Hate is hate. Online abusers must be dealt with harshly | Alison Saunders

Whether shouted or tweeted, prejudice devastates lives. That’s why prosecutors are committed to taking internet hate crimes as seriously as face to face ones

• Alison Saunders is the director of public prosecutions

People all over the world are questioning how those in positions of power can counter the kinds of extreme views that are increasingly being aired, and how societies might do more to prevent such opinions from gestating in the first place. These are huge questions with no straightforward answers. For many people in the UK, the scenes in Charlottesville last weekend may appear to be of scant relevance to their own lives. Even Thursday’s horrific events in Barcelona may feel somewhat distant.

But we should remember that there is a less visible frontline which is easily accessible to those in the UK who hold extreme views on race, religion, sexuality, gender and even disability. I refer to the online world where an increasing proportion of hate crime is now perpetrated. And this is why the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) today commits to treat online hate crimes as seriously as those committed face to face.

Hate crime is not only damaging for individuals but also for society, where it sows seeds of division and intolerance

Related: Hate crime reports peaked after three UK terror attacks

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Using confession to face up to crimes | Letters

Readers Fr Alec Mitchell, Judith Daniels and Dr Henry Thompson respond to Joanna Moorhead’s article Confession is sacrosanct

As a (sinful) Anglo-Catholic priest, I, too, would never disclose anything said to me during the sacrament of confession (or reconciliation, as many now prefer to call it), even under threat of prosecution (Confession is sacrosanct, Joanna Moorhead, 17 August).

However, the confessor is at liberty to prescribe an act of penance, and this could surely include, in cases such as child abuse, domestic violence, or murder, for example, a promise to seek professional help, or even an admission of guilt to the appropriate authorities, before any further absolving could be given. In this way, all consciences would be respected and sacrilegiousness avoided.
Fr Alec Mitchell
Manchester

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The Once and Future Liberal reviews: identity and the American body politic

Columbia professor Mark Lilla thinks an obsession with identity politics has wrecked American liberalism. Two writers respond to his provocative new book

Campus experiences lead him to say things which are half-true, untrue, false or completely meaningless

Related: Dark Money review: Nazi oil, the Koch brothers and a rightwing revolution

The Democratic party has morphed into the home of graduate degree America, Black Lives Matter and Lena Dunham of Girls

Related: Devil’s Bargain review: Steve Bannon and the making of President Joe Pesci

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Ex-legal chief attacks Theresa May’s ‘foolish’ claim on European court of justice

Doubts cast over Brexit red line as cabinet prepares to reveal more of its thinking this week

Theresa May’s Brexit strategy has been thrown into new doubt as a former head of the government’s legal services ridicules the prime minister’s claim that the UK can break free of all European laws while continuing to reap the economic benefits of the EU’s single market.

Sir Paul Jenkins, who was the government’s most senior legal official for eight years until 2014, told the Observer that the prime minister’s policy on the legal implications of Brexit was “foolish”. He insisted that if the UK wants to retain close links with the single market and customs union it will have no option but to observe EU law “in all but name”.

Related: Farewell to the ECJ? We may end up obeying laws but having no say in them

Ireland’s new taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has been much more sceptical than the UK about the potential for avoiding border posts via virtual checks on importers. Whilst agreeing with British ministers and EU negotiators that it is inconceivable for there to be a return to a hard border with the north, Dublin argues that the best way for the UK to achieve this would be by permanently remaining in a customs union with the EU and seeking single market membership like Norway through the European Economic Area. The UK has conceded that some of this will be necessary in its interim phase after Brexit, but hopes clever technological solutions can allow it have looser economic links in the long run. Varadkar is not alone in being sceptical about whether such a cake-and-eat-it customs and trade strategy is viable.

Related: Breaking with the European court of justice won’t be easy | Toby Helm

Related: What does Brexit mean for people with disabilities?

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Breaking with the European court of justice won’t be easy | Toby Helm

Eurosceptics want to ‘take control’ – but if the UK wants to maintain close links with the EU, it will need a compatible legal system

Since the UK voted to leave the EU, Theresa May has tried to boil down arguments over Brexit to simple soundbites. One of the favourite phrases deployed by the prime minister and her team is that the UK will “take back control” from Europe – over money, over borders and over laws.

In a speech in January laying out the government’s negotiating stance, May was clear on the legal dimension of departure. Brexit would see the UK making a clear break from the jurisdiction of the European court of justice (ECJ), the Luxembourg-based guardian and interpreter of EU law, as it leaves the single market and customs union.

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