Friday, July 06, 2007

The new sedition

Another British man has been convicted of inciting murder over a protest in London last year against the infamous Danish cartoons. Some will no doubt welcome this, but it is not a verdict any supporter of freedom of speech should be pleased with. Why not? Just look at the words he was convicted over:

The Old Bailey jury was shown a film of Rahman using a microphone to tell the 300-strong crowd: "We want to see them [British troops] coming home in body bags. We want to see their blood running in the streets of Baghdad.

"We want to see the mujahideen shoot down their planes the way we shoot down birds, we want to see their tanks burn in the way we burn their flags."

And just to make it clearer, the people whose murder he was supposedly inciting were US and British soldiers in Iraq. In other words, he has been convicted for vigorously hoping that his government loses a war.

No matter what you think of that hope, punishing it is a basic denial of political freedom. But its not the first time the British government has done this - they did it during WWI as well. But back then they called the "crime" by a far more honest name: "sedition".

Meanwhile, another man was also convicted of inciting murder for shouting "Bomb, bomb Denmark. Bomb, bomb USA." The Islamophobes and nationalists will probably cheer at this as well, but they should think again. After all, if advocating the bombing of a country is "inciting murder", where does that leave the warmongers who so vigorously advocated the bombing of Iraq, or who today are advocating the bombing of Iran?

Oh, that's right - it's only a crime if you oppose the government.