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Sunday, March 01, 2009

Britain talks "Modern Liberty"

Britain's left and right got together yesterday for a "Convention on Modern Liberty".  It has a broad agenda - not just the obvious threats to liberty like state-owned DNA data banks, and Antisocial Behaviour Orders, but also subtler things, like the smiley-faced multilateral 'caring and sharing' fascism we Canadians know and loathe:

[Jo Glanville, editor of Index on Censorship] explained the difficult task of promoting freedom of expression and fighting censorship when even UN bodies were tasked with monitoring speeches or writings on the grounds of religious or racial "discrimination". She pointed to the recent decision of the UK government to ban the Dutch MP Geert Wilders from entering the country on the grounds that his hostility to Islam threatened public security. "Pre-emptive censorship enflames the situation", she said. The claim that liberty was better served by censorship was an "Alice in Wonderland view of human rights".

To illustrate just how tedious the situation has become in Britain, just look at what's actually involved in holding a convention in the modern security-state:

A grim future of form filling and bureaucracy is the one that the government plans for us all. In just four new forms –the application form for the National ID Card, the controversial 696 form for promoters of live events in London, Form 27 issued as a dispersal notice and the form for all travellers leaving Britain – there are 153 questions to be answered.

The organisers of the Convention on Modern Liberty believe that these questions not only symbolize a new era of intrusiveness but they represent a huge waste of time, which will cost hundreds of thousands of man hours. “It is classic mark of authoritarian regimes to make life difficult for the ordinary citizen and fill his time with needless bureaucracy,” said Convention co-director Henry Porter. ‘ We hold that all these forms are unnecessary and they intrude upon the life of the man in the street to unacceptable degree.”

You can find a lot more on the convention on the Guardian's Civil 'Liberty Central' page. 

Exit question: is there a single newspaper or magazine in this entire country with an equivalent of the Guardian's 'Civil Liberties' section?

Posted by Robert Jago on March 1, 2009 in Freedom of expression | Permalink

Comments

Geez, when will "we the people" learn? Look at what's really happening here. Citizens are being subjected to so many bureaucratic compliances as to have a great deal of the time they might spend being productive or pursuing happiness negated by government decree's. And here's the kicker...they "pay" for it too....
Its time for a general "regime change" in pretty much all of the western nations.

Posted by: JC | 2009-03-01 9:32:12 AM


Of course Jo is correct, except that one has to pose the question. Has the UK handed over its sovereignty to the UN? There is simply no excuse or justification for the loss of liberty and freedom in the UK, for it is the result of what its citizens have allowed.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-03-01 11:22:16 AM


JC

Judging by the number of people incensed by the Iraq "war" even on these pages, you won't find much stomach for revolution in the cause of liberty if it involves much more than commenting on blog sites. Into the cattle cars they will trudge if the alternative is no more state health care etc.

Posted by: John Chittick | 2009-03-01 11:27:36 AM


Alain,
Valid point! Just how much of our own sovereignty have we given up to the UN...the NWO? I don't know about you , but one Global Central Government scares the hell out of me and I waould rather be dead than live under those circumstances.

John C,
Sadly you're right. While I don't advocate violence against anyone I can't help but think that a mass refusal to comply to anything government ordered (save natural laws) would pretty much bring down the house of cards we're all living in. Problem is, people fear change and responsibility almost more than the radical terrorist with gun in hand...

Still the system we have is doomed. It simply can't maintain itself as a viable or believeable entity. Its just too corrupt and people are starting to see it for what it is.

Posted by: JC | 2009-03-01 11:44:10 AM


Unfortunately, JC, effecting regime change in Western countries will mean turfing popularly elected governments. As is the case in all democracies, people seldom get the government they need, but always get the one they deserve. The British public is ultimately responsible for this mess.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-03-01 5:42:07 PM


JC, I agree concerning the UN. There is not one single positive thing that the UN has accomplished, and yet our government and the American government refuse to pull out. It would make more sense to establish an association of free countries where each pays its own way. Let the tyrants and want-to-be tyrants have the UN while completely cutting funding to it. None of them pay their way but expect to dictate to the ones who do pay.

The UN is not necessary to establish treaties and agreements on various issues and it has never prevented a war or the murder of innocent civilians.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-03-01 6:46:35 PM


Unfortunately, JC, effecting regime change in Western countries will mean turfing popularly elected governments.
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-03-01 5:42:07 PM

Agreed. My understanding is that 127 million people voted for Obama. Out of 330 million Americans that leaves 20s million that did not.
however a sizable portion of that number either voted third party or not at all. Either way approximately 60% of the USA didn't elect Obama.
Its in this group that one can hope for "change" (get it? :) and while it is very unlikely, it will be this group that sets the world on fire if anyone is going to.

I can only hope that real patriots are beginning to see the light...but I won't hold my breath.

Posted by: JC | 2009-03-01 7:40:04 PM


that leaves 20s million that did not.

Should read 203 million

Posted by: JC | 2009-03-01 7:40:47 PM


There is not one single positive thing that the UN has accomplished,..............
Posted by: Alain | 2009-03-01 6:46:35 PM

The eradication of smallpox is one. As well as the eradication of parasites in many African rivers that cause large number of people to go blind. Both done by the WHO. Do you like people having smallpox and going blind?

Posted by: The Stig | 2009-03-01 7:41:58 PM


Alain, I'm amazed at the number of people I meet whose opinions are that the bail outs won't work, that the system is corrupt, the the UN is basically evil(and so forth)....and yet they still participate.
At what point will people act on their beliefs?

Posted by: JC | 2009-03-01 7:43:19 PM


I agree with most of what you said. However, I support travelers leaving or entering a country having to fill out detailed forms. If someone comes into my country, I want to know what the foreigner is doing here. I don't want Al Qaeda sneaking someone in. Nor do I want illegal immigrants or drug cartels just waltzing in. In addition, I want to make sure any foreigners leaving Canada aren't stealing anything that isn't bolted down. Canada has between 200,000-250,000 foreigners immigrating here every year(and hundreds of thousands of foreign tourists visiting). Why shouldn't we know as much about these foreigners as possible? Nothing personal about foreigners. I happen to think that a country is entitled to know who is entering it and what their intentions are. I believe in the principle of trust but verify.

Posted by: John | 2009-03-01 9:18:26 PM


John
I agree with most of what you said. However, I support travelers leaving or entering a country having to fill out detailed forms.
And do you believe for one minute that these people will be telling the truth, coming or going?. To think that we have the manpower to check on the accuracy of these statements is a joke. Just like gun registry....a joke.

Posted by: peterj | 2009-03-01 9:47:41 PM


Stig, so you think none of this could have happened without the UN? To claim so is ridiculous. As to the harm done by the UN it would take more than a book to list it all.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-03-01 11:30:22 PM


I lived in the UK for one year a few years ago. It was a toilet then. I can only imagine what it is like now. When I read about the forms, all I could think about is the film "Brazil".

As for the UN...c'mon. Are you serious? GM foods? 5 foreign ministers holding sway over the entire world? Israel and Palestine? The UN is not only a joke, its the punchline too. Waste on an epic scale that makes Canada look like it is being run by tea drinking seniors?

We should all revolt, shed our chains and usher in a new golden age to parallel the classical Grecian age. Be human and figure it all out as we go along.

Peace and blessings.

Posted by: Buddha Chan | 2009-03-02 4:39:20 AM


Stig, so you think none of this could have happened without the UN? To claim so is ridiculous. As to the harm done by the UN it would take more than a book to list it all.
Posted by: Alain | 2009-03-01 11:30:22 PM

While I don't have much use for the UN I will give credit where credit is due. The WHO was largely responsible for the eradication of smallpox in the third world. Through vaccination smallpox was essentially eradicated in NA and Western Europe by the end of the WW1. Yet it wasn't until the late 1950's when eradication was started in the 3rd world. Your point that someone else could have done it is valid, however nobody did. By the late 1950's 2 million people were dieing every year from smallpox. With the movement of people smallpox could have become a global epidemic. Are we all better off that the WHO started an eradication program, you bet we are.

Posted by: The Stig | 2009-03-02 8:37:45 AM


Okay, so in addition to rotten teeth and body odor, the Brits now have a lot less freedom of movement. Well, they asked for this didn't they? Who do they elect over and over again?

Posted by: Momar Throckmorton | 2009-03-02 9:42:56 AM


Left and Right whistling past the graveyard in the Islamic Republik of Britain, that's so quaint.

Posted by: philanthropist | 2009-03-02 11:52:27 AM


Okay, so in addition to rotten teeth and body odor, the Brits now have a lot less freedom of movement. Well, they asked for this didn't they? Who do they elect over and over again?

Posted by: Momar Throckmorton | 2009-03-02 9:42:56 AM


I've met my share of the same kind of people on this side of the pond....and we're not that far behind them as social oppression goes.
maybe take a look around and check your premise.

Posted by: JC | 2009-03-02 5:22:46 PM


Prescient:

TILL DEATH US DO PART

"In the 1960s, an MP told the House of Commons that the only sensible political debate in this country was taking place on Till Death Us Do Part. First screened in 1965, the sitcom landed like a meteor on the BBC's cosy TV schedule. It was trouncing Coronation Street by its second series, pulling in almost 20 million viewers.

Its star character was Alf Garnett, the brash, working class reactionary, described by one TV critic as "everything most hateful about our national character - xenophobic, illiberal, racist, anti-Semitic, toadying, authoritarian".

Writer Johnny Speight had meant it as a satire, but millions failed to spot the irony, preferring instead to see Garnett as a champion of the downtrodden, white, working man. Both sides saw the clear message that Britain was struggling to come to terms with immigration."

Posted by: DJ | 2009-03-02 11:29:18 PM


The beginning of the end. Freedom dies when free association dies.


1965: New UK race law 'not tough enough'
The new Race Relations Act comes into force today making racial discrimination unlawful in public places.

"The new act forbids discrimination on the "grounds of colour, race, or ethnic or national origins" in public places and covers both British residents and overseas visitors.

But there have already been claims by anti-racist groups and Labour backbenchers that the new law does not go far enough, as it does not cover housing or employment.

The new law does not make racial discrimination a criminal offence - and only the very worst offenders will be referred by the Attorney General to county court.

Shops excluded

Conservative opponents of the law forced the change from a proposed criminal offence to a civil offence.

They feared making racial discrimination a crime would only exacerbate race relations in areas where it was already a problem.

But Labour backbenchers wanted the new law to go further to penalise employers who discriminated against applicants on the grounds of race, and local authorities which barred people renting council homes because of their ethnic background.

The new law applies only to "places of public resort" which include hotels and restaurants - but excludes private boarding houses.

Shops are also excluded from the new act.

Acts of discrimination include refusing to serve a person, an unreasonable delay in serving someone, or overcharging.

Under the terms of the act, a Race Relations Board will be set up to monitor the work of local conciliation committees which will consider any complaint of discrimination.

They will be encouraged to negotiate with the parties involve and seek to persuade them against further discrimination.

In cases where the discrimination continues, the matter will be referred to the Attorney General or in Scotland to the Lord Advocate, who will then apply for a court injunction.

The new law comes into force as the number of immigrants to the country continues to rise.

Figures for 1964 show British citizenship was granted to 5,943 people from Commonwealth countries, the Irish Republic and the Republic of South Africa."

Posted by: DJ | 2009-03-02 11:32:43 PM


I think the reason the US stays in the UN, JC, is because they have a veto on the Security Council and are therefore in a position to influence international policy. If the US gave that up, they'd be giving up a very large say in world affairs, probably to the world's detriment as well as their own. As they say, keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-03-03 12:25:54 AM



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