Information Landmine

"The Americans keep telling us how successful their system is. Then they remind us not to stray too far from our hotel at night." - An un-named EU trade representative quoted during international trade talks in Denver, Colorado, 1997.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

R Kelly must die

Prospective visitors to Nuns Moor road will be pleased to hear that we have re-instated the death list. For those unfamiliar with this fine institution, the idea is simply to compile a list of all those people who the household feels are doing humanity a grave disservice by continuing to draw breath. R Kelly is traditionally top of the list, for obvious reasons. After that, you can add anyone you (don't) like: ours is so far a pretty standard selection of Project for the New American Century "visionaries", global media tyrants, and celebrities with their own brands of perfume - although the list gets longer every time we watch the news. Anyway, apart from constituting a binding agreement amongst house-mates to stab Tony Blair in the face if he ever walks through the front door, the main point of us doing the thing is to amuse ourselves. It might be in bad taste, but it's fun, and you shouldn't condemn something out of hand if it can relieve even a little bit of the near-terminal depression I get when I turn on the telly of a Saturday evening, only to find it was left on BBC1 and I've unwittingly exposed myself to Strictly Come Dancing. Really. Next time some particular bit of politics or culture has you so annoyed you want to punch yourself in the face, try sitting down and writing a list of the specific motherfuckers who need to be put up against a wall in order for things to be set right. You'll feel better.

Therapeutic value aside, the reason I'm going on about this little bit of apparent irrelevance is that every so often we wonder about the legality of it all - how easy would it be for us to fall foul of the Terrorism Act? Obviously, for practical purposes, it's pretty unlikely - any idiot should be able to tell that these are basically the angry rantings of a bunch of perpetual children who pose about absolutely no threat to the security of Great Britain. I very much doubt the Crown Prosecution Service would want to bet otherwise.

So what the fuck is going on with Samina Malik, who as far as I can tell, has been convicted for doing pretty much exactly the same thing? This is the girl who wrote all the (bad) poems about beheading and downloaded a couple of Anarchist's Cookbook style pdf.s. The only difference between her case and ours is that we're old and supposedly educated enough to know better. Oh, and she's a bit Islamic.

So it's a pretty vicious incursion on freedom of expression, and a racist one at that. Even if there was any plausible reason for the prosecution, this would be worrying. But the really scary thing is what it shows us about how the Terrorism Act is being used. Her supposed offence is "collecting information, without reasonable excuse, of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism" (not the poems). Now I've always thought that this was a pretty stupid law, but I do seem to remember that the justification for it when it was passed was that it was a good way to nip a potential atrocity in the bud - if you found people who were actually making serious plans to blow shit up (or whatever), then you could prosecute on the basis of that evidence far more easily. Put another way, it was billed as a way of lowering the bar for convictions of those conspiring to commit or to assist in acts of mass murder.

This whole Malik case seems to me to show that we're some way beyond that now: I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person who finds all the supposedly shocking details of her dalliance with terrorist chic to be striking evidence that the only person she could possibly have posed a threat to was herself: anyone who announces their passion for watching beheading videos on a social networking site is not a criminal mastermind, folks.

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Blogger Steve said...

The way you feel about R Kelly is pretty much exactly how I feel about Robbie Williams. Let the (virtual) executions begin!

17 December, 2007 13:06  
Blogger Uncle Petie said...

I'll mark him down.

07 January, 2008 00:37  

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