Gov't Extremism Disruption Orders Threaten YOUR Liberties
The Home Office is preparing a new Extremism Bill, and many Britons, from all walks of life and all political persuasions, are rightfully anxious about it.
Late last year, David Cameron's Government started to float the idea of so-called Extremism Disruption Orders (aka, EDOs) which would be the centre-piece of this new Bill - EDOs are orders which could be used by the Government to restrict or ban the activity and movement of people, considered by the Government, to be involved in "extremist" activities, even if the law has not been broken.
Although the Bill has not yet been published, parts of it have been seen by the press, and much has been said about it by those in power.
And, the scary thing is: the Government and its Ministers (as well as other Tory MPs) have not explicitly stated that fundamental civil liberties - such as the right of free speech, the right to practise religion, and the right to assembly - will be protected against possible abuse.
For this reason, a variety of organizations, including secular and religious organisations on both the Right and the Left - like, the National Secular Society, Big Brother Watch and The Christian Institute - have joined together to work on this issue, as, regardless of their differences, they all understand the real and live threat to the basic and fundamental freedom of free speech. Check out their informative website here.
Indeed, if the Bill remains as it has been reported be, its wide scope and vague definition of "extremism" could certainly lead EDOs being applied to people who simply hold views which are unconventional, dissenting, old-fashioned, Christian, anti-authoritarian, traditional, unpopular, etc.
Many peaceful people, whose right it is to dissent or express challenging views, could be caught up in EDOs; such people could include street preachers, peaceful protestors, and campaigners.
And, according to BBC reports, EDOs could be used to:
* Ban someone from speaking in public, on the news, or in social media.
* Restrict an individual's right of association - telling them who they may, or may not, associate with.
* Ban someone from assuming a position of authority, such as being the principal of a school.
* Prosecute and jail someone for breaking such an Order.
Alarm over EDOs is not scaremongering. Here are a number of short quotations from people in power, especially those close to these decisions. Please notice how, on one hand, their tone is strident, while, on the other, how their terminology around the specifics is vague and broad.
From David Cameron, Prime Minister: "For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: As long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone. It's often meant we have stood neutral between different values. And that's helped foster a narrative of extremism and grievance. This Government will conclusively turn the page on this failed approach".
From Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne: Extremism Disruption Orders will go "beyond terrorism” and “eliminate extremism in all its forms".
From the Home Secretary, Theresa May: "Our definition of extremism is 'the vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs".
From MP, Mark Spencer: EDOs "would apply in situations where a teacher was specifically teaching that gay marriage is wrong".
From Former Head of MI5, Sir Jonathan Evans: "One can imagine already the powers being used against harmless evangelical street preachers or the like, out of misplaced zeal and a desire to demonstrate that they are not directed against one religion alone."
Again, the problem is two-fold: 1) People in Government are explicitly saying that the force of law will not simply be used to quell violent Islamist radicalisation (for example), but rather, a whole host of thorny opinions, like those who believe in, and express their belief in, the natural family; and 2) Key definitions of "extremism" and "British values" are left wide-open to subjective interpretation, thereby making anyone in opposition to the Government a potential target of an EDO.
This petition, which is being sent to the Ministers and Parliamentary Leaders listed at the top of the petition (on the right-hand side of this page), simply asks them to scrap EDOs in favour of a more nuanced approach to violent radicalisation, using the myriad of existing anti-terror laws which are already on the books. Please see this article which details the laws already available to law enforcement to fight violent radicalisation.
Not so long ago, we had the scourge of the "Nanny State". Now, we're peering down the future at a genuine police state - equipped with the apparatus and the rule of law to effect the will of the Government. This is not a Left or Right thing...this is a freedom thing.
People need urgent reminding of Benjamin Franklin's dictum: "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." And, those who are in Government need urgent reminding that the people still want their freedoms!
So, please sign this critical petition, asking Government Ministers and Parliamentary Leaders to leave EDOs out of the forthcoming Extremism Bill.
And then, please pass this on to your freedom loving friends, family and neighbours.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Sign this petition now!
Members of Gov't and Opposition Leaders: Wrongheaded EDOs will seriously diminish personal freedoms