Who should protect us online? And who will guard us from these guards?
Among the more absurd things ever said about the internet was that the network “interprets censorship as damage, and routes around it”. The epigram was half true, but the half that was false gets more important every year.
The internet can be a vile place, and the instinct to enforce some standards there is not misplaced. The director of public prosecutions, Alison Saunders, is quite right to say that crime online is as serious as crime offline. Even the Guardian, wedded to the idea of free speech, does not imagine that this is an unrestrained freedom – only that the limits that the law should set are minimal and largely concerned with public order. But some limits must exist, and they must be enforced.
Sarah Champion, like the victims she stands up for, deserves to be heard, say Sally Bates, Roy Grimwood and Cath Hallam, while Hilary Nelson warns against falling into a racism trap
In all of the outrage concerning Sarah Champion, it is important to remember the context of the vulnerable children she is seeking to protect (Shadow equalities minister quits in row over ‘racist’ article on sex abuse, 17 August). Over many years Britain’s children have been abused by a variety of institutional predators. These have included doctors, teachers and celebrities. All these institutions have reviewed practices and now seek to rigorously protect and prevent abuse.
Scrutiny of all instances of abuse must identify assailants who target those with no voice or no protectors. Sarah Champion has given them a voice. She, like them, deserves to be heard.
A laissez-faire attitude to online aggression has encouraged abuse without fear of penalty. Alison Saunders’ new guidance will help to change this mentality
The minute Alison Saunders announced the Crown Prosecution Service’s crackdown on hate crime online, a torrent of loathing spewed forth on Twitter. There were the hordes complaining that they could no longer tell the “truth” about “paedo gangs” or call for the Qur’an to be banned. Calling something a hate crime is apparently a way of oppressing white people. Some asked why everyone couldn’t just have “broader shoulders”.
The pervading sense has been that what people say online is consequence-free. Perhaps because it is largely true. While many people live in self-selected worlds where discourse is civil, for others the online world is a place of anger and abuse. It affects their lives and sometimes silences them.
Under Obama, America’s addiction to mass incarceration seemed to fade. But then came Trump and a hardline attorney general
Shauna Barry-Scott remembers the moment she felt the American fever for mass incarceration break. It was an August morning in 2013, and she was in a federal prison in the mountains of West Virginia. She remembers crowding into the TV room with the other women in their khaki uniforms. Everyone who could get out of their work shifts was there, waiting. Good news was on the way, advocates had told them. Watch for it.
Some of her fellow inmates were cynical: it seemed like millions of rumors of reform had swept through the federal prison system to only then dissolve. Barry-Scott did not blame them, but she was more hopeful.
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In 1993 Joe Arpaio, America’s ‘toughest sheriff’, opened a temporary outdoor jail in Phoenix. After more than two decades, the notorious project is finally closing
‘Hitler! Hitler!” the prisoners chanted to the TV cameras in protest. It was 4 February 2009. More than 200 Latino men in black-and-white striped uniforms, shackled to each other, were being marched towards an outdoor unit especially for “illegal alien” prisoners in Arizona’s infamous jail, Tent City.
The chants were directed at the Maricopa County sheriff, Joe Arpaio, who a few months before had called this outdoor jail close to downtown Phoenix – his own tough-on-crime creation – a “concentration camp” in a speech to political supporters at his local Italian-American club.
Arpaio got away with it because people could excuse the embedded racism in his message
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