Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Jolly Old Orwellian England

Antisocial behavior is the buzzword in England these days. I never heard a definition of what antisocial behavior was during my ten days there. Cameras (CCTV) are everywhere observing people looking for such antisocial behavior. Opinions have been mixed about these omnipresent cameras. Some say that crime needs to be captured on video and prosecuted. One Letter to the Editor in a Manchester newspaper described an event where the woman had her new bicycle stolen from the train station. She could describe the exact time and location, but the authorities refused to replay the video from the cameras. Manchester is going so far as to have the camera operators being able to talk back to the people on the street.

On my run in Reading, I followed the Thames Trail along the river to the outskirts of Reading. I soon found myself following a well-maintained and well-worn trail through high grass fields and small woods. An occasional longboat would cruise up the river, scaring Canada geese and white swans away. Amid this placidity, a familiar yellow sign appeared indicating that CCTVs were installed in the area. Amazing, really.

On the TV, they were talking about starting a new bank holiday to celebrate Britain. They used the analogy that they wanted something like Australia Day. I wonder why they didn't choose the analogy to the Fourth of July in the US. ;-) Part of the proposal would also be a way to get immigrants citizenship. The person talking about the proposal sounded eerily racist and excessively nationalistic, but I couldn't tell if that was the perception they were trying to convey or not. Perhaps some Brits would like to weigh in?


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