Tuesday, March 27, 2007

ThoughtCrime: Conservatives Moving To Remove Free Speech

I don't want to guess whose brainchild this is. Apparently the Parliamentary Committee of Public Safety and National Security would like Canada to make "Glorifying Terrorism a Crime.

I don't give a damn whether Britain, Spain or the United States have done this or not - it doesn't make it right. (and, as my Mother repeated often when I was growing up, just because they're doing it doesn't mean you have to!)

For starters, I'd like to see someone define what a phrase like "glorifying terrorism" even means. Among other things, it means starting with defining the term "terrorism" in a framework that is legally comprehensible. Too broad a definition, and any form of civil disobedience or organized protest suddenly becomes a criminal offense. If you try to put a legal definition around "glorifying" something, you run a similar risk. For example, a person advocating for Quebec autonomy may well make admiring reference to the FLQ - are they glorifying it? Is a blogger who speaks out against American occupation in Iraq - possibly going as far as calling for civil uprising against the "puppet government" - "glorifying" terrorism? Are they even advocating for terrorism?

One of the things that has never been defined intelligibly is just what is it that constitutes a "terrorist"? Try defining the term, and I think you will find that at some point or another a large number of otherwise harmless people would fall into whatever definition you create, and could be subjected to unjust prosecution under such a law.

One can certainly make the act of creating, or providing assistance to, a criminal endeavor a crime. In fact, we already do in many respects. Creating a bomb is a crime; detonating one is similarly a crime. So is discharging a firearm in public, or selling drugs or money laundering. Promoting violence against others is criminal in many different respects, and carrying it out is similarly a crime against the person.

Why do we need a law criminalizing "terrorism" - it seems to me that terrorists are already violating a lengthy list of existing statutes. Adding another class of crime - especially one so vaguely defined as "glorifying terrorism" to the books just creates another class of criminal - one that could just as easily be applied to this blog - or any other blog about current events - simply because the author spoke an opinion that somebody found politically "inconvenient".

Having political opinions, and expressing them, is not a crime.

1 comment:

evilscientist said...

You just don't think like a Conservative (or conservative). You see, in their world, you're free to speak your mind if and only if you agree with them. Anything else is seen as evil and must be stamped out as dangerous.