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Posted by on Feb 27, 2013 in Culture, In the news, Law, Politics | 10 comments

Birgitta Jónsdóttir on censorship proposals in Iceland

I missed this piece in The Guardian a week or two back by Iceland’s Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a poet and politician (good for her!) who is opposed to current internet censorship proposals and assures her readers that they will not be enacted.

Since I know next to nothing about the political balance in Iceland, I can’t comment on whether her confidence is justified. It is, however, heartening to read some lucidly expressed resistance to what appears a highly illiberal agenda being pursued in Iceland, with little in the way of empirical support for it (in the sense that there is any close nexus demonstrated between the apparently victimless crimes being created upstream and any downstream harmful acts). Jónsdóttir also shows a good understanding of the problem of scope creep once we start introducing new laws to restrict freedom of speech and expression. This was, of course, one of the greatest concerns about recent proposals for internet censorship in Australia.

Presumably we just how to wait to see how this unfolds. Iceland has already introduced a number of illiberal initiatives, raising questions about the popular perception that highly secular countries are likely to be highly liberal about such things as sex work and free expression. While I still see a long-term trend for secularism to segue into liberalism, it is very easy for the gap that was once filled by religion to be filled by other kinds of illiberal ideology that may have some of the same puritanical concerns.