“Hate crime”, Orwell and class struggle

21 Mar

It shouldn’t have needed the heavy-handed policing at Clapham Common last Saturday to get Labour – which had hitherto intended to abstain from the second reading of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts bill – to switch to voting against it. A useful 1640 word assessment was offered yesterday in a WSWS piece – Opposing the UK Police Bill must be based on class, not gender or race – which notes that:

  • The Bill adds to “Spy Cops” – Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Act – which became law on March 1 and authorises security, intelligence and law enforcement services to do things “which would otherwise constitute criminality”. The Court of Appeal ruled on March 9 that MI5 may legally commit serious crimes.
  • Spy Cops saw just 34 Labour MPs voting against. Keir Starmer had meant to whip the party to abstain on the Police Bill too. Only in the wake of Clapham Common did he switch to a stance of token opposition to a bill certain to pass regardless.
  • Such legislation was conceived following the XR protests of 2019, and pursued with greater urgency after the international George Floyd protests last summer – “which the ruling class recognised as anticipating a far broader eruption of class struggle”.

I agree, and recommend the Scripps piece in full. Meanwhile, in the Commons a few days ago, Shadow Justice Minister David Lammy attacked this “overreach of the state” in a speech certain to elevate his standing with a Labour Left fond of verbal fireworks. Like his boss, Lammy knew the bill’s passage to be a foregone conclusion but played to the gallery with vim and verve. See this six minute clip.

At 5:26 he attacks the bill’s failure “to make misogyny a hate crime”. Does his combining of two words – one denoting an emotion, the other a deed – disturb you?

Orwell’s 1984 gave us, among other terms now deep rooted in our lexicons of nightmare, the idea of a thought-crime. It was published in 1949. A little more recently, two days ago in fact, a 770 worder by Frank Furedi appeared on RT with the title, British plan to treat misogyny as hate crime is a travesty of justice and will do NOTHING to make women more secure.

Back in the eighties Furedi called himself Frank Richards – a pseudonym also adopted by one Charles Hamilton, creator of Billy Bunter – and was a leading light, if not the leading light, of the Revolutionary Communist Party. Like that other RCP reinvention, Claire Fox – Baroness of Buckley, erstwhile Brexit MEP and the Beeb’s idea of a counterweight to Melanie “Mad Mel” Phillips on the Moral Maze – Richards, now Furedi once more, is frequently decried as a right-wing libertarian.

I can’t unreservedly endorse the man but do find myself in frequent agreement – as, on some narrow issues, I do with the reactionary Jordan Peterson1 – with fearless Frank. (As an education advisor at Sheffield Hallam more than a decade ago, I attended a conference at which Furedi laid into a booming ‘therapy culture’ in higher education. I couldn’t fault a word he said, a fact that did me no favours when I reported back to my colleagues, some of them highly invested in that therapy culture and its self perpetuating industry.)

And on the subject of hate crime? Here’s a sample from Furedi’s RT piece:

In the wake of the tragic murder of Sarah Everard moral entrepreneurs are demanding that misogyny should be criminalised as a hate crime. The British government has agreed and declared that from the autumn the police will be asked to categorise a variety of different offences and crimes as motivated by “hostility based on their sex.”

Like all hate crimes, the criminalisation of ‘hostility based on sex’ constitutes a travesty of justice. In an enlightened and just society people are prosecuted and judged for what they have done rather than what they think. Otherwise, we accept that dreadful totalitarian idea of a thought crime. It means that we are not simply judged for what we do but what the police believe we think.

I couldn’t agree more. Not for the first time2 I note how well the politics of identity serve the interests of power and wealth – or as I will insist on saying, of our ruling class. Capitalism’s scope for bribery on the back of super-exploitation of the global south, and for the manufacture of opinion via media driven by market forces, is shrinking. For its long term survival, even in the hitherto affluent (hence liberal-democratic) West, repression will intensify. This is ABC once you see class rule for what it truly is but will be sold, as always and for the most part successfully, in the name of our greater safety.3  The Spy Cops and Police & Crime laws, and comparable ruling class responses across Europe and North America, constitute one aspect of this.

Another has us sleepwalking, to a lullaby of ‘social inclusion’, into accepting thought-crime not as the disturbed prophecy of literary dystopia, but as statutory reality.

 * * *

  1. It’s not Peterson’s views on ‘political correctness’, with its policing of thought and speech, that make him reactionary. Far from it; there I find myself in agreement. It’s his blindness to the realities of class rule which make him so. Jacobin magazine I can take or leave but this piece gives a useful assessment of that blindness.
  2. Note the IHRA’s apartheid-friendly definition of ‘antisemitism’, and how well Twitter’s banning of Trump played with ‘progressives’ to whom it seems not to have occurred that threats to liberty will of course start with the low hanging fruit: first they came for the unloved …
  3. The controlled opposition of liberal media – as in Guardian coverage of the March 9 ruling on Spy Cop immunity from prosecution – should not obscure their services to power in vilifying those, from Assad to Corbyn and Assange, who stand in the way of our rulers’ designs.

18 Replies to ““Hate crime”, Orwell and class struggle

  1. Actually it’s quite convenient for a deeply racist, sexist and misogynistic system to see the issue in terms of individual acts by hateful individuals, rather than addressing the deep changes needed on behalf of the culture we all participate in consciously or not. I fear it’s all too easy to make something a hate crime, let police deal with it rub ones hands and say job done. Meanwhile the system can do business as normal, putting black families whose sons have been murdered under surveillance, improvising people for 10 years for defacing symbols of our colonial past, and making obscene profits from forms of pornography that let men know that treating women is objects is normal and acceptable.

    • … it’s quite convenient for a deeply racist, sexist and misogynistic system to see the issue in terms of individual acts by hateful individuals, rather than addressing the deep changes needed on behalf of the culture we all participate in consciously or not.

      Indeed. And as cover for encroachments made since 9/11, and increasing under covid conditions, it serves even darker purposes. This in an age where the statutory means of surveillance – augmented by cashless economy, wired and eaves-droppable world and phones that bleep our whereabouts 24/7 – go beyond the wildest dreams of the 20th century totalitarianisms informing Orwell’s fears.

  2. A further issue which is problematic is the tendancy to head down the reductionist road by compartmentalizing related issues and treating them as separate phenomena. The Police Bill criminalises “annoyance” even to the extent of effectively criminalising any effective industrial action, precedence in one area of law traditionally being used in others, (as the World Socialist web site article implies) – based on the subjective opinion of the police and security services acting on behalf of Capitalist interests.

    “Hate Crime”, of any kind, represents the related second leg of this subjective pick and choose based approach. The basic problem being the difficulty of differentiating between different characteristics. If one characteristic falls into this category there can be little argument that they all must. In this regard, Lammy’s argument is at least consistent.

    However, if “annoyance”, based on subjective opinion exercised on behalf of Capitalist power interests via legislation such as the “Spy Cops” and “Police Bill”, represents a straitjacket around the ability to act; “offence” in terms of individual subjective perception, via “Hate Crime” legislation, represents a more insidious constraint on the ability to articulate any narrative not sanctioned by power interests.

    Existing evidence of how such nebulous concepts are misused seems sufficient to observe that this will continue as this is congruent with how power works and operates. This right wing based post modernist intersectionalised approach, supported and amplified as it is by the Corporate State and it’s institutions, is already dismantling Class Politics and the ability of the left to oppose unfettered power before our eyes as a result of the assistance rendered by the naivety of a younger self labelled liberal identity “left” – seemingly giving every impression of being more concerned with scoring inter-generational purity points than stopping to see how they are being used.

    • I did intend to cite the example of holocaust denial. This is now a criminal offence in many European countries plus Israel and I believe Canada. Australia does not explicitly outlaw it but Wiki notes that holocaust denial:

      … is prosecuted under various laws against “hate speech” and “racial vilification”. Fredrick Töben was found guilty at Australia’s Federal Court of contempt in 2009 for not following a court order in 2002 to desist from publishing anti-semitic material on his Adelaide Institute website. The material queried whether the Holocaust happened, as well as the presence of gas chambers at the Auschwitz death camps.

      I recall these offences going on the statute books in the 90s. I thought it a dangerous road to be going down. Still do. Famously, freedom of speech does not extend to falsely crying ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre but there is ample legislation on the statute books of every nation I know of, whereby incitement to violence or otherwise dangerous conduct is criminalised.

      Back to the point. With no shortage of legislation outlawing acts which harm women – including but not confined to physical violence – where’s the evidence for saying women’s safety will be protected by an anti misogyny law? There is, however, no shortage of evidence that laws passed amid moral panic will be appropriated by the state, and deployed in circumstances far beyond the intended scope.

      • Quite. And not only legislation, existing or proposed, which harm Women. There are plenty of prohibitions from Statute Law down to school codes (such as anti-bullying) which are used, or not, to suit the convenience of power and which in many cases operate as mere box ticking exercises. Honoured more in the breach than in the application.

        One example, arguably, being the most vulnerable characteristic of children/young people – who are deemed not to be sufficiently mature to make informed choices on a great many issues from voting and joining the armed forces through to the purchase of alcohol, tobacco, glue and sharp objects. All of which are covered by age related prohibitive legislation.

        Except in one specific area:

        https://www.rt.com/news/518726-canadian-trans-gag-order/

        ….in which the State, on behalf of lobbyists which include profit orientated vested interests, amongst which are private clinics and pharmaceutical companies, abandons the principles of all the other age related protective legislation to the extent of banning legal guardians and parents from even talking and writing about that breach of the principle.

        The record of selective usage or non usage and abuse of laws/codes/processes etc to suit the convenience of power could fill a library. The present state of the art being seen in these islands through the corruption of:

        – the Scottish SNP Government (apeing it’s Labour predecessors in its arrogance) in its abuse of internal Party and Government processes and procedures.

        – the UK Westminster Government it its use of Henry VIII powers to avoid meaningful scrutiny of its own crony procurement and other corrupt practices;

        – what passes for an Opposition which has abandoned publicly all pretence at due process. Attacking its membership and democratic local organisations with its own application of “heretica”l wrongspeak and wrongthink.

        Arming the arbitrary application of power with the ability to punitively punish what it will define as “annoyance” and “offensive” verbal speech and written narratives will not end well. As the World apSocialist web site article notes; industrial action picketing has already been violently broken up. It will not be long before strike bulletins, printed or online, are criminalises under a convenient definition of “annoyance” and “Hate Speech.”

      • Good examples. A problem I encounter is that some who defend the outlawing of ‘hate crime’ are good, highly intelligent people. They do however labour under the delusion, though they may deny this, that ours is a fundamentally just society. In practice if not in declared belief they take at face value the idea that justice is blind. And in the advanced capitalisms – enriched and liberalised by plunder of the global south under colonialism then modern imperialism (north-south export of monopoly capital; south-north repatriation of profits) – there’s some truth to that. In their narrow application, the criminal justice systems of the West tend in all but special cases (eg the British royal family) to be blind to rank and privilege. But blind to power? On what planet could that work?

        That said, even in the narrower context of jurisprudence, strong arguments can be made against outlawing ‘hate’. One such is that vague law is a hallmark of a police state. This from the US Supreme Court:

        Vague laws offend several important values. First, because we assume that man is free to steer between lawful and unlawful conduct, we insist that laws give the person of ordinary intelligence a reasonable opportunity to know what is prohibited, so that he may act accordingly. Vague laws may trap the innocent by not providing fair warning. Second, if arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement is to be prevented, laws must provide explicit standards for those who apply them. A vague law impermissibly delegates basic policy matters to policemen, judges, and juries for resolution on an ad hoc and subjective basis, with the attendant dangers of arbitrary and discriminatory application. Third, but related, where a vague statute “abut[s] upon sensitive areas of basic First Amendment freedoms,” it “operates to inhibit the exercise of [those] freedoms.” Uncertain meanings inevitably lead citizens to “‘steer far wider of the unlawful zone’ . . . than if the boundaries of the forbidden areas were clearly marked.”

        EU law has similar formulations. Fuller context here.

  3. They do however labour under the delusion, though they may deny this, that ours is a fundamentally just society.

    I’d argue its worse than that. The notion (along with its own accompanying “Hate Speech”), as just one example, that there exists no, shall we run with, “tension” between sex and gender based rights is explicit in a denial of the basic everyday observational rule that whatever it happens to be there is always someone who will kick the arse out of something (abuse the system).

    An everyday case in point being the fact that for the past several hours I’ve been on hands on knees on wet grass picking up sacks full of small pebbles which have been spread far and wide* from the vicinity of the Memorial Garden and bench we built at the local Chapel a year or two back by local youths kicking the arse out of the facility, throwing them at people’s windows (as well as firing some kind of air or ball bearing gun which has taken out several windows and panels around the Chapel building).

    It is not safe to cut grass filled with these pebbles as when they catch in the machinery the resulting velocity of ejection would have someones eye out or worse. Not to mention the damage to the machinery and potential damage to any glass structures in the vicinity.

    A vague law impermissibly delegates basic policy matters to policemen, judges, and juries for resolution on an ad hoc and subjective basis, with the attendant dangers of arbitrary and discriminatory application.

    Again, a case in point being the wording contained in the Police Bill:

    Section 55 Imposing Conditions on Public Assemblies; which amends Section 14 of the 1986 Public Order Act introduces additional provisions into the earlier Act. for example: Paragraph 2(B):

    In considering for the purposes of subsection (1)(ab)(ii) whether the noise generated by persons taking part in an assembly may have a
    significant impact on persons in the vicinity of the assembly, the senior police officer must have regard to —
    (a) the likely number of persons of the kind mentioned in paragraph (a) of subsection (2A) who may experience an impact of the kind mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b) that subsection,
    (b) the likely duration of that impact on such persons, and
    (c) the likely intensity of that impact on such persons.”

    and 1A

    The senior police officer may give directions imposing on the persons organising or taking part in the assembly —
    (a) in the case of an assembly in England and Wales, such conditions as appear to the officer necessary to prevent the disorder, damage, disruption, impact or intimidation mentioned in subsection (1);
    (b) in the case of an assembly in Scotland, such conditions as to the place at which the assembly may be (or continue to be) held, its maximum duration, or the maximum number of persons who may constitute it, as appear to the officer necessary to prevent the disorder, damage, disruption or intimidation mentioned in subsection (1)(a) or (b).

    and again in new Paragraphs 2A and 2B of Section 2 of the 1986 Public Order Act:

    For the purposes of subsection (1)(ab)(i), the noise generated by persons taking part in an assembly may have a relevant impact on
    persons in the vicinity of the assembly if —
    (a) it may result in the intimidation or harassment of persons of reasonable firmness with the characteristics of persons likely to
    be in the vicinity, or
    (b) it may cause such persons to suffer serious unease, alarm or distress.

    In considering for the purposes of subsection (1)(ab)(ii) whether the noise generated by persons taking part in an assembly may have a
    significant impact on persons in the vicinity of the assembly, the senior police officer must have regard to —
    (a) the likely number of persons of the kind mentioned in
    paragraph (a) of subsection (2A) who may experience an impact of the kind mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b) that subsection,
    (b) the likely duration of that impact on such persons, and
    (c) the likely intensity of that impact on such persons.

    All of which, along with other similar provisions in the Police Bill, give carte blanche for selective and convenient interpretations and definitions which will most definitely see State Agencies and Agents kick the arse out of the leeway existing Power, and the elites who wield it, has provided for itself in this Bill.

  4. Lots of good comments but all above me I’m afraid. I suppose I just think it’s weird to make a crime out of thinking the wrong way.

    Like racism, which is bigotry, it’s a failure of someone’s mentality to climb out of the green ooze we were supposed to have elevated ourselves from, just as misogyny is a failure of an intellect to grasp certain fundamental observations of decency.

    If either racism or misogyny are acted on then a crime has been committed as far as I believe, but I cannot enforce my thinking on someone else if both nurture and nature have failed.

    I hate fascism but that is not a crime unless I act on it to the detriment of a fascist, so I don’t understand how anyone can claim that feeble minded haters such as misogynists, who definitely have a low intelligence quotient, can be dragged before the beak if they haven’t acted on a crime against women.

    A hate crime is just that regardless of the excuse for hating, non of which are any kind of defence for a crime and should be treated accordingly within the limits of the law. From what I have observed of the way media formats of every kind promote sex, violence, contempt, etc and early years enrichment still woefully behind the times from both teachers and parents(GI Joes for boys and Princess dolls for girls)failure to integrate properly for all individuals is not going to happen.

    I’ve witnessed some women use their assets to enhance their climb up the greasy pole of social mobility and others who were just plain vicious to prove they are a match for men and “macho” men be bitchier than women and utterly contemptible for women who achieve success because of their merits. It tends to be less obvious in the way it manifests itself, but there are still a lot of younger men, who should have learned something on their journey through life,(but obviously have not) who are absolute arseholes when it comes to defining gender roles, even in modern society, worse still, is they believe themselves to be enlightened.

    So much misrepresentation of what is bigotry is muddying the waters, the instance given of anti holocaust being one example, there is no evidence of gas chambers but that does not mean that 1.5 million Jews were not massacred by an insane murderer’s thugs, but they were Jews not Zionists. The 1 million Armenians death marched was a holocaust but Israel won’t allow any other people’s suffering to be described as a holocaust. Who is making the rules? If I was given a voice and millions like me, we would make them but that’s never going to happen either.

    It seems to me that those who make the rules do so because they have an agenda known to them which does not necessarily represent the interests of either those the laws are intended to protect or the people who gave them the authority and very often ill-conceived legislation just makes an even bigger muck up of that which already exists.(I think you and Dave have demonstrated that far more ably than I ever could.

    But is there an answer? That’s something for greater minds. Thank you Phil and Dave for the offerings.

    🙂 Susan

    • “It seems to me, that those who make the rules do so because they have an agenda known to them which does not necessarily represent the interests of either those the laws are intended to protect or the people who gave them the authority and very often ill-conceived legislation just makes an even bigger muck up of that which already exists.”

      A Prime (and very live/up to date) example detailed here:

      https://wingsoverscotland.com/a-case-of-mistaken-identity/#more-128226

      “But if you protest against SNP policy, even in chalk, expect the police at your door.”

      https://archive.ph/xvEXs

      More here on Murray’s site:

      https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2021/03/the-world-darkens-a-little-more-i-may-have-to-spend-some-time-as-a-political-prisoner/

      Power and those who wield it picking and choosing where criminal definitions of “Hate”, “Annoyance” etc apply or don’t apply.

      We can most certainly “look forward” to State led prosecutions against Trade Union members who instigate any kind of action right down to the “annoyance” and “Hate Speech” – as defined by power and those who wield it – contained in printed or published social media campaign literature which contains any kind of critique of those wielding power and those associated with them.

      • Excellent, you most assuredly have a better way with words than I and you have the evidence to prove it.

        Eventually I’ll probably get hauled off to either prison or the funny farm for my unwieldy but straightforward comments, many of which are poorly considered borderline mad hatter stuff, but after 65 years I really don’t care whether speaking my mind is PC, I care very much who makes the rules and applies them willy nilly at great expense to others and justice, which is often the least considered outcome of the Alice in Wonderland democracy we live in.

        If we ever have a real democracy in this country, I think I’ll ask for a referee to be present in all state activities, because we presently do not have one(even less if the Tories get their way), it will of course have to apply a gag order on MSM b/s(propaganda)and consequences for lies and betrayals, illegal wars, irresponsible spending of public money and all those masquerading as decent human beings whilst acting as public officials.

        Going to bed now.

        Thanks for responding.
        🙂
        Susan.

        • you most assuredly have a better way with words than I and

          You constantly undersell yourself Susan. Your comments are always bang on the nail and to the heart of the matter. Which is why I’m glad that whatever WordPress gremlin placed your every comment in the moderation queue has finally packed his bags and gone!

        • Examples of how such legislation is being abused by power and those who wield it coming thick and fast now:

          https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2021/03/a-small-story-of-scottish-justice/

          Jeremy Gilchrist (who is seventy years of age) was acquitted at Oban Crown Court this week. But six months of his life had already been ruined, he lost tens of thousands of pounds in legal fees and he was wrongly labeled a racist by the police to the entire community where he lives.

          There is never any shortage of police resources in today’s Scotland to investigate thought crime. Burglaries or riots in George Square, not so much. The Crown Office wasted substantial amounts of taxpayers’ money in large scale police investigation of Jeremy Gilchrist and in prosecution of accusations which were never going to result in conviction because they were plainly – simply – wrong. The politically directed Crown Office did so in order to assist the self-evidently spurious attempt to deflect attention from lockdown hypocrisy by a key Scottish Government adviser. This was another Crown Office decision about politics and media presentation, not about justice.

          A final more worrying thought. These kind of entirely unjustified persecutions in Scotland will become much easier for the Crown Office with the new Hate Crime Law. Ms Mutapi was undoubtedly caused offence by Mr Gilchrist, and belongs to a protected group. In the terms of the new law, I think Jeremy Gilchrist would be guilty, despite having no racist intent whatsoever. Interactions with members of protected groups will be on anything but a footing of equality under the new law, and the capacity for malicious allegation will be enormous and very difficult to refute. Which is why liberal democracies generally avoid such laws.

  5. Thanks Dave. I followed up on the Craig Murray link because he’s on my list of donations(our man in the gallery was a fine example of dedicated journalism) and was horrified that I did not know what the Spurious National Party were up to. I truly believe the Scottish nationalist people deserve better than this churlish, petty, peurile vindictiveness that the Spurious NP are applying to such an honest man of acknowledged integrity and calibre, but it really does highlight how low they themselves can stoop and the levels of perfidy they can scrape from the bottom of the barrel. Their disgusting and spiteful attack will elicit sane & intelligent peoples utter contempt and hopefully there are enough nationalist Scots who will see this for what it is. I am now going to set my sights and all my fury in defence of CM and try and p*** off as many SpuriousNP leaders as I can.

    Thanks for this valuable heads up and of course all the scary examples you gave of the 1984 genre now assailing us nearly 40 years later.

    • Thank you Susan.

      I have just speed read the fifty six page judgement made today in the case brought by Women for Scotland.

      The essence of which is that each and every argument and challenge in the case brought by the Petitioners has been rejected. Of those elements which stand out perhaps the most “interesting” one being that, presumably in the specific context (though precedence set will no doubt work it’s through), the apparent legal acceptance of the post-modernist notion of “intersectionality” that for the purposes of Equal Opportunities etc there is no difference between sex and gender:

      https://forwomen.scot/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/2021CSOH031.pdf

      • … for the purposes of Equal Opportunities etc there is no difference between sex and gender …

        A bitter irony given how long and hard feminists had to fight to establish precisely that difference.

  6. Thanks Dave. I followed the other stories and read about the SNP’s( Zimbabwean I think)wife trying to deflect criticism of her and her husbands presence on a Scottish island 2nd home(probably unlawful)by reporting a Scotsman with no known racist views as a racist for telling her to go back home(to the mainland).
    Apparently the police did nothing when the islanders complained about the visit that turned into a lengthy stay on the grounds that under the Covid rules she and her SNP 2nd Minister had both endangered the lives of the islanders because there is no hospital on the island. The police DID respond to the accusation of the wife of that minister who was probably in breach of Covid rules and even spent serious money investigating the matter in order to get a judgement against the islander, but not the law breaking minister and his wife.
    That pretty much says it all really, when the left say it’s one rule for us and another rule for the elites and privileged, they’re right. And when I say the police are nothing more than servants of TPTB rather than the people, I may well be right also.

    Susan 🙂

    • The problem is, as Campbell (on Wings Over Scotland) observes today (Chalk and Cheese) a lot of the cheerleading on this is coming from a noisy section of people who self label themselves as “left/progressive.”

      We have such people to thank (see Wings again) for mocking Murray by essentially condoning prison rape. There is nothing “left” or “progressive” about this or those, too many of whom are actually elected politicians, who pile in. It’s a nihilistic gang culture which the left needs to call out and if need be Cancel those responsible from dragging the left down.

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