Probably the biggest hit the 'authorities' have taken is loss of media control - they can no longer, edit, censor or sanction the news, the truth is always one click away. Education is spreading, not nearly quickly enough, but it is spreading nevertheless. We are no longer a nameless, faceless mob, we are real people and we have a voice and a means with which to check out the truth behind those sensational tabloid headlines for ourselves. Those in the news are no longer protected by their celebrity status, social media, twitter especially, has been a great leveller.
Sadly, most societies are built on deceit, it is, arguably, the only way in which to maintain law and order. If those who keep the wheels of society spinning in motion had to account for each and every one of their actions those wheels would stop spinning. It's a rotten job, but someone's got to do it.
The problem with power, is that once you get it, you then have to spend every minute of your day (and all your days thereafter) trying to hang onto it or get it back. Kenneth Williams as Caesar in Carry On Cleo captured it in a nutshell 'infamy, infamy, they've all got it infamy'. History is littered with tyrants and despots (some who even set out with good intentions) who have had to be executed, hide in bunkers, jump off yachts or be carried off in straight jackets. Tony Blair became a Catholic.
At the moment there is a 'media war' going on. The newspapers are losing readers in droves. Most of us now turn to the 'net' for our news and updates and if a story catches our eye, the means to investigate it further, is at our fingertips. We know that headlines like 'Madeleine was stolen by a swarthy paedophile gang' are rubbish, some of us are even offended that we are being treated as half wits. Tis true to say the majority of people live such busy lives that they rarely have time to read beneath the headlines of most stories. Governments are dependent on lethargy, its tried, its trusted, its reliable. Most people don't care, and there is no point beating ourselves up about it, if we are living life to the full, we have to prioritise.
The Madeleine Mystery is not a priority for most people, it is just a news story like any other. But those of us who were gripped by it uncovered a rabbit hole full of doors with bleddy great big question marks on them. The Madeleine story may have made the tabloids millions, but it has also exposed the murky way in which 'spin' has been used by the mainstream media to manipulate public perception. Many people are now seeing they can no longer trust the tabloids, people who would formerly have believed everything they read. Ultimately, I believe the McCann story will cost newspapers millions of readers. I think we are probably witnessing the fall of newsprint and the traditional media moguls, how many people still buy a daily newspaper?
Why the Need for Scaremongering?
Like their forefathers, today's 'authorities' must convince the masses that education is bad for them. And in this context, education means internet and information. Information equals power, and at this present time there is no way of restricting it to a chosen few. Should a computer expert devise a system of policing the internet, within hours, a more advanced and probably younger, computer expert will discover ways in which to get around it. Most kids snigger at parental controls. Fact.
The only way in which to persuade people to give up their freedoms and vote for legislation to police the internet, is by persuading them that they, or more specifically, their children. are in danger. Allowing the 'authorities' legal access to all our personal files would allow any government to arrest any citizen on any charge. Claiming our children are 'at risk' is a back door way in which to police the internet with the public's full support. Anyone objecting would be seen as a)having something to hide, or b)a paedophile defender.
According to last week's headlines, there are 750,000 male paedophiles out there, or 1 in 4, or whatever sensational stats you can pull out of those figures. These figures are not coming from psychologists or academics, they are coming from police sources and in reality they are meaningless.
750,000 men waiting to do what? Are they on the verge of attack? Is the danger to our children imminent? Have we entered the world of Philip K. Dick, where people who 'might' commit a crime need to be arrested and dealt with for the good of society? Are we so short of real crime that we have moved onto thought crime?
The police, like every other public body compete for public funds. They are never going to say, 'things are improving, so you can give us less money next year'. A more cynical commentator might say they have an agenda to exaggerate the scale of the problems they face and the amount of work that they do.
Imagine for a moment that the police are not public servants, and that we live in a capitalist society where private security companies compete with each other to protect us? Their funding being dependent on how much protecting they do? As a society, our most precious possessions are our children, and when it comes to protecting them, money is no object and rationality flies out of the window. Whenever there is a baying mob, sure as eggs is eggs the more hysterical will be shouting 'think of the children' - those thinking of the children being the most popular and the vote winners.
Fortunately, defenders of Freedom of Speech are in the majority and those trying to seize power of the internet (and thus get back control of the news) will always face huge opposition. Whenever the powers that be take away our freedoms they tell us it is for our own good, our own protection. Creating imaginary danger goes back to biblical days, it keeps the mob in line, in order to stay under one safe, enclosed, protective roof, they have to obey the rules.
We all have an innate need to be protected, to pass responsibility for ourselves onto a higher power, be it a God, someone in authority and/or an alpha male/female. We are pack animals, we prefer to be in a group, hermits are rare, or perhaps I should say were rare, because technology is creating a whole new army of hermits, people who rarely see the light of day or interact with anyone outside cyber world, but that is a whole new argument.
In most instances it is better not to know the truth, knowing everything would drive us insane. However as Nietzsche said far more eloquently than I, there is NO higher power, no God to relieve us of self responsibility and those who believe themselves to be Gods, really aren't. Sadly, those who think they are God are the ones aiming for the top jobs and so intent on their goals are they, that they usually succeed. For some, their domain may simply be a stretch of highway with notoriously bad parkers, for others it could be an entire country. Their confidence in themselves knows no bounds, and such is human nature, it inspires others to believe in them, the leaders that is not the traffic wardens. If a leader tells us they will take control and make everything right, we can breathe a sigh of relief, check in our baggage and go out to play. We all have an innate desire to designate so we can crack on with what we really want to do without being bothered by boring details.
The scramble to get higher up the food chain is rarely a pretty sight because all the goodies are at the top and those who have reached it ain't letting go. It takes a certain kind of madness to hang on in there until the bitter end. For the majority of us, the battles rarely make any difference, one set of despots is much like any other, and unless new policy affects us directly, we do little more than grumble. It's the British way. And it is the way in which Governments chip away at our freedoms without anyone noticing.
Governments have historically used foreign wars to maintain power over their own populations, the enemy was far away and unseen and united the people as one. A common enemy is the foundation of many friendships and mutual admiration societies and it brings crowds together in a way that (almost) nothing else can.
In recent years the war has been against the adjective 'terror', and the public are united against the terrorists who hide among us, dawn raids are applauded, swarthy men are marched off in handcuffs with hoods over their heads, heroes are created, terrorists don't deserve any human rights - they are terrorists! And no government would misuse terrorist laws to arrest innocent citizens right?
So successful has the stranger danger message been, that the public now believe all adults (men especially), unless proved otherwise, are paedophiles. So strong is this ideology, that people automatically go into a defensive mode in order to prove they are not paedophiles themselves. They overthink, over explain, and overcompensate by declaring how much they despise paedophiles and in some cases they will join in an attack, or set themselves up as vigilante internet warriors. Nothing says you are not a paedophile, like punching one or hating them more than anyone else. Asking a hostile mob not to string up an elderly man with learning difficulties for leering at schoolgirls will get you hung alongside him. A paedophile defender is even worse.
But lets get down to the nitty gritty, the underage images online that demand a police clampdown on the internet. Surely the best way to protect the children being used in these images is to arrest the film makers! I know there is a supply and demand argument, but the present approach of CEOP to child porn is comparable to the drug police arresting all the addicts and ignoring the suppliers!
The truth is, most underage images online are being sent by randy teenagers to each other, which is fair enough, their hormones are raging and its what kids do, but should one of those images accidentally end up on the pages of anyone over 18, they could, literally speaking, be charged with possessing child pornography and placed on a sex offenders register. And if someone really wanted to arrest you, you could be done for your holiday snaps or taking a picture of your child in school play!
Because child abuse is such a taboo subject, reasonable, logical people are not getting involved in the debate. No-one dare question the facts and figures supplied by the police and the 'experts' for fear of being accused of being defenders of paedophiles, or worse still, paedophiles themselves. It is probably the worst accusation anyone can have against them, it destroys lives. Thirty nine men committed suicide as a result of Operation Ore.
Unfortunately, unless the academics,the intellectuals and those with common sense speak out, the lunatics will take control of the asylum and people will find themselves facing sexual deviancy charges for taking pictures of their toddlers making sandcastles. Schools are already banning photographs and there are demands for lone adults to be banned from parks. The 'think of the children' brigade have thousands of followers and they have lost the power of reason - we almost saw a tragedy last week in Cyprus.
Sadly, Jim is not the only one who can see the potential of the internet. Child protection is a very lucrative business. it's an emotive subject that unites the public and the politicians and its an area safe from financial cuts. It may even be an area the police could outsource to private companies, so kids can be extra safe.
Madeleine McCann went missing at a time when the incumbent government were promoting a nationwide bank of our DNA and micro chipping of our newborns in the zillion to one chance that they might be abducted. Poor Maddie was the poster child, the little blonde cherub stolen from her loving, responsible parents who were entirely blameless and also church goers. Her's was not the face of a spotty, sullen teenager who had gone off in a huff, it was the face of an innocent, appealing toddler, snatched in the night. Her face quite literally launched a thousand appeals.
Her parents, as well as producing an amazing campaign for their daughter, also quickly became involved in the Amber Alert System. Ostensibly, a way in which to quickly track stolen children, but in reality, a way in which to enforce stricter border controls.
Gerry and Kate are typical obnoxious little Englanders, they believe themselves to be a cut above our European neighbours, which is why they have always treated the Portuguese with such disdain. They are also part of the school of thought that believes 'if we ban everything for other people, our lives will be better', their enthusiasm for Hacked Off was above and beyond. If people are forbidden by law from saying nasty things about them, the McCanns believe everything will be alright and they will get the respect they deserve. And it goes without saying, that newspaper editors, journalists etc, should abide to rules similar to those doctors have to, or be thrown in jail. I suspect the liberalism and power hungry world of the media world must have been quite a shock to them, but to their credit, they quickly got the hang of it.