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Good for the arabs, but not good for us
August 14, 2011 12:38 AM   Subscribe


 
Chinese and Iran heads of state must seriously be laughing now...
posted by knz at 12:38 AM on August 14, 2011 [15 favorites]


You know who else used media for violence?
posted by Samuel Farrow at 12:48 AM on August 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


We are fucking fucked.
posted by dirigibleman at 12:52 AM on August 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


There's no debate in the US. San Francisco shut down cell towers this week to avoid a protest. Not rioting, just a protest.
posted by y6y6y6 at 12:58 AM on August 14, 2011 [10 favorites]


I think it's important to set this article in context, because what's going on in Britain is a bit different from the recent American debates (although there are interesting parallels).

Here's the thing: David Cameron and the Tory party are attempting to pass across the board austerity measures in Britain. These measures won't really help the economy - they represent exactly the sort of muddle-headed thinking that Keynes had to overturn in the 1930s - but what they will do is to destroy or seriously hamper all sorts of useful public services that middle and working class people use all the time, but that the Tories oppose for ideological reasons.

Among the public services under Tory attack: the police.

At the moment, in Britain, the London public seem to be broadly supportive of the police. Even people who say that we need to understand the rioters - see here, for a funny but thoughtful piece by Russell Brand on the subject - generally are also saying that they think the police did a good job. As people going out to make tea for the police suggests, most middle-class Londoners strongly appreciate the job the police have been doing.

The prime minister, meanwhile, is talking tough about social networks on the one hand, while insisting on police cuts on the other.

The point is: it isn't about "law and order" versus "freedom". I think maybe Americans are more inclined to talk up "freedom" as an abstract principle than Brits are - I think British people are more concerned with justice, which is a subtly different idea. And I think that the British sense of justice and fair-play is currently outraged at the fact that the Tories are basically attacking a police force that has just gone above and beyond to keep civilization together.

One British/American parallel, though, is that the Tories are being driven into incompetent behaviour by their adherence to the disproven and simplistic philosophy of Hayek, Mises and Friedman. These guys have an ideology-based fondness for the private sector that means that they just can't see the government as doing something good. Right now, the public wants more funding for the police, not cuts. Even Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, has picked up on this and disagrees with David Cameron about the cuts.
posted by lucien_reeve at 1:05 AM on August 14, 2011 [52 favorites]


it's a shame the politicians already know what we want.

I tend to agree with lucien_reeve about the police funding, but find the whole thing an extension of the speed camera policing which is so frustrating - namely that it's easier to bring 'justice' to the generally law abiding majority than it is to anyone who is actually breaking more serious laws - and who want's to do anythign difficult?

The police action at recent protests contrasts poorly with their performance in this event. I hate to think that the whole response may have been police extortion.

It also doesn't surprise me that this would be used as a means to get more "anti-terror" legislation through when the government think it'll slip by. I don't see how controls on "social media" would have had any effect on this event, they already heave the powers to get the records from RIM, et al, so what more do they need?
posted by fistynuts at 1:25 AM on August 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Chinese and Iran heads of state must seriously be laughing now...

Here is China's (quite smug) response. (yes, it's via BoingBoing)
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:32 AM on August 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


but find the whole thing an extension of the speed camera policing which is so frustrating - namely that it's easier to bring 'justice' to the generally law abiding majority than it is to anyone who is actually breaking more serious laws - and who want's to do anythign difficult?

People who drive dangerously ARE criminals and it is a violent crime. This includes speeding. The only reason they are considered not serious criminals is because there are so damn many of them and by far the majority of them are middle class or higher.

Speed camera policing was rolled back as political payoff to middle class criminals as they were effective and efficient and both preventing and catching criminals.
posted by srboisvert at 1:38 AM on August 14, 2011 [15 favorites]


Let's get one thing out of the way: these are not serious measures, and no-one has any intention of taking them further. The reason they're being bandied around is that the government looks impotent in the face of what happened.

Then, Hugh Orde (the most senior policeman in the country) made the government look even more foolish by pointing out (as retaliation for govt. criticism of the police) that the police were operationally independent. While Cameron, Boris et al were trying to take credit for restoring order after they came back from their hols the reality is that this was entirely a police operation. Theresa May, the Home Secretary, tried to claim that she'd ordered the cancellation of police leave even though: She had no power to do that & the police did that internally.

So this whole thing is part of a avalanche of guff coming from government figures to try and make them look tough. It has about as much chance of actually happening as rioters getting succesfully evicted from their council houses in large numbers (which established law makes almost impossible). See also the mooted use of water cannons and such during the riots which no-one seriously considered but which was brought up by politicians to look tough.

Here's the thing: David Cameron and the Tory party are attempting to pass across the board austerity measures in Britain. These measures won't really help the economy - they represent exactly the sort of muddle-headed thinking that Keynes had to overturn in the 1930s - but what they will do is to destroy or seriously hamper all sorts of useful public services that middle and working class people use all the time, but that the Tories oppose for ideological reasons.

Among the public services under Tory attack: the police.


Of course, we all know that the Conservative party has a traditional abhorrence for law and order spending, which is why they are "attacking" the police.

These measures aren't really designed to help the economy, even Osborne knows that cutting government spending won't help the economy in the short term (where I suspect he differs from you is that he believes that it will in the long term). They're designed to cut the entire structural deficit within the next decade or so, which is incredibly audacious.

Personally, while I think it's a good idea to reduce the structural deficit, I think it is extremely unwise to do so in a recession. This is because the salutary effects of this kind of restructuring take considerably longer to manifest than the negative. Lower deficits will eventually allow less of the tax take to go to interest payments, leaving more money for productive public spending and potentially for tax cuts. Now, tax cuts may eventually lead to greater private sector spending, but not only will that take years to manifest if it does, it won't work at all during a recession because people save rather than spend.

The plan is to cut the deficit by 113 bn pounds / year by the 2014-2015 budgeting period. Of this, 73bn (about 2/3) will come from changes made by the previous Labour government. This includes changes to cap gains tax and a new top income tax bracket of 50% (which is purely symbolic as only a few 100k people are in this bracket, but I think it's an important symbol at a time of across the board austerity - budgeting is not purely about numbers).

The real problem is this commitment to fiscal discipline over economic management combined with the foolish promise to ring-fence the education and health budgets. Since those budgets are enormous, the cuts could only come by cutting deep into other things. This includes an 8% in the already fairly meagre defence budget, and a 20% cut in police budgets.

Apart from this, there are some tax increases on capital gains tax, a bank levy, some cuts to business tax deductions and of course an increase in VAT.

Again, I think that this ambitious plan to cut the structural deficit is being done for solid reasons, I just think that the timing is off. This is also the Labour position, obviously, as 2/3 of the deficit reduction was actually done by them in their last year in government.
posted by atrazine at 1:41 AM on August 14, 2011 [9 favorites]


The police action at recent protests contrasts poorly with their performance in this event. I hate to think that the whole response may have been police extortion.

The difference is the planning that was available for those protests, the fact that most of the protesters were not interested in breaking any law at all (and those that did mostly sat on a floor in a shop...). Also, those protests happened in one place, not in 30 places spread across the city.

I don't think this was some kind of plot, but I'm sure that the police will milk this for all it's worth to try and get the cuts backed off a bit.
posted by atrazine at 1:46 AM on August 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


A few issues, there with what lucien_reeve is saying:

"the Tory party are attempting to pass across the board austerity measures in Britain. These measures won't really help the economy."

There are many people who do not agree with you that the tory plan is not helping the economy. I wouldn't go that far, but only because I know nothing about economics. What is plain is that the national debt and the budget deficits in both the UK and the USA were unsustainable. Now, if you're telling me that the time to address that is during a period of stronger growth rather than a period of stagnation, I'll take your word for it, but no one seems to think of it. We make more hay while the sun shines, but that just seems to increase our appetite for hay, so we eat all we have and borrow even more of it. Parties on both sides share responsibility for the economy. We may not like where the cuts are happening but I think, in many eyes, a wrong plan is better than no plan. If you saw the debate on the economy on Thursday, perhaps you would disagree with my observation: Balls was at sea. But mainly my point is: it's very difficult to make sweeping, absolute statements about the economy. Even the most expert economists are wrong as much as they're right.

"At the moment, in Britain, the London public seem to be broadly supportive of the police."

I think at best people are likely to agree that, individually, many of our police were doing a bang-up job in response to the riots. But the people I follow on Twitter think it is madness to ask the police force what powers they would like, and then handing them over. Someone made the comparison of asking a toddler if they've had enough candy. I personally have severe reservations about the police as an institution:

1. They kill people. In London alone, in recent times: Jean Charles de Menezes and Ian Tomlinson were killed because of negligence and/or brutality. We'll have to wait to hear about the rights and wrongs of the Mark Duggan case.
2. They have a very poor record of telling the truth when they kill the wrong people. In all three of those cases, untruths were put out by way of justification, or lessening the public backlash.
3. They seem unable to differentiate between riots and peaceful protest. Public reaction to heavy-handed tactics at the G-20 protests (which *were* policed in a very heavy-handed fashion) are being used to justify the hands-off approach of the police on the first three nights of the riots: when police stood back and let people smash shops. I'm not saying the latter tactics were wrong (there's an argument that I can see now that with all the CCTV available, the police were effectively letting out rope with which looters and rioters would eventually hang themselves). Fine, but let's not say peaceful protestors and those that defend their rights are at fault here, as I have heard several ex-police chiefs complain.
4. When they ask for more powers, they ask for the wrong things. Stop and search powers have unarguably been used to single ethnic minorities, arguably leading to feelings of alienation and resentment, potentially increase the risk of crime.

I know you said broadly supportive, but I think there are strong caveats to that. What the recent problems did for me was highlight that the thuggish and idiotic police at the operational level are strongly outnumbered by considerate policemen. I am yet to reach that conclusion for the upper echelons. Russell Brand is as far from a good barometer of what most people think as you can find.

"The point is: it isn't about "law and order" versus "freedom". I think maybe Americans are more inclined to talk up "freedom" as an abstract principle than Brits are - I think British people are more concerned with justice, which is a subtly different idea."

Pedantry, perhaps, but freedom and justice are not "subtly" different, they are fundamentally different. Americans and Britons alike are very interested in both, thank you, the complexities and subtleties and emphases of the two countries are doubtless myriad.

"Tories are basically attacking a police force that has just gone above and beyond to keep civilization together."

As Timothy Spall put it on the radio: if you were watching on TV it looked like armageddon, but you could be passing by only two streets away from one of the flashpoints in, say, Hackney, and have no idea it was going on. (You might wonder what the helicopters were about, granted). I think it is very easy to overstate the extent of this. At no point did anarchy rule. Every morning during the riots when I stepped outside my front door, the first thing I saw was the train trundling over my local railyway bridge as usual. Early Tuesday morning, after by far the worst night of rioting, I visited Camden and Hackney and the streets were already pristine -- (photographs of the public out in force with brooms abound -- far fewer of members of the public actually using them) -- council workers did a great job. On Monday night the situation felt chaotic, but mainly because events were reaching their nadir and it was difficult to predict how much further they would descend. Things look and feel very different now, and I can say with certainty that this is an exaggeration.

I don't like sweeping statements unless they are definitely true.
posted by nthdegx at 1:55 AM on August 14, 2011 [18 favorites]


Let's get one thing out of the way: these are not serious measures, and no-one has any intention of taking them further.

Hi. I'm an American. I heard this about killing Social Security and Medicare. Our President, who is from the same party that introduced these vital programs, is in favor of cutting them mightily.

Have fun.
posted by dirigibleman at 2:02 AM on August 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Let's get one thing out of the way: these are not serious measures, and no-one has any intention of taking them further. The reason they're being bandied around is that the government looks impotent in the face of what happened."

whether these come to pass or not is immaterial - my elected officials, who i pay the salaries of with my tax money, are proposing internet censorship, water cannons, armies in the streets, and mass round-ups in football stadiums. and they are saying these things in national Parliament.

that's more than scary enough for me, thanks.
posted by wayward vagabond at 2:09 AM on August 14, 2011 [11 favorites]


And when people are using social media for violence, we need to stop them.

Yeah, good luck with that, Tory Boy.
posted by Decani at 2:18 AM on August 14, 2011 [8 favorites]


when people are using social media for violence, we need to stop them

Twinkies

Gay people

nataS
posted by dirigibleman at 2:44 AM on August 14, 2011


srboisvert: my point was that the focus is on the low hanging fruit.

People who drive dangerously ARE criminals and it is a violent crime. This includes speeding.

but its easier to catch speeders, catching people who drive dangerously requires manpower.

I have nothing against speed cameras, except as a justification for a lack of resources/motvation to tackle more serious crimes - like dangerous driving ... that was the parallel I was trying to make.

Fortunately the lower classes only travel on high horses and so never cause accidents by speeding, only the rich and middle class who drive everywhere in Maybachs.

/derail
posted by fistynuts at 2:47 AM on August 14, 2011


Speeders are driving dangerously.
posted by Catseye at 2:57 AM on August 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


when people are using social media for violence, we need to stop them

Soooo, when will you be going after the EDL, Dave? Never, right?
posted by rodgerd at 3:00 AM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have nothing against speed cameras, except as a justification for a lack of resources/motvation to tackle more serious crimes - like dangerous driving ... that was the parallel I was trying to make.

I guess, but I think that once you discourage speeding and running red lights with cameras and nick people who've been drinking by breathalysing, you're left with an awful lot less dangerous driving. Given that it is realistically impossible to get very many people for driving dangerously in ways other that the above (saving a cop seeing it right in front of them), we'll just have to accept our limits as humans.
posted by atrazine at 3:08 AM on August 14, 2011


Also, it seems like Cameron & co. are using a vaguer definition of 'social media' than most of us would understand by the term. Twitter is social media; Facebook is social media; BBM is private communication functioning pretty much like SMS, and few people would consider normal text messages to count as 'social media' in that sense. Are phone calls social media, too? What about email? It's not really social media he's talking about; it's technology.

That said, I don't think this is deliberate vagueness aimed to pave the way for a China-style clampdown, so much as poorly thought through rhetoric about sounding tough when the government's being criticised for its response to the riots. "We need to start hacking into people's text messages and voicemails on a widespread basis!" is not the kind of war cry that'll go down well here these days.
posted by Catseye at 3:14 AM on August 14, 2011


Calling the recent riots in England the "BlackBerry Riots" is like calling the Chicago riots of 1919 the "Telephone Riots" or the "Automobile Riots."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:38 AM on August 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Here is China's (quite smug) response.

Wow, that's a hoot.

And by hoot I mean a horrifyingly perfect revealing of the sympathetic goals of Western and Chinese government elites.
posted by mediareport at 4:01 AM on August 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


To nthdegx's reservations about the police, I'd add the evidence of institutional corruption at the highest levels down that's implicit in what's been revealed about the Murdoch caper. There's a lot there about illegal use of information access which really bears a closer look, so if we're going to be talking about government control of personal data, Mr Cameron...

I'd also reiterate the general lack of drama outside the riot hotspots. I was skittering around London on a couple of the nights in question, and if I wasn't plugged in via Twitter I'd not have noticed much. Well, the screaming convoys of black riot vehicles nobody had seen before and the odd delays on the buses...
posted by Devonian at 4:19 AM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


when people are using social media for violence, we need to stop them

Coming straight after a couple of nights of rioting and looting, this statement looks deceptively harmless. But it's the most terrifying thing I've heard come out of this man's mouth since he gained power. This is how dictatorships begin, with small, seemingly reasonable compromises for the sake of society. When you finally wake up to what's happening and decide to protest, it's too late.

I heard about some mobile phone networks being switched off in SFO recently to prevent a protest. Is that not very similar to what Cameron wants in the UK?
posted by londonmark at 4:26 AM on August 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


Inciting others to commit violence is a crime, whether you're doing it standing in a pub, or a mosque, or on twitter. Now, you can argue the toss as to whether it *should* be a crime, but it's hardly a new law. Even in the US, 'fighting words' are not protected speech ( the U.S. Supreme Court established the doctrine and held that "insulting or 'fighting words,' those that by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace" are among the "well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech [that] the prevention and punishment of...have never been thought to raise any constitutional problem.")

If someone was shouting on a street corner to kill all the niggers (as a random example), and then pointing out black-owned shops for people around him to smash and burn, and people were then going and burning down the shops, there are several public order offences that the police would be able to step in for, including arrest for incitement to violence. Personally, I don't see much difference about them doing the same if the speech is on facebook, a bulk text message or on a street corner.

Now, given the bad law in the RIP act, and the Digital Economy Act, to name but two examples, though inherited from the prior labour government, I can certainly understand people being afraid of bad law being drafted which will amount to censorship of the general public - and I agree entirely that it is a concern which means we need to keep a close eye on what they actually plan to do - often the loopholes are big enough to drive a lorry through.

But the idea that the police might crack down on illegal incitement to violence in addition to arresting those who actually commit it? As long as they get their day in court under fair rules, I'm not going to lose much sleep over it.
posted by ArkhanJG at 4:46 AM on August 14, 2011


But the idea that the police might crack down on illegal incitement to violence in addition to arresting those who actually commit it? As long as they get their day in court under fair rules, I'm not going to lose much sleep over it.
Are they getting their fair day in court? Fears grow over excessive sentencing as cases pile up ...

"A 43-year-old is still being held in prison for stealing items worth £1 from a newsagent"

It seems magistrates might, arguably, be going perhaps a wee bit overboard when it comes to sending a message ...
posted by kaemaril at 5:25 AM on August 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Drat, hit the wrong button.

To append:

And if they're putting people in custody for nicking a quid's worth of gear, instead of bailing them as they usually would, just imagine how quickly questions of free speech are getting overlooked in the rush ...
posted by kaemaril at 5:27 AM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


We are fucking fucked.
Nah, just Cameron.

He's basically started sliding down the slope which Gordon Brown sits at the bottom of. His speech to the commons last week looked good but his credibility is shot. He is desperately trying to be popular but is continually misreading the mood of the public. He's not reached Brown levels of stupidity yet (like arguing with the Gurkhas the most hilariously wrong political idea I have ever seen) but he doesn't need to.

The reason he's fucked and he can't hang on for a couple of years like Brown did is two fold.

The coalition government means any serious scandal involving Cameron could be the spark for a split and a confidence vote. Good job there's none of those waiting in the wings

Secondly, he is seriously pissing off senior police figures. When ACPO are firing shots across the bow of a Tory PM then you need to think about what you're doing. Luckily for Cameron the chair of ACPO is a novice who hasn't got much experience of high stakes politics. The police budget cuts are political poison which the public hate but the real problem, which David Milliband tagged him with in the debate on the riots, is the plans to have elected police commissioners.

So he's wrapping himself in the flag of Law and Order while the people who actually ensure Public Order have a powerful interest in seeing him fail. Those stand back orders from Gold Command on the first night of the rioting may have been a way of turning up the heat on Cameron.

His only bit of actual luck is that Ed Milliband's only skill seems to be making everyone think more fondly of his brother.
posted by fullerine at 5:53 AM on August 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Cameron said: “Free flow of information can be used for good. But it can also be used for ill. And when people are using social media for violence, we need to stop them.”

...And in other news, the government demonstrates yet again its irrelevance to the modern world.


srboisvert : People who drive dangerously ARE criminals and it is a violent crime. This includes speeding.
Catseye : Speeders are driving dangerously.

Wow, 9/10! You guys actually sound like you mean that seriously! If not such an absurd topic, I seriously would have taken you to mean that traveling faster than an arbitrary number on a sign makes one a "dangerous criminal".

Tell ya what - When you get rid of all the sudden unexpected 20mph drops on a 4-lane straightaway (y'know, the one where the cops always "just happen" to park); when the speed limit takes into consideration that as a youngish male I have about 10x better reaction times than the typical (legal-to-drive) AARP member and my modern subcompact can stop in a third of the time of Grandpa's 20YO Crown Vic; when the cranky lady on the corner of Maple street doesn't piss and moan about the safety of her cats until the city lowers the speed limit at that intersection - Then we can talk about "safety".

Until then, if you want to see "dangerous driving", talk to the asshats that drive 15-below and then go to 15-over at every passing zone, swerving wildly in a sad attempt to control the flow of traffic around them. Like yourselves, they clearly know my current mental state and car condition much, much better than I do.
posted by pla at 6:49 AM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Like yourselves, they clearly know my current mental state and car condition much, much better than I do.

Quite possibly.

'Up to 80% of drivers surveyed rate themselves "above average"'.
(Comparative perceptions of driver ability— A confirmation and expansion, in Accident Analysis & Prevention Volume 18, Issue 3, June 1986)

'Illusory superiority is a cognitive bias that causes people to overestimate their positive qualities and abilities and to underestimate their negative qualities, relative to others'.
posted by reynir at 7:00 AM on August 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


If someone was shouting on a street corner to kill all the niggers (as a random example), and then pointing out black-owned shops for people around him to smash and burn, and people were then going and burning down the shops, there are several public order offences that the police would be able to step in for, including arrest for incitement to violence.

That doesn't seem like much of a "random example" to me.
posted by blucevalo at 7:05 AM on August 14, 2011


pla: I wholeheartedly agree with the idea that speeding automatically makes you a dangerous criminal is freaking ludicrous, since speed alone causes few traffic problems as long as it's not too different from what people are expecting. (Doing 75 on a 55mph freeway is unimportant; doing 75 in a residential neighborhood is dangerous.)

But I will say that statistics show pretty strongly that an average elderly driver is a lot safer behind the wheel than younger people.

Yes, your reflexes are better. Yes, your car is probably better, and stops faster. But what Grandpa knows that you don't is that reflexes can only do so much, and he simply doesn't put himself into positions where he needs his reflexes very often. Safe driving is about never needing to react quickly to avoid hurting someone.

If you get to the point of relying on your youthful speed and fast car, you have failed very badly. Maybe your reflexes will be enough to save you from hurting yourself or someone else, but like a tightrope walker, the idea is not to fall off the rope, not to have a great safety net.
posted by Malor at 7:18 AM on August 14, 2011 [14 favorites]


Doing 75 on a 55mph freeway is unimportant

I should amend that a little to say usually unimportant; it depends on traffic conditions. There are certainly times when it would be very dangerous to drive that fast. But most of the time, it's fine. You're risking a ticket, but you're not really increasing the chance of having an accident.
posted by Malor at 7:21 AM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


San Francisco shut down cell towers this week to avoid a protest. Not rioting, just a protest.

This is not what happened.
posted by empath at 7:52 AM on August 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


His only bit of actual luck is that Ed Milliband's only skill seems to be making everyone think more fondly of his brother

Apparently he got heckled a few days ago by people who though he was his brother. Imagine, even when they hate him, they can't remember who he is.
posted by atrazine at 8:10 AM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am rather shocked people would rather comment on" dangerous driving" how ever you would define it in context to the riots. These are totally different examples and degrees of dangerous.

That is all, go about arguing minutia.
posted by handbanana at 8:21 AM on August 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well the statement is correct.

When people use the Internet to enable violence, we should stop them. "Them" being those people, *not* "those who use the Internet to exchange information freely".

It's a subtle difference, and I'm not sure if it's one that Mr. Cameron has made. Or -- possibly worse -- one that he wants to make.
posted by -1 at 8:36 AM on August 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


But the idea that the police might crack down on illegal incitement to violence in addition to arresting those who actually commit it? As long as they get their day in court under fair rules, I'm not going to lose much sleep over it.

This would be fine if I could clearly see the correlation between social media platforms and the violence being committed. Bus as it stands, I can't. Twitter isn't the tool that smashed in a shop window; BMM didn't set fire to any buildings. For sure, modern communications technology makes organisation easier, but can you hold it responsible for inciting the violence?

For this idea to work, you'd have to make a call to shut down the systems in advance of the planned protest. Who gets to make that call, and on what grounds? Worried that a march against your social services cuts might turn nasty? Let's see if we can't just make that go away...
posted by londonmark at 8:41 AM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


“Free flow of information can be used for good. But it can also be used for ill. And when people are using social media for violence, we need to stop them.”

Funny, that.

It was my understanding that these people who are angry in Britain are angry because of the violence done to them by the police who are supposed to protect them. It was also my understanding that the peaceful protest turned violent when the police started beating a 16 year old girl in the crowd.

So when I read what Dave Cameron has said, I do not see a statement in support of peace, but a statement in support of government supported violence, with the message that citizens better stop being angry that their neighbors have been unfairly killed or hurt, because that's what needs to happen now and then to maintain order.

Violence is not righteous just because the people perpetrating it are wearing uniforms.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 8:41 AM on August 14, 2011 [10 favorites]


It is interesting how the freedom of speech works... but then from what i understand, America and Britain have slightly different standards of freedom.

I love the idea of preventing evil.... but what happens to those who aren't using social media networks for evil?
posted by mitrieD at 8:55 AM on August 14, 2011


For this idea to work, you'd have to make a call to shut down the systems in advance of the planned protest. Who gets to make that call, and on what grounds? Worried that a march against your social services cuts might turn nasty? Let's see if we can't just make that go away...

Well that would be a massive over-reaction that would impact upon freedom of speech for the general public. While I wouldn't put it passed them, they've already dropped the plans to block 'copyright infringing' sites at behest of media agencies inherited from Labour, not least because it's deeply impractical. Turning around and then deciding one of the biggest sites on the 'net, i.e. facebook, is now practical to block seems relatively unlikely. The only ones that seem to think that's what's going to happen also appear to think Cameron is some kind of anti-christ rather than just an empty suit.

From other articles what they appear to be talking about is court orders against those convicted of incitement to violence, ordering them not to do so on social media platforms/mobile phones etc. Presumably with the intent that they get much stiffer penalties if then then subsequently violate said court order.
posted by ArkhanJG at 8:56 AM on August 14, 2011


It's just Cameron posturing. Even if they were stupid enough to do it, this would be killed stone dead at the ECtHR. They know that, too.

It has the feel of In The Thick Of It; I can see Cameron in a car with some PR guys saying 'you need to come out hard against social networking, look at these Mail headlines' and then Cameron picking this from an array of flashy, never-designed-to-be-implemented, two-news-cycles-only policy suggestions.
posted by jaduncan at 9:01 AM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Violence is not righteous just because the people perpetrating it are wearing uniforms.

Nor is it righteous just because someone isn't wearing one. While I can understand the original protestors turning violent in response to police thuggery (and it wouldn't surprise me in the least if that was what happened), that doesn't excuse largely white youths looting and burning shopping centres in other places and other cities.

There's a whole bunch of reasons for the riots, especially away from London, but to blame it all on the shooting of Mr Duggan and the reaction to the peaceful protests is naive at best.

The official claim, for example, is that police cars were set on fire by people who weren't involved with the vigil at all - and that when the police backed off, various people took it as licence to go 5-finger shopping. It's not a black and white situation.
posted by ArkhanJG at 9:04 AM on August 14, 2011


Calling the recent riots in England the "BlackBerry Riots" is like calling the Chicago riots of 1919 the "Telephone Riots" or the "Automobile Riots."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:38 AM on 8/14
[2 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]

Or calling said riots the 'Carrier Pigeon Riots' or the 'Walk To The Neighbors and Tell Them Riots'
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 9:14 AM on August 14, 2011


Oh, and pla (UK figures, I know):

381 deaths from road accidents involving speeding in 2006 (DoT: ROAD CASUALTIES
GREAT BRITAIN 2006
)
59 firearms-related homicides in 2006-07 (BBC)

As you point out, I'm sure you're a very good driver and that the dangers of speeding do not apply to you. Unfortunately (and as also you point out) other people just don't know quite how special you are as a car/driver automotive pairing, and so policy has to be written with the assumption that you are, on the societal level, considerably more dangerous than a dangerous criminal.

PS: In deference to you, I am using 'dangerous criminal' to mean 'person willing to shoot another unlawfully', not just 'person who is specifically both advocating and actually breaking the law by dangerously handling a tonne or so of metal around others because higher risk factors do not apply to him due to special snowflake status'.
posted by jaduncan at 9:15 AM on August 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


mitrieD: I love the idea of preventing evil

Ah, but who gets to define 'evil'? Not liking what the government is doing is a very, very easy thing for bureaucrats to define as evil. I'd be terrified of giving that much power to EITHER political party in the US. Perhaps Britain is better, but it's not looking very good these days.
posted by Malor at 9:25 AM on August 14, 2011


It was my understanding that these people who are angry in Britain are angry because of the violence done to them by the police who are supposed to protect them..

That isn't really the case. Many of the rioters were white kids with jobs or full time education, they can't claim that they were driven by police racism, nor by dire poverty.

It was also my understanding that the peaceful protest turned violent when the police started beating a 16 year old girl in the crowd

Partially true, that girl threw a bottle at the police lines. Most people in the crowd and the many who saw the video later didn't see that, only the reaction. So yes, it was a trigger for what happened, but hardly a good example of police attacking the innocent public for their jollies.
posted by atrazine at 9:45 AM on August 14, 2011


San Francisco shut down cell towers this week to avoid a protest. Not rioting, just a protest.

This is not what happened.


This was the version of the story I heard as well - what actually happened?
posted by naoko at 10:03 AM on August 14, 2011


BART turned off the underground repeaters in their stations, which only would have impacted cell service underground.
posted by empath at 10:10 AM on August 14, 2011


The way the reports went locally is that BART owns repeaters to help carry the cellphone signal into stations, and they shut those off. BART being property like airports in some ways, they can own infrastructure and if they shut their own equipment off that's one thing. The idea BART tried to get the wireless firms to shut down cell towers would be a very different situation and that should be questioned closely.
posted by jet_silver at 10:14 AM on August 14, 2011


Ah. That does make more sense.
posted by naoko at 10:22 AM on August 14, 2011


Good luck trying to shut down social networks and cell phones. It isn't going to work.
posted by humanfont at 10:22 AM on August 14, 2011




Those stand back orders from Gold Command on the first night of the rioting may have been a way of turning up the heat on Cameron.

Can this really be true?
posted by KokuRyu at 10:54 AM on August 14, 2011


People do know that water cannons and the army have been used not infrequently to put down riots in the UK - not to forget plastic bullets, which can and have killed - don't they? But that happened in Northern Ireland, so I guess it doesn't count. (And we all know how swimmingly that went and how quickly it ended violence.)
posted by lesbiassparrow at 10:59 AM on August 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wholeheartedly agree with this.
posted by Meatafoecure at 11:21 AM on August 14, 2011


Can this really be true?
I can't honestly say it's not a hugely cynical reading of he situation and it's obvious the speed and ferocity of the disturbances took the police a bit by surprise. I still think the fallout has been largely positive for the police and negative for the government. Reversal of the police cuts is "a thing" now and something which Labour and the police can exploit.

Perhaps hugely cynical is an understatement :)
posted by fullerine at 11:58 AM on August 14, 2011




jaduncan : As you point out, I'm sure you're a very good driver and that the dangers of speeding do not apply to you.

Y'know, the irony here comes from the fact that I consider myself not a very good driver. Just last Wednesday, I very nearly got sideswiped because I pulled out - After coming to a complete stop and looking both ways on a fairly straight stretch of road - from a four-way intersection, and somehow completely failed to see a bright blue Fiesta bearing down on me.

But I have learned, that as much as I consider myself not all that great of a driver, most people drive even worse.

So make no mistake, I know my limitations. And knowing them, I would say that the average speed limit for a sober, well-rested driver in a modern vehicle, should easily go up by 15mph.


Incidentally, despite the above, I do take issue with one good ol' chestnut you decided to bring out:

381 deaths from road accidents involving speeding in 2006

To make that a meaningful number, I want two additional numbers. First, how many of those "involved" something else; And second, what fraction of all people speeding over the course of the same year does that represent?

You can't just say "381 people died while speeding", without also saying "and not drunk/tired/texting/getting a BJ/didn't actually cause the accident". You also can't just say that 381 people looks biggish compared to the number of people who deliberately chose to end another human's life, without pointing out that 1.4 MILLION others did the same without any negative consequences (beyond perhaps some good ol' "revenue generation" for the Queen).
posted by pla at 12:49 PM on August 14, 2011


I am rather shocked people would rather comment on" dangerous driving" how ever you would define it in context to the riots.

There are a lot of people pathologically addicted to the idea that their reflexes are up there with Ayrton Senna's, and that the public road network is a God-given race track. So they foam at the mouth whenever any impingement of that right comes into the discussion, however tangentally.

Those stand back orders from Gold Command on the first night of the rioting may have been a way of turning up the heat on Cameron.

Can this really be true?


The reason given by a senior Met officer in the Guardian when criticism about the lack of water cannons and whatnot started coming out (on day 2 of the riots) was that there were too many 10 and 11 year olds in the crowd, and the Met weren't prepared to use baton rounds (rubber bullets) to protect property if it meant risking killing children. Which is a pretty reasonable position, one might think.
posted by rodgerd at 12:50 PM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


rodgerdthere were too many 10 and 11 year olds in the crowd, and the Met weren't prepared to use baton rounds (rubber bullets) to protect property if it meant risking killing children. Which is a pretty reasonable position, one might think.

Reasonable in the "Oh sweet lord they'll fucking lynch the lot of us if we start shooting kids" sense.

Free hint - When you have ELEVEN year olds protesting, you have a problem other than some uppity plebes.
posted by pla at 12:58 PM on August 14, 2011


>>>Can this really be true?
I can't honestly say it's not a hugely cynical reading of he situation and it's obvious the speed and ferocity of the disturbances took the police a bit by surprise. I still think the fallout has been largely positive for the police and negative for the government. Reversal of the police cuts is "a thing" now and something which Labour and the police can exploit.

Perhaps hugely cynical is an understatement :)


However, this is an interesting and insightful piece of analysis from the same comment:

So he's wrapping himself in the flag of Law and Order while the people who actually ensure Public Order have a powerful interest in seeing him fail.

The only problem is, there's no one waiting in the wings to take his place. While the Opposition, coalition partners and his own backbench remain relatively weak, it looks like Cameron will hang on.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:13 PM on August 14, 2011


This current crop of Oligarchists have to be the absolute worst at maintaining the status quo since the morons partying about during the reign of Louis XIV.
posted by Slackermagee at 1:28 PM on August 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Tomorrow's Gaurdian front page: American stakes his claim for top British police job
The former US police chief Bill Bratton has said he is a "progressive" who can lead British policing out of "crisis", reduce crime despite budget cuts, and bring about "transformational" change in the aftermath of last week's UK riots.

In an interview with the Guardian, Bratton said he was "seriously" interested in the vacant post of commissioner of the Metropolitan police but that the home secretary, Theresa May, had been "adamant" in banning foreign nationals from applying.

Bratton – credited with turning around troubled police departments in New York and Los Angeles – is understood to have been David Cameron's choice to run Scotland Yard. Instead he will advise the prime minister on gangs and crime after the Home Office insisted candidates must be British.

According to Whitehall sources, Bratton has also told friends that he was so keen to take the job he would be prepared to take British citizenship if it made the difference. Cameron's courting of Bratton continued to provoke criticism by senior British officers on Sunday
posted by Len at 1:45 PM on August 14, 2011


Oh, god the irony. Misspelling the name of the Grauniad. *hangs head in shame*
posted by Len at 1:50 PM on August 14, 2011


I really want Bratton to get the job now. That would be hilarious, a septic policeman being fast-tracked British citizenship in order to be handed a job overseeing the police force investigating Cameron's ex communications director for phone hacking.

It'll be like the end of Reservoir Dogs, Milliband spiriting away with the diamonds while Nice Guy Dave and Mr Orange Order shoot each other.
posted by fullerine at 2:16 PM on August 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


What? Bratton would be willing to take British citizenship to get a job? If he is married, his wife ought to remain an American citizen, so he can have a Green Card....

Back on topic, I don't know how anyone could say the UK is not already a police state. I noticed the surveillance cameras everywhere. Same goes for the Republic of
Ireland. I was afraid to scratch myself in public.
I don't know how anyone, opportunistic or not had the guts to go riot.
I thought all those cameras were meant to discourage that sort of thing. Obviously it did not work.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 10:15 PM on August 14, 2011


Posh Dave: http://blogs.ft.com/westminster/2010/04/exclusive-david-cameron-and-the-bullingdon-night-of-the-broken-window/#axzz1Uwdu6e4L
posted by Hakuin at 1:07 AM on August 15, 2011


Yes, Cameron isn't the kind of person who smashes up restaurants on a violent, drunken spree. He's the kind of person who smashes up restaurants on a violent, drunken spree and then lies about it afterwards.
posted by Grangousier at 1:16 AM on August 15, 2011


Metafilter:remind me never to mention speed cameras again

Sorry all
posted by fistynuts at 4:44 AM on August 15, 2011




Under the zero tolerance policy Cameron should be kicked out of his council flat at 10 Downing Street. We can't have year ruffians and thugs in public housing when there are wait lists of more deserving individuals.
posted by humanfont at 1:45 PM on August 15, 2011




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