I’ve been thinking about this blog post for a while, and today’s Jeremy Vine show finally prompted me to write it. A council in Shropshire is backtracking on orders to park wardens to stop and quiz adults not accompanied by children, and there was a phone in debate about it. That’s not what the post is really about, but what prompted me to write today was people’s comments on the situation.
Natually the spokesman for Liberty they had on was worried, pointing out the huge civil liberties issues when a man (remember, all paedophiles are men) cannot go to a public park on his own. The members of the public who rang in only seemed to care about protecting their kids though, which while understandable does bring me to the point (finally) of this post: it seems like most people are too stupid to think for themselves.
There is a lot of hysteria thanks to newspapers using paedophiles are boogy men, hiding in every bush and outside every school, ready to snatch a child away. Of course, most victims are abused by someone they know, not grabbed off the street. Would a paedophile be so stupid as to go into a public park, surrounded by adults and masses of CCTV, and try to snatch or lure a child away? It just doesn’t happen that way, and it should really be obvious to anyone who has thought a little bit about it and bothered to find out the most basic facts.
The result is the kind of idiots who called the show today, more than happy to throw away basic freedoms for a little bit of extra cotton wool to wrap their kids in. One poor caller had apparently been sitting in his van outside a park, eating lunch when a man shouted “pervert” at him. It makes you wonder, if a paedophile really did do something to draw attention to themselves, would anyone try to stop them for fear of being branded one too simply by going near a child? If you saw a child on their own in the street, crying and looking for their parents, would you help them or would you be scared of some idiot thinking you were trying to abduct them?
I know I would think twice.
The real problem is that the majority of people don’t seem to see a problem with things like this. They just hear “paedo” and will accept anything, no matter how draconian. It’s not just crimes against children though, it’s just about everything. The BBC Have Your Say pages are full of Daily Mail reading dipshits who can’t seem to tell some journalists rantings from fiction – they appear totally disconnected from reality, unaware of the situation in the real world and unable to understand or consider opposing points of view because the arguments don’t fit into their skewed world view. Worse than that, it seems like a lot of them are not even capable of rational, logical thought – they simply cannot work an idea or argument through in their own minds.
Maybe I’m being pessimistic and there is some huge, silent majority who are not like that, but all the evidence suggests otherwise. The Sun and the Mail are the two most popular papers in the UK. Speaking to random people seems to back this up. Not very scientific but the people who have presumably done some scientific research on the general public – the political parties – seem to agree too judging by their policies.
I wish I could see a way out of this, but it’s difficult. I think a lot of the problem stems from us never having had a revolution, only a half-arsed civil war that was based on religion rather than ideals of freedom and equality. Maybe people are no less stupid in other countries… Well, okay, maybe not that much cleverer, shall we say, but because they have cultural ideals they can at least try to move things in the right direction.