I dont think that I will be the only one alarmed by Theresa Mays proposals. Oh yes, theyll be welcomed in some quarters, but if I read them correctly, they represent the most draconian attack on freedom of speech in my lifetime (Editorial, 1 October). Added to the annihilation of our internet and telephonic privacy, they could take us into the Russian and Chinese domain of dissenter control. The argument that they are needed because of an ever-increasing terrorist threat fails against, for instance, the Northern Ireland troubles experience, where, deprived of, in Thatchers words, the oxygen of publicity, IRA recruitment thrived. And where will the censorship end? Investigative journalists, editors, actors, dramatists, criminalised for broaching the subject? Of particular concern is exactly what will qualify as extremism. Will it just be jihadist preachers and Holocaust deniers, or will it be the ultra-left, anybody who is seen as undermining or opposing the status quo? Will protests against bombing in Iraq or Syria now be banned? Will it, like other similar legislation in the past, such as the Terrorism Act, be abused? Who can be confident it wont? Relevant questions in my view. Taking away freedom on the pretext of preserving freedom, curbing democracy on the pretext of defending democracy, are not only contradictions, they are arguably a route to a totalitarian state.
Instead of hand-wringing and knee-jerk reactions, Theresa May, Muslim Womens Network, counter-terrorism experts and Bristol police (Report, 30 September) should look at our own country and its warmongering. Army cadet corps; armed forces recruitment adverts; Help the Heroes events; the media glorifying our brave lads... all acting as recruiting agents for the state and radicalising vulnerable youngsters into thinking killing these nasty people abroad is their patriotic duty. Our foreign policy may alienate some British Muslims, but our whole culture is geared to creating a militaristic state bent on war as a distraction from the misery at home. Continue reading...