Friday, January 17, 2003

Repent, and you shall receive a quick release!

Tony Martin has been refused parole after he refused to apologise for killing a teenage burglar. He is due to be released in July having served two thirds of his sentence so he probably felt it wasn't worth indulging in the hypocrisy.

Shockingly, a parole officer criticised him in his report for saying that he believed that things were better forty years ago. For daring to express an opinion contrary to political orthodoxy he remains in prison, but at least he can hold his head high.

Sweet Nothings

Common sense prevails as the European Court tells Spain and Italy to stop being such fusspots over chocolate.

The chocolate war has been simmering since 1973 when we joined the EEC. Since then manufacturers like Cadburys and Terrys have had to suffer continental sniffiness over the miniscule content (5%) of non-cocoa vegetable fats in their products. Britain has already hammered out a compromise with France and Belgium whereby your everyday Dairy Milk is labelled "family milk chocolate" but Rome and Madrid still insisted that it be called "chocolate substitute".

The decision is correct of course, but it's a scandal that this nonsensical dispute has thrived for a generation in the fertile ground of European bureaucracy.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Say Hi To Iain

Iain Murray, whose employment contract must have contained a clause stipulating "I'm with stupid", has been fired for blogging. Iain has been treated dreadfully and I wish him and his family the best of luck in getting through this temporary situation. I've no doubt that he'll land a position more deserving of his talents.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Prat

John Le Carré produces an concise summary of Leftist laments in today's Times (quick, catch it before it vanishes! ... or maybe not!) The more I read it the more I think it's a greatest hits compilation: Now That's What I Call Dissent 56.

1. American History hasn't always been fluffy and nice.
2. Osama wanted this.
3. Bush wanted this even before Osama did.
4. Corporate Fraud isn't getting enough attention.
5. The Kyoto treaty isn't getting enough attention either.
6. America supports Israel and it's not fair!
7. Lots of Americans support the war: Wrong decision!
8. The war - don't know how long, how much or how many killed.
9. The conceptual leap from Osama to Saddam - thick Americans again!
10. Simplisme. Unambiguous rhetoric is so so crude, n'est-ce-pa?.
11. The war is really a new Judeo-Christian crusade.
12. Bush is a member of a political family (like the Kennedys).
13. Bush and co. are interested in the oil.
14. Bush and co. are really interested in the oil.
15. Bush wants Saddam's oil (remix).
16. Why doesn't Bush invade Saudi Arabia then? (Why indeed?)
17. Saddam isn't a threat so Bush must be the real bully.
18. Animal tragic: Blair isn't riding the tiger, he's Bush's poodle.
19. Bush is - wait for it - acting like...a cowboy!!!
20. We should be more worried about what Europe and Syria think.
21. If we come to the same decision as America that decision is wrong.
23. What does Iraq have to do with al-Qaeda anyway?
24. Blair is Bush's bitch.
25. Entreaties to understand a child's incomprehension of war.

Does anyone think it's possible to cram more clichés and misapprehensions into one piece? But let's exclude The Luminous Ones of Counterpunch who shine like beacons of stupidity, shall we?

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Policeman stabbed

Just heard about this.

Damn it to hell.

Judging steel

How can a weapon be wrong? Gary Farber dissects the idea that inanimate objects capable of causing destruction are in themselves immoral:

I can't help also be struck by the seeming presumption that, somehow, military hardware is singularly, inherently, evil, rather than mere inanimate object, able like any other to be used for good or ill, for the saving of lives or the unnecessary wasting of lives, unable to decide on its own, or take on any moral value of its own, but only a tool to be used at the choice of humans whose future actions we cannot predict and know not of.

Gary is writing about one of the beams of the World Trade Center being melted down and used to construct a new assault ship but I can't help thinking that his argument also applies to the gun debate. The special status politicians give to "gun crime" is misguided because a weapon alone is useless as a moral gauge. Beating someone to death cannot honestly be said to be less brutal than shooting them unless the intentions and conduct of the murderer are unravelled bit by bit. The method is part and parcel of the circumstances of the crime and deserves no special elevation based on political considerations.

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