The police cast a wide net indeed -- noting, for example, that Green politician Ian Driver organised a meeting in support of marriage equality.
Clearly the gravest threat to society since interracial marriage.
I don't understand the modern tendency to take actual, precise terms and try to twist their meanings and apply them to absurdly broad pools of topics.
When anyone and everyone can be termed a "domestic extremist", or an "enemy combatant", or a "militant", or a "terrorist", the terms become meaningless.
And yet the trend continues, pushed forward largely by governments. Is it some ploy for power, robbing people of linguistic precision and rendering them unable to speak or think effectively about contentious issues? Or is it just human incompetance at work, with idiots in power simply being idiotic?
Heh, you mispelt "incompetence"!
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Tyrants are always afraid of poets, artists, musicians and creative, original thinkers. They represent QUESTIONING the basis of power and Tyranny can bear no scrutiny. Tyrants love, cherish and foster climates of FEAR and REACTION that they can control.
Tyrants cannot control Questions.
The Toronto Star has been running a series on the mathoms of Canadian police forces and their effects on Police Background Checks done to see if you can have a civilised job or not. Three sets of circumstances arise.
You hold up a bank, firing wildly into the crowd as lead the police on a merry chase during your getaway. You are caught, tried and convicted. You serve your time, ponder the error of your ways, pay your debt to society and are eventually released. After a certain time has passed you may apply for a pardon and all records of your escapades are erased. You may now re-enter society and aspire to climb to any height through honesty toil.
Or, you get into a nasty court battle with your psycho, pathological liar boyfriend. The court determines that his accusations of you threatening him are baseless and were simply an attempt to divert the court's attention from his constantly turning your face into hamburger through vicious beatings. You are officially acquitted of all charges and he goes to the slammer for 10 years: eventually to be pardoned - see above. You, however, will never be able to pass a Police Background Check because you are listed in the "pieces of tattle and gossip" national database as having "been accused of assault". There is no procedure for ever erasing anything from this and it is promiscuously shared with every police force, secret or otherwise, on the planet. It would be unwise to attempt any border crossings and of course you can kiss any ideas of being a nurse or fire fighter good bye forever.
Equally disabling is the case where a neighbour has a few mooney martoonies and phones the police that to say that you are a KGB spy. The cops show up and throw his ass in jail for being drunk and filing a false report. However the false report is now in the national gossip database so see above for the effects on your ability to earn a living. Even better, since you were never in contact with the police or made aware of this incident at all you might spent a few thousand on a training course before trying the, doubtless perfunctory, step of doing the background check. Ha ha! Jokes on you.
Each case is illustrated with a real-life example.
Of course no one is ever put on the lists because they annoyed a rich person...
Ontario police's Big Data assigns secret guilt to people looking for jobs, crossing borders
Huh. I've been doing that a while it seems. I could have sworn it was an A, not an E.
Ah well, that's ignorance for ya. (Or is THAT also an E?)
Only if you're a pirate.
It's all consistent with their paternalistic authoritarian pattern. The same people who came up with ASBOs surely object to any form of dissent, even one so mild as to produce artwork based on protest. These are the same sort of people who think that tourist cameras are terrorist instruments in the US and that the police have a right to privacy of brutality. In the UK there are even fewer recourses to this kind of abuse, not that there is much you can do in the US if the border patrol or the TSA decides it doesn't like you.
I think we could point to a lot of reasons.
Start with the policeman typing in all that information at a demonstration. He no doubt feels he needs to put in a good day's work, or his boss might question his utility. Unfortunately there are few terrorists and dangerous extremists, exactly zero at most demonstrations, so Mr Policeman falls back on a "just in case" attitude and records anybody who seems a bit more engaged than the rest.
Then of course there are cops who are legit assholes, who get upset about people questioning the order of things and just love hippie bashing. For them a database is an excellent way to vent their petty vindictiveness towards a whole group of people.
Back at police HQ there are precious few resources devoted to filtering out the garbage. Besides, in the future they might need something from all that they collected, "just in case". Electronic storage is by now so cheap that this hoarding mentality goes unchecked.
And at the highest political levels databases are all the rage, the crime busting tool du jour, everything can be done so much better if you have a database to cross check with. Let's throw a few hundred million to the IT contractors again.
Wait, I though it was spelled "pireta"?
Not meaningless --when terms like that lose their shape they become powerful tools for those with the ability to exploit the confusion. It's a form of political re-branding to support an agenda.
Yet, in a way this is a promising sign. Back in the 1980's we didn't see broad swathes of the public branded as dangerous extremists, because few of us were demonstrating. Now more and more people are becoming vocal, and the powers are getting uncomfortable, as they should be. The force of the crackdown is always in proportion to the size of the movement it is meant to stop.
Here in the US, there's a strange irony at work. Politicians on the right have been working hard to prevent an economic recovery, assuming this will make the President look bad. By doing so, they are driving more and more people into leftist ideas - probably not what they intended.
How about that?
I was rather impressed by @NeueHeimat 's analysis, but my first response to that question was to meditate on Orwell.
I was thinking the exact same thing.
Most of the examples given in the article are members of the Green party, (who have an MP in the Commons and as such are a more credible political party than UKIP). That might come back to haunt the Met one day, in much the same way as the many Labour MPs in the 1997 government that had been members of such 'radical' organisations as CND.
By far not!
The first step is passing a set of draconian antiterrorism laws and start the machinery of the War on Abstract Noun. Too few will oppose it to stop it.
Then comes the second step, the muddying of the definition of "terrorism", so the laws passed in step 1 can be applied to any undesirables the Powers That Be consider a pest.
The process is pretty smart. I am not sure if the elasticity of the key definitions of extremism and terrorism is a result of genius-level scheming or if it is just a common incompetence of our respected lawmakers, but in either case it is exploitable - and exploited - by the power-grabbers-of-the-week.