Judges, politicians and civil liberties


The gloriously vindictive and absurd asset confiscation orders imposed upon terrorist suspects have been declared unlawful:

Anti-terrorism legislation was condemned as poorly thought-out by a senior High Court judge yesterday as he declared that the Treasury’s powers to freeze suspects’ bank accounts were unlawful.

Mr Justice Collins said that terrorist financial orders — introduced by Gordon Brown when he was Chancellor — were absurd, unfair and a breach of fundamental rights.

Excellent: it was clear to anyone with an ounce of sense that the authorities being able to confiscate all you own, upon no evidence that they had to show to anyone, with no method of appeal possible, was an "absurdity", as the judge indeed said that it was. Slippery slope arguments are dangerous things (and indeed, Madsen of this parish has chided me for using them in the past, even sent me a book explaining why they should not be used) but then so are slippery slopes themselves.

Yes, it's true that only 59 people were subject to such terror asset freeses, but we've just had recently the news that the basic concept is to be extended:

Police will be able to seize high-value assets from suspected drug dealers as soon as they are arrested under plans to be unveiled this week by Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary.

Yes, that's right: upon arrest, nothing so boring or inconvenient as a trial (under either civil or criminal procedures), simply the impounding of your property at the say so of the authorities. And of course, just like the earlier terror orders, these will of course only ever be used in the most serious and alarming of cases. There certainly won't be any slippery slope to an extension of them, no siree Bob!

Just as, umm, there wasn't from terror suspects to suspected drug dealers.

While I do know, as has been impressed upon me, that slippery slope arguments are logical fallacies, am I allowed to insist upon the exisetnce of slippery slopes, or as Bernard Levin called it, the Fallacy of Altered Standpoints? One we've taken the first grossly illiberal step, it is not necessary that we take the next, but it is easier?