Cameron Calls For A Break From “A Passively Tolerant Society” And Allow For The Criminalization of A Wide Array Of Speech

big-brother-is-watching-you_thumbnailDavid_Cameron_officialBritish Prime Minister David Cameron has long been a target of civil libertarians criticizing his dismissive attitude toward basic rights and particularly speech and privacy rights in that country. As if to prove his critics right, Cameron has publicly made comments that can be best described as Orwellian and some have gone as far as describing as fascistic. In calling for new extensive powers, Cameron said “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.” It seemed like a scene out of V for Vendetta as Cameron called on citizens to give up their rights to fight the threat of terror.

This chilling statement was made in support of new counter-terrorism powers that include new police powers to apply to the high court for an order to limit the “harmful activities” of an extremist individual. The definition of harmful is to include a risk of public disorder, a risk of harassment, alarm or distress or creating a “threat to the functioning of democracy”. That ill-defined standard would allow a wide array of speech to be effectively criminalized by the government. It is hard to see how much unpopular speech would not pose a “risk of harassment, alarm, or distress.” I am not even sure what “creating a threat to the function of democracy” means. More importantly, speakers will not know what the government will view as violating such ill-defined terms.

England has seen the rise of calls for speech prosecutions, including this month. We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in England ( here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here).

Cameron has become the face of the trend toward the criminalization of speech. Despite our great debt to England and shared values, the two countries differ dramatically in their approaches to free speech. The English have long given the Crown sweeping powers under the expectation that these powers will be used judiciously. For much of its history, the Crown has shown restraint but it has also a history of threatening media and unpopular speakers. There is a risk that the current fears over Islamic extremism will convince people to embrace a type of benign authoritarianism. When you have a Prime Minister who feels comfortable in criticizing a history of being a “tolerant passive society,” it is clear that we are entering a dangerous period where citizens may indeed voluntarily give up the rights secured at such a great cost by prior generations.

104 thoughts on “Cameron Calls For A Break From “A Passively Tolerant Society” And Allow For The Criminalization of A Wide Array Of Speech”

  1. Tyger, too bad you have no sense of humor. Maybe visions of executing people you deem unworthy of living in society makes you chuckle instead, hmmm?

  2. Nick, though what you say about Perot is true, he ultimately didn’t change the growth of the Deficit, did he? The latest president helped send the Debt higher into the stratosphere than it ever has gone before.

  3. Some of Merriam Webster’s Dictionary’s definitions of “Trump”: (noun) A decisive overriding factor or final resource, a dependable and exemplary person, (verb) To do better than someone or something in a contest or competition, to be more important. Could this be predictive of a victory for The Donald, since he seems to be a winner, by definition, as well as by his actions and wealth?

  4. When someone starts criticizing a candidate for his hairstyle, it says more about her ability to make a coherent and convincing case against him than it does about his willingness to state the truth and express his opinions about it openly, despite what other politicians, who are mostly sleazy and dishonest, will say about him.

  5. I am enjoying Trump on the campaign trail. He brings up issues which his other “Party” members seem to avoid. Immigration is one. I am a Democrat but I may just vote for The Donald. If it is a three way race I will. If he is the RepubliCon I will. If he is not on the ticket then as a write in.

  6. Don’t blame Trump, I blame Republicans who show him zero respect. If they want to take the country back, they better mind their p’s & q’s. I’m sick of these ball-less republicans and their sniveling political speak! Trump speaks truth. I want illegals out, screw the Iranian deal, bomb the hell out of ISIS, roll the liberal crazies on their backs and screw the political correctness and I want God and my country back. Not one of those pansy republicans have the gonads to speak it. I want our military back to Reagan era force and guns in their hands, here in the U.S. Only Trump does!

    1. Lisa N:

      But the U.S. Military haven’t been successful since WW2. Look at Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq. These are hardly success stories. The most powerful army in the world was defeated by Rice Padi Farmers in Vietnam. Look at what Foreign Policy has done to the image of America abroad. The country is being attacked from within and this is likely to continue. What is needed is a States(wo)man, someone who commands wide respect and can unify the country so that it can once again set an example to the rest of the world. If 350 million Americans cannot produce a person such as this you are doomed.

      1. ninianpeckitt – there wouldn’t have been a Vietnam if there hadn’t been a Churchill carving up the world at the end of WWII. And we won Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom. All the British have done have beaten up a 3 world country in South America.

        1. Paul C Schulte

          Churchill was kicked out in 1945 and took no part in the US USSR carve up.

          The war in Iraq is still going on. It has spread to Syria. The Middle East is now in a much greater mess. Weapons of Mass destruction didnr exist. In Afghanistan you even invaded the wrong country looking for Bin Laden. I cannot see how any rational thinking person can consider these adventures a success.

          1. ninianpeckitt – research the Yalta and Malta Conferences. Stalin and Churchill divved up the world.

            1. Actually the deal was done between FDR and Stalin with Churchill as junior partner. I’m surprised you don’t know this.

              FDR believed he had a special personal relationship with Stalin – ‘he hates the guts of all your top people’, he told Churchill. So at Yalta, Roosevelt almost ignored Churchill, and supported Stalin.

              When Churchill suggested delaying Operation Overlord, and opening up the Mediterranean theatre, Roosevelt and Stalin united to defeat him.

              Churchill was furious about FDR meeting with Stalin in secret without Churchill being present but frankly he couldn’t do much about it.

              Britain was not in any position to carve anything up. The USA and USSR were in control. The result was that we had 50 years of subjugation of Eastern Europe. Poland and Czecheslovakia were thrown to the wolves. And the UK went to war for the freedom of Poland. They were sold out…. the Czechs even worse. Sold out twice in 1938 and again in 1945.

              It was a shabby business but Britain was not strong enough to secure Freedom for the Poles and Czechs. And FDR saw them as expendable.

              So much for your “Freedom” it”s all humbug….

              1. ninianpeckitt – check out the ‘naughty agreement’ made by Churchill and Stalin, splitting up the world into Communist and non-Communist countries. FDR was a very sick man who was self-deluded into thinking he could handle ‘Uncle Joe.’ He couldn’t. Truman had to clean up the mess.

  7. Lisa, I see Trump playing the same role as the midget psycho Ross Perot. That little monkey kept HAMMERING @ the deficit and damn if it didn’t become a real campaign issue.

  8. Screw Rick Perry. Not a fan of his anymore. Trumps numbers climbing by the second. He resonates with the American people. If they attack Trump, their off my list. They need Trumps gonads.
    🇺🇸🇺🇸Donald Trump🇺🇸🇺🇸

  9. Squeek, It amazes me that the socialists fail to acknowledge that the US Constitution is about INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS. Many of these stupid fools know nothing about US history or civics.

    1. Nick Spinelli: It is the concept and futile attempts of implementation of individual rights that makes your system unworkable. It also means your Republic has always been undemocratic and elections and will of the people are meaningless. It means that American society doesn’t exist and the population is at great risk from the influence of minority groups.

      It is absolutely fascinating that you don’t see this.

      You are in good company though. Margaret Thatcher didn’t believe in the existence of Society and look what happened to her. Remember she didn’t lose the vote. She just didn’t win by enough. She was stabbed in the back – and it happened without warning. So be warned….

      Individual freedom cannot coexist with democracy. It is always modified whether we like it or not as nothing else is workable. That is why individual freedom is a delusion. It has never existed and more importantly it can never exist.

      Americans have never been able to understand this and this disability will be the Genesis of your own destruction. No enemy is required, you will accomplish this yourselves – but without realising it.

      1. ninianpeckitt – get an American Government for Dummies book. Then read it cover to cover. Then get back to us. I am sure they sell it in the UK. You would probably make valid arguments if you knew what you were talking about, but right now, you don’t.

        I would be more concerned with the EU taking over the UK.

  10. Paul, I see one of our reality TV OCDers is obsessing on the only reality TV candidate for Prez, the Donald. I think the best thing that could happen for many people is to have someone take away their TV’s and make them get out into the real world.

  11. Dr. Peckitt, collective rights have more weight than individual rights, IMO, but this country has half the population who bought the idea ( thanks for nothing Reagan) that individual rights are more important that the society as a whole, that government is the enemy and should be “small enough to drown in a bathtub”. This self centered ideology runs deep and strong in this country. Progressives who favor what’s good for the whole of society while respecting individual rights are demonized as Communists. Many conservatives buy into this nonsense. I think as long as the political philosophies are still divided roughly evenly in this country, we will prevail and collapse is not imminent.

    1. I.Annie : Anarchy is described as the “absence or non recognition of authority or other controlling systems” so if your data is correct there appears to be 50% of Americans who are in this group. Sometimes collapse of a system happens by stealth and is difficult to recognise intrinsically as public opinion is manipulated.

Comments are closed.