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Posted on Monday, July 25, 2005 - 10:35 am:   

Police shoot dead an innocent man in London… I guess it was only a matter of time before something like this happened in our current climate of absurd hysteria and manufactured panic. The most disturbing thing about the whole affair has been the reluctance of the police and the government to offer a real apology and to modify future policy acordingly, and the reluctance of the media to sufficiently condemn the actions of the police.

The apologies the police and government have issued so far have been not only woefully inadequate but conditional on the understanding that we are living under a serious threat and that the new ‘shoot to kill’ policy is therefore understandable and even logical. We are continually being informed that we are living in dangerous times. Apparently the world is now a more dangerous place than it ever was. Apart from the laughable ignorance of history this attitude demonstrates, it is also supremely cynical.

The current terrorist activity (hardly worse than the IRA days of the 1970s) is being used as an excuse to curtail our hard won liberties. How did Tony Blair and George Bush disguise their delight during the G8 summit when the first set of London bombs went off? The incident not only distracted attention from the shady dealings and broken promises and lack of imagination of the G8 summit but also helped them to further their real agenda, namely the stifling of freedom in the Western Democracies. This is especially ironic considering that we are supposed to be exporting these ‘freedoms’ to other countries.

The point of a free society is that it comes with an element of risk. That’s the deal. I prefer to exist in a ‘dangerous’ world with at least some degree of real liberty over a ‘safe’ world with all our movements monitored, all our actions scrutinised, all our lives controlled.

It is obvious where everything is leading. Identity cards are the next logical step. The threat of terrorism will continue to be used as a ridiculous justification for the continual erosion of our liberty. The public outcry in response will be muted. Why have we become such a cowardly nation in recent years? Or were we always so fearful, so timid, so weak?

In the warehouse where I work I have been told by several of my co-workers that the solution to the ‘problem’ of terrorism is repatriation. It’s true that certain people need to be kicked out of this country. Let’s have a short list of them – xenophobes, racists, bigots, and the media idiots who swallow and propagate the government’s line on security and national interest. Having said that, I wouldn’t want to force them on any other country. Just dumping them in the sea is a viable alternative…

The threat of terrorism, real or imagined, is not a good enough reason to shoot dead an innocent man. Nor is it a good enough reason to change our lives in any way. It is absolutely not a good enough reason for the ongoing loss of our liberty.

The world is no worse than it has ever been. We have the choice to show courage or cowardice. It’s a great shame that once again we seem to be opting for cowardice.

As for the innocent man who lost his life at Stockwell Tube Station with five bullets in his head, Police Chief Sir Ian Blair merely said “More people might be shot. But everything is done to make it right.”

Surely it is NEVER right to shoot an innocent person??? How can that be made right? But as such a respected and powerful authority is so keen to make things right, why don’t we all get together to REALLY make it right? Our own government could take the lead on this. How about ending our criminal support of Israeli persecution of the Palestinians? How about ending our support of the utterly corrupt Saudi Arabian regime? These two actions might constitute a reasonable start to ‘making it right’.

In the meantime the least we can do is to express a little more anger at every attempt by our leaders to hoodwink us.
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Posted on Monday, July 25, 2005 - 11:14 am:   

It's not right to shoot an innocent person. But if you're a police officer, and you think that a person is going to kill other people, it's your duty to stop that person. Not to kill, but to stop. And sometimes, unfortunately, stopping ends up in killing. And even more unfortunately, sometimes you're wrong and that person was not in fact intending to hurt others either.

I agree with most of what you say, though.
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Posted on Monday, July 25, 2005 - 12:46 pm:   

I'm down with Rhys on this. This whole last couple of weeks in England just makes the last line from "The Great Gatsby" ring around and around my head.

All the best,

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Stuart Ross
Posted on Wednesday, July 27, 2005 - 06:49 am:   

I agree as well Rhys, you're absolutely correct, and the root lies not in fundamentalism or shady dealings by powerful people but the moral cowardice displayed by society as a whole. Why can't we stand up to our leaders? Why are more people who should be politicians not entering politics? Why have we watched whilst our civil liberties are eroded?

I would hazard a guess that the majority of people in this country would rather live in a safe country than a free country. Living in a safe country means you have to pay less attention to the perils of life and the lot of your fellow man. Perish the thought that we should do that.
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Posted on Tuesday, August 02, 2005 - 04:22 pm:   

I agree with you, too, Rhys. Excellent points. And Stuart, I think you are right about priorities. It's so easy to play up how unsafe people are. In Australia there's a new TV show: "Border Security - Australia's Front Line".

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