Wednesday, 18 February 2009

My Evil Terrorist Ways

A long time ago, in a blog far far away, I speculated that under current anti-terror legislation I might be considered a terrorist.

I'm having to revisit that issue again with the new anti-terror code that we are reportedly to be shortly subjected to.

The Guardian says that this code would 'alienate most muslims', but since it apparently defines as an extremist

They believe in jihad, or armed resistance, anywhere in the world. This would include armed resistance by Palestinians against the Israeli military.

then this atheist here would be one too.

I am therefore a clear and present danger to HMG, apparently. Presumably only made worse if this happens:

Contest 2 would widen the definition of extremists to those who hold views that clash with what the government defines as shared British values.

Frankly I don't know if I hold 'shared British values' or not (cue joke about queueing or something). I certainly don't hold with 28, 42 or 90 day detention without charge, or nuclear weapons renewal, or invading foreign countries, or lying to parliament, or privatising national assets, or attacking workers whilst bailing out capital, or the monarchy, or first-past-the-post parliamentary systems, or neoliberalism, or an economy divided between finance and arms production and dealing, or a third runway at Heathrow, or the existence of a capitalist class and a bourgeoisie, or cutting funding for academic research to pay for an overblown sports day, or blaming asylum seekers and refugees for social problems, or dispensing mob justice on suspected 'peedos', or Hollyoaks, or Radio 4 'sitcoms' or Woman's Hour, or the deification of Princess Di, or lapdancing, or completely disproportionate pseudo-moral 'outrage' aimed at public servants and DJs, or whipping up fear about innoculations against childhood diseases, or an nunelected House of Lords, or that football is 'the beautiful game,' or that polygon counts are enough to make me want to buy a console, or that Tom Sharpe is witty, or the return of capital punishment, or that Jeremy Paxman is a particularly good journalist, or that Julia Hartley Brewer isn't a complete fucking moron, or selling arms to the Israeli government, or supporting dictators who boil their opponents alive, or that feminism's gone too far...

I mean, I could go on, but I wouldn't want to bore you.

I searched the interweb for what these shared values might be. The Graun offered me one potential answer:

These include the tradition of free speech; the contested view that Britain was founded on freedom, democracy and liberty; and the contribution of different communities to building a modern, successful country.

So it's a combination of wishful historical thinking and vagueness. That's nice. If these are what we're expected to adhere to, then sorry, but I don't.

Free speech is, thankfully, restricted in cases where it is intended to cause or constitute racial harrassment, and somewhat more controversially where it may "threaten community harmony and therefore public safety". I don't believe in unconditional freedom of speech and neither does the government.

I also don't believe that Britain was founded on freedom, democracy and liberty. The country was founded on conquest, empire and the gradual and grudging extent of the franchise from monarchy to nobility to capitalist to bougeoisie to men and to women. Liberty in Britain has for most of its existence meant liberty to exploit others.

The last 'value' is of course so vague it could mean absolutely anything. What's a modern country? How is it more modern than other countries? Is Iran less modern than us because of its Islamic character? Is it as modern as us because they can launch a satelite? Still it seems to be vaguely about being co-operative and obviously that's hard to disagree with. It's just that it is also almost entirely meaningless, so it's hard to support as well.

Frankly, as an internationalist, I would consider any values that should be shared amongst the British people as values that the whole world could or should share. I don't see why my values should have to be so parochial as to be British.

Hence, I'm an extremist and a terrorist. Such is the way of the world...

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