The dangers of “curbing extremism”

I’ve come out of blog hiding for this because I think it’s really important. And I’ll try to keep it short.

These are words spoken by David Cameron this morning about the Tories’ proposed new measures for “curbing extremism”:

“The problem that we have had is this distinction of saying we will only go after you if you are an extremist that directly supports violence.

“It has left the field open for extremists who know how not to step over the line. But these are people who have radicalised young minds and led to people heading off to Syria or Iraq to take part in this ghastly slaughter.”

The reason we’ve had this distinction is quite simple: one is an incitement to violence, the other is political protest.

You and I probably do not agree with the views held by many Islamist clerics. Some of them think we should live in a world where people who don’t convert to Islam should be executed for apostasy.

But perhaps you also don’t agree with the views of some members of the EDL who think people who don’t convert out of Islam should be executed. Perhaps you don’t agree with the views of people who think gay people should be chemically “treated”. Perhaps you don’t agree with David Cameron’s policies that are causing disabled people to die in horrifying numbers. Perhaps you don’t agree with my opinion that Tony Blair and George W Bush should be tried as war criminals in the Hague court.

But that’s the thing. These are all political positions. Human rights law allows us freedom of speech and freedom of conscience. We are allowed to hold and espouse whatever political views we like, as long as we’re not actively trying to put those politics into action without following due legal process.

If you allow the government the power to curb extremist views, you give them the power to curb any views they disagree with.

There is simply no way you can write that law that does not give the government these powers. And they are very dangerous powers indeed. Please think about this before you support these new policies.

Thanks for listening to my rant.



I’ve waffled enough so I’m not going to get into the other two key fallacies here in detail but I’ll summarize:

  1. “[They] know how not to step over the line” is a twisted way of saying “they are law-abiding”.
  2. Removing their power of protest or cutting their internet enforces an “us and them” mentality, when most of the people being talked about are British citizens with their own rights and votes. If we are not being racist or Islamophobic here, then why is Cameron addressing a nation that apparently does not include these people?

1 Comment

  1. John Martins
    Mar 11, 2015

    Good points.

    David Cameron thinks that kids getting radicalised into Islam is wicked; I think that kids becoming radicalised into his dream army of conformist, glassy-eyed consumers is a pretty scary prospect, too. If kids WEREN’T rejecting it, I’d be worried.

    Of course young muslims are misled by the romantic simple solutions offered by the clerics. In the last century , millions were misled in a very similar way by the romantic simple solutions offered by communism. Went to fight in Spain and everything.

    It took a hundred years for its adherents to realise that communism’s promises were hollow. It will take a hundred years for young muslims to realise that sharia law is just as impractical. Meanwhile, let’s treat these young people looking for a better way to run the world with a bit more respect.

    Sure as hell, clumsily and brutally opposing them without understanding them will just convince many of them that terrorist bombing is justified.

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