Parts of the act came into force last month and ban demonstrations within a half-mile radius of Parliament unless prior permission is obtained from police a week in advance.
The arrests yesterday were in addition to those that occurred last Monday during the Stop The War Coalition's defence of the freedom to assemble which others joined in opposition of SOCrAP [BBC | Guardian | Bloggerheads].
As with Monday's protest, the police were once again acting as their own propaganda machine, the BBC noting, "officers had been handing out leaflets warning demonstrators that they were in violation of the law." Apart from loving the inherent ambiguity of the BBC's observation, The Antagonist can only wonder if these were copies of the same law-breaking leaflets that the police had been handing out at Monday's demonstration.
Speaking yesterday about the protests, long time protestor Brian Haw, whose four-year Parliament vigil predates the SOCrAP Act that was, at least in part, designed to oust Mr Haw's presence from outside Parliament, said:
I'm the last of the Mohicans, I'm the last of the Great British.
My fellow compatriots have been denied a voice. I'm outraged by this, I'm outraged that the police are busy chasing old ladies with peace signs down Whitehall when there are bombs going off in London.
Under the terms of the act, assembling within the designated protest zone is now a criminal offence and must first be sanctioned by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner at least six days in advance of the protest or, if not "reasonably practicable", 24 hours in advance. Failure to do so will result in any 'unauthorised' people assembling in the protest zone facing the prospect of removal, arrest or a fine of £1,000, none which are vaguely free at all.
The Parliamentary Beef
Armed only with little more information than outlined above, The Antagonist set about investigating further the nature and implications of SOCrAP, using as a basis for proceeding only the assertion of the European Court for Human Rights that 'freedom of assembly' is a:
fundamental right in a democracy and || is one of the foundations of such a society
Facts are always a good starting point, as keen readers of The Antagonist will have noted, so first up was a glance at a copy of the act (just 225 pages long) in conjunction with a burning desire to help the rest of us think a little more rationally about the country and the world which a largely unaccountable handful of people are creating around us without appropriate consultation or redress.
That doing so might also antagonise those who think nothing of removing our fundamental liberties is merely an added bonus.
The front page of the SOCrAP Act proudly proclaims:
EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Mr Secretary Blunkett has made the following statement under section 19(1)(a) of the Human Rights Act 1998:"In my view the provisions of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill are compatible with the Convention rights."
Immediately, SOCrAP is nonsense. As far as a blind man can see, SOCrAP and human rights are compatible. Little more really needs to be said but The Antagonist will continue undeterred.
Immediately, we have the opinion of one person - deficient to the tune of at least 20% in the human sense stakes - versus the opinion of at least several hundred people over the last week and many millions more if you account for other high profile events such as the march in opposition to the Iraq war.
That there already exist several million people in direct opposition to one who is meant to represent the views of those people seems a tad undemocratic. That this opposition of millions was known to exist way in advance of SOCRaP makes the imposition of these laws so undemocratic that it makes a mockery of the notion of democracy.
And we haven't even got past the front page of the SOCrAP Act yet!
A cursory glance at the contents and opening definitions of terms and criteria and the immediate conclusion is, "They can really fuck you up!" Further study does nothing to dispel this sentiment.
Section 123 (all together now, "One, two, three - we reclaim our liberty!"), and it's accompaniment, Section 124 ("One, two, four - is that Special Branch at the door?") of the SOCrAP Act are the ones that pertain to the eradication of civil liberties in the vicinity of the people's Parliament, and rather further too which, cunningly, includes arbitrarily sized and defined areas, created by the Home Secretary, outside of SOCrAP, at a whim.
We know Mr ex-Secretary Blunkett can't see us, but with the acute sense of hearing that develops with the loss of other senses, he must be able to hear us. At the very least the SOCrAP Act means we're all going to have to shout a little louder than before to make ourselves heard.
So be it.
Manipulating the Bounds of Acceptable Public Debate
Already there exist two distinct sides to the debate that will be allowed to perpetuate themselves in the media via sensationalist tabloid headlines, letters pages of the broadsheets and, of course, bloggers everywhere who, in the humble opinion of The Antagonist - barring very few notable exceptions - do little more than regurgitate the same myths as the 'old media' from which they source their information. While this debate goes some way to raising awareness, irrespective of people's opinions, none of it un-legislates the laws that have been passed, nor does it affect any new laws which are in the pipeline and integral to, but entirely external from, SOCrAP's scope.
The self-defeating nature of the ongoing diatribes that arise from maintaining two distinct sides of permanently contradictory debate, which apparently form the consensus of public opinion and which do nothing to change anything very much, is precisely why we're still allowed to have these debates.
On one side of the argument are the government who will claim, "we haven't removed the right to assemble, you just have to have permission to be, er, free to assemble", and on the other side are the people - over 99% of the country, lest we forget the staggering percentage of the population we comprise, most of whom aren't criminals or terrorists - upon whom the government has introduced additional legal impositions that further restrict the foundations of democracy.
It is worth remembering that the scope of SOCRaP is far greater than that of merely removing the right to assemble outside Parliament and, as such, loss of the rights to assemble must be understood within the context of a considerably larger, far more restrictive and invasive framework than the current noise in relation to milling about outside Parliament implies.
So what are the people to do about a demonstrably out-of-control British government, headed by a compulsive, evasive liar, that is rabidly and rapidly instituting laws that have already torn our essential liberties from us and which lay the foundations for police-state enforcement of laws against a public that is almost entirely innocent?
The Legitimisation of Creative Dissent
The Antagonist has long been of the belief that the ultimate winning move in any game situation is to not play the game. In this manner the framework of rules that dictate the way in which 'the game' is played are then rendered null and void because 'the game' is deficient in the required participants for it to function by its own rules.
The introduction of SOCRaP is perfectly in keeping with other governments around the world whose actions - both domestic and international - are dictated by the ongoing imposition of the new rules of law that underlie what some call a New World Order. These new rules of the game cleverly outline how none of us has any rights left to fight for the rights that those same rules remove.
Through the imposition of the SOCrAP, the government have shown their hand and stated categorically that the choice for the British Public, whether they are yet aware of it or not, is now one between that of 'choosing' to blindly follow imposed rules and regulations under the ever-increasingly watchful eyes of government, or that of 'choosing' to give up even more essential liberties than the rules, its watchers and its enforcers have already removed. That you might be one of 60 million or so who might have some objection to the subjective, totalitarian imposition of such rules in the name of 'democracy' is of no consequence to the rule makers.
This, you understand, is one of the rules of the game of law.
The game of law is fundamentally no different to any other game that we might choose to play only, somewhere along the line, we have forgotten that we have a choice over which games we play. What distinguishes the game of law from other games we might actively choose to participate in is the unnatural right assumed by those who dictate the rules that non-participation in the game is an offence punishable by the further removal of liberty and life. Whether or not the imposed rules are just, humane, or in the best interests of the general public is of no consequence to the rule makers.
This, you understand, is another of the rules of the game of law.
Understand too that it is a game. The law is nothing more than the power-play of the few in a bid to ensure the continued control of the many. At every turn, the rules of law are dictated by whatever lowest common denominator threat can be easily projected as the greatest challenge to established bases of power, control and the illusion of security. These lowest common denominators by which we all allow ourselves to be ruled are the very things from which practically 100% of us are so far removed that we assume the restrictions imposed by law on the entire population of the country somehow exclude us. If these mistaken beliefs are allowed to continue, one day it will be too late for anyone to do anything about it.
The government has brought the battle for freedom to all of us - live, direct, in full Technicolor multimedia - all backed by a soon to be armed police force whose mission is to ensure we all play by their rules whether we agree with them or not. The stakes in this game are higher than ever and opposition to these new rules could get you killed. At the very least it will result in the removal of considerably greater portions of your liberty than before. Jean Charles de Menezes would probably explain further the finer details of these new stakes but British government enforcers removed his life and his ability to do so from him, and the rest of us, on the morning of 22 July.
de Menezes life was taken with full backing of Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair, Prime Minister Tony Blair, the cabinet, and every politician in the house of democratically elected 'representatives' who didn't dare to voice any opposition to the act prior to its legislation. That de Menezes life was taken in the heat of a moment by plain-clothes, armed enforcers with full government complicity, in full compliance and accordance with the new rules of the police state that were laid down in SOCrAP, should serve as warning to us all.
The government and their new rules, along with the implicit dictats that the-few have issued to the increasingly militarised and armed forces that once served to protect the general population, and who are now armed against us, have affirmed clearly the government commitment to the oppression of every single one of us, irrespective of race, colour or creed and whether we know it, feel it, or not.
In time, and without considerable change, we will all come to know and all feel this oppression far sooner than we might imagine. 'We' includes you, dear reader, if you happen to be resident in the UK and are not exempt from the imposed laws of the land in which you live. If you happen to have sufficient conscience that you have felt moved in the past to voice your opinion on matters of politics, you have just lost the right to exercise that conscience without the approval of the state.
The war on almost mythical terror, led with no sense of irony, by those responsible for the greatest acts of actual terror the world has ever seen serves no greater purpose than to reinforce the power of nightmares in all of us. The basis for these nightmares is little more than the terror we have inflicted on others but it serves the purpose of allowing the authorities to impose new laws on an almost entirely innocent population. Better still, it then allows quick and easy suppression of any internal dissent that the new laws might have caused.
As with all nightmares, the dreamers eventually wake up to the fact that the hideous realities which occupied their minds as they slept were nothing more than a bad dream. The increased availability of information, knowledge and wisdom about the way in which the world is run is causing more and more people to wake up to their nightmares. Understand that it is this process of awakening, not the perceived threat of terrorists, that is driving the imposition of ever more restrictive laws.
No Treason - The Constitution of No Authority
Lysander Spooner wrote in his treatise, "No Treason - The Constitution of No Authority":
Whoever desires liberty, should understand these vital facts, viz.:
- That every man who puts money into the hands of a "government" (so called) puts into its hands a sword which will be used against himself, to extort more money from him, and also to keep him in subjection to its arbitrary will.
- That those who will take his money, without his consent, in the first place, will use it for his further robbery and enslavement, if he presumes to resist their demands in the future.
- That it is a perfect absurdity to suppose that any body of men would ever take a man's money without his consent, for any such object as they profess to take it for, viz., that of protecting him; for why should they wish to protect him, if he does not wish them to do so?
- If a man wants "protection," he is competent to make his own bargains for it; and nobody has any occasion to rob him, in order to "protect" him against his will.
- That the only security men can have for their political liberty, consists in their keeping their money in their own pockets, until they have assurances, perfectly satisfactory to themselves, that it will be used as they wish it to be used, for their benefit, and not for their injury.
- That no government, so called, can reasonably be trusted for a moment, or reasonably be supposed to have honest purposes in view, any longer than it depends wholly upon voluntary support.Lysander Spooner
No Treason: the Constitution of No Authority
Six simple rules by which you can then go on to understand any action taken by any government. Written at the tail end of the 1860s, Spooner outlined what governments throughout history have continued to demonstrate, that once responsibility and funds are placed into the hands of government, no second thought is given to placing swords to be used against the people into those hands.
Recently we also learned that the most deadly of these swords - that of the legislated right to take life - will be used if they don't think we are following their rules sufficiently well. It matters not if we are innocent for we might after all have been - as they will repeatedly tell us in their indefensible-defense of murder - some sort of terrorist.
The murder by the British authorities of an innocent Brazilian who had the misfortune to be going about his daily business in the eye of a storm of political agendas so confused that - superficially at least - nobody had any idea what was going on serves as testament to the verity of Spooner's words and confirmation to the rest of us that the relationship between the people and government has only changed in 150 years with respect of the increased number and efficiency of the manifold swords deployed by governments against the people they claim to serve.
Jean Charles de Menezes was given no choice about whether he played by the new rules of the game in the split second of misguided judgements on all fronts that he was not allowed to survive. Is this the sort of country in which you want to live?
The general public have a choice about whether or not they participate in this game of law that men with guns will seek to enforce in a crazy world of fear and terror that most of us would rather not live in. The enforcers may have the weapons backed by laws that give them permission to use those weapons against us at will, but we have the critical mass of people without which no government can exist.
The implied threat of further loss of liberty issued by those that have already legislated against any rights to that liberty is just that, an implied threat; you cannot lose again that which has already been lost. Of course, the government can lock-up a few dissenters but when sufficient numbers of people have opted out of rules with which they don't agree, either through choice, or further government sanctioned restrictions, the very governments whose first mistake was to assume this unnatural order of control cease to exist also.
Safe in this knowledge, and until you are faced with law enforcement officials pointing guns at your head and shouting, "Here are the new rules, breach them or die!", rest assured that there is always a choice.
If not you, who? If not now, when?
When they tell you we must fight a war against terror, ask them which war has ever been fought without the use of terror.
When they you tell you it is the terrorists taking away our freedoms, ask them who passes the laws that remove our freedoms.
When they tell you it is about defending our fundamental liberties, ask them to meet you outside Parliament.