from the as-expected... dept
The orders, the product of an extremism task force set up by the prime minister, were proposed during the last parliament in March, but were largely vetoed by the Liberal Democrats on the grounds of free speech. They were subsequently revived in the Conservative manifesto."A risk of harassment"? "Alarm or distress"? That could include just about anything. A "threat to the functioning of democracy"? Does that include public protests or arguing against the current leadership? The likelihood of abuse seems absolutely, astoundingly, massive.
The measures would give the police powers to apply to the high court for an order to limit the “harmful activities” of an extremist individual. The definition of harmful is to include a risk of public disorder, a risk of harassment, alarm or distress or creating a “threat to the functioning of democracy”.
They would include a ban on broadcasting and a requirement to submit to the police in advance any proposed publication on the web and social media or in print. The bill will also contain plans for banning orders for extremist organisations which seek to undermine democracy or use hate speech in public places, but it will fall short of banning on the grounds of provoking hatred.Yes, that's right. If you wanted to tweet something that creates "distress," you'd have to first submit it to the police to get their okay.
Oh, and here's the really insane part. David Cameron is claiming that he's doing this in the name of free speech. No joke:
“For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone. It’s often meant we have stood neutral between different values. And that’s helped foster a narrative of extremism and grievance.Did you hear that? That's the sound of actual free speech supporters having their collective jaws hit the floor. Here he is, saying that for too long we've been "tolerant" of free expression, and thus we have to ban it, in support of "free speech" and democracy. And he flat out admits that they no longer think "obeying the law" should keep you out of trouble. That's some incredibly Orwellian bullshit right there.
“This government will conclusively turn the page on this failed approach. As the party of one nation, we will govern as one nation and bring our country together. That means actively promoting certain values.
“Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Democracy. The rule of law. Equal rights regardless of race, gender or sexuality.
“We must say to our citizens: this is what defines us as a society.”
As Glenn Greenwald rightly notes, once again it appears that the biggest threat to free speech is not from terrorism, but from those claiming to fight terrorism. He also points us to a video of Theresa May going on and on about how this is about "promoting British values" and stopping those who "look to divide our society." So, they don't want to "divide" society... and they're going to do that by telling everyone they can only have views that the government finds acceptable.
In short, the current UK government is promoting an out and out war on free expression, by saying you can only have free expression if you spout government approved thoughts.