Saturday, February 25, 2006

'An open invitation to abuse their power'

Oooh, spooky. J comes back from buying the paper and I find this excellent article in the Guardian, saying it much better than me:

''Dangerously for all of us, the fear of terrorism is legitimising intimidating behaviour by petty officials and agents of the state. It has become an excuse for bullying people when they step out of obedient lines... I fear that many of us are failing to see the danger we are now in, precisely because we have grown up in a largely benign state. We still trust in the good sense and reasonableness of its agents, and the rest of officialdom. We don't understand that that has been sustained only by the existence of our legal rights, and by a respect for our freedom of action. We don't see the lesson of every society: that if you do not place constraints on official power, its instinct is to grow. Our tolerant world is disappearing, and it is only when many more of us start running up against that reality that we will realise what we have lost.
Four years ago, just after 9/11, an American judge wrote a warning that is worth repeating. Andrew Napolitano said: "In a democracy, personal liberties are rarely diminished overnight. Rather, they are lost gradually, by acts of well-meaning people, with good intentions, amid public approval. But the subtle loss of freedom is never recognised until the crisis is over and we look back in horror. And then it is too late."


Blogger Bob Piper said...

The danger of much of what you say is that you are playing the Government's game. You are doing the 'scary stories' bit. The media are always doing this. They frighten the living daylights out of pensioners who stay huddled in their houses worried stiff that outside the front door there are gangs of young men just waiting to beat them up and steal their savings. They convince all those comfortable people in their home counties suburbs that the UK is crawling with asylum seekers and people from foreign lands who are either trying to cheat them, turn the country into a Muslim state and lower the price of their bricks and mortar assets. One of the great problems of the Liberty Central project is that people do not recognise it as being relevant. They don't care about ID cards; they might even think they're a good idea to stop benefit fraud. They couldn't give a tuppenny toss about the glorification of terrorism; if they think about it at all, they think its wrong. I have concerns about the authoritarian nature of some of the Blairite legislation, but this blatant scaremongering will only contribute to people's fears of a 'hidden enemy'.

Rachel, you said we have nothing to fear but fear... so why try to frighten people with these sort of 'scary stories'.

February 25, 2006 4:51 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Hmmm, Bob. This is a personal blog, not fear propoganda, Government propoganda - or any other kind of propoganda! I am not trying to frighten people, but I *am* personally feeling very frightened, especially this week and I suppose I am looking for reassurrance from people who are not dealing with fear symptoms: the tube really spooked me this week, then the news - ID cards, Anti terror laws, etc...

I know there is nothing to fear but fear itself, and that is why i am writing down that I am afraid, to shpw myself and others who can be bothered to keep up with this currently very freaked-out blogger that these are only feelings , albeit debiliating ones.

I am not 'the media' either, I am not a professional journalist, ( I work in advertising, not editorial) but I do read the media. And what ( some of) the media are reporting about what the Govt. are doing is REALLY worrying me, eroding important civil liberties in the name of 'terror', etc. I am pointing out what they are doing because I think it deserves to be pointed out. I think it is important to challenge it.

I don't think saying this - criticising the Governments approach - is particularly adding to the climate of fear. And I also said that I hoped I was just being paranoid in feeling so threatened by their current agenda. I am trying to point out how it seems that the Govt. are encouraging the creation of a climate of fear to pass restrictive and draconian legislation and how this is not the way to protect us.

I don't censor how I feel when I write , so if I am having a week of bricking it generally, then that is what goes into the blog. If I start writing only upbeat, we are not afraid messgaes then this blog becomes a pile of steaming bollocks because I AM afraid.

I try to brush off the fact that I have been nearly murdered by random strangers twice in the last 4 years but one of the blow back effects is that your sense of safety takes a huge hit.

I am clearly trying to deal with the stupid travel fear that I feel, and at the same time as deal with how I feel huge anger towards the Government. I used to support them. I feel immensely let down and betrayed by Tony Blair.

I REALLY don't want to feel this fear all the time, but I am unfortunately scared when I travel and it is flipping debilitating. I said that I realised there was nothing to fear and that I wanted to apologise to the man who frightened me. You have to remember, I am not responding to racist stereotypes or if I flinch on a tube or when apprached by a hooded young male, I am responding because of personal experience. i try to manage the reaction, because it is irrational, it is a traumatic reaction, not a reasonable one, and I am ashamed of it: it is not congruent with what I believe.

I write down in this blog when I am scared and it helps me sort it out. It makes me see it for what it is: temporary and not permanent.The blog is part of the recovery process. It is the only place I have to deal with all this stuff each day.
So your post made me think, but I don't think that saying I personally am having a shitty week and am angry with the Govt. for playing on my fears to score power points is 'trying to frighten people with these sort of 'scary stories'.

If I was posting that all Muslims were terrorists and all illegal immigrants were robbers and rapists I'd be fear-mongering - but I'm not posting that at all, because that is not what I think.

What I think is that I am still suffering from travel phobia
( but I am still uusing the tube nonetheless) and that the Govt. is creating a climate of fear to pass legislation that stifles debate and makes their jobs easier. I also think the reactions of the Govt have inflamed extremists and raised the risks ordinary people like me run, here and elsewhere - and I would like to see more liberties cherished, more freedoms safeguarded, not less.

Hope that doesn't frighten everyone too much.

February 25, 2006 5:58 pm  
Blogger Bob Piper said...


I wasn't trying to be critical, just a bit analytical I suppose (but the first four letters are anal, so there you go). I don't think you are a journo or a fearmonger, I was just trying to warn you that paranoia can hurt people too, but you have got more right than most to think the buggers are out to get you.

Keep writing... you are more fun than you think. Can I just say though, as a long time Labour member, if you are let down by Tony Blair, that is more about you, and people who feel like you, than it is about him. He is the most honest Prime Minister we have ever had. All the other Labour Leaders promised us socialism, and then just let us down. Blair never did. He was never a socialist. He never promised to give us socialism. He didn't. Not his fault... mine!

February 25, 2006 9:49 pm  

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