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August 08, 2005

Civil Liberties.

Yes, I am at times a bleedin’ heart liberal type. Civil liberties get me all het up for I regard them as the very foundation of a civilized society, the bedrock upon which all other freedoms and liberties rest. This piece in the Guardian gets my full approval:

What then of the "rules"? These, it seems, are a reference not just to our Human Rights Act, but to centuries of democratic tradition. Rules against torture and arbitrary detention, the right to a fair trial, freedoms of conscience, expression and association and the principle of equality under the law - these foundations of our society were dismissed as the naive and outmoded "tolerance" of a "good-natured nation".

However, Muslims should not be alone in their fears for the future. If Mr Blair is allowed to construct the Britain that he has mapped out, it is not the rules that will have changed, but our society. We will be just that little bit less distinguishable from the violent, hateful and unforgiving theocrats, our democracy undermined from within in ways that the suicide bombers could only have dreamed of.

Mr Blair also promised to criminalise the "condoning, glorifying or justification" of terrorism anywhere in the world - a shockingly broad speech offence that the home secretary had previously tried to narrow down to the still broad concept of "indirect incitement to terrorism". Such a law could criminalise all kinds of debates that have nothing to do with direct incitement. Readers of this newspaper may have to be more careful at dinner parties. Writers of this newspaper ... it doesn't bear thinking about. Sir Ian Blair promises that he will use this gift sparingly. Police officers' assurances are no substitute for narrow criminal offences in a flourishing democracy.

Hizb ut-Tahrir is to be proscribed. If necessary, powers to proscribe terrorist organisations are to be extended - presumably into the realms of non-terrorist extreme political parties. I certainly have very little in common with this organisation. But it is anathema to democracy to ban non-violent political organisations, however extreme. Surely it is unwise to emulate the banning tendencies of Middle Eastern regimes that radicalised generations of dissenters by similar policies. In months and years to come, will we see the banning of extreme rightwing or leftwing political parties?

The police and security services would like to detain terror suspects for six months without charging them. Think not of those eventually tried but of those who return to their communities after three months' detention without ever having faced charges. This new internment would be a terrorist recruiter's fantasy. Add executive powers to close down places of worship and the recipe is as chilling as it is counterproductive.

Democracy cannot defend itself by aping its opponents, and mercifully the "rules of the game" do not change because players, however powerful, grow tired of them. Previous generations endured the terrors of war and left us our rights and freedoms. This legacy is greater than any one man or moment. It must not be sold in a summer.

I’ve probably quoted rather more than is fair use there so apologies to the copyright holders.

Yes, I realise that we’re in a battle. Yet I don’t see the point in winning the battle in order to lose the war. Beating off a bunch of theocratic fascists by becoming a police state ourselves just doesn’t really do it for me. Giving up our own freedoms and liberties because some bunch of (however dangerous) knobheads want to take them from us, I mean, what’s the fucking point?

August 8, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink


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Tracked on Aug 9, 2005 3:45:25 AM


Many Americans are also eager to lend a helping hand to the jihadists to destroy their own liberty-loving society -- see "Patriot Act" and "Proposed Amendment to Constitution to Ban Flag-Burning".

So the "war on terror" is to protect, um... what was it supposed to protect again?

Posted by: Kasparsohn | Aug 8, 2005 12:54:37 PM

Only two cheers for the article I'm afraid. "Hizb ut-Tahrir is to be proscribed...But it is anathema to democracy to ban non-violent political organisations, however extreme." So, fund-raising, recruitment and proselytising for terrorists is acceptable provided you don't actually trigger the explosives yourself? Sorry, I don't agree.

And as for shipping "asylum" seekers who've abused their hospitality back to the regimes from which they came - well, why not? By abusing our hospitality they've voluntarily given up their asylum protections. Their choice, not ours, and we're well rid.

I'm all for staunchly defending the rights of British citizens, but NOT at the expense of foreign nationals who come to these shores under the pretext of claiming asylum only for them to actively work to undermine our society. The one thing a tolerant society cannot tolerate is intolerance. And seeing as the primary victims of the Islamofascists are actually moderates within their own religious community, we would also be actively acting to defend British Moslems from these evil fanatics as well.

Posted by: David Wildgoose | Aug 8, 2005 2:17:18 PM

ditto what David Wildgoose says.

**By abusing our hospitality they've voluntarily given up their asylum protections. Their choice, not ours, and we're well rid.**

Couldn't agree more.

Posted by: Ingrid | Aug 9, 2005 11:31:15 AM