Lessons in Law 11: The Clueless Panopticon
Crack Hills Have Eyes: The Clueless Panopticon
“More American police officers died during prohibition of alcohol than any other time in history. 300 died in 1930 alone. After prohibition ended, police deaths didn’t reach 200 a year again until the year Nixon declared war on drugs.”
As this person mentions interesting data on Prohibition, I have these also:
“By 1930, more than a third of the inmates in the nation’s federal prison system were persons convicted of violating the Volstead Act [Eighteenth Amendment’s implementing federal legislation]. That statistic demonstrates that a major effect of prohibition was the growth of federal prisons. As late as the 1890s, the federal government had no prisons at all ; the small number of persons jailed for committing federal crimes were held in state prisons.” (G. Edward White, American Legal History, 2014)
Nevertheless I regard Prohibition as a “noble experiment” (Herbert Hoover) and was even in touch with the Prohibition Party, which still exists. Please consider sending membership application:
As to the war on drugs, allow me to quote a previous lesson (Lesson 9):
“There’s been a crack pandemic in Paris, France, these last years, with an area now known as Crack Hill (la colline du crack) in the North-Eastern parts of the city. Neighbors talking of “hell,” “nightmare” and other such words has become commonplace. Authorities are pouring millions of taxpayer money in a so-called crack plan doing nothing but distributing under police surveillance new crack pipes every Thursday to the 1.500 crackheads (they know the numbers!) roaming on Crack Hill, and paying for 400 hotel rooms for crackheads. Thus the bureaucracy’s sole policy is to prevent the crackheads’ habit from turning them into blood felons, with the result that they will remain an endless source of unpunished misdemeanors, an everlasting nightmare for the neighborhood. – This in a country where the numbers of police officers per inhabitant are extremely high.”
That’s the “war on drugs” they’ve got there: distributing crack pipes like the Salvation Army bowls of soup and lodging crackheads in hotel rooms at taxpayer’s expense, while the very same taxpayers are living a daily hell.
Not only do they live a hell but also the governement is ruining them. You might say –maybe with French authorities– that people are free to take their things and leave if they don’t like the neighborhood, but wait a minute: If they own their house, they won’t be able to sell it at a fair price, they won’t get the price they would if the government had enforced the law instead of letting a Crack Hill sprout.
But the icing on the cake… as I said, they know everything, they know the numbers (1.500), they know how many rooms and how many pipes are needed, they know the names, I guess, and the records of everyone and who dates whom. They know everything and won’t do a thing. – Crack Hills Have Eyes: The Powerless Panopticon!
Now, when last weekend (first weekend of May 2021) and the next days neighbors were reported shooting firework mortars at crackheads, my, I can’t say I am surprised.
‘A Culture of Fear and Censorship‘
A Christian Finnish politician has been charged with multiple hate crimes, after she tweeted a Bible verse and criticised homosexuality, and could face up to 6 years in prison as a result. (National File)
“Paul Coleman, the Executive Director of ADF International, who is representing Päivi Räsänen: The Finnish Prosecutor General’s decision to bring these charges against Dr. Räsänen creates a culture of fear and censorship. It is sobering that such cases are becoming all too common throughout Europe. If committed civil servants like Päivi Räsänen are criminally charged for voicing their deeply held beliefs, it creates a chilling effect for everyone’s right to speak freely.”
When the laws are such, no one can be surprised that prosecuting authorities make use of them. What creates “a culture of fear and censorship” in Finland is not the charges but the very laws that trigger them. And make no mistake, grassroots movements for repealing hate speech laws do not exist in European countries where such laws exist.
First, you won’t hear a lawyer ask for a change in the law where judicial review is as good as non-existent, which I believe is the case in most European countries. As a matter of fact it is the case in France, where the judicial review of laws is the domain of a byzantine council where former members of the legislative and executive powers seat, that is, whose members are asked to review laws they passed in their former functions! Absent serious judicial review, no trial can be the occasion to revise legislation.
And there is and has been no support for repealing hate speech and other speech suppression laws among the public opinions of these countries, nor in the media nor from any group of which I know, probably because, among other things, people know they would go against a state-terror state that does not hesitate to deprive people of their freedom because of their speech. That is, where a state has hate speech and other such laws, asking to repeal these laws is a remarkably exigent demand on such a state, a demand for which one could easily be labeled an enemy of the state.
God Bless America.
The defence chosen by Räsänen’s lawyer is doomed. On the one hand he refuses to criticize the Finnish law, probably for the following reason: To criticize the law would be an argument for judicial review of the law, which is not available to the defendant (this is a mere conjecture, but if judicial review is available, clearly the lawyer ought to make use of it). On the other hand he criticizes the step taken by prosecuting authorities –that is, the charges– as contrary to a ‘cornerstone of democracy,’ freedom of speech, but as the charges are based on Finnish law the argument aims at the wrong target: Judges (it should be juries if you ask me but as I said we are dealing with a type of state devoid of refined conceptions of individual rights) will determine that the charges are conform to the law and condemn Räsänen. It is the law that is supposed to defend freedom of speech, so when the law requires to condemn someone for her speech, the judge, if not summoned to judicially review the law, will descry it as both defending speech and nonetheless instructing him or her to condemn someone for their speech because there are ‘necessary exceptions etc.’ Judges in their quality of ordinary judges are no judge of the law: They will examine the charges but they cannot, as ordinary judges, decide that the charges violate a fundamental guarantee when observing at the same time that the law commands the charges.
Political Cartel Persecution
In the parliamentary debates on the French bill against Muslim separatism the representative responsible for the bill (rapporteur général) said at some point that proselytism is forbidden, which is simply not true. Think of it, to claim religious freedom exists and at the same time declare that proselytism is forbidden! To be sure in recent years French authorities took measures to restrain proselytism in the surroundings of schools –I have no idea how such measures can even be applied, so stupid it looks: does it mean that people are forbidden to talk about religion in the surroundings of schools?– but of course proselytism is a fundamentam right. As if one had no right to proclaim their faith!
Then they say speech laws in France distinguish between criticizing a religion, which would be allowed, and derogatory speech against people because of their religion, which is hate speech. Such a distinction is meaningless; one would say, for instance, “Bahaism is a moronic religion” and that would be fine, but if they said “Bahaism is a religion of morons” that would be hate speech. On the one hand that means you can skirt the law by mere phrasing, by immaterial speech warps with no effect on the content. On the other hand, and this is the truth of this distinction, it means the whole thing is at the discretion of prosecuting authorities (and in France prosecutors are both at the orders of the government and from the same body as allegedly independent judges). There is no rule of law anymore, it’s government arbitrariness throughout.
Then, once they have told you that censorship does not exist in France, that only the judge can rule that such and such speech is illicit, they pass legislative bills allowing the government to shut down associations, close mosques, seize material etc based on alleged hate speech without prior intervention of a judge!
Recently, the head of a Muslim charity was under accusations linked with terrorism. For two years he was subjected to police surveillance restricting his freedom because of the judicial proceedings against him. At the end of two years the judge cleared him of all charges: He never had any connection with terrorism, the judge said. In response the administration shut down his organization and the government is now gloating over it. How do you call that, if not a police state?
Likely you won’t even find the word Islam or Muslim in the bill, it’s a catch-all text. The government says it’s against Muslim separatism, not Corsican separatism (an example given by a cabinet member), but a future government may use it against all separatists they want or all people they want to call separatists, and conversely instruct the administration and prosecutors to apply the law in no circumstance whatsoever to such and such other groups.
(When people who are the majority in the assembly of Corsica call themselves Corsican Nationalists, of course they are separatists because the ‘Nation’ is France, not Corsica. So the law can be aimed at them, no matter what the government says.)
But the truth of such catch-all bills is that they must be implemented discriminatorily. Short of being a catch-all text, the bill would be declared unconstitutional as a result of its discriminatory nature, so the intended discrimination is left to its application by the executive.
With the bill the government claims that restrictions on freedom of association are necessary to prevent foreign interference (Turkey was blamed several times in the public debate). When Iran and Venezuela did the same with the same arguments, this was described as dictatorial moves. I guess the same people will express no objection here, as the associations targeted are not the same and they pay lip service to principles, having only their narrow interests in mind.
Reading a U.S. conservative commentator describing the evils of Venezuela, I would like to call his attention on America’s French NATO ally.
This commentator tells how Venezuelan authorities stopped the airing of a TV soap about two sisters, Colombia and Venezuela, the latter, the bad one, having a dog called Little Hugo. Such a soap is not even imaginable in France, where recently private citizens have been held in police custody for mere jokes on the street (a placard reading Macronavirus) and others prosecuted for having beheaded an effigy of the president. After six months of police and judicial surveillance and a trial, these latter were not convicted. Still their ordeal was serious enough. And all this while a few months ago Kathy Griffin’s symbolic Trump beheading had been viral…
Satirical entertainment programs targeting the French president do not exist. In France the specific incrimination of insult to the head of state, actionable by prosecutors with no complaint filed and for which the principle “truth is no defense” obtained, was abolished in 2013 only.
The specific crime was abolished… so such speech is now regulated by the more general criminal law of insult to public officials, and in France insulting a public official is a more serious crime than insulting one’s neighbor.
Here there is no Western World but a New World and an Old World. (As long as antiterror laws in the U.S. do not blur the line – but still, as the same phenomenon leads legislators in Europe to push for even more repressive legislation, both the old and the new world going on the same path of repression a span will remain.) The “enlightened West” is a myth here. There is only one “enlightened” country, and it is the United States of America; all others are sh*thole countries, to speak like a former Potus. Hence the principle: Hate speech is a crime in sh*thole countries. (That is, all countries but the United States of America.)
Contemporary lèse-majesté laws in Europe
Let us make a short trip through these countries via Wikipedia pages on lèse-majesté (interesting that the English word for this is a French word precisely).
In Belgium, derogatory comments on the King or the royal family are punished with three years’ imprisonment.
In Denmark (where a legal Nazi Party exists), penalties for libel are doubled when the monarch or a member of the royal family are the targets (eight months’ imprisonment).
In Spain, two years.
In the Netherlands, “[i]n April 2018, the maximum punishment for lèse-majesté was reduced to four months, making it similar to that for insulting police officers and emergency workers.” (Before that date it was five years.)
The British monarchy seems to be more enlightened but this is according to Wikipedia and I keep some doubts about it.
In France, the specific incrimination as to the head of state (the President, endorsed with significant executive powers) was punished with one year’s imprisonment until 2000, when the law was changed and only a fine remained, before the law was eventually repealed in 2013 as I said in iv. The irony is that now the President is treated like other public officials and the penalty can be six months’ imprisonment, so between 2000 and 2013 the president was less “protected” than he is today and the repeal of 2013 was not even a progress of freedom of speech, quite the contrary.
In Italy, “impinging on the honour or prestige of the President is punishable with one to five years in jail.” The Italian President has more symbolic than executive power, so the incrimination is not as political a tool as it is in France, where the President is the person who actually governs (in most situations).
In Germany, “insulting the federal President is still illegal, but prosecution requires the authorisation of the President.” Same remark as for Italy: The German head of state has only symbolic powers.
In fact, these lèse-majesté laws are not the most relevant issue; one should look at libel law and how it protects public officials (like Presidents when they are a real executive power, as in France, U.S., and Iraq under Saddam Hussein) compared to other persons. Because then officials who are heads of state are political actors, so political criticism can be prosecuted as libel and political freedoms gagged.
Regarding other countries, in Morocco, it’s from one to five years’ imprisonment; in Brunei, up to three years. No major difference with the above, as you can see. – In comparison, in Thailand it’s from three to fifteen years’ imprisonment (and in Cambodia since 2018, from one to five years). In all these countries the monarch is a real executive power (no matter what the Constitution says in the last two).
Immigration and Consociationalism
Jus naturaliter speaking, legal migrants are under no compulsion to relinquish their worldviews: the moral contract with the host society is that they would be free in these societies just as the natives, and if the condition was that they had to denounce their views and living style, then they would eo ipso be second-rate citizens deprived of some fundamental freedoms.
Then, the truth about illegal immigrants is that they are wanted by the capitalists. In ancient democracies everybody was free and equal, “everybody,” that is, a handful of citizens surrounded by masses of slaves and helots. Same in the U.S. in Tocqueville’s time, all equal and free, but of course not the Negroes and not… the paupers (who had no voting and such rights, who knows how many people that made?) And it is the same today, we are all equal and free, but of course that doesn’t include the “illegal immigrants” who have been toiling in our sweating system for decades and without whom the system would crash overnight.
In this context, the Ottoman model is not a far-fetched idea. In modern political theory what’s known as consociationalism, or consociational democracy, may not be much remote from the functioning of the Ottoman polity or of any multiethnic empire of the past like the Austro-Hungarian empire also. What other alternative can there be, as Western societies have made the choice to accommodate masses of immigrants from other cultures, except complete suppression of cultures, a totalitarian mould raising the required conformity to levels so far unknown, even for the native populations?
Has this choice been forced on Western populations by so-called globalist elites? But then it means middle classes really had no grip on their polities, so what exactly are they defending? their own alienation?
An alternative to consociationalism may be the American constitutional theory as exposed by Supreme Court judges. Quoth:
“We are not an assimilative, homogeneous society, but a facilitative, pluralistic one, in which we must be willing to abide someone else’s unfamiliar or even repellant practice because the same tolerant impulse protects our own idiosyncracies. … In a community such as ours, ‘liberty’ must include the freedom not to conform. ” (Justice Brennan, on Michael H. v. Gerald D. )
That may make America look sound very liberal but I still perceive it as more conservative than continental Europe (it is no accident, by the way, that of all European countries the U.K. left the European Union), where we’ve got authoritarian liberalism whereas in the States it remains PC liberalism (enforced by political correctness, not police and tribunals).
Home Affairs Colonial Policy
The main French social-democratic student union (UNEF) is under fire, some politicians calling for no less than its disbandment. In cause two things.
1/ A local branch of the union dared denounce on their website two professors, quoting their words as “Islamophobic.”
I can’t find the words in question with a quick search, the media seem more interested in telling the public that the national board of the union apologized for what the local branch did. The media will simply not buy that the professors might have made Islamophobic, that is hate speech.
To be precise, the blame has to do with the fact that the union posted words and photographs of the two professors. Such a blame is quite harmful because with a recent bill French authorities created a new crime, that of publishing personal data with malicious intent. The context being the beheading of a teacher by a Muslim boy after data of the victim were published on the Web. So now the union, which has always been a leading student union in the country, is basically accused –on a subliminal level– of being calling for physical assassinations.
The character assassination they intended is perhaps objectionable enough in itself, but then it certainly is not the first time, in fact character assassination is the daily bread of political life, and it is also telling that the razzmatazz takes place when the accusation is that of Islamophobia. The crime, actually, for the powers that be, is to raise that cry: Islamophobia!
Please note that this comes a couple of weeks after the government ordered a report on “islamogauchisme” (“islamo-leftism”) in academia.
2/ Moreover, the union dared organize meetings without male and white people present, in order for colored women to talk freely about racism and sexism as they see and/or live it.
The establishment calls this “racism.” Thus we see how antidiscrimination laws or the antidiscrimination animus is used: in today’s France it means that colored people are not allowed to do anything without whites being present. You would think yourself in the colonies of old.
As I write both “Absent serious judicial review, no trial can be the occasion to revise legislation,” alluding to various countries including FR, and “the bill would be declared unconstitutional as a result of its discriminatory nature,” stressing the reality, in FR, of judicial review, I owe the reader a precision.
In FR judicial review of the law on the occasion of trials did not exist before 2008. In that country the traditional way of reviewing the constitutionality of laws is through parliament members of the opposition seizing the so-called Conseil constitutionnel when a law has just been passed. The French do not have a tradition of judicial review of laws through litigation and even since 2008 French courts cannot review the constitutionality of laws: they must refer the question, when raised, to the above-named council (whose decisions are unappealable).