Death is the only true freedom

Aaron SwartzThe recent suicide of prominent hacker and activist Aaron Swartz, who was faced with the possibility of an extensive prison sentence for an entirely harmless act, has prompted much commentary from politicians and the wider community. His family lay the blame firmly at the feet of the government, claiming that their culture of “intimidation and prosecutorial overreach” was the cause of Aaron’s death. There have been petitions to the White House to remove the officials responsible for the charges, and proposals to amend the law such that violating the acceptable usage policy of a website — which can include such innocuous activities as creating a Hotmail account under a false name — does not result in criminal sanctions.

Stupid laws and their overzealous enforcement is not a problem unique to the US. Prosecutors in the UK, for example, are fond of regulating online speech by employing nebulous legal concepts like “grossly offensive” or “insulting”, in some cases resulting in custodial sentences despite the lack of any actual harm. In Australia there have been convictions over illegal images of cartoon characters — despite being fictional and only vaguely humanoid, Bart Simpson is apparently still a “child” in need of “protection” from dangerous thought criminals. Even this pales into insignificance alongside the third-world kangaroo courts which hand out death sentences for homosexuals and adultery charges for rape victims like they are still in the 14th century.

As a campaigner for online freedom, Aaron Swartz would have been deeply familiar with the propaganda, back-room dealing and pandering to emotion that results in such legal insanities. With his programmer’s capacity for abstraction, he would have understood that the endless power-grabs and supine servitude to the whims of corporate puppet-masters are universal problems with the political system to which there is no easy solution. Even after the initial victory against SOPA, he must have realised that an entire lifetime of activism would hardly stem the flow of ignorant and censorious policy-making. Perhaps he reached the obvious conclusion, implicitly acknowledged by every authoritarian regime that outlaws suicide, that only the dead have seen the end of oppression.

We will never truly know why Aaron Swartz took his own life; despite the conclusion drawn by his supporters, he might well have killed himself irrespective of his legal difficulties. But it seems plausible that rather than an act of fear or desperation, his suicide was actually a statement — the most powerful statement any human can make — that spending another sixty years under the omnipresent thumb of the idiocracy was simply not an acceptable option.


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.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

It will come as absolutely no surprise to anyone that for all their bluff and bluster about respecting civil liberties and offering a change from the status quo, the coalition government has decided to push the same ludicrous Internet spying policies that they originally opposed while Labour was in power. Wheeling out the usual pathetic excuses — blah blah terrorists blah blah paedophiles blah blah protecting children blah blah — they are proposing that the entire population’s web browsing history and email headers (but not content) should be collected by ISPs and made available to authorities, without a warrant, so that they can conduct fishing expeditions for potential criminals based on their Internet usage patterns.

Decision Making

The flaccid ineptitude of the arguments put forward to justify such plans, derived largely from GCHQ’s blind panic that dangerous criminals might be discussing their next suicide bombing or child abduction using those newfangled computery things, is matched only by the shocking technological ignorance that is reflected in their proposed implementation. For starters, British ISPs are capable of accessing data only for messages which are exchanged via their own servers, which immediately excludes anything sent within or between major US webmail providers such as Google, Hotmail or Yahoo. But nobody uses those, right, and it’s not like any Abdullah, Mohammad or Jamal can just sign up for an account no-questions-asked, is it? Oh wait.

The security services also want access to web browsing history and the details of private Facebook and Twitter messages, and here the government continues to demonstrate its inability to grasp the fact that it does not have jurisdiction over the entire world. The British Home Office is no more in a position to demand privileged access to the internals of American social networks than the governments of Iran or Libya, and their requests will most likely be met with much the same response. In some cases that doesn’t matter, because the data can be collected when the UK-based user accesses the foreign website over the internet — except when the connection is encrypted, like Twitter’s secure login page, or Google’s secure search, at which point the British spies are, once again, out of the picture.

The proposals have also made no mention of VOIP services such as Skype (also encrypted) or video chats such as Google+ hangouts (which produce so much data that storing all of it would be next to impossible), so we can safely assume that the government either has no solution or simply hasn’t thought of these issues. It also appears to have given little consideration to the potential for abuse by hackers or corrupt insiders — one might think that the recent phone hacking scandal would have served to illustrate the danger of innocent people’s private information falling into the wrong hands, but expecting politicians to get the message would be to under-estimate the resilience of human stupidity.

In short, we are looking at plans based on little more than guesswork, platitudes, and a childishly naïve faith in the impartial objectivity of law enforcement with regard to the powers it needs, which are not just technically flawed but so utterly trivial to bypass that one has to wonder if the government is being deliberately set up to fail by its “advisors”. Given the contemptuous disregard for evidence and the scientific method that has been displayed by various administrations over these past few decades, it would be unsurprising if the current crop of consultants have simply decided that giving ministers enough rope to hang themselves is more effective than wasting time dispensing advice which will fall on deaf ears. Perhaps when some influential “family values” blowhard gets their fetish porn-browsing history leaked to the tabloids the New English Stasi will actually learn something.

The criminal justice system has too much time on its hands

I think we should take a moment to congratulate the British police force for their apparent success in eradicating all crime from the country. All of the nation’s murderers, rapists, arsonists, muggers, car thieves and fraudsters are safely behind bars; detectives and forensic investigators are dejectedly sitting around with no crimes left to solve; and our fellow citizens can sleep with their doors unlocked, secure in the knowledge that there are no would-be miscreants around to cause trouble.

At least, this is the only reasonable conclusion that can be drawn from the recent news that, following an indignant frenzy of complaints lodged by other Twitter users, police in Swansea have arrested a 21-year-old man who posted racially offensive comments online regarding the hospitalisation of black Premiership footballer Fabrice Muamba. The fact that the publically-funded agents of law enforcement can find nothing better to do with their time than tracking down and prosecuting people for being mean on the Internet must be a testament to their effectiveness in ridding the country of crimes that cause actual harm.

This is just the latest in a series of increasingly frequent incidents where criminal proceedings have been launched against people whose only offence is writing words on a web site. One particularly notorious example was the so-called Twitter joke trial, a case that is arguably an order of magnitude more ridiculous than this one, concerning as it did an entirely humourous message that was neither intended to be offensive nor treated as such by anyone who read it — except of course for the snivelling, vindictive bureaucrats in charge of the so-called “justice” system, who are determined not to let such trivialities as public interest or common sense get in the way of their conviction rates.

I find racism as despicable as any other irrational prejudice; but, unlike the generation of pampered cry-babies that seem to set the political agenda these days, I am capable of hating an idea without demanding that it be censored by the authorities. Not only is such censorship abhorrent to those who value the free exchange of ideas, however “offensive” they might seem, but it is also totally ineffective in bringing about any positive social change. Arresting people for using the word “nigger” is not going to persuade the world’s racists to give up their bigotry any more than the French and German governments’ bans on swastikas and Hitler salutes have magically eliminated neo-Nazi ideology from their respective countries.

One cannot say with certainty what truly motivates cases like this — perhaps a combination of political correctness, jobsworths enforcing the rules simply because they can, an attempt to compensate for the accusations of “institutional racism” that resulted from the Stephen Lawrence inquiry, and various other factors — but it is probably a safe bet that not one person’s life has been improved as a consequence. Those who harbour an illogical hatred of differently-coloured people haven’t changed their views in the slightest, levels of racially-motivated violence are exactly where they were a week ago, and all the while Internet users have to tread ever more carefully to avoid expressing an Illegal Opinion that will get them a fine and a criminal record.

If the government ministers in charge of cost-cutting had any sense, they would be looking at the rising obsession with speech crime as a sign that the systems of law enforcement and public prosecution are carrying some significant extra fat which could safely be trimmed.

The fabricated gender agenda

One of the common unquestioned answers encountered by anyone working in a male-dominated profession such as science, engineering or (especially) IT, is that the lack of female participation in such industries is a “problem” which needs to be solved. Curiously one does not tend to hear such angst over the scarcity of female train drivers, mechanics or dustmen, presumably because over-representation of males in such mundane occupations is not considered prima facie evidence of discrimination like it is in more lucrative career segments. But in the world of technology, just like with executive management and politics, an employer’s inability to recruit at least one woman for every man is treated as a symptom of a grave social injustice.

When attempting to solve a problem it is always important to have a good grasp of precisely what the problem is — and in particular why it is a problem — only after which does it make sense to discuss the cause and potential solutions. Unfortunately any desire for rational analysis tends to fall by the wayside in the case of politically charged or controversial issues, which, aside from the “women into technology” dogma, is also what drives the ever-turning treadmill of thought crimes and knee-jerk legislation. No matter if it’s gender imbalances, video games or people being offended on the internet, the attitude is the same: it is Just Obvious that this is a Bad Thing, no justification is required, and we must progress immediately to solving this problem by whatever means necessary (which will probably involve banning stuff).

It seems that in this particular case the reasoning (to use a term very loosely) goes as follows:

What is the problem? Duh, look at the numbers! Females make up half the population but less than five per cent of computer programmers. This is a Problem.

Why is this a problem? It just is, OK? What are you, stupid? Why do you hate women so much?

What is the cause of the problem? Obviously it’s the evil oppressive misogynistic men. You can hardly walk down the street without bumping into girls who would be technological geniuses if they weren’t put off by smelly bearded geeks in unwashed T-shirts leering at them and grabbing their asses at every opportunity.

What is the solution? Er…can I get back to you on that? Quotas, maybe? Positive discrimination? Maybe we’ll just paint all of the computers pink, it works for cellphones and useless plastic crap in accessory stores after all.

A slight exaggeration of course, but the actual arguments used are hardly any better. A study at the University of Edinburgh, for example, asserts up front that a gender imbalance is “unfortunate” and that there is a “need” to recruit more women into computer science and engineering. It presents an argument based on resources, relying on the politically-correct but unproven assumption that aptitude for scientific work is equally common in both genders and therefore the abilities of women are being wasted — ignoring entirely the possibility that such skills are naturally more prevalent in men and that this is a cause, not a victim, of the imbalance. The author then goes on to advocate allocation quotas (surprise!) and attempting to fashion-ise the industry in order to appeal to young women (so… pink, then?).

To its credit though, the Edinburgh study does suggest avoiding stereotypical approaches based on conventional images of femininity, and at least pays lip service to the need for an actual argument to support the desired conclusion, even if the examples it offers are rather weak. This is more than can be said for the women’s “support groups” found in universities, workplaces and even open-source projects, which are defended with little more than the feeble mantra of “minority… minority… minority…”. Lacking any clearly defined objectives or strategy, such organisations devolve into echo-chambers of self-pity and whining that only perpetuate the belief that women are incapable of functioning in the real world without a chorus of angry sisters to cheer from the sidelines.

The notion that being part of a “minority” automatically justifies special support is nonsense. Redheads, amputees, diabetics, the left-handed and people over 6’4″ are all minorities in most situations, with their own particular needs and sometimes even suffering discrimination, but the suggestion that there should be a “Diabetics Into Astronomy” campaign would be considered ridiculous — having diabetes has no impact on a person’s ability to be an astronomer, and recruiting more diabetics has no impact on the field of astronomy. But somehow, by invoking the mythology of the perpetually disadvantaged weaker sex, the inventors of the gender agenda have managed to establish in the popular mind the idea that “doing XYZ as a woman” is in some way different from simply “doing XYZ”, and includes its own unique set of challenges that you primitive men just wouldn’t understand.Misogynist

So the requirement for the Women In XYZ society is manufactured out of whole cloth, enthusiastically promoted by the indignant white knights of political correctness and rubber-stamped by compliant bystanders so familiar with seeing special treatment for women that no question of its need ever enters their awareness. What issues does the campaign adopt?

  • The pay gap. This is the observation that women on average earn less than men on average, which is obviously evidence of sexual discrimination. Except that it isn’t. Sexual discrimination would be paying a woman less than a man for doing exactly the same job, which these days is very rare and almost certainly illegal. What the gender warriors are actually complaining about is the fact that women tend to pursue lower-paid careers, work fewer hours and take time off to have children — all of which are lifestyle choices freely entered into by the women concerned. If they want high salaries they should train as accountants and lawyers instead of social workers and special-needs teachers.
  • Sexist attitudes and behaviour. It used to be that “sexism” referred to the belief in certain stereotypical differences between the sexes, or that one sex was inferior to the other. Nowadays it has expanded to include almost any action which fails to treat women with the expected level of awe, reverence and submission. So when some self-important student feminist chooses to take offence to your Britney Spears poster or your refusal to leave a communal toilet seat in the female-prescribed position, you can expect to be declared a “sexist”, irrespective of what your actual views on gender roles might be.
  • Violence and abuse. A serious topic to be sure, but not one which is exclusive to women, however much they might like to claim it as their own. Not only do men comprise almost half of the victims of domestic abuse, but they also have the disadvantage of being ignored, ridiculed or treated as perpetrators-by-default by law enforcement. The fact that “violence against women” even exists as a separate concept, with the resulting implication that violence doesn’t matter if it is directed against men, is one of the more obnoxious examples of the gender agenda’s influence.
  • Random crap with no relation to gender. One university women’s society somehow managed to convince itself that energy generation is a women’s issue, and passed a resolution in favour of wind power. If the turbines could be made to run on worthless hot air they might be on to something.

As we can see, not all of the topics adopted by women’s societies are entirely without merit, but the ones that do have value are not specific to one gender. If there are concerns about supporting a family or avoiding harassment in the workplace, then create a group to address those particular issues, and if the audience isn’t perfectly gender-balanced then so be it. There is no logic in pointlessly restricting participation by gender, or labelling things as “women’s issues” when they don’t exclusively affect women — unless of course the intention was never to solve problems in the first place. There does exist a certain core of Julie Bindel-worshipping, chauvinistic female supremacists for whom social equality is the very last thing on the agenda, and while the majority may distance themselves from such extremists, it is clear that the moderates are not entirely immune from such delusions of superiority themselves.