Could Pickled Politics be forced to shut down?


by Sunny
20th February, 2006 at 4:03 am    

I briefly covered the passing of the terrorism law and what it meant for British Muslims last week. I have not read up enough on it yet, however there are many issues of concern others have highlighted. One directive is that “offending material” on websites may lead to them being shut down. Because the new law is quite vague, no one is quite sure how it will be implemented or even policed.

Unity at Talk Politics has been covering this extensively and wrote this with Pickled Politics as an example on this post:

So, to move our hypothetical situation forward let us assume that one of PP’s contributors posts a commentary on the Islamic conception of martyrdom and how this relates to suicide bombing – yes, I have picked this example deliberately as one highlighted by Charles Clarke as constituting the ‘glorification’ of terrorism.

Now, knowing PP’s style well I can guarantee than any such hypothetical commentary by one of contributors will not only not condone the idea that suicide-bombing is acceptable but try to challenge the validity of that idea. However, open debate being what it is, a commentary of this nature would almost certainly draw contrary opinions, which would in likelihood result in comments supporting the idea that suicide-bombing is a legitimate tactic is certain circumstances and is permissible under Islamic religious law as a form of martyrdom.

Now, let me ask you this. In the situation above where does that leave a blog like Pickled Politics – does this law no mean that all debate on subject of suicide bombing is ‘out of bounds’ because someone could post comments supporting such actions? Does the law only permit them to have a one-sided debate in which any comments in support of suicide-bombing must be immediately removed from their site?

And if they did go ahead and permit comments setting out both sides of the argument, are they putting their site at risk by doing so? Could one or two comments in support of the principle of suicide-bombing or arguing in favour of its validity in Islamic law, in the context of legitimate debate actually result in Pickled Politics being hit with a take down notice?

It’s a very valid question, and one I don’t know the answer to. In a previous post discussing websites specifically, he points out that this relates to websites hosted in the UK only. That makes it a bit of a farce since anyone can move their site abroad. Fortunately for our lovely readers we are hosted in the US so you can glorify terrorism all you want (though you will get cussed hard).

Nevertheless, more than a few bloggers are pissed off at New Labour’s attempts to curtail our civil liberties (to Bin Laden’s delight no doubt), and Unity is organising a counter-revolution of sorts. Sign me up mate.


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39 Comments below   |  

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  1. Harps — on 20th February, 2006 at 9:50 am  

    A bit on sthe sensationalist side lad, it is almost impossible to censor the web in any real meaningfull form – As a famous web quote says

    Censorship is percieved as damage, route around it”

    However as the artcile states it does raise issues on civil liberties and how we express our thoughts and who maybe watching.

    However a quote from Noam Chomsky comes to mind ….

    If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.

  2. j0nz — on 20th February, 2006 at 10:05 am  

    I had no idea Noam Chomsky has said a noteworthy phrase in his existence. Thanks Harps.

    Sunny, if I was you I’d be really pissed at this ‘unity’, who obviously has a lot of sympathy for suicide bombings. Just because you’re a progressive asian blog doesn’t mean you’re going to sympathise with terrorism. I mean what does he think you are, The Guardian or something?!

    I don’t think any of the posters (yes, even Al-Hack) would even hypothetically argue the case for suicide bombings.

  3. Dave F — on 20th February, 2006 at 10:07 am  

    It is a stupid, politically self-serving law and it will backfire on its creators. There are perfectly adequate laws to deal with incitement and inflammatory language. As usual, the question is: who will police “glorification”? And how?

  4. Steve M — on 20th February, 2006 at 10:07 am  

    Maybe sites like yours need a disclaimer …

    “The views expressed in the Comments sections are not necessarily, blah, blah…”

  5. j0nz — on 20th February, 2006 at 10:08 am  

    Freedom of speech is no free pass to incitement to murder. Maybe we don’t need any more laws. Maybe we just need the existing laws to actually be invoked…

    Though personally I really don’t see a problem with criminalising the glorification of terrorism. I think it’s a BRILLIANT idea. I wish I’d thought of it…

  6. j0nz — on 20th February, 2006 at 10:11 am  

    David F, so you’re against the law because…. it would be difficult to police? What about the moral argument that inciting others to terrorism isn’t such a good idea? We need deterrents. At the moment we have Islamists in the West ripping the piss out of what liberal democracy is all about.

  7. Rohin — on 20th February, 2006 at 12:24 pm  

    I read the Talk Politics thread closely the other day, it’s a very interesting hypothetical.

    Sunny, I think Steve may have a point – perhaps we need to chuck a comments-note on our about page or something? Obviously up to you but I’ve sometimes wondered if we should have a comments policy so that criteria for deletion is clear.

  8. Sunny — on 20th February, 2006 at 1:39 pm  

    j0nz – ermm.. read his post a bit more carefully before you start getting ahead of yourself in congratulating the government.

    Steve, Rohin – the terms and conditions page already states all this, but that is no use.

    Assuming we were hosted in the UK, and we did have a discussion on suicide operations, and someone did post why they thought there justified, and I let the comment stay on, freedom of speech (supposedly) and all that… and then the government say the message but I was on holiday, and did not respond within 48 hours – they can go straight to my ISP and demand the site be shut down, if I’ve read this correctly. That is the problem.

    j0nz – I thought you were a believer in liberal democracy? Clearly not.

  9. Matthew Sinclair — on 20th February, 2006 at 1:52 pm  

    I’m not so sure. There might still be the get out that ISPs and telecoms use. The “I just provide the forum, I don’t back the content” line. That line has always defended free speech on the Internet so far.

    The websites that would be shut down would be those which comment themselves in favour of suicide bombing I believe. The problem with this law is that it is difficult to know what it will mean in practice because it has been worded in a very vague manner.

  10. Vikrant — on 20th February, 2006 at 1:59 pm  

    Forget PP, it’d be funny to see LGF go down like a sucka!

  11. Vikrant — on 20th February, 2006 at 2:00 pm  

    P.S Sunny, Check your mail.

  12. Chris Stiles — on 20th February, 2006 at 2:14 pm  

    I fully expect the law to be misused eventually – it’s just a matter of time and circumstance.

    Standard Labour tactic of the moment, bring in sweeping powers and then claim that common sense will always prevail.

  13. j0nz — on 20th February, 2006 at 2:18 pm  

    I just fail to see what any normal person has to be worried about by a law to criminalise the glorification of terror.

    I will gladly see any person in prison for glorifying terrorism. People who target innocent civilians deliberatley are sick fucks. And attempting to spin this into a righteous cause is wrong. And should be legislated against. This not a matter for deabte for any rational human being! There has to be detriments in place.

    Well call me a totalitarian then Sunny, I don’t want people putting a sugar coating on terror. Let’s face it when it comes to prosecuting on such vague terms it’s nearly impossible to get a court hearing at the best of times.

    Look at how long it took before Abu Hamza was tried in the courts. Lets get some perspective! This is fantastic law. Can’t wait to see those disgusting slime bags in prison! That includes Galloway.

  14. Reformist Muslim — on 20th February, 2006 at 2:28 pm  

    “I just fail to see what any normal person has to be worried about by a law to criminalise the glorification of terror.” – j0nz

    Are you by any chance a Sun reader?

  15. Vikrant — on 20th February, 2006 at 2:30 pm  

    Are you by any chance a Sun reader?

    Well I am, but for completely different reasons!

  16. Al-Hack — on 20th February, 2006 at 2:32 pm  

    Abu Hamza was banged up without the law mate! It took time because the police wanted to gather intelligence and did not want to seem to be interefering with religous persons. Laws against inciting violence are already there with more to come. This law is a waste of space.

  17. j0nz — on 20th February, 2006 at 2:35 pm  

    Daily Telegraph mostly. Can’t stand those left wing terror apologising (or employing even) rags like the Indepedent and Al-Guardian.

    What are your thoughts on the new law Reformist?

  18. Vikrant — on 20th February, 2006 at 2:41 pm  

    Hmm…

    The Times is read by the men who run the country.
    The Telegraph is read by the wives of the men who run the country.
    The Mail and Express are read by the men who think they ought to run the country.
    The Daily Mirror is read by the men and women who work for their country
    And The Sun is read by the men (or teens like me) who don’t care who runs the country so long as she is well endowed.

  19. K — on 20th February, 2006 at 2:43 pm  

    j0nz – define “terrorism”, define “glorification”, define any of the other terms in these laws, check what the government definitions are and then come back and say you don’t understand why anyone has any problem with these laws. As anyone with any knowledge of the law knows, everything hinges on the definition.

  20. Vikrant — on 20th February, 2006 at 2:44 pm  

    okie well that enough off-topic posting from me. Anyways isnt specifically made for Muslims is it? Next time Griffin utters something stupid, he’ll be made to pay fer that. Our PC police would never have laid their hands on Hamza if it hadnt been for the changed aatmosphere since 7/7.

  21. Vikrant — on 20th February, 2006 at 2:49 pm  

    It took time because the police wanted to gather intelligence and did not want to seem to be interefering with religous persons.

    Translates as: it took time because police didnt have balls to go after religious preachers.

  22. Mark — on 20th February, 2006 at 3:04 pm  

    Those interested in the curtailment of liberty may find the treatment of the stars of a film about Guantanamo Bay very interesting, and highly infuriating http://www.thelip.org/?p=129

  23. Old Pickler — on 20th February, 2006 at 4:25 pm  

    Instead of continually passing new laws, especially with vague and silly words like “glorification” in them, this government should be encouraging enforcement of existing laws.

    There is a danger in having lots of vague laws instead of a few, very specific ones. The danger is that they will be enforced inconsistently and perhaps out of political motives. People will wander around minding their own business, or wander round the blogosphere letting off steam only to find themselves falling foul of some law that is enforced, arbitrarily, against them, but perhaps not against a more politically sensitive group.

    NuLab stinks.

  24. Liberty Bell — on 20th February, 2006 at 6:34 pm  

    There’s no way that PP would be shut down…look, the police can’t even be arsed to arrest Islamist thugs carrying signs calling for people to be be-headed and glorifying and threatening another 7/7. They could have done so under existing laws (Anu Hamza was eventually convicted under laws that have existed since Victorian times).

    NuLab are wa*k**s – they send 100+ British troops to their death in a foreign country in a pretence of being tough in defence of democracy and *pretend* to be tough by drafting the glorification of terrorism law (in order to try to appeal to their increasingly disillusioned voters) whilst putting Jackie Straw up to go all weak at the knees when he should have *defended* the democratic right of those who wish to publish satirical cartoons (for example) that *some* people apparently find offensive. And, I thought it was just Americans who had no sense of irony…

  25. Liberty Bell — on 20th February, 2006 at 6:51 pm  

    According to this newspaper report, a fatwa has now been issued calling for the killing of the 12 cartoonists:

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,18220608%255E23109,00.html

    All those who condemn moderate Muslims for not standing up and being counted should look themselves in the mirror and ask whether they would stand up in public and be counted….

  26. Sid D H Arthur — on 21st February, 2006 at 1:23 am  

    This is an update and a first-person account from one of the actors of the Michael Winterbottom film, Road to Guantanamo who was detained at Luton Airport under the new Terrorism Laws:
    http://www.thelip.org/?p=129

    There seem to be a few people who will defend what this man wen through. It happens every day in the US. And now its going to start happening here. If anyone thinks that this will be directed at terrorists or to Muslims only then you’re deluded.

    Word to Don: I’m not going to be the first, in this case, to “raise my finger” and speculate what the intentions of the people were who detained these guys. I’ll let you figure it out this time.

  27. Sunny — on 21st February, 2006 at 1:50 am  

    Sid – Mark already posted it above. I’m going to a screening of the film tomorrow morning and will see MW in a Q&A afterwards, where I’ll be putting forward this question (unless someone beats me to it)… so watch out for an internet exclusive from the horse’s mouth tomorrow afternoon ;)
    Big up to Lip for that interview nonetheless.

  28. Sid D H Arthur — on 21st February, 2006 at 7:43 am  

    Oh yeah, so he has. And looks like Mark was as pissed off as I was after reading about it.

    Then a third officer entered, and all three adopted very aggressive stances, threatening to take me to the police station, calling me a “fucker”, moving in very close to my face, pointing and shouting at me to “shut up and listen”. I complained at being called a fucker. The officer who still had my phone, and who had sworn at me, smiled at me adn then said “now you’re making things up, no one called you that”.

    Nice to see the police doing an excellent job ‘catching terrrorists’ with all the extra power they’ve been given with the new Terrrorism Laws.

    Look forward to your MW interview.

  29. Bijna — on 21st February, 2006 at 11:17 am  

    The political correctness law:
    any1 who is not politically correct will be jailed.

  30. Bijna — on 21st February, 2006 at 11:23 am  

    > Look at how long it took before Abu Hamza
    > was tried in the courts

    Well, I have read in several places that there was a deal:
    its ok to preach terror as long as the attacks are abroad.

  31. PapaHomer — on 21st February, 2006 at 11:42 am  

    Sunny, will you be asking Mr Winterbottom what he thinks Messr’s Iqbal, Ahmed & Rasul were really doing in Afghanistan at the time they were picked up American special forces? And what to do you, personally think they were doing there? From what i’ve read, the film does a nice job of skirting round some of the unpalatable truths.

  32. Steve M — on 21st February, 2006 at 11:58 am  

    Well, I have read in several places that there was a deal:
    its ok to preach terror as long as the attacks are abroad.

    That’s nonsense and the fact that it’s been stated widely doesn’t make it true. Please come up with just one reference that might stand up to examination.

  33. Jay Singh — on 21st February, 2006 at 1:15 pm  

    Going to Lahore in Pakistan from Tipton to attend a wedding or ‘computer course’ and ending up in the plains of Afghanistan is a little like someone saying they are travelling to Manchester, England and ending up in Munich, Germany. The ‘Tipton Three’ are well dodgy. They shouldnt have been locked down in Guantanamo – Gitmo is an affront and wrong. But I wish people would be honest and place them in the long continuum of British Jihadis that stretches back to the Yemen boys, reaches to suicide bombers in Kashmir, Israel, shoe bombers and the 7/7 lads. Let’s be honest about it all. Gitmo is an affront not only for humanitarian reasons and reasons of natural justice, but also because it makes victims out of nasty Jihadis.

  34. Bijna — on 21st February, 2006 at 1:15 pm  

    Not about it, but related to it:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Londonistan

  35. sonia — on 21st February, 2006 at 2:45 pm  

    so says Harps – in any ‘meaningful’ sense yes a bit difficult to censor the net – but the authorities can make life difficult for a particular site if they choose – say they can seize your servers if they feel like. okay you can get new ones, but a bit of hassle. the FBI has seized Indymedia servers in the UK ..or did you not know that…

  36. sonia — on 21st February, 2006 at 2:54 pm  

    Sunny’s concerns are absolutely valid. hopefully PP won’t be noticed, but if it pisses someone off…

  37. jamal — on 21st February, 2006 at 5:46 pm  

    Its not just suicide bombings. If somebody argues that Iraqi/afghan retaliation against western troops is acceptable, Ira, Eta, etc. Theres so many terrorist organisations worldwide that it is very easy to talk for a cause in a way which could be construed as glorifying terrorism. Even repeating the comments of others could be construed to mean this.

    I think that because so many causes, particularly islamic related ones are related to current conflicts that cause concerns in the UK, sites such as PP will be watched and examples may be made if comments/articles are not regulated.

  38. Jay Singh — on 21st February, 2006 at 10:03 pm  

    Rohin

    Which mandir are you referring to that is close to Kings Cross?

  39. Jay Singh — on 21st February, 2006 at 10:04 pm  

    Wrong thread duhhh

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