Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Survey: 25% support torture

The Guardian reports on the British Social Attitudes survey (3,000 inrterviews by the National Centre for Social Research). Apparently a third of those questioned think banning peaceful protests and 25% think torture is a price worth paying to fight terrorism.

William Heath reckons that means "a quarter of us are evil and a third deeply misguided." I think too many people have been watching the US drama 24, where the hero Jack Bauer at some point in his busy days always ends up torturing somebody to get the crucial information save the world.

"About 80% said electronic tagging of terrorist suspects was "a price worth paying" to combat terrorism. The same proportion backed home curfews, travel restrictions and detention without charge for more than a week. Less than a quarter of the population said torturing terror suspects would be "a price worth paying" and only 35% would accept a ban on peaceful protests and demonstrations. But the nation is almost equally divided on whether people charged with terrorism-related crime should be denied a jury trial - with 50% finding that acceptable and 45% unacceptable.

Conor Gearty, professor of human rights law at the London School of Economics and joint author of the report's civil rights chapter, said: "The very mention of something being a counter-terrorism measure makes people more willing to contemplate the giving up of their freedoms. It is as though society is in the process of forgetting why past generations thought these freedoms to be so very important." "

Conor's right and I'm reminded of Martin Niemoeller's poem...

First they came for the communists but I wasn't a communist so I didn't do anything
Then they came for the social democrats but I wasn't a social democrat so I didn't do anything
Then they came for the trade unionists but I wasn't a trade unionist so I didn't do anything
Then they came for the Jews but I wasn't a Jew so I didn't do anything
Then they came for the Catholics but I was a protestant so I didn't do anything
Then they came for me and there was no one left to defend me.

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