A recent study of social attitudes in Britain has discovered that support for civil liberties is on the wane, with the majority of the population seeing infringements on their rights as a reasonable price for apparent security.
The British Social Attitudes Survey, released every year since 1983, reports that the vast majority of British citizens support compulsory, biometric identity cards, are in favour of detentions of terrorist subjects without charge, and support the tagging and wire-tapping of terrorist suspects without charge.
There was some positive news: 75% of Britons oppose torture, for example, and 63% oppose the banning of demonstrations. A slim majority, 55%, oppose the suspension of trial-by-jury for terrorist suspects. In addition, 80% supported terminally ill patients’ right to assisted suicide.
Overall, however, it’s a grim picture. The vast majority of the British public seems to be willing to sacrifice their own rights and the rights of others if it means an ostensible increase in security; gone is the British attitude of the past, where civil liberties, and those who had fought for them, were things to be proud of.
Perhaps it’s our memory of World War II growing fainter; perhaps it’s simply the realities of a “post 9/11 world”. Whatever the cause, people are growing content with a lack of freedom: a contentedness I for one find particularly depressing.