Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Other People's Rights

The always worthwhile Not Saussure has picked out a particularly noteworthy quotation from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust report which was in the news the other day:
Tony Blair talks of ‘rebalancing between the rights of the suspect and the rights of the law-abiding majority’. John Reid declared to the Labour party conference, ‘It cannot be right that the rights of an individual suspected terrorist be placed above the rights, the life and limb of the rest of the British people. It cannot be right – it is wrong, no ifs, no buts, it’s just plain wrong.’ But these are false dichotomies: ‘suspects’ are members of the ‘majority’. They are innocent until proved guilty, their rights and those of the majority hang together. (It is a miserable fact, however, that thanks to its constant use, the word ‘suspect’ is now charged with the presumption of guilt – so much that the Guardian recently wrote of ‘alleged terrorist suspects’.) (p 42)
Authoritarians are hijacking the English language. Sorry, but that clearly calls for another Orwell reference. This is a "doubleplusungood" state of affairs. Some sort of campaign to try to restore the correct meaning and usage of the word "suspect" is perhaps in order.

The fallacious distinction between a "suspect" and "the majority" appears credible to many non-Muslims simply because they cannot imagine a situation in which they themselves might be wrongly accused of being a terrorist. Of course, the very politicians who deliberately exploit this situation in an attempt to remove certain rights from a specific section of the population are the same politicians who call for that same section to display greater social integration. Yes, "integrate better while we simultaneously treat you differently from everyone else" is the call of the stupid, morally bankrupt scumbags who currently run this country.

Unsurprisingly, as a means to tackle the problem it ostensibly purports to address, it is an approach which does not work well. It is, however, an approach which may well win votes and that, ultimately, is what government is all about in Blair's Britain.

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1 comment:

steven poole said...

Some sort of campaign to try to restore the correct meaning and usage of the word "suspect" is perhaps in order.

Very true, particularly with the prejudicial compound "terrorist suspect".