Rebel Code: Linux And The Open Source Revolution by Glyn Moody

We entered the third year of the Covid 19 pandemic in November 2021. It’s fair to say that as a species and a country, we haven’t done quite as well as we should have.

During the first lock-down in the UK, I spent my government-allotted one hour of daily exercise touring the parks of my local neighbourhood, tearing down cheaply-printed posters claiming that Covid was a hoax, that wearing a mask was a symbol of subservience, and that the whole thing was a government conspiracy.

It was all bullshit of course, and each sticker boasted a telegram address which readers could visit in order to learn the truth about coronavirus.

The stickers were pasted to lampposts near to the entrance to public parks, on the noticeboards inside, by bus stops, and closed shops - places where people would see them.

If I’m honest (and I am always honest), I was half hoping that the person responsible for putting them up, would take exception to them being removed - facilitating a full and frank exchange of views.

As measures were imposed by the Government, there was always a grumble of discontent from certain sections of society and politics that forcing people to stay at home or to wear masks or stay away from their friends and family was somehow un-British.

The argument against restrictions on freedoms appeal to nationalism and nationalistic pride - the British are a free people, and despite the lack of a written constitution, there’s a belief that we have certain inalienable rights.

As the movement grew, so did my interest in the posters and stickers scattered throughout my area - and presumably other areas too. The links all converged on a website,* - established by Simon Dolan, a professional conspiracy theorist who once co-produced a movie with David Icke. As Dolan splits his time between residences in Monaco and France, I was a little perplexed as to exactly why he was so concerned with what was happening in Britain anyway.

And then it hit me. Brexit was won, and the same cohort of people who rebelled against the repressive yoke of the European Union, are likely the same sort of people who would rebel against the oppressive yoke of vaccine mandates, masks, and caring about people in society. It’s a political base ready for a cause. Take a look around the Keep Britain Free Forum, amid the paranoia, conspiracies, and general terribleness, you’ll find a lot of references to Brexit.

In general it’s a low effort site - a basic Wix template, with some of the original placeholder pages still in place. It’s a cynical place from which to gather a base for a run at power when Boris proves to be not quite as recklessly populist as he needs to be.

Back to The Future

We’re now staring down the barrel of 2022, and the same arguments are being repeated - but by members of the government and by conservative backbenchers.

David Frost resigned this morning - the man who failed so hard at negotiating a Brexit deal that large chunks of it are being abandoned or renegotiated - thinks that restrictions and mask mandates are oppressive.

Lord Frost resigned because of vaccine passports and possible future limits on mixing - how very dare they! He resigned out of principle - Good on him!

Piers Corbyn feels so strongly about this that he was arrested on suspicion of calling for MPs’ offices to be burned down - in protest at Covid restrictions.

I listened to the BBC today as Peter Bone, the very pro-Brexit MP for Wellingborough spouted the following nonsense: "We see the Conservative party as a low tax party going forward ,and we don’t want our civil liberties to be restricted."

I mean, that’s a straight up bullshit word salad.

A huge chunk of the Conservative party broke ranks last week to vote against Covid passports - which would see people needing to prove that they’re unlikely to inadvertently harm anyone, before entry to a crowded venue. More importantly, they were seen to be breaking ranks. This is a political platform.

How Very Un-British

There have been huge scientific accomplishments made over the past two years. Chinese researchers had the genome mapped by the end of January 5th 2020, allowing governments, universities, and private companies to develop vaccines using a variety of approaches. The hard part, one might think, had been done.

But viruses exhibit virus-like behaviour. They spread from person to person easily. This can be easily mitigated by wearing face coverings and by keeping your distance. People don’t want to do that.

Visit any supermarket in the North of England, and you’ll see that perhaps 50% of shoppers are masked up, and of those, maybe 10% wear it slung below their nose. Supermarkets won’t enforce mask mandates, and Gillian Keegan, Minister of State for Care at the Department of Health and Social Care, backed supermarket bosses who warned that challenging shoppers would lead to "confrontation."

"It’s not for everybody to be going around being policed by shop assistants - not at all. We all have to do the right thing," she said.

Viruses also mutate. We’re up to Omicron now, which means that there have been 15 variants interesting enough to have been given a name in the last 24 months. Of those, four have proved to be worse, in some way or other, than the variant which preceded them. The maths is easy to do, but people don’t want to understand this.

It’s un-British.

There was a great deal of chatter about restricting flights when it was obvious to everyone that Omicron was already in the country and on the loose. We should be restricting flights from everywhere - not against Omicron, but against Pi, Rho, Sigma, and Tau. They’re coming - we don’t know from where, and we don’t know how well vaccines will perform against them.

But to restrict travel is un-British.

This is All Bullshit

Here’s the thing. We don’t have rights to do whatever we want in this country - or indeed any country. If you take actions which harm other people you will face sanctions.

Laws exist to prevent you from harming others - that is essentially the point of them. Laws exist and they already restrict your liberty.

You cannot, for instance, own many types of firearms in the UK. You cannot take what you please from other people without their consent. You cannot just walk down the street punching anyone whose face you don’t like.

You can’t drive when drunk. It’s reckless, and even if you’re as careful as you can be, you’re still dangerous, and the local magistrates will take a dim view if you try to argue about your ‘rights’ and ‘liberties’. You’re placing other people into danger - stop it.

Another thing you can’t do is sell alcohol or cigarettes to under 18s. If a shop does this and is caught, they are liable for huge fines of up to £5,000.

Supermarkets and smaller shops abide by the rules, and Mrs Crow was being asked to prove she was 18 well into her thirties. Surely that’s an infringement on her liberties?

"It’s not for everybody to be going around being policed by shop assistants - not at all," says Ms Keegan. What utter horseshit.

How do supermarkets get away with the very un-British activity of demanding that my wife prove her age? Why is she subject to being policed by shop assistants?

The answer, dear reader, is bloody great fines and punishments.

One of the reasons Dolan’s movement was so successful was that it provided pro-forma letters for constituents to send their MPs.

The Crow has adapted this for his own purposes. Click here for the docx file or copy and paste from below:

Dear [MP Name],

I am writing to you as a concerned constituent who is concerned at the ongoing lack of any serious enforcement of rules and regulations surrounding mask wearing and social distancing.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Government has introduced a multiplicity of laws and regulations restricting the UK public’s civil liberties and freedom, without any means are assuring that they are adhered to.

The legal mandating of face masks is generally not adhered to, and shops feel that they have no responsibility to ensure that their customers obey the rules.

This attitude is officially backed up by Gillian Keegan, Minister of State for Care at the Department of Health and Social Care, who has publicly stated that, "It’s not for everybody to be going around being policed by shop assistants - not at all."

Shoppers are already policed by shop assistants - as anyone who has been asked to prove their age already knows.

This works because of punitive fines imposed on retailers who are found not to have enforced the rules.

As my elected representative, I would urge you to consider the powers the government has at its disposal and to lobby the Minister of State for Care at the Department of Health and Social Care, the Prime Minister, and the cabinet to oblige retailers to enforce social distancing regulations and mask-wearing or to face fines.

I would implore you to write to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy as well as the Prime Minister urging them to reconsider their most recent decision and warning them of the perils of introducing laws without any intention of enforcing them.

I look forward to hearing your response.

Yours sincerely,

[Insert Name Here]

*I did used to have a copy of the mailing list for Keep Britain Free. It was - and may still be - hidden on their site somewhere. I can’t lay my hands on it right now. You might be able to.