20 Jul

burning at the stake photo: burning at the stake 1 Burning.jpg
I rather hope I’m reading things wrongly, because if I’m not we’re entering a new and frightening dark age.

Mind you, people who live and breathe outside the technological maelstrom we call the Internet are probably safe enough. Unless H M Government starts putting listening devices inside domestic television sets, that is. And they might!

In past times, when things were simpler and technology wasn’t even a blip on the horizon there were snoopers and spies galore, all working for the Head of State, be it monarch or government toady. And if those snoopers and spies got wind you were a threat to the status quo (not the pop group but the existing state of affairs morphed into a tiny Latin phrase) there was trouble ahead, often draconian punishment silencing you for good. No Government wants to tolerate criticism, not back then when there were stakes and people being burnt at them, or today, where there’s an Internet.

This is particularly true of the leaders of Government. What they’d really, really love is an excuse to justify monitoring the thousands of texts, emails, blogs, articles, essays, columns of opinion, in fact any words that are the daily diet of a million web sites.

Let me pull aside for a moment and contemplate something else.

All my life I have been expected to be grateful to my leaders for saving me from a fate worse then death. There was the second world war, and that was a dreadful thing that both took and ruined lives. But it was over in 1945 and suddenly there was the vacuum with no reason for the Government to claim it was saving me until Winston Churchill rumbled about an iron curtain stretching across Europe and a war broke out in Korea. Suddenly there were new enemies, reds under the bed, the evil of communism (a political ideal which perfectly described the principles by which Jesus Christ supposedly lived), the Cuban Crisis that terrified us all and made even atheists start praying, a bloody skirmish in Vietnam (communists again), the Irish problem, Saddam Hussein invading Kuwait which was a country we had barely heard of but were told it was a place we loved because of its oil wells, Islamic terrorists blowing themselves up in wave after wave of suicide bombings, ISIS….

The list represents the years of my life and throughout it I have had to be grateful for being saved from a horrendous list of threats to my personal well being. Government after Government has told me how much it has earned my gratitude and I am prostrate before them all. But at the back of my mind lurks a question concerning which might have arrived first, the chicken or the egg where the chicken is the dire threat to my safety and the egg is my government-induced salvation.

Back to my original thread, then.

The Government is showing signs that it considers it a mighty good idea if all our correspondence is monitored in case we’re of the chicken variety of blogger. They want to tease out people who might use a particular word or phrase, who possibly espouse all manner of nastiness on-line.

I do both of those. I have a decent-sized personal vocabulary, so I use a decent range of words, some of which might be considered as really, really threatening to good order and the security of the realm, especially to whoever happens to be in office at the time my words are spotted. And as for espousing nastiness on-line, I write quite a lot of fiction which I post here and there, and some of my invented heroes might come out with the odd piece of threatening nastiness, not because I want to harm anyone but because a fictitious character might harbour devious thoughts.

Note the word “fictitious”!

But what it really seems to me is we’re going back to the stake and bonfire days. We’re heading, or hurtling rather, back into a past that was nastier than nasty with cruelty abounding at the behest of kings and even monarchs having their heads chopped off. But it’s easy, isn’t it? Human beings have always had a diverse range of ideas and wanted to express them and the truth is they don’t always coincide with what those elected to govern us want to hear. After all, they’re generally elected by a minority of the voting public yet look at themselves as custodians of rationale and logic. The truth is, its their own rationale they are defending and not necessarily one shared by a great many others.

So in the name of guarding us against yet another threat (ISIS? Islamic terrorists?) they’re planning to peruse our on-line warbling, seeking out evidence that we don’t like them. And then what? They’ve discovered I distrust them…

Do I detect a Prime Minister hammering a stake into the ground?

© Peter Rogerson 20.07.15


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