Tuesday, December 14, 2004


Trudging towards a police state...

After the murder of Theo van Gogh early November, it seems the Dutch government wants to start its own sandbox version of the War on Terror. Minister of Justice Donner has announced that the Dutch secret police, the Algemene Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsdienst, will endeavour to sabotage "extremist" websites. Link in Dutch. In the magazine Web Wereld, the opposition social democrats have made it clear they're not going to be seen as soft on this issue, with some idiot MP arguing that the government should hire hackers to sabotage these sites. Quoting, my translation:

"The PVDA MP does not believe that shutting down websites constitutes a threat to freedom of speech. "It is more a question of protecting society against the poison of wrong ideas.""

He actually says that. I'm not kidding here. Sounds like our MP just came back from a fact-finding mission to China or North Korea, and got all inspired, doesn't it?

Oh, and the social democrats have taken their diversity training, and make clear that itä's not going to be just Muslim sites: "The PVDA would like to broaden that. We must fight other forms of terrorism as well as islamic terrorism."

So, what's an 'extremist' site, then? Left-wing extremist? Right-wing extremist? Islamic extremist? Extremist atheists? People who believe that such measures are only going to be employed against people "who really deserve it" are naive. Government bureaucracies have an unpleasant tendency of over-employing any powers and privileges that are put into their hands.

I'm not surprised that the social democrats are all over this. After all, all old European social democrats are looking towards New Labour as a model, and New Labour is probably the worst nanny-state dystopian political outfit on its hemisphere. I'm more disappointed (though not very surprised) that the Green Left seems to be howling with the wolves on this issue, and am waiting anxiously to see what the Socialist Party will do.

- Merlijn de Smit

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