It’s not too late to start your observance of Ramendan, “[a] month of sacrifice in which followers eschew all other foodstuffs after sundown, to test their devotion to the almighty noodle.”
“All progress is made by unreasonable people.”
George Bernard Shaw
Last year, the UK government held consultation into its proposed Digital Economy Act, an extremist copyright proposal created by the unelected Business Secretary Peter Mandelson. The process that followed was as dirty as any I’d ever seen (for example, the then-head of the BPI wrote an amendment proposing a national censorship regime that a LibDem Lord then introduced on his behalf. But it turns out that there was much more sleaze below the surface.
Documents released in response Freedom of Information requests show that Mandelson had already made up his mind from the start about the Act’s most controversial section: the rules that said that users would have their Internet connections terminated if enough unsubstantiated infringement claims were made against their households. The “compromise” that the Act made was to suspend this measure initially, and bring it into force if the other measures in the Act failed to substantially reduce infringement. Critics called it the sham it was, saying that a 70 percent reduction in file-sharing was a delusional target, and the FOI documents show that the Act’s supporters agreed — they only intended the compromise as a means of smuggling in France-style disconnections.
Which is to say that the whole business was a sham: the Business Secretary and his pals in the record industry had stitched the whole thing up from the start, and the thousands upon thousands of Britons who wrote in never had a hope of changing things. That’s why the Act was crammed through Parliament without debate in the “wash-up,” hours before Labour dissolved the government.
So Americans should just shut up and watch. It could do us some good to see how a civilised society handles such a horrifying crime.
Edzard Ernst keeps a stack of hate mail as a souvenir. Two months after the world’s first professor of complementary medicine took early retirement from his post at Exeter university after 18 years, the letters are still coming. An email from a chiropractor denouncing him landed in his inbox a few days ago, while Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg tweeted earlier this week that for his latest attack on Prince Charles he should be locked up in the Tower of London.
This week Ernst showed how little his critics have dented his confidence. At a press conference to mark his retirement he joined in the name-calling, agreeing with a Daily Mail reporter’s suggestion that the Prince of Wales is a “snake-oil salesman”. In the living room of his house in Suffolk he unpacks the label with the precision on which he prides himself. “He’s a man, he owns a firm that sells this stuff, and I have no qualms at all defending the notion that a tincture of dandelion and artichoke [Duchy Herbals detox remedy] doesn’t do anything to detoxify your body and therefore it is a snake oil.” Far from regretting the choice of words and the controversy it has generated, he appears to relish it.
Little do these critics know, that as the hatemail percentage of that Professor’s inbox becomes larger, the effect of the hatemail actually becomes weaker.
To strengthen the effect of the hatemail, you have to dilute the inbox with regular emails asking about his life and how his kids are doing.