The war on terror has been used by the UK Government as a battering ram to the rights of the citizens of this country. New laws have been passed, including two new terrorism acts (2000 and 2006), which have restricted free speech and the rights of demonstrators to protest, given the police new powers of stop and search, and let's not forget the 28 days detention and control orders.
You may say "well, you have nothing to fear unless you have something to hide". I would say this is a cop out argument that leads to fascism. If you don't protest when you still can, you may wake up one day to find that you can't protest at all.
I am not a terrorist, but nor are most people who have been affected by this new age of fighting terrorism. It's the thin edge of the wedge, in which the Governement has taken advantage of people's fears about terrorist attacks to introduce laws which might be justifiable if only applied to real terrorists. But who can forget 82 year old Walter Wolfgang, who was dragged out of the Labour conference for heckling Jack Straw under the Terrorism Act in 2005? Or what about Gordon Brown invoking the Terrorism Act to freeze Iceland's bank accounts during 2008?
Just these two acts alone prove how our Government intends to use these new powers for reasons other than fighting terrorism. Once the public has been forced into a mindset that demands protection from unseen shadowy terrorists who must be dealt with severely, this then allows the Government to widen the scope of what actually constitutes terrorism. One day you are a protester exercising your legal right of protest; the next you are a terrorist trying to overthrow the state with subversive acts. Take a look over the pond to see how the US government is trying to class gun owners, ex-servicemen and Ron Paul supporters as domestic terrorists.
It seems that the US constitution is slowly being eroded bit by bit. I never used to understand the Americans' fascination with their right to bear guns; however as I read up about Thomas Jefferson and the other founding fathers and their desire to protect the people against the tyranny of government, it makes perfect sense. I especially love the following two quotes from Jefferson:
No man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.
And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
I have come to have a renewed respect for the founding fathers of America, and contemporary patriots who want the US government to return to the constitution. The world would be a quieter and probably safer place if it did.
Even though Jefferson and Washington kicked their British rulers out during the war of Independence, we Brits must never forget that the father of the revolution was Thomas Paine, an Englishman whose books The Age of Reason and The Rights of Man had enormous influence on the Age of Enlightenment and the Revolutions of France and America. Two new republics were born, which both decreed that man had inalienable rights that could not be taken away by government. Therefore when people see their government treating their constitution as "just a piece of paper" - as George Bush famously called it - and trampling over their rights as if their inalienable rights were just an outdated idea that had no place in this century, then I can see why they get so upset over the 2nd amendment.
Here in the UK it's too late for us to starat bearing arms - we are a disarmed nation since the massacres of Dunblane and Hungerford - but then, unlike the Americans, we never had an inalienable right to bear arms anyway. In fact, although the UK passed the first ever bill of rights in 1689, it was never thought necessary for us to have a written constitution like the French and Americans. I think it would be in our best interests to draw up our own document as soon as possible. Yes we have the Human Rights Act of 1998 which the right wing media decries and complains about almost every other day as something that has been imposed on us from Europe. However ridiculous the examples the Daily Mail and Express use to denigrate this act seem, we should never feel that getting rid of the Human Rights Act would be in our best interest.
Civil rights have been hard fought and won through years of battle between state and populace. Any document that tries to enshrine our rights for future prosperity should be cherished and held in high esteem. We should also remember that it was British lawyers that drew up the Europen Convention on Human Rights, which the Human Rights Act is based on, in 1950 after the horrors of the Second World War. We should view this act as an example of Brits bringing civil rights to the world rather than Europe imposing some alien concept on us.
From the Magna Carta in 1215 to John Lockes and Thomas Hobbes - from the first Bill of Rights to the Human Rights Act - we Brits have been at the forefront of civil rights and enshrining a social contract between populace and state. We should not let the fear of terrorism allow any of these hard won rights to be taken away. Once gone they will probably not come back unless a Liberal Democrat government gets in power, which simply cannot be counted on.
We are slowly walking down the path to a place that I don't want to call home. When George Orwell's 1984 starts to become a commentary on modern times then we must all stop and ask ourselves what the fuck is going on.