Saturday, December 29, 2007

For Me But Not For Thee

Jeff Jarvis makes a good point here about "libel tourism" - the habit of suing people for defamation in British courts, regardless of where the libel was actually published.

"What’s profoundly frightening about this is that we in America could find ourselves subject to the UK’s libel and privacy laws, which throw free speech to the wolves in defense of privacy."

The UK's libel laws are absurdly unbalanced, and Jeff is correct to decry the effect such suits will have on freedom of speech in other countries. The story gets a heh-indeeding link from influential dipshit the Instapundit, provoking a perfect storm of outraged wingnuttery in comments, to the effect that foreigners can't be trusted to protect fundamental freedoms.

But wait...

While we're on the subject, I seem to recall a lawyer acting for the U.S. Government asserting that the Americans had the right to "kidnap" any person in Britain suspected of criminality, on the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court.

All of which is fine, if you trust the American government to act impartially, without abusing its powers to pursue its own agenda.

And then I recall - didn't the Americans refuse to sign up to the International Criminal Court because it would infringe on their sovereignty?

After all, it's the ICC that's kept Dr. Kissinger perched atop his pile of skulls in Connecticut these past few years, rather than picking up fat cheques for delivering dull policy speeches in Europe.

If there's a point to this extended bit of whataboutery, it's that what's sauce for the goose ought to be sauce for the gander. The Americans (i.e. the Bush Admin) look to have been entirely consistent in promoting the idea that they can do whatever they like, and everyone else can whistle.

To which I can only say, nuts.

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