Some of the most memorable moments of my tabloid-filled youth consisted of watching Geraldo Rivera interviewing and confronting Neo-Nazis and racists both in his studio and on the streets. Often times, these heated encounters resulted in brawls such as the one in this video, which has over 600,000 views on YouTube.
Geraldo and many others gave “a voice” to countless hateful groups on a regular basis throughout my youth, and millions of my fellow Americans saw them and were exposed to their unenlightened and pathetic ideology. This didn’t result in hordes of youth turning to violent extremism or the beginning of a Fourth Reich. Rather, what these interviews successfully did was expose the idiocy of these groups and make them even more isolated than they were before. That is how things work in a functioning free society. You aren’t afraid of ideas, you exchange them.
On Friday, I woke up to headlines proclaiming that David Cameron had called for a criminalization of “non-violent extremism” during a speech at the UN. I thought this could be a good topic for a post, but after watching it, I decided to focus on something else. At the time, I figured it was just a politician spouting stupid nonsense as usual. It wasn’t until today that I realized his “war on free speech” was about to become a key platform of Conservative Party policy in the UK. We learn from the Guardian that:
Radical Islamist extremists and neo-Nazis could be banned from making public appearances including on television under a gagging order proposed by the Conservatives with echoes of the broadcast ban that once applied to the voice of Gerry Adams.
The home secretary’s new orders would be aimed at those who undertake activities “for the purpose of overthrowing democracy”, a wide-ranging definition that could also catch a far wider range of political activists.
May will also set out proposals to ban non-violent extremist groups that fall short of the current threshold for being banned as terrorist-related organizations.
The moves to ban extremist but non-violent groups and to introduce extremist asbos were blocked by the Liberal Democrats on freedom of speech grounds and so were not announced when Cameron proposed measures to tackle British jihadists travelling to Syria.
May will announce during the home affairs debate at the Tory conference that the new powers will be included in the party’s manifesto for next year’s election.
The restrictions are expected to include banning individuals from speaking at public events, protests and meetings, having to inform the police in advance of any public event, protest or meeting that they plan to attend, and banning individuals from particular public locations.
May also wants to include restrictions on banned individuals from broadcasting, from associating with named people, and restricting their use of social media or the internet by requiring them to submit in advance any proposed publication to the police.
Banning orders would be time-limited to ensure they were proportional, but breaching the civil orders would be regarded as a criminal offence punishable with a jail term.
The Home Office has always argued that banning such groups would do more harm than good, but May says that it is now needed. A home secretary’s decision to ban a group would be subject to an immediate review by the high court to ensure it was not “obviously flawed”. A ban would make it an offence to be a member of or to fundraise for the group.
There are so many things wrong with the above it’s hard to know where to begin. First of all, Teresa May wants to “ban non-violent extremist groups that fall short of the current threshold for being banned as terrorist-related organizations.” Think about that very closely. Essentially, she is saying non-violent groups that are currently not breaking any laws should be criminalized by creating new laws. Once this process begins, it will continue to be expanded and expanded until pretty much every form of expression other than government propaganda will be banned.
Secondly, she notes that the new laws are necessary to combat groups that undertake activities “for the purpose of overthrowing democracy.” Considering that the U.S. government changes the meanings of words at a moment’s notice, such as claiming that “imminent” doesn’t really mean “imminent,” I argue that an official government definition of democracy is necessary. Moreover, what if the UK is like the U.S., a state that claims to be a democracy, but in reality is an oligarchy? What are the rules about calling for the removal of an oligarchy?
Additionally, a government definition of democracy takes on increased weight in light of the bizarre statement by Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy that a Catalan independence vote is “anti-democratic.” Since such a vote seems to be the definition of democracy, it appears that politicians also have their own bizarre definition of democracy. I’d like to know what it is, but I think it’s safe to guess:
Democracy = Maintenance of control by the status quo at all costs.
Despite the glaring fact that banning people from non-violent free speech is obviously authoritarian and fascist, we must ask why now? Why are the UK government and many other so called “free and democratic” societies suddenly so terrified of free speech. Is it due to Islamic extremists, which are almost always funded by Western intelligence agencies or our allies in the Middle East, or is it something else? I think I know what it is.
One thing we know from history is that people in power tend to become very paranoid about losing it. People who hold power based on fraud and deceit, and who start to lose the support of the masses, are particularly vulnerable to extreme paranoia. This is exactly what I think is happening to people in power throughout the world. From Hong Kong to Scotland. From Catalonia to the Middle East. All across the globe, young people are uniting in protest to achieve the same goal. They see a status quo in power that has destroyed their futures. They see centralized power far from where they live primarily being used by the super rich to become super richer. They are sick of it and they want something else. In fact, they are now beginning to demand something else.
This has absolutely nothing to do with Islamic extremists or Neo-Nazis. In fact, attacks by such groups only serve to further expand the power of the entrenched ruling class. Nothing would be more useful to these people than violent attacks by extremist groups. No, what really scares them is thoughtful, rebellious, free-thinking citizens speaking their minds; and now they are trying to ban that…
In any event, if we really want to ban extremist, disturbing behavior, let’s start with David Cameron’s selfie at Nelson Mandela’s memorial:
Cameron thumbnail at top by William Banzai7.
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