Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Ready for the Two Minutes Hate?

Bringing a new interactive dimension to the Gilded Gulag, Middlesborough has added speakers to their array of public CCTV cameras. Now in addition to monitoring the proles as they go about their day-to-day tasks, they can remind them that Big Brother is, indeed, watching.
The Mail on Sunday watched as a cyclist riding through a pedestrian area was ordered to stop.

'Would the young man on the bike please get off and walk as he is riding in a pedestrian area,' came the command.

The surprised youth stopped, and looked about. A look of horror spread across his face as he realised the voice was referring to him.

He dismounted and wheeled his bike through the crowded streets, as instructed.
What the hell? I don't know about you, but I'dve had a hard time not yelling back "Will the nosy sumbitch with the microphone please stick it where the sun don't shine?" This is exactly the kind of thing that would bring my anti-authoritarian streak bubbling to the surface.

I blame it on growing up in an America gearing up to celebrate its Bicentennial, but whatever the cause, I was twelve before I found out that e pluribus unum wasn't Latin for "You ain't the boss of me." If I feel like I'm being monitored, I feel a nearly irresistable urge to run home and rip the tags off mattresses. Yet this seems to be okay with plenty of folks:
Law-abiding shopper Karen Margery, 40, was shocked to hear the speakers spring into action as she walked past them.

Afterwards she said: 'It's quite scary to realise that your every move could be monitored - it really is like Big Brother.

'But Middlesbrough does have a big problem with anti-social behaviour, so it is very reassuring.'
I don't care if it absolutely eradicates street crime, honey; get that camera out of my face before I find a rock and a slingshot.

I guess it's the absolute lack of negative reaction to what I see as stifling intrusiveness that gets to me, just grinds me to a halt. The fact that nobody minds some camera operator watching them pick their nose, or stealing a kiss in a secluded nook after meeting someone new in a nightclub, is a chilling thing for me to see. I get that same bleak feeling I always get at the end of 1984...
"The voice from the telescreen was still pouring forth its tale of prisoners and booty and slaughter, but the shouting outside had died down a little. The waiters were turning back to their work. One of them approached with the gin bottle. Winston, sitting in a blissful dream, paid no attention as his glass was filled up. He was not running or cheering any longer. He was back in the Ministry of Love, with everything forgiven, his soul white as snow. He was in the public dock, confessing everything, implicating everybody. He was walking down the white-tiled corridor, with the feeling of walking in sunlight, and an armed guard at his back. The longhoped-for bullet was entering his brain.

He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother."

(H/T to The Student Shooter.)


1894C said...

I commented the following:

I to am amazed how Europeans seem so nonchalant about such gross infringements of their liberties. Government overseers are welcomed with open arms, personal responsibility and self sufficiency is looked at with scorn.

How the once proud nations of Europe have fallen, truly sad.

BobG said...

I think it it based partly on the fact that in Europe (and most of the rest of the world throughout history), the people are used to the idea that they are subjects of their rulers, be they a government or royalty. This attitude has percolated down through the change in government until today, where they still see themselves as subjects of the prevailing regime. If people are raised as serfs, that's what they will be. For another example, look at Japan; they are still a feudal society, with corporations taking the place of warlords.
Just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Wanna see what a .30/06 will do to a camera?


T.Stahl said...

Ahead, one hundred, camera pole, ten rounds, rapid fire, shoot!

Oops, I forgot, it's Great Britain. :-(

Art Eatman said...

Ever seen these dealies in the hardware stores that make life easier for using a spray can? Can-holder with squeeze handle to press the button.

Easy enough to make a jointed pole and add a length of wire, rigging it to operate the spray can.

Not that I just re-read (for the umpteenth time) "The Monkeywrench Gang" or anything...Or that "Hayduke Lives!" encompasses what I think is a proper attitude toward Big Nanny. :)

"Suffer ye not the camera to live!"


pax said...

The thing that always awes me is the number of people who are comforted, rather than angered, by this kind of thing.

English Tourist said...

In Britain there has, over the last 15 years or so, been both a real and perceived increase in low level public disorder and crime. Couple this with a police force which has been emascuated by PC ideals and paperwork and a judicial system that thinks crime can be prevented by a hug from the nearest social worker.

All this overseen (for the last 10 years at least) by the most incompetent, inept government this country has known - which appears to be convinced that just one more law or technical fix will solve the crime problem.

At this point most of the British public will accept anything that might make a difference. No one likes to admit that CCTV has been proven to be totally ineffective. The perception is that they are a good thing, hence no one interferes with them.

Speed cameras on the other hand appear to be fair game. (There are websites full of photos of dead speed cameras.)

Don't forget that much of the American legal and political system came out of Europe, the UK especially. We've just had social/big government longer than you have. If you took an average Briton from 1906 and showed them the USA as it is today they would be horrified by the size and scope of your government. Give it another few years...

Oh, by the way, silenced .22RF for preference... the cameras are a bit high for spray paint.

Billy Beck said...

"bobg": "I think it it based partly on the fact that in Europe (and most of the rest of the world throughout history), the people are used to the idea that they are subjects of their rulers, be they a government or royalty."

I wish you'd go read this post at my blog. It includes a link to Rachel Lucas' old blog, which is unfortunately not available now. What's important is something that someone wrote thirty-five years ago and that I excerpted. You might find it interesting, considering what you wrote.

Don said...

Quick! Everybody get to Homer Simpson's back yard!

(There's a Simpsons episode about this; a British "expert consultant" talks the city into installing cameras everywhere, complete with the speakers, and Ned Flanders and Marge Simpson become the voices of Big Brother. But there's a blind spot in Homer's back yard, so he and Bart start an anarchist freehold.)