Charting a charter of rights (part 2)

Previous tatooed breasts scales of justice deep-sixed to avoid bad taste distraction from a post intended to provoke serious discussion …

John Greenfield is a conservative blog commenter who occasionally fulfils a useful function, rather like a canary in a coal mine.  He can always be counted on to trot out a stereotypical Tory response to any issue, but sometimes that reveals basic misunderstandings which might well be shared by other more sophisticated conservatives not so impervious to rational arguments.  So it was with John’s comment about my previous post on charters of rights:

None of the statists has been able to argue why we need a Bill of Rights. I am sorry, but the argument everyone else has got one doesnt wash.

In fact (and leaving aside the fact that I was talking about a legislated charter of rights not a constitutionally entrenched Bill of Rights, a distinction that seemed completely to escape John), the purpose and effect of a charter of rights is almost the exact antithesis of John’s assumption.  it is an “anti-statist” measure designed to limit excessive power of the political arms of government, albeit preserving parliament’s sovereign power to legislate to remove, suspend or limit rights in a democratically acccountable manner whenever governing politicians wish to do so and think they can make a sufficiently persuasive case of necessity to the voting public to avoid being kicked out at the next election. Most libertarians are strong advocates of bills or charters of rights precisely because they limit excessive governmental power and enhance individual freedoms.

The kneejerk opposition to a charter of rights by many conservatively-minded Australians evinces historical and constitutional “deafness”.  The entire edifice of liberal democratic constitutionalism which Australia’s system of governance exemplifies is premised on the need for multiple checks and balances on excessive power.  The principle dates back at least to the 17th century when the British discovered the hard way that anyone with excessive and unchecked power was apt eventually to use it as an instrument of oppression and unfreedom. 

Hence Lord Acton’s dictum “power corrupts …” and John Locke’s 1689 Treatises of Government which elucidated a system of checks and balances, including rudimentary rights protections, later developed by Montesquieu and adopted by the French and American constitutions and subsequently emulated by almost every country in the world including Australia.    Locke was directly influenced by his immediate experience of the oppression of the Stuart kings, civil war, revolution and regicide, republic and Cromwell Lord Protector, Restoration and Glorious Revolution; experiences which taught the indelible lesson that checks and balances are essential to “keep the bastards honest” and that anyone becomes a bastard if given unchecked power.

America and European-influenced constitutional systems thereafter tended to rely on checks and balances provided by a strong separation of powers between legislature, executive and judiciary; (usually) a bicameral parliament; independent judiciary; (sometimes) federal division of power; and a bill of rights enshrining basic individual freedoms.

Britain relied on checks and balances provided by a bicameral parliament; limited constitutional monarchy; executive government responsible to parliament and people via the notion of responsible government; an independent judiciary; and strong common law tradition.

Australia’s Founding Fathers equally believed in checks and balances to protect freedom, but opted for a hybrid mix of American and British-style measures.  Some limited human rights provisions were even enshrined in our Constitution, and the High Court has identified a few others that are necessarily implicit in that system.  However, an 1897-8 Constitutional Convention motion engineered by principal Founding Father Andrew Inglis Clark (who drafted around 80% of the text of the Constitution), and proposing an American-style guarantee of equal protection and due process modelled on the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, failed by just 23 votes to 19.  Delegates’ reasons appear to have been diverse, but prominently included the perception that basic human rights freedoms would be adequately protected by the accountability of the executive government to parliament under the British doctrine of responsible government, and an unblushing concern that such guarantees would inhibit their own freedom to discriminate against Chinese and Pacific islander residents. 

If we extend our historical gaze through to the present, we see that Britain eventually adopted a charter of rights itself in 1998, partly as an incident of EU membership but also because increasing centralisation of executive power and the progressive reduction in the role of the House of Lords as a check on excessive power made it apparent to many that additional safeguards of basic human rights were needed.

In Australia, we didn’t adopt either a full separation between legislature and executive government or a comprehensive bill of rights.  Moreover, the evolution of our political culture into a system involving rigid and punitive party discipline has meant that the Founding Fathers’ idealistic conception of parliament acting as an effective check on executive power through Ministers being members of it has proven to be an absurd fantasy.  The political executive rules parliament with an iron fist, ensuring a Hobbesian nasty, brutish and short political career for any backbencher who doesn’t toe the line. 

As a result, the political executive government in Australia enjoys unchecked power to an extent unknown in any similar western country including the US and UK.  All of them have some form of bill of rights, and all have functioning systems involving either much more complete separation of executive and legislative powers than us or real responsible government.  In Britain, for example, MPs are free to vote as they wish in parliament without sanction except in the case of a three line whip.

In Australia, by contrast, federalism is almost moribund, party discipline is getting more and more rigid, the powers of political leaders more and more presidential, and their ability to manipulate a mainstream media sector with greater concentration of ownership than just about any comparable nation has been enhanced through increasingly sophisticated spin/media management strategies.

Despite all these factors, I was a moderate bill of rights sceptic until fairly recently.  But the Howard government’s recent Senate majority and its persistently high-handed abuses of power, especially in areas like treatment of asylum seekers and anti-terrorism measures, caused me to re-evaluate.  A recent paper by retired High Court Justice Michael McHugh makes the case in relation to abuses of human rights far more eloquently than I could.  The bastards just aren’t being kept even modestly honest by our current system, and you’d be naive to imagine that Kevin Rudd will be much better in the long run.  Best to grasp the opportunity of a national charter of rights when it’s seemingly on offer early in the reign of a new government while a few of their ideals remain intact. 

I would tend to be fairly conservative in the range of rights and freedoms I would like to see protected, but I’m pretty relaxed about the range of rights covered by the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006, with the notable exception of the guarantee of  “cultural rights” which I oppose for the sorts of reasons canvassed by various people in the comments thread to my previous post

Moreover, I agree with many of Graham Young’s sentiments

There is a false dichotomy in the general bill of rights debate which is that you have a choice to have a bill or not. You don’t. The choice is whether you have major and minor rights sprinkled around a galaxy of legislation, or whether you collect the most important of them into one piece of legislation and decide the relationship between them, as in which rights are more fundamental than others. A further choice is whether you imbed that document in the constitution, where it can only be changed by a referendum supported by a majority of voters in a majority of states, or in legislation, which can be changed by a simple majority in parliament.

The idea that you can keep laws away from judges is bizarre.

My one quibble with Graham lies in his assertion that charters of rights themselves can feasibly “decide the relationship between them, as in which rights are more fundamental than others”.  Very few charters attempt to do this, certainly neither existing state/territory Australian model does so nor does the UK Human Rights Act 1998.  It’s hard to see how any charter or bill could itself workably enshrine any broad-ranging prioritisation of basic rights and freedoms where they come into conflict (as rights and freedoms often do).  Which protected basic right or freedom should prevail is unavoidably contingent on the particular fact situation in which the conflict arises, and is therefore incapable of being usefully reduced to a statutory formula.

Moreover, I even have doubts whether a court of law is the best place to have conflicts between basic rights and freedoms determined, at least in the first instance.  Such disputes are ones about which reasonable minds can and very frequently do differ.  Moreover, satisfactory resolution may depend on application of a range of professional skills, knowledge and wisdom that judges often don’t possess.  I think we should consider adopting a federal charter of rights that vests first instance basic rights determinations in some independent quasi-judicial tribunal  like the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, which would have its membership suitably augmented by lay members who might be economists, ethicists, psychologists, philosophers or other experts appropriate to resolution of conflicts between the particular basic rights in question in each case.

Incidentally, that would also resolve concerns recently expressed by former High Court Chief Justice Sir Gerard Brennan as to whether there might potentially be a breach of the separation of judicial powers doctrine involved in the power in the Victorian Charter to issue a declaration of inconsistent interpretation where the court deems a law to be unavoidably incompatible with Charter basic rights (albeit that, like Charter architect George Williams, I doubt that this provision breaches separation of powers in any event).

There are lots of issues to be considered before adopting a charter of rights, moreover they’re critically democratically important issues mostly not susceptible to TV soundbites or tabloid newspaper sensationalism.  That’s why I’m laying them out here.  A blog like Troppo is potentially a very effective vehicle for teasing out, arguing and testing questions like this.  

Update – Also see this article by Andrew Lynch.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Patrick
Patrick
13 years ago

Can I be first in with a nit-pick: I always thought that Lord Acton was talking about biographers, not politicians.

I certainly agree with ditching cultural rights! I would go one step further and remove all positive rights – this partly addresses your concern about the relationships between different rights.

I haven’t heard the idea of an independent tribunal before. I am very sceptical about its potential membership – what you are asking them to decide is a question of enormous subjectivity, as you note, and passion. Is there any conceivable way that appointments would not be ridiculously politicised? Labor might appoint some nutcase greeny, a Liberal government might appoint a Heydon, etc. Could a Senate committee possibly do the job?

Out of interest, though, what about appeals? De novo? I can’t see how you would define the questions of law to appeal, otherwise – whether the provisions do indeed have the effect on which the tribunal’s decision is predicated? That makes the tribunal a bit of a chicken to the court’s egg! (albeit the AAT is often in a similar position).

A diluted version would require only a RIS-type compliance by the government – a Human Rights Impact Statement. This could be given quite substantial teeth by a new s15AC (or 15AA(3) of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 to the point that legislation was to be interpreted whereever possible as being compatible with the outcomes described in the HRIS.

Of course, that then throws the matter back into courts and the slow process of judicial adjudication. But you could retain the tribunal to resolve the question of fact of whether the infringement of rights complained of is an infringement of rights, in light of the RIS and the Charter?

Sorry about the confused comment (and the pedantry).

JC
JC
13 years ago

Ken The first is is the US bill of rights. The second is the EU charter of “rights”
which is basically a list of demands more than anything. Note the EU’s also includes paid holiday work leave :-) It also gives everyone a right to tertiary education.

Which one would ours resemble?

Sinclair Davidson
13 years ago

I was a moderate bill of rights sceptic until fairly recently. But the Howard governments recent Senate majority and its persistently high-handed abuses of power, especially in areas like treatment of asylum seekers and anti-terrorism measures, caused me to re-evaluate.

The arguments are all interesting but this, I think, is the nub. Here lies the problem that a bill of rights or charter of rights is meant to fix. There are four problems “recent Senate majority”, “high-handed abuses of power”, “asylum seekers” and “anti-terrorism measures”. On the first two, Mr Howard ran slap-bang into electoral disapproval. On the other two Mr Howard had electoral approval.

Now I agree the treatment of asylum seekers was appalling – I was so appalled and thought the electorate would be so appalled that I bet money that the coalition would lose the 2001 election. They didn’t. We all need to come to terms with that result. The broader electorate have firm views on asylum seekers (wrong views IMHO). A bill of rights or charter that undermines the communities views in this matter is undemocratic. Similarly on the anti-terrorism laws – they are appalling, especially the money laundering laws. Laws introduced to suppress terrorism are being used to arrest accountants! (Mind you, Robert Aguis is ethnically Maltese, so the government could say that a man of middle east appearance was arrested. Bad joke, I know. Sick joke actually). But again I’m not convinced that the electorate disapproves of the anti-terrorism laws, indeed I suspect they’d want them tightened up. So again the issue of undemocratic law making comes up.

The issue then is whether we trust the electorate. I think we should place more faith in the electorate than we currently do. Certainly much more than economists generally do. Government that passes high handed legislation should not be saved by a judge, they should be thrown out at the next election.

If we do have to have a bill of rights, we should adopt the US model and we should have elected judges. Otherwise we should leave well enough alone.

NPOV
NPOV
13 years ago

Sinclair, I don’t think we can really conclude from the 2001 election result that the majority of the Australian population thought the treatment of asylum seekers at the time was acceptable. But even if we could, it doesn’t make it right.
Democracy is not a suitable method for determining acceptable treatment of disadvantaged minorities, indeed part of the purpose of a Bill of Rights is to help prevent tyranny of the majority.

Sinclair Davidson
13 years ago

We can but I doesn’t make it right. The problem is that the majority needs to agree to the bill of rights. The majority in Australia has done a pretty good job so far of not tyrannising minorities (except smokers and tax payers) so even then the argument for a bill of rights hasn’t been made.

Sinclair Davidson
13 years ago

sorry, not “I”, “it”

Vee
Vee
13 years ago

And I’ll recommend Cam Riley’s version.

Niall
13 years ago

gotta love body art

JC
JC
13 years ago

Sorry for the long list, you can delete it if you like, as I didn’t realize it would take so much room.

I very much doubt we would end up with your suggestion at the federal level as there are far more competing interests.

I’m no lawyer but why would we need cultural rights protections, protection of families and children etc? And how would such things as “freedom from forced work” get interpreted with respect to issues such as minimum wages and award wages?

I share your concerns that the state can basically remove basic rights through force of numbers in parliament. However it didn’t stop the Victorian state government from introducing vilification laws that forced those two pastors to defend themselves at the Supreme Court culminating with the Sup. Court sending a question back to the State government asking if they realized they were actually stifling free speech rights.

The conservative concern with a bill of rights is that it can become a minefield in terms of potential litigation. And what happens if a judge goes rogue and decides he sees rights he thinks are contained in the package that may not be there and tries to legislate from the bench?

In sum cases the tyranny of the parliament is more desirable than the judiciary deciding theyre better than elected representatives. At least we can get rid of the bastards in parliament after a few years. Roe Vs Wade is a great example of over reach. No Im not anti- abortion but the decision was a legal abomination.

JC
JC
13 years ago

If we do have to have a bill of rights, we should adopt the US model and we should have elected judges.

I agree. And it shouldn’t stop at the state level either.

JC
JC
13 years ago

T

he Parliament CAN still override any protected right as long as it does so utterly clearly and transparently and is prpared to take full democratic responsibility for its actions

But there is also political risk attached in making changes to parts of the charter where a government could simply not deal with something due to fears.

Sinclair Davidson
13 years ago

I understand there is a difference and I am abstracting from that difference. Part of the problem, I think, is that charters are claytons bill of rights (the bill of rights you have when you don’t have a bill of rights). As such to my mind they suffer from all the disabilities that a bill of rights have. {Insert conservative tirade against elitist judge made law here – we all know the drill}. Then the question is what are the protected rights? They would have to be the same rights that we’d want in a proper bill of rights, I imagine. So the real debate hasn’t moved anywhere.

The argument about the law having to be clear before taking rights is not entirely convincing. The courts already enforce that provision (see the Mabo and Wik judgements, for example). (Also have a look at some of the apartheid era South African jurisprudence – some judges were very entreprenuerial in their applications of the law so as to preserve rights). So again the argument is that charters and bills of rights aim to expand on the rights we already have, and some people don’t want that. Certainly now through a judge driven process.

On the other hand, these charters may create support for a bill of rights down the track. Jeremy Gans, I think, has a proposal along the lines that laws be introduced with sunset clauses and people can see how they go. That is a thin end of the wedge argument used in a positive sense.

gilmae
13 years ago

I rather like Cam Riley‘s version as well :- )

Alan
Alan
13 years ago

The positive rights thing is largely mythical. It is a drafting accident derived from the US where they were attempting to legislate reduce alleged natural rights to positive law. In reality, even in the US where ‘negative rights’ are said to reign supreme, the federal and state governments actually spend quite a lot of money on alleged negative rights. Miranda rights, for example, require judges, prosecutors, defence counsel, police and prison officers who (surprise!) neither educate nor employ themselves.

I would, for example b e a lot happier with Canada:

Every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons or of a legislative assembly and to be qualified for membership therein.
.

than the US:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2.
Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age,* and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

The two existing charters of rights in Australia both speak about the right to vote as a positive right:

Every citizen has the right, and is to have the opportunity, to
(a) take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through
freely chosen representatives; and
(b) vote and be elected at periodic elections, that guarantee the free
expression of the will of the electors; and
(c) have access, on general terms of equality, for appointment to
the public service and public office.

I’d be happy with a charter of rights limited, at least initially, to the traditional or Group 1 rights. I have no idea why Ken would persuade himself that an 18th century drafting practice that obscures more than it reveals is suddenly central to the future of human rights in Australia.

I’d be happier still with a debate as informed as Ken calls for that does not introduce a positive/negative rights distinction followed only in the US and not even taken very seriously there outside libertarian circles.

gilmae
13 years ago

You’re right of course, except for one point. It was a pretentious exercise and thrown together by a non-lawyer over a couple of days. Contextually “Cam” never really talked about whether or not it should be constitutionally entrenched because we all thought that went without saying. I’m not so sure anymore, I tend to think that Federation being moribund is more of an issue than any perceived risk of rights violations.

And anyway, while it doesn’t say so on that link, Cam’s version predates Victoria’s by a few years.

NPOV
NPOV
13 years ago

Sinclair, why does the majority need to agree to a Bill of Rights, any more than it needs to agree with any of the laws we have?
All that’s needed is the capacity for it to be changed if the majority has significant disagreement with it.
I personally disagree with Ken that parliament alone should be able to override rights established in such a Bill – it needs at least a very large majority, or ideally a referendum to change. On that basis, I agree that a Bill of Rights needs to be quite conservative in what it includes, and vague statements like ‘cultural rights’ are problematic.

Alan
Alan
13 years ago

Ken

Point taken and I apologise for misrepresenting you.

I do think it important to make the positive/negative canard a dead duck as early in the debate as possible. I would agree with you about the Victorian charter except for its misleading title. Although it claims to be about rights and responsibilities, it has nothing to say about responsibilities. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the title is dishonest persiflage.

Although it reaches further than either of us would wish, the South African Bill of Rights deserves more attention for the standard of its drafting.

hc
hc
13 years ago

I liked the photo though the left nork looks bigger to me suggesting political bias.

JC
JC
13 years ago

Naaa harry, It’s your short sightedness again. The scales of justice are in perfect proportion.

Nabakov
Nabakov
13 years ago

Some backstory.

I know a couple of people that were heavily involved in drafted the Vic Charter of Rights (Hello Louisa!) and they struck me as fairly apolitical (ie: hardnosed ambitious young lawyers doing a networking spell in the Vic DoJ) with a large Centre-Right ALP Rhino still retaining a certain class worrier (sic) attitude, (Rob Hulls) breathing down their neck.

They told me during afterwork drinks that Hullsy kept saying “keep the language as plain and straightforward as possible. Don’t try to use the 18th century US Bill of Rights style.”

And what Vic DoJ came up with is not too bad at all. Y’all notice it includes “responsibilities” as well in its full title.

I do agree with others here that you really can’t constitutionally, or even in legal practice, codify such nebulous concepts as “reputation”, “cultural rights” or even “Humane treatment” when deprived of liberty.

Basically a constitution is a country’s operating manual and a bill or charter of rights is the warranty. And they don’t need to be drowned in legalese end user agreements if the product’s already tried and tested enough.

Nabakov
Nabakov
13 years ago

I’d also argue that Harry Clarke is so focussed on what he thinks is appropriate balance that he’s quite lost sight of the big picture.

Harry, if you don’t get it properly off your chest you will just feel a right tit.

cam
cam
13 years ago

I rather like Cam Rileys version as well :- )

Gilmae said that tongue in cheek, he is the author of that bill of rights. I incorporated his bill into a couple of constitutions.

Put me in the constitutional camp for rights being constitutionally entrenched rather than statutory. They should be exclusions from governance that cannot be changed without popular will. This is best expressed explicitly in a constitution IMO.

Sinclair Davidson
13 years ago

Sinclair, why does the majority need to agree to a Bill of Rights, any more than it needs to agree with any of the laws we have?

To insert a federal bill of rights would require a constitutional amendment. To insert a charter doesn’t – it is just legislation. That is another problem, I suspect the ALP are going down the charter route because they know (or think they know) a bill of roghts wouldn’t win at a referedum – circumventing the democratic will on this issue. Of course, that might not matter much if it is a successful experiment and people change their minds on this issue.

NPOV
NPOV
13 years ago

Ok, sure, if it were to be added to the constitution it would require majority support. I don’t particularly care whether it’s part of the constitution or not, as long as it a) has at least bi-partisan support and b) is less easy to change than regular legislation, e.g. requiring a 2/3rd majority parliamentary vote for minor changes, and a referendum for major changes.

Sinclair Davidson
13 years ago

I don’t know if a current Parliament can bind a future Parliament in ‘less easy to change’ legislation. I don’t think so. A bill of rights would actually need to be in the constitution (so in practice would need, at least, bipartisan support etc.) to be effective. Without that it becomes a signalling device re government intentions and commitment, but is not actually binding. The debate then is about how valuable is the signal is. Ken’s argument is that the signal itself is important and can be valuable. There is a huge economic literature in the corporate governance area about signals and their importance and when they work and don’t work etc. I’m not convinced in this case. A government initiating the signal is less likely to legislate against its own strongly held beliefs. Future governments however may not care about charters, and could even repeal them. In the first instance, these charters of rights become charters of privilege. In the end we are little removed from our current situation.

Colonel Blimp (aka Tory in a Goldmine)
Colonel Blimp (aka Tory in a Goldmine)
13 years ago

Kevin Parish Esq.
22nd Floor
Luvvie Chambers
Luvvie Sphere

I say Old Bean, I’ve been called many things in my time but a bloomin’ TORY! How old are you dude? Like 85? Otherwise there are only two non-senile Australians who use the denigration “Tory.” The first, that Black Irish oik usurper who does not know whether he is Michael Collins or Anthony Blanche. The second is an old KKKomrade of mine who is a member of the CFMEU. Now, as a Luvvie, you are clearly not the second, and while your mewlings and floursishes are definitely symptomatic of Stage 1 Luvvieness – Moral Narcissism – I suspect the cut of your jib is not fine enough to pass for the Placido Damingo of anything.

Perhaps a turn as Tony Benn at the annual chambers follies, hey what?

Tweet! Tweet!

NPOV
NPOV
13 years ago

BTW, I have to say, I think the new proposal from Brumby to prevent anyone entering clubs after 2am is the sort of thing that a Bill of Rights should be able to stop a government doing.
I’ve nothing against regulation that fines pubs & clubs for letting in intoxicated or misbehaving individuals, but a blanket ban is overstepping the boundaries of the sort of control governments should be able to have over its citizens.

Patrick
Patrick
13 years ago

BTW, I have to say, I think the new proposal from Brumby to prevent anyone entering clubs after 2am is the sort of thing that a Bill of Rights should be able to stop a government doing.

That would be a very powerful bill of rights indeed – I don’t believe that any country’s bill of rights achieves that!

Alan
Alan
13 years ago

There’s also an issue that’s peculiar to Australian governance and needs to be controlled by a charter. It is delegability.

In NSW the police commissioner can suspend quite a lot of rights administratively whenever (among other things) a visiting potentate is about to land at mascot. Federally 3 ministers can authorise the armed forces to assume civil functions. Hopefully any charter, whether statutory or constitutional would restrict suspension of rights to parliament, not he Executive or the police commissioner.

(NB ‘charter’ and ‘bill’ are actually interchangeable. Canada has a constitutionally entrenched Charter of Rights and Freedoms. New Zealand has a statutory Bill of Rights.)

NPOV
NPOV
13 years ago

Patrick, sadly, I doubt any here will either.

FWIW, anyone who similarly feels that this ban is completely unwarranted, you might want to sign up tp http://www.premier.vic.gov.au/your-voice/your-say.html and register your disapproval.

(and if you think you’re wasting your time – maybe, but I was recently involved in the bid to overturn the ban for taking bikes on trains – a bid that was ultimately successful, without even needing to stage a shirtless protest!)

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
13 years ago

Great post, Ken. If that absolute waste of space and electrons, Preening Luvvy Greenfield managed to inspire this, he may have justified his existence somewhat.

Gummo Trotsky
13 years ago

Maybe enough to justify the electrons, but there are still quite a few protons, neutrons, pions muons and sundry other elementary particles to be accounted for.

gilmae
13 years ago

Don’t start with that, Gummo, or you’ll have that Renegade Folk Hero Physicist from Catallaxy come over and castigate us. Before you know it’ll be exploded planets refugees in every thread.

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