[-empyre-] February 2006


Sedition--from the Latin, seditio--"a going apart"...

Treason--from the Latin--traditio, "a handing over"...  

Thus we have "a going apart" in contrast with "a handing over."  
A primary statement: sedition is not treasonous, despite the increasing
intimacy of the terms in our recent governance.  To "hand over" as in
treason, implies the disclosure of a secret.  Governments seem increasingly
bent upon monitoring and punishing "going apart" and "handing over," as if
they were the same event.  Borrowing from McKenzie Wark, we might say this
is how governments are "securing security".

In spite of all this, the new Anti-terror legislation in Australia, and in
particular, the portion of it focused upon sedition, seems to allow for
artistic dissent and criticism.  Section 80.3: "Defence for acts done in
good faith" precludes the application of Section 80.1: "Definition of
Organization", and 80.2: "Sedition" to those that 'lawfully' criticize the
government and its structures, or encourage others to seek lawful change.

However, the following definition, taken from Schedule 7;4 of the
Anti-terrorism legislation seems problematic:

--seditious intention--means an intention to effect any of the
following purposes:

16 (a) to bring the Sovereign into hatred or contempt;
17 (b) to urge disaffection against the following:
18 (i) the Constitution;
19 (ii) the Government of the Commonwealth;
20 (iii) either House of the Parliament;
21 (c) to urge another person to attempt, otherwise than by lawful
22 means, to procure a change to any matter established by law
23 in the Commonwealth;
24 (d) to promote feelings of ill-will or hostility between different
25 groups so as to threaten the peace, order and good
26 government of the Commonwealth.

The vagueness of terms like 'hatred' and 'contempt', and 'threaten'
seemingly conflict with the openness purveyed in Section 80.3: "Defence for
acts done in good faith."

Ultimately, the interpretation and then the application of one or another's
reading of this legislation will matter most.  In other words, how will
these laws be used?  If read fairly, they may cause little concern, but
there are terms in Schedule 7;4 that could lead to confusion and
misapplication by overzealous bureaucrats and enforcement officials.

It is interesting to note that the USA Patriot Act, and the proposed
Domestic Enhancement Security Act of 2003 (USA Patriot Act II--upon
auto-searches of their .pdf files-- both do not contain a single instance of
the words 'sedition' nor 'treason'! 


Nicholas Ruiz III
Interdisciplinary Program in the Humanities
Florida State University
Editor, Kritikos

empyre forum

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