An article in The Spectator by Douglas Murray is a critique of the UK government’s Prevent program, which was set up to counter radicalization and extremism.
Murray argues that the program has expanded its scope beyond Islamist extremism to include right-wing extremism, which is defined very broadly and arbitrarily by left-wing activist groups.
Murray cites a report by Prevent’s own research unit, which claimed that people who follow pro-Brexit and centre-right commentators on social media are at risk of being radicalized. He mocks this claim and suggests that it is an attempt to stigmatize and silence opinions that are shared by many British people. (And beyond)
He mentions Lewis, Tolkien and Orwell as examples of authors whose works could be seen as potential sources of radicalization by Prevent. Because according to Prevent’s logic, radicalization could occur from reading C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, Huxley or Conrad. Murray adds that he is not kidding and that this is based on a document by Prevent’s education team that was leaked in 2019. The document listed these authors as examples of ‘challenging texts’ that could be used to ‘stimulate discussion’ with students who might be at risk of extremism.
This is absurd and shows how Prevent has lost its focus and credibility.
The U.K. has introduced a new law that bans silent prayer and any form of influence in a 150-meter zone around abortion facilities nationwide. If you are found silently praying within the length of a football field, you can be arrested and charged.
Set aside any view you might have about the efficacy or ethics of praying outside an abortion clinic. Surely those of us who uphold freedom of expression and conscience as indispensable rights of persons in a free society should be alarmed by such a law.
Each of them was arrested, fined, or acquitted for praying silently in zones deemed too close to an abortion clinic. The recently passed law says the protected censorship zone is the size of a football field.
These zones create legal confusion and empower the state to punish peaceful actions on the public street, which is harmful to a free society. But their supporters say they are protecting women. This aim sounds good in theory, but it is not true. Harassment is always wrong, and that is why it is already illegal under U.K. law. These zones are not about stopping harassment. You don’t need huge zones of silence to do that. This is about suppressing a certain perspective—in this case, the view that every unborn child has a right to life.
Every person should have the right to peacefully think, pray, and act according to his or her beliefs. After these harsh restrictions are introduced, we can expect serious consequences for basic freedoms in the U.K. Today the state is using its silencing power to promote abortion, but tomorrow it could apply similar measures to other issues.
It is urgent that all who care about the preservation of a free society resist the thought police.