I am not against spying or surveillance per se. Anyone who lives in the UK and says "if you've nothing to hide you've nothing to fear" doesn't understand the purpose of judicial oversight and probably doesn't speak arabic. I believe in judicial oversight. An amoral-nerd-handler is not a judge. And political bias, false-positives and chilling self-censorship are the only outcomes of the GCHQ program I can see on the horizon.
From the article:
[Quoting pupil Matt Bliss] "...it started going downhill when they started talking about single parents and adopted kids. They didn't directly say it, but they implied that kids who are adopted or live with single parents are less than kids with two parents of the opposite sex. They implied that a 'normal' family is the best family."
...Bliss was one of several students who stood up to argue with the representatives from the archdiocese. One girl held up a sign that said, "I love my moms."
...A priest and a volunteer couple presented the information. When someone asked a question about two men being able to have a quality, committed relationship, the couple compared their love to bestiality, Bliss said.
..."My friend said, 'You didn't just compare people to animals, did you?'" said [adopted student] Hannah. "I think everyone has a right to their opinion, and I don't judge them on it. But we don't force people to sit down so we can tell them their opinion is wrong."
...They were so upset that the priest and school officials abruptly ended the assembly. Students who were angry were allowed to stay there and talk with the archdiocese volunteers. It was more civil, for a while, but the more questions the presenters tried to answer, the worse it got.
"It was a really awful ending," said Bliss. "It was anger, anger, anger, and then we were done and they left. This is really a bad idea."
These kids are amazing and brave to protest in such a hostile environment. Looks like, even in an American Catholic School, pupils are beginning to be en masse unwilling to put up with being forced to endure institutional bigotry. These are the same students who (assuming they become Catholic) will form the congregations of the next generation, and who will vote on bills to do with marriage and religion in education. With any luck, this signals the beginning of the inevitable end to mainstream Catholic homophobic and anti-adoption (is even that a thing now?) bigotry. At least we can pray it is.
I was delighted yesterday to discover that Ed Brayton, who used to host one of my all-time favourite political podcasts, Declaring Independence Radio, has recently started hosting a new show: Culture Wars Radio.
Declaring Independence was a show predominantly about American law and politics. It was constantly fascinating, with episodes being mostly interview with experts in constitutional law, civil liberties, police misconduct and such; interspliced with commentary and lighthearted discussion of current events. What I liked most about it was that Ed Brayton never shied away from getting right down to the tiniest details of case law and history, discussing the minutiae of various cases with his guests and drawing on his huge knowledge of American civil liberties law to get the best out of his guests. Also his staunch non-partisanism, hatred of hypocrisy and demagoguery, and willingness to harshly criticise Obama and the Democrats (while still poking fun at right-wing loonies).
Ed Brayton is an American political journalist, editor and development director of the American Independent News Network, and seems to specialise in civil liberties law. He seems to get particularly fired up about education, separation of church and state, and transparency and accountability in government. He has a general left-libertarian viewpoint. I don't agree with him on everything, but he's very knowledgable about law, and hella smart. To quote erstwhile acquaintance of mine, Seth Manapio, he is "a goddam genius".
I looked hard for somewhere online for old episodes of Declaring Independence to link here, because they're all really worth a listen, but it seems to have evaporated. I've got 74 old episode as mp3s if anyone's really keen. [Edit: find them here.]
The new show, Culture Wars Radio, only has a few episodes out so far, and I've only listened to the first two of them, but it looks to be much along the same lines as Declaring Independence, which is fantastic as far as I'm concerned.
I strongly recommend checking it out, if you've any interest in civil liberties law, American politics or just deep and informed yet intelligible political discussion.
The Guardian reports:
The Strasbourg court ruled it was unlawful for police to use the powers, under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, to stop and search people without needing any grounds for suspicion.
The widely-drawn ruling said that not only the use of the counter-terror powers, but also the way they were authorised, were "neither sufficiently circumscribed, nor subject to adequate legal safeguards against abuse".
"Under [section 44(2) of the Terrorism Act 2000] officers do not need to have reasonable grounds to suspect involvement in terrorism."
“whether this as been the correct method of prevention perhaps only time and hindsight will tell".
(I’m not going to reproduce it here because the letter appears to be personally written, rather than stock or secretary written.)
I was travelling Oxford to Cambridge, and had missed my connection at Paddington Station, London. With insufficient money for a hotel, I decided to just sleep in the station and catch the first train back to Cambridge. It was a cold night, so I plugged my headphones into my iPod, switched it to Pseudopod, pulled my Warwick Atheists hoodie tight around me, and sat on a light for warmth. For the next hour or so, I moved between sitting on lights and sitting with my back to a lit sign on a stall, trying to get most warm and most comfortable. There were a few other people in the station — perhaps in similar circumstances, perhaps homeless and seeking shelter from the outside wind. After some time I was dosing and listening to Pseudopod still, when I was woken (about 01:45 am) by a couple of officers in uniform who informed me that they were conducting “random” stop-and-searches under new anti-terrorism regulations. They asked me why I was there, and various other circumstantial questions. They asked to look in my backpack (which contained clothes, university work, laptop, wires).
Here’s a copy of the receipt they issued me before leaving me to sleep, if you're interested:
I looked up “44(2)”, which means “section 44, subsection 2”, presumably, (the only official justification for the search given) and found it in the Terrorism Act 2000. I quote:
Terrorism Act 2000
Power to stop and search
(2) An authorisation under this subsection authorises any constable in uniform to stop a pedestrian in an area or at a place speciﬁed in the
authorisation and to search —
(a) the pedestrian;
(b) anything carried by him.
(3) An authorisation under subsection (1) or (2) may be given only if the person giving it considers it expedient for the prevention of acts of terrorism.
From this, it doesn't seem like "random" searches are authorised, since they by definition can't be justified as "expedient for the prevention of acts of terrorism.
I am submitting a somewhat abbreviated version of this to the IPCC in the form of an official complaint.