The kind of police state we like

Conservatives are supposed to be wary of Big Government, right? Then why are they not up in arms over this, from Britain’s now decidedly right-wing “Labour” government?

The British government has brought down its long-awaited Digital Economy Bill, and it’s perfectly useless and terrible. It consists almost entirely of penalties for people who do things that upset the entertainment industry (including the “three-strikes” rule that allows your entire family to be cut off from the net if anyone who lives in your house is accused of copyright infringement, without proof or evidence or trial), as well as a plan to beat the hell out of the video-game industry with a new, even dumber rating system (why is it acceptable for the government to declare that some forms of artwork have to be mandatorily labelled as to their suitability for kids? And why is it only some media? Why not paintings? Why not novels? Why not modern dance or ballet or opera?).

So it’s bad. £50,000 fines if someone in your house is accused of filesharing. A duty on ISPs to spy on all their customers in case they find something that would help the record or film industry sue them (ISPs who refuse to cooperate can be fined £250,000).

And that’s just for starters:

Peter Mandelson, the unelected Business Secretary, would have the power to make up as many new penalties and enforcement systems as he likes. And he says he’s planning to appoint private militias financed by rightsholder groups who will have the power to kick you off the internet, spy on your use of the network, demand the removal of files or the blocking of websites, and Mandelson will have the power to invent any penalty, including jail time, for any transgression he deems you are guilty of. And of course, Mandelson’s successor in the next government would also have this power.


It’s difficult finding an image to illustrate this sort of story.

You know how conservatives claim to be terrified by the US government providing a public health insurance option? That it makes them think of Stalin and Hitler? (Just like the Nazis murdered the people who opposed them, I will be forced to contribute a tiny fraction of my salary to providing extremely limited access to hospitals for poor people! It’s the 1930s all over again!)

So why on Earth doesn’t it bother them when private corporations and government get into bed together and give themselves police-state powers over ordinary citizens?

It’s like they don’t mind a big oppressive power ruling over them – provided that it’s dominated by unelected, wealthy, unanswerable private corporations.

I don’t get it.

And it’s astonishing that a massive power-grab by a supposedly democratic government and its campaign contributors can go so unreported.

(Via LGWS.)

ELSEWHERE: Victorians are going to get access to the new fire danger scale, online. This could indeed save lives.

Unless we brought in anti-piracy laws like the UK and someone in your street allegedly downloaded a song from the internet – then your family would be cut off entirely and could bloody well burn.

AND BACK IN THE UK: Look what use a police state can make of the humble traffic camera!

AND IN THE US: Police demonstrate, yet again, why giving them Tasers is a great idea: Cop Tasers and Arrests a 10-Year Old Girl For Throwing a Fit.

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54 responses to “The kind of police state we like

  1. Re the Taser story – the problem is not the tool being used, it is the people (and their commanders) who are the problem. There need to be a few prosecutions (instead of condoning the practice) to demonstrate that using a taser is a serious issue.

    On the piracy issue, this is getting ridiculous. Hope the Brits throw out this government at the next election (which they are very very likely to do).

  2. Nice one Jeremy, a Left-wing Labor government brings in a draconian new law and not only is it still the fault of conservatives, but also that Labor government is now according to you suddenly Right-wing — seriously, get a grip.

    It’s not as though we don’t have any historic precedents for totalitarian Left-wing governments.

  3. How is the British Labour Party “left-wing”? They went with Bush on Iraq. They’re going with the big corporations on copyright. The only relevance of their old place on the political spectrum is the suspicion that the Tories would be even worse on this issue, even more in bed with the content companies.

    This is corporate state stuff. It’s the sort of thing the corporate media are very quiet about.

    And I’m a lefty criticising it. Where’s the outrage from righties? Please, some links.

    If the UK government were doing something like reducing censorship or enabling gays to get married, the usual suspects would be on it like a rash. But the UK government gives extra power to corporate interests to screw over ordinary citizens? Oddly silent.

  4. “suddenly Right-wing”

    Who said anything about suddenly Gav?

    “New Labour” are not, never have been, and never will be “of the Left” (neither are Rudd or Obama for that matter)

    Can you name any “lefty” policies of the Blair/Brown government?

    Was it their rabid support of Israel, the Iraq invasion, their utterly ridiculous drug laws, their oppsoition to gay marriage?

    What exactly makes New Labour “of the Left” in your estimation?

    “It’s not as though we don’t have any historic precedents for totalitarian Left-wing governments.”

    Yeah, Left wing totalitarians are well known for their support of globalisation, and of handing over the power to censor and control information to private companies.

  5. So a government has to be Right-wing to go to war does it ?

    History would tend to disagree with you on that.

    As to supporting corporates, do you really think that any government of either stripe would not support companies that contribute vast amounts of money to them ?

    “Can you name any “lefty” policies of the Blair/Brown government? ”

    Well, I don’t live in the UK, but I’m pretty sure they have socialised health, a social security system and state education.

    I would also say their immigration policy would tend to be more Left leaning than Right.

    As for Lefty policies specifically of the Blair/Brown government — hmm, I’d say public surveillance fits in nicely there.

    “Was it their rabid support of Israel..”

    Another furphy — what makes you think only Right-wingers support Israel — most extreme right-wingers hate Jews, think KKK and other white supremacist groups.

    “their oppsoition to gay marriage”

    How many Left wing governments — current or past — have legislated gay marriage ?

    “their utterly ridiculous drug laws”

    Not aware of their drug laws — perhaps you could enlighten me, but once again, how many Left-wing governments tolerate illicit drugs ?

    “Yeah, Left wing totalitarians are well known for their support of globalisation, and of handing over the power to censor and control information to private companies.”

    So show me a Right wing totalitarian government that has done the same, Duncan.

  6. “As to supporting corporates, do you really think that any government of either stripe would not support companies that contribute vast amounts of money to them ”

    Whatever, it’s still a right wing thing to do, the left would rightly or wrongly nationalise such corporates.

    Fact of the matter is both New Labor and the ALP are decidedly right of centre and if you don’t realise this I suggest your political compass is well and truly broken

    “Another furphy — what makes you think only Right-wingers support Israel ”

    Which left wingers do, I ask because I can’t think of any.

    “most extreme right-wingers hate Jews, think KKK and other white supremacist groups.”

    I bet they hate Arabs more. Let’s face it the KKK and other white supremacist groups just HATE!!! And their hate is based on ignorance so it’s not like their opinion counts anyway.

  7. “So a government has to be Right-wing to go to war does it?”

    Did i say that? War is an unfortunate reality of life. The iraq war (the war i actually referred to) however was a cynical and transparent land grab by US neoconartists to secure Iraqs oil supply.

    “How many Left wing governments — current or past — have legislated gay marriage”

    Many south american, as well as many European countries with a strong socialist democratic tradition have legalised civil unions and gay marriage. Frankly so have few Right leaning governments, but its pretty obvious which side of politics opposes equal rights for gays.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage_legislation_around_the_world

    “Not aware of their drug laws — perhaps you could enlighten me, but once again, how many Left-wing governments tolerate illicit drugs ?”

    Urugauys socialist governement decriminalised weed, as did Portuguls socialist governent, Venusuala, Germany decriminalised weed under a socialist democratic government, Canada’s Greens and their liberal party have attempted to legalise cannabis. I could go on..

    “Another furphy — what makes you think only Right-wingers support Israel —think KKK and other white supremacist groups. ”

    Sorry, i thought we were discussing government policy, not whackjobs and extremists.

    “Well, I don’t live in the UK, but I’m pretty sure they have socialised health, a social security system and state education.”

    But the UK also had socialised medicine etc under the Tories. So do we, and did under a Liberal government. Does this mean Thatcher and Howard were Leftists?

    “hmm, I’d say public surveillance fits in nicely there.”

    Patriot act Gav? Governent phone taps without a warrant? Yeah, Bush was one hell of a Leftist!

  8. its a strange world when we have to rely on sites like “boing boing” to read about this…

    i think the age headline this morning was about a man getting bashed by a kangaroo

  9. New Labour had to move to the centre to get elected. That’s how democracy works.

    Leftists are not all that popular with the voters. In the twisted leftist mind that makes them stupid rednecks. In reality it makes them much smarter than the self-regarding chattering classes.

    John Howard also suffered the judgement of the masses for straying from the centre.

    In many ways the politics of the major parties are moulded by the voters. The fringe parties can afford their consciences because they have no realistic expectation of governing.

  10. “New Labour had to move to the right of centre to get elected.”

    Fixed it for you SB.

  11. ooops closing tag.

  12. The UK is a more left-leaning place than Australia, but there’s only the US (that I can think of off the top of my head) to Australia’s right. They are also more like Europe than they are the US.

    The Tories/Conservatives are, of course, right-wing/conservative (I’ll leave alone the distinction there), Labour has moved to the right from their previously central position since, as other commenters say, Blair’s New Labour, and the Liberal Democrats are left wing.

    The linear left/right line doesn’t even apply as much in the UK as it might here. For example, David Cameron’s conservatives are pushing their green credentials, while having being accused of associating with Neo-Nazi groups from Eastern Europe, and denouncing joining the EU.

  13. “David Cameron’s conservatives are pushing their green credentials”

    As did Thatcher? Green doesn’t mean ‘Left’ to me, it means sustainability.

  14. More on the UK police state:

    “Every phone call, text message, email and website visit will be stored for a year for monitoring by the state.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/lawandorder/6533107/Every-phone-call-email-and-internet-click-stored-by-state-spying-databases.html

  15. @RobJ: Not if you ask Minchin or Abbott! It’s all a world-wide left-wing conspiracy! 😉

  16. “Green doesn’t mean ‘Left’ to me, it means sustainability.”

    Good point RobJ, environmental sustainability is a conservative position, in the truest meaning of the word.

  17. “Another furphy — what makes you think only Right-wingers support Israel —think KKK and other white supremacist groups.”

    As these groups are often tied to Christian fundamentalism, the existence of Israel is essential in their belief in the coming ‘Rapture’.

    http://www.arkdiscovery.com/rapture_israel.htm

  18. “Good point RobJ, environmental sustainability is a conservative position, in the truest meaning of the word.”

    Exactly!

  19. Great, decriminalising ‘weed’ as if leftists need to be distanced any further from reality than they already are, still, they say it causes impotence in blokes, so perhaps it should be encouraged after all…

    “Sorry, i thought we were discussing government policy, not whackjobs and extremists”

    We were discussing Right-wingers as distinct from Left and the tendency for one to support certain causes more than the other, actually Duncan.

    As Chade said, the Left/Right line of politics has been well and truly blurred in the UK, it also has been in every democratic country I can think of. Governments in those countries make policies based on what they think will get them votes, not on wether they are of Left or Right ideology.

  20. “they say ”

    Unsubstantiated sources?

  21. “they say it causes impotence in blokes”

    No, they don’t.

    Amazing though Gav, that you guys on the right manage to be utterly disconected from reality without the aid of drugs.

  22. @GavinM: don’t put words in my mouth. :p I didn’t say the lines were blurred, I said they’re not as applicable as they are here, especially as in the manner I described.

    Also, you labelled Labour as Left… when they’re definitely not.

    Governments in ALL countries make policies which are closest to their (perceived) ideology that will get them votes.

  23. While we’re talking about drug laws, doubt has recently been cast on the alleged cannabis-schizophrenia link.

    Meanwhile, at least the federal US government is going to stop pursuing marijuana users in states where it is lawful.

  24. “Great, decriminalising ‘weed’”

    Criminalsing it really worked didn’t it! when I write ‘worked’ I mean worked for the criminals.

  25. Labour are economically left and socially authoritarian.

    The Tories are economically right and socially authoritarian

    The Liberal Democrats are economically right and socially libertarian.

    That’s how I see it.

  26. “We were discussing Right-wingers as distinct from Left and the tendency for one to support certain causes more than the other, actually Duncan.”

    Which is, of course, why you said…

    “I would also say their immigration POLICY..”

    “How many Left wing GOVERNMENT’S — current or past..”

    “how many Left-wing GOVERNMENT’S tolerate illicit drugs…”

    “any GOVERNMENT’S of either stripe”

    “that Labor GOVERNMENT is now according to you suddenly Right-wing — seriously, get a grip.”

    “So a GOVERNMENT has to be Right-wing to go to war”

    “As for Lefty POLICIES specifically..”

    Yep. You sure weren’t talking about governments or policy Gav.

  27. “Labour are economically left”

    Yet Kennett admitted he was wimp when compared to Brumby and his PPPs!

    Which Labor are we talking about? The ones who sold the Commonwealth Bank? the State Bank. I could dig for examples of UK Labours conservative economic record, though I couldn’t be bothered.

    I guess it boils down to relativity or perception, they’re all right wing to me.

  28. Talking about Labour Rob J, not Labor.

    The Blair government did make a number of good economic reforms that have largely been forgoteen amongst the rage over the Iraq war, off the top of my head I can think of the introduction of the minimum wage (or increasing, restructuring of it, or something) to name one, shouldn’t be too hard to find legislation they have enacted however.

  29. The Dutch are among the lowest cannabis users in Europe.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSL5730185

    Looks like decriminalising weed has been a terrible mistake for them, eh Gav?

  30. “Talking about Labour Rob J, not Labor. ”

    IMO Neither are economically left. In the UK they call PPPs PFIs

  31. in regards to support for Israel amongst UK political parties – Nick Griffin seemed very proud when stating that the BNP is the only party that supported Israel unconditionally during the Gaza offensive earlier in the year.

  32. UK Political parties 2008 – Have a gander:

    http://www.politicalcompass.org/extremeright

    Australian Election 2007:

    http://www.politicalcompass.org/aus2007

    Now, i’m sure there’s also a compass that depicts Rudd further to the right than Turnbull, I can’t find it at the moment though.

  33. Depends where your starting point is RobJ. If you are Andrew Bolt, the centre is Hansonism and everything left of that is “leftist”. If you are, I dunno, a generic politicaly active university student the centre is Trotskyism and everything to the right of that is right wing and facist, or something.

  34. “Depends where your starting point is RobJ”

    For me it’s the middle, this is how I can easily recognise both Labour and Labor as right of centre.

    Fact is Labor/Labour are no longer socialist parties. Check my first link again (second picture), it charts Labour’s move from the left to the right, I mean if they’re centre now then they must of been left of Brezhnev in 1972, we know that isn’t the case, they held more socialist values and policies in the 70s but they were never communist.

  35. Rob and Duncan,

    ““they say it causes impotence in blokes”

    No, they don’t.”

    Yes, they do…

    http://cannazine.co.uk/cannabis-news/united-kingdom/cannabis-causes-impotency-doctors-warn.html

    What I’m saying about Labor in the UK in particular – which was the topic of this post – is that they are a long way from being a “Right-wing” government, and its a bit rich for Jeremy to be blaming conservatives for the new laws that have been brought in over there.

    They may have moved away from the old UK Labor Party but they are still well to the Left of the Tories.

  36. Interesting, Gavin, that the only ‘they’ in your link turns out to be “Ian Russell, a specialist nurse practitioner.”

    I don’t know when nurses started becoming spokespeople for the medical profession.

  37. Gav, did you thoroughly read the article before you linked to it?

    What it actually says is that young boys who have been smoking 5 or more joints a week since they were 10 years old often have supressed testosterone levels, which can cause erectile disfunction or low sex drive when they reach puberty.

    There is NO evidence that cannabis use causes erectile dysfunction in adults.

  38. “Interesting, Gavin, that the only ‘they’ in your link turns out to be “Ian Russell, a specialist nurse practitioner.”

    There are many, many sites that discuss this Daphon, I’m sorry I didn’t pick one more to your liking.

    Here’s a suggestion for you guys — you all have access to the internet, so do some looking yourselves — depending on the wording you use, you’ll get plenty of links.

  39. @GavinM: “They may have moved away from the old UK Labor Party but they are still well to the Left of the Tories.”
    Did you look at the political compass link RobJ provided?

    1 million is less than 10 million, but it’s not a small number.

  40. BTW ive been smoking cannabis daily since i was 15 (16 years now, and i’ll only quit when i die) and ive never had any problems with impotence. (Well…just that one time, but i blame the beer 😉

    I also have a full beard and my chest and shoulders are blessed with a luxurious pelt, so obviously low testosterone isn’t an issue.

    No doubt weed is bad for your motivation, can cause respiratory problems and can trigger psychotic episodes in those already suffering from, or those genetically predisposed to psychosis.

    The downsides to smoking weed are easy to avoid; don’t smoke before you hit puberty, don’t smoke before school or work and don’t smoke if you suffer from mental illness.

  41. “They may have moved away from the old UK Labor Party but they are still well to the Left of the Tories.”

    Barely, according to the political compass 😉 The UK Tory’s have hovered around but stayed firmly on the left, they are pretty close at the moment.

  42. “Here’s a suggestion for you guys — you all have access to the internet, so do some looking yourself”

    Having already done that, and having been a daily smoker for over 15 years, is why i know you are talking absolute bullshit Gav.

  43. Ooops, the Tories have stayed firmly on the right.

  44. “Having already done that, and having been a daily smoker for over 15 years, ….”

    Believe me, it shows Dunc.

    Unfortuneately I’m a bit restricted on this — I’m on a work pc and for some reason the company doesn’t seem to want its employees reading up about cannabis or impotency — they have a filter on our internet that prevents access to most sites, the link I gave was the only one I could actually get to yesterday.

  45. “Believe me, it shows Dunc.”

    I disagree. Prohibition of drugs is STUPID and those who support the prohibition of drugs are either stupid or ignorant of the facts.

  46. “Believe me, it shows Dunc.”

    What “shows” is that when you can’t win an argument with logic or facts, you resort to personal attacks.

    Pathetic.

  47. “What “shows” is that when you can’t win an argument with logic or facts, you resort to personal attacks.”

    I obviously didn’t word that too well — that’s what happens when you post in a rush I guess.

    It wasn’t meant to be a personal attack on you Duncan, I meant smoking pot every days shows in terms of appearance of the smoker, from my experience of people I know who do use it, the heavy use of cannabis affects the appearance of the user, as well as their health.

    Mind you, having said that — so does heavy use of alcohol and cigarettes.

  48. Cigarettes don’t require heavy use to be fatal, as far as I know all other drugs can be taken in moderation, marijuana doesn’t have to be smoked.

    If Govts were fair dinkum about their ridiculous war on drugs cigarettes would be banned first!

    I find it laughable that our legislators reckon it’s OK to use two of the most devastating drugs on the planet but wont let people smoke pot!

  49. Fair enough Gav, i did think your comment seemed a bit out of character. Im assuming you can see why i thought it was a personal attack, it sure sounded like one.

    As for heavy cannabis use effecting ones health and even physical appearance, this is true.

    However, being a daily smoker doesn’t mean being a heavy or chronic user. Yes i smoke daily, but im not sinking bongs for breakfast!

    Having a smoke after work is no different than having a few beers after work.

  50. My apologies Duncan,

    I re-read it after your post and thought — “Oops, should’ve put that a better way….Would’ve been wiser to have waited until after the meeting before posting….”

    For the record, personally I really don’t have any problem with legalising cannabis, although I would draw the line at harder drugs.

    As both yourself and Rob have pointed out there are at least as many health issues with alcohol and cigarettes, but I think a lot of the problem for those advocating for cannabis is the public perception that it leads to harder drugs — I’m not sure of the veracity of that belief but I do know its out there.

  51. so…anyone read lefty’s post about the DIGITAL ECONOMY BILL?

  52. Isn’t the bill actually illegal – taking action against someone without involving the judicial system? The EU just cracked the shits over Spain proposing the same thing… umm…

    link:
    http://torrentfreak.com/european-commission-no-3-strikes-without-judicial-oversight-091124/

  53. Great, decriminalising ‘weed’ as if leftists need to be distanced any further from reality than they already are, still, they say it causes impotence in blokes, so perhaps it should be encouraged after all…
    GavinM // 24 November, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Nice of the rest of the thread to take GavinM to task for his assertion that marijuana causes impotence.

    However I’m a bit concerned with the fact that nobody, until now, picked up on his sly little bit of eliminationist antilocution.

    Tell me GavinM, for how long have you harboured a desire for, or supported the idea of, sterilising more than half the population of the world because they sit on the other side of the political fence from you?

    Are you so incapable of offering a sound and defensible arguement against progressive political thought that you’re left with wishing that they’d start dying out due to a lack of fecundity?

    What happens if “The Left” eschews the Ganja?
    Will you take matters into your own hands and finish the job that needs finishing?
    Or will you simply hope like hell we all develop some weird kind of politically biased cancer?

    Perhaps none of the above applies and you’d like to re-think the depth of your hatred for the majority of the people on this blog.

    Cheers.

  54. I don’t hate anyone Marek, either on this blog or anywhere else, the comment was meant as nothing more than a harmless throw-away dig — maybe the reason no-one else took issue with it was because they recognised it as such.

    To be honest, I don’t believe it was anywhere near as offensive as your own “If it costs a few more dead Americans, then so be it.” line on another post on this blog.

    Perhaps I could suggest to you to stop with the feigned outrage over nothing and take a good look in the mirror, otherwise some people might think you’re a bit of a hypocrite….

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