United Kingdom Fecklessly Badgers American Website

I am neither a booster nor a detractor of badgers, the 2000 Rose Bowl notwithstanding. I am, however, a booster of free speech, and a detractor of bullies. Therefore, today I tell the following to the government of the United Kingdom, with all respect that is due: back the feck off or we'll put a boot up your arse.

I'm inspired to utter such unpleasantries because an official agency of the United Kingdom is attempting, to the best of its weak-chinned ability, to threaten an American webhost for hosting a UK site.

The American site is NearlyFreeSpeech.net, a webhost; the UK site is "Stop the Cull," now found at www.badger-killers.com. "Stop the Cull" is firmly opposed to a proposed culling of badgers in England; the culling is apparently being promoted as a method of reducing disease in cattle. "Stop the Cull" believes the culling is inhumane and not based on sound science.

Here's the problem: Stop the Cull engages not only in pure petitioning behavior, like publishing the names and office contact information of UK politicians who support the cull. It also uses tactics that many see, not unreasonably, as intended to threaten or even endanger their opponents and their families. See, Stop the Cull publishes the home addresses of its opponents, including but not limited to politicians supporting the cull. In a country where violence and threats from animal rights activists are increasingly prevalent, this is a cause for concern for those named and their families. Given the UK's limits on gun ownership and self-defense, the preferable outcome — a few citizens blowing the heads off a few animal rights activists in the course of defending themselves, pour encourager les autres — is not the likely result.

Publishing home addresses of political opponents rarely has anything to do with the marketplace of ideas. As I have argued before, though sometimes an address is relevant to a story, in politics it's usually a tool of intimidation and harassment — an attempt to silence debate, not encourage it. That's not to say it's outside the protection of the First Amendment here in the United States — that's a discussion for another post.

The UK government doesn't like the implied threats of violence against its officials and its citizens and their families. I am sympathetic to that sentiment, if not to the methods they are willing to use as a result. However, the UK government also doesn't like Stop the Cull from publishing the names and office contact information of government officials. In other words, the UK government doesn't like Stop the Cull providing information to allow UK citizens to petition their government, a privilege inherent in civilized society.

The government of the UK has attempted to censor Stop the Cull in several ways documented at NearlyFreeSpeech.Net's blog. First, as anyone familiar with the recent UK fetish for prior restraint of speech, the government persuaded a compliant judge to issue a remarkably broad injunction. [Note: I have hosted the documents posted at NearlyFreeSpeech.net here, to make it more difficult for the UK government to censor them, should it find a way to hinder NearlyFreeSpeech.Net.] That injunction prohibits the defendants from publishing, either themselves or through others, the personal or work contact information of anyone involved with the organization or implementation of the cull, specifically including government ministers. In other words, the injunction prohibits saying that Minister Smith of the Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs may be written to at specified Department headquarters address or email address or called at a specified Department number. The way I read the injunction, it prohibits linking to a government web site with that information. The injunction further warns:

Any other person who knows of this Order and does anything which helps or permits the Defendant to breach this Order or who otherwise undermines or frustrates the effectiveness of this Order or any of the said undertakings may also be found guilty of contempt of Court and may be sent to prison or fined or their assets may be seized.

So. Stop the Cull edited their website hosted in the UK, but put up a mirror site hosted by NearlyFreeSpeech.Net. Here's where the cross-Atlantic bullying comes in. NearlyFreeSpeech.Net received a threatening letter from the Treasury Solicitor's Department. No particular government employee was brave enough to identify himself or herself in it. Much of the letter is taken up by disclaimers that the folks at TSol — as they call themselves — really support free speech. This is a rhetorical device; it has approximately the same function as the phrase "with all due respect," as used, for instance, in the sentence "with all due respect, TSol, you are ineffectual thugs, devoted to indefensible ends and failures at achieving them, as one would expect, given that your fathers' seed was weaker than last week's tea and your mothers routinely awoke in unfamiliar bins." Anyway, in addition to chatting about how much they lurv free speech, TSol threatens. TSol makes some very persuasive points about why Stop the Cull is engaging in conduct that may threaten individuals, and about how most of us wouldn't like having our personal contact information being published by activists seeking to threaten or inspire violence. The problem is familiar to anyone who has heard me say that vagueness in legal threats is the hallmark of thuggery — TSol ambiguously conflates publication of home addresses, on the one hand, with publication of the names and government offices of government figures, on the other hand. By its threats, TSol attempts to make them equivalent. They are not. Government officials are public servants. Making their office contact information secret is not the mark of a democracy. Can such information be abused? Certainly. That's not a justification for insulating them from the people's right to petition them at the place they do the people's business.

TSol seems to recognize that it has little legal basis to threaten a site in the United States:

Clearly, the publication of personal contact information in the knowledge (or constructive knowledge) that such publication may lead to harassment of others, is illegal. We do not wish, however, to cite the relevant law in these circumstances.

This is known as the "Canadian girlfriend" school of legal argumentation. Nevertheless:

However, should you choose not to assist us in this matter, we reserve the right to seek an enforcement order. This may result in significant costs, which Defra would seek to recover
from you. We note from other correspondence which we have seen that you have ‘limited resources’ and we do not favour this action, given that it may put the very future of your
organisation at risk.

Additionally, if you choose not to co-operate, this may become a criminal matter and we will contact the relevant authorities within your jurisdiction. As stated, this is not our preferred
action, but without your co-operation and in light of the seriousness of the matter, we may have no other option.

Here is the heart of the threat — comply with a court order that forbids both publication of personal data and the identities and official contact information of government officials, or we will seek to bankrupt and jail you, even though you are in another country with its own legal norms.

From their delightful response, it seems that NearlyFreeSpeech.Net will not be backing down. TSol will have trouble censoring or retaliating against American web sites in any court of the United States. They might get court orders and arrest warrants in the UK, which they will have trouble enforcing here: I think extradition is highly unlikely, and Americans have started to enact laws to limit enforcement of UK judgments in the United States, as is necessary in light of the UK's abject failure to protect freedom of expression. But if I worked for NearlyFreeSpeech.Net, I wouldn't be vacationing in the UK any time soon.

Now that I think of it, even though I don't work for NearlyFreeSpeech.Net, I won't be visiting the UK any time soon. That's because if TSol persists in its threats against NearlyFreeSpeech.Net, I'm going to publish the government official names and office contact information that TSol is seeking to suppress. You should think about doing the same. If TSol actually begins any legal proceeding against any American person or entity for publishing the names or office contact information of any UK government official, I'm going to work until that information is published on a hundred web sites. If TSol succeeds in obtaining any order against any American site or individual, I'm going to work until that information is published on a thousand web sites. Moreover, I respectfully offer our services in finding pro bono legal assistance for NearlyFreeSpeech.net.

TSol will fail. They can't sue or arrest or threaten us all.

I'm not going to publish home addresses and similar contact information, even though TSol is seeking to suppress it, because (1) it's not necessary to make the point, and (2) publication of the home addresses and similar information of political adversaries is intimidation designed to suppress dissent. Why stand up for Stop the Cull at all, if their tactics are contemptible? Freedom of expression requires it. It doesn't matter that Stop the Cull uses tactics calculated to terrify people into being silent or retreating. The Phelps clan wouldn't support any speech but their own, nor would the Nazis at Skokie, but we protect their rights anyway, so that all of our rights are safer.

Back down, TSol. You'll lose this one. As to the individuals threatened and intimidated by Stop the Cull's publication of home address, I have a recommendation: reform UK law to expand the right to self-defense. Badgers might not need culling. Eco-terrorists, on the other hand . . . .

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. says

    1. I give this post 7 out of 10 on my Personal Jingoism Index.
    2. Yes, I emailed it to TSol. And the judge who issued the injunction. COME AT ME BRO.

  2. James Pollock says

    This seems like a fairly obvious attempt to upgrade in the arch-nemesis department.

    American freedom-loving patriots vs. the British has been DONE, man.

    "In 1814 we took a little trip…"

  3. says

    Ken, if someday you change your mind about visiting the UK, I'll buy you a few pints when you're here (unless minimum pricing is introduced to raise the price the beer, and if that happens then we'll go for the expensive stuff — I'll explain if I have to), and I can give you a place to collapse in a drunken heap if it comes to that. You'll have to put up with a nasally, geeky "you're my hero" for the better part of an hour, but hey, free booze. :)

  4. says

    We should be careful. If we make them angry, they might march in straight lines wearing bright red coats!

  5. ElSuerte says

    Woah, this post gives me brain boners!

    If you can get around to it, I'd like to see you do a post on press attempts to publish the names and adresses of concealed carry and firearms permit holders.

  6. nlp says

    Jeffrey Wheelhouse is a wonderful writer of marvelous letters. The entire letter could be boiled down to "Eff off," but he elected to explain legal rights and prior cases, along with a comment about British humor, while remaining courteous. Thank you for the letter. It brightened my day.

  7. AlphaCentauri says

    I love when they put "private & confidential" at the top of letters to businesses. At least where I work, that's usually used on junk mail like unsolicited offers of jobs in remote rural areas, in hopes it will get it past the the person whose function it is to discard the junk.

  8. joe schmoe says

    "We do not wish, however, to cite the relevant law in these circumstances."

    LOL. I am surprised they actually wrote what they were thinking.

  9. Pseudonymous Boche says

    TSol got the name of the department they are representing wrong. It's "Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs".

  10. C. S. P. Schofield says

    Proving once again that the only thing stuffier than a minor bureaucrat threatened with public exposure is a British minor bureaucrat threatened with public exposure.

  11. John David Galt says

    It sure sounds as if the organization that owns the website is within the jurisdiction of TSol even though the site itself is not. Thus, I do not expect them to resist successfully. At least in their own persons.

    If I were one of them I would consider handing the American site off to a friend on this side of the pond, so that they can then plead inability when an actual judge rubber-stamps TSol's takedown order.

  12. says

    NSFN's letter was wonderful: polite, respectful, knowledgeable but utterly refusing to budge. I think we need more like that.

    And your "Canadian girlfriend" line was made of awesome.

  13. Anonymous says

    "And the judge who issued the injunction."


    Oh Ken, ye poker of hornets' nests.

  14. RobG says

    Although an opponent of the cull, the US having a go at free speech in the UK is wonderfully hypocritical. This coming from the country with the most questionable record on human rights in the developed world, which abolished slavery over 40 years after the UK and most of Europe, whose Bill of Rights only applied to white men, who had an apartheid system running in all but name until the 1970s and who has 40 million people without access to anything but basic healthcare.

  15. C says

    Can't decide which I like more; the Canadian girlfriend line, Ken's comment, or Mr. Wheelhouse's letter. The letter might win on the grounds that they included a graphic….

  16. StephenM3 says

    All animal-rights politics aside, I laughed at "a few citizens blowing the heads off a few other citizens" being called the "most preferable result".

  17. Geoff says

    "It doesn't matter that Stop the Cull uses tactics calculated to terrify people into being silent or retreating."

    I was a little bit sick in my mouth when I read that.

  18. Andrew says

    I totally support the free speech angle but not in this case, this isn't a ' free speech means free speech' issue, these people really are terrorists. If you or any of your commenters here had suffered at their hands, then you would understand, and let me assure you that being on the receiving end of violence themselves would not dissuade the worst of them, they believe in their cause. Find another reason to poke the UK govt. (they well deserve it) but one that doesn't aid and abet these evil people.

  19. says

    Mr Wheelhouse's reference to "badger, badger, badger" and "a very frightening snake" made me snort taint right out of my nose, all over my keyboard.

    How said taint got into my nose in the first place is of significant concern.

  20. En Passant says

    The passive voice in TCoL's anonymous electronic missive to NearlyFreeSpeech is touching:

    Due to the harassment of those involved in this matter, it has been necessary to set up a special email account [redacted by EP to assuage fears of the anonymous solicitor] to which any replies should be sent.

    No doubt TCoL will attribute every piece of V146r4 spam from East Scamistan to NearlyFreeSpeech's publication of their friendly advice.

    Due to the tender sensibilities of the abusive anonymous government bureaucrats involved in this matter it has been necessary to guffaw only in their general direction.

  21. perlhaqr says

    Geoff, Andrew: Sorry, but defending the liberty of speech means defending it even and especially for the most vile. No one seeks to repress inoffensive speech; the "We Love Puppies and Kittens Society" faces no opposition to their right of speech.

  22. perlhaqr says

    Also, that response from NFSN is the bomb.*

    *Metaphorically speaking, of course. No actual explosive material implied.

  23. Jim says

    UK should definitely change its self defense laws. As we know, nothing like being able to kill your own children…in self defense of course.

    Why do Libertarians (sorry, libertarians) feel the need to grow their tiny penises with guns. I will stick to my 5 iron.

    Guns blunt speech Ken. Guns are not speech.

  24. says

    Why do Libertarians (sorry, libertarians) feel the need to grow their tiny penises with guns. I will stick to my 5 iron.

    Well, Jim, we can't all have enormous penises like you. Or, for that matter, go around sticking them into underaged children, unwilling farm animals, and assorted household appliances, like you.

    There. Let no one say that we at Popehat are not hospitable. Jim demonstrated the level and style of discourse of which he is capable, and I attempted to make him feel at home.

  25. FhnuZoag says

    It's vaguely humorous to read a defence of free speech and death squads, all in one article. Bravo.

  26. Joe Pullen says

    @Perlhaqr– yep that letter from NFSF was truly fantastic almost Oatmeal like – I think I snorted my coffee over that one.

    @RobG – I’m not sure I understand your logic. What does any of that have to do with the topic at hand?

    @Geoff, Andrew This is an issue of jurisdiction period. It doesn’t matter that I also agree that publishing of peoples addresses in an attempt to intimidate is vile. What matters is that TSol and DEFRA have zero say over what NFSF hosts not only because NFSF is NOT the creator of the content but also because NFSF is a US company and is not subject to the laws of the UK. Stop the Cull may be vile but it’s still not an acceptable excuse to set bad precedent in US law. It’s exactly this kind of viewpoint that leads to gradual erosion of free speech – the line keeps getting moved a little bit each time. Bottom line, if TSol and DEFRA have an issue they need to address it directly to Stop the Cull who are the actual creators of the content.

    @Jim – I live in Texas. We're generally a loud vocal and rather raucous group. Most of us also have guns. Somehow we manage to say what we want and not end up shooting each other over it. Your argument: guns = suppression of speech = fail.

  27. Joe Pullen says

    Statistically I should correct myself. Although it doesn't change my postion that owning a gun = suppression of speech.

    Number of Murders, United States, 2010: 12,996

    Number of Murders by Firearms, US, 2010: 8,775

    Number of Murders, Britain, 2011*: 638
    (Since Britain's population is 1/5 that of US, this is equivalent to 3,095 US murders)

    Number of Murders by firearms, Britain, 2011*: 58
    (equivalent to 290 US murders)

    Number of Murders by crossbow in Britain, 2011*: 2
    (equivalent to 10 US murders).

  28. LTMG says

    Took our friends across the pond a while but it looks like a judge and an office in a ministry found a way to thank the US for the historically important formal gift of DVDs of classic American movies.

  29. Jess says

    2 murders by crossbow, wow, I wonder how many by a 5 iron?

    @Joe, a couple of additional facts you overlooked.

    The US may have the highest gun ownership rate in the world but the US does not have the worst firearm murder rate – that prize belongs to Honduras, El Salvador and Jamaica. In fact, the US is number 28, with a rate of 2.97 per 100,000 people. Puerto Rico tops the world's table for firearms murders as a percentage of all homicides – 94.8%.

    The reality is if you subtract drug related firearm deaths (mostly due to the US failed War on Drugs) the firearm murder rate would fall to that of most of the rest of Europe as well as the UK. So one could reasonably assume gun ownership does not chill free speech.

    Also on your last post you looked like you were saying you agreed guns = suppression of speech not the other way around. Which is it?

  30. Geoff says


    Sorry, but that feels like a slightly glib response. What I'm worried about (and why I disliked to phrase I quoted in my earlier post) is consequences. Real people might actually suffer as a result of this website's actions (the badger website).

    Whilst the vast majority of people in the UK animal rights community are sane, intelligent, ethical, passionate individuals who are to be admired and praised for what they do, there is a wingnut component who consider it OK to use violence or intimidation to further their cause.

    Had badger-killers.com behaved with sense and restricted the information they published to the official addresses and contact information of MP's, ministers, government departments, officials, and businesses involved then I'd have been completely supportive. These people are protected, and anyway it's their job to be accountable to the public.

    In publishing home addresses, and other personal contact details for people both in and out of public life the website organisers have quite knowingly exposed those people, their loved ones and their property to risk of harassment, threat, fear of violence, and actual violence. To me, that is not acceptable.

  31. AlphaCentauri says

    Do the animal rights activists publish their own contact addresses, or do they operate anonymously?

  32. says


    I want to make sure I understand your position.

    Should I not speak out against, and defy, attempted transnational censorship of clearly legitimate speech, because the speaker also engages in speech that we might agree is not legitimate?

  33. Jess says

    @Geoff, restriction of speech because someone “might” suffer is not a strong enough argument. If some wingnut does use violence then there are laws that exist to punish that person without punishing everyone else by restricting free speech – regardless of how distasteful we find it. You do understand the difference right?

  34. Joe Pullen says

    @Jess – I left a "not" out of that sentence – my bad. I bow to your superior research skills.

    @Geoff – I don't want to appear to be "piling on" here but your statement the website organisers have quite knowingly exposed those people appears to be aimed at "Stop the Cull" – yes? NearlyFreeSpeech.net as merely the hoster of the content, has no "iron in the fire" so to speak on this one. As such, TSol's thuggish letter to them was out of line and lacks any legal standing.

  35. Dan Weber says

    The fact that "Stop The Cull" seeks to post the home addresses of their opponents make them assholes. But assholes deserve freedom of speech for their non-threatening behavior, such as linking to work addresses of government workers.

  36. phil says

    If the call goes out to host a copy of the 'Stop the Cull' web page, my site is at your disposal.

  37. Reasonable? says

    Would you support a judicial order to remove home addresses from the site? That seems like the right outcome here, not that the judicial system in the UK seems capable of that. (I know, at this point, it's beside the point b/c that's not what the judge did).

  38. darius404 says

    The reality is if you subtract drug related firearm deaths (mostly due to the US failed War on Drugs) the firearm murder rate would fall to that of most of the rest of Europe as well as the UK. So one could reasonably assume gun ownership does not chill free speech.

    I think a more reasonable assumption to make would be that the Drug War chills freedom of speech.

  39. Jake A. says

    Although i agree with the article, the US is the biggest international "badgerer", which routinely attempts and often succeeds in over-reaching it's juristiction and imposing it's own laws / ideas on other nations.

    The UK's attempt just makes it look like a damp rag – frankly we don't have the political muscle and the "special"relationship with the US usually involves us bending over and getting a rodgering.

    When the US goes badgering it brings metaphorical nuclear warheads with it and usually gets its way.

  40. says

    Er, yeah, I'm kinda with those who think this post stinks of jingoism. Indeed this post has hugely, hugely reduced my opinion of Popehat. The limits of freedom of speech lie around violence and incitement to violence — the parallel with the Phelps is a strawman, they are nasty nasty people, but they do nothing to impose fear of violence on others. Animal rights people in the UK specifically and deliberately do this — and regularly carry out the threatened acts. That they should be receive a legally threatening letter is hardly an immoderate response.

    What rather sickens me is that you seem quite happy, indeed advocate, that a response to a threat of violence should be "blowing the heads off" a few of the individuals making threats, but get hugely affronted by an intimidating letter.

    Those priorities aren't particularly those we share in the UK, indeed they are ones we generally find rather unpleasant, so please feel free to stick by your promise not to vacation here any time soon.

  41. Sheriff Fatman says


    Oh please, not argumentum ad necandum nigros.

    Britain used to rule approx. a third of the Earth's surface and a quarter of its population, and we didn't hold on to that by firm words over a cup of tea. Ask those elderly Kenyans who this week finally got permission to sue the UK for incarceration and torture during the Mau Mau rebellion in the 1950s. (Her Majesty's Government's wonderfully principled case was that the victims should instead be suing the Government of Kenya, as the successor in interest to the colonial adminstration.)

    Nor were we strangers to the colour bar: in British South Africa (that's British, not Dutch or Afrikaner), public buildings had two entrances, one for whites and one for everyone else. Reform of this system was one of Gandhi's first political causes, when he was a young lawyer in Natal. (His proposed solution — a third entrance, so Indians wouldn't have to share an entrance with blacks — unfortunately missed the point somewhat.)

    And anyway, it's not "the US having a go at free speech in the UK" (which suggests Uncle Sam squaring up to John Bull, or Obama having a pop at the Queen): it's an American company standing up to small-minded, self-important, authoritarian bureaucrats whose stance on the dissemination of public information borders on the Kafkaesque. (I would describe them as Stalinist, but at least Stalin had a five-year plan.)

    Their attitude should drive any true red-blooded Englishman to the barricades, or at least to tut loudly while writing a strong letter to the Times. (True red-blooded Scotsmen, Welshmen, and Northern Irishmen may choose to respond in a more archetypically Celtic fashion.)

  42. says

    Me, I'm still trying to work through all the steps one has to go through, logically, to get from "The United States was slow to outlaw slavery" to "Therefore, shut up about British free speech laws in 2012!". (Or even "Americans have too many murders, so shut up about British free speech laws in 2012!") I suppose this is a case where my not being a lawyer really hurts me; I'm sure if I was a lawyer, the latinus obscuris would be clear and I could clearly see the adava kadavra that links A and B.

    I'm also firmly in the twin camps of "Hippies have a right to free speech." and "Non-hippies have the right to shoot hippies (or hit them with a golf club) if said hippies show up on private property with the intent to do violence." I see no contradiction between these positions.

  43. says

    @Sheriff Fatman:

    I think the problem here is that the tone of the original post was excessively contemptuous of the UK, which riled a number of the readers, and who have therefore responded somewhat immoderately (including, probably, myself.)

    For myself, I am unclear whether the "government officials" referred to are elected politicians or civil servants. If they are civil servants that I actually agree with the UK establishment that even their personal work contact details are not fair game for publication. The UK does not elect its civil servants, they are expected to be apolitical and to implement the policies of the elected politicians. The latter you can find the parliamentary contact details (and, should you so require, usually the home addresses) of very easily, so if the website are publishing these then there is no issue. If they are publishing personal contact details of civil servants then, I'm afraid, I think the intention of the Treasury solicitor is fine, albeit clumsily and embarrassingly worded. Contact details for government departments are freely available, one can even address a mail to a named role within that department. Publishing the names of the individuals, who the UK system traditionally views as, as it were, anonymous cogs, is clearly intended to be intimidatory, and reflects the tendency of the ADL and related activists to deliberately threaten a large a group of people as possible, specifically stressing their indiscriminate and broad-brush approach (they threatened every employee of Oxford University and all of their family members over the vivisection laboratory there). Far from being "small-minded, self-important, authoritarian bureaucrats", I think it's a natural response to a threat, and far less unpleasant than the proposed alternative of "blowing a few heads off."

    All of this is a side-show, anyway. If you want to get worked up about abuse of power with regards to freedom of speech, THIS is the story that should be appalling everyone.

  44. csh says

    @Stuart Brown
    Guessed you missed this: "a few citizens blowing the heads off a few animal rights activists in the course of defending themselves". That's IN THE COURSE OF DEFENDING THEMSELVES, not as a response to threatening speech. You can stop being "rather sickened". Or not.

  45. says

    @Stuart Brown, Sir, your reading comprehension is lacking (and that is after giving you the benefit of doubt). Ken's "blow the heads off" comment was clearly supportive of self defense being used against perpetrators of violence. It also had a clear-to-me element of intentional hyperbole, overstating for emphasis.

    Be happy though, I'll not be visiting the UK, either.

  46. says

    Just in case there was any doubt about a)Where the UK currently stands on freedom of speech (namely, on its throat, giggling gleefully as it chokes and gasps), or b)That there is not so much a slippery slope, but a frictionless, vertical, incline from "Let's ban speech that is like to make Muslims riot" to "Let's ban any speech that offends anyone, anywhere, over anything", I offer you this: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-19863228

    Because this is Ken's living room, and I don't want to be a rude guest and vomit on the carpets, I'll refrain from celebrating muh Ahmerikan freeduhms (spelling to suit the stereotypes held by our friends across the Pond) by posting every dead baby joke I know. For one thing, it would take too long.

    Counting down to "Yeah, but you Americans gave smallpox infested blankets to the Indians!"… 5… 4… 3…

    (Though, FWIW, my ancestors didn't make it America until the 1950s, so we missed most of the fun. Where were they until then? Mostly in England. I'm not sure where that leaves me, in terms of jingoism. For all I know, some of the posters here are my relations. Any Morgans or Rudniks?)

  47. Jim says


    I apologize if the word penis does not meet your standards for discourse.

    For you to accuse me of sticking it in underage children is obviously a clear case of your projecting your guilt on me. Don' fret it Ken, I can take it.

    Btw, what is wrong with farm animals and appliance

  48. says

    So let me get this straight, there are a couple of (British?) posters who feel this post is overly belligerent?

    Welcome to Popehat, persons of newness.

  49. Joe Pullen says

    @Grandy, yep us silly contemptuous belligerent Americans for expecting folks to actually "read" and "comprehend" a Popehat post.

  50. Briton says

    Good, fair criticisms there. I and many other Britons are watching our government with dismay. This is NOT what we expected to happen when we kicked out the Labour party in favour of people who claimed to be conservatives.

    That said, the USA is also rather prominently guilty of trying to enforce its own laws outside its borders. Have they not just this week extradited several Britons for running websites and preaching sermons advocating jihad? Do they not regularly try to arrest Britons who have committed the heinous crime of failing to block US citizens from accessing their British-facing, British-hosted gambling websites? The problem is modern government in general, not the British government in particular …

  51. says

    @Stuart Brown – are you freaking serious? I think you might be suffering from projection, b/c here in the states, there's absolutely 0 Anti-UK sentiment other than snarky jokes about the revolution and royal family. You might find a few pockets that are prone to france bashing or are anti-European Anti-Americanism, but it's mainly just punchlines to jokes. Ken wasn't showing any real animus to the UK or anyone there – you're just being an overly sensitive buttmunch, I mean Wanker b/c you all don't have buttmunches over there.

  52. Jess says

    @Jim, there is a post from Aug. 5th, 2012 titled –

    Indeed Baptize You With Water; But Dr. Kevin Pezzi Cometh, The Latchet Of Whose Shoes I Am Not Worthy To Unloose: He Shall Baptize You With Penis Enlargement Pills And A Cranberry Freshness Sorting Machine.”

    That post was written by Patrick, but it's not the only post that mentions penis's. So I don't think you can say Popehat finds the subject of penis’s to be a matter not worthy of discourse.


    I think a more reasonable assumption to make would be that the Drug War chills freedom of speech.

    Indeed, but perhaps an even more reasonable assumption would be that the Drug War chills the right to be free of unreasonable searches and on occasion even to remain alive – even if you don’t have anything to do with drugs and especially if you are a dog.

  53. Grifter says

    I'm nostalgic for that post in which Jim commented, since it was the very first one I commented on!

    (Of course, I pissed off Patrick, but still; nostalgia!)

  54. says

    I just read the Castaneda post, and what the fuck? This is why other countries are unmoved when we start foaming at the mouth about their human rights records.

  55. says


    I am clearly in it for the pain. Or maybe it was all a secret plan to bring out the strong undercurrent I sensed for renewed penis talk.

    I would say that a round guess of my ratio of comments/visits is about 1/500 (yes I could be more productive). So as much as I loathe the certainty inherent within libertarian snark, I am very much a Popehat follower and for the most part enjoy the posts. Even Patrick's.

    Earlier I was posting on an iPad and as a person with occasional "tech issues" I failed to post this link in and regarding my first comment on this post:


    Thank god for the right to personal self-defense with guns!

    Also, it seems to me that one way to encourage the police in this country to further arm themselves against the populace would be to allow citizens to flaunt/carry guns for their own protection.

  56. Jess says

    @Jim – the police are doing a mighty fine job of that already all by themselves regardless of citizen's arming themselves or not. But to another point, where exactly did Ken talk about flaunting/carrying guns versus owning a gun and using it inside one's own home or one's own property to defend oneself?

  57. says

    Am I the only one who is thinking of compiling contact address (official ones, not home addresses) for representatives of the British Government so that those of us in the US can contact them and express our outrage over them bullying a web host?

  58. Joe Pullen says

    @Ken – I forgot about that one but thanks for reminding me of my worst nightmare. The second link also reminds me of the anonymous coward who put up the now defunct jamesrandiusa.org. He and Captain Paste Taster would get along quite well I think.

    @Jess – Ken didn’t. Jim is being deliberately abstruse.

  59. Earle says

    Ken, I'm gonna bank the firetruck/tanker/garbage truck dodge and use it when it will be most useful, perhaps at my looming performance evaluation.

  60. says


    Ken did not say anything about gun owners carrying/flaunting.

    However, @Joe Pullen I was in no way being deliberately abtruse. My own thoughts about the gun rights argument led to a point where I must have felt it was a good time to introduce an irrelevant non sequitur, based on my conflating Ken with the larger gun-rights support base. I realize it is never a good idea to conflate Ken with anything or anyone. My bad.

    More generally I have no memory of Ken being against the carrying of firearms. I certainly could have missed it though and this post clearly had nothing to do with that argument.

  61. Earle says


    Please, stick to the relevant non sequiturs. Like the fact that I have no memory of Ken being against saddlery, yet he refuses in this post to name and shame certain creators of tack. Tack used for dark purposes.

  62. Caleb says

    @ Jim

    Thank god for the right to personal self-defense with guns!

    Y'know, I have literally hundreds of thousands of similar tragic stories involving motor vehicles rather than firearms. Those anecdotes are uncontrovertible proof that motor vehicles should be banned, right?

  63. says

    I don't know of any stories where someone uses their car to kill an intruder only to realize it is their child.

    Additionally, if one were to do a cost/benefit analysis on the benefits of autos and guns vs. the deaths caused by them, I think it would be pretty clear that your analogy is seriously off.

    I also never said guns should be banned. I do believe that the second amendment exists but I also incorporate the preamble to the amendment into my thinking.

  64. Caleb says

    I was merely pointing out that there is both a cost and a benefit to everything. Hyperbolizing the costs using emotionally charged anecdotes while failing to acknowledge the benefits is hardly utilitarian.

    I would like to see your parameters and inputs for the cost/benefit for guns. How do you arrive at that conclusion?

    Suppose a sign on a classroom door read: "The teacher being sick, today's class is cancelled." Does the veracity of the claim of the teacher's illness have any operative effect on whether the class is in fact cancelled?

  65. Dave Ruddell says

    I'm a little disappointed the letter did not reference the reply given in Arkell v. Pressdram.

  66. James Pollock says

    "Suppose a sign on a classroom door read: "The teacher being sick, today's class is cancelled." Does the veracity of the claim of the teacher's illness have any operative effect on whether the class is in fact cancelled?"

    Perhaps, perhaps not. But certainly, the IDENTITY of the teacher who may or may not be sick has relevance to whether or not any particular class is cancelled. If teacher A is sick, we don't cancel the class(es) of teacher B. "today's class is cancelled" is relative, not absolute.

    Compare "The teacher being sick, today's class is cancelled." to "due to inclement weather, class is cancelled". Does the first part affect the (identical) second part of the statement?

  67. says

    @Douglas: I suspect that outrage of Americans against the policies of British government officials will mean as much to them as the outrage of vegans does to McDonalds. People who are not, and never will be, your customer base can be ignored.

  68. Caleb says

    @ James Pollock

    That's actually a very apt continuation of the analogy. I would argue that the placement of the notice speaks to identify. If placed on class A's door, then class A. If on class B's then class B. If on the school's front door, then, arguably, both. In the Constitution, the 2nd Amendment is found within the Bill of Rights, all of which operate as very broad legal protections applicable to all citizens. An odd place to digress into regulation of government-established military bodies.

    As it so happens, the 2nd Amendment identifies the group of persons to whom it applies: to wit "the people." As Scalia pointed out in Heller, every other place the Constitution mentions "the people," we read that phrase as referring to every citizen generally.

    To extend the analogy, change "class is canceled" to "school is canceled." Traditionally, "school" refers to every class in the building, but can mean other things in particular situations. Thus, it is much like "the people." Since the concept of "militia" is supposedly narrower than the concept of "the people," the two clauses seem to be in tension. It would be like a note, posted on the school's front door, which read: "Teacher A being sick, school is cancelled."

    Unlike your inclement weather analogy, this prefatory clause seems to only apply to a teacher A's class. But the operative clause says "school," and it is placed in a location of general applicability. Obviously, this would cause confusion. Lacking a clarifying authority, it is unclear whether all classes are cancelled, or just 'class A.'

    The way I understand the argument, people who read the 2nd's prefatory clause as operative would argue the following in this situation: 'Teacher A's illness would only affect class A. The general language and location of the notice are not dispositive, since it is impossible to reconcile teacher A's illness with a school-wide closure.'

    Of course, my response is: "Teacher A's illness is not at all irreconcilable with school-wide closure. The illness could be of a nature which necessitates total quarantine. The argument that the note must be read narrowly ignores this possibility, and is merely conclusory in its reasoning. "

    So with the second amendment. The argument that the "well-regulated militia" must conflict with a personal right to keep and bear arms is simply conclusory. The fact that "militia" meant one thing in one historical context does not rule out a different functional definition, particularly in the founding on an entirely new nation.

  69. David Schwartz says

    "Teacher A being sick, school is cancelled."

    You may think it's dumb to close a school just because one teacher is sick. You may think teacher A is just fine and the premise is total nonsense. Nevertheless, this means what it says. Someone in authority has decided to close school because they believe that teacher A is sick and they believe that this justifies closing the school. You can disagree with the decision, but I don't think you can disagree in good faith about what it means.

  70. Jess says

    We’ve gone waaay off topic here – my apologies to Ken.

    @Jim, unfortunately that gun in a cop’s hands doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t shoot their own son either http://www.ktla.com/news/landing/ktla-ny-cop-shoots-son,0,6146844.story

    One can imagine only imagine that Hitler, Stalin, and Mao Tse Tung would agree – gun control works – after all only 56 million people have been murdered by their own governments in the 20th Century.

    Preamble to the 2nd aside, an armed citizenry, one could reasonably assume, is less likely to succumb to the tyranny of whatever government is in power. I have to imagine (since I have no corollary evidence to the contrary) that recent incidents of jailing people in the UK for offensive speech just might possibly be related to the fact that the average UK citizen doesn’t bear arms and therefore can’t tell their government officials to “eff” off with quite the same level of conviction. I’d be interested in other opinions on this and/or facts to back up this perception or to refute.

    I will state however that I’m of the opinion that when the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty (Thomas Jefferson).

  71. James Pollock says

    Jess, with regard to your final statement of approval for Jefferson's notion: Since hte American Revolution, the people are 0-for in armed rebellions; not one has been successful in throwing off the shackle of government oppression. Notably, the three largest expansions of the franchise were all achieved by political mechanisms: The extension of the franchise to black men, to women, and to men and women between the ages of 18 and 21.
    Compare that effectiveness with the utter and dismal failure of armed rebellion, such as, for example, that of Timothy McVeigh (or, if you like, of the somewhat larger-in-scale but no more effective attempted secession of the Confederate States.)
    P.S. Caleb, one of the accepted rules of construction that lawyers use is the principle that no part of the Constitution is superfluous; on the theory that if something didn't need to be there, it would have been left out. It seems to me, and people who think like me, that if the founders had intended a general, unlimited right to own military-grade weaponry, they would have just said "The right to bear arms shall not be infringed", and that would have taken care of it. But that's NOT what they added to the Constitution (considering that for the first 75 years of the country's existence, the Bill of Rights was seen as a limitation on the federal government ONLY and NOT a restriction on the various States, it seems odd to rely on the Founders' intent with regard to the states' ability to limit gun possession rules… extension of the second amendment to apply against the states requires the "judicially activist" reading of the 14th amendment that extends the Bill of Rights generally (but not completely) to limit the states. But that's second-semester Con Law.)

  72. Caleb says

    @ James Pollock

    I did not argue that the prefatory clause is superfluous. It premises the purpose of the right, and arguably serves as a shield to the States should the Federal government attempt to disband state militias.

    On the other hand, what is the effect of reading "…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." as only shielding possession of firearms in context of service in state militias? The prefatory clause, along with the 10th Amendment already protect the State's right to organize militias. Presumably, that right includes the right to arm them. (Unless you want to argue that armed persons are not inherent in a militia.) By that approach, you are making the last half of the 2nd superfluous!

    We can argue about incorporation later. Hopefully though, you will grant that if the second grants a substantive individual right, it should be incorporated under the logic of existing caselaw.

  73. says

    Well well, I've never heard of NFSN before but I've been reading their FAQ and I really like these guys. Goodbye Hostgator, hello NFSN!

    Thanks, Ken. I appreciate this.

  74. Tim Danysh says

    @ James Pollock

    As for:
    Since the American Revolution, the people are 0-for in armed rebellions; not one has been successful in throwing off the shackle of government oppression.

    Try looking up the 1946 Battle of Athens.

  75. Andrew says

    There's certainly a load of going off at a tangent here. I'm not denying a platform to these eco warriors/loonies (delete to taste) – mirror their views on your sites to your heart's content. I support their right to present their views and arguments.

    My objection is to their wish to publish civil servant's (and others) names and addresses on the internet for the purpose of intimidation. Do bear in mind these people they are going after aren't politicians making policy, just working stiffs carrying out the policies.

    Take a few minutes to search the web for what these people get up to at the expense of the victims of their terrorism. They know they can't pursuade the public of their arguements, so they go instead for firghtening the workers and their families so as to close down anything they don't like. Bear in mind also that a lot of this work (eg. medical testing on animals) is now almost all done by govt. operations, or quasi govt. operations in the UK because they have already scared the private sector into submission.

    Where's the free speech in this? You're wrong to support this bunch without limitation, and I can't see why redacting names and addresses would concern any reasonable person.

  76. Jess says

    @Andrew – please go back and read the original post. Then come back and tell me why TSol was justified in going after NFSN. You know NFSN the guys "hosting" the site, not creating the content.

  77. ruralcounsel says

    @ James Pollack

    I'd also add that a well armed populace has slowed, if not altered course for the statists considerably over the years. As many who carry a firearm can attest, sometimes just letting the other guy know you have it is enough to avoid the violence.

    And for those arguing over the Second Amendment preamble…why would the Federal Bill of Rights have any meaningful content about what were indisputably State or local militias? The concept of incorporation of limits on the States was a long way off – and probably would have been a deal-breaker at the time. And most state constitutions had far more strident pro-individual rights to firearms articles in their own right.

  78. Watcherdownsouth says

    The letter from NSFN was delightful…..but it was the contents of this thread that inspired the "Add to Favorites" click.

    Bravo to the crowd here….I am thoroughly entertained, and I saved the two fistfuls of one-dollar bills that such entertainment would normally cost. Bonus points to Hughhh's comment on Oct. 7th at 4:36 — that one caused me to have to clean diet coke off of my screen and keyboard.

    @James – sorry, but Caleb won the discussion concerning the prefatory clause of the 2nd Amendment. But color me biased, as I am sub-MOA well past 500m.

    @lizard — methinks I am in camp with you. I will bring my own tent and lots of ammo for the hippies……and soap to wash them down with if we run out of ammo.

    @ruralcounsel — you speak the truth when you say "As many who carry a firearm can attest, sometimes just letting the other guy know you have it is enough to avoid the violence." As the target of an attempted robbery/carjacking in Montgomery a few years back, it was amusing to see the effect of a chuckle, a "tsk tsk" with a finger-waggle, and then a slow pullback of my suit jacket to reveal the butt of my holstered Kimber. Unfortunately, I could think of nothing witty to say with short notice, and I went all redneck with "Hope y'all insured, cause I ain't gonna miss". Never got a shot off, though….they were moving too fast. Pity.