Do you even laissez faire?

A Republican senator from North Carolina is hacked off about all these god damn pesky government regulations, like say for instance making restaurants tell their workers to wash their hands after using the toilet. Let the market deal with that!

“Let them decide” such issues, the newly elected lawmaker said.

His argument was that restaurants which did not require workers to wash their hands would quickly go out of business.

Definitely! Because all the customers would know the workers were not washing their hands, so they would just stop going to those restaurants. How would they know? Um…the magic of the market?

No no wait, the restaurants would tell them. Yeah that’s it!

He suggested that restaurants that did not require hand washing would have to alert customers with prominently displayed signs…

Brilliant! Don’t mandate signs telling the workers to wash their hands – mandate signs telling the customers the workers aren’t required to wash their hands. That’s doing away with pesky government sign-posting and no mistake.

The comments come as some Republican presidential hopefuls have questioned vaccine regulations amid a measles outbreak.

At least two hopefuls have said parents are justified in sometimes having their children avoid vaccinations generally required for attending school.

Freedom freedom FREEDOM.

The reasons for the censorship

Here we go again. Another student union at another UK university says another “no you may not have a cartoon of Mo on your table/Facebook page/stall” to another student union secular society. This one is Manchester.

Outrage has been sparked on Twitter this week in light of a tweet from the University of Manchester Free Speech and Secular Society (FSS) accusing the University of Manchester Students’ Union of unjust censorship in preventing them from displaying a copy of the Charlie Hebdo magazine at the Refreshers’ Fair last Tuesday.

That’s a woefully inelegant sentence, but you get the idea. [Read more…]

Professional journalism

Rupert Myers is very polite and repentant about writing such a nasty and untruthful article in the Telegraph about how Kate Smurthwaite is milking the last minute cancellation of her gig for publicity and besides nobody wanted to see her show anyway.

Hahahaha I’m kidding, no he’s not, he’s rude and dismissive.

Rupert Myers ‏@RupertMyers 6 hours ago
@Cruella1 I wish you the best of luck: my point is that this wasn’t a free speech / no platform situation.

Kate Smurthwaite ‏@Cruella1 6 hours ago
@RupertMyers and you felt the need to accept their point that sales were low without checking the actual facts. You don’t see how that…
…might damage my reputation? Just as well I don’t make my actual living doing this… Oh yes I do. [Read more…]

Guest post: Suffering in silence

Guest post by Misty Griffin


One of the only photos taken of the Author during her teenage years. Here she is seventeen years old.

“People would smile reverently as we walked by, never did they suspect the horrific sexual, physical and mental torture that my sister and I suffered on a daily basis. To the outside world we were the epitome of chasteness, sobriety and down to earth values. In reality my life was a living nightmare  straight from the depths of hell.”
                                                  – Misty Griffin

If you are a rape victim among the Amish it is in every case a very harsh and scary reality. You have no allies, no one to talk to about what happened and no one who will hold your hand as you cry. You the victim are hushed from the very moment word gets out and are told by church leaders that you must have done something to welcome such an attack. In addition you are told that if you speak of the matter you are unforgiving and will go to hell if you do not repent. If the victim is a church member she will be shunned if she refuses to forgive and live as if nothing had happened. Even the victim’s family will not allow  her to talk for fear of being caught and punished by the church.

Children are not taken out of the home. If the rapist is the father they must continue to live in his household until they marry.

[Read more…]

The candidate should “if possible not be a Jew”

The BBC reports on a “no Jews need apply” ad in France:

An advert for a graphic design job in France has been withdrawn after it said the candidate should “if possible not be a Jew”.

Racial discrimination is illegal in France and anti-racism group SOS Racisme says it is taking legal action.

The ad was posted on Monday by Paris-based NSL Studio on jobs site

NSL Studio has apologised for the ad but offered various explanations as to why it contained the offending clause.

First they said long hours, might conflict. Then they said hacked. So those are two totally conflicting reasons. The first is “we had a good, non-anti-Semitic, pragmatic reason.” The second is “we never.” The first betrays the fact that the second is not likely to be true. Pro-tip: choose one of that type but never both. If you use both it looks exactly as if you’re lying. Say you did it for a good reason OR say you never did; do not say you did it for a good reason AND you never did. That doesn’t work.

A series of screams went up around the office

A novel that Harper Lee wrote in the mid-50s, before To Kill a Mockingbird, is going to be published next summer. The Guardian reports that there is much excitement.

UK and Commonwealth rights to the book were acquired by Penguin Random House. The publisher’s announcement on Tuesday was accompanied by a new photo of Lee, climbing out of a car and smiling. The news has been kept secret from all but a handful of staff at the publisher, and publicity director Charlotte Bush said that when it was revealed this afternoon, a series of screams went up around the office.

Well you know how people in publishing are. They’re screamers.

At Foyles booksellers in London, Jonathan Ruppin described the news as being “as big as it gets for new fiction”. “We can close the book on the bestselling novel of 2015 right now. At Foyles today, we’re absolutely fizzing with excitement and frenzied speculation: it’s the only topic of conversation,” said the bookseller, adding that even though To Kill a Mockingbird has long been acknowledged as a classic, it “is a book that still surprises new readers with its power. Its story is arresting and profound, its characters vivid and entirely convincing, so the prospect of a follow-up, after all these years, is giddyingly thrilling”.

I’m still calm about it. I can tell you one thing though – it won’t be anything like as bad as the last piece of fiction (or writing of any kind) that J D Salinger published. That was the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever read. Literally that: embarrassing. It was basically his absurd fantasy life, spread out in huge detail, but by some strange accident published in the New Yorker. Don’t ever publish your fantasy life in the New Yorker.

Harper Lee’s new-old novel won’t be that bad.

More Catholic than the pope

Mona Eltahawy reports on the harassment and persecution of atheists in Egypt.

Because atheism itself is not illegal in Egypt, charges are laid under laws against blasphemy or contempt for religion. In 2012, a 27-year-old blogger, Alber Saber, received a three-year sentence on charges of blasphemy for creating a web page called “Egyptian Atheists.” In 2013, the writer and human rights activist Karam Saber (no relation) was convicted of defaming religion in his short story collection “Where Is God?”

Cool trick. No law against atheism – but you can’t defame religion! [Read more…]

The woman’s right to a platform

Nasty. Nasty, nasty, nasty. People are having themselves a high old time putting that mouthy Kate Smurthwaite in her place. Rupert Myers at the Telegraph is in there with a shiv – pretending her show was canceled because no one wanted to go, which is not the case.

When political activist Kate Smurthwaite had her comedy gig cancelled at Goldsmith’s College yesterday she was quick out of the blocks to tweet and blog about the removal of her show.

As an apparent martyr to free speech her plight quickly attracted reports by the BBC, the Huffington Post and others.

At least the New Statesman’s write-up asked the question “Is this newsworthy? On its own, no, not really”, before going on to outline the internet’s fomenting outrage at the decision to kill the event.

Numbers of students in Universities around the country have become intolerant of free speech, but this incident looks more like a claim for publicity than a good example of that problem.

Despite having tickets on sale for weeks, Smurthwaite’s show had sold eight.

There’s the shiv. The show was for the comedy and feminist societies, whose members got in free. He left that part out. Nasty.

Smurthwaite successfully pivoted this cancellation into a media and internet event which I am now helping to further publicise. Kate’s show will be at the Leicester Comedy Festival. I’m taking a punt here but I expect there are still some tickets left.

What was she supposed to do? Say nothing? Take it like a lamb? Nod and smile and thank the president for deciding to cancel her show? Why shouldn’t she tweet and blog about it? Her gig was canceled at the last minute for the flimsiest (and least coherent) of reasons – why would she do anything other than object?

The publicity we can all cheer – it’s impressively enterprising. My concern is that by portraying what happened as a genuine example of the imperilling of free speech, the media and the internet once again confuse a significant issue.

No picketers have been found. No vote was taken to oppose the woman’s right to a platform.

Says the man, from a very great height.