Brook No Empty Assertions

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Despite our both having links to Durham’s Philosophy Dept. I’ve never met Thom Brooks, who I think came to Durham shortly before I stopped being physically there. Occasionally he makes waves I notice: once some students contacted me hoping I could advise on getting a critical response published to something he’d written (they were into polyamory and his article had criticised its ethics, and been publicly promoted by the University’s media people; I directed them to a colleague with poly-related interests but I think nothing came of it). The current splash in the national press is his ‘Hate Crime Offenders Register’ proposal to the Commons Home Affairs Committee.

Anyone on a Hate Crime Offenders Register could be restricted from working with children and/or working in certain professions. This seems sensible, mirrors current policies in place and would help send a clearer signal of how serious these offences are.

The problems of subjectivity regarding ‘hate crime’ are much discussed and I’ll leave it to others to examine this proposal in light of them. I’m just fascinated by the fact that someone with that much philosophical acumen could blithely assert in lieu of a reason-giving defence that ‘this seems sensible’: the kind of thing that in my teaching days would have had me stabbing at the margins of undergraduate essays. Since it is basically impossible for him not to know what’s wrong with this, I have to assume that it says something about the expectations of a law professor seeking to persuade a parliamentary committee.

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