Thursday, February 16, 2006

Scrawl a Message, Go to Jail.

Frankly, the idea of glorifying or celebrating terrorism makes me sick to my stomach.

But, so does this:
"Tony Blair promised last night that the police and courts would take action in future against demonstrators who carried placards praising terrorism and calling for more suicide bombings.
After seeing off another revolt by Labour MPs and securing backing for a new offence of glorifying terrorism, he said the Government had won the argument for tougher anti-terrorist laws."

Tony Blair makes his point during the debate on anti- terror laws yesterday
The new law, which has still to be approved by the Lords, would send "a clear signal" that those who incited acts of terrorism or glorified terrorism would be prosecuted."

Sounds acceptable, right? Why not prosecute people who "incite" terrorism? But, how do we define this? And how in the world do we define "glorifying terrorism"? Wouldn't half of Bruce Willis's films be illegal. And then the article goes on to say this:

""The law that we passed today will allow us to take far stronger action against people who don't just directly engage in terrorism but indirectly incite it," he said."

"Indirectly incite it"? Again, I know what placards he speaks of, and they made me ill as well. But, again, a free and open society cannot criminalize speech simply because it makes us ill.


The Pagan Temple said...

I think there have to be limits on speech, even in a free and open society. This is nothing new. You can't go around sanctioning terrorism and murder, regardless of whether there is a politcal, social, or religous context to it, and not expect to be held accountable. What these people are doing is advocating open violence as a means to achieving a political end, and this is ismply unnaceptable.

Rufus said...

I disagree. I see what they're doing as, yes, advocating violence. But, I'm not convinced that it is any worse than any number of punk or hip-hop songs calling for killing cops or those gun-nut bumper stickers that read "Liberal Hunting License", or feature Jane Fonda in the crosshairs of a gun.

It might seem close, but there's a difference between advocating violence: "Someone should kill Mr. Brown", and sanctioning that violence: "Hey, you! I want you to go kill Mr. Brown for me" which is a criminal act.

The irony of someone holding up a sign at a public protest reading "Freedom of expression go to hell!" would be hilarious if it weren't so damn sad.

The Pagan Temple said...

Yeah, I understand exactly what you're saying, believe me I do, and I don't mean to belabor the point. But the way I see it, a rap song, to use your example, is suppossed to be a reflection of that segment of society to which it speaks. Although it can be argued, and has been argued, that it is celebratory of that lifestyle, and encouraging of it. But it is still a reflection, and thereore the artistic argument side of it must be respected.

The "Liberal Hunting License" thing you mentiond, while sick humor, is more of a political statement using irony as a form of protest of a different point of view, or something like that. It is certainly not meant to be taken literally, although some second amendment advocates would doubtless very much love to get Jane Fonda in the crosshairs of their guns.

And I certainly don't discount the right of Muslims to protest-peacefully-government policies. But I'm afraid when they say that "Mr. Brown" should be killed, they are meaning exactly what they say, and very much expecting that this will be followed through.

Rufus said...

Don't worry about belaboring the point- these are important questions.

I agree that the bands in question are probably being ironic, and I'm pretty sure the protesters aren't. But, how could we reasonably make that the criteria for arrests? And do you think that your average police officer could make that decision?