Saturday, June 9, 2007
Four legs good, two legs better.
Watching a satirical programme the other night about Britain’s new anti-terror and public order laws brought home to me how insidiously they creep into the legislation. It is as if the Government is trying to validate the whole premise of George Orwell’s 1984, voted this week as the book that best sums up the last century. Shots of Tony Blair in 2002 defending free speech, by smarmily upholding people’s rights to scream abuse at him were juxtaposed with a young woman being bundled into a police van for wearing a Bollocks to Blair tee shirt, in 2007. The old fellow who shouted ‘nonsense’ during a Jack Straw speech at a Labour Party Conference and was then roughly handled by heavies, was among those that figured in an alarming hour. The fact that it wasn’t a particularly well-made programme somehow added to the sense of gloom and doom on this side of the screen. There were middle class women who marched for Peace too close to the Houses of Parliament and were very unpeacefully jostled about and the odd man or two who had uttered the F or some other word in public fora. Like some historical pageant in a play by Shakespeare, I saw Aldermaston Marchers, Suffragettes, Trade Unionists, the Jarrow Marchers, Greenham Commoners and on and on and, as a one-time supporter of the Labour Party, asked myself the obvious question. “Didn’t the Labour Party come into being and gain nurture from just such public dissent? Has it now become, as in Orwell’s other masterpiece, Animal Farm, a case of the Pigs taking over and desecrating the memory of ordinary folks’ protestations at bad government, by epitomising exactly that?
9/11 and 7/7 were contingent consequences of pathologically bad interventions in the Middle East, US vested interests in Israel, the criminal negligence of the people of Palestine and heinous interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq. The laws that have recently been introduced must be seen as attempts to vindicate, post hoc, all that went before. Having delivered us into a world of fear by their actions, the Government is now shoring up its credibility in managing the ‘state of terror’, by harsh legislation. Shame on them all. They lack integrity, humanity and moral intelligence.
The young woman on Big Brother who tried to demonstrate her cool symbiosis with a black fellow contestant, calling her the N word, has not been arrested under any of the new laws. Oh really, there’s a surprise.