Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Elite hypocrisy: suffragettes, terrorism and freedom of expression

The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, has indicated that she is looking at pardons for suffragettes. The rationale for this post facto condoning of crimes is assumed to be so obvious as to not need to be even stated: the suffragettes were fighting for a fundamental human right, which cannot be a crime and should be honoured and celebrated.

Yet, Amber Rudd (and all the others pushing for these pardons) is all in favour of criminalising people, in the here and now, for having the audacity to exercise their fundamental human right to freedom of expression.

The hypocrisy of holding these two positions simultaneously is apparently completely lost on Ms Rudd, and the rest of the political media elite.

Today, the BBC's Daily Politics programme had a segment on the problem of people expressing opinions that the elite do not like. It was immediately followed by a segment glorifying the criminal actions of suffragettes. The BBC's journalists and guest politicians were apparently completely unaware of any contradiction. Of course, the suffragettes were fighting for their human rights over a hundred years ago. The fight for the right of women to vote has long been a non-issue. However, the fight for the right to freedom of expression is very much a current issue, with the political media elite determined to stamp out voices that are critical of their narratives.

There are a raft of laws that criminalise freedom of expression; laws that the political media elite are all in favour of and indeed generally consider to not go far enough, as the BBC's Daily Politics segment amply demonstrated. The most obviously pertinent of those laws in relation to the lionising of the suffragettes is the Terrorism Act 2006, which makes it a criminal offence, punishable by up to seven years' imprisonment, to encourage terrorism, even where the person did not intend to encourage terrorism. The relevance here resides in the fact that terrorism is violence to promote a political purpose, which is precisely what the suffragette campaign was. Thus, pardoning, justifying, glorifying, celebrating the suffragettes is a criminal offence under the Terrorism Act, as it clearly encourages the view that violence for political purposes is, not merely acceptable, but heroic and praiseworthy.

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