Terror ASBOs treat the public like credulous half-wits

Yesterday it was announced that the British government is to introduce new powers to ‘silence’ so-called hate preachers. The measures have been drawn-up by the anti-terror task force set up by the prime minister, David Cameron, after the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby. Task-force members include deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and home secretary Theresa May.

The main weapon to be used to silence hate preachers will be a repackaged version of the ASBO which is to be called the Terror and Extremist Behaviour Order (TEBO). This will give civil authorities powers to tackle those who seek to ‘radicalise’ others. Individuals given TEBOs can be banned from speaking in public; associating with people who have been identified as vulnerable to radicalisation; and entering specific buildings such as mosques.

Cameron seems quite proud: ‘We have already put in place some of the toughest terrorism-prevention controls in the democratic world.’ But these are not sufficient, he continued: “We must work harder to defeat the radical views which lead some people to embrace violence… There are just too many people who have been radicalised in Islamic centres, who have been in contact with extremist preachers, who have accessed radicalising information on the internet… I want to see an end to hate preaching in Britain.’

Apart from the new TEBO orders, the anti-terror task-force also suggests the blocking of extremist websites and the banning of any group which the government believes is involved in ‘radicalising’ vulnerable individuals.

This is just the latest demonstration of Cameron’s condescending view of the public as animalistic half-wits who must be protected from seeing or hearing anything nasty lest they act on it. Last week, hardcore porn was turning us into rapists; this week, hate preachers are making us into terrorists. Cameron’s belief in this is so strong that he sees no problem in denying a wide range of liberties to those who have not been convicted of any criminal offence.

Banning those who preach hateful ideologies also diminishes the responsibility of those who commit horrific acts like the murder of Lee Rigby. Rather than seeing the perpetrators as fully responsible for their actions, they are now presented as powerless victims in thrall to Islamist preachers and jihadist bloggers. The guilt for acts of terror is indivisible and lies solely with those who perpetrate such crimes. To place the blame for such crimes on any crackpot who spouts Islamist nonsense belies the government’s belief that we lack the ability to control and to be accountable for our actions. 

Rossa Minogue is a documentary maker living in London.

comments powered by Disqus