Monday, September 18, 2006

Stealing On The Side Of The Angels

The first time I read 1984 I wished Orwell had explained how the hell postwar Britain and America turned into the horror that was Oceania. But I’m figuring this out for myself now. Great Britain, building upon its groundbreaking work putting government cameras throughout the public sphere, is now adding speakers so cops in remote locations can bark orders to the proles on the street:
Britain's first 'talking' CCTV cameras have arrived, publicly berating bad behaviour and shaming offenders into acting more responsibly. The system allows control room operators who spot any anti-social acts - from dropping litter to late-night brawls - to send out a verbal warning: 'We are watching you'.
I could console myself with the thought that at least this is Britain, not America, but I’m sure the talking cameras will soon migrate across the pond just as their silent brothers did before them. Besides, the cameras are smashingly popular:
Law-abiding shopper Karen Margery, 40, was shocked to hear the speakers spring into action as she walked past them. Afterwards she said: 'It's quite scary to realise that your every move could be monitored - it really is like Big Brother. 'But Middlesbrough does have a big problem with anti-social behaviour, so it is very reassuring.'
See? Law-abiding people don't mind the cameras. By the way, that “anti-social behavior” includes littering, and a guy on a bicycle riding through a pedestrian area. (He dismounted after the camera yelled at him.) That’s what Karen Margery wants Big Brother to protect her from — not a prolific serial killer stalking Middlesbrough, but untidy ruffians and out-of-place bicyclists.
if the city centre scheme proves a success, it will be extended into residential areas.
Maybe we’ll get lucky and some cheeky chavs will steal the cameras. Otherwise, care to place bets on how long before they come to the U.S.?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the founding fathers had known about cameras, they would have written about them in the Second Amendment. If you catch my drift.

6:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's the penalty for giving a camera the finger?

8:53 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

The above was me, btw.

8:54 AM  
Anonymous A Moose said...

What's the penalty for giving a camera the finger?

Presumably more than this:

(from the 4/3 Reason Brickbat)

9:26 AM  
Blogger David Macharelli said...

Three, maybe four years. They'll need time to gather data demonstrating how wonderful these cameras are at stopping anti-social behavior while coming up with cover stories for why rape, murder, and robbery rates are the same.

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Alex said...

The cameras will come here once they find a Drug War rationale for them.

7:05 PM  
Blogger Leonard said...

To be fair, they are experiencing social breakdown in Britain, brought on by the welfare state and by gun control, but most particularly the soft-on-criminals "root causes" theory writ large. People won't control their chav neighbors any more for the very good reason that they are likely to be attacked. And the police will do literally nothing about it.

Looked at another way, this is just another example of the state creating a problem, which it then "solves", sort of, at a huge cost in money and liberty. Much better to let the natural order prevail; but that would require enforcing the law.

8:30 AM  

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