Relatively ho-hum story out of Iraq:
More than 20 employees of Iraq’s Ministry of the Interior have been arrested on allegations that they were plotting to revive Saddam Hussein’s outlawed Baath party, government officials said Thursday.
Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf told reporters that 23 people had been arrested over the past five days in a Baath Party plot but he dismissed suggestions they were planning a coup.
Another security official put the figure at 25 and said a brigadier general in the traffic police was the highest-ranking figure. Most are low-level ministry employees, he said.
Weak attempt at shock — basically “OHMIGODZOMBIESADDAM!” — immediately revealed to be as significant as lint. Here’s the real interesting bit:
Iraq’s 2005 constitution bans the Baath party and any group that uses its symbols and ideology “regardless of the name that it adopts.” (emphasis mine)
How exactly do you ban an entire ideology? Suppose there’s overlap between the banned ideology and that of another group, then what? Is there a certain ratio of Baath sympathizing ideas to other ideas that serves as a boundary line, where going one direction or the other is the difference between a group being legal or illegal? Or is it absolute enforcement, a blanket “do not agree with Baath on anything, or else”? What if someone wants to establish a party using the exact same name but with completely different goals? Or government officials have a grudge against some unrelated party so they start claiming they’re secretly Baathists?
More to the point, what realistically are the prospects of liberty in a society that doesn’t see an inherent problem with attempting to abolish thoughts?