Little Green Footballs

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Freedom's just another word

So, what was that about thoughtcrime again?

A new package of counter-terrorism measures which will be proposed by the government on Monday would outlaw those who provide or attend terrorist training courses in Britain or abroad and make it a criminal offence to describe those who carry out suicide bombings as martyrs.

Leaving aside the obvious enforcement difficulties that such a 'thoughtcrime' law would present, it's clearly yet another assault on freedom of speech, and is no better (or worse) than the law on religious incitement that Parliament passed last week. On that occasion, Charlie J. and his Amen Corner unanimously -- and rightly! -- condemned the law as an unpardonable assault on civil liberties. And although a "yelling 'fire' in a crowded theater" argument can be made in favor of the proposed ban on the word 'martyr,' it nonetheless raises the question of whether freedom of speech is, or should be, an absolute right or one that can be curtailed or withdrawn as circumstances demand.

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