One download for the road

The callous fucks at the BPI have compared music downloading to drink-driving: "In terms of behavioral change, the U.K. government has broadcast the dangers of drunk driving, but people still drunk drive".

Drink-driving is dangerous not because it is illegal, but because it may well kill or maim you and other people. Downloading music from the Internet is dangerous only to the extent that it might earn you a £2500 fine. Comparing the two is an insane piece of trivialisation.

Then again, this is the industry that has more or less succeeded in associating people who copy music with people who murder the inhabitants of boats in order to steal all their property and cargo. The drink-drive analogy is positively benign by comparison.

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Conspiracy theory

We know that serious crime in the UK is trivially low, unless you’ve made the unfortunate career choices of drug dealer or sex worker (‘we’ here excludes paranoid Daily Mail-reading lunatics). Homicides are running at 700-900 a year, and the vast majority are domestic or drug-influenced.

Given this, it seems unfortunately anomalous that of the very few high-profile, ultra-horrible, ultra-dramatic murders to take place in rich areas recently, two have taken place extremely close to Yank expat blogger Jackie D. One next to her office, and one next to her boyfriend’s office. She views this as proof that England is more dangerous than the US. I’m sceptical of this view, given that – at least in terms of homicide – it very, very clearly isn’t.

Nonetheless, it’s a bizarre coincidence. My theory is that someone has become annoyed with Jackie’s incessant whining about how everyone in the UK is an antisemite, an evil statist, a cynic, a thug or a murderer, and has therefore decided to persuade her to flee back to the States by arranging a bizarre and extreme set of apparently coincidental crimes to terrify her.

(meanwhile, Yank expat in France Jason Stone has decided to stop being a Yank expat in France, because he can’t get a job, because he doesn’t speak French. While I have some sympathy for him personally, it’s a brilliant demonstration of Anglophone arrogance: I imagine his attitude to a non-English speaker who applied for high-powered corporate jobs in the US would be, err, different…)

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The Paedoph Isles

Via Harry Hutton, some data tables covering UK crime rates over the last 100 years.

Interestingly, sexual offences against children [*] are running at less than two-thirds of their 1973 peak, despite far greater efforts to ensure they are reported. This fits with the whole "quick, let’s find a bogeyman to keep the public scared" theory behind the growth in fear of paedophiles and child abductors over the last 20 years.

However, the number of such offences has risen by 36% since its low point in 1998. This could reflect government initiatives to ensure more victims of sex crimes come forward, and that child witnesses are treated more humanely in the courts.

However, in the general spirit of the electoral campaign (ie trivialising others’ suffering and in appalling taste), I’m going to suggest it’s because New Labour is objectively pro-paedophilia, and a vote for Michael Howard is the only way to save your children from having horrible things done to them by asylum seekers and gypsies.

[*] Defined here as unlawful sexual intercourse with girls under 13 and girls under 16, incest and gross indecency with a child. I know incest doesn’t *necessarily* feature children, but prosecutions for adult incest are more than a little rare.

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Conciliatory abortion note

I hope we can all agree, at least, that Sheriff Joe Arpaio is the world’s worst man.

Even before reading the latter piece, he was the kind of guy (alongside suicide bombers, rapist priests, and occasionally Ian Paisley) who made me wish there were a hell – just so I could imagine his expression after he died and ended up there.

Concerning that piece… sheer fucking evil. Everyone who voted for the man deserves to die in the nastiest crime scene imaginable. Imagine ‘CSI: Too Horrible For TV’. Something like that.

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Bringing it home

"Ethical arguments of the form ‘We should torture [other people] if…’ will be rejected out of hand. Ethical arguments of the form ‘I should be tortured if …’ may be entertained. Or, maybe better, ‘My sister should be tortured if…’. That is all" – Unqualified Offerings appears eminently qualified.

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Budget commentary

The Budget is a bit, but not very, wank.

In a proper budget, rich pensioners would be soaked for every penny they’ve stolen from the younger generation via insane asset price rises, rather than rewarded. Meanwhile, the last thing the younger generation would be encouraged to do is buy houses. Petrol duty would be doubled, since car use causes clear and significant damage to the environment and to non-consenting third-parties’ health; booze and fag taxes would be halved, since said comestibles don’t.

However, as an exercise in window dressing and not-fucking-things-up-very-much, it’s reasonably adequate. One cheer, one boo, and one diffident stare.

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On losing the will to live

If you don’t accept that the 100,000 number from the Lancet study on Iraq war causalties represents a probable lower bound (given its exclusion of Falluja, where we appear to have killed everyone) on the number of Iraqis who died in the 18 months following the war and otherwise wouldn’t have died in the 18 months following the war, and you do not have a PhD in a statistical discipline, then you are an ignorant bigot

Given this, the number of ignorant bigots out there is scary enough to make one lose the will to live. Until one remembers that (per Dan), probably over 100,000 Iraqis didn’t even get that option.

I’ve also lost the will for Christopher Hitchens to live, although that started to happen some time ago.

[*] See here for why. Respond with criticisms of Tim Lambert’s explanations only if you either have a PhD in a statistical discipline, or wish to provide my readers with cheap laughs at your ignorant bigotry.

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Wasting police time

When police forces are claiming they don’t have enough officers to investigate murder cases, does it really make sense to commit police time to locking up not-for-profit warezmongers?

There are two sane answers. One is "no, of course it doesn’t, what the fuck is going on? Who gives a monkey’s if a few nerds get the next version of Windows before it’s released". The other is "no, of course it doesn’t, but software piracy is a serious problem, so we should fund the coppers enough to deal with both". The latter is a reasonable view – but even so, based on current resources, there is no excuse for the police wasting their time on the latter sort of case.

(to be fair, one of the warezmongers apparently used his job to supply customers’ credit card numbers to buy software with, which is thoroughly scummy behaviour and should be punished just as severely as any other ID theft. However, most of them didn’t.)

My perspective is that the police should investigate only crimes against individuals. Companies should be free to carry out their own investigations against individuals and competitors who attempt to copy (or defraud, or blackmail) them, including obtaining warrants to disclose secret information based on reasonable suspicion as the police currently do. They should, however, have to do this at their own cost.

Not only is the current IP regime a nonsensical piece of corporate welfare in itself, IP enforcement is a nonsense. I resent the use of my tax money to track down people who are beneficial in strict economic terms (once a piece of IP exists, the most economically efficient outcome is to distribute it as widely as possible), who are only questionably harmful in any terms (the greatest advances in human invention came before the implementation of rigorous IP and patent law, and the idea that domestic use of pirated business software damages companies’ bottom lines appreciably is laughable), and who *certainly* only harm corporations who can afford to do the tracking-down themselves.

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Argument awards

Matt Daws wins the inaugural SBBS Arguing About Abortion Awards, for not only spotting the vital premise: "such arguments are essentially pointless", but also remembering the author’s previously expressed views.

Larry comes a close second, with views as well-justified as Matt plus the image of the author running amok with a chainsaw in a maternity ward. However, he loses the top spot for lacking Mr Dawes’ willingness to admit the futility of even bothering to have this debate when we’re all starting from such insanely different premises.

Honourable mentions also go to Squander Two, with a set of well-expressed points (the willingness to admit that there is no solution, without the willingness to say this makes the whole bloody thing pointless counts both for and against S2 here), Matt T (who gained many points for adding stats where others were bolloxing about hypotheticals, but lost a few for emotive reductions of the argument), and dsquared, who wins a million points for quotable quotes, but loses them again for failure to back said quotes up.

Andrew Bartlett only said one thing, but it was sensible. So did Ally, and she’s a woman, and therefore the only person to actually have the right to participate in the debate under the original conditions expressed [*]. And Jimmy Doyle wins the Oliver Kamm Wooden Spoon for condescension, vapid verbosity and unprovoked personal abuse. The prize is an hour’s tutorial with Jimmy Doyle, so it’s probably just as well for all concerned that things turned out the way they did.

The next SBBS Arguing About Abortion Awards will take place either when hell freezes over, or when four randomly selected, well-educated people can sit in a room and have an argument about abortion that doesn’t turn into an acrimonious and bitter ranting match. And lo, the pot has spoken.

Also, some clarifications:

1) I’m well aware that my original opinion on this matter makes absolute sense if you believe the foetus not to be a person, none whatsoever if you believe it to be one, and somewhere in between if your views are elsewhere.

2) I stand by my views on the Catholic church (not the ‘burn them all’, but the dislike of clerical authority and teachings that Mr Doyle labels as ‘shallowness, ignorance and bigotry’). I believe, on the empirical evidence, that the world would be a better place should the Catholic church cease to exist tomorrow (just as I believe about Wahabbi Islam, Protestant fundamentalism, and the VHP). On the same basis, I really don’t care whether or not the Church of England, the Quakers or the Baha’i continue to exist: none is doing any serious harm (or indeed, anything particularly serious) any longer.

[*] The male-dominated nature of the debate may or may not say a great deal about men, the Internet, SBBS readers, or all three.

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Oh, and on that Catholic thing

No man should hold any views on abortion other than these. Or in the event that they do, then they should seriously consider shutting the fuck up about them until they’re, say, bearing an unwanted child.

This is not an issue on which males have any right to decree what should happen, and only supreme arrogance would lead one to conclude otherwise.

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