June 06, 2008

Taking Liberties

The Longrider is currently pointing to a very good article by John Major about how we are loosing are Civil Liberties in the name of security, security from a threat that is mostly hyperbole. He should know about real terrorist threats, he was Prime Minister when the IRA mortared Downing St. whilst he and his cabinet was in there. His predecessor was almost killed when the IRA destroyed the hotel she and most of her colleagues where in for the annual party conference. The conservatives are always painted as the ne plus ultra of evil, yet when you actually look at their record they are amateurs compared to the current government. Labour have been remorseless in taking liberties in the name of security, but what security have we really got for this? Nothing, just security theatre.

Stupid security theatre has reached the point were wearing a t-shirt depicting a cartoon character and you will be stopped from boarding your aeroplane, or a computer that isn't big and ugly, but carrying live ammunition onto a plane is just fine. Pure security theatre, just like the way that Labour wants to yet again increase the amount of time that people can be held without charge. This time it is to 42 days, as part of a show of strength to shore up Gordon Brown's precarious position, from their last increase of 28 days, which was an increase that they also created from 14 days, which itself increased the 7 day limit (also a product of the Labour administration). Every increase in the amount of time people can be detained without charge has been the product of a Labour administration.

When Labour came to power in 1997 the maximum time people could be held without charge was 2 days, with the possibility of the home secretary authorising an extra 5 days. Today it is 28 days, with the possibility of an extra 30 days authorised by any minister deciding that it is a national emergency. Or alternatively today you could also be placed under house arrest forever without the chance of ever challenging the evidence against you. Though as a slight compensation for having your life, and that of your family, ruined you would get major street cred for being in the same position as Nelson Mandela or Aung San Suu Kyi. Giving its enemies the same status as these iconic freedom fighters wouldn't have been the effect that Labour was after, but then house arrest itself was only rushed in as a compromise after Labour imposed internment for the first time ever on the mainland during peacetime and this was found to be against our obligations under the ECHR.

So how much special legislation was passed after Prime Minister Thatcher was nearly killed by the IRA in 1984? None; but all it takes is the most ridiculous and impossible movie plot threat to get Labour throwing more legislation onto the statute books.

The conservatives did limit the right to silence when they where in power. However Labour have not reversed, they made it even worse. The Conservatives let juries in a trial (not that Labour likes people coming before a jury when they can just be locked up anyway) take inferences from a persons silence. Labour made it a crime not to go to the police and actively inform should you believe that any of Labour's extremely broad anti-terrorist legislation be about to be infringed.

The conservatives banned knifes. Labour banned guns. Neither ban made the slightest difference to the kind of criminals that would actually use them, but both did erode of the right to self defense.

The right to silence is one of the ways that people are protected from incriminating themselves. I the United States it is a Constitutionally protected right, it is not protected under the British Constitution but neither was it anything that the Conservatives sought to damage. Labour on the other hand did with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act which makes it a criminal offense not to hand over encryption keys if they are demanded by the police, and it is up to you prove your innocence. Under the RIP Act you are guilty until you prove yourself innocent.

Not that Labour likes its minions having to prove peoples guilt before punishing them. You can get much better statistics with a lower, or reversed, burden of proof. The RIP Act which reverses the burden of proof. Then there are ASBOs which allow gossip to be admitted as evidence. The Proceeds of Crime Act where not only does the state seek to extract unlimited fines on the balance of probability from people that it cannot prove have commiteed any crime, it makes sure that they cannot properly defend themselves by not letting them pay for a defense and not allowing them legal aid. Or the people that have had all of their assets confiscated based on mere accusation

The conservatives did infringe the freedom of association by outlawing a group, the INLA (this was the full extent of the Conservative response to the INLA assassination of the Conservative shadow minister, and personal friend of Thatcher, Airey Neave). On the other hand Labour have outlawed 46 organisations bringing the total up to 62. Thanks to the Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy) Act 1998 it is now also enough for a police officer to simply state that a person is part of a proscribed organisation rather than them having to admit to it.

Labour have been better than the Conservatives in the area of human rights for gay people; equalising the age of consent, giving recognition of the long term relationships of gays and lesbians have though civil partnerships, and getting rid of Section 28.

Personally I'm gay and grew up in the late 80s to early 90s. Section 28 didn't make the slightest bit of difference to me at all. Do you know anybody that was ever prosecuted under it? I don't, and I would not expect anybody else to either. This is because there was only one single prosecution ever brought by a christianist group against Glasgow City Council, and that case failed. Section 28 was symbolic but in practical terms it was not a big deal.

I do however know somebody that was prosecuted under Labour's child porn laws for being given an erotic photo by an 18 year old of himself, because that 18 year old looked like they were 18. That is somebody over the age of consent gave an erotic photo to somebody else who is over the age of consent and because they looked like they where over the age of consent by only a couple of years that is classified a child porn. The stupidity of this law means that while two young adults can do whatever they like together in bed if they what to take some happy snaps of the event they could wind up in jail. My acquaintance didn't, but is now thinking of emigrating to France since it still fucked his life up.

These laws are about to get even worse if Labour gets its way, which given their majority they probably will, as they intend to extend these laws to drawings and CGI as well as images that actually involved real people. So an image of a young adult that looks only a couple of years over the age of consent, even if it is a pure fantasy based on nothing more than the artists thoughts with all the realism of a Tom of Finland(NSFW) sketch (but without the talent), becomes illegal. They claim that this is in case the drawings or CGI was somehow based on real people at some point in its creation, even though this is already covered in the 2008 legislation so the only thing that is going to get banned are pure fantasy images. Labour intends to literally criminalise thought.

Like Section 28 these bits of stupid gesture legislation are just to show the mouth breathing authoritarian elements of their core vote that they are repressed prudes as well. However unlike Section 28 these laws will actually be used and will cause actual harm. Both to the people that get caught up as victims of Labour's gesture, and anybody that gets hurt by people that could have simply worked out their frustrations with porn because porn is a substitute for, not a compliment to, sexual violence.

The conservatives never imposed ID Cards and the National Identity Register, or any of the other databases that make up the database state and track us from cradle to grave. Labour did.

The Conservatives never colluded to have people tortured. labour did.

It was economics that hit Mrs Thatcher's g-spot. Imagine perhaps a single boney finger slowly circling a cracked and shriveled nipple while she watched the old industries finally exposed to the economic winds of change. She freed the economy from the shackles of the state and the results where so obviously better that Labour had to abandon the idea of the state controlling industry in order to become electable.

They might have had the chance of economic control taken away but that did not change the Labour parties need for control so they reacted by trying to worm their way into peoples lives in other ways. Image perhaps a set of fingers, with nails gnawed to the quick, reaching around the rolling layers of overhanging gut to fondle at a small stub of a penis while he channel surfs the CCTV cameras.

Where the conservatives good for freedom? Yes overall, because the massive return of economic freedom that they brought. Where they good for Civil Liberties? No, they did limit many of them. Where the Conservatives worse than Labour? No, not even close.


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