I have to confess, as an ignorant inhabitant of North America, that I don’t really understand the current press scandal in the U.K., and I was hoping that perhaps someone could enlighten me.
As I understand it, a number of members of the press committed crimes in the course of gathering material for stories — that is, they committed acts that were already illegal, and which already carried substantial penalties.
It would therefore seem that preventing such acts in the future would require nothing more than diligently enforcing existing law.
I’m therefore curious as to what purpose is articulated for ending freedom of expression in the U.K.
Is it claimed that the laws were not being enforced before on the powerful? Then surely the new restrictions on freedom will be selectively enforced as well, with only the weak being stifled. (That is, of course, universal — the powerful never need permission to do anything. Freedom is a protection for the weak, the strong need no protection.)
Is it claimed that performing criminal acts was somehow insufficiently illegal? Is it claimed that the existing laws against criminal conspiracies are not already broad, vague and all-encompassing?
All too frequently, when it is discovered that merely making acts illegal is insufficient to prevent them from happening, rather than trying to see to it that existing law is enforced, the craven panderers to the outraged (by which I mean our supposedly elected masters) simply propose to make a crime doubly illegal, triply illegal, or quadruply illegal, as though multiplying the number of ways in which some act is forbidden is a magically all-potent and riskless remedy.
Anyway, to return to my original question: as someone who (for once) lives in a sane country, that is to say a place where there is a near-absolute protection for freedom of speech and the press which is beyond being destroyed for the political expediency of the moment, and who is not immersed in the discussion of the bout of temporary insanity now gripping your island in the Atlantic, might I ask what the point claimed here is? What is the putative purpose of making things that were illegal before even more illegal? Is there one, or is this just an exercise in appeasing a bunch of outspoken members of the professionally offended classes?