Civil liberties survive an assault in Great Britain—for now
Blimey! If we Yanks only had some bleedin’ news from overseas on our own telly, we’d be chuffed to bits! The House of Lords has convincingly struck down Tony Blair‘s frightening attempted assault on civil liberties. Well, so far, at least.
I wrote about this creepy attempt yesterday. And for now, the move has failed.
It might as well not have happened, judging by the U.S. media. Only the A.P. and Bloomberg seem to have carried full-length stories so far, among the snooty Eastern media, according to my cursory glance at the Web.
Good for you, Bloomberg (not you, Mayor Bloomberg, your company). The business news service’s story noted:
Well, thank God. Our own potty POTUS is trying to give his flunky attorney general Alberto Gonzales, instead of our courts, the same kind of power. Bloomberg’s story continues:
Once again, our Congress pales by comparison. Unfortunately, so does the New York Times. Alan Cowell, the veteran Timesman in London, has written a ton of great stories in his long career. (I particularly remember his South Africa stuff from years ago.) But the editors in New York gave him one paragraph in this morning’s World Briefing column:
Treating this like a friggin’ short from Long Beach, Long Island, about a cat up a tree? I don’t mean to be so shirty, but . . .
The Times also ran an Associated Press web story under the headline “British Lawmakers Amend Anti-Terrorism Law.”
“Amend”? Well, at least it’s a workmanlike story, saying:
My question for the U.S. media is this: Why is this development not worth mentioning on this side of the Atlantic? I mean, the Bush regime is trying to do the same kind of thing here, as we’ve written about time after time. Fuck Martha Stewart and Michael Jackson—the stories about them, I should say. Can we at least have a little coverage of Blair’s War of Terror so we can get a hint of what the Bush regime has in mind for us?
The peers’ action was a stinging rebuke to Blair, similar to the one I received this morning from a Canadian reader for confusing Great Britain’s House of Lords with its Law Lords (its Supreme Court). Duncan MacKenzie wrote to say:
Your description of who they are and what they do is just terrible. You have Google on the East Coast, right? There are the law lords: lawyers, who as you say are something like your Supreme Court, but (probably) less institutionally robust. These lawyers—not aristocrats—had already shot down the government’s plans. Then there is the rest of the Lords, something like your Senate, but almost all appointed (2/3s by the Government of the day, 1/3 by the Opposition). There are very few hereditary lords—aristocrats—left. Maybe these last few are on their way out? Don’t know. You should, though.
Too right, Duncan. I bodged it. MacKenzie continued:
Thanks for writing, Duncan, and I agree. It’s not the first time I’ve made an error, and it won’t be the last. My only excuse is the lame one of a lack of a time. But every day brings another astonishing development to write about—like the nomination of John Bolton to be U.N. ambassador.
I still don’t understand how things are organized over in Great Britain. I mean, I understand the phrase “Bob’s your uncle” and all that—in Oklahoma, my home state, the same Bob, however, could also be your cousin and brother and grandfather at the same time.
As to the House of Lords, I consulted the Parliament site, which says:
The House of Lords is the final court of appeal on points of law for the whole of the United Kingdom in civil cases; and for England, Wales and Northern Ireland in criminal cases. This work is carried out by the Law Lords.
Anyway, I wrote Duncan back to thank him and apologize, and he replied with some interesting points. Here’s what he wrote back:
I have rebuked you for not the taking the time to figure out what foreign institutions are really like. I rebuke myself for rudeness. “Furrners” was unnecessary.
Well, again I have to thank Duncan for being so kind. He had no reason to apologize—sometimes it’s necessary to be intemperate. What I found intriguing was the rest of his note:
No, thanks for saying it. We need to keep hearing about the rest of the world, especially while the Bush regime continues to fuck with it.