As Americans continue to debate whether so-called “hate speech” should be considered free speech, the United Kingdom is pursuing legislation that will carry a 15-year prison sentence for viewing “far-right propaganda.”
There is a heated debate in the United States right now about corporate censorship and the restriction of right-wing speech, and amidst all the hoopla it’s easy to forget the dire state or even nonexistence of free speech in the rest of the “first world.”
For instance, the United Kingdom has decided to tackle its rampant terrorism problem by proposing prison terms of fifteen years for those found viewing “terrorist content” online. And as to the interpretation of what might fall within that vague category.
Well, as The Daily Caller reports:
“But what might constitute terrorist content? According to British Home Secretary Amber Rudd, that concept includes ‘far-right propaganda.’
‘I want to make sure those who view despicable terrorist content online, including jihadi websites, far-right propaganda and bomb-making instructions, face the full force of the law,’ Rudd said in a statement Tuesday.
That statement sends a clear message the British government will use a bill supposedly designed to curtail terrorism as the pretext to shut down speech it doesn’t like. But we shouldn’t be surprised by this idea — restricting internet freedom has been the most popular proposal among British politicians in reaction to recent terror attacks.”
Indeed, the crackdown on what are somewhat arbitrarily deemed “extremist sites” has been by far the most popular response to terrorism by the British government.
Prime Minister Theresa May proposed this very law after this year’s Manchester bombings and London stabbings, making it a key issue for her party during June’s parliamentary elections.
Instead of looking into ways to restrict immigration from areas known for Islamic extremism, provide the police and general populace with better means to protect themselves, or promote more caution and profiling when dealing with likely terrorism suspects, internet censorship appears to be the cornerstone of the U.K.’s anti-terrorism efforts.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with removing Islamist extremist content from the internet, the government’s peculiar insistence on throwing “far-right propaganda” into the definition of extremist content plaguing British social media is highly political to say the least.
If it passes, this fifteen-years-for-racist-memes legislation will put the already liberty-free U.K. on par with Canada in the competition for biggest suppression of free speech, the latter having passed a law earlier this year that threatens jail time for those who do not use a transgender person’s preferred gender pronouns.