Thursday 11 September 2008

Penguin protesters and kangaroo courts

It's not every day the Home Office attacks a local council for eroding civil liberties - yet that is exactly what has happened due to Telford & Wrekin Council's policy regarding adults without kids in parks (Shropshire Star: Home Office attacks park policy)!

For once, I agree with the Home Office. It is a dangerous erosion of freedom of movement, when council staff are able to question, even expel, people from public spaces. It also adds weight to some people's concerns that single people are an oppressed group - there is a pernicious myth that single men over a certain age (often around 40) are more likely to be paedophiles (there is nothing really new about this - back in the 80's, when homosexuality was much less tolerated than today, the same group was often labelled "gay"). Not only is this oppressive, it ignores the fact that most sexual (let alone physical) abuse of children happens within the family.

As for the Telford case, it seems to have a political edge. The policy came to light when two Stop The War campaigners were handing out leaflets about climate change, dressed as penguins (to symbolise those in most danger from climate change). Now I've heard of paediatricians being confused with paedophiles, but never penguins :-P

On a more serious note, the park was not only a convenient place for the protest, it was also quite appropriate; anyone doing any outdoor activity this (and last) summer will have been all too aware of how climate change has caused the British summer weather to be increasingly unpredictable (and miserable to boot).

Yet not only were the protesters told to move, they were also told they needed Police CRB checks to hand out leaflets! At this rate, we'll soon need an Enhanced CRB disclosure to go birdwatching :-| If, that is, the poor old robins, blackbirds, blue tits, etc don't all go extinct due to climate change :-(

The council later tried to back-track, saying they only question people "acting suspiciously" in parks etc. Yet"acting suspiciously" is so ill-defined as to be a weasel-word, covering a wide range of behaviour. Including, it seems, peaceful protesting :-(

Also worthy of note is the fact that Telford and Wrekin Council is effectively Tory controlled (the Tories have 27 seats there, exactly half the total, according to their website's political make up of the council web page). Ah well, so much for the Tories' hypocritical bleating about the "nanny state". And their equally shallow environmental pretensions - which already took a knock earlier this week, when a coalition of environmental groups - from Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, to the RSPB and the National Trust - produced a report stating that all 3 of the UK's main Establishment parties are failing on the issue of climate change (BBC News: Parties 'fail on climate change')

So, the capitalist Establishment are attacking both the environment and civil liberties. So it's up to civil libertarians and environmentalists to unite. Anong with trade unionists, anti-racists, gay rights activists, and all groups under attack from the system.

Then maybe we can launch a successful attack on the capitalist system, and the capitalist Establishment who it serves. And kick them out - of power!

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