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Thursday, 6 March 2008

I cry at night.

When I lay in bed trying to fall asleep and enter that half awake, half asleep state my mind starts to wander and I start thinking of all manner of things. One thing that jumped into my semi-conscious mind the other night was how we, as a nation, have become in recent years with regard to our personal liberties. You remember those don't you? "In this free and pleasant land." or so the song goes. Free my arse. Pleasant by arse. More like "In this castrated and curtailed land."

We are not allowed to take photographs or videos of our children in any council owned space, which includes schools, in a park, any museum, in fact anywhere the council owns or anywhere the police may see you taking photographs or videoing your own children.

Schools during sports day or when your child or children are in a play. Two times when a parent should be rightly proud of their child(ren). But no, no photographs or videos allowed. Though some schools, especially primary schools, will happily sell you a video of the event and some foolish parents not wanting to miss their child in a play will merrily pay. Enforcing forever the notion that your average parent is to be regarded as a danger not only to their own child but to everyone else's child too.

In the park. That former bastion of English parent-child play diet is now seen as somewhere where danger lays for every child that plays there, especially when a camera is in evidence. Even when the children's parents are present in fact those pesky parents are just as bad as every pedophile because they take photographs of their children playing on the grass which might just include, gasp, horror, someone else's child and councils up and down this once proud land fall into the trap set by a few and have simply banned all photographing an videoing in their parks.

Museums and Art Galleries are two other places where photographs and videos are banned. In these places I can sort of understand their need to keep displays they have hidden to all except those who walk through their doors but the last time we took a visit to The Deep here in my home city I was told in no uncertain terms to put my digital camera away whilst taking photographs of the outside of the building and surrounding area which simply cannot be right. On that occasion, which will be th last time we visit it, they cited terrorist concerns. I offended the security guard because I laughed so hard I almost wet myself. He had demanded I delete the ones I had taken which I refused point blank to do. He then said he would bar us from entering if I did not do as he had demanded. At this point, and with our children growing evermore restless I demanded politely to see a manager who dutifully turned up within minutes. After citing various Laws at him he gave in and let me keep the photographs I had taken already and enter the building proper but he said we will be watching you closely. Oh I was scared. Not. I took several photographs whilst inside anyway so we had somthing with which to remember the day out.

I read a report the other day of a professional photographer being arrested in the City shopping area for taking photographs of some of the beautiful buildings we have here and having his photographs first confiscated then developed by the police as they had automatically assumed he was taking photographs for terrorist purposes. They also confiscated his expensive equipment. In their utmost arrogance the police offered no apology to the guy at all. Just a quick here are your photographs and photographic equipment now bugger off. It mattered not he was a card carrying student taking photographs to help him gain some credentials. It mattered not he was a card carrying member of the Photographic Society. Scary in a way.

The latest incident to hit national headlines concerns Hull's latest monstrosity St. Stephens shopping mall. This so called modern building which looks awful to all but those who commissioned it, those who designed it, those who built it and those who need to justify its existence. A guy taking photographs of his disabled wife outside the main entrance next to a display was told to stop taking photographs due to it being a way terrorist plan their operations. I felt for the guy and his wife whilst laughing so hard my ribs hurt and tears were streaming from my eyes. But this was just one example of many that will surely affect the tourist trade that flock here in their millions every year. Once word starts spreading that our police are overzealous, some would say stupid, over terrorist activity the tourism is bound to be affected. I mean, one aspect to tourism is taking photographs of using ones video recorder to look at once at home but if the police are going to arrest any person with any form of camera who is using it to record that days events then that will surely impact on the tourist numbers visiting this City. If not this year then the next and as each year passes the numbers will dwindle.

This desire to curb our parental desire to record our children in a given situation is driven by a fear spread at government level to keep the common man in check by citing pedophile concerns whenever that fear is brought into question.

The desire to curb our enjoyment whilst out and about around this City is driver by a fear spread at government level to keep the common man in check by citing terrorist concerns whenever that fear is brought into question.

There is no more threat from pedophiles now then there has ever been. In fact there is less cause for concern over pedophiles today compared to say, 20 or 30 years ago when one could freely take photographs of ones children taking part in a school play or sports day.

There is no more threat from terrorists now than there has ever been. In fact, the Irish gave us more cause for concern during the 1970's than any terrorist group does, or should, nowadays.

You, dear reader, have been lied to and you fell hook, line and sinker for those lies too. I cry at night when I think of the basic freedoms we have lost in the fake fight against pedophiles and terrorists. Generated by our own government and trotted out mantra style by local councils.

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