Monday, October 27, 2008

Britain: Backwards

Found the following blog entry I typed up a while ago, but never made it to "press," for whatever reason. It links back to an article that had just appeared on the BBC news website, but it's not really a current affairs thing. Without further ado:

I would like to say that I apologise profusely to American readers of this blog for following British culture, politics and news agencies more closely than American ones. But I don't. We have all heard of these surveys asking Americans to place other countries on the globe, and being utterly confounded. Americans are beyond hope, and the world knows it. Britain on the other hand, for reasons unknown to yours truly, has a good decent reputation around the world. I would like to counter that belief. Having lived in England, I know what a backwards society it truly is. I contend that Britain is a foul place to live, where the government treats it's citizens with little respect and thinks little of deceiving and intimidating them.

Now, one cannot make a claim just like that. One has to justify one's beliefs, no matter how correct one is. (Which I am.) What we need is good solid proof. The problem is that proof for such a matter is not easily found. So while I cannot exactly claim to have proved that Britain is absolutely retarded. (And don't even think about attacking me for using that word, I refer you to its French root, "retardez," which means slowed down. So in context, retarded is a perfectly legitimate adjective intimating a lack of progress.)

If you follow the English media fairly closely, it is reasonably easy to see that the authorities utterly distrust individuals to do anything for themselves. As such, the current administration have implemented a string of punitive measures over the last 10 years or so, monitoring and punishing all manner of criminal behaviour and typical civic responsibilities to the nth degree. It is reaching the point where the average citizen practically has no real responsibilities, more of a rulebook of fear. In Britain, the "Nanny state" is alive and kicking.

So, at about 3:00 last night, I was browsing the BBC website on my mobile phone and found the following article. The article details an Israeli campaign to tackle dog faeces through DNA registration used in conjunction with an award system and small fines. As I read the article, I felt myself grinning broadly, as I could not help noticing a stark contrast in attitudes betrayed by the Israeli approach and the English method. The piece opened with the following sentence, "Officials in an Israeli city have come up with an innovative way of tracking dog owners who allow their pets to foul the streets," and later on described how the British government has sought to tackle the problem, "In the UK, some councils have resorted to using CCTV and undercover patrols to identify offenders in particular trouble spots." I wasn't so surprised by the Israeli approach, it was merely a reflection of a forward-thinking and co-operative society, looking to rid society of its ills in a positive, rational, well thought out manner. How it should be.

After a little more research, I found this on the Sky Website:

"Owners who scoop up their dog's poo and put it in specially marked bins on Petah Tikva's streets will be eligible for rewards - like pet food coupons and dog toys."

"If the voluntary programme takes off, the city will consider making it mandatory for owners to provide DNA samples from their dogs.
Tika Bar-On, the city's chief veterinarian, came up with the plan and said so far, dog owners had reacted positively to the initiative.

"[Residents] are co-operating because they want their neighbourhood to be clean," she said.

"She added there was many other applications vets could use the DNA database for - such as research of genetic diseases, investigating canine pedigree and identifying stray animals."

So Britain, seemingly one of the world's most respectable countries, resorts to spying on it's own citizens and preying on the insecurities of the individual. The government, instead of taking an innovative and positive approach, treats its civilians like children and attempts to bully their consciences.

The authorities consider the general public to be absolutely stupid and act on their behalf, employing deceiving and cunning means to remedy this most trivial and inconsequential of crimes. It cannot be denied that dog litter is a nuisance, but when the measures taken totally outweigh the crime itself, the result is utter distrust of those who are meant to govern, a cancerous sensation of helplessness. Underhanded measures like these are taking Britain ever closer to fulfilling that famous dystopian vision of Big Brother being realised.

Despite terror attacks being directed at Israel's citizens on a regular basis, CCTV cameras are nowhere near as a common sight in Israel's cities as they are in England. By way of contrast, it is said that London is the world's CCTV capital. George Orwell would be proud.

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