Monday, 23 March 2015

She's got a little list

Until surprisingly recently, Room 105 at the BBC harboured an ex-military chap who would stamp job applications and personnel file with an upside-down Christmas tree. This denoted non-chaps: ladies and gentlemen whose opinions were entirely legal yet considered rather infra dig

This is the way the British establishment does it: determines who deserves freedom of speech and who doesn't. Officially, unpleasant thoughts are perfectly legal. Unpleasant actions, however, are not. You can harbour paedophilic or extremist thoughts to your heart's content, as long as you don't act on them.

In practice, anyone suspected of Thought Crime will find themselves on a list. Today the Home Secretary announced that she has started an Enemies List.
A Home Office blacklist of extremist individuals and organisations with whom the government and public sector should not engage is being drawn up, Theresa May has revealed. 
The list of legal but unacceptable organisations is being compiled by a new Home Office “extremism analysis unit”, which is also to develop a counter-entryism strategy to tackle Islamist radicalisation and ensure there is no repeat of the Trojan horse affair in Birmingham schools across the public sector.
 Apart from being sinister, this seems rather stupid. If any of these perfectly law-abiding organisations do start to cross the line, we won't know anything about it.

This stuff isn't new: here's an excerpt from 1885's The Mikado (slightly updated, as is traditional)

and here's Eric Idle's version:

The basic question is this: who's an extremist? Followed by this: who decides? My answer's very simple: the courts decide, not little committees out of sight. If you've committed an offence, you get what's coming to you. If you haven't, you get the same rights as everybody else. Once we add a third category of People We Think Are A Bit Rum But Can't Quite Pin Anything On, we're all in trouble.

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