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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Wednesday February 18 2009

Somebody called Pete left this comment, rather irrelevantly (but never mind), on this posting:

Hi

Just wondered what you thought of this attack on a billion monkeys…
Section 76 Of The Counter-Terrorism Act 2008

From tomorrow section 76 of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 comes into force.

Under the law anybody taking a photograph of a current or former member of the police, armed service or security services can be prosecuted and/or fined. The act allows for police officers to remove the cameras of people taking photographs of them.

When I was at school, not too many years ago we were taught that cameras were forbidden in the Soviet Union and in East Germany. This, our liberal teacher told us was because cameras can be used to document offences of the state against civilians; as such, they were considered a tool that can bring about civil unrest and encourage protest against the Communist Governments. This particular teacher, sneered at this particular law and the system in which it helped preserve.

We take a big step further into Labour’s totalitarian state tomorrow, as professional photographers can be arrested and detained for doing their jobs. Tourists taking pictures of the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace are liable for prosecution. Taking photos in the street, at sporting events, at weddings and during state proceedings could all lead to the possibility of prosecution.
(From Daniel1979’s blog)

I.e. this posting.

What makes the process built into laws like this one so hard to get a handle around is that they give powers to policemen, but don’t actually oblige policemen to do anything.  But, there the law is.  They have it, for when this country ever does become a fully functioning police state with the gloves off.  Meawhile, if a policeman does take exception to being photoed when – I don’t know – kicking the wrong door down at 5 am, then he has the law in his hands to behave like a bastard.

So here’s what I think I might do about this, and what I suspect a lot of other bloggers will also be doing.  I will add policemen to the list of Things that I photo as I wander around London, alongside Billion Monkeys, roof clutter, pavement clutter, and Evening Standard headline signs.  After all, if they aren’t doing anything wrong, they’ve got no reason to be angry, have they?  (Another meme doing the rounds.) And from time to time I’ll stick the picture(s) up here, and see if anything happens.  If I do get into any trouble, well, I can write about it and turn this blog into a Significant Blog, and get linked to by Iain Dale.  But, I promise nothing.

But actually, will policemen object?  I’m hoping they will, but will curse not us Billion Monkeys, but the damn law itself.  Here, have you noticed all these fat weirdos photoing us all of a sudden?  What the fuck’s that about?  Oh, they’re all mad about some fucking law.  Apparently the law says we can take their fucking cameras away, but the Chief Super says we mustn’t.  And then when all the fuss has died down and we’ve got bored taking their photos, the Chief Super will be replaced by another Chief Super who says, yeah take their cameras if you want to.  If we say it’s an offence, it is, and that’s good for our clear-up rates.  Fuck ‘em.

Meanwhile, here’s yesterday’s London Daily Photo:

image

BBC report here, all about how the law will only be used in the most extreme circumstances.  Yes, like: only when they want to use it.  Seriously, this thing where they make it illegal to say “Three” in public, but simultaneously say that if you say “Three” in an innocent kind of way, when all you’re doing is counting your change, you have nothing to fear, it’s only when terrorists say “here are three bombs” to each other that it will actually be illegal to say three ... blah blah ... what I’m saying is: this is not how law should be.  The law is supposed to specify something absolutely wrong, and if anyone gets caught doing it, they get done.  That’s what law is.  Not “giving the police all the powers they need” to go after Really Bad People, by making everything illegal and then arresting Really Bad People, confident that they will have said three during the last twelve hours.  The idea is that the law itself says who the Really Bad People are.  Now, they just decide that as they go along.  That, at any rate, is the direction things are headed, and that’s why I may (or may not) be about to post lots of pictures of policemen on this blog.  That’s what I’ll be flagging up.

Memo to self, do that Long Essay for Samizdata about the Meaning of the Rule of Law.

That Guy Fawkes costume is a visual meme that is really starting to work.  Every time they pass a law banning something innocuous, so they can arrest people they think are terrorists for doing it in the course of their terrorism, the Guy Fawkeses go out in their Guy Fawkes faces and do it, and tell the newspapers, and have themselves a ball.  But, the law stays there.

It’s Guido who has got this Guy Fawkes face mask meme out there, of course.  What a brilliant guy that Guy is!  I can remember when lefties were the ones who had the monopoly of agitprop expertise.  Now, that’s starting seriously to change.