06 December 2007

Potential versus kinetic ideas

'Lyrical terrorist' sentenced over extremist poetry
I first talked about the Lyrical Terrorist about a month ago in this post. She has been given a nine month suspended sentence.

"Samina Malik was being prosecuted in effect for a thought crime because she had downloaded some material from the internet which anyone could download." Mr Bunglawala said the case demonstrated how ill-conceived and "incredibly broad-ranging" the law is under Section 58 of the Terrorism Act. "Teenagers download some quite nihilistic material every day and they are not prosecuted," he said.

"The fact that this case went to court sends a very worrying signal that if you are Muslim and you are downloading from the Internet you may be judged to a quite different standard from others. Fortunately the judge has been sensible about this. The wider Muslim community must be relieved that she hasn't got a custodial sentence."

I agree with Mr. Bunglawasa, a spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, on this issue. As I said before, Malik did not actually hurt anyone. She collected information, speeches, rants and wrote poetry. It was disturbing, but it wasn't actually a crime that hurt someone.

The fact that this new law has been used against a Muslim woman more than hints at a bias. While I would hate to see it, I wonder if they would apply this law to militant anti-vivisectionists. Who else are they having trouble with in the UK?

In a statement, the Crown Prosecution Service said: "Samina Malik was not prosecuted for writing poetry. Ms Malik was convicted of collecting information, without reasonable excuse, of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism."

Potentially useful? Heck, I've got chemistry books that are potentially useful for all sorts of things. And spray paint, thats potentially graffiti. I know plenty of people with some potentially useful Recipes for Disaster.

Plotting and conspiring is one thing, its like kinetic energy. The movement has started, things are becoming active. Simply having the potential is something else entirely. Actions are crimes, ideas are not. No matter how inflammatory, disgusting, disturbing or dangerous.

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