Not Saussure

June 9, 2007

The Guardian on civil liberties

Filed under: civil liberties — notsaussure @ 10:39 am

Tim quotes Martin Kettle in The Guardian about

how Maya Evans and Milan Rai were arrested for reading out the names of Iraq war victims opposite the Cenotaph war memorial in Whitehall (though if they had given the right notification they would not have been),

and justly comments

Of course having to ask permission from the police before you speak is not the same as living in a police state. What on earth would give anyone that idea?

As I recall, the Soviet Constitution guaranteed the right to hold demonstrations (Article 125 of Stalin’s constitution, though I think the numbering changed in later versions).

When, however, refusniks tried to quote this constitutional right on finding themselves on trial for hooliganism as a result of participating in demonstrations against the government’s refusal to grant exit visas, the Moscow city courts would patiently explain to them that the problem was they hadn’t obtained the necessary permits for their demonstration.

The fact that such permits are, for the present, considerably easier to obtain in London than were they in Moscow 30 years ago is certainly welcome but to use that as a justification for requiring people to obtain permits in the first place rather misses the point.


1 Comment »

  1. Thanks for pointing that out. I was a bit annoyed by the tone of Martin Kettle’s article. We might not be living in a police state yet but we do seem to be heading towards one and the examples Martin cited illustrate that. To criticise a film for highlighting the dangers seems wrong to me. Anyway I’m off to see Taking Liberties now and I’ll be in a better position to talk about the film afterwards.

    4:30 Ritzy in Brixton if you are able to come – there should be quite a few bloggers there (

    Comment by Davide Simonetti — June 9, 2007 @ 2:02 pm

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