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So I am having an exciting week. Today's bit of wannabe-barratry comes from one C. Constable, presumably Christine Constable, one of the English Democrats' candidates in the North-West England region, and reads as follows: (typos as in original)
We advise you to remove offensive statements relating to the English Democrats Party. We have downloaded the offensive copy from your web-site and intend to prosecute you directly and your ISP if you do not remove the slanderous comments that you have published on your site.
It's sad that in a party as small as the English Democrats, the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing:
I think that your latest Posting gives a far more `Balanced' view of the situation, and we will not now be taking any sort of action against you.
-- Steven Uncles (from the English Democrats)
Oh well. As Anthony has pointed out, political parties can't sue for defamation anyway; in any case my statements are certainly fair comment. So I shall take up the second part of Anthony's advice: while it would certainly be unladylike for Ms. Constable to fuck herself and the horse she rode in on, I take no hesitation in suggesting that she do so.
(And before I pop out to the pub, I'll add a statistic, since my readers probably expect that. I've just counted the number of words on my web site; there are somewhere in excess of 120,000 in this web log alone. The English Democrats, by objecting to one of them -- `quasi-fascist' -- have made themselves and their behaviour a prominent -- and altogether negative -- topic of discussion around these parts. Not to claim that the readers of British political web logs form a substantial constituency -- but then, neither do supporters of the English Democrats.)
I'm just going to draw people's attention to Peter's commentary on yet another piece of idiocy by Steven Landsburg which purports to advocate executing `computer hackers' (by which he means, somewhat improbably, those who write viruses and worms) on economic grounds. (Peter, like I, found this from Marginal Revolution, which occasionally passes on good links, but more frequently turns up Landsburgesque nonsense, which is sad.)
There are several points here. Pete points out that Landsburg's economics is crap; another, which is often forgotten, which is that writing computer code like a virus or worm is speech, and speech is free. (Releasing a virus or worm is an offence, of course, but that's a distinct act.)
A third is that Landsburg is an idiot. I tried to read his book, The Armchair Economist, but it was unbearably dreadful and I was unable to make it to the end. You can get a good feel for what his book is like (please for god's sake don't buy it) by imagining the following paragraph, with slight variations, repeated for hundreds of pages:
Many people think [something which might or might not be true, but which Landsburg doesn't believe] but economists know that it is false. According to [some data Landsburg quotes selectively from somewhere] it is obvious that [some conclusion which he doesn't justify, whether obvious or not] and therefore [some outrageous policy prescription, like executing computer hackers or banning car seatbelts.]
For Landsburg, `economists know that...' is sufficient to dispose of any argument. This is more feeble than the usual type of argument-from-authority (``well-known commentator X argues that...''), since in many of the cases he cites, economists (let alone actual specialists in the field) don't agree on the issue in question. (His discussion of risk homeostasis is particularly hilarious from this point of view.)
Anyway, since Peter doesn't have comments on his web log, I'll pose the following here:
``Libertarianism is just trolling applied to real life.'' Discuss.
This is all done with wwwitter.
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