This morning I was woken up by someone in the House of Lords quoting Pastor Niemöller with regard to the 42-day hold without charge debate. Always a grand way to wake up. I was then reading about a police curfew that has been placed upon a Devonshire village for the under-16s.
Now whilst on the face of it, this would seem OK - after all, we are not going to condone violence or intimidation - what it does do is remove any idea of 'innocent until proven guilty'. By virtue of apparent age, apparent being something I will come back to, a 15 year old kid can be in trouble with the police for being out of his house during the summer holidays at 9.05pm. What a very strange world we live in? I wonder what provision is made for those children returning from evening activities such as sports clubs, hobbies or just visiting relatives? Will police snatch squads stalk public playing fields with a stopwatch, as lads try to have a kickabout during the long nights? No longer the chance to go to the cinema for a snog in the back row, as you will have to be back in your house by 9pm! Rules like these criminalise the innocent and I can imagine a number of other police authorities looking at it and wondering whether it would work for them?
Just to reiterate, thats a curfew in operation on British soil effecting innocent British citizens.
And this is apparently a good thing?
Remember I said 'apparently' before was operative in all of this? Well, this lead me to thinking about another of my favourite bugbears at the moment. Task 25.
I was in Morrisons last week and saw that in order to buy alcohol, if you look under 25, you will have to produce proof of ID. Again, it seems innocent enough but what is the logic behind it? The legal age for the purchase of alcohol is 18. Not 21. Not 25. Its 18.
So you go into Morrisons and you look, say, 22. Obviously older than 18, probably not more than 25. And you have to produce ID? Why? The assistant can see and accept that you are older than 18 (and thus the sale is legal) so why not make the sale?
To make matters worse, I'm pretty sure that Tesco Extra operate the same policy for anyone who appears under 30!
One the one hand, I find this arse-covering at an insane level. If the supermarkets are honestly saying that they cannot tell the difference between someone in their mid-20s and someone who is 17, then I suggest they need to look harder! Regardless, what makes 26 or 31 suddenly an age without any qualms about sale? Its arbitary and illogical, at best.
Either we push towards a society where we all carry ID and it is used all of the time for various things (ie. like in California, where you are ID'd for your first drink in every bar, no matter how old you are (at least in my experience!)) or we do not. These self-imposed halfway houses create ludicrous paradoxes.
To whit, imagine the problems the police in the curfew town are going to have with all of those ambiguously aged youths? If a supermarket cannot tell the difference between a 17 year old and a 30 year old, how the hell can the police be expected to tell the difference between a 15 and a 16 year old. Or 17? Or 18? Or 21? How many innocent adults are going to be 'dispersed' by the police?
Maybe David Davies is right? Maybe there is an erosion of our civil liberties that is happening in this country? Maybe we are just letting it happen because it makes us feel safer.... until we are the ones that are fingered with being the danger and then we will have let it all go too far.
Remember the words of Pastor Niemöller ...
First they came for the Socialists, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left
to speak up for me.