Thursday, October 29, 2009

Nannyarchy In The U.K.

London is a city that has CCTV cameras on every street corner. Citizens are caught on camera an average of 300 times a day. They are mandatory in pubs. Gun ownership is restricted nearly into non-existence. These measures are all justified by the U.K. equivalent of the old "national security" cliche here in America: public safety.

The overzealousness for public safety leads to police loitering around bars at night to hand out flip-flops to drunk patrons in heels. It leads to babies being taken from families the state decides is too fat to be trusted with raising a child. It leads to talk of creating a file for every child born so it can be monitored for signs that "the child is suffering significant harm" (no potential for abuses there, and one guess who decides the definition of 'significan harm').

It has now led to forcing parents who take their kids to a park in Watford to watch from behind a fence. They aren't allowed on the playground itself because they might be pedophiles.


The Watford council defends its actions by saying they're only following the law:

"Councillors insist they are merely following Government regulations and cannot allow adults to walk around playgrounds 'unchecked'."

Kids on the playground are to be supervised by government-vetted "play rangers"; adults the council has deemed responsible and safe enough to be allowed around children.

In fact, it seems Britain has taken the idea that anyone could be a pedophile to the extreme. In the U.S. if a person is convicted of certain crimes, he or she is placed on an offender's registry, a scarlet letter if you will. The problem with that system, apparently, is, what if you just haven't caught somebody yet?

They solve that apparently by having a sort of bizzaro sex offenders database. It lists people who are deemed not to be pedophiles. If you aren't in the government's computer, you either are one or perhaps just haven't been caught yet.

"It comes amid an escalating row over the Government's new anti-paedophile database, which will contain the names of more than 11 million adults cleared to work with children and vulnerable adults."

The idea that government knows best and citizens are children to be taken care of is anathema to many people. Even those who support big government would, I believe, strenuously object to measures like these (except for those who would be playing the role of nanny: they love this stuff). I'd like to think that if these sorts of things were introduced in America there would be outrage, perhaps even revolt. My question to those in the U.K.:

What are you waiting for?

1 comment:

  1. Good post. My fear is that you will see some of these types of things happen in the US without being openly discussed first. They may appear as one sentence of a 2000+ page bill that gets passed by congress without being read or debated.

    Hopefully, as a society, we won't allow that to happen or force corrective actions through our legislature if it does.