Friday, 11 July 2008

"I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"

WARNING - Non Worcester Park related rant............. I was at a long meeting yesterday with a bunch of security people, none of whom think any of the security measures I am about to rant about has any value.

Are you sitting comfortably? Let me begin......

A while ago I posted about my miserable experience at Heathrow on the way to Phoenix and since then the Terminal 5 problems, plus an increasing number of other factors, are making flying less appealing. So in this economic downturn you might have thought that the G8 might want to give their airlines/airports a bit of a break to stop them going bust......... but no.......... they've come up with another idea to make the whole flying experience even more unappealing, as the Telegraph explains:
IPods, mobile phones and laptops could be examined by airport customs officials for illegal downloads under strict new counterfeiting measures being considered by G8 governments this week, it is claimed.

Now I'm just happy to be sat on a plane with some assurance that there are no bombs or guns on board but to be honest if the person in the next seat has an mp3 player stuffed with Boyzone tracks that they've downloaded from the net I'm not really going to lose any sleep over it (other than concern for their taste in music). The problem, as always, is that the "security" measures (I use the term loosely) are put forward by people with another agenda.... in this case the music industry who, I'm sure, could come up with a "Dodgy Dossier" of how downloads are related to International Terrorism as justification. If downloaders are going to be treated in the same manner as terrorists and knife carriers then is the eventual conclusion going to be that we'll have mp3 scanners at stations next to the knife scanners and sniffer dogs (are they going to train sniffer dogs that can smell an iPod from three feet away?) before we can get on a train?

With this trend in overbearing security measures I'm waiting for the day when I get frisked for taking a picture of Worcester Park railway bridge "because I could be planning a terrorist attack on critical infrastructure". Then I can stand alongside the man in Hull who had his memory card confiscated for taking pictures in the street and the bus-spotter in Wales who's given up his hobby because of constant harrassment, the Ipswich photographer who was forced to delete his photos of the Christmas lights by the Police, and so on.

When the media and the Government want you to be afraid of everything then does that mean we're on the path to paranoia and xenophobia? Or are we already there?

Repeat after me "I'm mad as hell..........."


Andy said...

Creep. Not you Brinkster but what happens to all this anti-terror legislation. Witness councils abuse of these laws to snoop on how much rubbish you put in your bin or have council employees follow you to make sure you live in the catchment area of a certain school. We are slowly turning ourselves into what East Germany used to be. What puzzles me is the brown trousered hand-wringing that goes on these days, I'm old enough to remember the IRA letting off unannounced bombs in Oxford St, everyone just seemed to get on with things. These days we seem to be ruled by a bunch of bed wetters!

The Brinkster said...

I've just posted something else to add to this post.

Almost all security measures are designed to prevent yesterday's problem whereas the attackers you really need to worry about are the ones who can adapt and change. While we live in the cult of "We must never let this happen again" then we'll be giving up our freedoms for even less real security but maybe at touch more feeling of security, although it doesn't actually make me feel more secure to know that I can't take sunscreen through a security check.

I worked in the West End during the IRA bombing campaign there so remember having the canteen with staff crying because of the stress, taking a deep breath and then going back out on the shop floor again. I remember the bomb you mentioned and it seems unreal to think back on it all now.

Andy said...

Oh, and regarding the portion of your post about cameras being confiscated and memory cards handed over there's a useful PDF here

In almost all cases it is lawful to take pictures in public places and anyone who asks you to stop is a belmtard.

Michael said...

Don't believe everything you read in the press ...or more ironicly, on the web either!

Michael said...

this app does not support long words! you need to put both of the above lines together (with no spaces) to get the link.
Or just click my name for it

The Brinkster said...

Hi Michael
I'd like to think The Reg is right but seeing as the US already have laws permitting them to examine the contents of any device at the border then it's already happening to some extent.

This comes from the same school of thought that gave us RIPA as an anti-terrorism measure which has been used 750 times in the last year to spy on people to check if they live in a school catchment area, have an incontinent dog, are gathering shellfish and other such crimes likely to undermine the fabric western civilisation.

It's all about "feature-creep", as Andy pointed out.

Not believe everything I read on the web!?!?! Heretic!!! What are you trying to say??? ;)

P.S. You can use the HTML tags to put a URL in a response by hand if you're feeling brave.

Andy said...

Without wishing to bang on about this subject I thought it may be worth posting this here. It's by Rachel North who got quite a lot closer to these terrorist scum than most of us have:

We are each other's best security

I was in a tube carriage when a suicide bomber blew himself up on July 7 2005. That is why I oppose 42-day detention

Rachel North

Yesterday I went up to West Ridings to take part in a debate about liberty on the eve of the Haltemprice and Howden byelection. This is the speech I made.

Three years ago I was on the way to work when a 19-year-old British man detonated a suicide bomb in the carriage I was travelling in, killing 26 innocent people and wounding more than a hundred more. I understand first-hand how terrifying terrorism is. The real aim of the terrorists is not to kill hundreds but to terrify millions – to terrify us so much that we forget who we are and what we stand for and become like frightened children begging only to be kept safe. To use our own nightmares against us and to amplify them through the media's endless feedback loop of fear. But as any parent knows, it is not always possible to keep those you love safe, and a person who is always safe is a person who never knows freedom and who has no life.

Tony Blair once said that the freedom not be to be blown up on the way to work was the most important freedom – and that sounds true, until you unpack it. For no government can keep us safe, even if they watch over us and film us and check our emails and internet use and hold our most intimate data and fill hundreds of prison cells with people who are merely suspected of, but not charged with, any crime.

When terrorists attack us, they try to divide us. They want a panicked reaction and a divisive, draconian response. It plays into their propaganda machine and by deeming them our terrible enemies against whom we must wage war, we dignify and glorify their hateful cause.

But what I learned on July 7 2005 was that we are each other's best security. We are the guardians of each other's liberties. I learned this when the bomb exploded and on each carriage of the train, trapped underground in the terrifying darkness and screaming, women and men took each other's hands and comforted and calmed each other, shared water and passed around tissues, while other women and men ran to rescue the injured. Further horror and injury was prevented by people's calm and altruistic response. And in the darkness, you could not know if the person who reached to touch you was female or male, or what race or religion they were. Just a stranger in the dark on whom your own sanity and survival depended. I have held on to that lesson ever since.

I expect terrorists to attack our way of life and to try to use fear to divide us and change our behaviour. I do not expect our government to do the same, nor us to collude in giving up our ancient liberties and thus to do the terrorists' work for them.

I have no empathy for terrorists and I will cheer loud and long when one is convicted by a jury of his peers and locked up for a long time. But it is not right to support laws where people merely suspected of terrorism should be locked up for 42 days and nights without being charged with any crime. More than half those arrested for terrorism so far have been found to be entirely innocent, while terrorism laws have been used to harass ordinary people: poets and protesters, chefs and pensioners, students and parents and priests. People like you and me.

The director of public prosecutions, the former director general of M15, the former attorney general and many senior police, as well as numerous others whose job it has been to protect us and prosecute those who mean us harm, all say that 42 days is not needed nor is it workable, and I support them. How can I not?

Sometimes an issue is so important that it transcends politics and party lines. We have a choice: whether we focus on our fears or our freedoms. We must defy the terrorists by standing together, strong in what we know ourselves to be, looking at what unites us. We must not tolerate political posturing and base attempts to cajole and frighten us. I pray that we have the courage to stand up for the freedoms our enemies want to destroy and older generations died to protect; whatever our party politics, whatever our background, we must say that our liberty is our security and our freedoms the key to unlock our fears and let us breathe and live and love and work as we want to.

I am not a Tory, but I am passionate about the debate that is playing out in David Davis's constituency and all over the UK. They say if you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything, and I am glad to stand shoulder to shoulder with people from all across the political spectrum, knowing that freedom is something worth standing for, worth fighting for, worth dying for.

The Brinkster said...

Bravo Rachel! I agree entirely!!

Thanks for posting that Andy!

Original Grauniad article is here.