politics rights

Crossing the event horizon

I may not remember exactly why I installed a blog; not yet anyway. But I’m beginning to see why blogs are so popular. I think they will significantly contribute to the future of individual expression in a way that I simply hadn’t considered before.

Today I read a little about the story of Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith. He is the first British officer to be courtmartialled for refusing to deploy to Iraq (although he’s not the only soldier to refuse.) He’s not a conscientious objector: he’s already served in Afghanistan and twice previously in Iraq. His refusal was based on his belief that the UK were conducting an illegal war.

It seems that the judge in this case, judge advocate Jack Bayliss, has denied Malcolm from using this as his defense. In the judge’s view the orders given to Malcolm were not directly requiring him to carry out an illegal act, and so he couldn’t refuse them on these grounds. He also thought that, since the UK forces were there (when the orders were given) at the request of the interim government, it could not be considered an illegal occupation.

It looks to me as though Malcolm has been given some bad advice by lawyers who have their own agenda. I do think there is a case for the UK to answer. But I’m not sure that this is the case to force the issue.

Even so, I’m not sure I like the example this sets. Is it okay to knowingly aid an illegal act so long as you don’t do anything illegal yourself? In most cases, aiding an illegal act is illegal in itself.

I found this story courtesy of Wikipedia and the blog of Christiaan Briggs. He calls his blog the last straw (I assume that’s as in “the last straw that broke the camel’s back.”)

The constant erosion of our rights and responsibilities over the last few years and New Labour’s apparent determination to march us into a police state ressembles the piling on of more straw. This analogy suggests that at anytime we could stop and prevent a catastrophic collapse. I worry that our situation may be more like the theory of the event horizon around a black hole.

As you fall into a black hole you won’t notice when you cross the event horizon. There is no catastrophe to let you know. But once crossed, there is no going back, no matter how hard you try. The trouble is, we’ll have no idea when we’ve gone too far. We may have gone too far already.

By Paul Sinnett

Video game programmer

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