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Saturday 30 April 2011
Letters: Police and the royal wedding
Thought-crime banned for the wedding day
I just wanted to let you know what a very splendid time I had on Friday during the royal wedding. As a republican I might have managed not to enjoy myself but for the timely encouragement of Cmdr Christine Jones of the Metropolitan Police who was spokesperson for the policing of the event.
Happily she put me straight: "Let me make it clear," she said. "This is a day of celebration, joy and pageantry for Great Britain."
I had thought of putting on a Sex Pistols T-shirt or some such as a small protest against the occasion but clearly I hadn't stopped to think clearly. "Any criminals attempting to disrupt it," pointed out Cmdr Jones, "be that in the guise of protest or otherwise – will be met by a robust, decisive, flexible and proportionate policing response."
Silly me. There I was thinking that in a democracy I am entitled to support the notion of electing a head of state rather than submitting to one chosen by the accident of his or her birth. Thanks to Cmdr Jones, I now realise I have committed a thought crime. More to the point, I had the temerity to aspire to a more democratic society on a day on which the police had forbidden such sentiments. I'll go quietly, officer.
The police need to wake up to the fact that they are servants of the law in a democracy and not its masters. Cmdr Jones's remarks were deeply ill-judged
I was sickened to read of the pre-emptive arrests of Professor Chris Knight and Love Police activist Charlie Veitch, to name but two. It seems to me that this sort of policing belongs not in the United Kingdom, but in tyrannical dictatorships. Knight's pre-crime was supposedly for being part of a street theatre group planning to perform a pro-democracy piece.
To me, this is oppression pure and simple. Thanks to the last Labour government, we now have draconian laws giving scarily large powers to the police forces in our country. This has got to change.
Cllr Adam Pogonowski
Forgive an old republican for getting on his high donkey, but the hushed solemnity with which the royal wedding was treated renewed regrets that the French revolutionaries stopped at the borders.
Truly it was wrenching to hear the snobbish and patronising tones of the awestruck commentators whose rotten luck it was to cover the event. One minute they were talking about hats and the next about the absence of Barack Obama, evidently a man wiser even than previously thought. Their inability to distinguish between the trivial and important spoke volumes about them.
For goodness sake, a young couple were getting married. Doubtless their grandparents were delighted. The rest is a lot of hooey. All monarchies ought to be abolished and the born-to-rule rubbish rejected as a medieval deceit.
Pitermaritzburg, South Africa
For that wedding, what palace nincompoop caused Flight Lieutenant Wales to shed his Royal Air Force uniform in favour of some gaudy regalia of an outfit of which he is only an honorary member?
R P J King
Sqn Ldr RAF. Retired
The public need something to raise their spirits, but it is questionable if mass hysteria over a royal wedding is the right way. It's just another reality show. But now back to reality.
Otley, West Yorkshire
Syrian despot not welcome
Isn't retraction of an invitation to the Syrian ambassador to the royal wedding rather poor form? If I invite someone to my party and subsequently discover that he is not quite the thing, then the error was mine and not his; I should suffer the consequences, not he.
If the British government truly wishes to make clear its contempt for President Assad of Syria and his brutal ways, it should rescind the British citizenship (or entitlement to it) of his UK-born wife, Asma, and, no doubt, of their children too. Under the Immigration, Asylum, and Nationality Act of 2006 it has the right to do so if "deprivation is conducive to the public good". In my view it assuredly is. There should never be a European bolthole for any members of this barbarous family. Let's make the political personal.
Our 'German' Royal Family
Geoffrey Robertson's "manifesto for British republicans" (26 April) says Britain is reigned over by an "Anglo-German" monarch. How many generations of one's forebears need to have been born in the UK for Mr Robertson to consider one British?
HM the Queen was born in London in 1926. Her father, King George VI, was born at Sandringham, Norfolk, in 1895 and her mother was born in London in 1900. Her paternal grandparents were King George V, born at Marlborough House, London in 1865 and Queen Mary, born at Kensington Palace, London in 1867. King George V was the second son of King Edward VII, born at Buckingham Palace in November 1841 and his Danish wife, Queen Alexandra.
King Edward VII could trace his family back through Queen Victoria and Kings George I, II and III to Princess Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of King James I of England and VI of Scotland and then directly back to the Tudors.
I do not doubt that Geoffrey Robertson is very well aware of the Queen's family tree. This makes me wonder how he would define my much-loved goddaughter's nationality. She was born in London, as was her mother, and I have no doubt that she is British, but her maternal grandparents came here from Guyana about 50 years ago and her paternal grandparents came here from Jamaica. I wonder also what nationality he ascribes to President Obama. Or perhaps he accepts readily that they are respectively British and American – and simply wants to confine the impression of "foreignness" to members of the British Royal Family?
Homophobia and the church
According to Dr Oonagh Stannard, chief executive of the Catholic Board of Education, quoted in your news report on homophobic bullying (26 April), "Catholic schools have been noted for their low incidence of bullying."
The school my daughter attended actively bullied anyone who questioned their teachings.
When my daughter pointed out in an RE class that God is love and all homosexuals want to do is love each other, and asked how that could be wrong, she was sent out of the class. When she pointed out the inconsistencies between the RE teacher's version of creation and the science teacher's she was sent out again. Her views on premarital sex and contraception were similarly treated. In the end we left.
As long as they teach in their curriculum that homosexuality is wrong, they are not in any way addressing homophobic bullying, quite the reverse.
Your reports on the National Union of Teachers AGM (26 April) suggest that Catholic teaching is "homophobic". Not so.
Homosexuality is a personal gift from God with its own advantages and responsibilities. The Church's consistent moral teaching is that any sexual act, homosexual, heterosexual, bestial or solitary, that wholly excludes both the possibility of children and commitment to their care, is disordered. But only God can judge the individual conscience.
Phil Isherwood (letter, 28 April) is right to urge compassion for those who get life wrong, but does compassion always have to come with a hand-out? My American brother-in-law had a kindly answer to those who tried to touch him for a loan: "I feel for you honey, but I can't reach you."
President Obama quotes from the Psalms and Dr Martin Luther King. President Sarkozy quotes from Camus and Zola. Our PM quotes a vacuous saying from a crummy advert on TV ("Calm down, dear"). Brilliant. The masters at Eton should bow their heads and weep.
Perspectives on the legality of the Libya intervention
This is a civil war
I was relieved to read that lawyers have been instructed to clarify whether the UN Resolution 1973 permits UK training of rebel forces in Libya (report, 28 April) but their brief should certainly be expanded. Both UN Resolution 1970 and 1973 are for the most part contrary and ultra vires the UN Charter, as they relate to a civil war, which did not pose any threat to international peace and security (Article 1 of the UN Charter).
The UN Charter was essentially adopted to provide for the peaceful resolution of disputes between member states and both the Charter's preamble and content make it abundantly clear that it was never intended to address internal conflict or civil war within the sovereign jurisdiction of any state, as in Libya.
Likewise, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation provides in Article 5 for the parties to that treaty to assist one another in the event of armed attack against any one of them. Libya is neither a member of Nato nor has it attacked any Nato member and accordingly Nato's action against Libya is not authorised by Article 5 and is thus also ultra vires the Nato treaty.
The UN Charter is an inappropriate instrument for dealing with foreign intervention into the affairs and sovereignty of any state. It is my concern that Resolutions 1970 and 1973 will result in the UN Charter being increasingly and fallaciously used by some as a vehicle which purports to vindicate acts that would otherwise be clearly contrary to present international law, to the everlasting detriment of the United Nations.
In the event that the international community wishes to address the issue of civil war, then a new convention should be adopted.
No bar on training
The view that the UN Security Council resolution 1973 does not permit the training of the democratic forces in Libya is erroneous. The fact is that the resolution is silent on the matter.
While it contains a revised form of the arms embargo contained in the previous resolution 1970, it is evident, taking the two resolutions together, that the purpose of the embargo is to isolate the regime not the people of Libya. Resolution 1973 authorises member states to take "all necessary measures to protect civilians", while excluding a "foreign occupation force". Military advisers and indeed other military support to the democratic forces is hardly such an "occupation force".
The main problem in Libya is not clarity on international law; it is the will of the international community to implement the United Nations resolution by taking effective action to protect the Libyan people. Misrata must not be allowed to become another Srebrenica.
Reader in Law, University of East London
In November 1945, Justice Robert H Jackson, for the United States at Nuremberg, included in his definition of "aggression" the giving of "support to armed bands formed in the territory of another state". The London Charter of 8 August 1945 (the Nuremberg Charter) had included "aggression" in its "crimes against peace", for which the going rate, for this crime only, seems to have been death in prison after 40 years.
We don't seem to want to talk about this.
Ross on Wye, Herefordshire
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