There’s some real idiocy online today. We first have someone on the Guardian website trying to argue that free speech is only for nice people.
Yet Roeder is not being treated like a terrorist (except, perhaps, by his fellow extremists who regard him as a laudable martyr). Unlike the detainees at Gitmo, who mustn’t even be allowed near sunlight lest they convince the sun to join with al-Qaida, Roeder is allowed to conduct interviews from his cell in which he delineates justification for his crime in such a way that tacitly urges his compatriots to repeat the act.
And YouTube, whose community guidelines purport to “take seriously” any content containing “predatory behaviour, stalking, threats, harassment, intimidation, invading privacy, revealing other people’s personal information, and inciting others to commit violent acts or to violate,” is providing free hosting services so that Roeder might disseminate his message of violent hatred.
Roeder is a terrorist. It is flatly inexplicable why he is not regarded as such, nor his campaign of murderous rhetoric treated with the according contempt. Free speech was never meant to protect from embargo the communications of those who justify and exhort organised terror.
The key phrase here is “tacitly urges his compatriots to repeat the act”, which is obviously why the interview remains on YouTube, as the columnist is unable to provide any quotes of actual incitement to violence. The writer would be far better off refuting the argument than attacking the right to make it. There is an important difference between restating an ideological or philosophical argument (however flawed or distasteful it may be) and actually co-ordinating or organising violent activities.
We then have this utter stupidity from, quelle surprise, “a left-wing think tank”:
The working week should be cut to 21 hours to help boost the economy and improve quality of life, a left-wing think tank has said.
The New Economics Foundation claimed in a report the reduction in hours would help to ease unemployment and overwork.
The think tank said people were working longer hours now than 30 years ago even though unemployment was at 2.5 million.
The foundation admitted people would earn less, but said they would have more time to carry out worthy tasks.
They would have better scope to look after children or other dependents, there would be more opportunity for civic duties, and older people could even delay retirement, it said.
Anna Coote, co-author of the 21 Hours report, said: “So many of us live to work, work to earn, and earn to consume, and our consumption habits are squandering the earth’s natural resources.
“Spending less time in paid work could help us to break this pattern. We’d have more time to be better parents, better citizens, better carers and better neighbours.
“We could even become better employees – less stressed, more in control, happier in our jobs and more productive.
“It is time to break the power of the old industrial clock, take back our lives and work for a sustainable future.”
The foundation’s policy director Andrew Simms added: “A cultural shift will throw up real challenges, but there could also be massive benefits for our economy, our quality of life and our planet.
“After all, hands up who wouldn’t like a four day weekend?”
The idea that by reducing the working week to some arbitrary level you magically reduce unemployment is so daft as to defy belief. If we force a brain surgeon to only work 21 hours a week, this does not magically create a job for an unemployed IT consultant. You may recall that the French tried doing something along these lines (the 35 hour work week), only to subsequently weaken the legislation when it didn’t solve the unemployment problem. In fact, France’s unemployment rate has been significantly higher than the UK’s for the last decade.
The irritating thing about this report is that it is proposing blanket legislation to impose something that develops organically. As economies become more knowledge-based and as levels of wealth rise further beyond subsistence levels, people start to substitute leisure for work naturally and evolve more flexible working practices. Simply compare working and living conditions in the UK in the 1920s and 1930s to today: in general people today enjoy far more pleasant work and home environments, more leisure time and more flexible working practices. Those people who value leisure time more than money need to work for fewer hours to meet their basic needs and can make their own choices about their priorities. There are certainly far more options for flexible working, part-time work and tele-commuting today in developed economies then there were in previous decades. In fact, the NEF should really be proposing a more flexible labour market so that people can more easily choose work that fits in with their lifestyle preferences, rather than lobbying for an impractical and foolish government imposition.
As Tim points out, this gibberish is at least partly funded by the tax payer.
UPDATE – Tim has weighed in on the NEF’s latest madness.
UPDATE 2 – I looked up some of Melissa McEwan’s previous articles and all became clear. Check out this sublime piece of self-obsessed victimhood. It’s pathetic. How awful it must be to go through life looking for offence: constantly on the lookout for some perceived slight or insult so that you can bestow some deeper and profound significance upon it by interpreting it in the light of the great patriarchal conspiracy against you. I would feel sorry for her if her world view was not so pernicious in its self-reinforcement, with argument and debate interpreted simply as further proof of her victimisation. The danger of such a mindset is that such liberal niceties as free speech become secondary to the righting of these perceived wrongs and injustices. It is a depressing combination of group think and self-absorption: any criticism of a woman is by extension a criticism of all women and thus of her, and any criticism of her is by extension a criticism of all women.