jju + crime   26

Halifax murder plot shows absurdity of anti-terror laws: Walkom | Toronto Star
The thwarting of an alleged Valentine’s Day massacre in Halifax underlines the fundamental absurdity of Canada’s anti-terror laws.

According to police, three alleged plotters planned to shoot and kill dozens Saturday at a Halifax shopping mall.

Had such a plan succeeded, the effect would have almost certainly been mass terror in the Nova Scotia capital.

Yet Justice Minister Peter MacKay says this was not a terrorist crime. “The attack does not appear to have been culturally motivated, therefore not linked to terrorism,” he told reporters Saturday.

MacKay’s comments caused some puzzlement. Why would the government deem the murder of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo in Ottawa last fall an act of terror, but not this?

In fact, except for his inexplicable use of the word “culturally,” MacKay was technically correct. Canada’s anti-terror laws don’t criminalize actions that might cause terror. Well before the current law was enacted in 2002, it was illegal in Canada to murder people or blow up trains.

Rather, they criminalize intent. It may be illegal to kill people in Canada. But it is even more illegal to kill people for a religious, ideological or political purpose.

More important, it is left to the state to decide — in the first instance at least — which murderous conspiracies have a political motive and which do not.

Thus Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the Muslim gunman who killed Cirillo, is deemed a terrorist for the simple reason that the RCMP and government say he was.

Conversely, alleged Halifax plotters Lindsay Souvannarath and Randall Shepherd (the third suspect, James Gamble, died before he could be arrested) are not terrorists because the federal justice minister says they are not.

Had police found Islamic State propaganda on their computers, Souvannarath and Shepherd almost certainly would have been charged with terrorism. But social media sites said to belong to the suspects show an interest only in Nazis and violence.

That, it seems, is insufficiently ideological to merit a terror charge.

So that’s the first point about the terror laws: They are unusually arbitrary.

The second is that the government’s interpretation of these laws is infinitely flexible. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, with the backing of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, proposes a new anti-terror law that would give the security services even more power and citizens even fewer rights.

Critics point out that the government has made no case as to why this Bill C-51 might be necessary. As evidence, they point to the Halifax arrests.

The alleged plot was discovered not by a newly empowered Canadian Security and Intelligence Service bugging email traffic, but by an ordinary citizen who then made an anonymous call to police.

The hapless MacKay was asked about that, too, this weekend. He produced an even more baffling answer.

No, the masterminds of the alleged plot were not terrorists whose capture was hindered by limited CSIS powers. Rather, they were “murderous misfits” apprehended through normal police methods.

Still, he went on, this apparent contradiction proves why stronger anti-terror laws are needed: Run-of-the-mill murderous misfits might, at some unknown point in the future, be attracted to the Islamic State.

Or, to put it another way, the fact that extraordinary security powers were not needed here proves that they are needed.

It is a complicated logic.

A final point on flexibility. Critics of the new anti-terror bill, including Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, argue that the proposed law is so broad that it would sweep up not just Islamic terrorists but anti-pipeline protestors who use civil disobedience to take on the Conservative government’s economic agenda.

A 2014 RCMP memo obtained by La Presse last week suggests that May is not being paranoid here.

“There is a growing, highly organized and well-financed anti-Canada petroleum movement that consists of peaceful activists, militants and violent extremists who are opposed to society’s reliance on fossil fuels,” the document, which echoes a similar RCMP assessment dated two years earlier, reads.

Radical environmentalists, it seems, are among the real enemies the government plans to crush. Alleged neo-Nazi mass murderers? Fie on them. They’re just random misfits.
c51  terrorism  ftrw  crime  canada  law  2015 
february 2015 by jju
Samuel Delany's only important elements in society
“The only important elements in any society are the artistic and the criminal, because they alone, by questioning the society’s values, can force it to change.”
― Samuel R. Delany, Empire Star
samuelrdelany  art  crime  change  society  culture  2013  sf  quote 
december 2013 by jju
Hacktivists as Gadflies - NYTimes.com
In a world in which nearly everyone is technically a felon, we rely on the good judgment of prosecutors to decide who should be targets and how hard the law should come down on them. We have thus entered a legal reality not so different from that faced by Socrates when the Thirty Tyrants ruled Athens, and it is a dangerous one. When everyone is guilty of something, those most harshly prosecuted tend to be the ones that are challenging the established order, poking fun at the authorities, speaking truth to power — in other words, the gadflies of our society.
internet  usa  law  hackers  crime  2013 
april 2013 by jju
Splatterpunk Utopia: In Defense of Violent Entertainment
Suppose it's all connected. Suppose it's the case that people now grow up feeling no real attachment to their families-and no fundamental grasp of their society. Deeply saddened and only fragmentarily socialized, they feel uncomfortable with real intimacy, with face to face friends. Their families, after all, are fragile, often broken by divorce; their parents are confused, angry, disappointed in life. Young people are taught to aim for colleges that thrall them in debt; they're taught to squirm for expendable jobs that, if they're lucky, turn out to be dead ends. They're forced to accept some franchised cog in the cognitive dissonance of corporate civilization as their place in life-but they feel no real connection to it. Every time they start to get some sense of who they might be, another media trend or economic crisis, like an undertow, yanks their identity off its feet-like kicking the legs out from under a toddler who's just learned to walk. They suffer in increasing numbers from the mysterious plague of ADHD-its cause is unknown but somehow attention deficit seems weirdly designed for the 21st century world.

They eat a bacon Whopper and then hear, perhaps, of people abandoning one child so another child can live-and some of them twist inwardly in shame. To deal with that, they lol about it all online.
violence  entertainment  florida  crime  society  culture  21c 
august 2011 by jju
The Straight Dope
One of the themes of The Wire really was that statistics will always lie. Statistics can be made to say anything. You show me anything that depicts institutional progress in America: school test scores, crime stats, arrest reports, anything that a politician can run on, anything that somebody can get a promotion on, and as soon as you invent that statistical category, fifty people in that institution will be at work trying to figure out a way to make it look as if progress is actually occurring when actually no progress is.
davidsimon  interview  politics  thewire  usa  crime  economics 
april 2011 by jju
What are Canadians really afraid of when it comes to crime?
If people are unlikely to change, the bad ones can be locked up. That way the bad people will be in one place, and the good people will be in another place, and we'll never have to be confused as to who is whom.
crime  canada  legislation  election  2011  statistics 
april 2011 by jju

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