The Politically Incorrect Show - 24/10/2001
Music - Die Fledermaus
Good afternoon, Kaya Oraaaa & welcome to the Politically Incorrect Show for Wednesday October 24, proudly sponsored by Neanderton Nicotine Ltd, the show that says bugger the politicians & bureaucrats & all the other bossyboot busybodies who try to run our lives with our money; that stands tall for free enterprise, achievement, profit & excellence against the state-worshippers in our midst; that stands above all for the most sacred thing in the universe, the liberty of the human individual.
[Music up, music down!]
Since September 11, libertarians the world over have, rightly, been ringing alarm bells about many of the measures being mooted in Western countries to facilitate the War on Terrorism. (Some have used their apprehensiveness as an excuse to oppose this war altogether, & to tout the Taleban's "America had it coming" line, which is unconscionable - but that's another story.)
In my own editorial of September 24, praising President Bush's speech to Congress, I said:
"It was also a moment to sound a note of caution - not in a spirit of party-pooping pedantry, but in the tradition of 'The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.' Freedom-lovers the world over ought at this time to prepare a check-list of things to be vigilant about, even while lining up behind the President of the United States as he leads the historic charge against a thoroughly diabolical enemy. We should remind ourselves that our own governments had themselves been growing ever more despotic prior to September 11 & showed every sign of carrying on with it. The governments of both the United States & New Zealand - to mention the two countries where these editorials have greatest distribution - had both waged campaigns of terror against their citizens via their respective Inland Revenue bureaucracies. Ditto, the War on Drugs. In both countries, property rights are a joke, sacrificed to the 'rights' of trees & puddles. We need to be alert to the possibility - nay, likelihood - that the additional powers our governments are assuming in the War on Terrorism will be used as an excuse for gratuitous invasions of privacy unrelated to terrorism."
Now I quote from an Associated Press story out of England last week:
"Satirists could face prison sentences under new laws making it a crime to incite religious hatred, comedian Rowan Atkinson said Wednesday. Atkinson, creator of bumbling misanthrope Mr. Bean, wrote in a letter to The Times newspaper that he felt 'great disquiet' about the proposals, which were outlined Monday as part of a government package of anti-terrorism measures.
"Home Secretary David Blunkett said the rules - which make incitement to religious hatred a crime punishable by up to seven years in prison - were designed to stop 'racists, bigots and hotheads' from exploiting the current global crisis to stir up hatred.
"But Atkinson said the law cast too wide a net and could, potentially, criminalize films such as Monty Python's biblical satire 'Life of Brian.' 'Having spent a substantial part of my career parodying religious figures from my own Christian background, I am aghast at the notion that it could, in effect, be made illegal to imply ridicule of a religion or to lampoon religious figures. I have always believed that there should be no subject about which one cannot make jokes, religion included,' wrote Atkinson. 'For telling a good and incisive religious joke, you should be praised. For telling a bad one, you should be ridiculed and reviled. The idea that you could be prosecuted for the telling of either is quite fantastic.'
Rowan is quite right - & this is precisely the type of "gratuitous" violation of freedom I was talking about. There is nothing about the War on Terrorism that justifies or necessitates emulating the Taleban's denial of freedom of speech. On the contrary, there is everything about this war that necessitates the upholding of that freedom. Moral consistency, for one thing.
Mr Bean would doubtless be horrified to learn that in New Zealand we've had a law like this for years - our Human Rights Act (!) punishes the publishing of any material that could be construed as conducive to racial (as opposed to religious) disharmony with a $7000 fine or 3 months' imprisonment. Thus far, these penalties have not been invoked - but in a country so rife with Political Correctness that we now have a femiban lawyer urging all the nation's males to march in the streets, heads hung in shame in collective guilt over child-molestation (with the Commissioner for Children supporting her), how far off can it be? The Race Relations Conciliator has already said he'll be "screening" the utterances of public figures to ensure they're within the the law.
It is proper & urgent that we in the west repel the Taleban without; equally, we must follow Mr Bean & resist the Taleban within - else why are we bothering?
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