Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Liberty is dead! Long live liberty!

Good 2 page analysis at the Register with some valid points:

  • What is the difference between "restriction" and "deprivation" of liberty? Is "physical" liberty (i.e. movement) so different from "mental" liberty (e.g. freedom of speech and freedom of religion)? Freedom of assembly may lie somewhere in the middle. Perhaps Clarke is concentrating on justifying the physical side, and simply clamping down on the mental side.

  • New laws for liberty restriction covers all the people that the government merely suspects - at the moment, there's nothing that can be done without evidence (funny, that...). The old statistics of 700 arrested, 17 convicted comes back here, and the issue at stake is whether or not these 683 people, suspected of crime, should be free or "restricted", and on what evidence. As paranoia increases, this number is bound to increase exponentially, and there's no reason why the proportion of convictions will change.

What's certain is that the government is now clearly in the grey zone - that limbo legal land where people are neither guilty nor innocent. As has been seen in the US, and in dictatorial regimes around the world, this is a zone occupied by doubt. When one person's innocence is another's guilt, the ruling comes down to who's making the rules, and what they're afraid of.

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