Friday, November 16, 2007

Britain's Thought Police

And yes, we knew, we just knew that Hari Kunzru would have something to say about Samina Malik's case.

Hari confesses to having quite a stash of books on terrorism himself (not totally unrelated to the fact, I suppose, that he was researching a novel on the topic, My Revolutions).

On Samima Malik's case he says:
I have no idea whether Malik was giving material support to terrorists, or intending to become a suicide bomber. It certainly seems reasonable that she came to the attention of the authorities. However, we're now in the grip of our own terrorist panic, and rationality seems to be ebbing away. We seem to have accepted the principle that it should be illegal to think, read and write certain things. Incitement to violence is rightly criminalised, but what about imagining violence? It's hard not to link Malik's poems to other trends - the push for ever-widening hate speech laws, the calls for writers like Monica Ali to be "careful" about how they represent the world. We are being taught to be circumspect. How long before it's suggested we should shut up altogether?
There's a lot happening in Britain that deeply worries me ... and it doesn't have to do with terrorism.


Madcap Machinist said...

"We seem to have accepted the principle that it should be illegal to think, read and write certain things."

This is true, and disturbing.

Then again I do find that her reading material equally disturbing.

The question is, at what point is it considered dangerous? And what should be done?

bibliobibuli said...

i find it disturbing too ... and the fact she was working at the airport!

i don't know the answer to this. it tests the limits, doesn't it?

trouble is the precedents that it sets and the knock-on implications for everyone else

am beginning to understand just how muddy some of these freedom of speech issues are.

Anonymous said...

Well now you know. Personally, I think "disturbing" is good. If you don't talk about it, it still exists. What's disturbing is that it's being done, not that it's being described. Actions that are disturbing don't stop being disturbing if no one says anything about them.