Friday, March 18, 2005


Theocracy on the March Pt. 3

"The Government is of the view that it is not listening not listening NA NA can't hear you"

As I believe I mentioned before, the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill was before the Lords on Tuesday. It includes the outlawing of incitement of "hatred against persons on racial or religious grounds". In part 1 of this series, I described the ambiguity about who such 'persons' might be and how, therefore, an attack against them might be distinguished from an attack on their religion.

The Ape is not one of the nation's finest legal minds. Perhaps his fears are unfounded. Maybe he's 'scaremongering'; or just plain crazy. Construal of statute is beyond him. But we can be sure that the Government, under the scrutiny of Parliament, will ensure the subteties of legal clarity lies behind the veil of his stupidity.

Or maybe they'll just wing it.

Here's Baroness Ramsay introducing the Bill in general:

"Speaking from experience of some nine years in this House, and especially from recent debates on Iraq and on the Prevention of Terrorism Act still painfully fresh in all our memories, I should like to submit, with respect, that lawyers are not the only people in our society who care deeply about justice and liberty and civil rights. They have chosen a profession that means that they know the detail of the law and the rules and practice of its procedures, but it does not give them a monopoly of wisdom about what is justice and what are human rights. The world does not begin and end at the door of a courtroom. It would well become lawyers if just occasionally they acknowledged that. Just as war is too important to leave to generals, I believe that in a democracy, justice is too important to leave to lawyers and judges."

Yes, democracy isn't just about laws. But she said this whilst proposing a new one.

So the Government's reaction to experts pointing out that a proposed law is severely flawed through ambiguity is:

1) Claim they misunderstand the intention of the Bill. (EH?)

2) Put their hands over their ears and repeat "not listening to lawyers not listening to lawyers".

Baroness Ramsay would do well to take account of the unfortunate fact that "the detail of the law and the rules and practice of its procedures" is what will decide the effect of her Bill on people, even those "who care deeply about justice and liberty and civil rights"; a small proportion of whom might not be members of religious communities.

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