Under the new conservative government, David Cameron is introducing a counter-terrorism bill which is set to include plans for ‘extremism disruption orders designed to restrict those trying to radicalise young people’ – Wintour, 2015. What this means is that any behaviour that is considered to be deemed as including ‘a risk of public disorder, a risk of harassment, alarm or distress or creating a ”threat to the functioning of democracy” ‘ would be deemed as a punishable offence – Wintour, 2015.
The counter-terrorism bill would implement a ban on any broadcasting that fitted this above criteria (not falling far from censorship), as well as having the powers to close premises (including mosques) ‘where extremists seek to influence others’ – how they would implement this is beyond me.
The main problem with this bill in my opinion is the ambiguity surrounding the criteria of extremism within the act. For instance, many forms of peaceful protest that rightfully so, occur on the streets of Britain, could essentially be deemed as a threat to the functioning of democracy, as well as any form of protest that simply expresses a dissatisfaction with the way things are – stripping individuals of their right to speak up for what they believe.
Although I agree with the decision to ban the broadcasting of extremist views on television (such as those that project hate speech and promote acts of violence), there is again a problem with what is actually considered as ‘extreme’ in this bill.
Is it considered extreme to disagree with our current leader? I certainly don’t think so. Is it extreme to want to voice our desire to scrap an outdated political voting system that no longer represents the majority? Not at all. Is it extreme to want to protest when student university tuition fees tripled after it was promised that they would be frozen? Again, I don’t think so. Is it extreme to want to protest because one considers the conservative government to be so far from representing their own personal values, that they feel they are no longer living in a fair democracy? Not in my opinion.
However, the thing that scares me is the fact that as far as I am aware, all of these things have the potential to be considered ‘extreme’ under the new counter-terrorism bill. This would essentially mean our freedom of speech and our freedom to a right of privacy could be jeopardised as the government search for ‘extreme’ behaviour.
Who knows how far this censorship could go? What do you think?