Wednesday, 11 May 2011


Here's a naughty and amusing little ditty tackling the current fuss over the use of so-called super-injunctions (most aren't: true super-injunctions forbid the disclosure that the injunction exists, not just the identity of the subject). It also and accidentally I presume explains why it's not a simple matter of freedom of speech.

The song shows you some pictures of well-known people who have apparently broken their marriage vows or engage in non-standard sexual activities.

So? I don't care. Nor should anybody else. Andrew Marr, Jeremy Clarkson and Peter Baynham shouldn't be moral arbiters. Marr does sometimes ask intrusive questions of politicians, and so shouldn't be hiding his own activities behind the law, but it's a marginal point. Clarkson is a repulsive clown, but who he sleeps with is entirely immaterial. Peter Baynham's a comedian. I get very uncomfortable with the News of the World (currently neck-deep in illegal activities) claiming that exposing the extra-marital affairs of minor actresses and entertainers for the lascivious drooling of their readers constitutes freedom of speech.

The only super-injunction that's utterly indefensible is the one given to Trafigura, the company which poisoned several thousand Africans and asked the courts to keep it out of the newspapers. That's proper abuse of the law. All the rest is hypocrisy.

The really interesting aspect of the matter is the extension of the Spycatcher affair: the British government used the courts to prevent publication of the book and extracts, but the judges held that because the book was legally available around the world, and therefore any damage was already done, publication couldn't be prevented in the UK.

With Twitter and webpages hosted all over the world, the state is being seriously eroded. One Twitter account is posting claims about which celebrities have taken out super-injunctions and why (probably incorrectly). It can't be touched by the British courts.

I've no idea where Plashing Vole is hosted - probably the US, but who knows? The courts could be used to sue me for things I say here, but Blogger probably couldn't be forced to take my pages down (though being a corporation, it'll do whatever those in power tell it to). Legal borders no longer mean anything, though Google, the Chinese government and lots of other states are trying to reinstate electronic borders.

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