art, political graffiti

Political Graffiti (124): Banksy, 0% Interest in People

(source) More on capitalism, corporate governance and corporate democracy. More Banksy. More political graffiti. Related Articles Some Inscrutable Banksy Thing: The Movie [Trailer Park] ( ‘Banksy’ city mural painted over ( Banksy in Basque ( ‘Birth and death of a Banksy’ – mysterious artwork covered up ( Banksy Does New Orleans [Art] (

art, freedom, law, political graffiti

Political Graffiti (40): Banksy and Anarchism

(source) There’s a strange dualism inherent in the concept of state/government. Many of the most brutal rights violations are caused by governments, but rights also need governments. More here and here on the role of government and the efforts to minimize its scope. See also the previous post in this series. The phrase is a […]

art, justice, law, political artist

Political Artist (16): Banksy

In September 2006, Banksy smuggled a life-size replica of a Guantanamo Bay detainee Disneyland, inside the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride at the California theme park. It remained in place for 90 minutes before the ride was closed down and the figure removed: (source) And here’s another version: (source)

citizenship, international relations

Migration and Human Rights (47): A Phenomenology of Borders

Let’s admit it: borders are an illusion. They don’t exist. The things that do exist are border controls, deportations, entry restrictions, visa requirements, border shootings etc. Those things are real enough and often painful for those feeling the brunt. They are facts in the original sense of the word, from the Latin facere, “to do”. […]

human rights violations, most absurd human rights violations

The Most Absurd Human Rights Violations (114): Child Starves to Death in the UK

(source) The government has been warned it must urgently fix flaws in its support system for successful asylum seekers, after a destitute child starved to death in temporary accommodation in Westminster. … [T]he family had become dependent on “ad hoc” charitable handouts despite a successful asylum claim because of “significant problems” transferring the family from […]

law, limiting free speech, philosophy

Limiting Free Speech (46): Lies and False Statements of Fact

(source, the story that inspired this work is here) Should lies and false statements of fact be protected by free speech laws, or can the speech rights of those who intentionally lie be limited in some cases? The US Supreme Court believes the latter is true, somewhat surprisingly given the often quasi-absolutist nature of First […]

law, most absurd human rights violations

The Most Absurd Human Rights Violations (87): You Can’t Do What I told You to Do

(source) Critics say that as part of the Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policy, officers routinely tell suspects to empty their pockets and then, if marijuana is displayed, arrest them for having the drugs in public view, thereby pushing thousands of people toward criminality and into criminal justice system. (source) More on the war on drugs. More […]


My Latest Tweets

Is there a lot of light between cognitive dissonance, confirmation bias and motivated reasoning? if not, why the excess jargon? Jargon bias? I guess I must be a libertarian communist: + adventures in meta: “overhyped” now a hype itself #Irene someone should coin the phrase “unconomy” can anyone explain why democratic politics always […]



For some reason, my older posts on rioting are now immensely popular. So here’s an overview: (source) (source unknown) (source) (source) (source) I’m not in the mood for serious analyses, but I do want to warn against simplistic explanations involving the words “poverty” and “multicultural”. (See also here). Those types of punditry are usually way […]

economics, human rights violations, measuring human rights, poverty, statistics

Measuring Human Rights (20): What is More Important, the Number or Percentage of People Suffering Human Rights Violations?

(source, more Banksy here) Take just one human right, the right not to suffer poverty: if we want to measure progress for this human right, we get something like the following fact: [N]ever in the world have there been so many paupers as in the present times. But the reason of this is that there […]

freedom, human rights nonsense, law

Human Rights Nonsense (25): Reductio of Private Property Rights

(source) In the case of Hinman vs. Pacific Air Transport, a landowner, Hinman, sued an airline (Pacific Air) for trespass. Hinman wanted Circuit Judge Haney’s court to affirm his right to stop airlines from flying over his property. … The judge … realized that giving every landowner a right to treat air traffic as a […]

data, discrimination and hate, economics, education, equality, poverty, racism

Racism (16): Race and Crime

It’s well-known that African-Americans make up a disproportionate part of the U.S. prison population. Racists of course have an easy explanation for this, but what is the real explanation? Part of it is probably racial profiling and bias among jury members. Another part of the explanation can be poverty, unemployment and lower education, burdens from […]

economics, poverty, terror, war, work

Terrorism and Human Rights (26): Is Terrorism Caused by Unemployment?

(source, more Banksy here) I don’t think I need to spell out the ways in which terrorism is a human rights issue (beyond the obvious violations of the human rights of the direct victims of terrorism there are serious human rights implications of the so-called “war on terror“). Some time ago, I linked to a paper claiming that poverty and […]

international relations, measuring human rights, statistics, war

Measuring Human Rights (9): When “Worse” Doesn’t Necessarily Mean “Worse”

I discussed in this older post some of the problems related to the measurement of human rights violations, and to the assessment of progress or deterioration. One of the problems I mentioned is caused by improvements in measurement methods. Such improvements can in fact result in a statistic showing increasing numbers of rights violations, whereas in reality the numbers may […]

democracy, poverty, why do we need human rights

Why Do We Need Human Rights? (10): Why Do We Need Democracy?

Regular readers will know that I see democracy as a human rights issue. The standard human rights texts (declarations, treaties and constitutions) all provide a right of the people of a nation to take part in the government, choose representatives in free elections etc. As with human rights in general, many people are in favor […]

privacy, terror

Terrorism and Human Rights (7): Data Mining, Terrorism and Privacy

Data mining (also known as pattern recognition) is an anti-terrorist intelligence strategy. Data mining means bringing together different kinds of databases, linking them, and trying to identify suspicious patterns of individual behavior. The purpose is to prevent terrorist attacks. Suspicious behavior may indicate that such an attack is imminent, and data mining has been defended […]