By Max B. | UK
In the aftermath of the London Bridge terror attack on June 3rd, it was clearly emphasized that some change must occur in order to protect British civilians, however many different ways to solve the problem were emphasized. The police in the time directly following the attack advised civilians to run and hide from any attackers. The next morning, British Prime Minister Theresa May gave a speech that should shock any freedom lover, whether in Britain or otherwise. She delivered a speech which emphasized that internet censorship of terrorist speech would become commonplace, setting a new tone for freedom of speech around the world. This is a a horrible path for any European country to take.
First, we should look at why terrorists only attack Western countries, and leave most other cultures alone. It is because they hate the European ideas of freedom – whether it be religious, protecting speech, or otherwise. They attack these values, as they see them as a threat to their culture, which is much more authoritarian. By beginning to restrict these freedoms, through, for example, internet censorship, we are only succumbing to what the terrorists are fighting for in the first place. The type of policy announced by Theresa May is exactly what the terrorists want to hear, because it shows them that the European culture of freedom is crumbling, and authoritarian values are taking hold. As libertarians, we cannot allow that to happen.
We must also understand that the idea of freedom of speech is inherent to a successful Western democracy. This freedom must come without exception. The whole idea of freedom of speech is to spark debate on a topic. If somebody says something you disagree with, you may respond vehemently with words, but never with a gun. If somebody promotes terrorism online, but doesn’t actively threaten lives, you may respond with words.
Finally, this policy leads the world down a dangerous slippery slope of authoritarianism. When we start letting governments determine who are terrorists and who can be censored, we run the risk of anti government movements being silenced for being “terrorists.” In the past, if this policy had been in place in the UK in the 1700s, the American Revolutionary movement could have been labeled as terrorists and been silenced. It is much too arbitrary to let governments label these groups, and it is a power no organization can hold, especially not a national government.
So to conclude, this is a dangerous policy move announced by the Prime Minister, and we cannot let the fear of more terrorist attacks allow us to succumb to authoritarianism. We must retain Western values in our countries, and support the unwavering idea of free expression.