Little Brother is Watching: English Police Show Elementary Students a Video on Reporting Extreme Views

imageslogoElementary students in England are being shown a Lancashire Police film where a lion and a cat tell them to turn in people who espouse dangerous thoughts. It is the latest work of the Preventing Violent Extremism office, which seeks to uncover extremists in the country like Guy Fawkes.

I am a firm believer using public school to instill tolerance and teach pluralism. However, enlisting children to report extremist statements makes me very comfortable and seems to send the wrong message on free speech. Ironically, they reference Guy Fawkes, who sought to blow up Parliament. Fawkes is the historical hero in the movie V, which features an England where freedoms are curtailed in the name of fighting unseen terrorists. T011533A

For the full story, click here.

35 thoughts on “Little Brother is Watching: English Police Show Elementary Students a Video on Reporting Extreme Views

  1. This makes me about as comfortable as a cat in a shower, an elephant and a mouse, a late night in Harlem, a safe date in SFO, a cop on the witness stand, a Judge in Virginia, and Cheney in charge.

  2. Your presentation is disingenuous – according to the source article, the police in Lancashire (rather than the whole of England) are encouraging children to report people who express extremist views, which is a far cry from “dangerous thoughts”.

  3. Mike 1, June 10, 2009 at 8:52 am

    Your presentation is disingenuous – according to the source article, the police in Lancashire (rather than the whole of England) are encouraging children to report people who express extremist views, which is a far cry from “dangerous thoughts”.
    ************************

    I don’t know where you have been isolating. But I would like to point out the following: The 4th Amendment has no Applicability outside of the US. See Noriega, a bad start to all of the rest.

    A Police Officer was able to use as a pre-text stop for a visual obstruction in a passenger automobile. Maybe I am wrong, but did not the Sct finally say that it was wrong as it was vague and the cops can’t do it anymore.

    Take the seatbelt issue, started out as a 2ndary offense. Now it is a primary offense. It saves lives. Well maybe I don’t want my life save and I don’t like to feel restricted. Wear the thing if you want.

    I think the point is sometimes the little ole non offensive situations create bigger head aches, in the long run.

    It kind of reminds me of the UCCSEA that came into existence about 1999, all states had to adopt. It had a provision that made it a felony for non-support of children. That provision sat dormant for about 3 years before it was enforced. The an ah ha moment set in and it was a new tool for the enforcement agency’s to use. One of the responses I heard, well its been on the books for a long time. It was but just not enforced or used. Stupidty has its consequences.

  4. In response to Mike’s comments, I suggest that the phrases “extremist views” and “dangerous thoughts” are equally lacking in meaning within the context of freedom of speech. Indeed, we are daily reminded in our own country that Pres. Obama holds “extremist views,” despite a disappointingly moderate approach on many issues. We are also told that his presidency has imperiled our safety and that his policies are dangerous and despotic.

  5. “And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn’t be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, …”

    V in “V is for Vendetta.”

  6. The Brits are not doing well on the democracy front lately. The
    definition of “extremist” is indeed a slippery slope.

    Great quote as usual Mespo and your Emerson one on the other thread is one of my favorite truisms.

  7. “At the age of three Comrade Ogilvy had refused all toys except a drum, a sub- machine gun, and a model helicopter. At six—a year early, by a special relaxation of the rules—he had joined the Spies, at nine he had been a troop leader. At eleven he had denounced his uncle to the Thought Police after overhearing a conversation which appeared to him to have criminal tendencies. At seventeen he had been a district organizer of the Junior Anti-Sex League. At nineteen he had designed a hand-grenade which had been adopted by the Ministry of Peace and which, at its first trial, had killed thirty-one Eurasian prisoners in one burst. At twenty-three he had perished in action.” . . . “He had no subjects of conversation except the principles of Ingsoc, and no aim in life except the defeat of the Eurasian enemy and the hunting-down of spies, saboteurs, thoughtcriminals, and traitors generally.”

    – George Orwell, 1984

    And just to remind you, yet more from the same . . .

    “‘You haven’t a real appreciation of Newspeak, Winston,’ he said almost sadly. ‘Even when you write it you’re still thinking in Oldspeak. I’ve read some of those pieces that you write in The
    Times occasionally. They’re good enough, but they’re translations. In your heart you’d prefer to stick to Oldspeak, with all its vagueness and its useless shades of meaning. You don’t grasp the beauty of the destruction of words. Do you know that Newspeak is the only language in the world whose vocabulary gets smaller every year?’
    Winston did know that, of course. He smiled, sympathetically he hoped, not trusting himself to speak. Syme bit off another fragment of the dark-coloured bread, chewed it briefly, and went on:
    ‘Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to
    express it. Every concept that can ever be needed, will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. Already, in the Eleventh Edition, we’re not far from that point. But the process will still be continuing long after
    you and I are dead. Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. Even now, of course, there’s no reason or excuse for committing thoughtcrime. It’s merely a question of self-discipline, reality-control. But in the end there won’t be any need even for that. The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect. Newspeak is Ingsoc and Ingsoc is Newspeak,’ he added with a sort of mystical satisfaction. ‘Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?’
    ‘Except-‘ began Winston doubtfully, and he stopped.
    It had been on the tip of his tongue to say ‘Except the proles,’ but he checked himself, not feeling fully certain that this remark was not in some way unorthodox. Syme, however, had
    divined what he was about to say.
    ‘The proles are not human beings,’ he said carelessly. ‘ By 2050 earlier, probably — all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been
    destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron— they’ll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually changed into something contradictory of
    what they used to be. Even the literature of the Party will change. Even the slogans will change. How could you have a slogan like “freedom is slavery” when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is
    unconsciousness.’”

  8. Orwell wasnt talking about conservatives,
    funny how most people on this site are center left when it comes to economics but seem to have the same opinion of individual liberty as do most right of center.

    Very interesting, indeed.

    can you have individual liberty without economic freedom and vice versa?

  9. And besides, using children as homeland security surveillance monitors is against child labor laws. In this time of economic peril when adults are losing jobs, do we really want children taking these duties from adults? Should it not be the job of adults to surreptitiously jot down and report dangerous criticisms of the govt. by their friends, family and neighbors?

  10. Jill 1, June 10, 2009 at 10:17 am

    And besides, using children as homeland security surveillance monitors is against child labor laws. In this time of economic peril when adults are losing jobs, do we really want children taking these duties from adults? Should it not be the job of adults to surreptitiously jot down and report dangerous criticisms of the govt. by their friends, family and neighbors?
    ************

    Of Course Ronald W. Regan did it for the Screen Actors Guild. I think we tried it here in the US and it is called McCarthyism.

  11. IS,

    Actually Orwell was a self described democratic socialist (I think he uses the term to describe himself in “Why I Write,” but it’s been a long time since I’ve read his essay’s so I could be wrong on that). 1984 was a warning against run away capitalism as much as run away socialism. One of the main points was that totalianarism is totalianarism, no matter what linguistic trappings it may cloak itself in.

    From a letter to Francis A. Henson, “My recent novel [Nineteen Eighty-Four] is NOT intended as an attack on Socialism or on the British Labour Party (of which I am a supporter) but as a show-up of the perversions … which have already been partly realized in Communism and Fascism.”

    Your freedom ends where mine begins. That’s the whole point of the law. Why should companies have more freedom than individuals? Regulation is necassary to have the most freedom for the most people. Since you don’t cry “I’m not free because I can’t steal from my neighbors” I’m sure you recognize that fact.

  12. For anyone interested in Orwell’s beliefs in his own words, his essays are available online here:

    http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/o/orwell/george/o79e/

    I especially recommend “Why I write,” “Writers and Leviathan,” and “Politics and the English Language.” The others are usually pretty good (I disagree with his take on Mark Twain), just not particularly relevant to the current topic.

  13. A.Y.,

    You’re right.

    I’m also glad so many people are quoting Orwell on the blog because his writings are of great value to our time. Chris Hidgens did a short interview on Orwell on NPR. He said that Orwell was interested in understanding why people followed a totalitarian leader. I think that is a very important question. No dictator can survive with out the willing aquiensence of a great deal of the populace. Certainly, the UK plan to start child informants out early is a great way to make mindless compliance to authority seem absolutely normal. There is something about a “strong man” that must speak deeply to the human mind. I believe every person is capable of suspending their own judgment and joining a cult/party/strongman if the circumstances are right. Why we suspend our own judgement and ethics in the service of another’s power is important to understand. It does seem that we tend to identify with the strong and disregard the protection of the weak or different. These are dangerous human tendancies when left unchecked and unnoticed. We can move out of obediance to authority, but it takes some doing.

  14. its just another sign in a disturbing conflagration of signs that the apocalypse is near. or 1984. or the 4th reich. depending on your brand of vodka.

  15. Remember folks: Every time you talk about Big Brother, you make Orwell’s ghost cry.

    From “Politics and Writing,”

    “I think the following rules will cover most cases:

    (i) Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.”

  16. This is quite disturbing. I wonder what portion of England’s violent crime is at all related to ‘extreme views’.

    Jill,

    “…why people followed a totalitarian leader. I think that is a very important question.”

    It is an extremely important question, and fortunately it has been rather extensively studied for some time.

    For those interested, I recommend:
    Adorno’s The Authoritarian Personality
    Altemeyer’s writings on right-wing authoritarians, especially his free book The Authoritarians (available online: http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/). [Note: in this context ‘right-wing’ means ‘pro-establishment’. So, Nazis, Soviets, and a great number of members in both wings of the establishment party (Reps and Dems) in the US would all qualify as ‘right-wing’.]

    These wiki pages are decent for starters: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right-wing_authoritarianism and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_dominance_orientation

    Of course totalitarianism is not the result of only psychological factors–economic, nationalistic, religious, etc. factors contribute–but they seem to be very important.

  17. Gyges:

    “Your freedom ends where mine begins. That’s the whole point of the law. Why should companies have more freedom than individuals? Regulation is necessary to have the most freedom for the most people. Since you don’t cry “I’m not free because I can’t steal from my neighbors” I’m sure you recognize that fact.”

    So regulation is freedom? You sound like big brother now. Shall we also say that keeping everyone from making more than say $35k makes us all better off.

    A Platonist to the end, or so I surmise due to your using Gyges as a pseudonym. Or maybe you just like the story?

  18. IS,

    The pseudonym is a comment on the anonymity of the internet. I’m not a huge fan of Plato, but that may just be because of the translations I read. I am guilty of coming at philosophical writing from an aesthetic angle.

    Regulation is not freedom, nor did I say it was. I choose my words carefully, and generally say what I mean. If I mean is, I’ll use “Is,” or “equals,” etc. I know debating people on the points you want them to be making makes life easier, but it makes for a more interesting conversation if you actually listen to what they are saying.

    Does the First Amendment grant a right, or regulate the government?

  19. Does the First Amendment grant a right, or regulate the government?

    Forgive the intrusion, rights are protected, not granted.

  20. Gyges:

    “Regulation is necessary to have the most freedom for the most people.”

    “Does the First Amendment grant a right, or regulate the government?”

    Obviously the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights and the Constitution are a limitation on governmental abuses and so a regulation if you will of governmental power or at least that was the intention.

    However you were not speaking of regulating governments but corporations, which to my knowledge have no ability to subjugate millions of people. But governmental regulations do have that ability.

  21. Patty Cp:

    Gyges knows what they are, he was merely asking a rhetorical question to obfuscate the point I was making.

    Our rights are neither protected, nor or they granted. The nature of our rights are inherent in our being human. A protected right is not a right at all, who is doing the protecting? A protected right implies a protector.

    Governmental power should flow from the people and so we should be the protector(s) of our rights. If that is what you meant I agree.

  22. I could have used the word ‘guaranteed’, I suppose.

    I was simply pointing out that rights are not granted (under the First Amendment) as you and I both have stated many times.

    Power is conferred.

  23. Patty,

    That was the point.

    IS,

    Once again, the conversation is much more interesting when you listen to what I’m saying rather than respond to what you think I’m saying. I was just clarifying what I meant by “regulation is necessary to have the most freedom for the most people.”

  24. I am pleased to say that I have not Hijacked anyones screen name yet today or in days gone by. However, I presume that one will figure out a way to cast dispersions. Could it have been the one who complained the most?

    I have used Not a Patty Look A Like but I have never used the other Patty’s

  25. Anonymously Yours:

    may I inquire into why you have, on several different threads, declared your innocence to having used other names?

    It has happened a few times so I assume what?

  26. Indentured Servant 1, June 11, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    Anonymously Yours:

    may I inquire into why you have, on several different threads, declared your innocence to having used other names?

    It has happened a few times so I assume what?
    *****************

    Apparently, someone has been using a nom de plume of a regular here. One actually was funny where the stated that “she was sorry for being so mean” and other things like that. The real real person comes accusing me and I figured I’d take the heat. And was rather ambiguous in the response. Apparently someone is going around using a variation of that name and I want to make sure that the regulars know that it is not me. and Nor am I going to take responsibility in even a half joking manner.

    The person not being named takes over and commands the thread for and chides individuals for nor saying it the way she wants it said. Going to far as to critique the use of language and punctuations.

    Case in Point the author of this site misspells and has other challenging usages of the language that we call English.

    That is the reason for the stuff. So don’t go pirating other screen names. I guess you can do it here, most sites are restrictive in email address must match name. I guess its easy enough to do here. Bt as of yet, I have not. Not that I have not thought of it yet.

  27. IS,

    Best not to ask about AY. He and Patty don’t get along, I hope we can ALL just leave it at that.

    To address your earlier point: You must have skipped some American history classes, and not like the Platters, if you don’t know that corporations have the “ability to subjugate millions of people.” Although I’ll grant you millions might be off, but a pretty sizable percentage of humanity has been subjugated by corporations and other private businesses.

    Sorry, I just really like this song.

  28. IS,

    Best not to ask about AY. He and Patty don’t get along, I hope we can ALL just leave it at that.
    ****************************

    Have you noticed that someone has to be the victim of unreasonable wrath. Stay around long enough IS you too could be the next, Jill, FF LEO, Myself and a few others have received scoldings for, frankly nothing that was any of her business. Buddha has stated to her to settle down. Apparently unless you are of the Original Turlees you just don’t have the right to say anything unless approved by the submistress.

    That is all.

  29. IS,

    I’d also like to just tie everything together for you, since I realize conversations that happen over a few days tend to loose the original topic.

    This all was to explain how it’s possible to believe in a regulated economy and personal freedom. My apologies if that was unclear.

  30. What the authorities should perhaps remember is that, although they like to interperet “bonfire night” in the UK as denoting the saving of parliament when Guy Fawkes was apprehended and that is indeed indicated by the burning of a “guy” – an effigy. However, these days, although by far the vast majority of Brits simply regard it as an excuse for fireworks and a bit of fun, they also think of it as celebrating his attempt to destroy the politicians – something that most of us, whilst not actually advocating it, certainly think of it as a hypothetical idea to be applauded!

    The government is usually regarded as being the biggest bunch of thieves in the UK, closely followed in the rogues gallery by most other politicians and bringing up the rear are the “normal” gangsters, master criminals, drug dealers, rapists, muggers and petty crooks.

    The fact is, though, 1984 may have arrived a bit late, but it’s definitely here now and it’s virtually all there in Orwell’s novel – prophetic, or what?

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