Merkel Backs Crackdown on Free Speech On Social Media Sites

Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel (CDU) nimmt am 14.08.2013 auf dem Theaterplatz in Ludwigshafen (Rheinland-Pfalz) an einer Wahlkampfveranstaltung zur Bundestagswahl 2013 teil. Foto: Uli Deck/dpa +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++

One of the things I have noticed in the last few months, as a percentage, people other than Americans and British (especially Niederlanders) have increased rather dramatically. That pleases me, and I hope they are finding what they want. Since, as far as I know, none of them have commented, I just assume that they do.

But since I want them to know they’re welcome, and sometimes it’s difficult to figure out what somebody is saying in anything but your first language, I was pleased yesterday when WordPress announced a translation widget for those of us running WordPress.com blogs. The algorithm is Google Translate, which as we all know is not perfect, but it’s surprisingly good. You’ll find it on the sidebar, just above my Twitter feed. If I remember it does something like 103 languages, so it should cover the common ones. Enjoy


One of the things most worrying, everywhere, but especially in Europe, is a tendency to restrict free speech, often by way of so-called ‘hate crime legislation. While America, and to some extent Britain have a pretty strong cultural bias against almost any infringement of our rights, this is one of those areas where an attempt anywhere diminishes them everywhere.

Germany is becoming one of the worst offenders here, and I’m not the only one noticing. Jonathan Turley noted yesterday:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel long ago established herself as a menace to free speech, particularly in her decision to first apologize to authoritarian Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for a satirical poem and then approve the prosecution of the comedian is a shocking and chilling disgrace. Now, she is throwing her support behind a crackdown on “hate speech” on social media like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube — radically expanding the already broad scope of government regulation of speech.

Merkel declared “I support efforts by Justice Minister Heiko Maas and Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere to address hate speech, hate commentaries, devastating things that are incompatible with human dignity, and to do everything to prohibit it because it contradicts our values.”

via Merkel Backs Crackdown on Free Speech On Social Media Sites | JONATHAN TURLEY

As Professor Turley notes, It would maybe be borderline acceptable, except it is completely impossible to provide an objective definition of “incompatible with human dignity”. That leaves the definition completely in the hands of the government, to use as they will. That is simply unacceptable in a free society.

This is a very troubling trend, and we must do our best to stop it in its tracks, In Germany, In Britain, across Europe, and sadly yes, here in America, as well.

The Year of Political Revolution |

The title comes from a talk that Nigel Farage gave at David Horowitz Freedom Center’s 2016 Restoration Weekend, to me it’s appropriate. It seems to me that what we have seen this year is the incipient conservative counter-revolution taking shape, first Brexit, then Trump, tomorrow…well who knows. As I said again the other day, the Anglo-Saxons are again leading the world to freedom, and if we live up to our forebearers, we will succeed.

We see signs of this resistance all across Europe, from Spain thru Poland and the Balts, and further, we are seeing signs of a conservative restoration even in the churches. Here is Nigel’s speech. And yes, he is every bit as deplorable as any of us Americans.

via Nigel Farage on The Year of Political Revolution |

But don’t get cocky, at best we are at the point Churchill described so well.

The bright gleam has caught the helmets of our soldiers, and warmed and cheered all our hearts.

The late M. Venizelos observed that in all her wars England — he should have said Britain, of course — always wins one battle — the last. It would seem to have begun rather earlier this time. General Alexander, with his brilliant comrade and lieutenant, General Montgomery, has gained a glorious and decisive victory in what I think should be called the battle of Egypt. Rommel’s army has been defeated. It has been routed. It has been very largely destroyed as a fighting force.

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

This was said after El Alamein, and it proved to be true. He ended that speech with a bit of Byron’s poetry, which may well also be appropriate for us.

Millions of tongues record thee, and anew
Their children’s lips shall echo them, and say —
“Here, where the sword united nations drew,
Our countrymen were warring on that day!”
And this is much, and all which will not pass away

A complacent elite is to blame for politics being turned upside down: Now what?

This has been kicking around in my files for a month now, seems like the best-laid plans… In any case, as it grew less timely, I wonder if it hasn’t become important. I rather think it has. Seems to me that what he speaks of here is becoming more true in the US, at least, every day. A huge amount of the day-to-day reality of how politics is done is this country has been uprooted, on both sides. And so all is in flux.

How we put it back together to make it work (or not) is likely to be to be a large part of the question going forward. And do remember it’s not just us. Brexit in the UK, much of the turmoil caused by the Islamists in Europe, has much the same cause.

In large measure, I think all of the enemies of freedom around the world are sensing that the system is weak at the moment and that this may be their opportunity. They could be right, but they don’t have to be. How we answer the basic questions going forward will answer that question.

Western political systems are in the middle of a realignment. The way we think of left and right is a relic of the Cold War. Reality is finally catching up with us, several years late, and doing away with obsolete political movements and parties.

We saw direct evidence of this when, on both sides of the Atlantic, ordinary people finally had a chance to circumvent their nations’ political elites. In the United States, Trump used his wealth and high profile to sidestep party donors, special-interest groups and political correctness.

In the United Kingdom, the referendum on European Union membership vested power temporarily in the British voting public, not Cabinet ministers or party whips.

These unusual circumstances exposed profound but long-hidden fault lines in both countries’ political systems. I knew these fault lines existed, but I was surprised by how quickly they devastated the status quo.

The American conservative movement, for instance, at least as we knew it before Trump’s entry into the presidential race last summer, no longer exists. Whether by accident or design, Trump ignored the reference points of left and right, putting together a coalition of Middle Americans who don’t care about ideological purity. Coming from old-fashioned Democratic and Republican backgrounds, these voters are united by a cultural conservatism that used to be standard in both parties. They care about pragmatic action on a handful of issues, mainly immigration, political correctness, crime and jobs.

Something similar happened in Britain. Outside the London cloister, Labour voters overwhelmingly rejected the metropolitan version of left-wing politics. Along with many shire Tories, they have specific views on sovereignty, independence and immigration. Just as in the US, this broad cultural conservatism used to be a given within each party until cosmopolitanism took its place.

We are heading for a politics in which the divisions are no longer just left and right, at least not in the sense we’ve used those terms for the past few decades. The shift is splitting all current movements into nationalist and internationalist wings – or perhaps populist and establishment, middle class and upper class, or urban and provincial.

This is happening because so many of the traditional features of left and right no longer apply to them. A working-class white person seeking representation used to find it in the left. Now what does he get? A movement telling him to check his “privilege”. A conservative used to be able to count on the right to make the case for cultural assimilation. Now he, too, is told to be quiet and make way for “progress”.

via A complacent elite is to blame for politics being turned upside down – CatholicHerald.co.uk

Like so much of what we write here, we have to answer the questions for ourselves. I’m not sure that there are correct answers, in aggregate, you have to answer based on our knowledge and bedrock philosophy. So do I.

‘Mad as hell’?

Mad as hell

There is a palpable anger in our politics on both sides of the Atlantic. Here in the UK, one Labour MP was shot recently, and others have been threatened. This verbal violence is happening in the Labour Party, which preaches equality and social justice. It did not happen under Miliband, Brown and Blair, but it does under Corbyn, who, of course denounces it, but seems incurious about why it is happening on his watch, and quite unable to stop it. One of the problems with being a social justice warrior seems to be that the end justifies the means; demonise your opponents, and then you can treat them as demons; it is not a good way to do politics. There were some ugly scenes and the RNC last week, and there will be at the DNC this week. Meanwhile across the Channel, there have been attacks in Nice, Munich and other places, and the authorities, presumably trying not to stir things up, play down any religious motive in them, which, alas, simply makes ordinary people even more suspicious about what is going on. All of this increases the sense many ordinary people have that politics has become a place where the elites enrich themselves at our expense – and to steal a phrase, it makes many ‘mad as hell’ and they ‘don’t want to take it’.

In the UK the opinion formers and the media were confident that ‘Remain’, their side, would win, and as a ‘Remainer’ I hoped it would. But they ran an ugly and negative campaign, mainly around economics, warning us of the consequences of failing to vote the right way. What they failed to understand was that millions already feel penalised by the system, so they didn’t really see it getting much worse for them personally; the alienated, the simply fed up and grumpy, and the ardent ‘leavers’ were sufficient to overturn conventional wisdom and the predictions of the pollsters, and so the ‘Remain’ side lost.

This time last year we were confidently being told Trump would not survive the summer; then it was the autumn he wouldn’t survive; then it was ‘Super Tuesday’ that would bury him; then it was an agreement among his challengers which would finish him off; then he became the nominee. The media don’t ‘get it’. He does not follow the Clinton playbook. We shall see, with Hillary whether that one still works, but it does not work with the millions who are sick to their back teeth of self-serving, venal and lying politicians. Sure, Trump’s a load mouth, sure he’s rich, but the Americans have never minded rich men, it is politicians enriching themselves to which objection is taken; Trump’s riches mean he can’t be bought; if Hillary were a listed company she’d have a who board of directors running her.

Here in the UK, the new PM, Theresa May, came in talking of her sense of public duty and acknowledging that many people felt they were being left behind; these are good words, but they need to be followed by delivery. There is a palpable sense that the anger currently felt begins to threaten the system itself. The political system is not an end in itself, but it seems to have become one for the politicians and the lobbyists; unless it begins to fulfil the ends for which it exists – the public good  – the public may decide to end it – and if that happens, it won’t be pretty. We need to rediscover a sense of duty and morality in public life – we have gone on too long as though those were mere words – well words alone no longer suffice.

Molon Labe: The European Edition

w1056 (3)Molon Labe is perhaps one of the most famous sayings amongst Americans. We use it most in regard to the gun grabbers, and we use it in exactly the sense that Leonidas meant it, because we know that unarmed sheep-dogs are little more than sheep. But the Greeks remember the Spartans too. Here’s one of them Taki writing in The Spectator this week.

The Brussels dictatorship has enslaved my country; it will not enslave England

The two most beautiful words in the history of the world, in any language, are ‘Molon labe’, the accent on the second syllable of both words, the ‘b’ pronounced ‘v’ in the second. These two little words were the laconic answer of King Leonidas of Sparta to the offer made by the great Persian king Xerxes of not only safe passage, if the Greeks laid down their arms, but also a settlement of lands of better quality than any they currently possessed.

You know what I’m talking about. The Hot Gates, or Thermopylae in Greek. The year is 480 BC, the month is August, and the Persians number more than 1,250,000 fighters, accompanied by 1,800 triremes in support. The rest of the Greeks under Themistocles are praying for time — and gales — further south, and Leonidas has only 300 Spartans he can count on. (The Thebans have already seen the Persian hordes arriving and have left the battlefield.) The Persian scouts who surveyed the Hot Gates’ defenders in astonishment were allowed to gallop around freely.

Later in the day, an emissary from Xerxes approached the Spartans. The offer of safe passage and riches to come if they lay down their arms was made, and Leonidas replied, ‘Molon labe’ (‘Come and get them’). The great British historian Tom Holland called such examples of Spartan sang-froid ‘gems of cool’, and they were the coolest words imaginable in 480 BC.

It’s always reminded me of Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe’s answer to the German at Bastogne, “Nuts“, in fact.

Nearly 2,500 years later, there are no cool responses. Just a lot of moaning and groaning and cries of let’s do it all over again from the losers. […] Screw Juncker and the technocratic dictatorship of Brussels; they’ve already enslaved my country but they will not enslave England. (Scotland will play it like Thebes did in 480, but then again it might not.) All people should say ‘Molon labe’ to the Circe-like offers of money and comfort from the EU technocratic hordes, ‘Molon labe’ until the bureaucracy reforms itself and its rigid, doctrinaire ways.

We Greeks fought off the Persians because they tried to conquer us through force of arms. The Brits said no to the EU because it tried to conquer through stealth and lies. The EU would never reform itself without a push. Now it has been pushed rather hard. Modern Greece chose the easy way six years ago because we have Ephialteses, not Spartans, leading us; Ephialtes being the traitor who led the Persians to outflank the 300 through a pass. Greece is a EU protectorate, so heaven help us. You Brits chose freedom. You should be proud.

via The Brussels dictatorship has enslaved my country; it will not enslave England

You British should indeed be proud, you’ve rejoined the club that you started in 1215, renewed your membership in 1642, and 1688 that we joined in 1776. Remember, though, it’s a hard road, it took us seven years to throw off Lord North’s bureaucracy, not to mention the bloody Hessians. But it’s easily worth it. We’ll be thinking about you next Monday, July 4th

Happy (British) Independence Day!

 

 

w1056 (2)

Brexit won’t hand victory to the SNP. A unionists’ breakdown just might.

From the Spectator’s Coffee House Blog.

There’s a lot going on the UK right now, much of it has to do with the Tories looking around trying to find something approaching a leader, while labor is having a fairly civil war on itself. That means that Nicola Sturgeon is making hay while the sun shines, pushing for another referendum on Scotland leaving the Union. That this is on the face of it, ludicrous, makes no difference at all. First, how likely is the EU to welcome another failed state? Spain has already said they’ll veto. Then there is the fact that England has subsidised Scotland since, I don’t know, 1707 maybe. Anyway, here’s the article.

Over the last few years, Scots have had to get used to Nicola Sturgeon telling them what they think. When the SNP had its majority (one the voters stripped away in this year’s Holyrood election) she was keen to present herself as the voice of the country: l’Ecosse, c’est moi. If the SNP wants X, then Scotland wants X. She’s at it again, saying that the UK has voted out of the European Union and Scotland has voted in – so the UK was voting ‘against the interests of the Scottish people’ and finally provided the provocation needed to launch a new referendum.

In fact, two-in-five Scots – and even a third of SNP voters – supported Brexit. Last week, a TNS poll suggested that 72 per cent of Scots would vote to Remain: the end result was 62 per cent. Yes, far higher than the 48 per cent in England. But it does not automatically follow that Scotland loves Brussels so much that she’d break the Union with England to stay in the European Union. A Sunday Times poll today, taken after the Brexit vote, shows 52 per cent of Scots would vote to Leave. That figure would need to be consistently at 60 per cent for Sturgeon to risk a second referendum, as she has always said. As Hamish Macdonnell tells me in our Coffee House shots podcast (below), Brexit may have changed her calculation. But it absolutely does not follow that Brexit means the SNP triumphing in a new referendum.

Before last week, there were eight polls asking Scots if they’d want to separate from the UK in the event of Brexit. As the below chart shows, it’s far from conclusive: Brexit made ‘yes’ a bit more likely (on average, increasing ‘yes’ by about four points) but it’s just not a transformation. As John Curtice says, these eight polls were dealing with a hypothetical: now, it’s real – and that could change things. A Sunday Post poll today, for example, puts support for separation at 59 per cent.

But Sturgeon is one of the most formidable politicians in Europe, let alone Britain. She senses that she can change the political weather, especially given that almost all her main opponents were against Brexit. And that a lot of people in London are going a little bit mad right now. The whole vibe of Andrew Cooper’s Project Fear meant that David Cameron and others had to predict the end of the union, amongst other signs of societal collapse, if Britain voted out. It’s now as if they’re half-willing it to be true.

Cameron’s unexpected decision to quit on Friday, rather than stay on for longer and provide a period of stability, has created a vacuum in Westminster. It’s a stunning development, which nationalists in Scotland and Ireland are now exploiting. A lot of Remainers, even in the Cabinet, are now actively on the lookout for the meltdown that they promised: keen to point to the arrival of the plague of locusts, etc. Many Scottish unionist politicians commentators, who also were strongly against Brexit, locked themselves into the same line of argument. So now, it’s as if some of them would half-welcome a nationalist residence as vindication.

via Brexit won’t hand victory to the SNP. A unionists’ breakdown just might. | Coffee House

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