Picture of a judge's wigThe Judge RANTS!Picture of a judge's wig

Date: 15/02/06

The Death Of Freedom?

It's been a bad week or two for Liberty.

First off, the manufactured furore over what are now destined to be referred to by the shorthand stenographers of history as The Danish Cartoons. What seems to have gone missing from all of the media coverage is the fact that the cartoons were originally published five months ago. So why the fuss now?

Well, basically because a group of Danish imams spent some time (and, I suspect, their mosques' money) trolling around the Middle East showing the cartoons to whoever would be most likely to start a riot over them. What was particularly naughty, though, was that they also took a number of cartoons which were not amongst those published, but had been drawn by others (quite probably fellow-Muslims) which were far more offensive than anything which appeared in that newspaper in Jutland. These the imams passed off as having come from the same source. Hence the fuss.

We live in societies which characterise themselves as being 'free'. Whatever this is usually taken to mean, one definition must surely be a society where people have the right peacefully to express a view. On anything. That being so, no-one has the right to be protected against being offended. The subsequent special pleading that, far from getting rid of the already odious and risible laws governing that man-made sin called 'blasphemy', they should instead be applied to all organised superstitions to defend them against adverse comment; this added to the prissy sniffiness of the British press in refusing to print even a single one of the cartoons, piles the Pelion of cowardice upon the Ossa of cop-out.

The riots and protests, however, could scarcely have come at a more helpful time for the liberty-hating Blair régime. It was undoubtedly the sight of non-white people carrying placards recommending the murder of cartoonists which stampeded those of the parliamentary Labour Party yet to grow a permanent spinal column into supporting a measure which will make it a criminal offense to 'glorify terrorism'. Whatever that may mean. The Bill is drawn so vaguely and broadly that it could be used to catch anyone who dares express an opinion of which the régime of the day may disapprove. This is, almost without doubt, the way it will be used in practice: just give it a little time.

Just so that critics of my position can't claim that I am not willing to put myself on the line, I append the following list, and solemnly declare that I 'glorify' the following:

all of whom were called 'terrorists' (or their contemporary equivalents) by those in power at the time.

So, come on then, Chuckie Clarke. Come and get me.

And this brings me back to Monday night's debate in the House of Commons on the latest stage of the Identity Cards Bill. Never have so many planted speeches been made by Government backbenchers which so resolutely avoided the real issues. Special mention must go to the egregious Martin Linton, Labour MP for Battersea, whose speech will almost certainly gain him preferment before long, along with the gold medal in the Olympic Missing-The-Point event.

In the end, despite the evidence, no fewer than 310 MPs voted to retain the element of underhand compulsion which will see anyone wishing to leave the country after 2008 forced onto the National Identity Database against their will. The list of these Enemies Of Liberty can be found here (under 'AYES'). If your MP is amongst them, let them know that, as far as you're concerned, it is not too soon for them to plan for the end of their parliamentary careers.

Or, better still, get in ahead of the game. Create your own handy-dandy, all-purpose, track-you-anywhere-even-to-the-shithouse UK Identity Card! Go to http://www.id-unknown.co.uk/idcardomatic.php and save yourself the £30 (or is it £83? Or £200? Or £300? The Government isn't sure which) it'll cost you to put your most private information in the only database that hackers will ever need to access.