February 24, 2006

Red Ken Gets a Time Out

Hatched by Dafydd

Mayor "Red" Ken Livingstone of London was suspended from his duties for four weeks by the Adjudication Panel for England today for comparing a Jewish reporter, Oliver Finegold, to a Nazi "concentration camp guard" and asking if the reporter was a "German war criminal"... because he worked for a newspaper, the Evening Standard, which opposes some of Livingstone's leftist policies, and whose sister paper (the Daily Mail) once endorsed a British Fascist candidate -- seventy-two years ago.

According to the BBC story, as criticism mounted about his language, Livingstone attempted to defend himself against the tide by invoking the sexual-preference card (Livingstone is straight, but he was speaking at a gay-rights event):

The Mayor of London's office defended him saying he had been harassed at a "predominantly gay event".

The gay-rights group that put on the event, OutRage!, responded with some outrage of their own:

The gay rights group Outrage has said the mayor should not "embroil lesbians and gay men in his dispute with the Evening Standard" and that it would not fear a journalist reporting on Tuesday's party.

Now, Godwin's Law notwithstanding, I don't think it's a good idea for a court to suspend an elected official from performing his duties for saying something boorish. True, the UK has a different system than we, and they do not have the full protections of, e.g., our First Amendment (though they recognize freedom of speech, mostly through the common law).

But just as an ethical issue, punishing elected officials for expressing their opinions -- however boneheaded and outrageous -- is a terrible example, particularly at a time when Europe (including the UK) are protesting against the "cartoon violence" by insisting that freedom of speech is the most important right recognized by the West.

In addition, suspending Livingstone also punishes the electorate that, however misguidedly, duly elected this fellow as mayor of London, a post he has held since 2000, when it was created as an elective office. That's also a very, very bad idea (both suspending Livingstone -- and having elected him in the first place).

That out of the way, however, let's focus for a moment on Red Ken's comments. What kind of a buffoon casually compares a reporter to Nazis just because his newspaper opposes the buffoon's policies? Worse, while Livingstone might not have known the reporter was Jewish -- Finegold? -- he surely knows now; yet he still refuses to apologize for his asinine and infantile smears.

The most interesting question to me, giving Livingstone's history of bizarre and borderline treasonous behavior over the years, is why Londoners keep reelecting the dope. The following are from Wikipedia, so their accuracy and veracity may be suspect; but I've actually heard him say things at least as egregious, so I do believe these claims:

  • In July 2004, he embraced Moslem scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who once said anent suicide bombings in Israel, "for us Muslim martyrdom is not the end of things but the beginning of the most wonderful of things."
  • In March 2005, he called Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a "war criminal" and accused him of practicing ethnic cleansing.
  • Three months later, he said in a BBC interview,

    And I think the particular problem we have at the moment is that in the 1980s ... the Americans recruited and trained Osama Bin Laden, taught him how to kill, to make bombs, and set him off to kill the Russians and drive them out of Afghanistan.

    They didn't give any thought to the fact that once he'd done that he might turn on his creators.

    A lot of young people see the double standards, they see what happens in Guantanamo Bay, and they just think that there isn't a just foreign policy.

It should be needless to say, but probably is needful, that the last is a complete fabrication: we never "recruited" or "trained" Osama bin Laden.

During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, we sent some money and weaponry to the mujahidin fighting the Russians; but they were distributed through Pakistan, and we did not give Pakistan a list of groups we particularly liked.

One mujahidin group was Maktab al-Khadamāt (MaK), founded by Abdullah Azzam; after four years, bin Laden joined MaK and became a top deputy of Azzam. The pair had a falling out after the Soviets withdrew: Azzam wanted to establish a sharia state in Afghanistan and possibly move to "Palestine" to fight against Israel; bin Laden wanted to launch a global jihad against the West. Around this time, Azzam was assassinated; many intelligence specialists believe OBL had his mentor murdered so he could take over MaK and roll it into al-Qaeda, which was just then getting started.

But at no time did the United States directly fund bin Laden, Azzam, MaK, or al-Qaeda, or indirectly direct funds or arms specifically to them; at no time did we train or arm bin Laden; and bin Laden was never a CIA agent or stringer. In fact, there is no evidence we ever had any direct contact with bin Laden in any context. All this garbage was simply made up after 9/11 to smear Ronald Reagan, and Red Ken seized it gleefully.

Red Ken Livingstone is London's own Howard "the Mouth" Dean. At some point, I would hope that the sheer weight of stupidity emanating from the penumbra of Ken Livingstone would eventually sink down to the London voting booth, and he would be turned out to find an honest job -- if he can.

Until then, we can only sigh and invoke whatever patience we can muster.

(Interestingly, one of his pre-politics jobs was to work as a food critic for the Evening Standard... the same paper that Finegold works for now.)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 24, 2006, at the time of 5:46 PM

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Tracked on February 25, 2006 3:02 PM


The following hissed in response by: Bullington

Amazing. A democratically elected official is suspended by an unelected committee of
bureaucrats. For something he said.

If this occurred in one of the many Islamic backwaters of the world, there would be no cause for concern. We've become so desensitized to their barbarity and obscenity that this episode would hardly merit notice.

But these aren't Moslem cretins behaving like rabid animals. This is England! If England can descend to this level, what's to prevent the same in the US?

Well, nothing can prevent it except us. We already have thoughtcrime laws inchoate in "hate speech" and "hate crime" legislation. The future direction of this sort of legislation, unless we demand a stop to it, is absolutely clear.

An Orwellian juggernaut is at our doorstep and we're too distracted to notice.

The above hissed in response by: Bullington [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 25, 2006 7:30 AM

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