Monday, 26 February 2007

Lawmaking

As usual, *disclaimer* - I'm not a lawyer, nor do I hate them.

I am perplexed though by the current wave of lawmaking, which is happening at local, national and EU level with seemingly breakneck pace. As polluters, not as citizens, our local council has decreed fewer rubbish collections and penalties for people who leave rubbish out,put it in the wrong box, and so on. We hear repeatedly on the radio that prison is generally a *bad thing* and should be reserved only for serious crimes - in which case why will fiddling with the road-pricing boxes or not cooperating with a road pricing inspector carry a 6 month jail sentence?

I read with some consternation, and it must be said, a fair amount of ignorance, on DK yesterday that the EU have already finished their draft directive on Holocaust denial, which will need to be implemented by July 2007. A quick googling doesn't throw this up as definite, though I'm happy to be corrected. In any case, even as draft legislation it is worrying. I see why the law should exist in Germany: but it is just plain dishonest to pretend that the whole of Europe needs the law in the same way. Britain has holocaust deniers of course and one of them exposed himself to ruin and his cause to ridicule under existing laws. David Irving's demolition was far better served by his libel case than by his imprisonment in Austria, which made him a rallying point for far-rightists. Europe does not have homogeneous political and social problems or backgrounds and so blanket laws of this kind are unsubtle and are liable simply to create criminals where none are needed. No attempt has been made than I have read to show that this law is needed in Britain, simply an assumption that what is good for Germany is good for all Europe, backed up by punishments of a scale that make British sentencing look tame. 3 years? For saying something? When you can kill someone and be out in 6 or so? This law is not designed to be good for Britain, or to solve a problem which exists there. It is simply designed to impose upon Britain the problems of others. It assumes, as do so many modern laws, that the people are nasty and bigoted, and must be forced into nicer habits of mind.

Besides of which, as DK and others have pointed out, it creates far more dangers with the concept of a government decreed version of history. In the Telegraph story linked to above we read:

General Lewis MacKenzie, the former commander of UN peacekeepers in Bosnia, courted controversy two years ago by questioning the numbers killed at Srebrenica in 1995.

He took issue with the official definition of the massacre as genocide and highlighted "serious doubt" over the estimate of 8,000 Bosnian fatalities. "The math just doesn't support the scale of 8,000 killed," he wrote.

Balkans human rights activists have branded Gen MacKenzie an "outspoken Srebrenica genocide denier" and, if approved, the EU legislation could see similar comments investigated by the police or prosecuted in the courts after complaints from war crimes investigators or campaigners.


and today we learned that:The UN's highest court has cleared Serbia of direct responsibility for genocide during the 1990s Bosnian war.

It is difficult to think who the human rights activists in the first quote think might be responsible if not Serbia. Some things are held to be true by application of all the evidence, and some things open to revision. It was initially thought, from Soviet figures, that 4 million died in Auschwitz. We now know this figure cannot have been accurate: the true figure is around 1.1million. For me, as for many, the holocaust is a supreme fact of Europe, the great descent into barbarism and degeneration. But to put legitimate researchers under threat of prison sentences for trying to sharpen our understanding - as they would be, treading on eggshells and possibly needing government approval for certain lines of research, or just as bad, feeling that it is needed -is ridiculous and deadly to scholarship and enquiry.

8 comments:

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

You speak truth, my drumming friend.
I am very worried that this law will have the oppsite consequences to its purported intent.
There is a huge element of people out there who believe any daft conspiracy theory from fake Apollo landings to the Queen being a reptile.
We don't need to give them encouragement.
By making this law, it gives fuel to the fires of these far right loons and their claims that the evidence is being manipulated.
After all, we seem to be saying that their arguments can not be refuted simply in open discussion, with all the facts out in the open.
Why shoot ourselves in the foot this way?
It ironic that we should deny freedom of speech to those who denigrate those who died for that freedom.
These revisionist arguments are so puerile, they are no threat to anyone, nor should we be panicked into seeing them as such.

The Tin Drummer said...

Thank you for another thoughtful and detailed comment, cbi: may I ask whether you have a blog, as it seems that you could well benefit from one? Your profile has no info on it all.

On the conspiracy point, I am sorry to say that despite my scepticism I am drawn to conspiracy narratives as promoting an idea of a vast intelligence beyond ourselves and the possibility, remote as it currently seems, of the competence of government. If you read into my archives you'll see I had my fingers burned as a teenager with UFO conspiracies! So now I loathe and detest Nick Pope (you're not him are you, oh well if you are...) & Ray Santilli (nobhead).

And Capricon One was such a cool film.

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

Problem rectified, (just laziness on my part)blog should be accesible now. Not much on there, mind, it's a very young blogspot.

I did reply to your earlier comment in some detail but I think I deleted it by mistake, rather than posting it.
I merely remarked that most of these conspiracy theories are the same themes, different actors. Compare 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion' to your standard David Icke drivel. All the same lietmotifs.
I also wondered if you'd read Bob Lazar's claims, which impressed me because of the implications of his fantasy physics (which kind of pans out in a pseudoscience kind of way)

Of course, I think our great leaders are selling us another conspiracy theory...

The Tin Drummer said...

Yes I remember the Bob Lazar stuff. I _did_ think that because he was a physicist he had some kind of authority (wasn't he served with a court summons for building a rocket sled in his garage or something, as well as running a brothel in his house) and I'm sure I saw the thing in one of Tim Good's books about him being in the Area 51 phone book.

I've posted on this before too - the failure of the UFO flap of the 90s to amount to anything at all seriously dented my interest in conspiracy theories; I kind of felt personally let down as photo after photo and video after video turned out to be fake.

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

Less than two percent of UFOs are reported by astronomers- as in the dudes who spend most time staring at the sky.
Have you experienced sleep paralysis? It happens when you to sleep in a mentally excited frame of mind. I used to get it in my heavy clubbing days.
Seriuos Psychiatrists think that's what most Alien abduction actually here and having experienced it, I would agree.
The autopsy video was poor.
You're about Lazar. I think he half convinced himself though.

The Tin Drummer said...

It's funny how being in certain states of mind or having certain views affects your reasoning. It was only after I'd lost enthusiasm for UFOs that the point about astronomers came to mind. I wonder what Bob Lazar does now?

The autopsy video was rubbish but not as rubbish as Santilli's subsequent shabby, dishonest and cynical behaviour.

I have experienced sleep paralysis, once, and terrifying it was too. I don't think about alien abduction now, never did much anyway and I would think it a mixture of things, including sleep paralysis.

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

I often point out to UFO enthusiasts that Aliens, wherever they come frome must observe the same laws of physics. They also must have finite resources and (regardless of their economic model) have some method of allocating resources.
Interstellar travel must use significant resources, which their society could put to other uses.
In fact, if interstellar travel is easy for them , then it still means it uses resources that could be used up in amazing things that would benefit their homeworld.
So I envision a Board meeting of leading Greys which goes somewhat like this.
K-PAX: 'OK, now to the Sol project. We've been sending these research missions to earth for a while, mainly to the nothern part of one continent and so far, we've only learned from the subjects of our experiments that inbreeding is high in that part of earth.
Why are using our resources on this project?'
KLOL: Er- well we have some very good nasal swabs.

Not convincing is it?
Or am I the perpetual cynic?

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

WHen you try to point out to these UFO guys that the laws of physics dictate that interstellar travel must involve the use of some resource (Laws of thermodynamics) and that, regardless of the aliens' economic model, they will have to balance out how they use resources, this fifty year recurring mission to spy on rednecks can't be that scientifically productive.
I remember in pub pointing out to one of these believe anything guys that something he alleged aliens had done contradicted laws of physics.
His reply?
'Maybe they've got different laws of physics.'
Despair.