What a Wonderful Country

Matthew Parris:

We have found someone out thinking something awful, and we feel she has no right in this country to think or say it, and should somehow be stopped. Thought was the crime. The internet was just the evidence.

Samina Malik is awaiting sentencing fo posting poetry to the internet.

16 comments on “What a Wonderful Country

  1. He almost touches upon the great truth, the great complication of having a free society. We accept that a person is free to think what they wish, that the domain of the mind is private. We believe that people are not free to act as they wish, that these actions by their public nature must be constrained in a way that thought is not. However, how do we deal with expression, that nebulous region between mind and motion. For example, I can think about killing a person and though I can’t legally kill them, can I legally say I’m going to?

    I, like Parris, prefer to allow expression rather than repress it. However, in such allowance, we must not assume that expression is only of thought because its implications for action, if only in the threatened perceptions of others, is considerable. It is for this reason you get a grubby but necessary form of compromise in what is reasonable for expression and what is not.

  2. It was a good piece until Parris inexplicably decided to add Chris Langham to the mix. Thought crime? Tell that to the children who suffered anal, vaginal and oral rape for Mr Langham’s viewing delectation.

  3. Perhaps if she hadn’t worked at an airport, they wouldn’t have bothered going forward with this prosecution…?

  4. I am unconvinced. We have always punished some crimes that are only thoughts. Attempted murder requires a criminal state of mind and some steps in the right direction, but not an actual murder. Suppose that someone plans to kill their spouse, and writes a long detailed account on their computer and buys some of the tools, have they committed a crime? We don’t have to wait until someone is actually dead. Malik did not merely write poetry. She also downloaded Jihadi manuals and spoke of her desire to become a martyr. As for Langham, real children got hurt. He paid someone who had hurt them real money so that he could enjoy watching them being hurt. I don’t give a damn about free speech if it allows this to happen without a legal punishment. It is vile. Nor do I believe that any civilised legal ssytem would let this pass. If he wants to watch Japanese cartoon characters being raped I might have fewer problems, but this was and is wrong.

  5. I can’t wait for the request from Iran,”We told you words are dangerous, now can we have Salman Rushdie?”

  6. Tim,

    Please define what values are shared by those British people of whatever faith who understand the true worth of free speech, and someone like Mailk, who wrote “The desire within me increases every day to go for martyrdom, the need to go increases second by second.”; “”Kafirs your time will come soon, and no one will save you from your doom.”; “We will not let you have any peace. We will show no remorse, no mercy and no regrets”; “Show the children videos and pictures of mujahideen and tell them to become strong like them. Explain how the Mujahideen fear no man – they fear Allah alone, and for his sake they are able, willing and capable to do anything in defence of Islam” –

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/11/08/npoet108.xml

    These sound like quite clear incitements to violence; so we did not jail Malik for ‘posting poetry to the internet’ – we jailed her for something that is a real, actual, bona fide crime. Something that has always been a crime.

    English liberalism will be the death of us.

  7. “Tell that to the children who suffered anal, vaginal and oral rape for Mr Langham’s viewing delectation.”

    So you would not criminalize computer-generated or hand-drawn fictional child pornography? Because that too is illegal.

  8. Looks like we are in a decided minority, Tim. It is probably true that most people are more than willing to exchange their freedom for security. They always end up with less of both in the end, though.

  9. “It is probably true that most people are more than willing to exchange their freedom for security. ”

    No, not true.

    Malik incited violence. This is a crime. By any standard, she is a criminal. I do not know if she was prosecuted under any anti-terrorism law; but even if she were, it wasn’t necessary. Ever heard of the Riot Act?

    Sorry chaps, but you thinking’s all just a bit wet for this time in the morning.

  10. What JulieM said. Arrests for bad poetry are only as insane as insisting that companies employing people airside at Heathrow aren’t allowed to discriminate against people who believe that flying airliners into buildings is a fine way to advance their policy position.

  11. Pingback: World Samina Malik Day December 6th « Clattery MacHinery on Poetry

  12. @KT – currently computer-generated CP is illegal only when it is photo-realistic (the logic in passing this law in the first place was to stop Langham-ites claiming that their pictures were computer-generated, and the CPS therefore having to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the image was actually real).

    Some people floated the idea of extending the law to cartoons, hand-drawn pictures, etc (presumably on the grounds that they’re Way Gross, and that everyone who likes to draw or look at pictures of Way Gross things ought to be locked up), but AIUI this hasn’t got anywhere.

Leave a Reply

Name and email are required. Your email address will not be published.