I don’t like this or that, but that’s just tough, isn’t it?

It’s not a peculiarly local phenomenon, but do the institutions of the peace process promote victimology? How long will it be before someone demands the creation of the Northern Ireland Hurt Feelings Commissioner?I’ll use myself as an example: I’m not overly fond of Orange marches, so what’s my solution to the ‘problem’? Simple. Let them march. It’s a question of freedom of assembly. People who are incensed by Orange parades are free to organise counter-demonstrations. Surely we can express our differences without running to the state for mediation or compensation? Moreover, if one opposed marches is one not also damaging the right of everyone, including themselves, to march, protest or assemble should we ever want to?

Some might argue that history is such that it makes the North a ‘place apart’ from Britain or the South and that opinions must be respected more here, that people must be treated more gently. I contend that this is not true. Being offended is not very nice but it is a fact of life. If I was so inclined I could be offended every day by reading various items in the newspapers. The answer? Learn to live with opinions you don’t agree with or argue back.

Conall posted today about what he described as an “online hate group” targeting Romanians. On his blog, O’Conall Street, Conall suggested that the Assembly get involved. But is inviting politicians to restrict freedom of expression anything but a bad idea?

The sentiments on the Facebook group Conall discovered are pretty appalling but they are, for the most part, idle talk. Where they represent (circumstantial) evidence of a crime it is up to the police to investigate. Otherwise, shutting down so-called ‘hate groups’ amounts to an attack on free speech and also confuses the means of communication with its content. Ideas that one might object to can also be shared on paper but there are no calls to ban stationery.

In October the art critic and academic Dan Jewesbury wrote about loyalists appropriating the Garden of Reflection in Bangor’s Kilcooley estate. Officialdom wasn’t much impressed with the loyalists’ actions, but anyone who was genuinely offended was, I would suggest, on the lookout for things to be offended about. The loyalist tablets added to the garden are what they are and they represent some amount of local sentiment. They are not something to get whipped-up into a froth about.

  • Drumlins Rock

    I’m offended by your comments Jason and intend to report you for your most serious crime of using the word “victimology”.

    Hope your not intending to bring common scense to slugger? spoil all the fun mate, I might have to go a do some real work for once even.

  • Jason Walsh

    What are you talking about Drumlins Rock? Victimology is a legitimate science like parapsychology, angelology and homeopathic medicine. Now where’s that grant application got to?

  • kensei

    I’ll use myself as an example: I’m not overly fond of Orange marches, so what’s my solution to the ‘problem’? Simple. Let them march. It’s a question of freedom of assembly. People who are incensed by Orange parades are free to organise counter-demonstrations. Surely we can express our differences without running to the state for mediation or compensation? Moreover, if one opposed marches is one not also damaging the right of everyone, including themselves, to march, protest or assemble should we ever want to?

    Except, um, the orange marches are inconveniencing people in a way that counter marching doesn’t actually help. Moreover, to cast this as a freedom of assembly issue is wrong. No one disputes the right of orangemen to march. Simply that they can march wherever and whenever they like regardless of expense, impact or offense. No state grants this.

    The sentiments on the Facebook group Conall discovered are pretty appalling but they are, for the most part, idle talk

    Which is an assumption you are making. The poloice should probably be keeping an eye on it. In any case, there is a responsibilit to oppose it. That doesn’t need necessarily the intervention of the state, but it doesn’t menathey would be misplaced if they did, depending on the action. They could, you know, show some leadership on the issue.

  • Jason Walsh

    kensei,

    I can’t think of a single thing politicians could do on the issue that wouldn’t also restrict the rights of ordinary people. What do you mean by ‘show leadership’? Condemn it? That’s fine but they’re always condemning things anyway (another legacy of the troubles).

    I’m just not a believer that ‘Something Must Be Done’.

    ” to cast this as a freedom of assembly issue is wrong […] [but to say] that they can march wherever and whenever they like regardless of expense, impact or offense. No state grants this.”

    But that is the definition of freedom of assembly.

    Let me frame it another way – surely I’m not the only non-unionist who thinks the Parades Commission is undemocratic?

  • kensei

    Jason

    I can’t think of a single thing politicians could do on the issue that wouldn’t also restrict the rights of ordinary people. What do you mean by ‘show leadership’? Condemn it? That’s fine but they’re always condemning things anyway (another legacy of the troubles).

    Provide funding and support centres for immigrants. Invite various people to Stormont, give some publicity, make clear both their contribution and that they are welcome. Go back to their own constituencies and talk about the issue. Raise the issue at the policing boards, and exert pressure to get this things trackled more effectively.

    I’m not saying that’s any of that is a good idea, but that’s 3 seconds off the top of my head that won’t restrict any of your “rights”, and I’m not that bright.

    Is it a lack of imagination or complete cynicism?

    I’m just not a believer that ‘Something Must Be Done’.

    Yeah, let’s do nothing. That always helps. Rabid libertarian or fatalist?

    But that is the definition of freedom of assembly.

    And you have the right to free speech, but you do not have the right to shout “Fire” in a cinema. I hate arguing on this of the fence buit its a fact that no state grants absolute freedom of assembly rights.

    We could also go down the line that these parades are intimidating, and the people in the communities affected have the right not to live in fear. Then we have competing rights.

    Let me frame it another way – surely I’m not the only non-unionist who thinks the Parades Commission is undemocratic?

    Interest rates used ot be set in the Uk by the governemnt. It’s now done by the Independent Bank of England. The former was certainly more “democratic”, but there are some decisions politics tends to cock up. Particularly when your politics is as dysfunctional as ours.

    The Parades Commission has managed ot take the heat out of parading. We really want that back?

  • Jason Walsh

    Kensei,

    “Yeah, let’s do nothing. That always helps. Rabid libertarian or fatalist?”

    Democrat. Socialist. Republican. Believer in people’s decency. Libertarian, if you want.

    We, as people, might be inclined to do lots of things from showing support, to protesting or even kicking the shit out of people who engage in racist attacks. I just don’t particularly want the state to do anything other than its ordinary duty to police the place etc.

    “Is it a lack of imagination or complete cynicism?”

    All of the things you mention may (or may not) be good idea, but they’re nothing to do with policing ‘hate speech’ on the internet.

    “interest rates”

    I happen to think the gov’t should be in control of fiscal policy. At least they are (nominally) accountable. This applies to the South and ECB, too.

    “its a fact that no state grants absolute freedom of assembly rights.”

    So what? They should. State’s don’t grant those rights because state’s increasingly distrust people.

    “The Parades Commission has managed ot take the heat out of parading. We really want that back?”

    No, but there were other ways it could have been dealt with. I’m not singling out republicans for blame – I remember very well that the OO refused to talk back in the day.

    Some people might find the parades intimidating (I did, for sure) but there’s a difference between that and trying to stop people doing something.

  • Jason Walsh

    Grocers’ apostrophe hell above. Apologies.

  • kensei

    Jason

    Democrat. Socialist. Republican. Believer in people’s decency. Libertarian, if you want.

    Lots of decent people around. But you have to be blind deafa nd dumb to notice there aren’t a few not particularly decent people around too. I am all those things, but Libertarianism is best in small doses.

    We, as people, might be inclined to do lots of things from showing support, to protesting or even kicking the shit out of people who engage in racist attacks. I just don’t particularly want the state to do anything other than its ordinary duty to police the place etc.

    Why not? The state are our agents. Free speech can be used for incitement, internet groups to organise attacks. I don’t buy an absolutist argument that says the state should never act to shut these things down. I’d say that line would have to be fairly far out, and the use of the power difficult and rare but never seems to preclude all edge cases.

    Anyway, that would be part of the normal duty to create laws and police. And if you vote in peopel that do these things, isn’t that “democratic”?

    All of the things you mention may (or may not) be good idea, but they’re nothing to do with policing ‘hate speech’ on the internet.

    Conall left his statement open ended. There is nothing to say that the response to it has to be shutting things down. Or even online.

    I happen to think the gov’t should be in control of fiscal policy. At least they are (nominally) accountable. This applies to the South and ECB, too.

    And yet independent banks tend to have a better record, being less inclinded to drop them before elections for example. Principle beyond reason?

    So what? They should. State’s don’t grant those rights because state’s increasingly distrust people.

    Nonsense. There are a number of valid reasons, including competing rights, security, disproportionate expense.

    It’s like saying that everyone should have the right to unlimited health care. It’s hard to disagree with in principle, but in the real world there are finite resources and compromises to be made.

    “The Parades Commission has managed ot take the heat out of parading. We really want that back?”

    No, but there were other ways it could have been dealt with. I’m not singling out republicans for blame – I remember very well that the OO refused to talk back in the day.

    Some people might find the parades intimidating (I did, for sure) but there’s a difference between that and trying to stop people doing something.

  • kensei

    Sorry missed this:

    No, but there were other ways it could have been dealt with. I’m not singling out republicans for blame – I remember very well that the OO refused to talk back in the day.

    Some people might find the parades intimidating (I did, for sure) but there’s a difference between that and trying to stop people doing something.

    So the people on the end of it have no right to live without fear?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    kensei: “Except, um, the orange marches are inconveniencing people in a way that counter marching doesn’t actually help. Moreover, to cast this as a freedom of assembly issue is wrong. No one disputes the right of orangemen to march. Simply that they can march wherever and whenever they like regardless of expense, impact or offense. No state grants this.”

    And, yet, Neo-Nazis are able to march through Skokie, Illinois and the KKK can rally in lower Manhatten, complete with counter-protests, despite the “expense, impact and offense.”

    There is no right to live one’s life without being offended or hectored or insulted. The state should not be in the position of choosing when and where speech occurs, which is what you’re advocating, once you’ve scraped the victimology away — the state gets to control speech.

    Kensei: “So the people on the end of it have no right to live without fear? ”

    And I thought the “war on terrorism” was an open-ended project… There is no way to create a “life without fear,” let alone manufacture a right to one.

  • Jason Walsh

    “Why not? The state are our agents. Free speech can be used for incitement, internet groups to organise attacks. I don’t buy an absolutist argument that says the state should never act to shut these things down.”

    But the state is only our agent insofar as it is democratic and many feel it is insufficiently democratic. I wouldn’t trust the state as far as I could spit it out.

    Define ‘organise attacks’. There’s a world of difference between people bullshitting and spouting bravado and actually planning and organising attacks and the latter is already illegal.

    “It’s like saying that everyone should have the right to unlimited health care. It’s hard to disagree with in principle, but in the real world there are finite resources and compromises to be made.”

    Again, I think they should. Why are there limited resources? Fair enough, such an issue is too big for Slugger, but there you have it.

    “So the people on the end of it have no right to live without fear?”

    They have a right to be protected, either by themselves or the police (which was/is problematic but let’s skip that for now and concentrate on the principle). What you’re suggesting sounds to me similar to the Asbo situation where people’s ‘right’ to quiet sees noisy neighbours jailed without due process. (I’m not pointing the finger at you, BTW, it’s just a comparison).

    “Principle beyond reason?”

    No, just not no principles in the name of efficiency.

    “But you have to be blind deafa nd dumb to notice there aren’t a few not particularly decent people around too.”

    True, in the North seem to be a growing tendency to claim that any principled stand is unacceptable when, in fact, it may just be stupid. I’m reminded of Nelson McCausland being criticised for not attenting Catholic services. A couple of things occured to me: firstly, who cares if he won’t darken the doorstep of a Catholic church? Secondly, is anyone surprised? McCausland presumably has deeply-held views – the fact that his views are stupid (in my opinion) is not the point – and he is entitled to hold them. It’s not a matter for me to tell him what he should or shouldn’t do.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Jason,

    can you just clarify if you would be in favour of anti-jewish* marches through Golders Green or BNP marches through Asian areas of the North Of England or indeed closer to home for you anti-gypsy rallies through gypsy encampments in the Southern Irish territories?

    *defining that as celebrating the defeat of a leader of the Jewish faith and with accompanying unpleasnt chanting etc.

  • Drumlins Rock

    “victimology” as a word is growing on me you know.

    if Queens (its obivious home of course) was to appoint a professor of Victimology, who would you nominate for the job?

    ejoying your libiterian views Jason, just go easy on my brain and express them shorter, and hopefully Kensai wont feel the need to repeat and minutely disect them.

    PS i see the oh so offensive facebook page has been pulled.

  • Just to add to Jason’s point, there is no right not to be offended and shouldn’t ever be one in civilised society http://www.thedissenter.co.uk/2009/09/no-offence/

  • Dread Cthulhu

    IWSMWSI: “can you just clarify if you would be in favour of anti-jewish* marches through Golders Green or BNP marches through Asian areas of the North Of England or indeed closer to home for you anti-gypsy rallies through gypsy encampments in the Southern Irish territories?”

    Remind me again — why do free-speech protections exist? As repugnant as what you suggest above, speech protections exist to protect unpopular speech — popular speech, pretty much by definition, does not require protection.

    So long as the speech does not break the actual laws — incitement to riot, etc., then the speech, being legal, should be permitted and protected. That said, folks tend to forget that there is a corollary to rights — with every right comes a responsibility. One is always, or at least should always, be liable for the outcomes of their actions.

    Frankly, by permitting these rallies and speeches, several beneficial things occur — the rabble-rousers with small minds are provided an outlet for their energies — if you think the speech is bad, see what happens when you do not permit their speech and allow their emotions and misplaced frustrations ferment without a legitimate outlet — and they self-identify as marginal players. To be honest, preventing the BNP from hanging themselves in the public square is doing a far better service to the BNP than the public.

  • Jason Walsh

    Sammy,

    Don’t be making straw man arguments. I’m not in favour of anything of the sort but there are ways to oppose things without banning.

    Cable Street in the 30s is one. In the late 70s and early 80s in East London anti-racist actively patrolled and protected communities.

    Drumlins Rock

    Ivana Bacik. She only has three jobs, god love her, so she could do with another.

    Funny thing about people calling me a libertarian (and I get it a fair bit), it’s not me that has changed, it’s the left. The left used to believe in freedom as the basic requirement for social solidarity.

  • Jason Walsh

    Dread Cthulu

    “If you think the speech is bad, see what happens when you do not permit their speech and allow their emotions and misplaced frustrations ferment without a legitimate outlet”

    Bingo.

    “and they self-identify as marginal players.”

    Bingo again. This man’s a winner.

    You can’t legislate for idiots and you sure as hell can’t legislate people into agreeing with you.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Jason,

    re. “Don’t be making straw man arguments. I’m not in favour of anything of the sort but there are ways to oppose things without banning.”

    There is absolutely nothing straw man about that -you are suggesting that neighbourhoods are effectively placed under police protection (which often means people locked in their homes)to allow outsiders with zero respect for and more often than not deeply antagonistic, violent, drunk and abusive to them – to march through their areas.

    That is the DIRECT result of what you are suggesting a straw man arguement is used to delfect attention away from the main arguement – if you allow sectrain marches in Norn Iron in residential areas who HAVE to have police protection unless you are in favour of total anarchy.

  • Jason Walsh

    Sammy

    OK, misuderstanding. I thought you meant something else.

    I lived in Belfast during a period when every night the RUC closed barriers to keep loyalists out. This was ostensibly done to protect “us”. I remember wondering why, if things were that bad, they didn’t lock the loyalists in their areas rather than locking them “out” of other ones.

    Either way, no, I’m not in favour of people living in lockdown situations. I don’t think that’s the only way, though.

    The police are deeply problematic, as I mentioned above. I don’t really want to get into that argument – and it’s not just about the PSNI and RUC, it also applies to the Met, the Guards and plenty of others. Seeing the guards man-handling the staff of Thomas Cook in a pre-dawn raid shocked a lot of people down here.

    Anyway, if people are “violent, drunk and abusive” on a march (and they sure have been in the past) surely the police are supposed to arrest them?

    Anarchy… Now there’s a loaded word. I presume you mean just violent fighting and not libertarian-socialism (not that I’m necessarily advocating that either).

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Jason,

    re. “Either way, no, I’m not in favour of people living in lockdown situations. I don’t think that’s the only way, though.”

    You either allow a march or you dont – if the former, in Norn Iron in residential areas that means lockdown UNLESS there is dialogue.

    What is strange about the current DUP demand to abolish the Parades commission is that they are potentially handing power on this matter to SF at residential, council, and Stormo level where the dialogue is expected to take place.

  • Sammy

    Sammy, obviously I carry no brief for the DUP nor do I have any special insight into why it favours one policy or another. Pushed for an answer I’d say the DUP simply objects to the PC’s existence because it inconveniences the OO rather than on genuinely democratic grounds, though I’m sure someone will be along in a moment to call me out on that. Can’t say I care very much.

    Certainly, dialogue is absolutely essential.

    I may be talking ‘perfect world’ stuff above (and I did promise myself I’d try and stay within the realms of possibility when blogging here on Slugger, so apologies for that), but my basic points remain:

    – I prefer not to call the state in to mediate
    – I think it is done too frequently in the North
    – I think in Sinn Féin republicanism has trapped itself in victimology
    – I think the rise of the DUP is a relfection of unionism copying the above

    Do I have solutions? No. But I can see problems that I don’t see being addressed by all of the endless peace processing.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    re. ” I think in Sinn Féin republicanism has trapped itself in victimology”

    Without wishing to sound like a party hack, and I appreciate that is what I will sound like. I think that SF by embracing the GFA and the ‘future’ are in the main looking forward. Now that the British are pushing the Nationalist agenda (ie presuading/bribing the DUP/UUP to play ball) there is is not so much need for victimology.

    If you listen to the Eirigi videos, which are very well produced that is where you can see ‘victimology’ par excellence – as it is in their interest to keep old animosities alive.

    But I think you are confusing two things here by throWing Orange Parades into the ‘victimology’ mix. That tpye of sectarian behaviour would not be tolerated anywhere else that I can think of in Western Eruope (or indeed anywhere at all) and yet we can have a genuinely anti-racist Tory partry joining up with the UUP which champions sectarian marches through Nationalist areas. SF/Nationalist reaction to the OO has nothing to do with ‘victimology’ but everything to do with being respected in your own country.

    It wouldnt happen elsewhere and it shouldnt be expected to happen here, in the Northern Irish territories either.

  • When you speak of Victims, it might be a starting point to properly define ‘victim’

    Under the present terminology, Thomas Begley blew himself up on the Shankill Road, along with innocent shop-workers and passers by is classified the same as those he killed.

    That cannot be right….Begley wasn’t a victim…he was a perpetrator, whilst those he killed are the real victims.

    When that is corrected by Her Majesty’s Government, then real victims will engage with Government agencies but not before.

  • Scaramoosh

    If there is ever to be proper reconciliation, then it is imperative that all sides are brutally honest about the past. Only this will ensure that the notion of victimhood, whereby the victim is always morally right and neither responsible or accountable, is not allowed to undermine every ounce of progress.

    That is not to argue that there are not real victims, but rather, to suggest that there if there needs are to be met, then all of the other phony victims need to leave the stage.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    IWSMWDI: “But I think you are confusing two things here by throWing Orange Parades into the ‘victimology’ mix. That tpye of sectarian behaviour would not be tolerated anywhere else that I can think of in Western Eruope (or indeed anywhere at all).”

    KKK in lower Manhatten? Neo-Nazis in Skokie, Illinois? Free speech does actually occur elsewhere in the wide world, chum.

    Your argument really sounds like a case of you believing your’n victims are superior to themmun’s victims.

    When you deny someone their free speech rights, have you not victimized him, no matter what your intentions?

    IWSMWDI: “yet we can have a genuinely anti-racist Tory partry joining up with the UUP which champions sectarian marches through Nationalist areas.”

    False comparison, in so far as the Nationalists were as much sectarian players as the UUP. Both sides elected to allow and retain religion as proxies for their political positions, it is a little late to complain now that “themmuns” are sectarian, regardless of whom “themmuns” happen to be.

    How many rights are you willing to surrender to end parades?

  • Jason Walsh

    I’m not banging a drum for éirígí, either. Watched the videos the other day. They seemed, dare I say it, quaint. I haven’t been following their development very closely but I was surprised how much they seemed like SF stuff from years gone by – except in those days there was an actual conflict to complain about.

    Anyway, more later.

    “we can have a genuinely anti-racist Tory party”

    ‘Official AR’, maybe, as racism is no longer in the interests of those it represents. Not exactly a glowing history on the issue, though. Still, that’s another issue altogether.

  • kensei

    But the state is only our agent insofar as it is democratic and many feel it is insufficiently democratic. I wouldn’t trust the state as far as I could spit it out.

    If you don’t like laws the government passes, you can kick the bums out promising to replace the laws. That’s the essence of democracy.

    You are stating you have no trust in politicians to craft sensible laws, nor in courts to enforce them, nor in the people to change those things they don’t like. Do you really believe in democracy, because it sounds an awful lot like cynicism and cry of disempowerment.

    Define ‘organise attacks’. There’s a world of difference between people bullshitting and spouting bravado and actually planning and organising attacks and the latter is already illegal.

    I wasn’t aware there was a sharp line between bullshitting and actual planning. The police could certainly keep an eye on the site, and if there is an attack organised I don’t see why the page shouldn’t be removed to prevent reoccurance. Given that people might be banned from Facebook for using rude language, I’m not really sure its that big a deal on cosmic free speech rights.

    Again, I think they should. Why are there limited resources? Fair enough, such an issue is too big for Slugger, but there you have it.

    Economics is the allocation of scare resource between competing ends. You might dislike that resources are finite, but they are. If health care costs grow at 5% per annum, and gdp grows at 3% per annum, then very quickly complete universal access to health care will eat the enitre economy. Everyone rations. Things get traded off.

    They have a right to be protected, either by themselves or the police (which was/is problematic but let’s skip that for now and concentrate on the principle). What you’re suggesting sounds to me similar to the Asbo situation where people’s ‘right’ to quiet sees noisy neighbours jailed without due process. (I’m not pointing the finger at you, BTW, it’s just a comparison).

    My parents are currently getting driven to distractions by kids out their back. When it gets really bad, it is seriously affecting their quality of life and mum isn’t well anyway. On bad nights it sounds like a mini rock concert. No ASBOs yet, but if it got them to stop then I’d be for it. Given they are actually in the street out their back, and are actually making insane amounts of noise, and drinking and the like, what extra due process would you like?

    No, just not no principles in the name of efficiency.

    I believe in pragmatic idealism. Which means I have principles, but know that real life throws up situations that aren’t clear cut, and they all have to bend a little.

    You seem to have principle beyond reason, a black and white view. I admrie the purity of spirit somewhat, just hope to god you never get anywhere near power.

    True, in the North seem to be a growing tendency to claim that any principled stand is unacceptable when, in fact, it may just be stupid. I’m reminded of Nelson McCausland being criticised for not attenting Catholic services. A couple of things occured to me: firstly, who cares if he won’t darken the doorstep of a Catholic church? Secondly, is anyone surprised? McCausland presumably has deeply-held views – the fact that his views are stupid (in my opinion) is not the point – and he is entitled to hold them. It’s not a matter for me to tell him what he should or shouldn’t do.

    No, but it is right to question and evaluate whether or not he can carry out his job. I don’t see a place whereby that one matters, but if for example he had deeply held beliefs about the evilnes sof homosexuals, it might throw up potential difficulties when he has to make deciisons over funding or keep a statutory duty to treat people equally. Principles are principled only in so much as you can bear the consequences.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Dread Cthulhu,

    KKK in lower Manhatten?. The equivalent here would be KKK in Harlem.

    RE. “False comparison, in so far as the Nationalists were as much sectarian players as the UUP”

    Usual ‘Unionist’ whataboutery.

    All/most/majority of elected members of the UUP still feel the need to be members of the deeply sectarian* Orange Order to ensure they get elected.

    *Definition: Involves itself in dissing other religions on regular basis and organises public demonstrations of same and acts as apologists for appaling behaviour of hangers on often in areas where the religions they are insulting, and chanting offgensive slogans at predominate.

  • kensei

    DC

    And, yet, Neo-Nazis are able to march through Skokie, Illinois and the KKK can rally in lower Manhatten, complete with counter-protests, despite the “expense, impact and offense.”

    And yet anti-war protesters are shunted off to the side a bit. Even the US does not give an absolute right to assembly. So, you know, spare me.

    There is no right to live one’s life without being offended or hectored or insulted. The state should not be in the position of choosing when and where speech occurs, which is what you’re advocating, once you’ve scraped the victimology away—the state gets to control speech.

    No, it doesn’t. What’s the practical difference between walkign at 3pm and 4pm? Or the difference between one street and the next? Bugger all. No one state sthat orangemen can’t march. Simply they can’t march anywhere they want, at any time.

    If I and five hundred friends wanted to do a continual twenty four procession down Main Street AnyTown USA 365 days a year, thus blocking traffic and ultimately commerce, we would not be permitted. Oh no DC! You’ve restricted my right to Assembly. Communism!

    There are always lines. And even with our bowler hatted friends we should be careful when imposing restrictions. But spare me the absolutist arguments that no governemnt on the planet applies, nor would withstand beign tested to their logical conclusions.

    DR

    ejoying your libiterian views Jason, just go easy on my brain and express them shorter, and hopefully Kensai wont feel the need to repeat and minutely disect them.

    Apparently you are without libertarian streak.

  • jone

    Is ‘Jason Walsh’ a nom de plume for ‘Newton Emerson on an off-day’?

  • Dave

    It’s quaint that folks still think that they can debate this issue and decide an outcome as if they were a sovereign nation when the reality is that sovereignty resides with the EU which has already issued a Racism and Xenophobia Directive, outlawing not only statements of opinion that are intended to incite hatred or violence but such opinion itself. You do not as a nation have the right to decide what your fundamental rights are in the matter of free speech. That has already been decided for you.

    In regard to the Roma: even if folks decided that uncontrolled immigration from the Eastern Bloc EU countries did not benefit their society, they could do nothing to change that policy since they do not have the applicable sovereignty. You can debate that all you like, but you can do fuck all about it. How then should a community express its opposition to a policy when the state is powerless to act? There is no democratic option available to change the policy, so the only option that is available to the community is action that is outside of the law. That’s what happens when you delete sovereignty – you delete democracy too.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    IWSMWDI: “KKK in lower Manhatten?. The equivalent here would be KKK in Harlem. ”

    I’d argue that the OO is hardly the KKK — I’ve seen the KKK and a bunch of middle-aged men in funny hats hardly rises to the level of gun-toting men in robes and hoods. Something about the members of the OO having chins and a far less pronounced orbital ridge.

    IWSMWDI: “Usual ‘Unionist’ whataboutery. ”

    Hardly. It takes two fools to fight and to pretend that republicanism has clean hands in this affair is disingenuous, at the very least.

    Long form is that religion / “sectarianism” is a convenient proxy for politics as usual. However, if you can paint your foe as “sectarian,” you get to play victim, as opposed to simply being the political opposition.

    kensei: “If I and five hundred friends wanted to do a continual twenty four procession down Main Street AnyTown USA 365 days a year, thus blocking traffic and ultimately commerce, we would not be permitted. Oh no DC! You’ve restricted my right to Assembly. Communism!”

    Name me one Unionist / Orange parade that runs in that fashion, kensei, 365 days a year, 24/7, down the Main Street of town, else this is empty hyperbole.

    Speech protections exist to protect unpopular speech and most of the nationalist arguments don’t pass muster — “they’re not wanted there” and “they’re rude” isn’t sufficient argument to over-ride their civil rights. Party tunes, while crude and anti-social, do not rise to the level of illegal speech.

  • Jason Walsh

    jone

    “Is ‘Jason Walsh’ a nom de plume for ‘Newton Emerson on an off-day’?”

    Ha! I suspect Newton Emerson earns more on a day off, never mind an off-day, than I do in a week at work… Anyway, I don’t write satire.

    kensei

    “what extra due process would you like?”

    Traditionally the answer to that would be a court.

    “just hope to god you never get anywhere near power”

    You’ll be delighted to hear I have no desire for it. I am aware that my throwing logical rocks is easier than fixing things that are wrong.

    “Given that people might be banned from Facebook for using rude language, I’m not really sure its that big a deal on cosmic free speech rights.”

    That’s a different argument and it’s less interesting (to me) because it’s about property rights, something that doesn’t move me I’m afraid.

    “If you don’t like laws the government passes, you can kick the bums out promising to replace the laws. That’s the essence of democracy.”

    I don’t believe that that is functionally the case in the Northern Assembly. We could have a philosophical debate about the two and a half party system in Britian or the over-representation through PR in the Dáil, but I think the Assembly is the worst in terms of having all of the trappings of democracy but none of its spirit. I know *why* it is the way it is and I don’t have neat a solution to offer.

    “You are stating you have no trust in politicians to craft sensible laws, nor in courts to enforce them, nor in the people to change those things they don’t like. Do you really believe in democracy, because it sounds an awful lot like cynicism and cry of disempowerment.”

    I think there are some very broad trends in contemporary politics which are magnified in the Assembly that are very bad.

    I’m aware that this argument is unusual, coming from the left and coming from a non-unionist, but there you have it.

    “I wasn’t aware there was a sharp line between bullshitting and actual planning.”

    I think there is and I hope a court would agree.

    Anyway, I think a lot the ‘cultural’ issues around politics in the North on both sides are, to be frank, total bollocks and could, if there was a willingness to do so, be completely avoided. In the short term, were I an elected representative, I would ask my constituents to take a deep breath and think for a while. In the long term I would hope that the development of confident, outward looking sense of self and community would result in less fear.

    One thing that strikes me as a logical disconnection is this: if you go to west Belfast, you will find a collection of people whose political outlook wad defined and shaped by conflict. These are strong people who resisted a lot. They aren’t pathetic victims. Why is the political narrative about them so focussed on victimhood, then?

    Likewise, since the Agreement, unionism has been increasingly shrill, talking about how it is being discriminated against when, by any standard, the Belfast Agreement (even before St. Andrews) guaranteed their preferred politics (a place in the UK) for the foreseeable future.

    Both sides claim simultaneously to have won and lost, depending on what they want at any given moment and whom they are addressing. This is facilitated by a focus on victimhood and the primacy of secondary ‘cultural’ matters over the purely political.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Kensei, wasnt disagreeing with your comments or right to comment, just didnt bother reading them as they were too long and detailed 😉

    BTW who alls going tomorrow night?

  • Dewi

    Trouble is the summer – it’s a bore, and a dangerous, groundhog day, repetative bore. It’s easy to confuse cause and symptom but causes and symptoms change over the decades (centuries?). Now the annual summer marching overkill is a cause of tension. Why not do something different?

  • kensei

    Jason

    Traditionally the answer to that would be a court.

    Isn’t the courts that issue the ASBOs?

    You’ll be delighted to hear I have no desire for it. I am aware that my throwing logical rocks is easier than fixing things that are wrong.

    Well, I greatly approve of throwing rocks, even if I don’t like the direction.

    I don’t believe that that is functionally the case in the Northern Assembly. We could have a philosophical debate about the two and a half party system in Britian or the over-representation through PR in the Dáil, but I think the Assembly is the worst in terms of having all of the trappings of democracy but none of its spirit. I know *why* it is the way it is and I don’t have neat a solution to offer.

    The “you can’t remove them” is overplayed. If the electorate wanted to, its perfectly capable fo laying both the DUP and SF low; look at the near irrelevance of the UUP and SDLP despite having a minstry each.

    I think there is and I hope a court would agree.

    Only after the fact. There could be the complete bullshit, things that are started to be planned, things that planned but not carried out, and things that go the whole way. Prevention is better than punishment.

    Anyway, I think a lot the ‘cultural’ issues around politics in the North on both sides are, to be frank, total bollocks and could, if there was a willingness to do so, be completely avoided. In the short term, were I an elected representative, I would ask my constituents to take a deep breath and think for a while. In the long term I would hope that the development of confident, outward looking sense of self and community would result in less fear.

    It’s not that simple. The key point is the will, and the willingness to compromise which does not necessarily exist. Your opponent can keep you off balance by being intransigent. It can’t be a one sided movement, and there is an element of the Prisoner’s Dilemma.

    One thing that strikes me as a logical disconnection is this: if you go to west Belfast, you will find a collection of people whose political outlook wad defined and shaped by conflict. These are strong people who resisted a lot. They aren’t pathetic victims. Why is the political narrative about them so focussed on victimhood, then?

    This is one place I agree with you 100%. SF got to the top not because they presented a victim’s narrative but because they seemed stronger and more confident than the alternative. If thereis another stronger and more confident horse ont eh scene, SF will get dumped.

    Both sides claim simultaneously to have won and lost, depending on what they want at any given moment and whom they are addressing. This is facilitated by a focus on victimhood and the primacy of secondary ‘cultural’ matters over the purely political.

    That would be because both sides did both win and lose, and are happy to play it for all they got.

  • kensei

    DC

    Name me one Unionist / Orange parade that runs in that fashion, kensei, 365 days a year, 24/7, down the Main Street of town, else this is empty hyperbole.

    Reducto ad absurdum, DC. Have accepted that there are cases where it might be legitimate to restrict your right to assembly, we are now simply arguing over price.

    Speech protections exist to protect unpopular speech and most of the nationalist arguments don’t pass muster—“they’re not wanted there” and “they’re rude” isn’t sufficient argument to over-ride their civil rights. Party tunes, while crude and anti-social, do not rise to the level of illegal speech.

    I am not denying their right to free speech. If the OO want to have a march, then they should have it. Just not necessarily exactly to the street and time that they want. If local residents object (they do this often, btw. Outdoor concerts in Belfast have restrictions placed on them, or aren’t allowed because of the bnuisance. People object to planned buildings they find ugly. Or proposed roads and runways and lots of other stuff) and it’s going to cause a bigger security bill, then maybe a minor change to route might be proposed.

    Now if they can justify their original route then maybe you might allow it. But the onus would be on them, and I’m not sure “We’ve always done it” cuts it. And if they can’t justify it and aren’t prepared to move, well maybe it isn’t *really* about freedom of speech or asembly?

  • kensei

    “The “you can’t remove them” is overplayed.”

    I agree, that’s not quite my point. The problem is that the Assembly, in its current form, is not really capable of creating a functionally democratic government and opposition. Now, voluntary coalition is obviously a problem as it would lead to unionist-only rule – but it would be more clearly democratic (It might also point to the argument that in its present form the North is un-reformable, but if so, c’est la vie). While I don’t think this would be a re-run of 1920-1972, it clearly would be a problem. Personally I don’t the Assembly was that big a “win”, so I’m not bothered by its potential collapse. Clearly Sinn Féin and the SDLP would view this differently, but thats not my problem. I think the pivotal movement was the ceasefires not the Assembly and I don’t see any evidence that had the Assembly not been cobbled back together there would have been war again.

    Other systems have their flaws, too, of course. Westminster’s problems are well documented so I don’t need to re-tread them here. The Dáil, meanwhile, is a bit of a conundrum. It appears to me to be too easy to get elected to but I read complaints recently calling for more members per constituency (and presumably less constituencies overall).

    “Isn’t the courts that issue the ASBOs?”

    I mean a proper trial.

    ” Prevention is better than punishment.”

    Not at any cost.

    “Will” etc.

    The Prisoner’s Dilemma is paranoid. I don’t accept it. While it’s certainly true that one side or the other may not want to compromise on this or that issue, it is possible to say: “We are moving precisely this far, with or without you, but that’s your lot.”

    “That would be because both sides did both win and lose”

    You sure about that? Looks to me like the unionists won, the republicans lost and the British government pretended it was a referee rather than a player.

    Apologies for terseness. Tired.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    kensei: “Now if they can justify their original route then maybe you might allow it. But the onus would be on them, and I’m not sure “We’ve always done it” cuts it. And if they can’t justify it and aren’t prepared to move, well maybe it isn’t *really* about freedom of speech or asembly? ”

    Sorry, mate, the onus should be on the folks who want to deprive someone of their civil rights, not the fellas exercising their civil rights. Your mileage may vary, but I suspect were it your speech (as opposed to speech you don’t like) prefer my standard to the one you present.

    kensei: “I am not denying their right to free speech. If the OO want to have a march, then they should have it. Just not necessarily exactly to the street and time that they want. If local residents object (they do this often, btw. Outdoor concerts in Belfast have restrictions placed on them, or aren’t allowed because of the bnuisance. People object to planned buildings they find ugly. Or proposed roads and runways and lots of other stuff) and it’s going to cause a bigger security bill, then maybe a minor change to route might be proposed.”

    Zoning law, depending on your perspective (glass half full or half empty) is either the leading edge or trailing edge of fascism — it is literally the only place where the phrase “because we said so” is a legitimate argument on the part of the state’s representatives, with the possibility of retroactive retraction of approval being a very real possibility.

    I’m not sure that outdoor concerts are a good example — fixed vs moving events, a parade’s impact is not nearly the same duration as a concert, etc.

    A better solution would be to demand that all the laws on the books be enforced, full stop. The OO has had enough time to learn the law and have had enough bites at the apple that they have no legitimate excuses, such as “inadequate marshalling” and “we didn’t know they’d unfurl that banner.”

    Too bad there isn’t a spine between the PSNI and the Executive to actually put some teeth to the law.

  • kensei

    DC

    Sorry, mate, the onus should be on the folks who want to deprive someone of their civil rights, not the fellas exercising their civil rights. Your mileage may vary, but I suspect were it your speech (as opposed to speech you don’t like) prefer my standard to the one you present.

    You didn’t actually read what I said, did you DC? I gave reasons why a parade might go through minor reroutes or moves. I simply left it open to challenge if a persuasive enough reason was found – ie made my suggestion more liberal.

    Zoning law, depending on your perspective (glass half full or half empty) is either the leading edge or trailing edge of fascism—it is literally the only place where the phrase “because we said so” is a legitimate argument on the part of the state’s representatives, with the possibility of retroactive retraction of approval being a very real possibility.

    And yet no one wants a free for all on building.

    I’m not sure that outdoor concerts are a good example—fixed vs moving events, a parade’s impact is not nearly the same duration as a concert, etc.

    There is an impact and it is not simply a matter of a few minutes. There may be a big security operation and disruption required before and after. If it was people urinating outside your door as has been reported in some instances, you might not be best pleased. The principle that the residents might have some say due to the inconvenience caused is well established. Do you really need me to establish that money might also be a legitimate issue?

    Once you establish all these things it becomes somewhat harder to cast this as a free speech or free assembly issue. No one is stopping what is said. No one is preventing people marching.

    But it was never really about that anyway.

    A better solution would be to demand that all the laws on the books be enforced, full stop. The OO has had enough time to learn the law and have had enough bites at the apple that they have no legitimate excuses, such as “inadequate marshalling” and “we didn’t know they’d unfurl that banner.”

    Too bad there isn’t a spine between the PSNI and the Executive to actually put some teeth to the law.

    That’s a whole separate issue.

  • kensei

    I agree, that’s not quite my point. The problem is that the Assembly, in its current form, is not really capable of creating a functionally democratic government and opposition. Now, voluntary coalition is obviously a problem as it would lead to unionist-only rule – but it would be more clearly democratic (It might also point to the argument that in its present form the North is un-reformable, but if so, c’est la vie). While I don’t think this would be a re-run of 1920-1972, it clearly would be a problem. Personally I don’t the Assembly was that big a “win”, so I’m not bothered by its potential collapse. Clearly Sinn Féin and the SDLP would view this differently, but thats not my problem. I think the pivotal movement was the ceasefires not the Assembly and I don’t see any evidence that had the Assembly not been cobbled back together there would have been war again.

    I don’t think the lack of formal opposition is a problem per se. The parties dislike each other enough to give each other a hard time anywhere you like. I’m personally more worried about the separation between the Executive and the Legislature. This particularly true in a Westminster that is run by increasingly Presidential Executives, but the Dail suffers too.

    I mean a proper trial.

    What exactly is the benefit? The standard of proof is virtually identical.

    Not at any cost.

    That cuts both ways.

    The Prisoner’s Dilemma is paranoid. I don’t accept it. While it’s certainly true that one side or the other may not want to compromise on this or that issue, it is possible to say: “We are moving precisely this far, with or without you, but that’s your lot.”

    So, opposition pockets it, and you get no where. Where is the benefit?

    You sure about that? Looks to me like the unionists won, the republicans lost and the British government pretended it was a referee rather than a player.

    Depends how you define winning and losing. There was never a United Ireland or any prospect of it for Republicans to lose. The campaign probably set them back 50 years minimum. They got some concessions and a place in government. Unionism had to dela with a lot of things it didn’t like and a loss of influence.

    Apologies for terseness. Tired.

  • “Apologies for terseness. Tired.”

    Huh? Typo or sarcasm? I really was tired. Insomnia.