Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Outlawing "annoyance" is Cameron's crassest law

It beggars belief that the Government which (finally) amended Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986, thereby restoring the right to be "insulting", should now seek to outlaw "annoyance". If the prohibition on being insulting had a chilling effect on the freedoms of speech and expression, the further censoriousness which will result from the abolition of the right to annoy will be positively glacial.

Today the House of Lords debates the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill, which seeks to replace ASBOs with IPNAs - Injunction to Prevent Nuisance and Disorder. Courts will be free to impose these upon anyone engaging - or threatening to engage - in "conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to any person".

The Home Office has said the new injunctions would never be imposed in an unreasonable way.

But, of course, they can give no such assurance.

The outlawing of "insulting" resulted in the arrest of Christian preachers, critics of Scientology, and a student who made a joke about a horse being gay. Laws have unintended consequences, especially when interpreted by over-zealous police officers eager to bend over backwards to please every aggrieved minority.

When is insulting not annoying? What insult is not an annoyance? If you criticise Scientology for being religiously rubbish, or a scientologist for being boneheaded, have you insulted the cult or annoyed the adherent? Why should you be free to engage in the former but not the latter? If you tell a police horse that it "looks gay", have you insulted the horse or annoyed the police officer? Is ridicule of Islam insulting to Muslims? Is not the mere expression of a contrary view to the prevailing orthodoxy going to be an "annoyance" to someone? And what about sarcasm and satire? Are not the concepts of insulting and annoying not borne of the same sensitivities and intolerance? Does that intolerance not impinge upon free expression and free protest?

Is the gospel not annoying? Is preaching Christ crucified not annoying? Are those who proclaim the Good News not a damned nuisance? What authority presumes to limit the freedom of the believer to annoy people in the proclamation of salvation? What legalism may impinge upon the liberty to exhort the repudiation of the world, the flesh and the devil?

The freedom the Christian requires is the freedom to walk in spirit and in truth. The truth can be annoying, and we are no longer free agents if we may not speak it. 'Christ alone' brings the world-order to its fulfilment, and that might annoy those who believe salvation is found in others elsewhere. Our religious liberty is dependent upon the state's ordering of the conditions for free expression - of what must conform and what may disconform; of where we must obey and the extent to which we may rebel.

The Christian will not go out of his way to be annoying or cause a nuisance. But Jesus is "a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient" (1Pt 2:8). To preach Christ is to cause offence to those who are being lost. To cause offence is to annoy.

Section 5 of the Public Order Act was routinely abused by over-zealous police officers and prosecutors, simply because "insulting" is an undetermined threshold and outrage very much in the mind of the being. And so it is with Clause 1 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill: "annoyed" is what one freely chooses to be.

Their Lordships need our prayers today: this odious bill must be amended. Please support the campaign to Reform Clause 1.

UPDATE, 7.00pm:

The House of Lords voted overwhelmingly for an amendment to this Bill.

Former Chief Constable Lord Dear tabled the amendment to replace the "nuisance or annoyance" threshold with the test of causing "harassment, alarm or distress". Senior lawyers across political parties agreed that IPNAs were a real risk to free speech allowing courts to issue injunctions against those – including street preachers and buskers – who breached political correctness.

The test of causing "harassment, alarm or distress" would protect free speech while still allowing the courts to tackle anti-social behaviour.

Crossbench and Labour Peers, together with Tory rebels, voted against the Government, and Lord Dear’s amendment was passed by a resounding 306 votes to 178.

The Government will now have to decide how to respond.

His Grace would like to thank his readers and communicants for their prayers and support.


Blogger Andrew Shakespeare said...

"The Home Office has said the new injunctions would never be imposed in an unreasonable way."

Passing laws on the premise that they won't be enforced strikes me as stupid, at best.

8 January 2014 at 09:42  
Blogger The Explorer said...

"in an unreasonable way". According to whose reason?

We are back in MacPherson territory: "An incident is racist if it is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person."

8 January 2014 at 10:00  
Blogger Martin said...

"The Home Office has said the new injunctions would never be imposed in an unreasonable way."

One has to wonder what world they are living in. We have had example after example of laws being used in an unreasonable way, and yet they can say this.

We seem to have a generation of law makers who are incapable of defining what they mean, I expect we shall see a law being passed to ensure we are 'nice' to each other at some stage.

We have a marvelous example of non definition in the Equality Act 2010:

12 Sexual orientation

(1)Sexual orientation means a person's sexual orientation towards—

(a)persons of the same sex,

(b)persons of the opposite sex, or

(c)persons of either sex.

(2)In relation to the protected characteristic of sexual orientation—

(a)a reference to a person who has a particular protected characteristic is a reference to a person who is of a particular sexual orientation;

(b)a reference to persons who share a protected characteristic is a reference to persons who are of the same sexual orientation.

So what does that incoherent nonsense mean? They seem incapable of defining sexual orientation and just use the same words!

Just a moment while I pick up my soap box & I'll be off.

8 January 2014 at 10:17  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...


Just a moment while I pick up my soap box & I'll be off.

Two possible answers occur to me:

(1) Good luck, and make the most of it while you still can.

(2) Go ahead, you've got nothing to worry about. If anybody dares to heckle you, you can get them nicked on a charge of annoyance.

It'll be an interesting test of what is consiodered "reasonable".

8 January 2014 at 10:29  
Blogger gentlemind said...

I recently spotted a man trying to break into a house, so I called the police - much to his annoyance. They arrested him - much to his annoyance.

8 January 2014 at 10:32  
Blogger gentlemind said...

And...I recently spotted a man trying to break into a house, so I called the police - much to his annoyance. They arrested me - much to my annoyance.

8 January 2014 at 10:35  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Well, I don't know about anybody else, but I find political canvassing on the doorstep extremely annoying, as well as party political broadcasts on the magic lantern...can we call the Peelers?

8 January 2014 at 10:42  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Not to mention the constant vomiting out of legislation from Westminster...

8 January 2014 at 10:43  
Blogger The Explorer said...

gentlemind continued.

So I called the police: much to THEIR annoyance.

When we reach that state we really will be in trouble.

8 January 2014 at 10:43  
Blogger Martin said...


You are becoming annoying. ;-)

8 January 2014 at 10:47  
Blogger gentlemind said...

Thank you The Explorer and Martin, for finishing things off :)

We don't quite realise it yet, but we are living in a land where there is only one law. That law is "there is no law" - and it must be ruthlessly enforced.

8 January 2014 at 11:30  
Blogger God's Toddler said...

Oh dear. I EXPECT to be annoyed. Otherwise how will I ever be challenged? Especially in a faith which seeks to re-mould me out of my comfort zone.

8 January 2014 at 11:41  
Blogger Preacher said...

If this insane law is passed then many of us will have to decide, as the first disciples did. Whether it is right to obey God or man.
Paul speaks extensively about the gospel being an offence to many, but it didn't stop him from preaching it.
We may be forced to choose who we serve & which authority is higher, God or man.
The irony is that in attempting to remove the right of free speech with the intention of keeping the peace, Those most at loss will be the ones who will be denied the right to choose for themselves what, if any belief they wish to follow.
The assumption behind this latest ill thought out piece of legal garbage is that the people of Britain no longer have the ability or intelligence to think for themselves & decide which course to take without resource to law.

IMO this gagging of the populace MUST be opposed, for the good of all.

8 January 2014 at 11:44  
Blogger Len said...

As we enter further and further in the 'black hole' which is the Humanistic State which most of Europe(if not further afield ) seems to be embracing we have more and more 'politically correct' laws being enforced to try and prop up our ever failing, rapidly collapsing society.Was the Tower of Babel ever this shaky?.
How far we are going to fall down this black hole no one seems to know for sure but there seems to be no turning back as the gravitational forces of sin ignorance and denial propel us ever forward.
Christians stand out the perimeter shouting out warnings but the course seems to be set , the ears are plugged as they hurtle ever onwards.
There seems to be a sort of madness which is spreading throughout those who are leading us and we Christians can only look only look on in a sense of bewilderment and horror.

8 January 2014 at 12:09  
Blogger Martin said...


You have it to a T. Law has been abandoned, there is no law and everyone does what is right in their own mind.

8 January 2014 at 12:16  
Blogger Owl said...

The law is now quite clear.

It is whatever Cameron and cronies say it is at the time when thay need it to stop anyone annoying them for any reason whatsoever at their own discretion.

Fabianism run riot.

I am starting to get annoyed with Dave, should I call the police?

8 January 2014 at 12:24  
Blogger Anglican said...

For some years now I have believed that an insanity virus is infecting most of the political, cultural, judicial, educational and media leaders (the ruling elite) of the western world. It is also infecting some (many?) Christian leaders. There seems no other possible explanation, and any insane proposal may now pass into legislation. The only antidote is the Christian Gospel, which of course the ruling elites have abandoned.

8 January 2014 at 12:41  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

And yet today we can read on BBC news that just under half of those who molest children under 13 are NOT sent to jail.

Are we too busy jailing those who upset the sensitivities of a supposed mature adult to have space to protect innocent children?

Because we do not seem to be jailing the right people. Now the Huhnes were naughty- but in a rather too horribly understandable way- but they did not traumatise any children, and yet we imprisoned them (when hefty fine would have been cheaper and more just) but we allow child molesters to remain free and potentially traumatise more children, all too many of whom will turn to drugs to self medicate (more crime) or suicide (waste of life, traumatised relations & more police time outlaid).

Why can we not prioritise sensibly?
Why do we not prioritise our children more?

8 January 2014 at 12:59  
Blogger English Pensioner said...

I'm annoyed every time I go to the local shopping centre and see a female (well I suppose it is a female) wearing a burqa.
Would I be able to get an order banning anyone from annoying me in that manner?

8 January 2014 at 13:01  
Blogger David B said...

Christians should not be prevented by law from preaching something that might be deemed as causing annoyance to me.

Perhaps by saying that, as an atheist, I will not only spend the rest of eternity burning in agony, but deserve to do so.

By the same token,though, I should not be prevented by law from saying something that might be deemed as causing annoyance to them, like prhaps, under some circumstances, responding that their religion seems to me deeply damaging to the moral compass of at least some of its adherence.

And of course what is sauce for Catholics is sauce for protestants, and what is sauce for Christians is sauce for Islam.

I think that, for once in a while, we are pulling for the same team on this one.


8 January 2014 at 13:10  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Your Grace is totally justified in expressing the views contained in this article.

Len @ 12.09 and Anglican @ 12.41 ,

sum it up nicely. This is a perverse way to proceed.

I do believe that our MPs are of a very low calibre in terms of basic wisdom and knowledge of society functions. I have little respect for the bulk of the establishment, as described by others above, and feel that we need little short of a root and branch replacement of such ideas and people.

8 January 2014 at 13:12  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

This is essentially a law prohibiting blasphemy against the Zeitgeist and that is how it will come to be enforced. It won't matter if you annoy Bob or Bill. It will only matter if you annoy the spirit of the age.


8 January 2014 at 13:22  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

David B

I think that, for once in a while, we are pulling for the same team on this one.

Me too, David. Surely every commenter here, every last one of His Grace's communicants, including not only the atheists but even the a-theists, will say the same.


8 January 2014 at 13:33  
Blogger The Explorer said...

"Whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad."

The gods must really have it in for our current crop of politicians.

8 January 2014 at 13:59  
Blogger graham wood said...

How amazing that our "representative" MPs in the H of C have unfettered free speech whilst in the chamber.
By stark contrast these very same hypocrites seek constantly to gag their constituents and the electorate by unnecessary laws in total contempt of those they claim to speak for.

8 January 2014 at 13:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is plain bonkers. Who defines annoyance? My suspicion is that this is a synonym for intolerance, the only unforgivable sin of the present age.

8 January 2014 at 14:07  
Blogger The Justice of the Peace said...

Couldn`t agree more, YG

8 January 2014 at 14:16  
Blogger Elby the Beserk said...

I'm all for it. We could prosecute every MP for annoying us.

8 January 2014 at 14:21  
Blogger IanCad said...

Although I am against the death penalty, I do think that it should be reinstated for a while.

Let us hang a few of these treasonous wretches right now.

It will save the lives of thousands who, in the future, will have to die in order to replace our, so lightly discarded, liberties.

Peter Tatchell did sterling work on the BBC World Service this morning.

8 January 2014 at 14:47  
Blogger seanrobsville said...

It's good to see that the CofE is ahead of the game in removing any wording that might be annoying to the Devil from the baptism service.

8 January 2014 at 15:11  
Blogger john in cheshire said...

Who asked for this new law? I don't recall taking part in any national debate on this matter.

8 January 2014 at 15:24  
Blogger The Flying Spaghetti Monster said...

Let us pray that our foolish politicians are touched by His noodly appendage and realise the error of their ways. May His Holy Meatballs save us from their madness!

8 January 2014 at 15:32  
Blogger Philip said...

Of course, as he often is, HG is absolutely correct.

Yes the Gospel and Biblical truth is annoying and a nuisance to those who refuse to repent and who love darkness rather than light because of their evil deeds (Jn 3:19). Given the use of the former "insults" law, one can easily see how useful the IPNAs can be to such people if they wish to silence the preaching of the Bible in public places. I hope one can be forgiven for suspecting that Mr Cameron gave in and agreed to scrap the "insults" offence knowing he had plans to introduce something worse, the IPNAs.

Or to put is another way, of likely targets of this law suich as buskers, political protesters, evangelists (when they, for example, quote Bible texts on sexual ethics), one can guess which of these will be a priority target of those anxious to use this law to censor expressions of views they disagree with.

Anyway, this is of course typical of the law and order priorities of our ruling metropolitan lib-left elite (Cameron/Lib/Lab): put many hitherto innocent and harmless activities and people potentially on the wrong side of the law. While at the same time sex-offenders, violent offenders and burglars get let off jail terms.

8 January 2014 at 16:04  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Excellent post Cranmer. I emailed my MP today to seek his support to re-examine and amend this stupid unworkable con-trick that usurps even further, our right to freedom of expression. No need to guess the identity of the 'minority' that has pushed for this!

Never would I have thought I'd see the day to witness a British government let alone a Conservative one acting more like the Socialist Workers Party in screwing down the lid of individual freedom such as this is.

8 January 2014 at 16:04  
Blogger Jesuestomihi said...

Whooppee. Presumably, if this law is passed the BBC will stop broadcasting to my house, the Labour Party will disband and Glasgow's entire traffic planning department will disappear in a puff of smoke

8 January 2014 at 16:25  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Carl has it right that it will be the zeitgeist, not the hoi polloi who will determine, willy-nilly, what is "annoying." And I'd add that the authors are far from stupid; they know exactly where they want to go and how to get there and these, including the seeming stupidity of the bill, are just the optics and formalities.

You'll all see that at first there will be some entertaining cases before the courts, just for appearances sake, to make it seem as if the authorities are honestly struggling to be reasonable, but soon enough "annoying" will be formally and strictly redefined. This is the great shift from the common law of "everything not banned is permitted," to the Roman law's "everything not permitted is banned."

The jokes will peter-off as policy booklets come out for the police, the Crown Attorney and the judges, who will be calling the shots. And those will take instruction from the government, the loudest and most favoured grievance and activist groups, UN and EU officials, academia and the shadowy elites. What's more, those in charge and with influence already know what will be annoying and what not, it's just a question of first removing the annoying obstacles, the liberties we once, long ago, took for granted.

8 January 2014 at 16:53  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

" Is not the mere expression of a contrary view to the prevailing orthodoxy going to be an "annoyance" to someone? And what about sarcasm and satire? Are not the concepts of insulting and annoying not borne of the same sensitivities and intolerance? Does that intolerance not impinge upon free expression and free protest?"

Well, it appears that old Ernst will be hung, drawn and quartered should this go through...But what a 'nice little earner' this should be for the 'On the spot' fining numpties that pose as Police, Council wardens and their ilk, to pass on their ill gotten gains to the HM treasury?

They have tucked the free press up nicely so now it's the turn of the great unwashed to know who their masters/superiors are (some animals just happen to be more equal than others) and that there is an old navy saying, "The hand that w**ks the captain steers the ship". We appear to be spoilt for choices at to guessing who owns the hand!*YUK*

Let us pray for a rudderless salvage operation in 2015 from the three homogeneous crooked parties pretending to represent the interests of our nation. (Is it a given that UKIP, who profess to be libertarians, will presumably be up in arms about the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill…. It seems quiet at the moment)


8 January 2014 at 17:27  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

This Clause 1 is really really stupid and shows that the ConDims are thick and unoriginal. It seems they have taken the idea from a rental tenancy agreement. It smacks of Injunctions that noisy, aggressive, nuisance and annoying neighbours would get served on them not for national criminal and civil laws.

8 January 2014 at 17:56  
Blogger Roy said...

Martin said:

12 Sexual orientation

(1)Sexual orientation means a person's sexual orientation towards—

(a)persons of the same sex,

(b)persons of the opposite sex, or

(c)persons of either sex.

Why on earth is same-sex attraction listed first? Our lawmakers must be completely estranged from nature not to list heterosexuality as the default option.

8 January 2014 at 18:00  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

This kind if bill isn't about annoying behavior. It will be used to attach legal sanctions when certain ideas are brought into the public square. It is intended to limit the allowable range of public discourse. If you imagine someone publicly advocating to outlaw abortion and being met with the charge "BLASPHEMER!" then you understand this law perfectly.


8 January 2014 at 18:04  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

Absolutely diabolical. Our precious freedoms being wiped out by a Conservative Prime Minister of all things.

How has it got to this state of affairs. Where is the resistance within the party ? Surely there are some conservatives left, they can’t all have decamped to UKIP !

The Inspector recalls a couple of years ago when he was still allowed to comment on Pink News. Obviously, the crowd over there strongly disagreed with what the Christian message was, and there were calls to the inmates to report the Inspectorate to the police ! Stoke Newington station, for some reason. Perhaps the public servants (policemen) who man that establishment are particularly gay obliging. We just don’t know if that is the case. But we do know this – if you don’t want the Inspector breaking rocks in the hot sun, or His Grace sewing mailbags come to that, this change in the law MUST be defeated.

Defeated, I say !!

8 January 2014 at 18:48  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

More thought.

It is not beyond the realms of reality to imagine different police stations in the metropolis specialising in different annoyances. We could have one for Christian street preachers, another for annoyance caused by muslims being, well, muslim. They would in time become centres of excellence in what they do, as well as centres of persecution. However, blessed as we are with muslim types, one suspects this law in the making will be, how can one put this, ‘altered’ to avoid the possibility of upsetting them. Ironically, their strong darling presence in England may actually see our overall freedoms protected…

8 January 2014 at 19:00  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

This might be of relevance, so one throws it into the ring. Big Gay have been pressing for a Hate Crime law of late. Easy to imagine that would include mere criticism. This law is one way to achieve that. Whether this is continued Prime Ministerial pandering to ‘the cause’ should be debated, while we still can !

By the way, if any of you good folk were ever curious as to what goes on inside a gay sauna, go over to PN now. It’s quite ‘annoying’ to read, as this is part of what they want socially accepted and to be above criticism...

Well, not so much annoying, as disgusting...

8 January 2014 at 19:10  
Blogger The Explorer said...

I suspect most of us on this Blog would end up breaking rocks with you, Inspector.

Do you think they'd have the power to arrest Americans and Canadians?

8 January 2014 at 19:18  
Blogger Nick said...

David B

"... as an atheist, I will not only spend the rest of eternity burning in agony, but deserve to do so"

For once David, I think you're probably right.

8 January 2014 at 19:45  
Blogger Nick said...

Some good news, the Lords have just voted overwhelmingly for the amendmant to the Bill, thanks to forner Cjief Constable Lord Dear.

The new test would be that of causing "harassment, alarm, or distress", which would make it more difficult to prosecute someone. Even some Labour peers voted for the amendment.

8 January 2014 at 19:51  
Blogger Len said...

As our leaders(whoever they are?) seek to bring about 'a brave new society built on 'logic and reason' but there are a few 'obstacles' which will have to be removed(or at least silenced)
All things which provided any sort of stability will have to be removed starting with the Family Unit,Christian Foundations,The Economy (get people into as much debt as possible)Nationalism, National Sovereignty,and Marriage.
Is there a pattern beginning to emerge?....You bet!.

All this has been done in the name of 'Human Rights', 'Freedom of the individual' etc and most people have embraced these 'freedoms ' as a good idea' how clever was that!.
Once you have removed these 'obstacles' then you can provide the solution which is a group of unelected elites doing your thinking and deciding what is best for all of you!

And you let them do it..

They have been very clever though quite enlightened one might say(whilst you can)

8 January 2014 at 19:56  
Blogger Roy said...

The Home Office has said the new injunctions would never be imposed in an unreasonable way.

Does the Home Office think that the way in which local authorities have used the anti-terrorism laws is reasonable?

Half of councils use anti-terror laws to spy on 'bin crimes'

Spy law 'used in dog fouling war'

8 January 2014 at 21:03  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Happy Jack says whatever the 'law' other pressure will be brought to bear anyway.

Look what is being reported about Holyfield's comment that being homosexual "ain’t normal ... the Bible lets you know there’s wrong, there’s right”.

Holyfield was told by Channel 5 his views and the language he used could be seen as extremely offensive to many people and was warned to think carefully about repeating them.

8 January 2014 at 21:52  
Blogger Malcolm Smith said...

Pardon me for appearing to be stupid, but aren't there already common law offences known as "disturbing the peace" and "public nuisance", which have established meanings through centuries of interpretation? Exactly where have they fallen short? And why shouldn't they be marginally amended if they have?

8 January 2014 at 22:17  
Blogger Frater minor said...

But why oh why is anyone surprised at this?

Remember how Isaiah was treated, and Jeremiah, and Elijah, and Stephen, and Paul, and Peter?

Pretty much all of God's chosen prophets and apostles were brought up before the Beak at some time in their ministries (indeed, many times), and if some of us have to take the same path, well, that is simply the cost of discipleship.

Jesus never promised us an easy ride, but he did promise that our message would be opposed.

Remember the wise virgins, and keep oil in your lamps! He will come as a thief in the night, and blessed are those who are prepared and still standing.

Frater minor

8 January 2014 at 22:32  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Happy Jack has been before the beak on many occasions. Its all very civilised and polite and not frightening at all. And, if found guilty, you can even ask for time to pay the fine. Community Service can be a bit of a drag if you have to get up too early. Even prison is cosy and you get to watch television for free and get visits. You just need to watch the other prisons but first timers get put in the easier places and you do have access to counsellors anyway.

8 January 2014 at 22:56  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...


You and David B are right, I imagine, but what on earth is an "a-theist"?

Is this one of those things where the trendy kids don't want to be like everyone else? Sounds very southbank to me.

9 January 2014 at 00:32  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

AnonymousInBelfast, Happy Jack is "A Theist" as he believes in one God. Maybe the 'a-theists' are hedging their bets.


9 January 2014 at 00:42  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

I don't much understand the rationale behind the law change - and I cannot for a moment believe that the defence that "this will not be misused" is seriously regarded by anyone in power. The whole thing is utterly puzzling, and I can well understand why some people begin to find conspiracy the most likely explanation.

I suspect it's more to do with politics-by-platitude. This is just more of the same: lawmaking on the precious feelings of some swing-voter somewhere who will likely never bother to vote, and irratating almost everyone else who will probably refuse to vote.

Like most things, the problem is solved if you have sensible officers of the law, and if people are restrained. I doubt they will be, and I await the day when the Christian Institute starts some form of prosecution on the same basis. There was much to be said for a system where someone bringing a plainly-obvious triviality before the courts was more likely to be told "on your bike", or better yet, threatened with wasting court time. A different age.

Thank goodness we're Progressing - I can't imagine what it would be like if we weren't.

9 January 2014 at 00:42  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

@Malcolm Smith: Pardon me for appearing to be stupid, but aren't there already common law offences known as "disturbing the peace" and "public nuisance", which have established meanings through centuries of interpretation? Exactly where have they fallen short? And why shouldn't they be marginally amended if they have?

Well, Mr Smith, if you're stupid, then so am I, because every now and then I scratch my head and ask myself the same question. What's with all these creative and inventive legislations that get yakked about for years at times, cost millions by the time everyone from lawyers, professors, NGOs and the ubiquitous social workers had a chance to bill us tax serfs?

Two exampes I can think of off the top my head is the squeegee "kids" here in Toronto who lunge at cars and start smearing drivers' windows at stoplights and demand money for the "service" and the banal burka issue. The squeegee kid case went through commissions, courts, presentations by amici curiae, debates and whatnots centering around the issue of the human rights of drivers and mendicants. Meanwhile, everyone seemed to forget traffic laws, which prohibit people from walking around streets and highways in traffic, endangering themselves and others. The burka, which obscures the face of the wearer, also excited big talk about cultural and religious rights and freedoms, and our kooky province, Quebec, is trying to ban all personal religious symbols...crosses (only if they are "too big", stars of David, kippas and whatever some special commission decides...just to get at the burka babes. Meanwhile, existing laws against wearing disguises and obscuring the face got forgotten. If I were to take a walk down my neighbourhood with a bandana over my face, I give the cops half an hour before they respond to someone's call, whoop their siren, stop me and ask me what the Hell I think I'm doing. But not if I were to wear a burka.

The only answer I can think of is that legislators are going after something else, something bigger. The old common law offenses just aren't broad enough and what's more they limit the judge to using precedent and, well, common sense. The new rules, though, will be unencumbered by tradition and will be decided and adjudicated by extra-judicial commissions and councils, with exemptions, exceptions, privileges, winks and nudges.

But that's tradition too, in a way. I believe in your country it was called the Star Chamber.

9 January 2014 at 02:04  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

@ Inspector: But we do know this – if you don’t want the Inspector breaking rocks in the hot sun, or His Grace sewing mailbags come to that, this change in the law MUST be defeated.

Hmm. Almost tempting to see this one passed just to see the Inspector in his cravat, a porkpie hat and Edwardian suit cursing a mound of rocks all day and His Grace's demented-looking, open-bottomed Royal Mail bags.

9 January 2014 at 02:18  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

@ The Explorer: I suspect most of us on this Blog would end up breaking rocks with you, Inspector....Do you think they'd have the power to arrest Americans and Canadians?

Hey, hey, HEY! Crazy talk. None of that, don't go around volunteering ideas!

9 January 2014 at 02:24  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Avi, Happy Jack sees you said, "Well, Mr Smith, if you're stupid, then so am I ..."

Jack will not comment.


9 January 2014 at 02:28  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

You got it, Jack, you know when it's best to leave something unsaid.

9 January 2014 at 02:39  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9 January 2014 at 02:43  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

I wouldn't worry about it, Explorer. Canadians don't get arrested. The closest a Canadian comes to breaking the law is trumping his partner's ace.


9 January 2014 at 02:44  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Carl, I might have snickered at that one, but I haven't the foggiest when it comes to cards. Handled them for the first time a couple of years ago when my daughter made me play a game of Crazy Eights and gave up on me because I wasn't getting it. Now, if it was a Scrabble joke...

You guys have heard of Scrabble in the old US of A I hope? Probably need only half the letters with what goes for spelling there. And you have to leave your revolvers at the door.

9 January 2014 at 03:22  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


I hate Scrabble. Hate it. With a passion. And don't jump to any conclusions. It is totally a coincidence that my wife loves Scrabble. And it has nothing to do with the fact that she ruthlessly cheats at the game - almost as ruthlessly as she cheats at Backgammon. (Sure, I believe it was just 'good luck' when she rolled two consecutive double sixes to win that game.) She must be cheating. There is no other rational explanation.

And, yes, we Americans have dramatically improved the efficiency of English spelling. You should admire us for conserving the world's supply of U's for future generations.


9 January 2014 at 03:43  
Blogger scottspeig said...

Still a problem (although less of one). Tell me, do not the truths of scripture cause distress and alarm? They ought to!

9 January 2014 at 08:27  
Blogger ENGLISHMAN said...

Because the English people will not unite,this tyranny will only get worse.Surely no-one here can be unaware that this is the product of the Marxist/fabianist new world order for their plans are published in many forms,but people think that if they keep their heads down the beast will ignore them,it will NOT,for it seeks dominion over every aspect of a humans existence and this is only the beginning of its intrusion into the individuals mind and soul,why do you think that every policy of the ruling elite sweeps across the western world,although implemented differently in different countries the results are identical,from race replacement to queer marriage ,the aim is to de-stabilise our societies ,precisely as weishaupt decreed,in order to force us into a return to vassalage,without any rights whatsoever,all of this is glaringly apparent to anyone with any vestige of intelligence,and yet they ignore the obligations of their rank and abandon their charges to a despicable fate.Still you will vote next time for these very people who now tyrannise us,with the disclaimer "what can I do about it"and soon when this elite decides who is allowed to live and who will be euthanased,please remember that you did absolutely nothing to preserve your country and assisted in its demise.

9 January 2014 at 09:20  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

carl jacobs

Have you tried liar dice, Carl? It has the inbuilt advantage of being a game that women never seem to be very good at. They don’t seem to enjoy it much, either, on the whole, though I’m not sure which is the cause and which is the effect. Is it because they’re not very good at it that it’s difficult for them to enjoy it? Or is it because they don’t enjoy playing it that they never seem to improve their game?

Better not go into the implications of all this for feminism and the sex wars.


9 January 2014 at 09:33  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

O, for goodness' sake, Carl! Get up off that floor and cease your blubbering, man. How ever can anyone cheat at Scrabble?

Backgammon I can understand; my own mother of blessed memory somehow rolled the right numbers all the time and repeatedly thrashed Ontario's provincial champion, and this she did with an unseemly, humiliating glee which made one side with the poor chap. Yes, against my own mother.

But Scrabble? Don't you have a Scrabble dictionary? Don't you ever challenge the words she probably makes up? Hint: When she drops all her high-value letters and spells out QUAZWHES right over the crimson triple-word square and attaches it with the "S" to HYGEW(S), take a deep breath, stand up like a man, look her in the eyes and in clear, resounding voice say, "challenge!" And you will be a man again.

Me, I'm a decent Scrabble scrapper, but never once did win a single game, or even came close to winning against my father in law, an emeritus Cambridge professor who insults me by nodding off as he waits for me to finish my turn. I still feel inadequate, not good enough for his daughter.

9 January 2014 at 09:58  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Goodness! I have spent many a happy hour in the library of The Palace playing 'Scrabble' with my Lord the Bishop. The problem comes when Mr. Slope wants a game. He displays a knowledge of Anglo-Saxon verbs that would make a stevedore blush. As for feeling inadequate, dear Avi, is that a man-thing?

10 January 2014 at 16:21  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Dear Carl, are you therefore saying Americans are decidedly non-U?

10 January 2014 at 16:23  
Blogger John M Ward said...

As usually happens in discussions such as this, it is the symptoms of the malaise that are being focussed upon, leaving the real issue untouched and free to carry on unimpeded.

It is the already-foretold Satanic programme that is behind all of this; and even if this attempt to control us (in pursuance of the totalitarian world-government that is effectively already in place, in framework) should fail this time, next year another attempt will be made, and so on until those influences succeed.

We have seen it before, including in recent years.

It is somewhat similar to E E 'Doc' Smith's Boskone, where regardless of whether we are dealing with Hemuth the Kalonian, the Eich, or even as high as the Ploorans – or through any other branch – the real drivers were always the Eddorians.

There is a lesson we can all draw from that model, and it is that Satan works in much the same way.

Whether the political Left, their buddies (e.g. Trades Unions and left-wing Think Tanks), complicit 'mandarins', secret societies, Common Purpose, malign influences within some churches, or any other route is what we perceive as the perpetrators of the oncoming totalitarian British society, all of it – all – originates with the devil himself.

Corruptible humans, of whom there are so many, are merely the functionaries. They have to be dealt with, yes, and their plans stopped – but we must never lose sight of the vast plan that lies behind all of this. The Book of Revelation and other parts of the Bible warned us long ago, and we need to be guided by them now.

14 January 2014 at 14:04  

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