Is there a Conspiracy of Silence?

Social media, not unsurprisingly, has been distressed by the Manchester bombing outrage. However, there seems to be a strange, but a not unfamiliar division of attitudes. There are comments that blame the police and intelligence for not acting sooner and there are those that blame society for not integrating minority groups more successfully.

Now it may be that the comments I pick up are biased but I find the lack of criticism of the perpetrators and the origin of their creed frightening. Is it because of our media and, more importantly, repressive laws that prevent us discussing, describing, disagreeing publically about real divisions in British society?   Have we forgotten so quickly the struggle that has generated our tolerance and openness to ideas that are unpalatable? Did we have to wait for the occupation of the Sudetenland and the invasion of Poland to start publically criticising Hitler and the Nazis that he generated?

 

How Important Is Freedom of Expression?

In November 2012 we offered this article to stimulate discussion about an important assumption of our democracy. As time has passed and terrorist outrage once more stalks our streets should we put more effort into defining and defending our freedom of speech? Freedom of speech is restricted by perceptions of abuse and hatred but have those restrictions gone too far? Are some groups taking unfair advantage of our tolerance? What do you think?

When we asked after the health of democracy in Wye we might have very well asked about the instruments that ensure its vitality. One of the principal insurances of democracy is the freedom of expression – of which freedom of speech is one aspect – and, like apple pie we all agree that it is good. However, and this is where the trouble begins, we all have reservations and surround our support with caveats. The main caveat is that we should not exhort others to kill and murder – that seems right and in a democratic society we leave decisions about death and killing to our democratic representatives. That seems tautological. If democracy has an insurance against tyranny in the freedom of expression how can we achieve democracy without full freedom of expression? That, even without an extreme example, is a problem. We walk on eggshells when it comes to race and religion and those issues are, as ever, major causes of conflict and a threat to security. The other no-go area is that of privacy of the individual, for which our laws against libel and scandal act as reasonable bulwarks. Reasonable, that is, until they become protections for unacceptable abuse of power and what kind of abuse can we cover up under the cloak of private life?

As Lord Justice Leveson issues his findings on the press and its regulation it will not only be the newspapers that will show concern over the future of the sixth estate – new citizen journalism is already a sufficient thorn in the side of the powerful that it’s censorship is only just around the corner. One only has to run a local website for a few months to experience the reactions to open debate.

BBC: Viewpoints: Should the press be regulated? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/20466955

Make the fields bloom

Skylark Meadow has been a remarkable balm to the eyes over this past week. Beneath what have been cloudy skies, Martin with his love of natural, rather than artificial, management of the quality of his soil has performed a piece of magic. He has bound the nitrogen to the soil with a mixture of flowering plants that generate, not only beauty but a wonderful aroma. We cannot reproduce the latter but here are a few images of the flowers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For those who will miss this year’s show Martin is already planting for next year; Thank you, Martin!

An industrial Macy-Ferguson circa 1958 still going strong! (So Martin tells me.)

 

Don’t you just love them!

Donald Trump met with the Queen of England, and he asked her, “Your Majesty, how do you run such an efficient government? Are there any tips you could give me?”

“Well,” replied the Queen, “the most important thing is to surround yourself with intelligent people.”

Trump frowned, and then asked, “But how do I know the people around me are really intelligent?”

The Queen took a sip of tea. “Oh, that’s easy; you just ask them to answer an intelligent riddle.”

The Queen pushed a button on her intercom. “Please send Theresa May in here, would you?”

Theresa May walked into the room and said, “Yes, Your Majesty?”

The Queen smiled and said, “Answer me this, if you would, Theresa. Your mother and father have a child. It is not your brother and it is not your sister. Who is it?”

Without pausing for a moment, Theresa May answered, “That would be me.”

“Yes! Very good,” said the Queen.

Trump went back home to ask Mike Pence the same question. “ Mike, answer this for me. Your mother and your father have a child. It’s not your brother and it’s not your sister. Who is it?”

“I’m not sure,” said Pence. “Let me get back to you on that one.” He went to his advisors and asked everyone, but none could give him an answer.

Finally, Pence ran into Sarah Palin in a restaurant the next night. Pence asked, “Sarah, can you answer this for me? Your mother and father have a child and it’s not your brother or your sister. Who is it?”

Sarah Palin answered right back, “That’s easy, it’s me!”

Pence smiled, and said, “Thanks!” Pence then, went back to speak with Trump. “Say, I did some research and I have the answer to that riddle. It’s Sarah Palin!”

Trump got up, stomped over to Pence, and angrily yelled, “No, you idiot! it’s Theresa May!”

Thanks to critterman

Butterfly, Butterfly …..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of our wonderful visitors is the Peacock butterfly. Over the sunnier days of the last two un-springlike weather, we have been fortunate to spot several of these beautiful creatures sunning themselves – they need the heat they are cold-blooded.

Nature “Red in Tooth and Claw”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We recently pointed out that nature does not need our actions, such as contaminating the countryside with our rubbish, to challenge local species of both animals and plants.

Yesterday underlined this for us when taking a chance to amble in our glorious AONB we encountered the remains of some predator’s meals! Birds eggs are protected from human predation but, naturally, not from nature’s.

 

A Golden Sovereign or People Power?

 

          

 

 

 

 

 

The Dutch election has been and gone; the French presidential election been and gone; our own county council elections ditto but how much do we care? The French presidential election saw 75% of the electorate voting. The UK county council elections less than 40%. Yet the air is thick with demands for accountability and responsibility of politicians – I suppose another way of putting that is that the electorate does not trust politicians. The vote is important but I do not think that is the most important issue. The real concern is where our sovereignty lies.

We are, after all, subjects of a monarch or a sovereign. A thousand years ago the sovereignty indeed lay with the sovereign and that power was absolute. Over the intervening time, the people gradually took back that power and so, indeed, the people became the sovereign power. Michael Portillo, among others, doesn’t like the idea of referendums because our way of expressing the power of our sovereignty is by our parliamentary democracy – our representative democracy. If we were to have more direct expression of our power, if, for example, the politicians were told, by the result of a referendum, to enact the wish of the people, would we be more likely to vote/participate? That is, indeed, a leading question, but the answer depends very much on the considerations and attitude towards who is sovereign!

Joshan’s – an update

Last Sunday strange noises emanated from the shrouded wreckage of “Joshans”. After the noise came the removal of the plastic overcoat that had hidden the roof and, as you can see, the front side of the roof has been repaired. As we write the rear roof is also receiving attention. Well done Mohid!