I’ve been called a few things over the years. Some very nice people on the left, engaging in what is known as a “new type of politics”, still often revert to the old politics and call me Tory scum. Others prefer to abbreviate it to scum. But recently a new one was added to the list by someone purporting to be a Conservative.
I wrote an article explaining my reasons for opposing UKIP’s ‘Burqa Ban’ policy. Whilst writing the article, I knew many people would disagree with me – including friends. There is someone called Claire Dunn, someone who managed to become my friend on Facebook. I don’t know her, and I have no idea if she added me or I added her. It doesn’t really matter. She disagreed with me and we entered into what I thought was a rather civilised debate on Facebook. One morning I responded to her by saying that she had failed to explain something. That was a mistake. She had not failed at all. I was muddling her up for someone else, and she did not like it. I tried to make a joke out of the situation. I had been up since 4.30 am with my baby son. I was tired and apologised. Then came the torrent. She had been up very early too with her baby. She was breastfeeding at the time and trying to do some work. Her husband winced when he heard my pathetic excuse for insulting her. Wow! Someone is sounding stressed I thought. A little later in the morning, a friend who had been following the conversation, sent me the following:
Anyone who knows me well knows that I do not have any religious bias to Islam, but to say that I was guilty of “social right-wing extremism” is a new one on me. I’m not sure how someone opposing a ban on something can be a right-wing extremist, however, her words have struck in my mind. More accurately, one word has stuck in my mind: extremism.
It is a word that is used liberally these days to describe just about anything that is not mainstream. No matter how hard you try, though, you will not be able to accurately define extremism. The Government’s attempts so far have been so vague that just about anyone could be tagged as an extremist. This is one of the reasons The Freedom Association supports the ‘Defend Free Speech‘ campaign. When the Christian Institute and the National Secular Society join forces to oppose Extremism Disruption Orders (EDOs), you know that there’s more to them than meets the eye. As the Christian Institute has said:
“Because of the low burden of proof, it is perfectly plausible that comedians, satirists, campaign groups, religious groups, secularist groups, and even journalists could find themselves subject to these draconian measures”.
Once the Conservative Party publishes its manifesto we may have an idea on whether or not Theresa May intends to continue with EDOs, or whether she will opt for a watered down version. Time will tell, but what is important for you to remember is the person who labelled me an extremist for objecting to a Burqa ban, will be the sort of person pushing for the Government to do something about extremism. As her definition of extremism is pretty loose to say the least, does she want me in the net? I don’t know for certain, but as soon as you start describing more and more people as extremists, the wider that net is going to be.