Thought Crime: UK Leadership Wants To Ban Predicted 'Extremists' From Social Media, TV, Events

from the police-state dept

Theresa May, the current UK Home Secretary, has announced that, if re-elected, her party (the Conservatives) will push for “extremist disruption orders” which would effectively ban people declared “extremist” (using a very broad definition) from using social media or appearing on TV.

Extremists will have to get posts on Facebook and Twitter approved in advance by the police under sweeping rules planned by the Conservatives.

They will also be barred from speaking at public events if they represent a threat to ?the functioning of democracy?, under the new Extremist Disruption Orders.

The broad definitions here matter. Part of the plan is to make such rules cover a wide variety of groups and individuals, based on what the government “reasonably believes” they may be up to:

Under the Tories’ new proposals, groups that cannot currently be proscribed could be subject to banning orders should ministers “reasonably believe” that they intend to incite religious or racial hatred, to threaten democracy or if there is a pressing need to protect the public from harm, either from a risk of violence, public disorder, harassment or other criminal acts.

Yes, if the government “reasonably believes” you engage in harassment at some point in the future, it can have you declared an extremist, bar you from TV and public events, and make sure that all your social media posts are pre-reviewed for approval. Supporters flat out admit that this would be done to get people who are currently doing things that are perfectly legal:

The new orders will be part of the Government?s ?Prevent? strategy, which tackles the ideology behind the terrorist threat. So-called hate preachers, who currently stay just within terrorism legislation, will be one of the targets of banning orders and Extremism Disruption Orders (EDOs).

But, of course, things like that imply that it will only be used against “terrorists” or terrorist sympathizers. But, as the details make clear, this expands way beyond terrorism to those who may be involved in other offenses. Big Brother Watch details how environmental groups may be tied up by this:

The fact that these Extremist Disruption Orders won?t only apply to potential terrorists, but simply to those who present a threat to public disorder, clearly highlights that this policy is the thin end of the wedge.

We were told that the National Extremist Database would contain details of those who posed a nations security, yet we know members of the public who have done little more than organise meetings on environmental issues are on the database.

What’s especially galling is the fact that May is claiming that this is being done in the name of “British values,” which certainly suggests that freedom of speech and freedom to associate are, in fact, antithetical to British values. Also, all of this assumes that speech, alone, is somehow dangerous — despite years of proof that speech by itself is rarely dangerous. However, the suppression of speech often creates more problems.

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Comments on “Thought Crime: UK Leadership Wants To Ban Predicted 'Extremists' From Social Media, TV, Events”

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Anonymous Coward says:

it wont be long before the UK laws are worse than in N.Korea etc! the government was working towards this, as they have ignored all warnings on what would happen once censorship started. now they are trying to make freedom of speech and privacy illegal. this is just the next step after May got the spying law DRIP introduced! and even worse, it’s just being turned into a ‘little USA’! it’s gonna be regretted big time!!

John Fenderson (profile) says:

They don't know how democracy functions

They will also be barred from speaking at public events if they represent a threat to “the functioning of democracy”, under the new Extremist Disruption Orders.

Funny, that. As soon as you are barring people from speaking — no matter how unpleasant you find the speech — you are a threat to “the functioning of democracy” yourself. The functioning of democracy requires the ability for people to speak freely, especially unpopular speech.

Rich Kulawiec says:

New term requred

I’m sure everyone here knows what a Godwin is. I’d like to suggest a similar term: an Orwell.

An Orwell occurs when a politician or a demagogue or anyone else in a position of putative leadership, someone who should be defending democracy, free speech, civil liberties, etc., issues a statement in which they purport to do so while actually attempting to eviscerate them. This duplicitous strategy is usually premised on a combination of fear (e.g., the Four Horsemen of the Internet) and blind patriotism (“British values”, indeed) with the occasional side nod to xenophobia, racism, bigotry or misogyny.

Ms. May has obligingly provided the example du jour, but no doubt others will come to our attention soon enough.

Dogs do tell, Cats do well says:

Re: Re: Re: New term requred

It has interested me for a number of years that the acts commissioned by the NSA/CIA/USA Government to occur on the 9/11 date used your 911 emergency code. It takes a pretty corrupt group to use an emergency contact number as the date that they will arrange for a group of mentally deficient and homicidal extremists to take down a couple of locations that will have major collateral damage done to the population that they are supposed to be protecting. All in the cause of raising awareness of extremists everywhere and allowing the government to justify its new draconian laws and methodologies.

It is long overdue to weep for your nation and rise up against the corruption of your lawmakers and leaders and those who blindly follow in their path.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: New term requred

I’m sure everyone here knows what a Godwin is.

Except you, it seems. (and many others, in my observations of how the law is typically used)

Godwin’s Law states a probability. It is not an event, a “gotcha” type of rhetorical trap, or a counterargument that applies some sort of penalty or disqualification to the opposing speaker. The law itself states:

“As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.”

Mike Godwin himself later reworded the law changing “Usenet” to the more general term “online discussion”. The purpose of the law[ibid] was to make people realize they were making comparison to the Nazis and Hitler not as a legitimate comparison, but because they had become a meme. People used the archetype of the bogeyman (or devil) as rhetorical hammer. The law was an experiment at making a counter-meme to try and make people see how they were riding the “bandwagon effect” and acting as a vector for bad and abusive methods of rhetoric.

Unfortunately, Godwin’s Law itself has become everthing it set out to prevent. It is used to shoot down arguments without really addressing them, and it is used to end discussions. It has shifted into a cheap way of claiming reductio ad Hitlerium (an informal fallacy that is often merely guilt-by-association) without having to actually show why.

While I appreciate the motives in creating a simple way of describing Orwellian language, we should not sink to the levels of rhetoric that Mike Godwin was trying to prevent. Trivializing your opponent or making them into a slogan that can be repeated without thought are techniques used by tyrants to dehumanize their opponents. The fight against modern Orwellian abuses – by definition – must avoid these corruptions of language.

Anonymous Coward says:

“What’s especially galling is the fact that May is claiming that this is being done in the name of “British values,” which certainly suggests that freedom of speech and freedom to associate are, in fact, antithetical to British values.”

Uh, these ARE antithetical to British values. Otherwise they wouldn’t have things like Speakers’ Corners.'_Corner

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I would disagree.

Wanting to silence someone for their beliefs like this bitch wants puts you on their level, but silencing someone that is trying to silence others is a justice. For this one the devil is definitely in the details.

Kinda like killing someone before they kill you does not make you a murderer and would be the only situation people would approve of you killing someone!

So in short silencing someone trying to silence others is an act of self defense, because they would only come for you next anyways!

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Wanting to silence someone for their beliefs like this bitch wants puts you on their level, but silencing someone that is trying to silence others is a justice. For this one the devil is definitely in the details.

The devil certainly is in the detail – especially when you bear in mind that one of the nasty aspects of those whom Mrs May wishes to silence is that they would also silence opposing views, given the chance. You try going to the territory controlled by ISIS and preaching any religion, world view or philosophy other than (their particular brand of) Islam and see if you even survive.

Does that make Mrs May’s plan ” a justice”?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Conservative

They’re liberal in the sense that Churchill used the term when he said “We’re all Liberals now”, they support free trade and mercantilism, with (supposedly) pragmatic and limited use of military force in foreign policy. They’re following, more or less, in the Squiffite tradition. That distinguishes them from conservatives who supported protectionism and overt imperialism.

You’re talking about Liberalism in the sense of the Radicals, whose descendants in England were the followers of Lloyd George.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

we're IN the end game, now, kampers...

we oh-so-smart nekkid apes look back with scorn and disdain on our ancestors who lived through perilous times, and we shake our heads in condescending superiority, and say to ourselves and each other: “how could those idiots NOT see what was happening ? “…

um, hate to break the news, but we’re IN one of those times, *now*, and WE DON’T (won’t) see it…

*our* children’s children will look back and say “how could those idiots NOT see what was happening ?”…

That One Guy (profile) says:

England Prevails!

So the USG seems to be basing their policy on 1984, while apparently someone in the UK government saw/read ‘V for Vendetta’ and in particular noticed the government they had there, and thought to themselves ‘You know, that Susan guy has got some good ideas…’

Normally I’d say that anyone incapable of reading doesn’t deserve to serve in public office, but in this case, I think we’d all be better off if those in charge didn’t read so much.

OldGeezer (profile) says:

This all worked out so well for Hitler!

You would think that the nation that first bravely stood alone against the Nazis would not adopt the same kind of censorship that Hitler used. What’s next, jailing reporters the government doesn’t like? Who gets to determine who is extreme? There can be no democracy without freedom of speech. Are government agents going to be scouring every Facebook and twitter post?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: This all worked out so well for Hitler!

What’s next, jailing reporters the government doesn’t like?

It’s not ‘next’ if it’s already happened.

Blatant Intimidation: Glenn Greenwald’s Partner Detained At Heathrow Under Terrorism Law, All His Electronics Seized

all the stupid poeple says:

brits govt are facist nazi pigs

brits govt are fascist nazi pigs
godwin it how you like its not devolving into hitler its BEING as much like him as they can be

that is not godwin’s intent to stiffle bad and as the rss says an orwellian dictatorial evil path this will lead.

Pretty easy when its SOME OTHER NATION
but your own

the list grows and even the harper canada govt is trying to drag us into the fascism

David says:

Re: Time for a history lesson

It may be unpopular to remember, but the reason Germany was fought was not that they were too fascist, or that they spat on civil rights or that they rounded up and killed homosexuals and jews and communists: everyone else in Europe would have done the same (the Dreyfuss affair was not German, and take a look at what Henry Ford had to say about the Jewish World Conspiracy).

The reason the allied forces fought and conquered Germany was simply because Hitler had declared war on all of them. They had no choice. So they figured out what to hate about the Germans and fascism and went into war for it.

But by now, all that they are wary of any more is the swastika which is a bit abstract to focus one’s hate on. Oh, and instead of the Jewish World Conspiracy we have Muslim Terrorists. Same skin color and also of Middle Eastern origin. And responsible for all evil.

So in no way Hitler is going to be portrayed as a saint anytime soon. Too many swastikas for that.

mrhuh (profile) says:

All the dead that fought for freedom are rolling over

A light of freedom during world wars, a civilized nation when there were few. Now you have a group of people telling you what to think and say. Wouldn’t any possible questioning of the government be considered a “threat to democracy”? How can you allow this government to continue? Are you all so subservient to the power at this point you just don’t give a shit? At what point would you consider too far? Potential fetus “decriminalization”, if they aren’t born they can’t commit “terrorist acts”. The deaf can’t hear commands from your masters, they will have to be “dealt with”. Then of course “the children”. Mr. Thought Control: “my mommy and daddy said the government sucks”. Cart em away. Maybe the North Koreans can help you out, maybe putting 3 generations of familys in camps are not too bad an idea after all. You know Bin Laden was not so stupid after all, he started a process to destroy freedom and its working Vote them out of office, you may not get another chance.

Michael W. Perry (user link) says:

Laughter is the best counter

Quote: “…despite years of proof that speech by itself is rarely dangerous. However, the suppression of speech often creates more problems.”

How true! When I lived in Seattle, I forced myself to watch neo-Nazis on the city’s public cable channel a few times. In addition to being disgusted, I learned something. For many of those involved, the very fact that countries in Europe (such as Germany) try to silence Nazi speech proves both that their movement is right and that Jews really do run the world. Those laws have the opposite effect to that intended.

Ridicule—intelligent and genuinely funny ridicule—would do the genuine extremists far more harm than anything the UK’s unimaginative political class might do to silence them with a ban.

This video is a brilliant illustration of that:

G. K. Chesterton offer the same advice. Deal those who want to frighten you, he said, by laughing at them.

–Michael W. Perry, Chesterton on War and Peace: Fighting the Ideas and Movements that Led to Nazism and World War II

Alec Rawls (profile) says:

Great plan: keep the jihadists, just get rid of the free speech

They aren’t going to do anything to stop the jihadists from immigrating and living off welfare while they plot mass murder, and they certainly aren’t going to do anything to get rid of the jihadists who have already immigrated and are living on welfare plotting mass murder, they are just going to try to sweep the problem under the rug by ending free speech. They will try to stop the mass-murder-plotters from plotting openly, as they have been, and they will come down particularly hard on those who point out the mass-murder plotting. Count on it.

Nathan Barton (profile) says:

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