Difference Between Sedition and Treason

Key Difference – Sedition vs Treason

Treason and sedition are terms that are similar in nature and are applied to cases wherein individuals or organizations have acted in defiance of established authorities. Sedition laws have always been in place to allow governments to take coercive action against acts of defiance that are meant to overthrow them. Treason involves acting against the interests of a state and thus confuses many as to whether they should use treason or sedition in a particular context. The key difference between sedition and treason is that the sedition is a crime against one’s own state, and so is treason, but treason is considered far more serious crime than sedition. This article takes a close look at the two words, sedition and treason, to come up with their differences.

What is Sedition?

If you are doing something or saying something that is meant to overthrow the established authority in your country, you are liable to be charged with sedition. To curb their citizens from doing so, many countries of the world have sedition laws in place. In the modern world, merely criticizing the policies of the government in place cannot be treated as sedition because of the freedom of speech. But in years gone by, governments treated their own people badly if they raised their voice against their policies. In fact, anti-sedition laws have been used by some countries to persecute minorities. These laws at times became a tool in the hands of governments to suppress the voices of opposition parties.

Subversion or disrespect of the constitution is often regarded as acts of sedition. There was a time when some people in US were charged with sedition when they burned national flags to show their displeasure against the Vietnam War.

What is Treason?

Treason is a concept that overlaps with sedition. It refers to acts of brazen defiance against one’s own government in a bid to bring harm or to overthrow the government in place. If you owe allegiance to your government but do something to overthrow the government or betray your state by harming its interests and by helping an enemy state, you are liable to be charged with treason. In earlier times, a servant killing his master or a wife running away with another man were considered as examples of treason. But in modern times, the act of a citizen that helps a foreign government to overthrow the government in place is considered an act of treason. Compromising with the security interests of one’s own country by helping an enemy state is also treason. Obviously declaring a war against one’s government in place is an act of treason.

What is the difference between Sedition and Treason?

• Sedition is a crime against one’s own state, and so is treason, but treason is considered far more serious crime than sedition.

• Speaking against the government or engaging in acts of defiance are termed as sedition and anti-sedition laws are applied on such individuals or organizations.

• In modern times, freedom of speech protects the right of individuals and governments cannot take action against their citizens merely on grounds of defiance or opposition.

• Espionage and helping the enemy state to overthrow one’s own government is considered treason.

• Burning national flag was seditious act in US a few decades ago but today it has been ruled legitimate by SC as part of the freedom of speech of the citizens.

• In general, treason is a more serious offence than sedition.