River Wissey Lovell Fuller


April 2006

Ron has some strong views on many topical subjects

Glorification of Terror

The new law currently (at time of writing) going to the House of Lords aims to make the 'glorification of terrorism' and 'giving encouragement to terrorism' illegal. Already 'incitement to kill' is against the law and that law should be applied forcefully, but 'glorification of terrorism' seems an undesirable law. If we are to have this law, it demands first that we have a definition of terrorism. One definition I have seen is: 'Terrorism is war conducted by those not sufficiently powerful to have an army. War is terrorism conducted by those who are powerful'. Certainly it is difficult to regard acts such as napalm bombing of civilians in neutral Cambodia as anything other than state sponsored terrorism. There are plenty of examples in history of people that were terrorists in the eyes of some but heroes in the eyes of others:

Were the members of the French resistance during the war terrorists? Certainly they were in the eyes of the Germans and in the eyes of many French people, but we, and our leaders glorified their actions. There was the violence instigated by the ANC in South Africa in which Nelson Mandela played a leading role, was he a terrorist? We glorified his actions. There was the terrorism in Ireland that culminated in the 1916 Easter Rising. Will it be illegal if we claim that it was justifiable and praise the outcome? The Stern Gang in Palestine became the kernel for the future government of Israel. America supported terrorism in South America e.g. Nicaragua. The actions of Fidel Castro in overthrowing the government in Cuba was seen as terrorism by some, but not by most Cubans. When Russia attempted to establish a central government in Afghanistan the Americans gave support to the Mujahadin who were opposing the Russians and the Russians regarded them as terrorists, nowadays it is the British and Americans who are trying to bring law and order to the country and those same people that were our allies are now regarded as terrorists by us.

In many of these instances, and many others, the leaders of the terrorists have gone on to become statesmen on the international stage and their terrorism has been glorified, not only by their supporters but in some instances by people around the world and by men such as Winston Churchill and some US Presidents. It does seem as though it might be ok to glorify terrorism as long as the terrorists are supporting government foreign policy.

If this law became established and I subsequently wrote expressing support for the Palestinian cause could that be seen as 'giving encouragement to terrorism' and, therefore, a criminal offence? If it becomes law then shouldn't those who celebrate Guy Fawkes' be prosecuted? Will we all need to be very careful about what we say and write? This law along with the law against 'inciting religious hatred' and others, are slowly eroding our rights to free speech. Unless you happen to be Prince Charles, to be a political dissident is going to become more difficult in future.

Whilst I have no time for the views of the historian David Irving, I believe that he should have the right to express them, I was appalled by the decision of the Austrian courts to imprison him for denying the holocaust. I regret that we in this country are now following a similar road and may soon be going in fear that something we say or write might land us in prison.

Ron Watts

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