Wednesday, June 22, 2005

You have to be (quite literally) joking!!

Tip to for her link to The Independant and its campaign for proportional representation (which wasn't very interesting really - subscribe first) but from whence I found this little piece -

Atkinson makes final bid to stop religious hate Bill
By Nigel Morris, Home Affairs Correspondent
21 June 2005

The comedian Rowan Atkinson is leading a final attempt to scupper the Government's "creepy and disturbing" plans to bring in legislation banning the incitement of religious hatred.
The Blackadder star was joined by the author Ian McEwan, the director of the National Theatre, Nicholas Hytner, civil liberties groups and MPs of all parties yesterday to warn that the proposed law would strangle freedom of expression.

Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, has championed the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill, which will receive its second reading today. This is the third attempt to get the provisions on the statute book. With an increase in Islamophobic attacks since 11 September 2001, Mr Clarke insists the provision is essential to close a loophole that protects Jews and Sikhs, but not Muslims.

Opponents argued that the legislation was so ambiguous it could have a wide-ranging, and unintended, effect on producers, writers and comics. They said Friedrich Schiller's Don Carlos, staged in the West End this year, could have been vulnerable to prosecution.
McEwan said anxiety over prosecution would make it much more difficult to raise funding for productions such as Jerry Springer: The Opera.

Atkinson, who famously lampooned a bungling vicar in Four Weddings and a Funeral, said he had told jokes during his career that could have landed him in court. He added that comedians might also steer clear of sensitive religious subjects for fear of prosecution.
He said: "The Government has prepared a weapon of disproportionate power which can be deployed on their behalf at any time, or at least act as a very forbidding deterrent."

Atkinson said the "most creepy and disturbing" aspect of the Bill was the power it gave Government over whether to launch prosecutions. The Bill's opponents are backing an amendment to the race-hate laws to make clear that they cover attacks on religious beliefs if they are a "proxy" for racial attacks.

The Labour MP and QC Bob Marshall-Andrews said that there was growing pressure among his backbench colleagues for Tony Blair to grant a free vote on the Bill. Some 25 Labour MPs rebelled against a three-line whip to back the amendment in the last parliament.

Graham Allen, a Labour MP and former whip, said he would oppose the measure. He said: "Bringing the law into play in areas of religion will turn our courts into the playground of religious extremists." The Government argues that the legislation would be tightly drawn and not outlaw comedians' jokes, criticism of religion or provocative commentary on religion. Paul Goggins, a Home Office minister, has said: "This will be a line in the sand which indicates to people a line beyond which they cannot go. People of all backgrounds and faiths have a right to live free from hatred, racism and extremism.

There wouldn’t be a joke left in the world without religion…

Worst of all, the Great Goon Milligan would not be allowed to laugh at his own, nor Dave Allen (there is at least an example of his in the side article).

“Priest – ‘Milligan, this is an unexpected surprise. When did we last see you at Mass?”
Milligan – “Well I can not be too sure, Father, but I got it written on me baptismal certificate”.

But truly, when a gubbermint does something like this travesty, one has to wonder what lies behind it.

Concern that anti-Islam jokes have got out of hand and might cause terrorist attacks? Well that is a possibility, if you have no sense of humour and a profound fear of terrists. The Home Secretary certainly could fit that bill.

How is about the possibility of a “Wag the Dog”?

Ah, now I begin to smell the fear coming from the khazi…

"Tony!!!??!! You still in there? Hurry UP!! man! Be quick!"

Oh, oooppss!! Political jokes are off the agenda as well?


Trillian said...

It's maddness, quite disgusting really. They're also banning protests around the house of commons for similar reasons.

Natasjia said...

Take a look at this. Local (U.S.) governments now have permisson to take private property, even against the will of the owner, for "justified" economic development. Americans are building their own prisons, not so slowly and oh so surely.

The probligo said...

There has been in NZ since the early 1900's a process by which the government and local government can "take" private property for public works.

It is in the form of a compulsory purchase and the Courts involvement is limited to settling disputes on legal matters.

The purchase is at "current market value".

The taking may only be used for public works - roads, railway, hydroelectric schemes, and anything "public" in between.

Nothing unusual in that...

The probligo said...

Natasjia raised the question of the Kelo decision in SCOTUS.

The only way that I can contribute to that debate is through the medium of others. I know nothing of the circumstances, I know nothing of the law involved.

That said, I did a bit of dredging and through the hat tip to Robertopia I got to this commentary. Again I know nothing of the provenance of dependability of this commentator -

Reading through it, this seems to me to be the crux of the whole debate –

Finally, let's recognize that property rights are the most basic foundation of individual liberty. If your property is not yours, but rather the state's, which grants you leave to occupy it at their sufferance, then you are not secure in your own home. You cannot use property to build and retain wealth and the property is yours only at the whim of your city council. When they decide that a real estate development plan is more important than your individual property ownership they can, and will, exercise eminent domain to condemn your property and take it for their own purposes, including transferring the ownership to another private entity who will use it in a way that the city council prefers.

So, when you read the comment I left for Natasjia I should make it clear that the legal right of NZ Government and local government to take for public works is over the top of the right of “eminent domain”.

I must make it clear too that the right to take is fraught with all manner of obstacles starting with the right to undertake the public work in the first place.

So, in order to construct a 10km section of motorway, the government must –

* Obtain the right to build the motorway including proving that it is necessary in the first place, and that the design is the most satisfactory solution.

* Clear all and any cultural rights with the tangata whenua (this is recognition of Maori traditional “claims”).

* Negotiate for the purchase of any land required with the current owners

* Only if the owners refuse to sell is the government then empowered to “take” the land.

* The intention to take the land must be publicly notified.

* The owners can object to the taking, their right is to seek judicial review of the process and decisions made.

* The Court can require the taking authority to return to any of the previous steps to remedy process defects or to renegotiate.

* The taking authority then makes the offer of compensation (current market value) of the land in question.

*The owner can seek judicial review of the value offered.

* Finally, if the process gets this far the title in the land is transferred and compensation paid.

If subsequently the land is not used for the purpose it was taken for, the original owners have right of first refusal to purchase the land back. There are some most interesting cases in this area believe me!!

Natasjia said...

In one of the original cases that spurred the supreme court decision, the city wanted to take the houses to make room for an office building, justifying it with the tax revenue it will generate. Not quite public enough for me.

The probligo said...

And, Natasjia, no one has yet catagorically stated what manner of occupancy the land was subject to...

I have asked the same question over at Robertopia ( ) and his group like so many others are far more interested in the outcome of the SCOTUS decision than in answering the question.

I will form my opinion when the question has been answered...