Blaming technology is a comfort blanket for the clueless and terrified

The bodies in the Bataclan Theatre had barely stopped twitching before the authoritarians started their predictable chorus. “It’s Edward Snowden’s fault!”, they thundered. “If that treasonous wretch hadn’t spilled the beans on government snooping, the Paris attackers would have been rotting in jail rather than murdering 130 people!”. It’s a brilliant argument, of course—in a parallel universe where there were no terrorist attacks before June 2013, and the governments of Europe hadn’t already spent over a decade publicly announcing their surveillance powers via an endless stream of legislation. It has since emerged that the French jihadis communicated via unencrypted SMS messages. To say that the Big Brother worshippers are barking up the wrong tree is an insult to the intelligence of dogs.

But even this logic-defying response was no match for the hyperventilation that ensued once it was revealed that one of the attackers had a PlayStation in his home, and might have, perhaps, at some point, possibly used it to communicate with someone, maybe, about the attacks. Or maybe not. Who knows. But he could have done, and that’s more than enough to set off an outbreak of collective panic amongst the technophobic blue-rinse brigade who simply cannot stomach the thought of people being able to interact without the benevolent State watching over them, like an eighteenth-century chaperone, to ensure that their communications are all above board.

This instinctive rush to blame technology for the behaviour of a few deranged individuals has been gaining significant purchase amongst the commentariat in recent years. Almost any device or website that was used by the perpetrator of a serious crime is instantly suspected of aiding and abetting—if not outright causing—the act itself. Curiously this fallacy doesn’t seem to apply to everyday objects such as cars or microwave ovens, perhaps because such inventions have been around long enough that they no longer seem threatening. But God help you if you ever write a smartphone app that the next Jihadi John finds useful, even if just to remember his shopping list. In the eyes of the technology inquisitors, you might as well have carried out the beheadings yourself.

Science-fiction author Arthur C Clarke once remarked that sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, and it seems that where politicians are concerned, “sufficiently advanced” includes anything invented in the last thirty years. Their continued demands for a form of encryption that is secure against hackers and thieves, but magically unlocks in the presence of intelligence services, implies an almost religious view of technology—as if an electronic device crunching numbers can somehow assume the role of Saint Peter, opening the pearly gates to the noble and pure while rejecting the corrupt and sinful. A security system that can divine the moral intentions of its user makes an interesting plot device in Harry Potter, but sadly it cannot exist in reality.

So it is clear that the political elite has almost no understanding of modern technology, and if there is one aspect of society that has remained constant throughout history, it is the tendency for authority figures to fear and loathe what they don’t understand. It happened in the 17th century with Galileo’s dogma-defying model of the Earth’s orbit; it happened in the 1980s with the supposedly “satanic” Dungeons and Dragons; and we see the same thing today as politicians of every colour unite in their dogged belief that censoring the internet is the solution to every problem imaginable. The precise nature of the rhetoric may have changed—overt religiosity is out, vague waffle about security and “hate speech” is in—but the fundamental motivations are the same. If it’s newfangled and complex, it’s probably dangerous and should be monitored, restricted or even banned altogether.

But perhaps this obsession with the tools used by terrorists conceals something even more insidious than simple neophobia. We live in an age when standing up for liberal Enlightenment values is rather unfashionable; instead, guilt-ridden cultural relativism is the norm. Much of the narrative that follows an atrocity is focused on what we—the belligerent, exploitative, racist West—might have done to deserve it. Is it any wonder that in this stifling climate, public figures hardly dare discuss the warped ideologies that turn people into nihilistic murderers? Far safer to retreat into trivial hand-wringing over the web-sites they visit or the words they use, and perhaps pass a bit of symbolic thought-crime legislation just to express our disapproval. It won’t solve anything, of course, but at least it won’t trigger anyone.

It is often said that madness means doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results, and nowhere is this more evident than in the government’s response to emotive issues. Ham-fisted attempts to control and censor the internet have had no demonstrable impact on child abuse, racism or even copyright infringement, and yet—like a nervous child who refuses to let go of a tattered, saliva-stained stuffed animal—politicians desperately cling to their favourite golden hammer irrespective of its uselessness. If our leaders cannot grow a collective spine and start addressing the root causes of terrorism rather than sacrificing yet more vital freedoms on the altar of blind optimism and magical thinking, then not only will we continue to suffer at the hands of violent extremists, but we won’t even have a society worth defending from them in the first place.


Power + paranoia: a lethal combination

While recently watching the critically-acclaimed and much parodied German film Downfall, which chronicles the final few months of Hitler’s regime in Berlin, I found the portrayal of Hitler both surprisingly mundane and disturbingly familiar. As he raged about the cowardice of his generals or the weakness of the German people, it became clear that this was not some comic-book villain cackling madly in his tower while he killed people for his own personal amusement, but a paranoid and delusional man who seemed to genuinely believe he was fighting a necessary war against some insidious evil.

Looking at other dictators throughout history we see similar patterns of behaviour. Josef Stalin executed over half a million people whom he suspected were a threat to his authority, while Mao Zedong’s oppressive and reality-denying policies claimed the lives of tens of millions through execution and mass starvation. Like Hitler, both men were unshakeable in their convictions that the only thing standing in the way of their grand schemes was deliberate sabotage by bourgeois counter-revolutionaries. With an outlook that is more psychotic than psychopathic, such tyrants have more in common with cranks than with the gratuitously sadistic monsters they are often painted as.

The crank (or crackpot, or kook) is a creature for whom the free-for-all nature of the Internet offers a fertile breeding ground, and its characteristics are instantly recognisable: a pathological disconnection from reality (although they may have advanced knowledge in a specific domain), an often grandiose and exaggerated sense of self-importance, and an obsession with the threat posed by some nebulous, conspiratorial enemy — be it the Jews, the bourgeoisie, academia, hackers, Big Pharma, paedophiles, Satanists, The Patriarchy, pornographers, the Far Right, the liberal media or (of course) “terrorists”. The crank, in his own eyes, is the last sane man trying to promote a supreme Truth against the malevolent machinations of a powerful establishment.

Fortunately, most cranks are harmless. It is easy to laugh at the incomprehensible ravings of Time Cube, or the bizarre and logic-defying conspiracy theories about the Moon landings or the 9/11 terrorist attacks. But you don’t have to look far beyond the surface to see the same desired for scorched-earth, no-disagreement-allowed eradication of the crank’s opponents that were put into terrifying practice by the likes of Stalin and Mao: “SUPPORT TIMECUBE OR BE CURSED. CUBELESS AMERICANS DESERVE – AND SHALL BE EXTERMINATED”. There is little doubt that if such people were to gain political or military power, the consequences would be disastrous.

But that’s fine, because nobody would ever put a deranged lunatic in a position of responsibility, right? A somewhat less optimistic view might be taken by the victims of the “Satanic panic” of the eighties and nineties, during which dozens of families were torn apart on the basis of ludicrous and totally fabricated allegations by crusading cranks. A more recent example occurred in Libya when six foreign aid workers were convicted — via evidence-free speculation and “confessions” extracted under torture — of conspiring to infect children with HIV as part of a plot to overthrow the state. Such events don’t approach the horrors of the Third Reich, but the underlying mentality is the same: They are out there, They are working against us, They must be exposed and eliminated, and anyone who disputes this is most likely one of Them.

Hitler and Stalin are dead, but the force that drove them is alive and well. If there is ever another Holocaust, it will not be announced with swastikas and Nazi salutes, but with something far more subtle: the language of conspiracy and paranoia, invoked by those with sufficient power to turn their delusional world-view into a catastrophic political reality.

Student Union feminists are the new Taliban

There exists in this world a regressive political movement which regards women as weak and inferior creatures unable to take responsibility for their own lives. Its adherents seek to protect women by outlawing their participation in immoral activities like pornography or lap-dancing, and demand that the sight of exposed female flesh is prohibited in public so as not to ignite violent and dangerous desires in men. Motivated by an extremist interpretation of a philosophy advanced by their forebears, they act with an air of divine entitlement that tolerates no disagreement and despises free speech.

One might be forgiven for immediately associating such a description with the Taliban, or various other gangs of Middle-Eastern nut-jobs whose medieval values and iron-fisted authoritarianism have been widely seen in the context of the so-called War on Terror. But this particular group exists a lot close to home, in the form of a self-important lobby of shrieking busybodies who, despite their policies’ striking similarity to those of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, nonetheless regard themselves as both “liberals” and “feminists”.

"Feminists" in the UK claim that visible female flesh is dangerous and immoral and should be banned in public. Completely unlike the Taliban, who claim that visible female flesh is dangerous and immoral and should be banned in public.
“Feminists” in the UK claim that visible female flesh is dangerous and immoral and should be banned in public. Completely unlike the Taliban, who instead claim that visible female flesh is dangerous and immoral and should be banned in public.

Yes, we are of course talking about the Student Union feminists — those privileged, pampered princesses who can often be found in student publications peddling some inane twaddle about how they are metaphorically raped every time a fat guy looks in their direction. Making good use of the copious free time afforded by their unchallenging liberal arts degrees, they creatively re-define terms such as “equality” and “sexism” in an effort to grant themselves the status of a permanent victim whose emancipation will not be complete until the world is cleansed of every word, image or idea that might damage their precious self-esteem.

The latest piece of idiotic propaganda from these deluded dipshits is that the selling of “lad’s mags” — those magazines aimed at young men which typically feature bikini-clad ladies on the front cover — is potentially violating “equality” legislation by exposing staff and customers to inappropriately sexualised imagery. Based on their endlessly-repeated claim that such images are a direct cause of violence against women, an assumption plucked out of thin air which is entirely contradicted by the evidence, they demand that this material is removed forthwith or else lawsuits will follow.

That these people resort to threats and bullying in pursuit of their goals is unsurprising. Fully aware that their ridiculous views have little or no traction with the general public, they retreat from open debate in order to push their agenda through legal manoeuvring and lobbying of their gullible collaborators within the political elite. With no ability to promote their ideas on their own merits, they attempt to prop them up using the only tactic they understand — that favoured tool of politically-correct zealots everywhere — censorship, censorship, and yet more censorship.

The brave and noble feminists who once risked their livelihoods to secure women the rights to vote, own property and seek employment on an equal footing with men must be turning in their graves at the commandeering of their legacy by this shrill mob of freedom-hating offenderati. In stark contrast to the positive and empowering attitudes behind the feminism of the twentieth century, the bleating whiners of today perceive women only as victims, whose delicate vulnerability justifies an increasingly absurd and oppressive regime of illiberal lawmaking. All that their histrionics actually achieves is to so alienate the rest of society that people with perfectly reasonable, egalitarian viewpoints are reluctant to be associated with the feminist cause.

Fighting discrimination with discrimination

It has recently been reported that EU Commissioners — those un-elected and unaccountable bureaucrats from Brussels who dictate large segments of national legislation — are attempting to impose “women quotas” on the boards of directors of companies across the EU. The proposals, which are now scheduled for debate in November, would require European companies to ensure that a minimum of 40% of their directors are female or else face hefty fines for non-compliance.

Exactly what a company is expected to do if there just aren’t enough qualified female applicants is as yet unclear. Cease trading and declare bankruptcy? Offer sex changes to its male directors? Drag in women off the street and appoint them to senior positions irrespective of their ability to do the job, just to meet the quota? Given the current state of the economy one might think that encouraging effective business leadership would be more of a priority, but clearly no financial meltdown is severe enough to distract the female supremacists from their campaign to turn the world into the Wimmin’s Gendercratic Republic of Herland, where the mere status of being born with a vagina is an automatic VIP pass for special legal privileges and protections.

The call for allocation quotas — sometimes whitewashed as “positive discrimination”, “affirmative action” or various other slimy euphemisms — is a staple of the politically correct faux-liberal elite and their inane notion that you can fight inequality by introducing more inequality. These are often the same retards who want to censor the far-right in order to “fight fascism”, criminalise pornography and prostitution to “protect women”, and outlaw any criticism of religion as “hate speech”, which gives a pretty good idea of how illiberal and authoritarian their policies actually are. Under the guise of promoting fairness and justice, these people champion a brave new world where important principles like personal choice, freedom of expression and equality before the law are casually tossed aside in favour of artificially engineered cultural conformity; a sanitised, micro-managed nanny state where only the correct opinions and behaviours are permitted and every organisation must have the correct demographic composition.

Even if we accept the gender warriors’ dogmatic belief that the lack of women in company boardrooms is clear evidence of patriarchal oppression, a remedy based on quotas is not only impractical — companies can neither forcibly recruit women nor manufacture them out of thin air — but also actively harmful to its own stated goal of combating discrimination. If female leaders are not already respected, then treating them as invalids who cannot function without special support is just going to make the situation a whole lot worse, and will encourage people to think of them as tokens employed to satisfy a legal requirement rather than because they are competent to do the job in their own right. Trying to eliminate sexist attitudes by imposing quotas is like trying to eliminate bullying by forcing bullies to invite their victims to the Christmas party.


And all that is assuming that a gender imbalance in senior management actually matters in the first place. If there are indeed qualified and capable women who are being held back from the top jobs by discrimination then that is unfortunate for them, but its impact on the rest of society is minimal (unless one subscribes to the silly romantic fantasy that female managers offer some “unique feminine insight” which companies are missing out on). There are 500 million people in the EU, and the closest most of them will ever get to a company boardroom is watching The Apprentice, which makes expending legislative effort on this issue rather a poor use of resources. By all means go into schools and try to persuade young women to do something more valuable with their lives than pouting into cameras or cranking out babies (and good luck with that), but don’t waste time with useless grandstanding and feeble proposals which wouldn’t pass muster in a high school debating society. Quotas are not a solution to anything other than loony-left guilt.

The emotards are at it again

It seems that in recent days the useless boneheads who supposedly represent our interests in parliament have run out of real issues to debate, and are instead busily participating in an echo chamber of hysteria over the time limits for abortion operations. It kicked off with Women’s Minister Maria Miller, who claims that her support for a reduction in the limit from 24 to 20 weeks is based on “common sense” and “the impact on women and children” — which is a bit like saying that the Salem witch trials were conducted to advance the cause of scientific research — and the proposal has attracted partially favourable comments from several politicians including the prime minister himself.

Oh yeah, and there’s been yet another pointless speech-crime prosecution, this time related to comments about the disappearance of April Jones. About time too: it’s been well over a month since the last one, our prisons are nowhere near full enough, and we must work hard to preserve the UK’s growing reputation as a nation of pathetic cry-babies who need the government to protect them from the unspeakable horror of having their feelings hurt on the internet. Apparently the perpetrator was initially arrested “for his own safety” after an angry mob turned up at his house, suggesting that this particular case is less about over-zealous law enforcement than it is a manifestation of the current popular fetish for entitled hysterical offense-taking.

There are very few topics more mind-numbingly tedious than the endless whining about abortion. In the red corner we have considerable scientific evidence that legalised abortion offers social benefits in terms of reduced crime levels and public spending, while in the blue corner we have a gaggle of boo-hooing emotionalists wringing their hands over the imaginary “rights” of an unconscious bundle of cells with no thoughts or personality of its own. This only constitutes a meaningful debate to the same extent that Mike Tyson fighting a blind paraplegic two-year-old constitutes a boxing match, although sadly it won’t end anywhere near as quickly.

The existence of such a controversy is hardly surprising in a world where millions of American adults believe that the universe was literally created in seven days, but it’s rather more worrying when a significant number of senior ministers publicly declare their support for regressive and superstitious policy changes that benefit precisely no-one. Fortunately the official government policy on abortion is that there is no official government policy on abortion — parliamentarians are free to vote on such issues in accordance with their conscience — so we can hopefully rely on the “pro-choice majority” so despised by the sentimentalists to obstruct this latest attempt to roll back personal freedoms and rational practicality in the interests of their own little feelings. For now.

Standing up for the right to suffer

There is something uniquely disgusting about the sort of person who fights against the attempts of terminally ill patients to end their suffering under the pretext of protecting their “Right to Life”. It’s not simply that their position is rationally indefensible — the world is well-stocked with nutters whose disconnection from reality is far greater — but rather the smug, self-serving manner in which they gleefully cheer on other people’s enforced misery in order to pander to their own emotional insecurities, along with their ridiculous pretence that you can “protect someone’s rights” by taking away their choices.

In the recent case of Tony Nicklinson, a stroke victim who is paralysed from the neck down, the actual court ruling was understandable: a declaration that assisted suicide is permissible in this case would amount to the courts making a change in the law, which is a supposed to be a privilege reserved for Parliament. But the reaction from the pro-life lobby was swift and predictably idiotic:

Compassion and solidarity are the humane and caring responses to locked-in syndrome. To legalise killing of those who are suffering would adversely affect many, many people.

We trust that today’s judgment will help end the insidious campaign in the British courts to change the law on assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Compassion and solidarity. The guy can’t move a muscle in his body, but it’s all perfectly OK as long as the rest of us feel really, really sorry for him. Let’s start a Facebook group in his name, and show how compassionate we are by taking it in turns to post the most insipid masturbatory glurge we can come up with; I’m sure that will make his life a whole lot better. The “insidious campaign” comment is just bizarre: what these patients want is the freedom to end their own lives, nothing else. What insidious ulterior motive are they supposed to have? Perhaps Mr Nicklinson is actually faking his disability for the sole purpose of hurting the feelings of a few self-important moralidiots who can’t stomach the idea of other people being allowed to make choices of which they disapprove.

Despite what god-botherers, new-age spiritualists and general bliss ninnies like to claim, human life is not some magical unexplained gift from above. It is a biological accident with no meaning or value beyond what it provides to its participants, which in the case of Mr Nicklinson seems to be very close to nothing. For an unrelated third party to muscle in and dictate that life must be preserved at all costs, even against the express wishes of the mentally competent patient, simply because their own life is wonderful and they can’t imagine how it could be different for anyone else, demonstrates not compassion but the typical patronising and sanctimonious arrogance of those whose world-view is governed by blind faith rather than fact.

Let’s hope that one day, when humankind’s primitive superstitions hold less of a stranglehold over public policy, sanity will prevail and people suffering incurable pain will be able to choose to end their lives in a manner which suits them rather than the emotional convictions of sanctity-of-life romanticists. But for now, the message is clear: if you get diagnosed with a terminal disease, make sure you kill yourself while you have the ability, because once you are dependent on others you can be sure that they will drag out your death for as long as humanly possible — all in the aid of compassionately protecting your rights, of course.