Category Archives: Freedom

Vexatious and ill-informed

Ars Technica reports that two ‘anti-Muslim activists’ are suing the US government for failing to protect their rights under the First Amendment to the US Constitution by preventing Facebook, Twitter and YouTube from censoring them.

Even I know that the First Amendment doesn’t apply to anyone except the US government itself:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are not departments of the US government and any attempt by it to regulate their content would itself violate the second term of the First Amendment.

I have no doubt that the US judiciary will set aside this vexatious and ill-informed suit.

It is interesting, if perhaps unsurprising, that American Muslims appear to have more common sense than to attempt any kind of proceeding against their opponents’ use of these services under the first term.

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Follow *only* the yellow brick road

Longrider:

…why don’t we ban contact sports, motor sport, running, jumping, walking, or, indeed any activity that might, possibly, result in injury that will need treatment by our glorious socialised healthcare provider?

We will. And the ranks of the mighty public-sector unions will be swelled by the new army of enforcers.

There has been talk (I’m damned if I’ll rummage for hours in the fascists’ loathsome websites for a link, frankly) of not allowing anyone off the public highway at all –  and thus into places from which they might have to be expensively rescued – until they have been on an approved course, have bought approved insurance, and have submitted to being ‘guided’ in approved groups by an approved official.

And this is about walking. Everything else that Longrider mentions is already doomed.

Another indication of the official attitude to being out without one’s minder is the fact that despite receiving regular new covers, now featuring cheap stock-shots of po-faced self-righteous path-wreckers on mountain-bikes, Ordnance Survey maps have not been redrawn or updated for decades, and some are now dangerously out of date.

Perhaps the idea is to wean the public off the idea that they are allowed to know what is between the roads programmed into their satnavs, in case they might have the temerity to suppose that they are permitted to go there.

 

Fourteen

I am obliged to Mr. Keith Garrett, a poet, for finding, and apparently reading, this blog. I think he must be the first. How the attention of an actual poet might have been attracted to Peckhamian goose ravings I’m not so certain, but he’s most welcome.

He has done a poem about being thirteen, with which I can’t really argue because it is clearly about the evanescence of youth. However, my own recollections are slightly different.

When I was thirteen I was drafted into the Combined Cadet Force, which made an enormous difference to my school career.

If one happens to be a short-arsed scholar life at an Army school, even if one is of an Army family, is not so much fun. Very large and not very bright people keep mistaking one for the ball, or for some other childish plaything, and become troublesome when their amusements are thwarted.

I was a loathsome-looking soldier because Army kit comes in three sizes: Large, Too Large, and Far Too Large, and even Regimental Sergeant-Major Lambert, who competed fiercely with my own grandfather for the title of ‘kindest RSM in the British Army’ could see little in my appearance on parade other than ‘a sackful of shit, tied up careless’.

At the age of fourteen I went to camp (it was at Crowborough) and for the first time fired a live round from a Rifle, Short, Magazine, Lee-Enfield, No. 4. It went into a Figure 11 at 100 yards. So did the next. In fact, all of them did, as they did at longer ranges. The first shot, perhaps owing to nerves, was slightly out, but none of the others were; at the first attempt I had scored 99%, one point from a ‘possible’.

In the butts the RSM had to be helped to a chair and fanned with pieces of cardboard until he recovered from the shock. Company Sergeant-Major Owen, who rather fancied himself as a rifleman, never forgave me, and made my life something of a misery at every opportunity thereafter.

Major Pitman, whom we never tired of reminding that he resembled Klaus Fuchs, noticed that I was not the only horrid little oik who could shoot; there were several others entitled to the precious crowned rifle on the red ground, though only I was Contingent Fullbore Rifle Champion. He formed us into a squad of what our American cousins call ‘designated marksmen’, the RSM having insisted that there was no place in the contingent for snipers. Since at that time the establishment thought it might need us we didn’t do much chocolate soldiering, and generally looked like something disagreeable out of the arse end of Vietnam, cunningly camouflaged with heavy encrustations of rifle badges. This squad duly scared the moustaches off a succession of visiting Generals, to the Major’s intense satisfaction.

Such an Arthurian performance, coupled with the general supposition that anyone in the CCF might well have a live round or two in his pocket, led to something of a change in my fortunes, if only when I was in Army, rather than school, uniform. It’s quite amazing how polite people become when they suspect that you might be able to kill them out of hand at 600 yards.

And so I don’t need to write a poem about being fourteen, because it was written for me long ago, supposedly by one Major-General Rupertus, US Marine Corps:

This is my rifle. There are many like it – but this one is mine.

lee-enfield_no_4_mk_i_28194329_-_am-032027

[Wikimedia Commons]