I was saddened some time ago when I saw report about the Saudi Shi’ite woman facing beheading for protesting against government policies.
Horrified, yes; surprised, no.
Apostasy (forsaking, criticizing or attacking religion) was the original treason and the penalty was a horrible death. It was extended to monarchs, as they were considered to be ordained by God. Parliaments have now been similarly hallowed. In Dante’s Inferno, the ninth and lowest circle of Hell is reserved for traitors (i.e. those who commit treason).
In January 2016, Saudi authorities executed 47 prisoners including … a revered Shiite cleric and government critic who had been convicted of sedition and other charges.
The Muslim world still practices what we would regard as extreme sanctions against dissent.
In England, high treason was punishable by being hanged, drawn and quartered or burnt at the stake if you were a woman. (Tsk! tsk! Blatant discrimination even then!)
After the execution of Lord Haw Haw in 1946, the penalty was changed to life imprisonment. Even now in Australia, the only permissible penalty for treason is life imprisonment.
It is clear that a priority of those in power is self protection and extreme action is sanctified.
But mass protests are permitted in many countries – such defiant and disrespectful acts as burning the national flag or effigies of politicians, the burning of property and tossing of Molotov cocktails and other violent assaults on police forces are tolerated. Sedition and incitement to violence are commonplace and tolerated.
Where is the line drawn and how do we see it? As always the choice remains with the government and that will always be weighed in the scale of political popularity, not the interests of public morality or common decency or established principle.
Public morality and common decency are currently being dictated by social media mobs who lynch any defiance of the fashionable viewpoint. These mobs are currently moving to re-define history and compel obedience to their views.
Even parliaments have been seen to take a knee!
Treason is now any defiance of the twitterati.
I am going to cancel my account – is that treason or just defiance or maybe just a senile snit?