First they came for the loons. And I didn't speak up because I was not a loon.
Time to monitor progress on the slow path towards authoritarianism. The steps, it will be recalled, are as follows.
1) Introduce new, spurious liberties, such as the right not to be deported if you are an illegal immigrant, or the right of thieves to sue homeowners who injure them. Leave to simmer.
2) Discover that these 'liberties' make it impossible to protect people from crime.
3) Announce that liberty has got out of hand, and will have to be restricted in the interests of the community.
4) Exploit the new anti-libertarian climate to abolish the original liberties that existed before the introduction of the new ones.
5) Begin by targeting those at the fringes of society. Few people will care about them. To the extent the cases are even publicised, comments will be of the type "well, I didn't really like him/her/them anyway".
6) Once the marginal cases have been successfully tried, use them as precedents. By then it will be too late to complain.
Two marginal cases already that I am aware of. More likely than not there are others, unreported.
A) Blogger Lionheart is apparently about to be arrested on suspicion of "inciting racial hatred". Commentary on the case is available from Pub Philosopher and Fulham Reactionary. The law in question has been around for some time, but I find it ominous that bloggers are starting to be targeted.
B) Poetess Samina Malik was found guilty in November of possessing “information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.” Yes, she sounds a little potty, but then the same could be said about some of our mainstream artists — the ones who enjoy confronting us with vomit or faeces.
Her sentence was a suspended 9 months of jail. The next crazy bedsit-dweller with an above-average taste for fictional violence — but not the kind endorsed by the mediocratic elite — may not be so lucky. Detailed commentary on the legalities is available from Marc Randazza.
LionHeart should not be compared with Samina Malik ... Of course [her poetry] is incitement to violence — a criminal offence. Of course it is glorifying terrorism — another criminal offence. She was rightly punished.
Bennett's primary concern should, I suppose, be towards his client, and perhaps he thinks that dissociating Lionheart from Malik is in his client's best interests. However, when those who stand in the position of defending liberties say, "of course, that type of persecution is perfectly acceptable", it does not have the best sort of effect.