PETER HITCHENS: We're queuing meekly in security, clutching a one-way ticket to disaster...
'Even to joke about "security" in the hearing of some grim-jawed official is to risk detention and a flight ban'
We have become a nation of suspects. The last wisps of British liberty are being stripped away and, as usual, this is happening with the keen support of millions.
First we have a scandal, entirely without hard evidence so far, which supposedly affects the whole of Parliament.
Scandals of this kind – vague, general and fed by rumour – are a feature of societies on the eve of regime change.
They discredit ancient institutions and make troublemakers look virtuous. The charge of child sex abuse is so horrible that anyone who is accused of it is automatically presumed guilty and shunned by all, so it is more or less unstoppable once it has been launched.
Then there are the comical new ordeals travellers must face if they are foolish enough to want to go anywhere by plane.
At least they would be comical if we were allowed to laugh at them, but even to joke about ‘security’ in the hearing of some grim-jawed official is to risk detention and a flight ban.
There’s an odd thing about this. We are constantly told that our vast, sour-faced and costly ‘security’ services, and various ‘British FBIs’ and ‘British KGBs’ are fully on top of the terror threat, and ceaselessly halting plots.
How is it then that they claim not to know if harmless aunties from Cleethorpes or Worthing are planning to manufacture an airborne bomb with the ingredients of a make-up bag?
Just in case such a person is a jihadi sleeper agent, she, and thousands of other innocents, must be treated as criminal suspects.
Like newly registered convicts, they must stand in humble queues, meek before arbitrary power.
They must remove clothing, allow strangers to peer at their nakedness in scanning machines, permit inspections of their private possessions and answer stupid questions with a straight face.
They must be compelled to accept this treatment without protest or complaint.
In fact, when we enter an airport these days, we enter a prototype totalitarian state, a glimpse of how it will eventually be everywhere if we do not find a way of resisting this horrible change.
This week Parliament will be panicked into passing measures allowing the State to know more than it ought to about our emails. It will not stop there.
'In fact, when we enter an airport these days, we enter a prototype totalitarian state, a glimpse of how it will eventually be everywhere if we do not find a way of resisting this horrible change'
It is not true that if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear.
The State – which last week said it had ‘lost’ crucial records about its involvement in the totalitarian practice of extraordinary rendition – makes horrible mistakes all the time.
If one of these happens to you, you will be whisked into a world of powerless terror.
It was to protect against these things that our forebears fought like tigers against arbitrary power, for the presumption of innocence, for independent juries, and for Habeas Corpus.
It is why they tried to ensure that our police forces never got too big for their boots.
They had seen what happened on the European continent where such safeguards were neglected. They wanted a state that was beneath our feet, not over our heads.
Now, piece by piece, we are losing that. Each piece is so small that most won’t believe it matters, but they slowly pile up into a tremendous threat.
It may be possible to defend our freedom, and even regain it, but not if we allow ourselves to be manipulated by scandal and state-sponsored fear.
The 60s rebel who saw sense
'A clever colleague recently found this long-buried 1969 photograph of me as a teenage revolutionary'
How the world changes, and in such a short time. A clever colleague recently found this long-buried 1969 photograph of me as a teenage revolutionary – actual proof that I was there in the 1960s, and can remember them too.
In those odd times, the ideas I then supported were rightly considered crazy by most people. For instance, a publication called The Little Red Schoolbook was prosecuted for obscenity and condemned by clergymen.
Then, its ideas about sex and drugs were shocking. Now they are pretty much standard-issue in PSHE classes in British schools – and the Bishop of Oxford says we might as well give up pretending to have compulsory school religious assemblies.
The book itself is now a quaint antique and is to be published again (almost certainly with no fuss) later this year.
It’s strange that, in my days of donkey jackets, red shirts and big hair, I eventually learned that revolutions mainly destroy good things, and replace them with bad ones – and so gave all that up.
But the rest of my student generation, who now run the world, stuck with the revolution. They only changed their clothes and their coiffure. Underneath they’re still in the 1960s.
Cutting slices from our hard-won liberty
I don’t care about same-sex marriage. It doesn’t matter. It’s the collapse of heterosexual marriage that’s important.
But it does matter when triumphalist sexual revolutionaries force their opponents to act against their consciences.
So please note this bit of the row about the Belfast Christian bakers who declined to bake a gay-themed cake, whose icing would have proclaimed support for same-sex nuptials.
Another baker, by the way, happily complied with the order.
But that’s not enough. The Christian bakers may now be pursued through the courts. I cannot see how this can be called a free country if the law has any say in such matters.
If you can be forced by law to publish a view you disagree with on a cake, then presumably you can be forced to do so in a book, a newspaper or a TV programme.
I don’t especially mind a statue of Gandhi in London. He was a remarkable and courageous man, though often wrong.
What I object to is the reason for it – commercial grovelling. On the same principle, we will end up with a 30ft image of the mass murderer Mao Tse-Tung in Parliament Square.
And what if North Korea one day turns into a big export market?
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2690144/PETER-HITCHENS-We-queuing-meekly-security-clutching-one-way-ticket-disaster.html#ixzz37UpPmzKa
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