Friday, December 17, 2004

DPF on "seditious conspiracy"

DPF notes my opposition to charging Tim Selwyn with "seditious conspiracy", but thinks that as it is about his pamphlets, we "should not jump to conclusions over whether the charge is approproiate". But it is not the appropriateness of the charge I take issue with, but the very idea of sedition itself. We simply should not be criminalising political speech, of any stripe or character. We have perfectly good laws regarding conspiracy to murder, conspiracy to commit criminal damage, and conspiracy to commit terrorist acts, and these are more than sufficient to deal with those who actively plot the violent overthrow of the government. But if someobody is not actively plotting, but merely advocating in the abstract, or claiming that the government is illegitimate, then that should not be criminal, any more than abstract hate speech (as opposed to specific threats or incitement) should be.