a little east of reality

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

responses to dissent

MSN runs a poll each week or so asking a question regarding something topical. Today this question popped up:

Should radical clerics who do not share the nation's values be deported?

Currently the vote stands as follows:

Yes: 2966
No: 390

I can't tell you how disturbed I am by this, for a number of reasons.

Firstly, there is the automatic assumption that these radical clerics are not Australian citizens. Consider...a citizen of Australia can't be deported. The question is therefore intrinsically aimed at 'those foreigners with their foreign ideas'. The truth is that it is more than possible that the clerics concerned are citizens. They may even have been born here.

Which leads me to my second point: I don't like the assumption that anyone who 'doesn't think like us' doesn't really belong here. After all, who is 'us'? Who gets to decide what it is that 'Australians' think? As long as these people contain their thoughts to non-violent speech and action, they can think whatever they like. It's their right as human beings, let alone citizens of a free nation, to belief as they choose, even if the rest of the population considers it vile and reprehensible. It is only when they break the law that they should come under condemnation.

And that is the third thing. Do we not have any trust in our law system? We have laws against things like inciting racial hatred or inciting violence. Rather than seeing the answer as putting all the 'difficult' people on a boat and deporting them somewhere else, we should act lawfully against those who radical beliefs are actually translating into acts of hatred or violence.

Deportation, even where possible, is a worst-case scenario response - not a quick fix.