Monday, June 28, 2010

The criminalization of dissent

As we know, the UK is currently hip-deep in the "war on terror". parts of its response involves monitoring "domestic extremists", assembling dossiers on them, and tracking their every move with spies, cameras, and ANPR. So, what gets you on the database? This:

For John Catt, protest has never been about chaining himself to a railing or blocking a road in an act of civil disobedience. The 85-year-old peace campaigner's far milder form of dissent typically involves turning up at a demonstration with his daughter, Linda, taking out his sketch pad and drawing the scene.

However this, it seems, has been enough for police to classify Catt and his 50-year-old daughter "domestic extremists", put their personal information on a clandestine national database and record their political activities in minute detail.

The fact that the UK police are spying on thousands of people like this, with no criminal record or involvement in violence, makes you wonder whether they don't have real policing work to do. Like, say, catching actual criminals?

The NZ police do this too, wasting their time spying on protestors rather than doing their job and hunting down burglars. Cops are the same the world over. Both here and in the UK, they regard anyone who speaks out and protests as dangerous, a threat to the status quo. They're still mired in a nineteenth century mode of thinking, in which their role was to prevent democracy rather than protect it. Its long past time they were dragged kicking and screaming into the modern world.