Saturday, 21 March 2009

Civil Liberties and Moral Turpitude

'Give me Liberty, or give me Death!' roared the Virginian politician Patrick Henry on the eve of the American Revolution, conveniently forgetting for a moment the slaves he had chained up at home. In more recent times there has been much talk aboard about what many consider to be the imminent loss of our civil liberties. After much reflection I have come to the conclusion I don’t deserve any civil liberties. A single example will serve to illustrate. On a recent excursion to Sainsbury’s I arrived at the till and paid for a stack of groceries. Before doing this I was informed by the checkout girl that I had points on my supermarket loyalty card and ‘would be able to get money off’ if I cashed them in. It was with horror I realised that all the while I had not even suspected that this plastic card gave me any benefits whatsoever; I had simply been swiping it, drone-like, day in day out thinking it was ‘just what I was supposed to do’, thereby allowing the nefarious Sainsbury’s corporate machine to track my every movement and pass a record of my purchases back to their database for sinister purposes. By mere power of suggestion they had been able to manipulate me and secure my unquestioning loyalty.

This is the way liberty dies, step by feeble step; Tesco’s club card to ID cards, TV licensing to CCTV. When ‘Google Street View’ do their next sweep, I may as well invite them in to photograph all the rooms in my flat, steal all my personal data and ransack my hard drive for pornography.

The advantage of Google Street View is that it’s blurriness obscures a lot of the more unpleasant details. Should you load up this particular program in your web browser and want to get the authentic north London experience I would suggest doing the following. First, navigate your way on the map across to Edgware high street, then load up street view. Next sprinkle the floor around your computer with a half dozen cigarette butts, a selection of dirt encrusted phone card offers, a selection of dried chewing gum and, as the piece de resistance, one used Condom.

When George Orwell wanted to depict a dystopian world the first detail he provided was a clock striking 13. For me the ultimate symbol of a dystopian society has to be the sight of a crusty prophylactic dumped in the middle of the road for all to see; a symptom of decadence, moral turpitude and decay. I should like it if people made an effort to take care of their surroundings, but sadly that’s about as likely as Joseph Fritzel winning a prize for interior design. If you really want to go the whole hog with the street experience, get your partner or flatmate to dress up in a t-shirt jeans and a clipboard and leap out at you unexpectedly in an attempt to ‘charity mug’ you for your credit card details.

Following my last post, the objection was raised in some quarters that line-dancing is not a suitable hobby for a strapping young chap like myself and that I should engage myself in more manly activities. Upon reflection I have concluded that this is a scurrilous suggestion. Besides, there are worse hobbies. The favorite pastime of the Emperor Tiberius, we are told by Suetonius, was to encourage small boys to fellate him in the bathtub, James 1st’s way of passing the time was to walk around the palace nervously fiddling with his cod-piece. Compared to that, gyrating to country music with an assortment of geriatric Londoners seems far more acceptable.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

America certainly got death on a mega-scale.

Its dominant "cultural" institution is now the Pentagon, the business of which is death.

It also accounts for 48% of the worlds armaments trade.

Is is thus saturated with the "culture" of death, even at the personal level via the "culture" of guns brought to one and all via the NRA.

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