George Walford: Editorial Notes (30)

IC is not an academic journal and we do not need to support a claim to academic status by flying the tribal recognition symbols. We can use English instead of sociologese or litcritican. When tempted to relax with “heuristic,” “semiotic,” “deconstruction,” “discourse” (in the academic sense), “problematic” and the others, the effort of translating them into English, or constructing an equivalent phrase, is well worth while; it usually results in crisper writing conveying a more precise meaning.

THE BODY count on Europe’s roads is now running around 50,000 a year. That was not reported as a Shock! Horror! story but mentioned incidentally in a piece on a proposed roadside computer network. (Sunday Times 14 June 87). The network is mainly intended to speed up the traffic.

H. L. MENCKEN is quoted as having said:

I believe in only one thing and that thing is human liberty… I am against any man and any organization which seeks to limit or deny that freedom. (TLS 28 Aug 87)

Firm believer in human liberty as he was, Mencken none the less excluded one liberty which history shows to be highly valued by a great many people: the liberty to limit or deny the freedom of others. He agrees with IC that for freedom to be real it must be united with restraint.

WIMPY have begun to serve Beanburgers, and McDonald’s are not far behind with a wholefood salad. It is mainly the customers who manipulate the suppliers.

THE OLD, undemocratic railway stations used to have first, second and third class restaurants. The new, democratic motorway service areas do not make these class distinctions. They have, instead, restaurants with waitress service, serve-yourself cafeterias, and takeaways.

The old, undemocratic British state used to impose censorship through the British Board of Film Censors. The new, democratic state has done away with this restriction. It has, instead, the British Board of Film Classification, deciding which age-groups should be banned from watching which films.

AMONG PROMISES made by the conservatives at the last election was one to introduce legislation strengthening the position of individual trade union members. It is not surprising that the conservatives should want to do this, but to anybody who believes that trade unionists are a body of socialists, working all together for the good of all, it may be surprising to find 70% of them supporting the proposal and only 20% opposing it. Yet that was the result of a Mori poll. And 47% supported a government proposal that union members who refuse to join a strike, even if it has been supported by a majority in secret ballot, should be legally protected.

Voting intentions of trade union members: Labour 50%, Tory 35%, Alliance 14%.

Paul Johnson has reported (TLS 29 Aug 86) that at the first international conference on terrorism, organised by the Jonathan Institute at Jerusalem in 1979, this definition of terrorism was adopted by vote:

Terrorism is the deliberate and systematic murder, maiming and menacing of the innocent to inspire fear for political ends.

That makes it difficult to distinguish between terrorism and some of the acts of legitimate governments in wartime, area bombing for example.

DRUNKEN DRIVING penalties upon conviction:
Australia: Name in local paper as “Drunk¬†and in Jail.”
South Africa: Ten years in prison, a heavy fine or both.
Turkey: Taken 20 miles out of town and made to walk back.
Malaysia: Jailed; wife too, if married.
Norway: 3 weeks hard labour, loss of licence for 1 year; repetition within five years, banned for life.
Finland & Sweden: 1 year hard labour.
Russia: Loss of licence for life.
Bulgaria: The second conviction is the last. Penalty – execution.
El Salvador: For first offence, execution by firing squad.
(Daily Cyclist, July/Aug 87)

from Ideological Commentary 30, November 1987.