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Category: Society

‘Don’t know they’re born’

‘Don’t know they’re born’

A major reason why young social progressives are turning against free speech is that they can’t imagine being in a situation where the authorities don’t share their values. This comes across very clearly in conversations about the limits of free speech, academic freedom, freedom of association and similar. Many are thoughtful, considered, reasonable people, willing to contemplate that maybe some ‘dangerous’ or ‘offensive’ ideas should be allowed to discussed, within certain limits. But as the conversation continues, you realise the…

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Harvard descends to new lows in the war on academic freedom

Harvard descends to new lows in the war on academic freedom

It’s a fundamental of our system of justice that anyone accused of a crime, however vile, deserves a fair trial and the right to a defence. This applies to everyone: murderers, rapists, terrorists, racists, paedophiles – and even Harvey Weinstein. Defence lawyers who take on these unpalatable cases are understood to be fulfilling an essential role in the justice system, not to be personally supporting murder or terrorism. The students and authorities at Harvard University clearly think otherwise. This weekend,…

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How Identity Politics Divides Us

How Identity Politics Divides Us

Those of us who oppose to identity politics often do so because we believe that it is a worldview that increases societal division, by encouraging people to divide themselves into groups within society and then pitting those groups against each other. This would be in contrast to worldviews that strengthen society by seeking to focus on what unites and brings people together, perhaps as citizens of a nation, members of a community or even employees of a company. There have…

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Rights vs Freedoms

Rights vs Freedoms

Note that these are not new ideas; they have been discussed extensively in academia and elsewhere. But it is a lens that I find can be helpful. In some recent reading and discussions a concept that has come up is the distinction between freedoms and rights. Broadly, this states that traditional liberalism focuses on freedoms – for example freedom of speech, religion and association – whereas the modern social progressive movement focuses on positive rights, such as the right to…

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Confirmation Bias and Vote Leave’s Crimes

Confirmation Bias and Vote Leave’s Crimes

The differing opinions over whether the fact that Vote Leave broke electoral law had any impact on the result of the Brexit Referendum offer one of the clearest examples of confirmation bias in recent history. In the absence of confirmation bias, opinions should be uncorrelated. The crime wasn’t discovered (or even suspected) until well after the vote, so there’s no way one’s views on the impact could have affected an individual’s votes. And while many other political issues are correlated…

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More on ‘Gay Cakes’

More on ‘Gay Cakes’

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Asher’s Bakery over whether they were allowed to refuse to bake a cake bearing the slogan ‘Support Gay Marriage’. They agreed that Asher’s would have happily served other products to gay people and would have refused to make a cake bearing that slogan for anyone, gay or straight. The issue was the message, not the identity of the people being served. https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/uk-northern-ireland-45789759 Though I support gay marriage, I believe the…

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Postmodernism and the Devil

Postmodernism and the Devil

“Roper: So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law! More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? Roper: I’d cut down every law in England to do that! More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you — where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast — man’s laws, not…

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Some Thoughts on the Culture Wars

Some Thoughts on the Culture Wars

It’s hard to imagine now just how controversial and offensive Monty Python’s Life of Brian was when it first came out. BBC and ITV refused to show it, it was banned by a number of town councils and cinemas were picketed by angry people who felt it shouldn’t have been made. For someone like me, who grew up seeing it as irreverent, slightly rude humour, not particularly different to Fawlty Towers, it can be hard to see it this way….

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A Social Policy Trilemma

A Social Policy Trilemma

There is a trilemma in economics that states that a nation can only have two of the following three things: – Free movement of capital – A fixed monetary exchange rate – An independent monetary policy. All three of these are things that a country would sometimes quite like to have; however, the trilemma states that if a country has two of them, the third must in consequence be given up – it is not possible to maintain all three…

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Happy Birthday, NHS

Happy Birthday, NHS

Happy Birthday, NHS! I’m proud to celebrate the 70th anniversary of one of Britain’s best and most brilliant institutions. The NHS is absolutely fantastic. I’ve personally been fortunate enough in my health that I’ve not needed much from the NHS beyond childhood vaccinations and the mending of a broken finger, but every other member of my immediate family, and many of my friends, owe their lives to it. I don’t normally talk about my family on this blog, but I’ll…

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