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"ethics" "proxy violence" a voice for men antifeminism empathy deficit harassment hypocrisy irony alert jack barnes misogyny MRA not-quite-explicit threats not-quite-plausible deniability paul elam playing the victim red pill terrorism threats

Jack Barnes, MRA: Feminists “need to learn to fear retribution from us”

Jack Barnes:
Jack Barnes: “We have our hands on the throat of feminism. … This is the time to squeeze harder.”

Jack Barnes, a volatile American Men’s Rights activist known for his harassment of feminists on Twitter, is now threatening to unleash a new offensive designed “to strike fear in the hearts of feminists.” In a post on Men’s Rights hate site A Voice for Men bristling with violent language, Barnes declares that

we have our hands on the throat of feminism. This isn’t the time to ease up.  This is the time to squeeze harder.

The ostensible subject of Barnes’ post is a several-weeks-old piece on News.Com.Au by Australian writer Kerri Sackville about a road-raging, red-Jag-driving man who shouted “slut” at her when she honked at him for blocking the road. Barnes adds to the abuse, declaring her a crazy, misogynist (!) “cunt.”

The real source of Barnes’ fury at Sackville is a campaign she launched last December to “name and shame” men who sent abusive and threatening messages to women online using their real names.

And that’s what leads Barnes to what he says is the real “point of this article,” a declaration of virtual war against “Sackville and her fellow feminazis.”  He writes:

Here is what we do. We make it hurt. If they want to continue to do this then we make them regret it. They need to learn that their are consequences for doing this. They need to learn that we will extract a pound of flesh, figuratively speaking. They need to learn to fear retribution from us.

Barnes claims that this “retribution” won’t include physical violence, but he doesn’t specify exactly what it will include, merely suggesting that he will soon have the “tools” necessary “to strike fear in the hearts of feminists.” And by soon he means next month.

We won’t use violence. We don’t need to use violence. How do we make these feminists think twice before going all Gestapo on any guy who has the balls to call out feminism or individual feminists on their FemKKK behavior? Well I can’t tell you that right now. Lets just say a plan is in place and being brought into fruition as we speak. Expect it to be revealed before the end of February provided that everything goes according to plan.

Barnes then launches a preemptive strike on any even slightly ethical MRAs who might be “wringing their hand” [sic] over his mysterious threats, bluntly informing them that “this fight is about to get dirty. Deal with it.”

Barnes — using a rhetorical switcheroo common amongst MRAs — frames his threatened offensive as a defensive move. Feminism is dying, he asserts, and like many dying beasts it is lashing out against its enemies in a desperate frenzy. He predicts that

feminists will become increasingly more vicious. … MHRAs with lives ruined, imprisoned and dead is not outside the realm of possibility.

As he sees it, not just Sackville and her fellow Australian ally, writer Clementine Ford, but all “public faces of feminism” are fair game for “retribution” for whatever offenses he’s decided they’re guilty of.

You don’t get a warning. You all have engaged in this despicable behavior. You will receive consequences. Go ahead and whine and cry about the horrible MRAs threatening you. We don’t care. This isn’t a threat. This is a statement of fact. We will not use violence. But we will make you hesitate to ever do these things again.

Barnes apparently believes in some sort of collective guilt, making clear that he will hold prominent feminists “responsible” not only for their own alleged crimes, as he defines them, but for the behavior of what he calls their “mindless minions.”

This is not the first time Barnes has announced his desire to harass feminists into silence. Usually he remembers to put the word “harass” in quotes, as if this will be enough to transform harassment into something that doesn’t sound quite so bad.

jbescalate

Usually, but not always:Jack Barnes ‏@Jackbarnesmra @Shotagonist @niaudesigns @TheFirstPaige no. We harass and abuse feminists. Bigots (feminists) don't deserve to be treated with respect.

Nor is this the first time that Barnes has issued threats that he insists aren’t really threats.

Indeed, I myself have been the recipient of some of these non-threat threats. Last November, after someone doxxed him and his family, Barnes decided that I needed to be held “responsible” for the doxxer’s actions, even though I had nothing to do with that person or persons, didn’t know who they were, and didn’t even know about the doxxing until I learned about it from a video by AVFM head honcho Paul Elam a day or two later.

I made it clear I knew nothing about the doxxing or the doxxer (who later ended up doxxing me). I condemned the doxxing, publicly and repeatedly. It didn’t matter: Barnes declared the doxxer to be a “cult follower” of mine, so anything they did was somehow my fault.

“I promise you David,” he wrote in an AVFM post, “that for the rest of your life there will be nights you cry yourself to sleep in anger and frustration over me.”

Indeed, he wrote, if anything happened to his family as a result of the doxxing, he would literally show up on my doorstep for

a face to face in person discussion … No cops. No lawyers or prosecutors. No judges. No jury. No hiding behind a computer. Just me and you. …

I don’t know of any parent that would blame me for stomping a mud hole in your fucking ass and walking that motherfucker dry for what you have done!

What I’ve “done” is to condemn the doxxing that Barnes blames for putting his family at risk.

Barnes is hardly the only AVFMer who believes in this sort of guilt-by-non-association; assorted others rallied behind him on Twitter, repeating his accusations and defending his threats. The title of Elam’s video on the doxxing declared bluntly that I was “Trying to Get MHRAs Killed.” How? By writing critically about AVFM.

Elam’s bizarre inflation of my carefully documented criticism of MRAs into an attempt to literally “get MHRAs killed” is not only jarring; it’s ominous. By pretending that the writings of feminists leave MRAs, quite literally, in mortal peril, Elam, Barnes and others associated with AVFM can justify almost any actions they might take against feminists, no matter how sleazy or underhanded or even violent, as a form of self-defense.

Abusers who think — or simply pretend — that they are the victims are some of the most dangerous people in the world.

 

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Kat
Kat
5 years ago

http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/palin-says-son-s-arrest-linked-ptsd-obama-s-stance-n500571

Sarah Palin says Track Palin punched his girlfriend in the face and threatened suicide while holding a gun because he has PTSD and because Obama doesn’t respect vets.

Leda Atomica
Leda Atomica
5 years ago

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-21/feminazi-label-and-threats-do-not-faze-kerri-sackville/7103880

Sucked in Jack.

‘Doxxing’ could be on Barnes’ to-do list

QUT Digital Media Research Centre director Professor Jean Burgess if she took Mr Barnes at his word, the threats could include doxxing and other kinds of online harassment like swamping the person with “@ replies” or negative comments.

Doxxing is seeking out and revealing, or threatening to reveal, personal information about a person, such as where they live or work.
MRA Jack Barnes
Photo: Jack Barnes has threatened Kerri Sackville and other public feminists in an article published on A Voice For Men. (YouTube: Jack Barnes MRA)

“The pattern of behaviour a lot of times in these things is there will be a person saying, ‘hey’m to a crowd of harassers, ‘look over here, here’s our next target’,” Professor Burgess told the ABC.”

Yeah, I’m not expecting new tricks because the reason they keep recycling their bag of old tricks ad nauseum is that they only have so many tricks.

Although I’m sure that somewhere there is an MRA going blue in the face while holding his breath to see what brilliant new secret non-violent silencer Jack Barnes has been shining in his garage.

Scildfreja
Scildfreja
5 years ago

@Kat,

Hmm. I guess that I see consistent acts of examining yourself and your actions–and taking appropriate steps to remedy your errors–as adding up to a good character (and the ability to live with yourself). And it takes conscious thought and sometimes willpower to do that. So maybe I’m saying that the ability to challenge your perceptions helps to build a good character.

Agreed! Conscious attentiveness and willpower aren’t enough to make a good character, but they’re certainly important parts.

Is that the ventromedial cortex you’re referring to? I had never heard of it until now. Sounds controversial!

No, it’s a component of the thalamus. It’s a spooky little pea. It’s my professional opinion that it’s full of tiny ghosts. Best to not talk about it, or you might get haunted.

(It’s related to the basic concepts of consciousness and awareness – the difference between being asleep and being sedated by a general anesthetic is activity in the central medial nucleus of the thalamus. Amongst other things, of course! But our state of conscious awareness is very much entangled with the CMN)

comment image

weirwoodtreehugger
5 years ago

Oh man. I just looked back over my posts and some of them were just riddled with missing words and run on sentences. Oh well.

I just want to pop back in to say

One of the things that makes misogynistic online abuse worse for me personally is how it parallels real life abuse.

This ^^^

I was remembering just now a chant my friend and I made up as middle school aged kids. It went like this

When you see a pervert
There are many perverts
When you encounter a pervert
First scream, then run
Yell “rape!” as loud as you can!

In some ways, it’s a funny memory. We would skip down the streets in our neighborhood, singing this all the time. But, it’s also an incredibly sad memory. Pre-teen kids shouldn’t have the sense that there are many perverts out there we need fear. But we did. There was the neighbor man that would make lewd comments to the women in the neighborhood, was caught looking in my other neighbor’s windows with a telescope, and would frequently offer us girls candy and soda if we came in to his house for a visit (we always said no). There was the man we called 911 on multiple times because he was taking pictures of young girls in their swimsuits at the nearby beach. There were the catcallers we witnessed other women and girls getting and were starting to get ourselves. On and on and on.

Women often learn very young to spot the red flags in men. We understand at a very early age that we’re bound to be harassed just for being female. This is why it’s a real rage trigger with me when some guy wafts in here, or other places where misogynistic harassment is being discussed to question how sure we are that gendered abuse is really an issue. Fuck. That.

dhag85
dhag85
5 years ago

Word.

Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Jackie; currently using they/their, he/his, she/her pronouns)
Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Jackie; currently using they/their, he/his, she/her pronouns)
5 years ago

@dhag85

guest
guest
5 years ago

I”m finding it interesting how the Maxes of the world attempt to control the conversations they’re engaged in. ‘You’re nice, you’re helpful, you interact with me in the way I want to be interacted with, you should speak more.’ ‘You’re mean, you’re not helpful, you interact with me in a way that doesn’t give me the feelings I want to have in this situation, you should speak less/stop speaking.’ I’ve occasionally seen this in class discussions, and I use a variant to chair difficult meetings. But I can’t see how it could be effective in something like blog comments, since anyone can post whatever they want whenever they feel like it; they’re not competing for space. I’m realising that when in a story I wrote a male character does this it seemed ‘off’ to a reader, and now I think I know why–it’s the kind of thing that would really only be expected to work on women, who are supposed to care if we’re ‘nice’ or ‘mean’, so it’s not something you’d typically run into at all, only when a man is engaging multiple women or presumed-women, on a feminist website or in the occasional class discussion.

Bernardo Soares
Bernardo Soares
5 years ago

Oh, I missed the troll, too (sleep and Ikea construction).

I just want to add that during lurking and commenting here I’ve often thought at the beginning that some regulars were too quick to brand someone as a troll, but every. single. time. it turned out to be true. The few instances where someone reacted a little annoyed at the way a new comment was formulated and it turned out not to be a troll, the commenter in question quickly apologized and/or let the issue be, returning in other threads as a normal participant. So, wwth, I’ve learned to trust your (and others) trolldar.

Also, while Max’ ESL tactic is obvious to all, I felt I should have a look in my Robert (French version of OED), because in my (slightly rusted) experience with French, people use “demander” instead of “interroger”. So I give you the full quote from the Micro Robert:

Interroger
1. Questionner (qqn), avec l’idée qu’il doit une réponse.
2. Examiner avec attention (une chose), pour y trouver une réponse aux questions qu’on se pose.

transl.:
interrogate
1. query (someone), with the idea (or expectation), that he should answer.
2. Examine (sth) with scrutiny to find in it an answer to the questions one is asking themselves.

So, yeah.

@guest
Good point. That tactic is a huge red flag to me, but I haven’t thought about how this is something usually used against women. (Aah, the trappings of privilege…)

cleverforagirl
cleverforagirl
5 years ago

I have zero troll spotting ability, combined with guys being confused about women brings out all of my maternal instincts. (So do kitties and doggies, baby people, not so much)

opposablethumbs
opposablethumbs
5 years ago

re books about critical thinking, aimed at everybody including (very) young people – Stephen Law has written 3 or 4 which are pretty good; the first one is called The Philosophy Gym iirc. He also wrote Believing Bullshit, which is more aimed at adults, and is perfect for analysing logical fallacies (and the tactics of snake-oil salespeople, evangelists, bigots, political trumpery and trolls).

Max
Max
5 years ago

Someone here to learn would have acknowledged those good faith people with a response instead of jumping onto the slightest negativity first thing.

I did acknowledge them in fact I have thanked them several times. You see what you want to see, so whatever.

I”m finding it interesting how the Maxes of the world attempt to control the conversations they’re engaged in. ‘You’re nice, you’re helpful, you interact with me in the way I want to be interacted with, you should speak more.’ ‘You’re mean, you’re not helpful, you interact with me in a way that doesn’t give me the feelings I want to have in this situation, you should speak less/stop speaking.’

Yeah, generally people don’t really like it when you’re an ass to them. Freja gave me answers that contradicted what I thought, but they were answers. If you seriously consider that people should take it upon themselves not to react when you are a dick to them, you are insane.

Also, while Max’ ESL tactic is obvious to all, I felt I should have a look in my Robert (French version of OED), because in my (slightly rusted) experience with French, people use “demander” instead of “interroger”.

That definition basically confirms what I was saying. When somebody says “Je m’interroge sur…” or “On peut s’interroger au sujet de…”, it doesn’t mean they are interrogating themselves in the english sense of the word.

every. single. time. it turned out to be true

That’s a self-fulfilling prophecy as well: you antagonize people whom you think are trolls, if they get defensive you see this reaction as proof of what you thought straight away, if they don’t, you continue until they do. WWTH behaved like a little shit, while kupo and Hippo-something were trying to get in as well for attention.

I guess I’ve learned two things from this:
-Misogyny is specific in its causes.
-There are insane little shits even in the good fights.

And for the few posters who will say that by saying that I confirm that I was a troll, well, at some point, you just stop being nice when people in front are crazy assholes.

I have no clue what happened to people like WWTH in their life, but I can tell they deserved every bit of it.

dhag85
dhag85
5 years ago

Still breaking comment policy. You still didn’t bother to read the policy, and you’re still being an ass to regular commenters. Tell me again how you’re not a blatant troll.
-_-

Telling people they deserve to have bad things happen to them is very much a bannable offense. So is continuing to use ableist slurs despite being told to stop several times. How fucking stupid are you?

Max
Max
5 years ago

Still breaking comment policy. You still didn’t bother to read the policy, and you’re still being an ass to regular commenters. Tell me again how you’re not a blatant troll.

I have read the policy, I’m doing it on purpose. If I’m going to be lambasted anyway, I’d rather do that.

People tend to get nasty when you’re nasty with them. Next time, I’ll tell you how you can avoid being wet by not going into water.

dhag85
dhag85
5 years ago

Cool, you’re upset with a person on the internet so therefore you’re justified in taking your frustrations out on all mentally ill people. And then you wonder why people don’t like you.

Max
Max
5 years ago

Keep trying dhag85, you’re fighting the good fight.

on all mentally ill people

Come back on earth, there’s 5 people watching us.

Leda Atomica
Leda Atomica
5 years ago

Add to the list: purposeful misunderstanding/refusal to understand other people’s points. Trolls are supposed to be entertaining, damnit. This is so 101.

dhag85
dhag85
5 years ago

Can’t even understand what he’s trying to say anymore. I’ll email David tonight if the troll hasn’t already been banned by then.

I do love how he’s admitted to breaking the comment policy on purpose, yet somehow he’s not a troll. 🙂

DepressedCNS
DepressedCNS
5 years ago

@ scildfreja

I dig the psych insight. I thought your interpretation of the name “fundamental attribution error” was very interesting… did you know that the name is controversial in social psych? Many insist on calling the effect “correspondence bias” because it does not assume an error in perception has occurred.

Bernardo Soares
Bernardo Soares
5 years ago

every. single. time.

Funny how the troll tries to put that down to a self-fulfilling prophecy and in the same breath proves my point.

Met with a little annoyance, Max, you have a few choices: you can a) politely apologize (even if you don’t think you did something wrong), b) let it go and just engage with the people who answered your question in the way that you seem to have expected, or c) let it go entirely and don’t engage with anyone because they are meanie mean to you (just by questioning whether you’re here in good faith, which you, in your first comment, had yourself seen as a possible reaction).

You chose instead option d) continually whining about the one person who was meanie mean, trying to put a wedge between “the good ones” and “the bad one(s)”, and then escalated that to option e) insult and antagonize everybody, whine how mean they were to you, consciously violate comments policy and monopolize the thread with constant repeats of “All lives matter”, “I was just asking” and “I didn’t say/mean that”, as if we can’t scroll back and read your original comments.

As I said, there are many examples of people choosing the first two options, but that is usually cleared up in the first comment after somebody questioned whether they are here in good faith. Your next comment, however, pointed the way downhill to the messy whining that followed. Do you not realize that nearly all the people who answered you earnestly have now changed their minds and agree with us that you’re a troll?

weirwoodtreehugger
5 years ago

I’m disappointed in Max. It took fewer than 24 hours for him to melt down.

I’m pretty sure him wishing bad things would happen to me was meant to upset me. Especially since my last comment was about how by middle school, my friends and I already knew that to be female meant to face gendered harassment and abuse. I think he was trying to insinuate that I was molested and he’s glad about it.

Really, I just laughed at him though. I actually find it much creepier that he’s now fixated on Freja, and Freja only as the good commenter even though several people were perfectly nice to him.

It’s kind of amazing how men on the internet can so frequently go from zero to raging Hulk smash when challenged by someone who is self identifying as or perceived to be a woman. Remember the masculinity so fragile Twitter hashtag? I guess it’s so fragile that some men’s masculinity is threatened by opinionated women disagreeing with him even with internet anonymity protecting them from any reputation damage.

Newt
Newt
5 years ago

My trolldar was set off by “I’m not a troll, but…”. However, I let that one slide because something more concrete would have turned up soon enough. And it did.

The Blockquote Mammoth did not show such patience.

Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
5 years ago

That definition basically confirms what I was saying.

The fact that you used the wrong word confirms that you used the right word? That’s a bizarrely literal take on most MRAs’ “Words don’t mean things!” refrain.

Also, we had the sockpuppet of a returning troll, Pell come here once and call us mean because he was French and therefore couldn’t be expected to not come off as a troll.

Between the shtick, the 0-to-60 meltdown and a few of the phrases he’s used, I think this is Pell.

occasional reader
occasional reader
5 years ago

Hello.

> Bernardo Soares
Well, there is a slight difference between the two : “interroger” is mainly for scholar questions or police questions.
A teacher to a class (as an example, a written exam is “une interrogation écrite”), a policeman to a suspect (this is called an “interrogatoire”), an interviewer to an interviewee, and so on. We could say that it is like asking with some formal code/frame/protocol. If you like programming, “interroger” is a subclass of “demander”.
Of course, there are some exceptions. To give a questioning glance is “interroger du regard”, and it is not formal. On the other hand, for self-reflection and introspection, it is mainly linked to the “importance of the question” : upon the meaning of life, we use “s’interroger”, and for the evening meal, we use “se demander”.
I am not sure to be very clear. I am sorry if i am not.

> Max
L’ignorance n’excuse rien. Plutôt que faire profil bas et t’excuser de ton erreur, tu oses ramener l’excuse du langage pour te plaindre d’une réponse qui t’as parue agressive. Tu es tellement égocentrique et imbu de toi-même que tu oses dire aux autres que c’est à eux de s’adapter à toi.
Ici, ce n’est pas un site pour s’éduquer ou poser des questions comme la première que tu as posée. Il y a des sites et des forums qui sont plus adaptés pour ça, et si tu avais réellement eu l’intention de t’interroger là dessus, tu te serais suffisament sorti les doigts du cul pour les trouver. A la place, tu viens sur un forum EN LANGUE ANGLAISE (alors que tu prétends que le Français est ta langue maternelle), qui précise bien dans son bandeau de tête qu’il n’est là que pour rire et se moquer de la misogynie sur le net, et tu poses une question sans rapport direct avec le sujet de l’article. Et en plus tu précises que tu vas sans doute être pris pour un troll, et qu’en tu es traité comme tel, tu viens chouiner, ce qui ne fait que confirmer que c’est le cas.
Bref, ta mauvaise foi est évidente, et ton comportement misérable.

—–

I do not know the equivalent expression in English, but here, we say “Il n’est pire sourd que celui qui ne veut pas entendre” (rough translation : “there is none so deaf as those who will not hear”), and “On ne saurait faire boire un âne qui n’a pas soif” (rough translation : “You can not force a donkey to drink if he is not thirsty”). The two have quite the same meaning, the second being a bit more caustic. All in all, both apply to both Barnes and his league, and Max and his trolls.

Have a nice day.

bluecat
bluecat
5 years ago

Oh but folks, Max wants us to know that he’s a troll because we made him a troll. And for no other reason. He definitely definitely wasn’t one nor had any intention of being one until our downright uncivilised responses to his very, very sincere questions forced him into it. In a very real sense, are all guilty. /sarcasm

Interesting thread to read through in one go from Max’s first posting, as he escalates, latches onto sore points, repeats mental health slurs knowing they are banned – even ends up boasting about it – and indeed anything which might give him a way into causing hurt.

WWTH I agree with your assessment of how he picked up on you.

Quelle morceau de merde.

Other than that – and Max’s part was educational too – what an interesting thread.

Bernardo Soares
Bernardo Soares
5 years ago

@occasional reader

Thanks for detailing the finer points of that distinction; I’m always learning something here! As I mentioned, my French has gotten a bit rusty and I have to refresh it (I need it for a research project). I should read more French; I’ve already ordered some nice bédés to get into it again…although starting with Tardi’s “Cri du Peuple” wasn’t the best idea, I’ve realized.

Anyway, if I understand you correctly, Max’ excuse (that “interroger” means the same in French as “posing a question”) still doesn’t hold up, right? I mean, it seems to me situated somewhere between the English “asking someone” and “interrogate” – not as strong as the latter, but also not politely asking without expecting an answer.

Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
5 years ago

I do not know the equivalent expression in English, but here, we say “Il n’est pire sourd que celui qui ne veut pas entendre” (rough translation : “there is none so deaf as those who will not hear”), and “On ne saurait faire boire un âne qui n’a pas soif” (rough translation : “You can not force a donkey to drink if he is not thirsty”).

They’re “None are so blind as those who will not see,” and “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” Very similar. =)

opposablethumbs
opposablethumbs
5 years ago

@occasional reader
“you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”, perhaps?
Et je me permets de remarquer que ça fait plaisir de lire ta bordée de bon sens (eh bien, c’est loin d’etre la bordée d’injures qui aurait pu paraître meritée), bien que mon français écrit soit plutôt minable 🙂

oops, ninja’d by SFHC 🙂 Imma leave it anyway.

Scildfreja
Scildfreja
5 years ago

Welp, that was an experience. You had my sympathy, Max, before you were all “I’m gonna break the rules and insult broad swathes of the most disadvantaged people in our society, just because I don’t like you.”

You came in, thinking that women weren’t really targeted worse than men online – and you were wrong. Now you have decided to use ableist slurs, cause it’s not really a problem. Guess what? You’re wrong on that too.

Go, read about how people who we call ‘unstable’ are far more likely to be the victims of violence and prejudice than to cause it. Go read about the specifics of neurological disorders and the terrible things that they cause – and read about the absolutely heroic efforts of those people that live with them, all the while silently suffering the insults you toss around because “you might as well.” Feel some shame.

anyways!

@Alex, DepressedCNS, opposeablethumbs, et. al.;

I knew the alternate name for the fundamental attribution error, but didn’t know about the reason behind it! Very interesting. I don’t know what to think about it – I like the term as it is! I guess I’ll adjust my terminology based on the context. Womp womp. Thank you!

I’m actually sort of wary about the idea of teaching biases. I’ve seen far too many people use them as a Fedora’s Catalogue of Ways to Discount Ideas. Good, valid ideas can often be presented or bundled in along with a fallacious presentation, because we’re only human and metaphors universally suck. Smart people (I’m lookin at you, internet atheists) get their hands on these fallacies and they use them like a shield, dismantling any ideas that dare to threaten their cherished beliefs.

Fallacies and biases should be used inwardly first and foremost. Rationality is about self-destruction.

Alan Robertshaw
5 years ago

Re: interrogate

The language stuff was interesting. Just to add, there’s a formal procedure in civil litigation where, pre trial, you can ask the other side questions in writing.

This used to be called “Interrogatories”

(Now it’s the rather more boring “Part 18 Requests”)

Also, the reason our military mainly uses barristers for questioning prisoners is reflected in the motto: “The British Army does not interrogate; it cross examines”

kupo
kupo
5 years ago

@occasional reader
Mercier pour ça. 🙂 My French is very rusty but it was enjoyable to see you tear him down in French.

Alan Robertshaw
5 years ago

@ scildfreja (et al)

I’ve really really enjoyed reading all your comments here. It’s been an education, thank you.

I’m still mulling all the concepts discussed. This is something we touch on, but don’t go into great depths, in criminal legal work (that’s legal work involving criminals, not just that all lawyers are crooks 🙂 )

Obviously a key issue in the criminal justice system is ‘culpability’. The theory being that people should only be punished for their own conscious decisions.

There is some interesting research about how ‘voluntary’ behaviour actually is, but generally in day to day practice we take a rather simple (some, especially medical professionals, say ‘crude’) approach.

The staring point is that everyone (over the age of 10) is a free agent. If you did an act or made a decision the presumption is you did so through a free choice.

There are some exceptions recognised. It’s a complex topic so this is a very simplistic summary, but generally the exceptions are:

‘Insanity’ – that’s where an *internal* factor removes culpability completely. (The name is unfortunate, it can even encompass diabetics, but we’re stuck with it)

‘Automatism’ – that’s where an *eternal* factor removes culpability.

‘Diminished Responsibility – that’s where an internal factor reduces culpability.

‘Loss of control’ – that’s where an external factor reduces culpability .

There are also issues about fitness to stand trial etc.

It also gets quite complex in terms of what is the province of the everyday experience of a jury and what requires expert evidence from medical professionals.

I also do a lot of work involving professional force users. Again these issues crop up. Both in terms of how perception is affected and how people react in such situations.

To put it crudely, often it boils down to “it was the amygdalae what done it!”

kupo
kupo
5 years ago

‘Automatism’ – that’s where an *eternal* factor removes culpability.

Sorry if this is just a typo, but an eternal factor? Is this like the “act of God” we have in the US?

Alan Robertshaw
5 years ago

@ kupo

Well spotted!

Should be “external”.

Jenora Feuer
Jenora Feuer
5 years ago

@Scildfreja:
There’s been a lot of interesting work done over the last few decades as neurobiology, cognitive theory, and computing theory all start to try to close in together. There’s also been a lot of ‘three blind men and the elephant’ going on as we really start to realize that, no, we just don’t understand how cognition and consciousness work yet, we’ve just got the bare fumblings of shapes of ideas so far. We seem to be at the point where we know enough to realize just how much out there we don’t know yet.

Then again, I started on some of this with Douglas Hofstadter’s work years ago, his collaboration with Daniel C. Dennett, and Marvin Minsky’s ‘Society of Mind’. Enough to blow my mind open and realize how complex a problem this all was.

@Bernardo Soares:
My French is a bit rusty as well; I may be Canadian, but that doesn’t mean I use French every day. Got a few Bande dessinée myself, though perhaps Philémon was a bit… poetic in its language for good practice.

(Though I did laugh out loud when I saw a description of the ‘six noses banner’ comic shop in Brussels… aka La Bande des Six Nez.)

Bernardo Soares
Bernardo Soares
5 years ago

@ Jenora Feuer

I love Brussels; my cousin lives there and I sometimes get to visit him. It’s a really weird town, walk around a corner and the city looks completely different, sometimes beautiful, sometimes ugly, but always interesting. And they have huge murals of the most famous comic book characters.

I’m having a similar problem with Tardi, although his approach to language is more documentarian than poetic. Which, however, means that when he does a series about Paris at the time of the Commune, people speak 19th century proletarian French.

Last time I was in La Bande des Six Nez, I ran around collecting a huge pile of comic books, then had to reduce it to what I could afford.

Dana
Dana
5 years ago

Wow this sounds familiar. There’s another group of males who routinely accuse feminists of putting them at risk of being killed just because the feminist has an opinion. I’ll say no more than that because you don’t deserve the flame war, just be aware this isn’t limited to AVFM and is likely bought into by some males you would consider allies.

Tired of all of it.

Cleverforagirl
Cleverforagirl
5 years ago

I’m a hair disappointed in max. I’ve found that talking about how misogyny has affected me personally has changed a few minds.

Of course that assumes that the other person is willing to listen. Oh well, on to the next topic.

dhag85
dhag85
5 years ago

@Dana

Go on.

Scildfreja
Scildfreja
5 years ago

@Alan

It’s really interesting to see where and how science and legislation/law intersect! Naturally one lags behind the other, which is a *good* thing, but I do wish that the law/legislation side would catch up a bit in places!

There is some interesting research about how ‘voluntary’ behaviour actually is, but generally in day to day practice we take a rather simple (some, especially medical professionals, say ‘crude’) approach.

Yeah, that is a pretty crude way of looking at it. You can’t really do otherwise though! Current thought on the matter is very .. weird. Not amenable to legal processes without, like, attaching electrodes to the accused and witnesses’ brains and making them watch home videos from their mothers, or something. Followed by dissection.

As I see it, the law side is working from the theory side of things – Theory-Driven Search algorithms are used. You yourself employ a set of theoretical constructs, and do pattern-matching between those constructs and the case pattern. The court outputs the case which matches. It’s the traditional way to do research – construct model, test model, etc.

(EDIT: All horribly simplified. It’s a metaphor. Metaphors are universally awful)

The emerging alternative model that data science is making possible is Data-Driven Search. In this, as much data as possible is collected and searched for correlations. Highly-correlative patterns are refined, smoothed, and tested against incoming data to make predictions. There’s no theory, no model – just oceans of data, with benthic patterns crystallizing from the depths, glimmering a little while before either hardening into reliable islands or dissolving back into the black. Models are then made which explain the data, but they’re just to help figure out what is going on – the data itself *is* the model, in many ways.

It is an exciting time to science! Bonus question for you: Could that sort of methodology work in deciding law?

@Jenora,

There’s been a lot of interesting work done over the last few decades as neurobiology, cognitive theory, and computing theory all start to try to close in together. There’s also been a lot of ‘three blind men and the elephant’ going on as we really start to realize that, no, we just don’t understand how cognition and consciousness work yet, we’ve just got the bare fumblings of shapes of ideas so far. We seem to be at the point where we know enough to realize just how much out there we don’t know yet.

Then again, I started on some of this with Douglas Hofstadter’s work years ago, his collaboration with Daniel C. Dennett, and Marvin Minsky’s ‘Society of Mind’. Enough to blow my mind open and realize how complex a problem this all was.

Dennett and Minsky are legends and everyone should read them. Philosophical zombies are way scarier than Day of the Dead zombies. Maybe even Shaun of the Dead zombies.

You’re right that we don’t know very much at all about it, but that’s part of what’s exciting – we’re finally seeing the scope of it. We’ve cast enough light on the problem that its silhouette is starting to become visible. We only have a few edges, but that’s enough to start describing a shape.

Exciting times!

DepressedCNS
DepressedCNS
5 years ago

@ scildfreja

I agree, fundamental attribution error does have a better ring to it than correspondence bias, though I find the distinction interesting. Words and stuff

@ Alan

I am very interested in this topic as well; most criminal laws were constructed without recent neuro research under faulty assumptions related to something called the rational actor model, which research has demonstrated is not applicable in most situations. This model is pretty bad at explaining behavior but people are very worried about the implications re: culpability if this model is indeed false. The way I see it, it would be pragmatic to shift to a more therapeutic, intervention based corrections system, as opposed to the punishment based system in the US, which would sort of ease the culpability problem

Thanks mammothers for the science talks!

Alan Robertshaw
5 years ago

@ scildfreja & depressedcns

I’m *loving* this discussion!

There’s so much area to cover to properly do justice (see what I did there?) to all the points you’re raising; so I hope you’ll forgive me if I just drop in a few bullet points.

Firstly, as I’m sure you know, the discipline that deals with the philosophy of law and the more general issues surrounding it, is called Jurisprudence. That’s where this sort of thing gets properly thought about.

However there’s a bit of a schism amongst lawyers between ‘practitioners’ and ‘academics’. We haven’t quite got to the stage of executing anyone who wears glasses, but there is a bit of an anti intellectual streak. Some chambers will reject anyone with a Masters degree for example, heck, some chambers don’t even like people with *law* degrees!

I was one of only 3 people who took the jurisprudence elective at law school and I keep quiet about it.

Secondly, in a democracy, especially one where politicians play to the press, law making isn’t necessarily a rational process. You know the quote “People who enjoy sausages and law should avoid seeing how either is made”?

We try to keep politics out of the application of law. That’s why the concept of elected judges or prosecutors is anathema here in England. But most law is reactionary. There’ll be a moral manic about the topic of the day, a cry of “Something must be done!” And then some ill thought out, or redundant legislation.

(cf: the recent anti terrorism legislation. It’s been illegal to kill people for political purposes for centuries, but we still get new offences every year. And there are at least 3 separate laws banning people from carrying knives)

We have saying “hard cases make bad laws” but saying ” calm down, we need to look at this carefully” doesn’t win votes.

Tony Blair coined the slogan “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime” which reflected a willingness to consider some of the issues you raise here. But rehabilitation and restorative justice is a hard sell to a voter who’s been mugged or raped or burgled.

In the end the Blair government stuck in one of the most reactionary Home Secretaries we’ve ever had and a pretty draconian raft of penal policy legislation and new offences. Ironically the Tory shadow HS was one of huge most liberal people to ever hold the job. He did get the elbow when the Tories were elected though. (Not being party political here btw, I understand the pressures on politicians of all stripes)

So there are some attempts to look at the issues you raise in quiet corners of the criminal justice system when the press aren’t sniffing around; but ultimately law making will always primarily be a reaction to public opinion rather than considered research.

Jenora Feuer
Jenora Feuer
5 years ago

@Bernardo Soares:

19th century proletarian French

Oh boy, which also means getting into slang that may not exist anymore. At least it’s still post-Revolutionary French.

Of course, I’m Canadian, as previously mentioned, and Quebecois French and Parisian French have some significant differences in certain constructions. Aside from a couple of vowel shifts and a greater use of borrowed English, Quebecois French also (as I understand it) still uses a few grammar forms that are considered archaic in modern French and are left over from the pastoral French of the era when Quebec was first settled four hundred years ago.

It’s interesting listening to French discussions in the break room between one of my co-workers who grew up in Quebec, and one who grew up in Cameroon. It may be the same language, but…

@Scildfreja, Alan:
Interesting times indeed. It’s going to be… interesting as the legal system slowly catches up to changes in understanding of psychology and cognition. The legal system is, after all, ‘conservative’ in the truest sense, of tending to change slowly and only when necessary. (Which is in many ways a good thing. And the British common law system actually changes faster than some other systems because of the way it uses precedent to shift boundaries that may not have been understood when the formal laws were codified.)

Interesting that ‘Insanity’ as a legal… ‘explanation’ I guess (it isn’t really a defense) can be used for diabetics: one of my friends is diabetic, and recently she took her insulin a bit too long before starting to eat dinner and went somewhat hypoglycemic as a result. I can definitely see that as a result.

Brain chemistry and all the different ways that things can go strange is another thing that we’re still getting a handle on, especially given the way different people seem to have such completely different reactions to what otherwise seems to be the same chemistry.

Alan Robertshaw
5 years ago

@ jenora

Re: common law

Yeah, in England the marital rape exception was removed by judges.

The actual law on rape specifically allowed for it, but our judges said, correctly obviously, that it was ridiculous . It was bizarre though that the legislature didn’t deal with it; it shouldn’t have been left up to judges. There’s obviously a dangerous precedent when judges ‘make’ law as opposed to interpreting it. But that’s a hot topic in itself .

The diabetic thing illustrates some of the more bizarre consequences of the rules on culpability. Hyperglycaemia is an internal cause, so ‘insanity’ applies. Hypoglycaemia, as a a result of too much insulin, is an external factor (the insulin) so automatism would apply.

Theoretically there are different consequences. (Not guilty through automatism and you’re totally free, not guilty through insanity and you can be detained under a hospital order). In practice some judges ignore the distinction and the Court of Appeal hasn’t criticised them for that.

ETA: Insanity is a ‘defence’ in legal terminology in that it prevents a conviction. We use the word in that sense to mean something different form the colloquial use of defence in the “I have an alibi” sense.

sillybill
sillybill
5 years ago

Alan Robertshaw,
It’s illegal in UK to carry a pocketknife? or am I misunderstanding you?
I’d feel naked! How does one sharpen pencils, open boxes, and clean your fingernails?

DepressedCNS
DepressedCNS
5 years ago

@ Alan,

You raise a good point about the law being heavily shaped ultimately by politics opposed to science. Restorative justice is a hard political sell for violent offenders, but we have such high incarceration rates in the US and many of the offenders are nonviolent and mentally ill. I don’t know the exact stats but it’s for sure a substantial proportion

Alan Robertshaw
5 years ago

@ sillybill

You can carry a folding knife with a blade of less than 3 inches so long as it doesn’t lock. (ETA: unless you intend to use it as a weapon)

It’s also a defence to show a “good reason” for carrying a bladed article. A carpet fitter walking to and from his van would probably get away with having a Stanley Knife on him; but not when he wasn’t actually at work.

Verily Baroque
Verily Baroque
5 years ago

@Alan

I also do a lot of work involving professional force users.

Professional force user = a politically correct way of saying “a Jedi”? ;P

Jenora Feuer
Jenora Feuer
5 years ago

@Alan:
Whereas around here in Toronto, from some stories I’ve heard from SCA people, carrying a large blade can be easier to get away with than carrying a small one. The rules were written to punish concealability rather than damage, so you could walk around with a sword (or in the case of this SCA member, a battle-axe) without worry, but something that you could hide in your fist would be confiscated.

Granted, of course, having the large blade makes you more of a target for the police pulling you over to look for small blades…