Posted by rantingkraut on October 31, 2006
Freedom of speech is under threat yet again. This is hardly news any more but let’s keep track of the details anyway. The police is asking the government to make flag burning illegal in what must surely be an entirely spontaneous move on their part. The conflict with freedom of speech should be obvious. What is less clear is how anyone can keep a straight face when leading police officers are demanding these measures.
Let’s remember that it was the police which failed to intervene at the infamous anti-cartoon demonstration in front of the Danish embassy. Demonstrators then were breaking the law by inciting murder and terrorism. The police didn’t mind. So how exactly does the need for more extensive powers follow from a prior refusal to use existing ones? And how exactly would Islamists be threatening to anyone if they confined themselves to burning flags?
The pattern in censorship legislation and implementation which is currently emerging should also be noted: consider the above proposal, then remember that the BNP’s Nick Griffin is due in court for the second instalment of his trial for insulting Islam. What we are seeing here are two steps in a process with a predictable end result. Unjustified censorship laws are first targeted at groups which are disliked by almost everyone for good reasons (Islamists, Nazis etc.) and then are implemented against them. Given how general these laws are in scope, we can be sure that their use will be widened once the relevant precedents have been set against soft targets like Griffin.
It is also clear that there is no serious effort to combat totalitarian political forces – and not only because a consistent strategy along these lines would require the Labour Party to commit political suicide. What happens instead is that the government focuses on activities –such as flag burning rituals and speech code violations. Activities, which are unimportant to society in general, but which –through the government’s fixation with these non-issues– are highly useful in advancing New Labour’s authoritarian agenda.
Flag burning may be a popular pastime among Islamist radicals but it is hardly a threat to anyone. On the contrary, it is an almost infantile demonstration of anger against an enemy that can’t be tackled in real life. This kind of outburst is also highly useful in isolating Islamism from mainstream society: Angry bearded men burning flags hardly convey an image of political or spiritual maturity. Calls to behead anyone who doesn’t bow to their religious prohibitions will do little to endear Islamists to most people. What would be worrying are Islamists who carefully avoid such displays of obvious lunacy and adopt a moderate tone while retaining their radical agenda. Yet this is exactly what censorship legislation is likely to achieve.
For the sake of transparency, if nothing else, let the loonies rave. In this way, at least we will know our enemy.
Posted in Islamism | Comments Off on Let them burn flags …
Posted by rantingkraut on October 25, 2006
Council tax inspectors in Northern Ireland apparently are to be given new powers to raid houses and residents will be forced not only to tolerate this but to actively assist in the revaluation. The Telegraph reports that:
“The new powers are due to be rubber-stamped today by a little-noticed committee of MPs dealing with delegated legislation reforming the domestic rating system in Northern Ireland.
The Conservatives said Ulster was being used as a testing ground for a looming council tax revaluation in England, which will put extra charges on homes that have double glazing, a scenic view, a swimming pool, or have more bedrooms than average.
The order extends the power of entry for gathering information to domestic properties in Northern Ireland, and obliges the occupier to give reasonable assistance when information is being sought for valuation.
Caroline Spelman, the Conservative’s local government spokesman, said Northern Ireland was being used by the Government to try out a reformed revaluation process before it was extended to England’s 22 million homes.”
There is little need for comment really. However, one interesting detail in all this is the bit about double glazing. Aren’t we all told to make our homes more energy efficient; to save energy to “save the planet”? The next time the government offers financial incentives to protect the environment or imposes green taxes we should remember that all of this is certain to be counteracted by some other form of government intervention elsewhere.
Posted in In The News, UK politics | Comments Off on An Englishman’s home is the government’s playground
Posted by rantingkraut on October 24, 2006
It looks like more legislation to censor online content is on the way. The BBC had a report last Thursday (19 October) that MPs were concerned about postings of video footage of assaults on the web, with Jack Straw stating: “This is a really serious issue about how these kind of videos should better be controlled.” The example given was that of a clip entitled “Milton Road Fight Club”, showing a vicious assault that took place somewhere in Hartlepool. To be sure, this is no pleasure to watch. The question though is why anyone should concentrate on taking measures against videos like this.
Lets remember that we are surrounded by one of the worlds most extensive CCTV networks, supposedly for the purpose of fighting crime. Remember also that New Labour has incessantly attempted to expand the powers of the state and lower the burden of proof wherever possible. Getting evidence of crimes really seems to be a top priority for this government.
For once we have a very daft criminal, and possibly more than one, posting all the evidence needed for a conviction on the web and MPs are complaining –why? The local press at least is trying its best to help identify the thug. Considering that most mindless thugs are not exactly sophisticated criminals, shouldn’t it be likely that there is more legally useful stuff on youtube? And looking at the parliamentarian response to all this, is it really plausible that the state needs ever more power to fight crime, or could it be that the authorities are just not very good at using the power and resources they have already got?
Posted in In The News | Comments Off on Censoring Youtube?
Posted by rantingkraut on October 22, 2006
According to a BBC report, a proposal for reforming the House of Lords would see the introduction of ethnic quotas:
“Ministers want a radical overhaul of the House of Lords, including an end to life peerages and quotas for ethnic minorities, a leaked document says.”
As usual, there would also be an increase in cost to the taxpayer. It is one thing to introduce quotas at the party level. This is bad enough to be sure, but at least the decision can be reversed more easily by changing policies at the party level or by launching a new party which does not use quotas. Once identity politics becomes part of the constitution, however, the decision to reject racism becomes difficult to separate from the decision to reject participation in the established constitutional framework.
Posted in In The News, UK politics | Comments Off on Institutionalising racism.