenges their viewpoint, they honestly believe that they are being ‘persecuted’. A challenge to their perceived cultural domination is seen as an attack on their very faith.

As you’ve no doubt guessed, in a nation where dogmatic Christianity isn’t quite as easy to pass off as ‘the way things are and bloody well should be’, manufacturing outrage on the basis that – because one’s perceived privilege is under attack, one’s faith is too – ain’t so easy to do.

149. Robin Levett

@Trooper Thompson #147:

“Property rights are only objective in that they’re defined in law.”

No. They are objective because it is a matter of fact, not opinion to whom something belongs.

Are. You. Serious?

150. Matt Wardman

Aha a compromise.

I am told that Rye Town Council has the following on it’s agenda for tonight, which allows Sussex’s version of Mr Bone to decline the invitation to ‘prayers’, which are on the Notice but not the Agenda, while accepting the summons to the meeting, and those who wish to attend both to do so, while complying with all legal requirements.

Split the announcement. Easy.

“Members of the town council and members of the public are invited to attend the Council Chamber at 6.30pm when Prayers will be said by the Mayor’s Chaplain,The Revd Canon David Frost.

To ALL MEMBERS OF THE TOWN COUNCIL

You are hereby summoned to attend a Meeting of Rye Town Council to be held on Monday 13 February 2012, immediately following Prayers (but no earlier than 6.32pm) at The Town Hall, Rye, when it is proposed to transact the following business:””

The NSS won’t be happy with that, though, because it fails the test of pushing religion into the closet into which they were hoping to lever it.

@ 144 & 145 Spike,

“… a comprehensive program of legislation that inverts the present balance of personal rights to favour things over people …”

I’m not sure if you’re being dim or dishonest here. There are many things discussed on this website which the present government is not likely to implement. My view on how the law should be reformed is but one of them. But to misrepresent my opinion as seeking to invert ‘personal rights to favour things over people’ is ridiculous, as is your crude attempt to imply that I am in favour of slavery, which I don’t believe for a moment you actually think, indeed you will find this explicit in comments I made above @ 77 and @ 132.

@ 149,

“Are. You. Serious?”

Yes. I. Am. Gotta. Point? Other. Than. Your. Finger. Up. Your. Arse?

TT @ 147

A property right is not a moral concept. It is a fact. I’m stating the bleeding obvious

That is not what you were arguing last week though, was it? Last week you and Pagar appeared to be arguing that your own property rights superseded the property rights of a Third World fisherman on the edge of the coastline or the substance farmer whose livelyhood is going to be swallowed up by the desert created or the very least, exacerbated by Man’s actions. I didn’t see too much deference to ‘facts’ then. It appears to come down to whatever you ‘choose’ to believe, and that is where ‘morality’ comes in.

If you choose to ignore the ‘facts’ of a given situation you retain the right the right to violate the property rights of the defenceless.

Okay, we would both admit that slavery is wrong and today it would be impossible to maintain a stance that postulated that black African slaves were anything but fully human. Yet a few of generations ago, it was a perfectly common view that African slaves did not count as ‘human beings’, but rather they could be bought and sold like cattle.

Now, I am not suggesting you would support slavery, but as long as slave owners could plausibly hang on to their belief that slaves were not human beings, then the logical position for any given Libertarian ‘of the day’ would have to be respect the rights of the property owner to ‘use’ his ‘property’ as he sees fit.

The property rights of the slave can only be restored thanks to the rest of us imposing our morality on the slave owner and forcing him to relinquish his illegitimate property rights on the slave. The fact is it took a civil war to do that.

Trooper, no-one’s suggesting that you’re in favour of slavery.

The point is that you’re setting up “property rights” as something eternal and immutable, when history (and common-sense) strongly suggest that they have varied over time, meant different things to different people, and been invoked in defence of all manner of causes, both good and bad.

Why? Because they’re an invention of human society, whose meaning is constantly evolving, and as such as subjective and relative as anything else.

Incidentally you are wavering between your advertised dogma: “They are objective because it is a matter of fact, not opinion to whom something belongs.” and something a million times weaker: “Surely you would agree that such terms as ‘harm’ need to have clear definitions?”

Obviously, every term which occurs in law needs to be defined as clearly as possible. But there’s nothing remotely special about property rights in that.

Spike @ 141:

“The point is, if things are set up so that by skipping that part of the meeting it can be made to seem as if you have a 100% record for failing to attend the whole meeting for all business under discussion, that looks bad when really it isn’t.”

Wasn’t the list of those present made after the prayers, and not before? If somebody arrives when the prayers are over, he’d still be listed as attending, then, surely?

@155

See my previous post 102 & 104.

@154, @Trooper

The point is that you’re setting up “property rights” as something eternal and immutable, when history (and common-sense) strongly suggest that they have varied over time, meant different things to different people, and been invoked in defence of all manner of causes, both good and bad.

They most certainly aren’t immutable or innate to human nature; that the European émigrés to the New World and Australia were able to completely dick over the Native American and Aboriginals of Australia and elsewhere was in large part due to the fact that those people largely had no cultural conception of land ownership or private property; all lands were held in common to the tribe, as space and good soils were abundant and their own conception of the natural order of things was that they belonged to the Earth, rather than assuming mastery over it.

No Navajo ever needed a Notery Public.

Chaise @ 142:

Well, if something’s been around long enough for it to become traditional, it must have had some rationale behind it, and it’s probably been working fairly OK, otherwise it would presumably have been changed already. This isn’t a knock-down argument, of course, and it’s possible that a bad system has been kept because nobody could be bothered to change it, or because it benefits those who have the power to change it but nobody else, but it’s true in enough cases for the burden of proof to fall upon those desiring reform.

Also, one might add that in pretty much every sphere of human activity, the burden of proof falls upon the people who advocate changing the status quo. If I were to come up with a new scientific theory, for example, the burden of proof would be on me to prove it. If I were to refuse and say “Hey, you lot want to stand in the way of scientific progress, why don’t *you* try and disprove my theory?”, I doubt many people would be impressed.

@ 153,

that’s not a strawman, it’s so huge it must be a wickerman! I argued nothing of the kind. What I probably did was express scepticism

“The property rights of the slave can only be restored thanks to the rest of us imposing our morality on the slave owner and forcing him to relinquish his illegitimate property rights on the slave. ”

No, actually. There were other ways slaves got free. One, through the force of the moral argument. This was the case amongst quakers, who freed their slaves voluntarily. Two, through the slaves running away, either to live free in the mountains, like in Jamaica and places like that, or in America, to the northern states. The refusal of northern states in the USA to return slaves to their owners was a great bone of contention. Three, the slaves could revolt, as in Haiti, led by the great Toussaint Louverture. People don’t like being slaves, and don’t always wait patiently for deliverance.

@ Larry,

“The point is that you’re setting up “property rights” as something eternal and immutable”

No, I’m asserting that they should be the basis of the law, in preference to morality.

“Incidentally you are wavering between your advertised dogma: “They are objective because it is a matter of fact, not opinion to whom something belongs.” and something a million times weaker: “Surely you would agree that such terms as ‘harm’ need to have clear definitions?”

I don’t see any contradiction, and I think most of the objections raised against what I’m saying are specious, and not borne out in the actions of the people making them (this is a general point, Larry, not aimed at you personally). Unless you’re a Simon of the Desert figure, or a commune-dwelling hippy, you grasp the difference between mine and yours, and you grasp the difference between consent and the lack thereof.

“Obviously, every term which occurs in law needs to be defined as clearly as possible. But there’s nothing remotely special about property rights in that.”

The point I’ve tried to make, is that for something to be a crime is should not be enough that it is considered immoral, but that it should involve harming someone else or their property. I’m not really sure why this is so difficult to get across. I guess, if and when Nadine Dorries seizes power in a coup d’etat and starts imposing her views on morality on the rest of you, maybe then you’ll understand better.

160. Chaise Guevara

@ 147 Trooper Thompson

“No. They are objective because it is a matter of fact, not opinion to whom something belongs.”

Yes. Because it’s defined in law, and ONLY because it’s defined in law. There isn’t some Magic Awesome Cosmic Stone of Rightness that sets out the correct interpretation of property rights, or any other concept.

“A property right is not a moral concept. It is a fact. I’m stating the bleeding obvious. I don’t know why you’re struggling.”

I’m not. It’s not my fault you can’t distinguish opinion from fact.

” If I say ‘my car’, it’s not a moral concept. It means ‘the car which I bought, insured and taxed’.”

Then I get into said car and say “this is MY car, which means the car I’m sitting in”. If you’re not using the law as your point of reference, you’re then in a subjective dispute over the concept of “mine”. You’ve also lost a car.

Your problem is that you presume property rights to be moral to the extent that you can’t conceive that someone might disagree. Guess what? Some dude tells you that he thinks all property is theft, and suddenly you’re having a subjective disagreement.

“Why would you assume I would be cool with that system, when it is directly counter to what you know I think?”

I don’t. What I’m doing is using your logic to justify a system I know you’d hate, to demonstrate the flaw in said logic. It’s called reductio ad absurdum. Check it out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_absurdum

“How is your system going to work? It would lead to a complete breakdown in society.”

Course it would, it’s a fucking stupid system. Again: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_absurdum

“I want violations against property rights to be prohibited, not because they are immoral, which they usually are, but because I think this is the best way to organise the law in a society based on individual liberty. ”

What makes it “best”?

“It is also the case that law throughout history has been based to a large extent on this principle, so there’s no point you making out this is some kind of absurd concept. ”

It’s not. I have a lot of respect for the idea of property rights. I just don’t enshrine them in a halo like you do, and I also don’t use disingenuous arguments to pretend they’re objective like you do.

161. Chaise Guevara

@ 158 XXX

You’re right about the status quo and burden of proof, at least in general terms. But that’s for yes/no questions, e.g “Did Henry Kissinger shoot JFK?”

What I’m talking about is a cost/benefit analysis. Assuming we’re all agreed on what counts as a cost and what counts as a benefit (and if not, we’re having a different conversation), then it’s not a case of “yes” or “no”, more a case of “there is a 63% chance that system A is superior to system B”. And that’s your justification for system A right there, regardless of which system is older. It’s not so much burden of proof as burden of approximate probability, because in reality probability is what you get.

Also, in addition to my point at 158, tradition is important in creating a sense of shared history, which is in turn important in creating a sense of shared identity and thus turning a random assortment of individuals who happen to live near each other into a proper society. Plus of course, there’s the fact that seeing or partaking in a tradition helps to remind you that you are where you are because of the actions and decisions of a whole series of historical figures, and hence that your own actions will affect future generations as well, which can only be a good thing.

Chaise @ 160:

“What I’m talking about is a cost/benefit analysis. Assuming we’re all agreed on what counts as a cost and what counts as a benefit (and if not, we’re having a different conversation), then it’s not a case of “yes” or “no”, more a case of “there is a 63% chance that system A is superior to system B”.”

I’m afraid I don’t quite follow your reasoning here. “Should council meetings have prayers on the agenda?” is a yes/no question, surely? As is (for example) “Should the House of Lords be abolished?” or “Should Britain become a Republic?”

As for the cost/benefit thing: you might say “There is a 63% chance that A is superior to B”, but why should I accept your conclusion as to the probability? What if I think that the chances of A being superior to B are only 13%? Why, one of us would have to convince the other, of course. The question of which one would have to do the convincing leads us right back to the burden of proof issue.

164. Chaise Guevara

@ 162 XXX

I assume that Lib Con’s posting delay has put us out of sync, so apologies for the double-reply.

“Also, in addition to my point at 158, tradition is important in creating a sense of shared history, which is in turn important in creating a sense of shared identity and thus turning a random assortment of individuals who happen to live near each other into a proper society.”

Sure. But changes to tradition become part of that history. Cromwell is part of history regardless of the fact that he changed tradition. Actually, in large part BECAUSE he changed tradition. Or look at America: its founding mythos, so to speak, is a break with tradition in the form of the War of Independence.

History doesn’t mean everything staying the same, even if it is just one fucking thing after another.

“Plus of course, there’s the fact that seeing or partaking in a tradition helps to remind you that you are where you are because of the actions and decisions of a whole series of historical figures, and hence that your own actions will affect future generations as well, which can only be a good thing.”

Unless you’re in Germany and the Nazis won the war. Ancestor veneration is only good if your ancestors were venerable. History must be full of people who committed atrocities in the happy knowledge that great-grandad did the same.

@159

No, actually. There were other ways slaves got free. One, through the force of the moral argument. This was the case amongst quakers, who freed their slaves voluntarily. Two, through the slaves running away, either to live free in the mountains, like in Jamaica and places like that, or in America, to the northern states. The refusal of northern states in the USA to return slaves to their owners was a great bone of contention. Three, the slaves could revolt, as in Haiti, led by the great Toussaint Louverture. People don’t like being slaves, and don’t always wait patiently for deliverance.

Firstly, it’s pretty insulting to suggest that people who were slaves, remained slaves in large part because they didn’t want to be free badly enough; the Haitian slave revolution is unique in the history of the world (a history where, overwhelmingly, slavery has been the norm, not the exception) and there is good reason to believe it might never have been success for or been crushed brutally and utterly by the French had they not been an ocean away and preoccupied with the Napoleonic Wars.

Secondly, most Quakers (the ones who had slaves) *didn’t* free their slaves, at least not for many decades; many of those that held slaves in fact *left* the Society of Friends rather than free their slaves.

Thirdly, up to, including and even during the American Civil War, Northern States quite often and quite regularly returned fleeing slaves; the Underground Railroad went as far North as Canada for a reason; fugitive slaves were *not* safe in most of the North until they got to Canada. There was a Fugitive Slave Act requiring Northern States to return Southern Slave holders “property” to them when it ran away.

Fourthly, you say most people don’t like being slaves and don’t wait paitently for deliverance… For most slaves, there *was* no deliverance, except in death. The White Supremicist ideology of (American) slavery taught that slaves were slaves for a reason, by virtue of their inferiority and in that sense enslaved themselves.

Fifthly, running away is an almost incomprehensible risk; quite apart from the chain and chain gangs and overseers, even if you were fit and strong enough to run, most people got caught; women overwhelmingly got caught, not least because they often had children in tow and both you and your children pay in blood if you *are* caught; plus, the life of a fugitive slave is no way to live and no way to raise children. Not to mention, perversely, a great many slaves in some ways had more to loose, a great deal more, by running than by remaining in servitude. I refer you to Sally Hemmings as a great example, as well as the rest of the Hemmingses of Montecello.

Sixthly, morality played no part in freeing the slaves en masse; the American Civil War was NOT, I repeat was NOT started or fought to free the slaves, it was begun by the South in an effort to preserve their right to *keep* their slaves. It was fought by the North to preserve the Union. Lincoln himself said, “I shall preserve the Union by freeing all of the slaves or I will preserve the Union by freeing none of the slaves; to save the Union is my goal”. The emancipation proclamation was a military and propaganda instrument of war, and it did NOT free the slaves in any slave states that did not secceed from the Union, including Maryland, Delaware and Kentucky.

That free or fugitive slaves were known as “contraband” by Union troops in the field gives some indication of the prevailing view; they were confiscated property put to work, nothing more.

@159

Stand up and pull that copy of Atlas Shrugged out of your ass, I’m worried it might rupture your appendix before much longer.

A does not always equal A.

@ Trooper Thompson

“No. They are objective because it is a matter of fact, not opinion to whom something belongs.”

What sort of fact? A legal fact, a social fact, a moral fact – very plausibly. But outside the context of a legal, social or moral framework, it’s not an objective fact that (say) children become the owners of their parents’ property upon their death, or that I can claim ownership of a pebble I find on the beach, or that if I default on a debt, the lender has the right to confiscate my property to recoup his loss.

“A property right is not a moral concept. It is a fact. I’m stating the bleeding obvious. I don’t know why you’re struggling. If I say ‘my car’, it’s not a moral concept.”

‘Rights’ can be either moral (a matter of ethics), social (a matter of convention) or legal (a matter of law). You obviously don’t want to say property rights are merely a matter of social convention or of law – i.e. that property rights are whatever society/the law says they are – so as far as I can see, you’re stuck with them being a matter of morality.

I don’t know why *you’re* struggling; if ownership of your car gives you rights (e.g. to use your car) and me obligations (e.g. to refrain from damaging your car), and those rights and obligations are not merely legal or merely a matter of convention, then plainly ‘ownership’ is a moral concept. Otherwise nothing about rights and obligations would follow from the fact that you own your car, any more than it would from the fact that I am (say) standing near your car.

“I’ll leave you to argue that with the Tesco security guard, when he catches you with a frozen chicken in your underpants.”

The fact that a Tesco security guard believes in property rights does not, funnily enough, demonstrate that they ‘objectively’ exist outside of a legal, social or moral framework. A Tesco security guard probably also believes, after all, in the rights of black or gay people to shop in the store on the same terms as white or heterosexual people; yet you want to maintain that these rights *don’t* exist in the way property rights do – objectively, or as simple matters of fact.

168. So Much For Subtlety

108. Chaise Guevara

I don’t really give a fuck what you do and don’t recall, as it has no bearing on what I think on the subject.

And yet your childish abuse over a choice of words does not change the facts or the point. You do not object to such arguments when they come from your side. Odd that isn’t it?

What are you on about? What do I have no problem hearing? Please answer this question instead of employing your usual dodging tactics.

And Chaise starts on with his second predictable avoidance technique when losing an argument – he accuses others of dodging. Hearing in the sense of recognising. You fully understand that Julie Bindell has a problem with men and have no problem recognising it in her words. Yet you don’t with other arguments equally bat-sh!t insane when they target other groups.

Self-contradictory. If it were undeniable I wouldn’t be able to deny it. And if that sounds like a puerile point (which it is), what else am I to do when you, as always, essentially say “I’m right cos I’m right cos its obvious I’m right”? Where do you get the impression this could possibly be convincing, or even relevant?

No it isn’t. It would only be contradictory if you were not capable of irrational behaviour. And as we see every day on LC people are perfectly capable of denying the undeniable. As I said, the point was to find where we agree and then work on what we don’t.

“It may have escaped your notice, but the vast majority of the white Christian straight able-bodied males [straw man blah blah blah]”

It is not a strawman. Just because you don’t understand doesn’t mean it is not relevant. Nor if you do not want to think about the issue.

So black and Asian working class Brits are unaffected by immigration, then? Or if not, what’s your point?

But that is a strawman. Well done.

So?

So in the normal course of events you would expect them to have most of the wealth of Britain now wouldn’t you? Is this sudden attack of stupidity defensive or just trolling for effect?

Learn to count.

Sorry but what do you think this is proving? Some 40% of female jobs are in the civil service. Some 14% of male jobs are. A bit of a difference. Now perhaps you might like to count those numbers differently?

No, you’re confusing me with you. You would expect that, because you’re a sexist, racist, homophobic religious bigot. I’m not, so I wouldn’t.

Then you’re also a fool. That the able-bodied are likely to earn more than the disabled is, what is the phrase, so obvious it is undeniable. Women, as we are often told, earn 77 pence for every pound men earn. So again, it is a little obvious you would expect more wealth in the hands of men. The majority of British people are Christians more or less and so by sheer weight of numbers you would expect most wealth to be in their hands. And needless to say most British people are still White. So the same argument applies – even before you point out the low educational achievements of many immigrant communities and their recent arrival in these isles, both of which depress their earnings.

But no, Chaise thinks that reality is racist. Amazing.

Again, I don’t give a fuck about your personal experiences.

And again, abuse is no substitute for an actual argument.

You do know that the Freemasons and the lizard people are spying on you through your power sockets, right?

Well I certainly hope so.

This is a lame effort Chaise. You usually can do better. Try harder next time.

Chaise @ 163:

“History doesn’t mean everything staying the same, even if it is just one fucking thing after another.”

Erm, nobody said that it does. But the fact that some things change doesn’t mean that a sense of continuity isn’t also important. As for the examples you mention, the English Civil War was started partly because some on the Parliamentarian side feared that the King was changing their traditional religion and taking away their traditional freedoms, and the American War of Independence was fought to preserve the colonists’ rights. Oliver Cromwell’s regime borrowed many of the trappings of the previous Stuart rulers. So yes they all changed things, but they also tried to maintain a sense of continuity with what had come before. I can’t think of many countries which tried to make a complete break with tradition, except maybe Revolutionary France and the various communist dictatorships. Hardly encouraging examples.

“Unless you’re in Germany and the Nazis won the war. Ancestor veneration is only good if your ancestors were venerable. History must be full of people who committed atrocities in the happy knowledge that great-grandad did the same.”

Erm, what? Having a strong sense of how history led you to the situation you’re presently in doesn’t necessitate whitewashing that history, or saying “Oh, my ancestors did this, therefore it must be right.”

170. douglas clark

SMFS,

You say:

The majority of British people are Christians more or less

But on what basis? Church attendance, religious observance or an answer on a census form?

@ Spike,

none of that contradicts what I said, which was merely to point out that the comment @153: “The property rights of the slave can only be restored thanks to the rest of us imposing our morality on the slave owner and forcing him to relinquish his illegitimate property rights on the slave” is not correct. This statement, you will see, is in the present case, and I maintain that if someone finds themself in a state of slavery, they are quite within their rights to take whatever means necessary to free themselves.

You show your dishonesty yet again, when you state:

“Firstly, it’s pretty insulting to suggest that people who were slaves, remained slaves in large part because they didn’t want to be free badly enough”

Sure, that would be insulting, but I didn’t say it. You made it up. What I said @ 159 was: “People don’t like being slaves, and don’t always wait patiently for deliverance.”

“Stand up and pull that copy of Atlas Shrugged out of your ass”

I never read that book, and I don’t own a donkey.

“A does not always equal A.”

errr…. okay. Is that supposed to be profound?

@ 166, G.O.

“What sort of fact? A legal fact, a social fact, a moral fact – very plausibly.”

Eh? A fact is a fact.

“But outside the context of a legal, social or moral framework, it’s not an objective fact that (say) …”

Well, luckily we have this context! We’re not trying to reconstruct civilisation in a post-apocalyptic dystopia, and if we were, you’d be first into the cooking pot if you keep that rubbish up.

“if ownership of your car gives you rights (e.g. to use your car) and me obligations (e.g. to refrain from damaging your car), and those rights and obligations are not merely legal or merely a matter of convention, then plainly ‘ownership’ is a moral concept.”

What do you mean ‘not merely legal’? I don’t care or need to know your moral standpoint on my vehicle, just as long as you don’t damage it or steal it. Whether you do this out of a sense of morality or a fear of punishment is neither here nor there.

“The fact that a Tesco security guard believes in property rights does not, funnily enough, demonstrate that they ‘objectively’ exist outside of a legal, social or moral framework.”

The fact? The fact? What on earth do you mean? Explain yourself! Is it a moral fact, a social fact? Or is it … just a fact? I’ll presume the latter.

It doesn’t make the least bit of difference, because we are not inhabiting a space outside of a legal, social or moral framework. We talking about how the law should be, not about the man who dreamt he was the butterfly, or was he really a butterfly dreaming he was man?

@160 Chaise,

“Yes. Because it’s defined in law, and ONLY because it’s defined in law. There isn’t some Magic Awesome Cosmic Stone of Rightness that sets out the correct interpretation of property rights, or any other concept.”

Okay, I follow. Defined in law, not by Magic Awesome Cosmic Stone. So far, so good. (Nevertheless, if the law breaks down and you try to steal my car, I’m going to try to stop you, because it’s mine.)

“Then I get into said car and say “this is MY car, which means the car I’m sitting in”. If you’re not using the law as your point of reference, you’re then in a subjective dispute over the concept of “mine”. You’ve also lost a car.”

No I haven’t lost the car. I drag you out of the car. Whether from my own sense of self-preservation or, as you say, using the law as my point of reference. This doesn’t contradict my argument, that the law should be based, as it would be in this case, on property rights and not your subjective concept of ‘mine’.

“Your problem is that you presume property rights to be moral to the extent that you can’t conceive that someone might disagree. Guess what? Some dude tells you that he thinks all property is theft, and suddenly you’re having a subjective disagreement.”

Not at all. I can easily conceive that someone might disagree. Thieves disagree for a start, and there are plenty of them. Nevertheless I think I’m right, and you yourself concede with regard to your supposed ‘reductio ad absurdum’ that I am right. In fact you state that a system which legalised theft would be ‘fucking stupid’. So why are you arguing?

“I have a lot of respect for the idea of property rights. I just don’t enshrine them in a halo like you do, and I also don’t use disingenuous arguments to pretend they’re objective like you do.”

There’s no disingenuous arguments or halos. And they are objective. They either exist in a particular case or they don’t, and the matter can be established objectively. The car is either mine, or it’s yours, or it’s somebody else’s or it’s no one’s. This is necessarily objective fact, and not a matter of opinion or morality.

174. Matt Wardman

@Trooper Thompson

“Eh? A fact is a fact.”

No no no no no.

Facts are matters of opinion.

Examine any columnist on any newspaper, or quite a lot of recent authors on LC.

Claimed “facts” can be checked by independent, third parties, which is the process scientific research papers are subject to. The testing and checking may go on for decades or even longer.

@172, @173

“Stand up and pull that copy of Atlas Shrugged out of your ass”

I never read that book, and I don’t own a donkey.

“A does not always equal A.”

errr…. okay. Is that supposed to be profound?

Your libertarian plea of the primacy of “property rights” in law and morality is based in Randian Objectivism.

Ayn Rand’s Law of Identity states that there are certain truths that are objectively true and certain concepts and values that define themselves and never change. Algebraically, a may = 2 or a may = 7.65 , but A ? A .

That is to say, there is absolute right and there is absolute wrong, there is good and there is evil in certain moral quandaries and there is nothing in between.

This is the basis of your argument. Saying “A fact is a fact” is not sufficient – it’s more complex than that.

Similarly, (and I suspect someone may have nicked your car recently, which is why you keep on harping on about it), you say “My car is my car”; clearly you’ve never watched a zombie movie… If society begins to break down and the social basis under which we allow you to continue to believe it’s definitely your car by validating your claim, cars become like rocks and cheap lighters; they belong to anyone who picks them up.

Plus, it’s a bad example anyway; most people buy new cars on finance. If you buy a new car on finance, is it your car? No, it’s the bank’s car, they just allow you to use it. Same with mortgages. Not to mention the fact that the money you use to pay for it in the first case in any case is only real in the sense that norms of social practice value these pieces of paper or digital ones and zeros up to a certain level, largely based on confidence, faith and belief in a fiat money system, which we have, where our currency is not backed by anything with indivisible instrinsic value like gold. Money itself has no objective value, so there is no objective basis for fair exchange, which is why you get inflation and price fluctuation; if that’s true, how are you able so firmly claim that something is yours if you bought it? You have an empehmeral claim at best to be certain that you paid a fair price for it, given those shifting sands on which the arguement is built, so the potential is there for a court to adjudicate that since you never paid full whack for it, it’s not yours or not fully yours and force you to return it or pay the difference.

You say these things are immutable. They’re not. Which you admit.

A does not always equal A, after all.

The question mark in A ? A was supposed to be an “always equals” sign, sorry – the HTML didn’t like it, sorry.

That expression should read “A always equals A”

Hope that makes sense.

178. Chaise Guevara

@ 169 XXX

“Erm, nobody said that it does. But the fact that some things change doesn’t mean that a sense of continuity isn’t also important.”

Yes, but you seem to be arguing for keeping things the same (not as the only acceptable option, but as a default) on the basis of history and continuity. Even if I grant the importance of these things, the event in question does not become less a part of history and continuity simply because it changes the status quo.

“Erm, what? Having a strong sense of how history led you to the situation you’re presently in doesn’t necessitate whitewashing that history, or saying “Oh, my ancestors did this, therefore it must be right.””

In which case history is also valuable when it encourages you to break from tradition. Which goes back to my point above.

179. Chaise Guevara

@ 173 Trooper Thompson

“(Nevertheless, if the law breaks down and you try to steal my car, I’m going to try to stop you, because it’s mine.)”

Sure. Due to your personal view of morality as regards property.

“No I haven’t lost the car. I drag you out of the car. Whether from my own sense of self-preservation or, as you say, using the law as my point of reference. This doesn’t contradict my argument, that the law should be based, as it would be in this case, on property rights and not your subjective concept of ‘mine’.”

I’m not arguing that the law shouldn’t be based on property rights. I’m pointing out that if my (hypothetical in this case) concept of “mine” is subjective, yours is too.

You say you understand this, so why are you still pretending that your opinion is objective truth?

“Not at all. I can easily conceive that someone might disagree. Thieves disagree for a start, and there are plenty of them. Nevertheless I think I’m right, and you yourself concede with regard to your supposed ‘reductio ad absurdum’ that I am right. In fact you state that a system which legalised theft would be ‘fucking stupid’. So why are you arguing?”

From what I know of your view of property rights so far, I have no objection to them. What I object to is your pretence that property rights (more accurately, Trooper Thompson’s preferred version of property rights) are objective truths, but all other moral concepts, including other people’s preferred versions of property rights, are shaky subjective ideas that we should not impose by law.

Why am I arguing? Three reasons:

1) You’re trying to position the conversation so that your opinions become objective truth.

2) You’re using this false claim to put your concept of “mine” on a pedestal that means it outranks all other moral considerations.

3) Like all fallacious reasoning, special pleading such as this is annoying.

“There’s no disingenuous arguments or halos. And they are objective. They either exist in a particular case or they don’t, and the matter can be established objectively. The car is either mine, or it’s yours, or it’s somebody else’s or it’s no one’s. This is necessarily objective fact, and not a matter of opinion or morality.”

OK, how? Without appealing to law (because, as we’ve seen, the law could be changed to legalise theft and ban drinking), kindly objectively demonstrate that your definition of property rights is correct.

@Trooper


“No I haven’t lost the car. I drag you out of the car. Whether from my own sense of self-preservation or, as you say, using the law as my point of reference.

Yeah, see… That’s Assault. And that’s hardly to be taken as read. That assumes you are able to make it to the car, open the door and access the supposed car-thief before they are able to zoom off. That further assumes that you would be physically capable of removing a thief of any size and build before they hit the gas and run over your foot.

You’re perfectly welcome to do that and exercise that option if you are physically able and sure of your own ability to do so, based on your agility and fitness.

I don’t know you Trooper, and I would never assume, but given your online handle, it’s more than possible that you have some kind of military/ ex-forces background or maintain a certain level of personal fitness and training. That’s just a guess.

On that basis, if I’m right, you probably would stand a good chance of physically reclaiming your property in such a way and kicking out the would-be perp or tea leaf with a physical warning. Most people wouldn’t, and wouldn’t be in a position to try with a physically superior or stronger opponent. The strong prey on the weak. That is in the nature of bullies.

You’re suggesting that might makes right, so long as it’s backed up by the law. It doesn’t.

Were such vigilante enforcement the norm, you’d probably do alright in protecting and keeping what was yours. Most people wouldn’t. They need primary protection, not back-up and reinforcements.

Trooper, your scoffing at all the clever-clever pedantry rather ignores the fact that you are the one who introduced into the discussion a narrow, technical philosophical distinction between supposedly objective property rights on one hand, and subjective morality on the other.

If you want that to fly, you’re going to have to do a bit better than thought experiments involving people stuffing frozen chickens down their pants.

182. Chaise Guevara

@ 168 SMFS

“And yet your childish abuse over a choice of words does not change the facts or the point. You do not object to such arguments when they come from your side. Odd that isn’t it?”

Until you actually grow a pair and give me an example of me doing this, I’m going to assume your continuing unfounded accusations of hypocrisy are just trolling. You leave me no other recourse.

“And Chaise starts on with his second predictable avoidance technique when losing an argument – he accuses others of dodging.”

It’s not an avoidance technique, and it’s only predictable because you dodge all the time and I often call you on it.

“Hearing in the sense of recognising. You fully understand that Julie Bindell has a problem with men and have no problem recognising it in her words. Yet you don’t with other arguments equally bat-sh!t insane when they target other groups. ”

Again, give me an example.

“No it isn’t. It would only be contradictory if you were not capable of irrational behaviour. And as we see every day on LC people are perfectly capable of denying the undeniable. As I said, the point was to find where we agree and then work on what we don’t.”

All true, but it doesn’t change the fact that something doesn’t become undeniable just because you say so. I notice you deleted and ignored that part of my post (ooh look, dodging!).

“It is not a strawman. Just because you don’t understand doesn’t mean it is not relevant. Nor if you do not want to think about the issue.”

Yes it is, because it’s a false refutation of my point. If it wasn’t supposed to be a refutation of my point, why all this “may have escaped your notice” bullcrap? And all that aside, why is it relevant?

“But that is a strawman. Well done.”

Um, no, because I specifically asked what your point was rather than make the assumption. Please learn the meaning of terms like “straw man” before using them.

“So in the normal course of events you would expect them to have most of the wealth of Britain now wouldn’t you? Is this sudden attack of stupidity defensive or just trolling for effect?”

It was me asking you to clarify your point. You know, to avoid straw manning you. So… if I assume you mean what you say, that’s a straw man. If I ask you to clarify what you say, that’s a “sudden attack of stupidity”. I guess you can find an excuse to be a twat whatever I say, right? Good work, you’re a credit to the species.

“Sorry but what do you think this is proving? Some 40% of female jobs are in the civil service. Some 14% of male jobs are. A bit of a difference. Now perhaps you might like to count those numbers differently?”

Apologies, I read “government” as “parliament”. But your stat doesn’t tell me whether women are over-represented, because it doesn’t tell me what percentage of civil servants are women.

“Then you’re also a fool. That the able-bodied are likely to earn more than the disabled is, what is the phrase, so obvious it is undeniable.”

Yep. Which is why I didn’t deny it. Notice me not calling you disablist?

“Women, as we are often told, earn 77 pence for every pound men earn. So again, it is a little obvious you would expect more wealth in the hands of men. The majority of British people are Christians more or less and so by sheer weight of numbers you would expect most wealth to be in their hands. And needless to say most British people are still White. So the same argument applies – even before you point out the low educational achievements of many immigrant communities and their recent arrival in these isles, both of which depress their earnings. ”

Oh, for fuck’s sake. You said: “If everyone started out on an equal basis you would expect the white Christian straight able-bodied males to do better than most”. So why are you now justifying that based on the fact that women earn less in an at least arguably unequal society? And are you seriously saying that when you said white Christians would do better you were talking about their total wealth rather than the average? If so, well done, a bigger group can be expected to be bigger, what an accurate and fucking stupid point.

This goal-post shifting and lying is utterly pathetic, even by your standards.

“But no, Chaise thinks that reality is racist. Amazing.”

Reality, by definition, cannot be racist. So no, I don’t. I think YOU’RE racist, even if you’re backpedaling with your “oh no I was totally talking about total wealth” nonsense.

“And again, abuse is no substitute for an actual argument.”

Yes, but I don’t have to argue against your unfounded claims, do I? And let’s face it, people who go out of their way to be unpleasant and offensive, who constantly dodge points, who shift the goalposts every time they’re shown to be wrong instead of acting like a grownup and saying “mea culpa”… people like you, SMFS, do kinda invite abuse. I’ve no interest in being polite and civil to you, because you evidently get a kick out of being a wanker, and it shows.

183. Chaise Guevara

@ 181 Trooper

“Trooper, your scoffing at all the clever-clever pedantry rather ignores the fact that you are the one who introduced into the discussion a narrow, technical philosophical distinction between supposedly objective property rights on one hand, and subjective morality on the other.”

What’s pissing me off is that he’s started accusing us all of being too stupid to follow his deep wisdom, when in fact the sticking point is that he refuses to let go of an unfounded and false claim. And I don’t think he’s stupid, so I reckon he either doesn’t want to back down, or said false claim is central to his philosophy and therefore he refuses to examine it for weaknesses.

184. Chaise Guevara

@ 163 XXX

“I’m afraid I don’t quite follow your reasoning here. “Should council meetings have prayers on the agenda?” is a yes/no question, surely? As is (for example) “Should the House of Lords be abolished?” or “Should Britain become a Republic?””

Sorry, I wasn’t clear. It’s a yes/no question, but one based on things that theoretically can be costed. It’s not a yes/no empirical question like “Does God exist?”

“As for the cost/benefit thing: you might say “There is a 63% chance that A is superior to B”, but why should I accept your conclusion as to the probability? What if I think that the chances of A being superior to B are only 13%? Why, one of us would have to convince the other, of course. The question of which one would have to do the convincing leads us right back to the burden of proof issue.”

Agreed, sort of. I think I’ve worked out why I disagree with your usage of burden of proof:

Burden of proof, as I understand it, refers to the fact that the generally accepted *factual* status quo presumably already has evidential support. Therefore, a new and contradictory idea needs to provide evidence outweighing that existing support.

So your status quo (prayers at council meetings or whatever) presumably has some evidential support as being the ideal thing to do, and my suggested change requires besting that evidential support.

However, you’d have to provide that evidential support. You couldn’t just say “burden of proof is on my side” and then not provide evidence to support your claims. If you think about it, it’s irrational to arbitrarily favour the older theory if the older theory has no support. If there are reasons for people following the older theory, those reasons *are* the evidential support, and should be provided.

Chaise @ 178:

“Yes, but you seem to be arguing for keeping things the same (not as the only acceptable option, but as a default) on the basis of history and continuity. Even if I grant the importance of these things, the event in question does not become less a part of history and continuity simply because it changes the status quo.”

A change to the status quo only becomes a part of history and continuity if it’s kept in place for a long time, i.e., if the new status quo isn’t changed too much.

Chaise @ 184:

“Burden of proof, as I understand it, refers to the fact that the generally accepted *factual* status quo presumably already has evidential support. Therefore, a new and contradictory idea needs to provide evidence outweighing that existing support.”

And the generally-accepted constitutional (or whatever) status quo presumably has some reason for being as it is. Therefore, a proposal to change it needs to explain why the reasons for change outweigh the reasons for it being as it is. That doesn’t mean, as you seem to think, that nobody should point out the reasons for keeping the status quo; but it does mean that the onus is on those advocating the change to justify it.

@ Trooper Thompson

“Well, luckily we have this context! We’re not trying to reconstruct civilisation in a post-apocalyptic dystopia”

Yes, but all sorts of rights exist *because we have this context* – e.g. the (legal) right to trial by jury, the (social/customary) right to kiss the bride after being pronounced married. You’re making the claim that property rights are different – they don’t just exist because the law/social convention says they do, they exist ‘objectively’ (in some sense).

“What do you mean ‘not merely legal’? I don’t care or need to know your moral standpoint on my vehicle”

What I mean by a right being ‘merely legal’ is that it can be brought into or banished from existence just by changing the law. At one time, people had the right to own slaves; then they didn’t. But I think you and I would both want to say that there’s a sense of ‘right’ in which no one ever *really* had the right to own another person. So that right was ‘merely legal’.

Now people have the right not to be enslaved; but *that* right is not ‘merely legal’. It was there all along, even before the law came to reflect it.

The point is: you’re arguing (I think) that the law should better reflect property rights that have been there all along, as an objective matter of fact. Hence it’s crucial to your argument that property rights are not ‘merely legal’ (or ‘merely customary/conventional’, for that matter).

“It doesn’t make the least bit of difference, because we are not inhabiting a space outside of a legal, social or moral framework. We talking about how the law should be”

Yes – how it *should* be. You can’t conclude anything about how the law *should* be by just observing that it already *is* a certain way – i.e. by decribing the present legal context. You need to appeal, like the man arguing for the abolition of slavery, to rights that are not merely there as a matter of legal fact, or as a matter of social custom, but in some ‘deeper’ way.

You say those rights are property rights, which is fine. But those property rights, if they are not merely there as a matter of legal fact, or as a matter of social custom, *must* be moral rights (/natural rights – the terms are interchangeable). Hence the distinction you seek to draw between ‘morality’ and ‘property rights’ is not there; again, what you have is a particular moral system based on property rights, not an alternative to moral systems in general.

Trooper, in my time I’ve given out a fair few 2.1s to bright philosophy students (inc. those doing intro to ethics), and a fair few 2.2s and 3rds to not-especially-bright students. What pains me, though, is when I have to give a 2.2 to a bright student because he or she has got hold of some eccentric (mis)understanding of a crucial concept, incorporated it into a ‘pet’ theory, and then stubbornly refused to let go. Frankly I think you’re in that position regarding ‘rights’. Everything you say about property rights makes it clear that you conceive of them as moral/natural rights, but you won’t acknowledge this because you’ve got hold of the idea that basing a legal system on property rights is a neat, ‘objective’ alternative to basing it on ‘subjective’ moral considerations.

188. Chaise Guevara

@ 185 XXX

“A change to the status quo only becomes a part of history and continuity if it’s kept in place for a long time, i.e., if the new status quo isn’t changed too much.”

I still don’t think that adds up to giving special preference to old stuff.

189. Chaise Guevara

@ 186 XXX

“And the generally-accepted constitutional (or whatever) status quo presumably has some reason for being as it is. Therefore, a proposal to change it needs to explain why the reasons for change outweigh the reasons for it being as it is. That doesn’t mean, as you seem to think, that nobody should point out the reasons for keeping the status quo; but it does mean that the onus is on those advocating the change to justify it.”

OK, I think we’re on the same page. I agree new ideas need to be justified, I just want the people defending the old ideas to actually defend them rather than just shouting “burden of proof!” and having done with it.

TT @ 159

What I probably did was express scepticism

A scepticism that happens to coincide with what a positive outcome would happen to look exactly like for your point of view.

The point being that your ‘scepticism’ is based entirely what you want the answer to be and not to do with any ‘facts’ that happen to impede your own property rights. You have postulated that property rights are absolute and bleeding obvious, but here we see a classic property dispute that should appear on the first page of any manual written by any Libertarian. Instead of heading to first principles and clearing it up within thirty seconds, the ‘Libertarians’ invest a lot of time, money and effort trying to deflect the science (in this case) rather than deal with the conflict of interest in property rights.

The owners of power (or the money to buy that power) will always be able to defeat the weak and the vulnerable when it comes to a property dispute, because they own the avenues to arbitration and enforcement. That farmer in the Sudan or that fisherman in India property rights are ignored because we in the powerful West (and those who aspire to Western lifestyles) cannot deal with the consequences of us being forced to respect their puny property rights. Instead, we give PR firms and industry shills millions of quid to dispute the science. In times gone by the same owners of power/capital would have taken steps to dispute the humanity of slaves or the age, shape and position of the Earth rather than face the logical consequences of the facts coming out. No doubt after AGW is settled and dealt with one way or another the next significant property dispute will be bought and sold to the highest bidder, irrespective of the morality of the situation.

Indeed, the fishermen of Somalia lost their property rights pretty damn quick to an absolute silence when multi Nationals started to hoover up his fish stocks. He had no recourse to the law or no battleships to protect his waters, so no one cared. No one could be found to protect his property rights, yet look at the time money and effort used to protect the property rights of those (in some cases) same Multi Nationals. People are quite indignant about the Somali pirates. They demand the death penalty for such people, yet the same people would never have condoned an American warship blowing a Japanese factory ship out of Somali waters.

‘Property Rights’ are a handy cipher for money and power and the ‘morality’ that allows those with the power to preserve that power.

@ 187 G.O.

In the back and forth of arguing, especially when one is doing so with three or four different people at the same time, certain things may get garbled, I confess.

It is also true that when arguing about the law as it is, and as I think it should be, the latter not being wholly different from the former, indeed much the same but with a different fundamental emphasis, again the message can get confused.

Throw in a few historical references, a smattering of ad homs, the occasional rhetorical flourish, and voila! An internet dispute worthy of a 2:2. I’ll accept that.

Without wanting to go round the houses again, the question I pose is this: should the law impose morality? I say no, rather it should defend property rights. I think there is a distinction to be drawn between those two things. Related to this, I wonder; what should be forbidden by law? For me, it’s not enough that something is deemed immoral, either by myself, somebody else or general consensus, but that, to be prohibited, it should involve harm being done to somebody else or their property, i.e. a violation of property rights.

The distinction I’m drawing is not significant in many cases. Beating an old lady over the head and stealing her purse is most certainly a property right violation and, I would say, deeply immoral. I would expect the vast majority to agree, but whereas someone could argue, if they chose, that it was not immoral by their own lights, they could not argue that it wasn’t a violation of the old lady’s property rights, except on the grounds of fact, for instance that the purse did not belong to the old lady, and that she had stolen it.

Assuming a broad agreement that acts of violence, vandalism and theft are both immoral and property right violations, where the distinction becomes more important is where a particular act is prohibited by law, but does not seem to involve a violation of anyone’s person or property. This is the area of contention, and the reason I’ve tried to focus on the property right violation aspect rather than the question of immorality, is because some of these contentious acts are certainly deemed to be immoral by many people, which I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with, but my point is that that is essentially irrelevant if no property right violation has occurred.

Consider the change in law regarding homosexual acts. Many people consider such acts between consenting adults to be immoral. By the standard I’m putting forward, that’s irrelevant, but if the law has been changed based on a shift in general perception to the position that such acts are not now considered immoral, then the perception might shift back. So I say; don’t fight the issue on the moral aspect, but on the property right aspect, where there is no violation between consenting adults.

However, what I see is a ‘kultur kampf’ going on between those wish to see their view of morality imposed on everyone else. In the past, the upper hand was with those who prohibited homosexuality. Now it is with their opposite numbers who have prohibited, to an extent, voicing the opinion that homosexuality is immoral.

Anyway, I think I’ll leave it at that. Hopefully you get the point I’m making even if you disagree or think it flawed.

Chaise @ 188:

” still don’t think that adds up to giving special preference to old stuff.”

I’m not entirely sure what your argument is. “It’s OK to do new stuff, because one day that new stuff will become old”? True, but that will only happen if you don’t then change the new way of doing things, i.e., if you stick to the status quo. So why that’s an argument against defaulting to the status quo is beyond me.

@ 189:

“OK, I think we’re on the same page. I agree new ideas need to be justified, I just want the people defending the old ideas to actually defend them rather than just shouting “burden of proof!” and having done with it.”

Nobody’s suggesting that people defending new ideas shouldn’t actually defend them. But if you* turn up one day and say “We ought to change X, Y and Z, now try and prove me wrong,” I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say “No, you’re the one demanding that we change something, so why don’t you try and prove yourself right?”

* “You” in the general sense, rather you specifically.

(Sorry, pressed “Submit” too early.)

If you demand that we change in a certain way, I don’t think it unreasonable to ask you to justify it. If you cannot, I don’t think it unreasonable not to change, whether or not you’ve put forward a case specifically in favour of the status quo.

194. Chaise Guevara

@ 192 XXX

“I’m not entirely sure what your argument is. “It’s OK to do new stuff, because one day that new stuff will become old”? True, but that will only happen if you don’t then change the new way of doing things, i.e., if you stick to the status quo. So why that’s an argument against defaulting to the status quo is beyond me.”

I’m saying that changes to the status quo don’t devalue history. You don’t sacrifice some historiness every time you make a change. The history’s still there, so it doesn’t really represent an argument in favour of the status quo.

“Nobody’s suggesting that people defending new ideas shouldn’t actually defend them. But if you* turn up one day and say “We ought to change X, Y and Z, now try and prove me wrong,” I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say “No, you’re the one demanding that we change something, so why don’t you try and prove yourself right?””

Fine, except for that word “prove” (I prefer “justify”, which you used in your later post). You can’t actually prove anything empirical (there may be a few exceptions, e.g. consciousness) and you certainly can’t prove that A is better than B if the criteria are subjective. I worry that people (not you) will just keep claiming the evidence is insufficient as it isn’t proof, as an excuse to maintain the status quo. Note how a lot of fundies claim that evolution is unproved and hence controversial, although they wouldn’t say the same about other unproven things like the existence of Mexico – this isn’t a status quo issue but it’s the same flawed reasoning.

@Trooper

Consider the change in law regarding homosexual acts. Many people consider such acts between consenting adults to be immoral. By the standard I’m putting forward, that’s irrelevant, but if the law has been changed based on a shift in general perception to the position that such acts are not now considered immoral, then the perception might shift back. So I say; don’t fight the issue on the moral aspect, but on the property right aspect, where there is no violation between consenting adults

And how would you reconcile the statement “Your arse is mine” with a property-rights-orientated legal and moral code?

Under English law, chattel slavery, that is to say the literal ownership of one human being and their body is illegal. A person cannot offer for sale their own body.

But there is a wealth of legal precedent to support the view and the belief that you can certainly rent it out for a bit.

Do you not think the ultimate unintended consequence of what you are suggesting with this “everything may or may not be property and should be thought of as such” model for law might be that you create an understand of the human body as a tradable commodity or asset, with the government regulating how and when you can use or exploit that commodity in the same way that it regulates how I can use my car?

That model is bollocks anyway – my car is my property, but I am not free to use it as I see fit, nor should I expect to be able to. I can’t abandon it and dump it on common land. I can’t park where I want on public highways without incurring a penalty. I can’t drive whilst drunk and cite as my defence that by doing so, I haven’t harmed anyone else *yet*.

Legal infringements should not always be characterised by whether or not they cause harm to others; the harm may be potential, it may be be theoretical or it may be tangential to the act.

Just because you may not seem to be a harm in what you’re doing, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one or could not be one.

@ Trooper

I do (broadly) see the point you’re making; I just wish you’d frame it in terms of giving moral or natural rights of a particular kind, property rights, a particular role in framing the law – rather than in terms of ignoring morality and looking at something else, property rights, instead.

You just can’t base your whole position on the claimed existence of certain ‘rights’ that transcend the laws and customs of a given society at a given time, and then claim to be setting aside moral considerations and sticking to objective facts. Moral considerations have to do precisely with the question of whether such rights exist, what they are, when one person’s rights should take precedence over another’s, etc.
Now it may well be that property rights exist, and even that they exist ‘objectively’, but I don’t see why we should think that they’re unique in this regard and that they should therefore be the only sort of rights we concern ourselves with when we come to frame the law.

197. Robin Levett

@Trooper Thompson:

OK then; if property rights can be objectively defined because they are a matter of fact, define property rights without any reference to law.

Explain whence my freehold title to my house derives without reference to any law or system of law. Explain,in fact, how my freehold title differs from property in the land itself.

Chaise @ 194:

“I?m saying that changes to the status quo don?t devalue history. You don?t sacrifice some historiness every time you make a change. The history?s still there, so it doesn?t really represent an argument in favour of the status quo.”

It’s not history, it’s a sense of historical continuity. Changing a lot of things quickly does indeed erode a sense of historical continuity, which is why countries which want to make a break with their past often do this.

199. Chaise Guevara

@ 198 XXX

“It’s not history, it’s a sense of historical continuity. Changing a lot of things quickly does indeed erode a sense of historical continuity, which is why countries which want to make a break with their past often do this.”

Honestly, I’m having trouble seeing what you mean. Even if a country overthrew its monarchy on Monday, went communist on Tuesday, rebelled against the commie government and installed a democracy on Wednesday, crowned an all-powerful emperor on Thursday, and then was conquered by another nation on Friday, that would still be historical continuity. It would all happen one after another. And I don’t see what value “historical continuity” has that mere history does not. This all sounds like another way of saying “Change is bad, end of” to me.

A sense of history, yes. We can learn from history, and aside from that it’s interesting in its own right. But this “historical continuity” feels like something that’s being put arbitrarily on a pedestal because it *sounds* like it supports conservative preferences.

200. Chaise Guevara

@ XXX

For that matter, how does your definition of “historical continuity” differ from “lack of change”? Bearing in mind that this definition would still apply if you allowed some change, but limited it in the name of historical continuity.

Chaise @ 199:

“Honestly, I’m having trouble seeing what you mean. Even if a country overthrew its monarchy on Monday, went communist on Tuesday, rebelled against the commie government and installed a democracy on Wednesday, crowned an all-powerful emperor on Thursday, and then was conquered by another nation on Friday, that would still be historical continuity. It would all happen one after another.”

No, because so much would have changed in such a short space of time that the country on Friday would have very little in common with the country on Monday. Of course changing a lot of things quickly takes away a sense of historical continuity. Why else do you think so many revolutionary regimes try and change a lot of their trappings of government if not to say “No, we’re a totally new and different country now”?

202. Chaise Guevara

@ 201 XXX

Swift and major change =/= lack of continuity. Historical events can’t actually be non-continuous.

This just sounds more and more like “historical continuity” is code for “I don’t like change”.

Chaise @ 202:

I don’t think I’ve ever seen “historical continuity” to mean “things happening one after the other”, except by you in this thread. I have, however, often seen it used to mean “stability of certain elements in a country”. If you change a lot of elements quickly, you don’t have this stability; therefore, you don’t have historical continuity.

204. Chaise Guevara

@ 203 XXX

“If you change a lot of elements quickly, you don’t have this stability; therefore, you don’t have historical continuity.”

OK. Why is this bad?

205. James Reade

Erm, homophobic couple? Have you any grasp on reality, or do you do sensationalism just as much as that vessel you love, the Daily Mail?

This couple have (maybe had now) a policy that states only heterosexual married couple could have their rooms with double beds.

Why is that homophobic? It’s discriminating against particular groups, but not specifically homosexual groups. It’s discriminating against un-married couples too.

Why aren’t you railing against that? Why doesn’t that bit bother you?

Why is it that because they have a particular policy on how they run their own business, they are homophobes? Why can’t business owners set up the kinds of companies they want to? Why are they subject to the thought police like yourself who decide what kinds of thoughts are ok, and what ones aren’t? Why are you any more of an authority than the authority that that couple use to decide on their policy? Exactly?

206. Spike1138

@205

Why is it that because they have a particular policy on how they run their own business, they are homophobes?

There is indeed a slight logical leap there to draw that conclusion, but not a large one.

Still, it’s easily tested – book in a same-sex couple in a legally sanctioned civil partnership (which the religious moderates are always eager to point out carries equal legal status and protection to a civil non-same sex marriage), have them check in and request a double room.

I’m sure once the proprietors gladly acquiesce to their quite reasonable request, any and all commenters here and elsewhere will be glad to graciously withdraw any accusations of homophbia.

It’s clearly discriminatory. They might have a policy grounded on the “this is our home, this is a house of God, and we don’t want immoral and sinful behaviour going on under our roof” premise, in which case, fine. If they are sincere and mean what they say, and don’t mind giving voice to their beliefs and remaining forthright in their convictions, all they need do is post a large sign in reception stating “We Do Not Encourage or Allow Fornication on These Premises. Shown Some Respect, This is Our Home.” in clear sight. They should also be prepared to be lied to on a daily basis.

When a “married” couple checks in requesting a double room, are they asked to produce their marriage license or photos of themselves with the vicar taken at the ceremony, demonstrating that their union was duly consecrated by God? Do they get even asked to provide proof that they share a surname? Aside the partner making the reservation and paying the bill, I doubt that personal credentials and proof of identity are even requested of guests, much less insisted upon as a factor qualifying that party for one form of service in preference over another.

Heterosexual couples can use ever 1950s motel adultery cliché in the book to feign nuptial authority and make merry hell with the facilities, fornicating all night to their heart’s content, bleeding and oozing all over the sheets according to their whims of fancy and snorting poppers off each other’s heaving, sticky chests whilst Brenda pegs her pretend hubby Matthew senseless ’til the break o’ break of dawn.

That’s apparently fine. No objection to be raised there.

A man like Sir Ian Mckellan can’t check in with his partner perhaps of 20 years and share a cuddle under the covers.

That’s totally beyond the pale, immoral and not allowed under our roof.

Unwed Straights can, and do, pass as husband and wife. It’s child’s play. No-one cares. In fact, if a third party has a personal conviction or *expectation* that young people in a steady realationship *should* get married, a personal decision, but one grounded in a personal belief system, they have already have confirmation bais in their head whereby any young, happy couple they encounter who they take to warmly, they will *want* to believe they’re married and be more likely to turn a blind eye if this should turn out to be the case.

Gay couples can (except in extremely rare cases) NEVER pass as married. They can’t fool anyone that they’re anything other than what they are. It’s *clearly* discriminatory. You’re denying service to individual homsexuals within a partnership on the basis of a social institution that they are unable to access by definition. Ever. Until and unless the term “civil partnership” has been abolished and same sex marriage becomes acknowledged as such by name by the Government of the land.

Bracketting your actions in the framework of a personal or religious belief system is a total cop out. You don’t have to justify your reasoning or explain your actions because “it’s what I believe”. Cowards. Anyone who believes that homosexuality is a sin should be required to demonstrate the courage of their convictions by accounting for the basis of that belief in front of an audience of their peers from their local community.

They can’t do that. Beliefs are not based on inference and logical inductions. Believing in something is indentical to feeling something. Like fear. Or discomfort. Or mild confusion. You can’t rationalise an innate sense of disgust or mortal dread, all you can do is refer back to authority as the source of that emotive truth and repeat the lines of others who came before and did so with greater eloquence.

Change the record. I’ve heard it before a thousand times and it doesn’t get any better for the repetition.

I’ve had it with passive aggressive believers puffing themselves out lately in all corners of the media with their righteous indignation and imagined sense of persecution.

We used to burn Catholics in the town square. The former Archbishop of Canterbury is hardly positioned to invoke dire warnings of persecution for ignorant tight-assed members of his own flock.

Like I said before, if he has a problem about then status of the Church in the country, take it up with the Queen. Her kingdom, her Church, her Crown, her rules. I’m sure she’ll give your bellyaching a sympathetic ear. It is her job, after all.

In the meantime; Back off, man… I’m a scientist.

207. Chaise Guevara

@ 205 James Reade

“Why is that homophobic? It’s discriminating against particular groups, but not specifically homosexual groups. It’s discriminating against un-married couples too.

Why aren’t you railing against that? Why doesn’t that bit bother you?”

Well, true. I suppose that unmarried couples have not historically been oppressed like married couples (despite some disadvantages in the law), so it’s less likely to get people’s goat.

“Why is it that because they have a particular policy on how they run their own business, they are homophobes?”

What possible reason could they have for this policy other than homophobia?

“Why can’t business owners set up the kinds of companies they want to?”

Here and now probably isn’t the best place to explain why not everyone is a hardcore libertartian. However: some of us care about equality in society. There’s a point past which “passive” discrimination such as that of a straights-only or whites-only hotel becomes detrimental to the rights of people in general. Imagine if every single shop and bar in a 20-mile radius of your house suddenly decided not to serve you any more, based on your demographic. Would that not piss you off?

I admit that the line can be drawn at many places. I draw it at refusal to provide services, with a few exceptions and caveats.

“Why are they subject to the thought police like yourself who decide what kinds of thoughts are ok, and what ones aren’t?”

They’re not: they’re entitled to think what they want, it’s their ACTIONS we object to. So calm down.

“Why are you any more of an authority than the authority that that couple use to decide on their policy? Exactly?”

Democracy, basically. They live within our society and hence must abide by its rules.

@205

the worst thought police on the planet are wingnuts, whichever religious doctrine they claim to adhere to…

I had to save the life of a housemate 18 years ago – twice!!

the reason for him being suicidal? try physical and psychological abuse inflicted upon him by the sadistic sister running the school his parents sent him to, which achieved the objective of breaking him inside.

he was intelligent, curious, questioning, mildly rebellious, in short a threat (he was 10)

religious types love to portray themselves as victims when we don’t slavishly worship their particular doctrine, but it doesn’t wash with me, i’ve had to pick up the pieces.

The gay couple were in a civil partnership, and thus as close to ‘married’ as is currently allowed in this country. So Spike1138′s easy test @206 actually was the situation in question.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Roz Kaveney

    Hysterical claims that Christians are “under attack” are rubbish http://t.co/jYVYehRl

  2. Damian Mendes-Kelly

    Hysterical claims that Christians are “under attack” are rubbish http://t.co/p3p6gdCR

  3. Deborah

    .@lddurbin had an article published today on Liberal Conspiracy – go him! You can read it here http://t.co/8XzqnPzP

  4. Dr. Matt Lodder

    ? " Hysterical claims that Christians are “under attack” are rubbish http://t.co/qeOYzdTC "

  5. G. Jackie Milesi F.

    #UK : Hysterical claims that Christians are “under attack ” are rubbish http://t.co/8QHkPTF3

  6. MalcolmWing

    Hysterical claims that Christians are "under attack" are rubbish http://t.co/H28FrdhD

  7. Stuart Graham

    Interesting article on UK "attack on christianity" http://t.co/CqCOjZTe

  8. Sam Malone

    Hysterical claims that Christians are "under attack" are rubbish http://t.co/H28FrdhD

  9. Richard Bartholomew

    RT @libcon: Hysterical claims that Christians are "under attack" are rubbish http://t.co/wUIKZEHk #dorries

  10. Andy Pellew

    Hysterical claims that Christians are “under attack” are rubbish http://t.co/jYVYehRl

  11. Lee Durbin

    @robinince I wrote a piece for LibCon on that matter if you're interested http://t.co/5R6LagUD

  12. Robin Ince

    @robinince I wrote a piece for LibCon on that matter if you're interested http://t.co/5R6LagUD

  13. Lewis Spurgin

    Christianity is not under attack. http://t.co/YFU8491Z (via @robinince, @lddurbin)

  14. Dinah May

    @robinince I wrote a piece for LibCon on that matter if you're interested http://t.co/5R6LagUD

  15. Public prayers during meetings | HumanistLife

    [...] http://liberalconspiracy.org/2012/02/12/hysterical-claims-that-christians-are-under-attack-are-rubbi… [...]

  16. Lee Durbin

    Goodness, my article on @libcon has attracted a lot of comments http://t.co/DJqvAIVu [corrected link]

  17. Lee Durbin

    At least this presents me with an opportune moment to plug my @libcon article one last time http://t.co/DJqvAIVu #militantmyarse

  18. Lee Durbin

    @ChrisBryantMP I also quoted Ekklesia in a LibCon piece I wrote on this issue: http://t.co/DJqvAIVu





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