Bartlett's Bizarre Bazaar

Comment, Comics and the Contrary. Contact: aj_bartlett1977*at*yahoo*dot*co*dot*uk
Enter your email address below to subscribe to Bartlett's Bizarre Bazaar!

powered by Bloglet

Thursday, February 16, 2006


Where are those free speech defenders?

I have written before about the shameful new law prohibiting the ‘glorification of terror’. As I wrote before; “I cannot think of any wording of a modern, just law which would criminalise the imam who argues that a suicide bomber is a martyr and[, at the same time,] would leave a right-wing newspaper columnist free after he calls for the use of torture or supports the use of extra-judicial death squads. But these laws will not be used to imprison Gary Bushell or Richard Littlejohn, I will promise you.

Today, the Guardian writes; “Claims that the clause will be used to arrest Irish people celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising are alarmist nonsense.” Perhaps, but such a sop both illustrates the true nature of these laws and is, at the same time, a gross misrepresentation of the argument against these laws. It is not that they will lead to the arrest of someone praising a distant historical event. It is that it will only be used to counter praise of terror resulting from the apparently inscrutable Orient. Western-inflicted terror and its supporters will write their columns evermore, glorifying in human destruction. For this law to work it will necessarily have to be unevenly enforced, on a political basis. That is no basis for just laws.

Phil, at Actually Existing, pointed out just what is included in this Government’s definition of terrorism – the legislative definition – which makes terrorism akin to ‘disorderly political conduct’. In other words, anything from threats to commit disruptive protest and direct action on up. If the anti-terrorism laws were to be applied consistently, they would now be able to net not only those who blockade a company headquarters in protest at its actions, but also those who say that these actions are, in whatever way, good. Of course, we are assured, anti-terrorism laws will not be used in this way, and we are saved from a police state that uses ‘terrorism’ as a means of crushing grass roots political activism. But then we are left with the spectre of the politically motivated enforcement of bad law, and this is unjust.

Where are the ‘free speech fundamentalists’ here? Where are those who circulated racist, hateful cartoons as an act of solidarity with ‘Enlightenment values’, republishing speech which had not, in any way, been censored? Will they now offer their pages and bandwidth to republish, as an act of solidarity, the sort of glorifications of terrorism that will be outlawed by this legislation? Or, will they bollocks?

Update: Phil has pointed out that he quotes the legislation here. Nevertheless, the post I link to above is also a good one.

Cheers. I quoted the actual legislation in this post. As you say, its reach is rather broad: if I threatened to take down the Home Office Web site on behalf of NO2ID, that threat would in itself amount to terrorism.
Bartlett, Do we live in the same world? I don't read blogs a great deal, but the mainstream "left" media in this country seems to have been uniformly against the Glorification of Terrorism act from start to finish, while they most certainly were not uniformly against self-censorship to avoid pissing off some stupid religous types (I ask you again: has any British newspaper actually reprinted said cartoons?)

For example, today's Indi and Times aren't very pleased:,,542-2042543,00.html

I would assume the Guardian will have a similar leader... The Indi devoted its front page to how Blair is spinning terrorism yesterday. I don't recall it reprinting the cartoons on its front page (which might have been in-keeping with style).

Isn't there a certain extent that this sort of crap has been coming out of the Blair government for ages now, and to keep up the criticism requires one to start sounding rather obsessive (which I think Blair knows very well and uses to blunt opposition)?
Sorry, you link to the Guardian leader don't you. Ahem. But the short quote you gives seems rather unrepresentative of the whole piece...
Well, the point about free speech was just part of the post. It refers mainly to those who argued that free speech is defended by the republication and circulation of offensive cartoons that had NOT been censored. They argued that they might not agree with the cartoons, but that their commitment to free speech obliged them to publish. Would they do the same for an essay justifying the 7/7 bombings, now that such an essay WOULD be censored?

The editorial decision of newspapers to not print the cartoons was presented as a betrayal of Enlightenment values. The criticism of the 'glorification' law is not couched in such apocalyptic terms. But it is far more important. I wonder why this is... well, I don't really, read the pro-war left blogs and we see that their concern is centred chiefly on what they seem to see as 'the Muslim problem'.

My post, though, was not so much about free speech, despite the title, but about the way in which this legislation cannot help but be extremely bad legislation. There will be no right-wing columnists in Belmarsh, though the laws are so broad that they could catch almost any political activist. And convict them of terrorist offences.
extremely bad legislation

Oh, I completely agree with you there! It's an insane situation when you get people justifing how draconian it is by saying that the CPS will know the difference between a serious case, and an abuse of the law. Great: let's just make everything illegal and leave everything up to the CPS.
bAnd how about the news that a guy got 3 in the slam for questioning the holocaust ... don't get me wrong ... those who question something of which there is overwhelming evidence are probably nothing more than anti-semitic assholes or crazy in some way ... but locking him up for stating an ill-founded opinion ... how messed up is that?

well about as messed up as locking someone up for "glorifying" terror ...
what's next ... the crime of "criticising democracry?"
Post a Comment

<< Home


August 2004   September 2004   October 2004   November 2004   December 2004   January 2005   February 2005   March 2005   April 2005   May 2005   June 2005   July 2005   August 2005   September 2005   October 2005   November 2005   December 2005   January 2006   February 2006   March 2006   April 2006   May 2006   June 2006   July 2006   August 2006   September 2006   October 2006   November 2006   December 2006   January 2007   March 2007  

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

«#?» Listed on Blogwise