Having spent the weekend digging out anticant’s burrow, and putting up the first few pieces of wallpaper, anticant immodestly e-mailed some of his friends and even relations inviting them to look in for a housewarming. One of them responded: “I don’t see the point of being anonymous”. He probably wouldn’t. ‘Mr Upfront’, as I’ll call him, is a man of high intelligence and solid achievement. He has had a distinguished career and has published solid legal tomes and much else of which he is rightly proud. His own blogsite is a celebration of himself. He is pugnacious and forthright in argument.
Sadly, anticant has concluded that we are no longer living in the cosier world which he and Mr Upfront used to take for granted, and so anonymity is essential if he is to be half-way honest. His reason is, quite simply, fear. This is a lamentable and ugly fact, but it must be clearly stated. We no longer live in a world where free speech does not carry a heavy price. Terrorism is not merely a matter of occasional atrocities – it is much more about the creation of a pervasive climate where debate is muffled by a stifling blanket of possible nasty consequences if one honestly says what one really thinks. It is not only private enterprise terrorism, such as the murders in Holland – hitherto a very liberal and tolerant country - of Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh. There is also ever-increasing state intolerance of free speech as evidenced by all the ludicrous laws pushed through by this government gagging expressions of opinion which might “offend” some individuals or groups or hurt their “feelings”.
Well, anticant is absolutely outraged by the no longer creeping but now briskly trotting advance of Big Brotherism. The latest tit-bit – have you seen it ? – is that the police propose to use high-powered microphones to eavesdrop from up to 100 yards away on crowds at the London 2012 Olympics, “taking public surveillance to an entirely new level”. You can say that again! This ghoulish suggestion has even got up the nose of David Blunkett, who understandably wishes to keep his chats with his guide dog private. Wouldn’t you?
Whatever happened to privacy and free speech?