The title will be recognisable to old ELO fans, and if you haven't heard of it, education time.
Today a man was tazered for threatening someone with a gun. No, not quite. Well, he was in an airport so he must have been planning a hijack. Ah, not exactly.
He was tazered because a member of the public told a police officer that he thought he'd seen the man with a gun while they were on the bus.
"There is no suggestion, at this stage, that threats were made to passengers or aircraft."
So why tazer him? Why not question him, with one officer behind, hand on tazer, just in case?
Why, indeed, tazer him on the basis of someone waving a police officer to one side and saying 'Oi, mate, here's a tip for ya'.
On that basis, anyone could point out anyone else they don't like and the State's free-at-point-of-use thug service will treat them as if they were a photographer. No questions asked and no accountability for the false informer. They won't even be named.
Today my neighbour (the git) was up a ladder. I don't care what he was doing up there, cleaning out the gutters or painting the woodwork, none of my concern. However, I could have claimed he was up there so he could see into other people's bedrooms. Nonsense, of course. It was the middle of the day so there's not likely to be much happening in bedrooms. Yet that is all it would take now. No evidence, no proof, just a word or two in Sergeant McTruncheon's shell-like and they'd have him off that ladder in a trice.
I didn't because the local police don't have tazers, so the fun factor wouldn't have been as great.
If we lived in Sussex, all I'd need do is wait until he drove away, phone the police and claim he wasn't wearing a seatbelt. Whether he was or not is immaterial. All it would take is two such phone calls and he'll get visited and told off. Three or four might get him a caution. Maybe even an ASBO. Note that there is no requirement for him to actually do anything illegal at all, only for me, or someone else, to claim he did. He is sufficiently despised that it would be no effort to arrange a dozen different calls. No proof required. He would have to prove his innocence and short of installing CCTV in his own car, aimed at the driver's seat, there's no way he can.
With such fun to have, would I support these measures? Of course not. They can be just as easily used against me. He could throw a brick through his own window and claim I did it. He could poison his own dog and claim I did it. The onus is no longer on him to prove I did, it's now on me to prove I didn't. Unless he makes the mistake of doing it while I'm out, and have witnesses to prove that, I can't.
Six street cleaners were arrested for talking about shooting at Il Popio, and about the pointlessness of firing bullets at a bullet-proof car. They discussed this in the works canteen. No plot, just speculation. A thought experiment. Arrested, DNA sampled and released without charge. The herd census continues.
Apparently they knew Il Popio's route. Everyone in London must have known it because roads would have been cordoned off and there would be crowds of people. If it was meant to be a secret, well that's a bit of a giveaway. Street cleaners would not only have had access to such information, they would be expected to know it because they'd be expected to make those streets squeaky-clean and free of infant detritus left by the last Catholic priests passing by.
If they were really planning to shoot at Il Popio, they would have had the weapons on them because that was the day he was due to pass. They had no weapons, unless they planned to brush him to death. I think the Pope Tank is brushproof as well as bulletproof. They would also have been unlikely to discuss it in loud voices in the works canteen. They were arrested on the word of a snitch. They have been found to have broken no laws. And the snitch? Charged with wasting police time? At least named and pointed at so we can have a laugh at the dickhead? Of course not. Snitches are the ones our feeble-minded leaders adore. They keep the rest of us scared to speak.
All it takes now is the word of a passer-by and anyone can be arrested. What for? Never mind what for. Prove you weren't doing anything and you can go. Leave a DNA sample and fingerprints so we can fit you up with something we can't be bothered to solve, later on.
1984, Brazil, all those dystopias are often cited in connection with stories like this but truth is far stranger than fiction. There's a reason for that.
Fiction has to make sense.
If Orwell had given Winston Smith and all the others numbers instead of names, he'd never have had that book published. In real life we're lucky if anyone in authority ever remembers our number. Names? Names are for human beings.
Cattle get numbers. They also get tight control.
Did you see the man, running through the streets today?
Did you catch his face, was it 10538? Ah...
If you think it's bad now, this is just the overture.