The war on thought crimes was stepped up today, with pleasant-but-inept home secretary Jacqui Smith announcing a crackdown on internet extremism.
Hooray! Does that mean the BNP's website has been removed? Does it mean that Redwatch has been disbanded?
No. If you're a right-wing 'extremist', you're entitled to "free speech". And I'm all for free speech. Except that, if you're a Muslim 'extremist', you have no such right under this Government.
Jacqui Smith says she wants to use technology to stop "vulnerable people" being "groomed for violent extremism"
The comparison with internet paedophiles is striking, and deliberate. Like children who are 'groomed' into sexual behaviour by adults, Smith says that 'vulnerable people' can be 'groomed' into terrorism by evil manipulators. Heaven forbid people might willingly commit crimes of violence because they want to; they must have been led astray at some stage. And the evidence for this is...? Well, no evidence obviously, nothing to say it's ever actually happened, but if we invoke the bogeyman then you'll all get scared and fret your poor selves into agreeing with the latest anti-liberty draconian balls from New Labour.
Earlier she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme there was growing evidence terrorists were using the internet to spread messages.
Oh I see, they're 'spreading messages', not grooming vulnerable people from being ordinary Joes one minute and jihadists the next. Well if they're 'spreading messages' then we'd better take away their right to free speech - even if what they're doing isn't against the law of the land. That sends out the right message, doesn't it? Much better for terrorists to communicate in places where they can't be monitored than openly on the internet where their activities can easily be observed by the security services.
Smith goes on:
"We need to work with internet service providers. We need to actually use some of the lessons we've learnt about how we, for example, protect children from paedophiles and grooming on the internet to inform the way in which we use it to prevent violent extremism and to tackle terrorism as well."
'Work with internet service providers' or 'bully internet service providers into censoring and removing content which doesn't break the law'? If it breaks the law of the land, then fine, an offence has been committed and let due process take place. If not, then why is the government interfering? The link between paedophiles and 'extremists', while inviting, isn't the same thing at all. And note, also, the clever linking of 'extremists' and 'terrorists'. You can't be a Muslim 'extremist' without also being a 'terrorist' - again, would this Government call right-wing extremists terrorists? Would it lump every single anti-immigration campaigner with those who take to the streets in racial violence? No it wouldn't, for the good reason that they're not the same thing. Yet, when you're a Muslim, the rules are different of course, when we're talking about the 'war on terror'.
She said "grievances" about British foreign policy never justified terrorism - but she recognised the need to "debate, challenge and address those grievances".
Grievances. Ha ha! Yes, just like Louis XIV took the cahiers des doleances seriously, I'm sure this pro-war Government is really genuinely interested in the 'grievances' of people who complain about British foreign policy. It didn't give a monkey's when a million bodies took to the streets to complain about the Iraq war - it relied on God, in the case of the Prime Minister, to dictate its foreign policy rather than the views of its own citizens. If the Government wanted a genuine debate, then fine, but does it really? Does it really want to 'debate, challenge and address' the issues about its warmongering and colonisation of other countries, especially in public? I'm guessing not, though of course I'd be surprised and delighted if it really did happen.
Later she will meet internet service providers and members of the Muslim community to discuss measures to block websites which promote terrorism.
As far as I'm aware, such matters are already thought crimes under Labour - no more legislation is necessary. So why reiterate something that's already on the books? And who are these carefully selected 'members of the Muslim community'? Muslims who might ask some difficult questions? Who might be appalled by this Government's foreign policy, but are equally appalled by terrorists? Or will they be hand-picked individuals who will follow the script and do what New Labour say? I wonder.
Next year the government will provide more than £500m to fund security and counter-terrorism measures, rising to nearly £600m over the following two years.
Ker-ching! You can almost hear the clinking of glasses in boardrooms of the private firms who will be cost-plussed to the nines. And what are these 'measures' exactly? Er, can't tell you. Security, you see. Oh well, it's only a few hundred million - spend it wisely!
Higher and further education centres are also set to receive guidance on how to help increase community cohesion and prevent violent extremism.
Yes, that'll do the trick. Pop over to Iraq while you're at it and give some 'guidance' to the Sunnis and Shias while you're at it. That'll make their community cohesive as well.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, head of specialist operations at Scotland Yard, told BBC Two's Newsnight that it was young people who must be the focus of attention. "Many of the people we're seeing getting involved in [extremism], or falling prey to extremists, are very young," he said.
As Obsolete points out, the Newsnight report which set the hares running for today's announcement was a load of old nonsense. It is in a lot of people's interests to create this bogeyman of underlying Islamic terrorism in this country. The private security and monitoring industry is thriving in a climate of fear, and there's a lot of cost-plus money to be made from people's (generally misguided) concerns over Muslims. Of course there is a tiny number of people who are both Muslims and terrorists, and of course the security services should do all they can to prevent them from killing people. That goes without saying, but if I don't actually say it then someone will accuse me of not saying it, so there. I've said it.
The real deceit is in implying that there are just 'grievances' about British foreign policy which can be 'addressed' by talking to the 'Muslim community' and, that with some simple advice from Auntie NewLabour, communities can be made cohesive. I'd love for it to be so, but I don't think it is. And I have no desire for extremists, be they Muslims, Christians or politicians, to spread lies and hatred; however, this is a supposedly free country in which free speech can take place. And people are surely discerning individuals with brains who know the difference between right and wrong. I don't buy the rubbish that every Muslim is a terrorist-in-waiting who can be triggered by some wily manipulator over the internet. But that is the implication of this new drive from the home secretary.