Internment Returns

Well, sadly, the craven government of the United Kingdom has surrendered to terrorism and taken yet another step in dismantling the fundamental liberties we have enjoyed for centuries. A basic principle enshrined in Medieval law was that the State should not deprive a person of their liberty without a trial. In practice this amounted to about 24 hours between detention and charging. In my lifetime this has increased to four weeks and now looks set to become six weeks.

Well done Terrorists.

If you are able, please try to find a clip of the BBC News 24 interview with Tony Benn. What ever your opinions on the man as a politician may be (for example, mine aren’t great), he pretty much summarises what people should be feeling about this travesty of justice.

Sadly, people don’t seem to be feeling this. If the statistics are to be believed 65% of the UK population supports 42 days detention of innocent people (which means the pop-survey I carried out at work this morning massively fails to reflect the UK population). I can only assume they all think the detainees will be some one else so the thought of suffering is alien to them. Even more worryingly, listening to the BBC Radio 1 street interviews in the run up to the vote showed me that 65% of the population do support it – but that is because they are beyond stupid.

One person who called in said 42 wasn’t enough and people should be detained “until they can prove they are not guilty.” Oh sweet Thor. Another said “there is no smoke without fire.” Lots of it was about putting the needs of the many over the needs of the few. Yes, I did just want to cry but I was driving at the time.

It seems we are reaping the rewards of a generation of bad teaching, dishonest politicians, media dominance and uncontrolled spin. People are no longer equipped to see when they are being led down the garden path and a total lack of civic understanding means that when they do suspect it, they no longer care.

If I could find a suitable country, I’d emigrate.

Rights or not?

I was listening to Jeremy Vine on Radio 2 today (yes, I know…) and as always his “phone in” show attracts odd, outspoken members of society, no matter how trivial the topic is. One of today’s odd topics was about the proposed legislation to force “rights of way” along coastal routes, even if the landowner objects. The Radio 2 website even has a “have your say” on the subject.

Now, I have very mixed opinions on this and would probably lump for maintaining the status quo – we currently have about 70% of the UK coast open for “ramblers,” the rest is in private or Ministry of Defence hands. That said, I can see the arguments put by some of the ramblers – and as a big fan of the countryside in general I think it would be nice if there were more places to go. Anyway, from this position of steadfast ambivalence, it amused me to see one of the arguments used on the show (repeatedly).

Basically put, there was an argument that as we are “born on an island” we have a “birthright” to walk the coast. Seriously. Well, when I say seriously, I mean it is not something I have made up for giggles here but I am not 100% sure how serious the people who said it were.

Sadly, the fact that no one seems to have picked up on this during the bits of the show I listened to and the fact people could actually use such a line of nonsense as an argument, highlights the downsides of the UK’s educational policies. Gone are learning classical philosophy and the origins of society. Now people think a “right” to do something comes with no burden of obligation and is identical to wanting to do something.

Unfortunately this watered down idea of what a “right” actually is, means people are less concerned when important rights are lost… So it looks like we will force landowners to allow access to their land at the same time we bring in ID papers, increased CCTV monitoring, longer detention without trial and so on.  Well done Britain.

[tags]Education, Classics, Classical Studies, Philosophy, Culture, Society, UK, Coast, Landscapes, BBC, Radio 2, Jeremy Vine, Civil Rights, Rights[/tags]

Educational Standards

It seems that teaching in UK schools hit the news a bit over the bank holiday weekend (for overseas visitors, I was proven correct this weekend, when I said the May bank holiday is generally the wettest time of the year…).

Nullifidian discusses an article in the Times which reports that the Religious Education Council (REC) is trying to remove a parent’s right to remove their children from a religious education class. This is pretty shocking and as you might imagine the arguments put forward by the REC are riddled with nonsense. It seems they have a “Good Idea” and the best of intentions (and it would do them well to remember the road to hell here…) but, as with most things Religious types get involved with, the practicalities and implementation sucks. When I was at school, RE was 95% Christianity, 4% Judaism and 1% Islam. I don’t recall any other world religion being mentioned, but it was good in teaching me the nonsense and sheer “woo” being spouted by theists. Thank [insert deity of choice] for Science classes…

Also looking at Education, Alun Salt has an excellent discussion about the loss of “Ancient History” as a subject in the UK  (Heather has also mentioned this). It is sad that at the same time the Religious nutters are advocating more and more religion be taught, the basis of a “humanist” society are no longer going to be taught. Will we go to a future where people think the Battle of Thermoplye was a fictional tale? Will we have a society where people think Alexander was actually Irish? This may seem trival, but the lessons (and understanding of society) provided by the classics still underpin the values we live by today. Removing their teaching can only be a step back to the medieval period.

Ancient History is becoming history

TV programmes on archeaology and ancient history are extremely popular. The history that engages most of us is usually in the distant past. It expands our understanding of what it is to be human. However, Ancient History is about to disappear as an A level subject, according to an article by Tom Holland in Saturday’s Guardian.

Tom Holland says “In modern schools, of course, history tends to mean Hitler”. There is mountains of material on 20th century history, not just original papers but film, sound recordings and interviews with living people. This reminds me of a Guardian TV critic’s comment I read a few years ago to the effect that, having a cable TV connection, the critic could now pick out individual faces at the Nuremberg rallies. Continue reading