April 9th, 2012

Your rights end where my feelings begin

For all the outrage that is expressed here over what people say on the internet, no one here would advocate legal action, right?

[ Well, you can in the UK.]

The Daily Mail and Telegraph said that Stacey was guilty of "racially aggravated harassment". The Guardian said the charge was "incitement to racial hatred", then altered its website to say he "pleaded guilty to the Racially Aggravated s4A Public Order Act 1986" (which is a hard phrase to understand grammatically, never mind legally – can you plead guilty to an Act?).

ITV, perhaps confused and wanting to cover all bases, said Stacey's crime was "racially aggravated harassment and disorder".

Well, which is it?

I've found the tweets, after quite some scrabbling in the bowels of the internet, and they weren't harassment. Having some faith in the law, but a greater faith in the OED, I know that "harassment" must involve pestering someone repeatedly or persistently. Stacey tweeted five or six people, but only once each.

Incitement? No. Disorder? Not in the context of the internet, but we'll come to that.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/apr/08/victoria-coren-liam-stacey-tweets

Some of the tweets in question: http://imgur.com/aUjzT

This is one of those times where I'm glad to be in America. I know that Europe has a rich history of bad things resulting from free speech, so I can understand Germany's zero tolerance policy on Nazism and Nazi paraphernalia, but let's get real here. This is where we need to draw the line between what's morally acceptable and what's legally acceptable. For all the hate we dispense on Westboro, PETA, and Scientology, the other side of the coin is this.

When people throw away their anonymity, what constitutes going 'too far' with just words?
Слушам и не вярвам на очите си!
  • htpcl

Waiting for a miracle

Salaam alaikum, akhii wa ukhtii brothaz & sistaz! A long time ago a former Syrian president probably made the best depiction of the relation between Syrians and authority: "Half claim the vocation of leader, a quarter believe they are prophets, and at least ten percent take themselves for gods". This aphorism belongs to Shukri al-Quwatli and it explains the difficulties the so-called "friends of Syria" (Hillary Clinton among them) are having with defining "our friend the Syrian people". Just take a look at the recent international meeting in Tunisia. It also failed to bring any clarity on the issue. Now the rebels are feeling abandoned, and the Syrian opposition remains as divided as ever.

In Tunisia the Syrian National Council couldn't come up as a united body representing the opposition forces. And how could it? Most of its members have an air of selfishness about themselves that's so dense it borders on narcissism. They're stuck in hopeless bickering, and they've eventually let themselves get dominated by the Islamists. Meanwhile, until now they haven't welcomed even one Alawite, although this could've been such a simple and yet powerfully symbolic gesture of unity and reconciliation. All that matters is that the hated Assad clique is coming from that sect, plus many of the top guys in the state security forces. So that's a sufficient reason to completely marginalize an entire segment of the Syrian society. And that's just one example.

In Tunisia the National Council requested arms for the rebels, but the "friends of Syria" are still hesitating, and for a reason. A humanitarian corridor, a buffer zone, a no-fly zone - all these ideas contain a serious potential for escalation, and that scares the West.

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