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How Free is Britain?
Social Affairs Unit ^ | Feb 22 05 | Anthony Daniels

Posted on 02/24/2005 12:32:34 AM PST by ijcr

A former colleague of mine was involved as an expert witness for the defendant in a civil case not long ago. A short time thereafter, he bumped into the judge at a golf clubhouse, who half recognised him.

"Are you a doctor?", he said.

"Yes", replied my colleague.

"And weren't you a witness in a case recently?"

"Yes".

The judge then asked him what he thought of the outcome. My colleague replied: "I think that the defendant would have received a fairer hearing in a kangaroo court run by generals in a South American military dictatorship".

I need hardly say that this remark brought the conversation to a close. But as reported, it set me thinking about the nature of our own freedom: how much freer are we than the citizens of a South American dictatorship (in the old days, where there were such things)? How free, exactly, are we?

I don't want to indulge in any self-pitying false comparisons. We have neither Gestapo nor Gulag, and it is an insult to all those who have experienced such things in their own flesh and blood (or bone, as they say in Spanish, perhaps more accurately) to compare our small tribulations with theirs. Irritations are not tragedies.

Nevertheless, I think we are less free than we used to be. The weight of the state is making itself everywhere felt. In my former professional life as a doctor, for example, I was obliged more and more to obey the dictates of ministers, rather than those of my medical beliefs.

Whereas when I started out on my career all that was necessary to continue in practice was that I should be qualified and that I should refrain from behaving in an egregious or outrageous manner, by the time I retired this year I had to fulfil all sorts of requirements, all of which (in this age of evidence-based medicine) were quite without evidence of use or efficacy. But that is not the real point of such requirements: they are not there to improve the quality of medical practice; they are there to let us all know who is boss. And even if they were effective, which is intrinsically very difficult to prove, they would still represent a loss of liberty.

The fact is that the requirements laid down by ministers and their bureaucrats now take up fully half the time of senior doctors, when they could be doing clinical work, and this at a time of shortage of medical manpower. Most doctors, except for the apparatchiks among them, are profoundly unhappy about this, and are taking retirement as soon as possible.

An increasing proportion of medical graduates never practice medicine, because the career is now so deeply unattractive to them, and they can do better elsewhere. Having brought this situation about, the government has launched its Improving Working Lives initiative, still failing to realise that it is the sinner, not the saviour.

There are other ways in which the state (by which I mean all agencies vested with public power) weighs increasingly heavily upon us, quite apart from the fact that we spend nearly a half of our working life paying for it. Here are a few random indicators:

1. The other day, at dawn, a large council vehicle parked outside my house with a very tall crane-like attachment, from the top of which photographs were taken of the neighbourhood, including my house. No one had felt obliged explain why, or for what purpose the photographs were to be used. The city is the council's and the fullness thereof.

2. Once a year, I receive through the post a letter marked with the exhortatory words, "Don't lose your right to vote – register now". Added to this is the warning, in case I don't feel like exercising my right, "Failure to comply could lead to a £1000 fine". This is like being accosted by a beggar in the street who simultaneously appeals to your charity and menaces you if you don't cough up.

3. Every few months, I receive a letter from the TV licensing agency, who do not believe that I do not have a television. Once again I am threatened with a £1000 fine, and also warned that my house will soon be spied upon unless I buy a licence.

4. When I drive out in my car, I am immediately in the presence, every few hundred yards, of cameras. (The British are now the most heavily surveyed people by CCTV in the world. There were more than fifty CCTV cameras in the hospital in which I worked, most of them hidden.) I don't want to drive like a lunatic, and in fact conduct on the road is the one aspect of British behaviour that is still superior to that of most foreigners, and was so even before the cameras were emplaced. Even if they are effective, and reduce accidents, they add to the pervasive feeling of being spied upon by the state.

5. Our police now look more like an occupying military force than citizenry in uniform. They are both menacing and ineffectual (quite an achievement), and even law-abiding citizens are now afraid of them. If you want to ask the time, don't bother a policeman. I know from medico-legal experience that the police are far more interested in preserving themselves from the public than from preventing or investigating crimes, up to and including attempted murder. This is not because, as individuals, they are bad men and women; it is because of the same kind of bureaucratic regulation imposed on them as it has been imposed on doctors and other professions.

6. I own a flat in London and have recently learned that I must replace a boiler, not because it does not work or because it is dangerous, but because the regulations have changed, for reasons that it would be impossible to discover, except that they obey the rule of Keynesian economics to stimulate demand and keep it stimulated. And this in practice would mean that, if I still want gas heating, I have to put a new boiler in my living room.

And so it goes on – and on. Very rarely nowadays do I feel myself free of the state. Its power has increased, is increasing and ought to be decreased. But I am not the man to do it. By retiring, I have withdrawn myself from it as far as possible. Il faut cultiver notre jardin.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: anthonydaniels; freedom; liberty; uk
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Quick quiz.

Anthony Daniels is a writer and retired earlier this year as a doctor.Daniels has had many of his articles posted on FR under his nom de plume.

So without using a search engine...what is Dr. Daniels' nom de plume?

1 posted on 02/24/2005 12:32:34 AM PST by ijcr
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To: ijcr

Brityank?


2 posted on 02/24/2005 12:36:52 AM PST by GeronL (Bush on the PRESS "They just float sewer out there.")
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To: ijcr
Don't know about his nom de plume, but I do know the answer to his question: "How free is Britain?"

Answer: not very. As Admiral Nelson used to say, thank God I live in a civilized country.

3 posted on 02/24/2005 12:39:03 AM PST by A Jovial Cad ("I had no shoes and I complained, until I saw a man who had not feet.")
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To: A Jovial Cad; MadIvan

I wonder if Mad Ivan knows...


4 posted on 02/24/2005 12:40:48 AM PST by GeronL (Bush on the PRESS "They just float sewer out there.")
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To: GeronL

How free is Britain today? More so than they will be tomorrow. Just wait until that EU "Constitution" takes full effect. Having a German hobnail boot on their throat and a French high heel on their b@lls ought to make them really feel like they've become part and parcel of "Europe". (Or should I say Eurabia?)


5 posted on 02/24/2005 12:55:36 AM PST by datura (Stress is best relieved using therapeutic high explosives.)
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To: ijcr
It's all a matter of compromise.
Freedom is undefined.
Some visualize world peace, I see world police.
6 posted on 02/24/2005 12:59:00 AM PST by endthematrix (Declare 2005 as the year the battle for freedom from tax slavery!)
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To: datura
Yeah, but now you can travel Europe and handle currency without inconvenience...
7 posted on 02/24/2005 1:00:53 AM PST by endthematrix (Declare 2005 as the year the battle for freedom from tax slavery!)
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To: endthematrix

You can do that in the US too.. =o)


8 posted on 02/24/2005 1:03:19 AM PST by GeronL (Bush on the PRESS "They just float sewer out there.")
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To: ijcr

Interesting article. I'm afraid the US isn't far behind.


9 posted on 02/24/2005 1:04:01 AM PST by Navy Patriot (I'm gonna hear it for this.)
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To: GeronL

His articles appear in City Journal and at times in the Daily Telegraph.


10 posted on 02/24/2005 1:12:17 AM PST by ijcr (Some mornings, it's just not worth chewing through the leather straps.)
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To: GeronL
As that is a matter of utter indifference to me, I haven't thought to ask...
11 posted on 02/24/2005 1:27:39 AM PST by A Jovial Cad ("I had no shoes and I complained, until I saw a man who had not feet.")
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To: GeronL

I don't feel less than free. But then again, I'm not in a highly regulated profession like a doctor. The biggest bit of regulation I have to face at the moment is Sarbanes Oxley since I work for an American firm.

PS - you'd be better off asking a fencepost than Jovial Cad what he thinks, he's an anti-British bigot.

Regards, Ivan


12 posted on 02/24/2005 1:43:54 AM PST by MadIvan (One blog to bring them all...and in the Darkness bind them: http://www.theringwraith.com/)
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To: Navy Patriot

It surely isn´t. What kind of freedom is it when you are not allowed to drink a beer on the (public) beach, or aren´t allowed to smoke even in bars, restaurants? Buckle up, it´s the law, ok, I get this since it´s not a big thing and it serves you as well as the society both. But where does it end?


13 posted on 02/24/2005 1:55:22 AM PST by Michael81Dus
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To: MadIvan
I don't feel less than free

Ivan, dear boy,

You should take a look at Nanny Knows Best if you've never seen it. If even half of what they say is true, the Englishman's liberties are a shadow of what they once were.

-ccm

14 posted on 02/24/2005 1:59:26 AM PST by ccmay (Question Diversity)
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To: ccmay

The fact that we complain as much as we do about an intrusive state is indicative of our basic liberties still being in place.

I should point out, it's apparent that both the Tories and Liberals are going to run the next election partially on a platform of rolling back some of the encroachments Labour has made.

Regards, Ivan


15 posted on 02/24/2005 2:02:56 AM PST by MadIvan (One blog to bring them all...and in the Darkness bind them: http://www.theringwraith.com/)
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To: MadIvan

Remember the good old days? When it seemed like Heath, Wilson, Callaghan were always battling the Miner's Union? Or, saving the pound from IMF restrictions? So simple back then.


16 posted on 02/24/2005 2:23:45 AM PST by leadhead (Meeting: None Of Us Is As Dumb As All Of Us.)
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To: leadhead

For me the good old days were when Mrs. Thatcher was handbagging the hell out of everyone.

Regards, Ivan


17 posted on 02/24/2005 2:24:49 AM PST by MadIvan (One blog to bring them all...and in the Darkness bind them: http://www.theringwraith.com/)
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To: A Jovial Cad
"Don't know about his nom de plume, but I do know the answer to his question: "How free is Britain?" Answer: not very. As Admiral Nelson used to say, thank God I live in a civilized country." Well Mr Chad, or may I call you Jovial? Accodring to http://www.heritage.org/research/features/index/countries.cfm Great Britiain is the 7th most economically free nation at the moment, with the USA lying in 13th position. Now I accept that this is a measure of economic freedom, but I think you'll find that economic and social freedoms tend to go hand in hand. So perhaps you should look at your definition of "a civilised country"
18 posted on 02/24/2005 2:32:30 AM PST by oursouls
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To: oursouls
Oh, really? Interesting nonsense you've posted there; but thanks for playing.

"oursouls: Since 2005-02-20."

Now why, oh why, does that somehow not surprise me?

...(snicker)...

19 posted on 02/24/2005 2:41:02 AM PST by A Jovial Cad ("I had no shoes and I complained, until I saw a man who had not feet.")
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To: A Jovial Cad

So you can offer no rebuttal of my points other than to call it "nonsense" with no accompanying argument or justification and to point your finger at the date when I registered on this site?

My, what an intelligent fellow you are.


20 posted on 02/24/2005 2:44:28 AM PST by oursouls
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To: ijcr

Hmmm, don't know the gentleman's real name, but this particular article is a warning to us all, everywhere, and I hope he tends his garden well. He surely has a green thumb. (Saw a tv commercial on cable last night exhorting South Africa tourism. My hair stood on end.)


21 posted on 02/24/2005 2:49:42 AM PST by hershey
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To: MadIvan
My, my...where have those reputedly impeccable Isle manners gone? It is, after all, considered common courtesy even among us crude colonialists to *ping a person we're discussing in the third person to another poster...

Guess that's in the same steep decline as stiff upper lips and basic human liberty out your way too, eh?

Your "anti-British bigot" bilge is, besides being nonsense, the textbook definition of laughable. What I am is an "anti-Mad Ivan nonsense & smarmy half-truths" bigot. To that charge I happily plead guilty...

22 posted on 02/24/2005 2:57:51 AM PST by A Jovial Cad ("I had no shoes and I complained, until I saw a man who had not feet.")
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To: oursouls
Uh-huh...whatever you say, cowboy.
23 posted on 02/24/2005 2:59:18 AM PST by A Jovial Cad ("I had no shoes and I complained, until I saw a man who had not feet.")
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To: ijcr

Britain is doomed.


24 posted on 02/24/2005 2:59:31 AM PST by BigCinBigD
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To: A Jovial Cad

You really can't help yourself, can you? This whole act you put on, gaining gratification by being abusive to people online, is pretty pathetic.

Ivan


25 posted on 02/24/2005 3:04:13 AM PST by MadIvan (One blog to bring them all...and in the Darkness bind them: http://www.theringwraith.com/)
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To: ijcr
How Free is Britain?

The Brits rejected the Idea of a Constitution of the Sovereign U.S.A.,....and they are today 'still' opposed to that U.S.A. citizen 'Sovereignty'

(That ain't very free......The British peoples are still 'subjects'...?)

/EU's U.N.

26 posted on 02/24/2005 3:12:08 AM PST by maestro
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To: MadIvan; GeronL; A Jovial Cad

As an American living in the UK, I can vouch for the fact that the title of this article is quite incorrect -- one feels quite free to do what one wants in the UK


27 posted on 02/24/2005 3:13:57 AM PST by Cronos (Never forget 9/11)
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To: BigCinBigD
Britain will be okay, if they follow one of their greatest writer's visionary instincts: George Orwell made "Oceania" a part of the North & South American power construct in that novel for a reason. Putting aside the nightmare future he posited in the book, he saw instinctively that an England intimately interconnected with the United States was a bulwark against the Continental Fevers.

The spirit that animated Runnymede is certainly dimmed, but I don't think down-and-out for the count just yet--and may well be ripe for reanimation. Time will tell.

28 posted on 02/24/2005 3:14:54 AM PST by A Jovial Cad ("I had no shoes and I complained, until I saw a man who had not feet.")
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To: MadIvan
Uh-huh...you sound just like every preening, silly, leftist I've ever run across in debate; uttering semi-slanders when challenged & seriously called on their nonsense, and then pleading some kind of "abuse" when the target of said semi-slanders & nonsense won't just roll over and take it--and when they've found themselves, as you obviously have here, outmatched on every intellectual front.

"Pathetic" it 'tis, indeed...

29 posted on 02/24/2005 3:22:52 AM PST by A Jovial Cad ("I had no shoes and I complained, until I saw a man who had not feet.")
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To: A Jovial Cad

You done yet?

Ivan


30 posted on 02/24/2005 3:24:43 AM PST by MadIvan (One blog to bring them all...and in the Darkness bind them: http://www.theringwraith.com/)
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To: maestro

"The Brits rejected the Idea of a Constitution of the Sovereign U.S.A.,....and they are today 'still' opposed to that U.S.A. citizen 'Sovereignty'

(That ain't very free......The British peoples are still 'subjects'...?)"

Thanks for an illuminating post. The 30 seconds or so you spent thinking about this subject was time well spent. Where can I catch one of your lectures, professor?


31 posted on 02/24/2005 3:26:05 AM PST by Bombay Bloke
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To: ijcr

Theodore Dalrymple is his nom de plume. He is published quite a bit in City Journal among others.


32 posted on 02/24/2005 3:26:09 AM PST by ZeitgeistSurfer
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To: ijcr
How Free is Britain?

Only as free as the United States of America backs them.

Any Questions?

33 posted on 02/24/2005 3:28:16 AM PST by MaxMax (GOD BLESS AMERICA)
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To: ijcr

"what is Dr. Daniels' nom de plume?"

C3-P0?


34 posted on 02/24/2005 3:29:35 AM PST by KneelBeforeZod ( I'm going to open Cobra Kai dojos all over this valley!)
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To: Michael81Dus
Buckle up, it´s the law, ok, I get this since it´s not a big thing and it serves you as well as the society both. But where does it end?

It doesnt end till YOU decide to end it.

Dont succumb to the impotence of the herd.

35 posted on 02/24/2005 3:30:07 AM PST by JFK_Lib
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To: Navy Patriot

Recently, a minister friend of mine from England was visiting, and attended church with us. We heard a very good sermon, but afterward my friend informed me that, while he agreed with the sermon, he would have been arrested for giving that sermon in England. My guess is that England is NOT very free.

Just to test the issue of England's freedom, publicly express the opinion that Islam is an evil religion of hate. Another good test would be to try and find your local gun shop and buy yourself a handgun for protection.


36 posted on 02/24/2005 3:30:19 AM PST by deaconjim (Freep the world!)
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To: leadhead

I remember the "good old days" when those buggers made us drop pounds shillings and pence and go decimal. I believe it was Feb.1971. Until then we were paid in Guineas ie one pound and one shilling.

Before that date, you could buy a newspaper for a penny and a decent bar of chocolate for 3d.

As an aside you could not exit the country with more than 10 pounds in cash and it was recorded in your passport.

O, Lord above, send down some doves.
With beaks as sharp as razors.
To cut the throats, of them there blokes,
that sells bad beer to sailors.


37 posted on 02/24/2005 3:32:39 AM PST by ijcr (Some mornings, it's just not worth chewing through the leather straps.)
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To: deaconjim

Alternatively try drinking a can of beer in a New Jersey Park (I did, I nearly got jailed). Light up a cigarette in an NY restaraunt or have your wife go topless on a Californian beach.


38 posted on 02/24/2005 3:36:08 AM PST by weegie
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To: Bombay Bloke
Thanks for an illuminating post. The 30 seconds or so you spent thinking about this subject was time well spent. Where can I catch one of your lectures, professor?

Your Welcome.

......a 30 hours series forthcoming on EXACTLY what 'happened' to the British subjects' Middle-Classes economy?

/citizenship sovereignty?

39 posted on 02/24/2005 3:36:26 AM PST by maestro
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To: MadIvan
I am...just as long as you are.

That's always been my policy, of course, Maddy old boy. Since about the first time you initiated an unprovoked flame-war with me, as I recall...(and it had nothing to with the U.K., either, for those of you wondering).

40 posted on 02/24/2005 3:37:10 AM PST by A Jovial Cad ("I had no shoes and I complained, until I saw a man who had not feet.")
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To: weegie

Frankly, I don't care to do any of those.

While I understand your point, there is a large difference between not being able to drink beer on a beach and not being able to deliver a Biblical sermon.


41 posted on 02/24/2005 3:39:37 AM PST by deaconjim (Freep the world!)
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To: A Jovial Cad
That's always been my policy, of course, Maddy old boy. Since about the first time you initiated an unprovoked flame-war with me, as I recall...(and it had nothing to with the U.K., either, for those of you wondering).

Excuse me, but you start in on my country, playing fast and loose with the insults: if a British person said similarly on this board, they'd have their head handed back to them. I respond in kind. Then there is a space of months when I say absolutely nothing to you - and then you drop in on a thread uninvited with your abusive behaviour. As this thread shows, you continue this abusive behaviour towards my country and countrymen. I have noted that generally speaking, unintelligent insults backed up with a supposed "chuckle" appears to be your modus operandi. I don't want to speak to you - you have nothing worthwhile to say. I have not made it a point of crossing your path to continue a "flame war"; you have made a point to insult the UK at every opportunity you spot, and further to that, be extraordinarily abusive to any British person who speaks up, and even be abusive to people like Miss Marple.

I don't know what motivates people like you to behave like you do. I don't care. From my perspective you're just a someone with a chip on your shoulder and a bad attitude and thus best avoided.

Ivan

42 posted on 02/24/2005 3:47:15 AM PST by MadIvan (One blog to bring them all...and in the Darkness bind them: http://www.theringwraith.com/)
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To: deaconjim

There are other indications that Britain is not free:

- Drive while drinking alchohol and you will be arrested
- Drive without a license and you will be arrested
- Collect child porn and you will be arrested
- Grow marujanna and you will be arrested
- Try fighting in the street (with a consentual sparring partner) and you will be arrested

How all freedoms have been eroded in Britain.


43 posted on 02/24/2005 3:51:48 AM PST by bobdsmith
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To: bobdsmith

This is all true I'm afraid.

And worse still...we can be arrested for taking the life or property of another person!

I mean can you imagine! Not being allowed to rob and kill at will?

Freedom eh?

However, we are still allowed to cross the street without harrasment from the law unlike some places (jaywalking is it called?)


44 posted on 02/24/2005 3:59:37 AM PST by oursouls
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To: oursouls
we can be arrested for taking the life or property of another person

What? Damn ... hang on, I have to go and bury something ...

45 posted on 02/24/2005 4:09:02 AM PST by agere_contra
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To: agere_contra

You'll have to get a council permit if you want to do any burial


46 posted on 02/24/2005 4:11:28 AM PST by bobdsmith
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To: MadIvan
Excuse me, but you start in on my country, playing fast and loose with the insults: if a British person said similarly on this board, they'd have their head handed back to them. I respond in kind. Then there is a space of months when I say absolutely nothing to you - and then you drop in on a thread uninvited with your abusive behaviour

Cute, but it doesn't wash and is simply another in a long line of semi-slanders you've attempted to push in my direction--only to find, much to your disappointment I note, that some folks push back.

The implication in those three sentences is that, at some misty time in the past, I "started in" on the U.K. and a hero arose to defend her honor: Maddy old boy Ivan.

We both know that that implication is as untrue as the day is long.

Indeed, it's another semi-slander; but my posting history is open to one and all whom wish to retrace those steps and invest the time to read it, as is yours. Suffice it to say (and again, we BOTH know this; you're not kidding anyone but yourself) that you fired a posted, unprovoked shot across my bow in an attempt to impress someone you apparently perceived needed "rescuing" or "help" in that opening sally between us; you got taken to serious task in the subsequent flame war and came out looking somewhat ridiculous in the aftermath; and that's where it ended--at least as far as I was concerned.

Fast forward to now: I post a comment to a thread, not even thinking about you or that past entanglement or anything else, really, and suddenly Maddy old boy is back on the warpath again.

ALL of this--every bit of it--has been initiated by you, for whatever reason (Paging Dr. Freud...). That said, as long as you want to keep it up, I'm game. Pathetic as it continues to make you look with every outing...

47 posted on 02/24/2005 4:14:38 AM PST by A Jovial Cad ("I had no shoes and I complained, until I saw a man who had not feet.")
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To: A Jovial Cad

I am sure the mods are watching. If they examine the record, they'll note I said nothing to you for months on end. You decided to leap in on a thread I posted a couple of days ago with your rude and insulting behaviour and you've been determined to be rude and insulting ever since. I realise you have an exaggerated image of yourself, but your smear attempts will not wash.

I have nothing further to say to you.

Ivan


48 posted on 02/24/2005 4:16:58 AM PST by MadIvan (One blog to bring them all...and in the Darkness bind them: http://www.theringwraith.com/)
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To: ijcr
3. Every few months, I receive a letter from the TV licensing agency, who do not believe that I do not have a television. Once again I am threatened with a £1000 fine, and also warned that my house will soon be spied upon unless I buy a licence.

That could explain number 1:

1. The other day, at dawn, a large council vehicle parked outside my house with a very tall crane-like attachment, from the top of which photographs were taken of the neighbourhood, including my house. No one had felt obliged explain why, or for what purpose the photographs were to be used. The city is the council's and the fullness thereof.

49 posted on 02/24/2005 4:18:19 AM PST by lowbridge
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To: deaconjim

Yes, those both make sensible tests of a nation's freedom. The freedom to make idiotic, racist remarks and the freedom to have easy access to the means to kill fellow citizens. Britan scores badly on both of those. But I would also propose another test - are you allowed to see images of naked men and women - and their genitals - on terrestrial TV channels?

Here I think Britain has the edge.


50 posted on 02/24/2005 4:20:36 AM PST by Bombay Bloke
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