[ 01:35 thursday 11 august – shipton street, london ]
over the past couple of weeks the government has been drip-feeding the mass media with tantalising details of draconian new legislation planned for the autumn. this is the political equivalent of the teaser campaigns executed in advance of big-budget film releases, designed to pique punters’ interest and get people talking by releasing a few carefully-chosen snippets without revealing the whole picture. the current administration is masterful at this form of manipulation and generally has an exquisite sense for the public mood (but not always). the supplicant media dutifully follows the designated script day after day.
the measures being trailed include allowing the police to detain a suspect without trial for three months, making it an offence to train people in anything that might help them commit a terrorist act, likewise to read any book or visit any website that could conceivably help you perpetrate a terrorist act, and making it an offence to do anything that might indirectly encourage someone else to commit a terrorist act. the government even dripped out a suggestion that the mediaeval crime of high treason could be resuscitated and applied to imams who say unpatriotic things. however i suspect this resulted from some kind of bet about how far the public’s limits of acceptance can be pushed. indeed, at present there don’t appear to be any limits at all.
it will be interesting if the indirect encouragement of terrorist acts is created as an offence, since invading a sovereign islamic republic would rather seem to constitute such an crime.