Eroding Civil Liberties

All who have been keeping up with the news lately can’t have helped but notice that yet again we have stuff moving towards the doors of parliament that involve a trade-off between our civil liberties and the “fight against terrorism”. I’m commenting on this because I don’t see enough debate on this in the blogosphere and as such I want to get peoples views and voice a few of my own.

In order to determine what is legitimate in order to fight terrorism we first of all have to decide exactly what terrorism is. The dictionary defines terrorism as [the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, esp. for political purposes]. It should therefore seem reasonable that only actions which fit this definition should be deemed a terrorist action and therefore only measures which prevent such an action should be considered valid counter-terrorism measure.

There is a problem here however. We already have a number of acts passed through parliament that mention counter terrorism but what they appear to address is not in fact terrorism but other issues entirely, and yet according to these acts anyone caught doing these actions should be treated as a terrorist when their actions do not actually correlate with the dictionary definition of terrorism.

That is practically an aside though (although it is certainly something that should be addressed). The problem is the methods employed by the counter-terrorism measures – they almost always involve us giving up certain rights that we have enjoyed for a good number of years and indeed should continue to be enjoyed. Furthermore you have to consider what terrorists aim to achieve; they want to affect our lives, make us scared, make us change our ways. In the act of giving up our civil liberties are we not in fact affecting our own lives, scaring ourselves and changing our ways before a terrorist has even been born?

It seems to me that we are doing this all wrong. When I woke up to news of explosions in in summer 2005 my first thoughts were to my friends who work in the city. Later my thoughts were of defiance; these people are not going to make me scared to go to London, to ride the tube, to live my life. Assuming I am correct in this action and not a mere fool, giving up our rights in the name of preventing terrorism is akin to waking a week after those attacks and being too scared to take the tube to work.

I don’t believe we should allow our government to pass laws and acts that force us to let the terrorists win by giving up our rights. They want us to change our lives for them. We need to make sure we don’t and show them we’re not afraid by living our lives with the freedoms we have always done. Only then can we truly beat the machine of terrorism which at present, by its mere mention, threatens to undermine every facet of freedom in our everyday lives that we should be able to take for granted.



  1. Simeon Jackson Said,

    June 2, 2007 @ 12:21 pm

    Hey. Its nice to see you make a comment about this subject since it has been so much on my mind lately. And the worrying thing, is not only that the government are going about the whole thing wrong, it is in fact that they are actually the terrorists. As you say, aren’t the only ones losing something and becoming scared from this the British people themselves. And has there been any conclusive proof that it was actually islamic extremists or afganistan militant groups that are behind this. No. Watch “Ludicrous Diversion”:

    More films on the subject:


    911 The Road to Tyranny:

    Worrying stuff.

  2. Chris Worfolk Said,

    June 2, 2007 @ 12:41 pm

    It’s a good point. I often wonder whether we would have more luck doing nothing. While something like 9/11 was massive and has had massive impact, something like 7/7 we can cope with. It stopped our transport network in one part of the country for a few days. We got by none the less. If we simply did nothing it would show them we’re not going to give them the attention.

  3. Kieran Said,

    June 2, 2007 @ 4:33 pm

    Thanks for the links Simeon. I don’t have the time to watch all the footage in them (over 5 hours!) but I’ve watched selected parts and there is certainly food for thought and a superb illustration of and addition to some of the points I have raised in my article.

  4. Norman Ralph Said,

    June 4, 2007 @ 7:54 pm

    Definitely an interesting point. I am a keen believer in getting the right balance between security and freedom. I agree with Chris’ attitude of we should not react to the provocation. I strongly feel that eroding civil liberties in order to “protect” us from terrorism is bordering on resembling Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Russia and Mao’s China. I believe in strong crime and punishment legislation but legiaslation that targets the criminals not the general public. However bad the terrorist threat might be it is a fairly low risk factor – statiistically similar to a nuclear disaster and we are not all being imprisoned without trial for that!

  5. Simeon Jackson Said,

    June 5, 2007 @ 2:12 pm

    Seriously. Watch “Ludicrous Diversion”:

  6. Kieran Said,

    June 6, 2007 @ 11:11 pm

    Thought provoking stuff for sure.

  7. roger gunderson Said,

    July 26, 2007 @ 7:05 pm

    I would say most folks don’t know or care if there rights
    are eroding or not.

  8. Kieran Said,

    July 31, 2007 @ 1:35 pm

    Roger, while this is most likely a valid statement, it should make this issue an even greater concern for those of us that do care; without the voice of many speaking out against this erosion of civil rights it makes it much harder to make ourselves heard.

    The bottom line is that no matter what the general apathetic public think, our rights are much harder to gain and protect than they are to take away and as such we have a duty to value them, protect them and fight for them when they are at risk.

  9. Simeon Jackson Said,

    July 31, 2007 @ 4:17 pm

    Many people don’t really even understand what liberty is, until it is too late, when you have no control over what happens. It was this situation that led to Nazi Germany. It was this situation that led to a phony and illegal war with Iraq. It is the people who ignore infringements on your freedom that are to blame for when it is taken away.

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