New extremism laws would stifle free speech
13 May 2015
Home Secretary Theresa May appeared on BBC Radio 4 Today programme. View the video. (Photo: BBC)

Home Secretary Theresa May appeared on BBC Radio 4 Today programme. View the video. (Photo: BBC)

The UK Home Secretary’s preview of a proposed new counter-extremism bill raises the stakes for freedom of expression in the United Kingdom. Index on Censorship is disturbed by the potential impact on free speech embedded in the proposals.

“While the exact wording of the law remains to be seen, it is unclear why new legislation is needed. Current laws on incitement to violence and hatred can already be applied to extremist individuals or groups. New laws risk simply stifling a far broader range of speech”, Index on Censorship CEO Jodie Ginsberg said.

Under previous proposals put forward by Theresa May, extremists would have been banned from TV and stricter controls on what could be said on the internet would have been imposed.

May’s insistence that the proposed law would be applied to those seeking to undermine vaguely defined “British values” is a broad brush that could end up being applied to anyone who simply disagrees with the government. As Index said in October 2014, the proposals smack of the McCarthy witch-hunts of the 1950s in the United States.

According to May, the UK already has the world’s toughest anti-terrorism legislation. Adding to this body of laws is unnecessary. Index remains convinced that driving debate underground is not the answer in tackling extremism or terrorism.

3 responses to “New extremism laws would stifle free speech”

  1. Michael Cecil says:

    According to the Quran, “Allah will hurl Truth at falsehood until only Truth reigns supreme.” But the media simply will NOT allow (and the Index on Censorship simply does not CARE about) the Truth of the Revelations in the Quran to be publicized; for example, the Truth about the Revelation of “the resurrection” (see my website) which is LETHAL to the demonic doctrine of the houris, which provides a significant motivation for 20-something year old MALE terrorists.

    The only effective counter-narrative to the LIES of the Muslim terrorists is the Truth; but publicizing that Truth would THREATEN the economic viability of the Muslim religious establishment itself.

    To summarize, those who are being slaughtered by Muslim terrorists are being SACRIFICED to preserve the JOBS of even the MODERATE Muslim religious ‘authorities’; which is WHY the choice is being made to, INSTEAD, censor and suppress more speech rather than publish the Truth.

  2. Terry says:

    If tougher laws meant they still couldnt deal with someone like anjem choudhary then there would be no point to changing the legislation. I hope they get tough on these sorts of people.

  3. Steve Hill says:

    You are right to be cautious, but it is not really possible to criticise until we see exactly what is proposed. I don’t believe “do nothing” is an adequate response to someone like Anjem Choudhary, a qualified lawyer who knows exactly how to stay within the (existing) law whilst spreading a very poisonous and dangerous message. There was a clip on BBC Radio 4 news this morning of him on a podium in Belgium saying proudly “I have come to radicalise your country”.

    We, and his audience of young Muslims, know exactly what “radicalise” means in this context. But I don’t think we could under existing law persuade a UK court that it means violence – at least, on the evidence, that is what our prosecutors seems to believe. I am amenable to reasonable change on this one.