I was reading over at Ars Technica that the EU has agreed to harmonise what acts are considered criminal in relation to terrorism. In particular, they want “public provocation to commit a terrorist offence” to be a crime.
Problem is, who determines what is provocation? It’s that old chestnut again – who defines what kind of speech is acceptable. The police in London have in the past arrested peaceful protesters for causing too much embarrassment to Chinese officials in the past. George Washington was labelled a rebel by the ruling British powers of the day, and if he had lost would have been considered a terrorist.
To give a real world example, what if I were to suggest that America, having invaded Iraq causing over one million Iraqis to die, is seen as the mortal enemy of many Islamists, is that incitement? I mean, if they are the enemy of believers, then surely they should be fighting them? And, well, if you don’t have a military capable of taking on the US, perhaps guerilla/terrorist tactics, especially in a warzone like Iraq, are probably the best/only option?
Even better, what if I said that the US was justified in grabbing people in foreign countries and torturing them, and that they should expand their operations? Surely an incitement to terrorism if ever I heard one.
If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.
– John Stewart Mill
The other worrying aspect of the decision is to criminalise “training for terrorism”. Paintball is training for terrorism. Studying American torture methods could be terrorist training, if the intention were to use yourself.
Ultimately the decision of what is okay and what is not will come down to judges and juries. That is unacceptable in my opinion – the law must be clear about what is legal and what is not.