Notes around the Anglosphere:
~For American readers: Rush is having surgery tomorrow and it's my privilege to return to the Golden EIB Microphone to host America's Number One radio show. Three hours of substitute-host-level Excellence in Broadcasting starts live coast to coast at 12 noon Eastern/9am Pacific.
~For Aussie readers: My cover story on freedom of expression in this week's Speccie can be read here. I'm increasingly struck by how little the cause of free speech resonates these days even on the less insane university campuses: The "safe space" is the cultural equivalent of one of those Belgian euthanasia clinics. Still, the comic Patton Oswalt (who to my kids will always be Remy in Ratatouille) rather liked this line:
This is the aging of the dawn of Aquarius: new blasphemy laws for progressive pieties.
RT'd an essay on PC censorship by @MarkSteynOnline. Now getting accused of agreeing w/Steyn on EVERYTHING, which proves Steyn's point.
Indeed. What strikes me about the round-up at Twitchy - Steyn is a "f**king shitty" "filth bag" "trashman" ("Plus transphobia") - is how bloody boring these guys are. I'm going to have great difficulty staying awake for the New Totalitarianism.
~For Canadian readers: "We're only making plans for Nigel," sang the new-wave band XTC in a song I may cover on my next Christmas album ("We're only making plans for Noel"). "Nigel's whole future is as good as sealed."
Or so thought Nigelphobes on both sides of the Atlantic. Our first Nigel in the News is Nigel Wright, latterly Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. When he learned that neophyte senator Mike Duffy had taken to the time-honored public-service tradition of ravenous expense-claiming somewhat too enthusiastically, Mr Wright wrote Duffy a personal cheque to help him reimburse Canadian taxpayers. This was "the story that rocked the country's political world," according to the CBC's Peter Mansbridge.
If you say so. In consequence thereof, Nigel either resigned or was fired, according to which version Mr Harper is telling on what day. Yesterday, the RCMP announced:
"Upon completion of the investigation, we have concluded that the evidence gathered does not support criminal charges against Mr. Wright."
Which should have been perfectly obvious from the beginning. Yet Nigel Wright spent a year under criminal investigation for something that, whether naive or ill-advised or ethically dubious, was plainly not a breach of any law. That CBC panel seemed to agree that Mr Wright has not been proclaimed innocent but that the Mounties have decided he's more useful as a friendly Crown witness. So if it's so terrible for Nigel Wright to (allegedly) pressure Duffy to buy his silence, why is it such a good thing for the RCMP to spend a year pressuring Wright to buy his cooperativeness?
~For United Kingdom readers: Our second Nigel in the News is Nigel Evans, formerly Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons at Westminster. Like almost everyone in the Cameronized Conservative Party, Mr Evans is gay. Around the time the Canadian Nigel's career was heading south, the Welsh Nigel's career was plummeting in the same direction in the express elevator. A fellow Tory MP alerted the Speaker to a conversation she'd had with a young man regarding a supposedly unwanted sexual encounter with Mr Evans. Shortly thereafter, Nigel was arrested and charged with rape and sexual assault, his career collapsed, and he wound up on trial.
Here's how that went:
What happened next is a matter of public record. Nigel Evans was acquitted of all charges. Not a few of the charges. Not most of the charges. All of the charges. It took the jury just four and half hours to throw out all ten counts.
And there was a reason they threw them out. Nigel Evans was totally and utterly innocent. Three of the alleged victims testified in court that they didn't understand why the charges had been brought, and they themselves didn't believe they had been the victim of any crime. The main complainant, who had alleged that he'd been raped, was proved in court to be a liar. He had twice told police Evans pushed him into his bedroom and onto the bed, forcibly tried to undress him, and promised him a job if he agreed to have sex with him. But on the witness box he was forced to admit there was no pushing, he'd taken his own clothes off and there had been no promise of a job.
Nigel Evans didn't get off on a technicality. He didn't do it... A wholly innocent man had his reputation destroyed and his career ruined, and now faces crippling debts to cover the cost of his legal fees.
So Mr Evans is innocent but a quarter-million dollars poorer. And, unlike his false but anonymous accusers, only Evans' name will forever be indelibly linked to the words "assault" and "rape". For both Nigel in Ottawa and Nigel at Westminster, guilt and innocence are irrelevant: as I like to say of my own legal travails, the process is the punishment.
For Britain's Crown Prosecution Service, minor public figures are particularly attractive prey, and especially when sex is involved. The Sexfinders-General of the British constabulary are anxious to expand their lucrative "Bonking With The Stars" franchise. In fairness to them, at least in Mr Evans' case the false accusations date from the current millennium, rather than stretching back to the Nineties, Eighties, Seventies and beyond. Even if one assumes that Dave Lee Travis, once British radio's Number One morning man, surely availed himself of the perks that attend such a gig, the truth about any such encounters is hard to litigate after a third of a century. Nevertheless, the Crown dragged him into court, where the jury acquitted him on 12 out of 14 counts dating back to the mid-Seventies, and couldn't reach a verdict on the remaining two. Undeterred, the CPS immediately announced a new trial on the two outstanding counts, and for good measure through in a new one: a charge of indecent assault in January 1995.
The Sexfinders-General's gusto seems a rather obvious attempt to over-compensate for the police's collusion with paedo-celebs like Sir Jimmy Savile and Sir Cyril Smith back when they were actually diddling the kiddies. If it weren't such a terrible play, I'd recommend some enterprising producer dust off The Crucible as an allegory for the Celebrity Unit of the British police.