Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

Comment Re:Fake news != Flawed news (Score 0) 394

The term "fake news" has been thrown about -- and misapplied -- far too freely of late. Fake news is a deliberate fiction on the part of the writer, with an intent to deceive. It is not the same as a news story reported in good faith, but with errors.

Indeed! What's more this misuse of the term "fake news" to apply to errors of reporting, is itself a cynical ploy aimed at legitimating outright fiction and bad-faith spin. Thank you for calling this shit out.

Comment Re:Not censorship (Score 1) 60

'Freedom of speech' and 'Freedom of thought' should be basic human rights, not something to be granted or taken away, and any government

On the legal positivist view: A right is that which you can get it enforced in your favour in a court of law. Only those "rights" which have been granted, say by inclusion in a Bill of Rights, are actually rights (as opposed to aspirations). Freedom of speech is indeed a universal aspiration, but it is a right only where either in the course of devising government (i.e. via a Constitution), or statutorily by being enacted by Parliament, that right has been granted.

Alternatively on a natural law view: Chinese citizens have a right of free speech, they simply risk being executed if the exercise it.

Comment Re:Not censorship (Score 1) 60

China doesn't have a first amendment, so it's not censorship.

This may seem like a bit of a fine distinction to you. It is censorship, but since China does not have the equivalent of the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution, Chinese nationals enjoy no constitutional protection from state, or indeed corporate, censorship.

You will understand, of course, that since this is being done to protect the purity of the young, only those who for whatever perverse reasons want minors corrupted could possibly object. Ahem.

Comment Re:Thoughtcrime (Score 1) 414

Which of the socialisms was Orwell advocating?

The cited text (Lion & Unicorn) would explain better than I could hope.

From the point of view of Marxism (and I'm obviously not a Marxist) neither of the situations you describe are socialism. The first, I believe would be dismissed as "primitive communalism." The second seems to be a self-defeatingly histrionic* description welfare state ideology. It is a common these days to confuse the welfare state with socialism. Historically, however, the modern welfare state was the invention of conservatives (esp of Otto von Bismarck) and was explicitly an anti-socialist measure. It is an accident of history that the welfare state has become associated with nominally 'socialist' parties (long after the imminent threat of a socialist takeover faded, rendering the welfare state no longer necessary to conservative purposes).

Marxists view socialism as a "transitional state," as a the final form of state power on the path to their utopian (though Marxists would object strenuously to that term) vision of stateless communism. The famous motto "from each according to their ability, to each according to their need" which is meant to characterise communism is matched by the starker motto of socialism, "to each according to their contribution" (if memory serves me both come from Marx' Critique of the Gotha Programme). The idea was that the proletariat as the "universal class" (a imho mystical conception Marx inherited from the conservative philosopher Hegel who regard the bureaucracy as the universal class) would set up a self dissolving "dictatorship" in which the fruits of production would be shared only by those whose labour brought them into being. That is the owners of factories etc (the means of production) would be dispossed. Socialism then is most easily defined as the state ownership of the means of production as a path to the eventual state self-elimination which was to be communism. [Note that no country under Communist Party rule has ever claimed to be communist. They did claim to be socialist]

And that was their "scientific" socialism which they distinguished from "utopian" socialism!

But actually my main point was, notwithstanding the dig at the Soviet system, in 1984 Orwell was not so much describing a dictatorship of any political colour, but rather showing a state whose purpose served no ideological agenda at all, other than the exercise of power for powers sake. It is a very worthwhile read.

[*It is more persuasive to define a system first and then go on to show how aspects of that system ineluctably lead to poor outcomes rather than over-obviously writing the untoward outcomes into the very definition. Just an idea if ever you want a good essay mark.]

Comment Re:Well that's terrifying (Score 1) 414

To a free man it's not valid

To such a "free man" 7 need not be a prime number either.

... violates the first principle of human rights.

And the canonical example of what might constitute a "valid law" of the English Parliament, namely that "all blue-eyed babies be put to death" doesn't?! *

Prohibition was "duly enacted" in the US, too, but it was a stupid, ill-advised, and evil power trip.

It may well have been stupid, ill-advised and an evil power trip. It was nonetheless, as a matter of mere fact, a valid law. After all, Prohibition was repealed rather than being struck down.

[*Besides which, those so-called "human rights" which are actual rights rather than aspirations, are simply called "rights"]

Comment Re:Thoughtcrime (Score 1) 414

Maybe, just maybe..... the distinguishment between having thoughtcrime and other laws on the book supporting tyranny and kangaroo courts VS no actual law and no courts is not so important a distinction.

Well thoughtcrime is neither a law nor is it on the books, that's the point. There are no written rules as such, one never knows with certitude what the elements of a particular "crime" might be (nor is there a process where a prosecution must make them out), or when one has overstepped the line ... unless of course one writes out "I Hate Big Brother".

But yes ... absolutely! Having the mere simulacrum of Law: prosection of people who don't actually commit the offence; defence lawyers who don't actually defend you; courts whose decisions are determined not with reference to the evidence but to the wishes of political masters ... does in effect amount to having no Law restraining the power of state at all.* My point was simply that Orwell makes the absence of Law stark.

I recently read Anna Funder's Stasiland. The counterfeit of Law in the GDR notwithstanding, Orwell was more accurate than he could have known, the similarities are chilling (if less extreme). A highly recommend read if you are interested in the threat posed by the surveillance state.

Perhaps the no law binding government thing is just a later evolution of where this path takes us.

I prefer to think of it as a more primitive phase of human society. I hope I'm not being unduly optimistic.

[*I'm defining 'Law' here as the social technology by which we restrain the arbitrary exercise of power (private or state) on the individual person]

Comment Re:Well that's terrifying (Score 2) 414

[T]he answer to 2) is "Free speech".

I'm making a pun on the fact that the word 'opinion' is a term of art at Law: it's another word of a judgment, and that OP was delivering an opinion as to the validity of a law. It was my obtuse way of telling OP that their opinion is hardly pertinent. Had OP simply opined that it should not be, as a matter of principle, be made an offence merely to browse websites, I might not have been inclined to disagree.

Comment Re:Thoughtcrime (Score 5, Interesting) 414

1984 was made about a Collectivist (Leftist) dystopia.

That's both an oversimplification and a not uncommon misunderstanding of the text. A misunderstanding which reading the book will occasionally (but apparently not invariably) clear up.

As the text explains via the device of Emanuel Goldstein's inserted Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism --which is left deliberately ambiguous to the reader as to whether it is a genuine text of a genuine dissident or rather a work of the Party describing itself with dark irony --Ingsoc "rejects and vilifies every principle for which the Socialist movement originally stood, and it does so in the name of Socialism" (doublethink)!

1984 should be read in light especially of Orwell's essay The Lion and the Unicorn in which Orwell sketched out what a distinctly English Socialism (as against the prevailing internationalism of the time) ought to look like. 1984 represents the exact opposite, a totalitarian state neither actually Socialist nor English. A state whose sole purpose had become the exercise of power for its own sake. To label it Leftist or Anti-Leftist, or even Fascist is entirely to miss the point of the work. [There is also the implied accusation that the Soviet Union has rejected and vilified every Socialist principle, of course, remember Orwell fought with the Trotsyist POUM in the Spanish Civil War.]

The present situation is however to be distinguished from that describe in Orwell's dystopia on the basis that the sentence has been handed down by a court, duly according to a Law itself duly enacted by the French Parliament. A Leitmotif of 1984 is that Big Brother represents a state entirely unburdened by Law. Orwell is explicit: not only is there no Law in 1984, there is nothing even resembling it, not even a simulacrum of Law such as Stalin's show trials.

That being said, and the real dangers posed by Islamism notwithstanding, it might reasonable be argued that we as a voting public ought to guard ourselves against laws which criminalise mere browsing. While it may be seductive to think that punishing those who frequent obviously nefarious sites such as Islamist or anti-feminist ;p websites, there may come a time when our own browsing habits will not be appreciated by those upon whom we choose to bestow power.

Comment Re:Just try to find (Score 1) 385

You're also mixing up gender and sex. Skirt-wearing behavior is not physiological. Skirt-wearing behavior in a society where only women wear skirts is more complicated..

Read more carefully, read WAY more carefully. Beginning with "Bearing children is a function of female physiology, skirt wearing is not . Or start even earlier from "'Sex' is a biological fact, and it falls into the classification of male, female, or occasionally intersex. 'Gender' on the other hand is a social construct by definition ..."

Okay, why the hell do you care this much about stopping other people from trying to find solutions to their problems?

That is not reasonably to be inferred from anything I have written here. Please address what I have written --and it would help actually to read it first --rather than what you imagine I may have written. The problem I'm addressing here is an unwillingness to admit the distinction between 'sex' and 'gender.' In fact if you didn't get that re-read from the beginning of OP's comment. That frames the context of this comment. And yes, this is a highly simplified explanation of gender ... baby steps.

And what the hell is this "trans-gender lobby"? Can I get a job with them?

Wikipedia is a good place to start. As to job prospects, that question would properly be addressed to the organisation in question.

Slashdot Top Deals

I'm a Lisp variable -- bind me!