Reminder: In government training material, “terrorism” includes peacefully disagreeing with administration policy in public

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Governments are still using “terrorism” as a scareword to get any insane law passed – like Britain’s digital book-burning law. But with its other hand, those same governments are expanding the definition of terrorism way beyond what the public could possibly imagine: the government’s own training material says that peaceful street protests in disagreement with administration policies are examples of terrorism.

“Terrorism” is still a fnord. If you look up the word “fnord” in a somewhat modern lexicon, you’ll come across an explanation that says it’s a word, any word, that makes people break out in a fearful sweat everytime it’s mentioned on the news and agree to any insane laws. “Communism” filled the same role in the early 1950s in the United States, and it’s an actual studied phenomenon in manipulation of public opinion.

Fnord.

When we hear a fnord, like Terrorism (or Communism), we’re supposed to fill in the blanks with our most fearful images, regardless of what the word actually means. When the British Home Secretary says people will be imprisoned for fifteen years for “repeatedly watching terrorist material”, we’re supposed to interpret that as Middle Eastern jihadists promoting cutting people’s heads off with a dull knife for being too happy, or something equally reprehensible.

And so, the public agrees to insane laws that target “terrorism”, all while the government has a completely different definition of what these laws cover.

It is in these moments that is it crucial to remember that street protests are labeled “low-level terrorism” in actual government training material. Yes, you read that right: the word “terrorism”, according to the government, includes peacefully disagreeing in public with administration policies.

Among the multiple-choice questions included in its Level 1 Antiterrorism Awareness training course, the [Department of Defense] asks the following: “Which of the following is an example of low-level terrorist activity?” To answer correctly, the examinee must select “protests.”

Yes, you’re reading this right: watching training material on how to organize a peaceful street demonstration to make a political point falls completely within the definition of what’s punishable by fifteen years in prison according to the new British law. It may not be enforced that way, but it’s still what the law says when connected to the government’s own training material – and so it can be enforced that way, should it prove expedient.

So next time you hear “terrorism”, remember that it includes the flower-haired woman doing the V sign in the middle of a peaceful petition for redress of grievance.

Privacy remains your own responsibility.

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This article was previously published at Private Internet Access..

Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. He works as Head of Privacy at the no-log VPN provider Private Internet Access; with his other 40 hours, he's developing an enterprise grade bitcoin wallet and HR system for activism.

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Discussion

  1. Blank Reg

    This is not, by any means, the first case where the language of the law has been deliberately crafted to enable a loose interpretation, depending on the target(s) of police interest/enquiry. Examples are legion. The book “3 Felonies a Day” describes this in detail.

  2. Alba

    For sure terrorism is a great threat to all the world and together we can fight with it.

  3. Ninja

    So we are morphing from billions of criminals to billions of terrorists. I’m fine with that, let the few that consider themselves to be good people live in some island (or preferably the next inhabitable planet) and we can all be terrorist-ey together.

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