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7/3/15

Democracy: Extremism and Censorship - by Samuel Westrop

  • There are obvious shortcomings in the British government's demand that all "beliefs" deserve "mutual respect." While it is important in a free society to tolerate beliefs we dislike, we should not be required to "respect" them.
  • If the government would stop funding and backing religious separatism, and start using existing laws to prosecute preachers who incite violence and promote terrorism, these measures would go a long way to preventing extremists from operating with impunity. Censorship, on the other hand, will harm everyone.
On May 27, a few weeks after the elections, Queen Elizabeth II addressed the British parliament with a speech that laid out a number of important proposed bills, including changes to immigration and the welfare system; a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union, and, most importantly, a series of new measures to tackle Islamic extremism.

The "Extremism Bill," the government has announced, will "unite our country and keep you and your family safe by tackling all forms of extremism." It will also "combat groups and individuals who reject our values and promote messages of hate."

To achieve this, the government is attempting to establish a number of new proscriptive powers. "Banning Orders" would allow the Home Secretary to outlaw designated "extremist groups." "Extremism Disruption Orders" would restrict the activities of individual, designated "extremists." They would be prohibited from appearing on television, and would have to submit any publications, including social media posts, to the police for prior approval. "Closure Orders" would allow the government to shut down institutions, including mosques, used to promote extremism.

In addition, the government has announced plans to take "tough measures against [television] channels that broadcast extremist content."

Changes to background checks would also mean that companies could find out whether a potential employee is an extremist. If so, they would be barred from working with children.

Read more: Extremism and Censorship

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