Social Norms

Comments Off on Free speech is not just about the government.

Free speech is not just about the government.

An open letter expressing a generic defence of free speech was published in Harper’s Magazine last Tuesday. By Wednesday morning, two signatories had been hectored into retracting their support, a third had been reported to their employer, and a broad swathe of the activist ecosystem was busy proving the letter’s point that censorship and shaming, Read More

Comments Off on Negative definition

Negative definition

Newspapers across the United States are tying themselves into knots justifying the decision to capitalise ‘Black’ while keeping ‘white’ lowercase. The Chicago Sun-Times provides a useful illustration; its new approach capitalises ‘Black’ and ‘Brown’ but retains ‘white’ in lower case as “a wider descriptor of people of numerous origins”, resulting in the curious conclusion that Read More

Comments Off on Morality Policing

Morality Policing

Until relatively recently, you may have been under the misapprehension that preventing people from breaking the law was somehow part of the job of a police officer. If current events had not quite managed to disabuse you of this notion, then you can ask Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington: officers at Black Lives Matter rallies dedicated Read More

Comments Off on Using the protests: a letter from a Senior to a Junior Devil

Using the protests: a letter from a Senior to a Junior Devil

I have no intention of explaining how the letter which I now offer to the public fell into my hands; suffice it to say that circumspect investigations have confirmed its authenticity, and the identity of the correspondents. My dear Wormwood, I read your latest letter with great trepidation. You may well feel that things with Read More

Comments Off on We’re all living in America

We’re all living in America

As protesters crammed themselves into Trafalgar Square and Hyde Park, as they screamed “hands up don’t shoot” at unarmed British police officers, and as they threw objects and grapple with the same — some of whom had just taken a knee in solidarity with George Floyd — all I could think was how fortunate it Read More

Comments Off on Chen Sheng and the Twitter mob

Chen Sheng and the Twitter mob

Let’s say that one day you’re minding your own business, watching a film on Netflix or something similarly mundane, and because you haven’t learned the first lesson of 21st century living — never tell anyone what you think — you make the fatal mistake of writing down your thoughts and posting them online. Before you Read More

Comments Off on What can we reasonably ask?

What can we reasonably ask?

Oliver Kamm has stated in plain English something which I previously felt to be an uncharitable straw man on my part: “A central reason I count myself a liberal… is that I don’t wish ethnic, cultural and religious minorities to feel they must conform to my way of life. Common citizenship under the rule of Read More

Comments Off on How risky is commuting to work?

How risky is commuting to work?

Officially, there are 1,950 coronavirus cases in the UK. Given the limits on testing, and the rapid growth in infections, the government’s own advisers believe the true number could be closer to 55,000. These cases are not evenly distributed, and we know that London is a few weeks ahead of the rest of the country. Read More

Comments Off on Coronavirus and behaviour, part 2

Coronavirus and behaviour, part 2

This follow-up to my previous blog post goes into more detail on the UK approach to tackling the coronavirus outbreak, the assumptions driving it, and the alternative policy measures available. The usual disclaimer applies; I am trying to pull together information so I can get the shape of this in my head. Any errors are Read More

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