Freedom Isn’t Free

So there’s been a couple of major stories this week regarding the freedom of an individual person or state. First and foremost, the UK Home Secretary has blocked the extradition of 42 year old Gary McKinnon to the USA.

Mr McKinnon, who has Aspergers and severe depression, was arrested in 2002 on computer hacking charges, or as the American government called it “intentional and calculated to influence and affect the US government by intimidation and coercion”. What he actually did was hack into their military systems on a search for evidence of U.F.O’s, and did so with such ease that he left the message “Your security is crap!”. Perhaps the ballsiest display of trolling in recent history.

Why is this such a big deal? Well, it’s not because he’s innocent; he owned up to it long ago. It’s because it shows that someone in this country is still able to listen to sense (or bow to immense pressure by campaigning fans and relatives) and stand against a treaty that shouldn’t have been signed in the first place. He’s not a war criminal, or an international threat; he’s one man who realistically shouldn’t have been able to do what he did so easily. If he’s tried, he should be tried in the country where he committed the crime; here. However, the decade long battle has certainly taken it’s toll on McKinnon’s mental health, which has deteriorated over the years, not to mention the stress put on his mother.

The other big story is Scotland’s now guaranteed referendum on independence, scheduled for 2014. After various campaigns over the years, Prime Minister David Cameron and First Minister Alex Salmond have agreed to hold a referendum on the matter. It also 16 year old’s to vote in the referendum, although the popular devo-max option, which would allow Scotland to have complete financial autonomy, has been removed, leaving a straight yes or no option.

However, a few commentators have pointed out the obvious flaw and potential trap of this vote for independence-what if the public say no? There’s also the additional complications of what happens if Scotland becomes independent, and why aren’t the rest of the UK allowed to vote? Personally, I feel it should be citizens of Scottish birth only to vote. It shouldn’t be up to the rest of us to decide whether or not someone has to stay in our little group if they don’t want to.

Two important victories were won this week in the name of freedom. While they should be celebrated, I think we’re yet to see the true cost of the hard-won freedom and the coming effects.

What do you think? Should Gary McKinnon have been extradited, or has this been a long time coming? Should Scotland become independent, or this is just one big fuss over nothing? Feel free to leave your opinions in the comments below, or tweet them to me @sociocuttlefish.

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