The case for stricter surveillance laws/the case for fewer surveillance laws

by Lord Sutch

On the afternoon the Martin Place Siege was happening, I tweeted the following (and no, don’t worry, it’s not flippant):

Because really this event proves both points of views doesn’t it?

There’s easily a case to be made that this proves THE THREAT IS REAL and therefore we need to create STRICTER anti-terrorism laws to deal with this GROWING MENACE. And that’s an easy rhetorical position to take. Probably the laziest one in the first instance. However our Prime Minister, not 5 hours after the resolution of the tragedy appeared on Breakfast TV and used it as a) a justification for going to war and b) a justification for passing the surveillance laws.

Even on the night of the event, what did Twitter serve up?

(and then James Dunne pithily responded with:

So thank you Tau. For being the guy who fulfils my hypothesis.

But then on the other side, you could easily make the case that “well, the Australians passed some fairly draconian surveillance laws and they were unable to catch this guy, so why are we giving up our liberties/freedoms in an exercise in futility?

Conveniently, there’s a tweet further on down the thread after Tau’s which deals with exactly that!

Both arguments have some validity don’t they? The threat IS real, but we weren’t able to capture this guy. So what does that mean? Do we shelve all the laws we have around terror, or do we make them stricter? For one Twitter user the answer was obvious:

So we need STRICTER anti-terror laws! MOAR SURVEILLANCE! Of course as a left-winger, this makes me shudder in equal parts horror, and equal parts excitement – another flamewar shall erupt!

But then I paused, and I thought of something. If you reverse everyone’s positions above, you have the same arguments for gun control.

The left argue that stricter gun control will mean fewer mass shootings (or mass murders as they used to be known) and these need to be STRICTER. STRICTER. STRICTER. But those on the right would argue that we already have strict laws in place – TOO STRICT in fact for the NRA’s liking – and there are still gun killings happening.

I don’t really have a point in this post, just some Orwellian doublethink I’m having inside my own head. I hate conflicting with myself. No matter who’s right, I’m also wrong.

It’s almost as if there is no simple answer to complex world problems and that shouting one thing or the other isn’t actually helping.




Photo credit: The Guardian.



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1 comment

Tom G December 17, 2014 - 1:16 pm

More surveillance might help in identifying people after the fact, it’s not going to stop these things happening. How quickly would police be on the scene if a cctv camera picked up that this guy was carrying a shotgun? Not quick enough I’m guessing.

In regards to gun control, guns will always be available regardless of what the government tries to do. Someone can still buy cocaine or heroin, how’s getting a gun going to be any more difficult?


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