Tuesday, 20 August 2013

2013 Britain Is Not East Germany But...

Let us not kid ourselves. We are not living in the world of 1984. We are not in a position to cry out for freedom as if we're being oppressed. Though it is easy to compare our western civilisation to German Democratic Republic, such a direct comparison is an insult to the true horrors inflicted upon some East Germans by the GDR, such as Miriam in Anna Funder's heartrending book "Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall" who was arrested as a teenager for putting up posters against the regime, who tried to flee across the wall but was captured and imprisoned and who, once released, met and then lost the love of her life, Charlie, as he was arrested and possibly murdered.

We are not there yet. But East Germany does stand as an example of the terror of state intrusion into the private sphere, the malignance of the bloated bureaucracy needed to carry out that intrusion and the stifling of the free press, free movement and free expression of a people "for their own good".

Caron Lindsay rightly asks why our Government is still using the authoritarian parts of Labour's Terrorism Act in the wake of the David Miranda arrest. Perhaps more concerning is the recent raid on the Guardian's offices (and I'm not fan of the Guardian these days) to destroy hard drives held there.

Our Government is attempting to get Internet Service Providers to auto-filter content on the internet. For now we'll be able to ask that the filtered material is shown. Again this is a cause for concern, another little thing that (like the Terrorism Act) could be used in unintended (and possibly harmful) ways.

The treatment of such dangerous people as trainspotters and photographers, the attempts to silence the press, the detention (briefly or more long-term) of innocent (or as we now call them "suspect") people are deeply worrying indicators of the health of our liberty. We must rally against these intrusions, especially where they are shown to have no benefit. How many trainspotters have been found guilty of terrorism? How many photographers have turned out to be doing recon for Al-Qaeda? What stories has the Guardian printed that, other than being a offense to good taste and right thinking, have threatened anything other than the reputation of certain US government agencies?

We must ask more questions like this. We must question the accepted narrative of the anti-terrorism laws. We must fight against Government overreach.

We are not East Germany. Let's keep it that way.

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