Back in October last year, the British government announced plans to restrict the freedom of speech of Muslims, banning "extremists" - meaning those engaged in "active opposition to fundamental British values" but who 9and this is important) do not advocate violence - from posting to the internet, appearing on TV, or speaking in public. But yesterday the UK's independent reviewer of anti-terrorism laws called bullshit on the whole idea:
David Cameron’s counter-extremism bill, which will ban non-violent extremists, risks provoking a backlash in Britain’s Muslim communities and playing into the hands of terrorist recruiters, a government watchdog has warned.
David Anderson QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism laws, said the legislation to counter extremist ideology also risks legitimising state scrutiny of – and citizens informing on – the political activities of large numbers of law-abiding people.
“If the wrong decisions are taken, the new law risks provoking a backlash in affected communities, hardening perceptions of an illiberal or Islamophobic approach, alienating those whose integration into British society is already fragile, and playing into the hands of those who, by peddling a grievance agenda, seek to drive people further towards extremism and terrorism.”
And he's right. The clear message of this law is that if Muslims want the simple dignity of being left alone, they have to overthrow the state. And that is a very dangerous and counterproductive message to send.
But beyond that, you really have to wonder if a Britain which exercises pervasive political censorship to protect "fundamental British values" (like, oh, freedom of speech. Or thought. Or religion) is worth protecting. And to be honest, I don't think it is. The British state is an ever-harsher tyranny. Let it burn.