Not a good week for Britain’s image

There’s actually not very much wrong with this per se:

A company director who fitted a laser jammer to his Range Rover and made rude gestures as he drove past police safety cameras has been jailed.

Timothy Hill, 67, threw the device in a river behind his home in Grassington when he found out that officers had launched an investigation.

Timothy Hill, 67, threw the device in a river behind his home in Grassington when he found out that officers had launched an investigation. But today he was jailed for eight months at Teesside Crown Court and banned from driving for a year for perverting the course of justice.

Now we might quibble over whether using a device to jam a speed camera constitutes perverting the course of justice and whether that deserves a custodial sentence, but what I’ve quoted above doesn’t seem too concerning. Ah, but this is Plod, and he just couldn’t keep his mouth shut:

Traffic Constable Andrew Forth, who led the investigation for North Yorkshire Police, said afterward: “If you want to attract our attention, repeatedly gesturing at police camera vans with your middle finger while you’re driving a distinctive car fitted with a laser jammer is an excellent way to do it.

“It’s also an excellent way to end up in prison. As Hill’s case shows, perverting the course of justice is a very serious charge which carries a custodial sentence.

I suspect the police are as incensed at the lack of deferential behaviour as the laser jammer, and in modern Britain that will do more than anything to bring the full weight of the law down on your head.

“It’s our job to keep road users safe across all 6,000 miles of North Yorkshire’s roads. Mobile safety camera vans are an important tool to do that – they are proven to reduce collisions and they help save lives.

“Drivers who fit laser jammers may mistakenly feel smug about ‘getting one over’ on the police. But we can tell if motorists are using these devices, and we will always endeavour to bring them to justice.”

Perhaps, but Timothy Hill isn’t the only one looking smug here. The public are getting increasingly fed up with Plod harrassing drivers and using speed traps as revenue generators, passing them off as safety measures. Condescending remarks like “it’s also an excellent way to end up in prison” only serve to illustrate the yawning chasm between the police and the public. Bad enough that Forth’s comments were, North Yorkshire police then decided to brag about it on Twitter:

The reaction to this has been absolute fury from Brits and, having crossed the Atlantic and gone viral, disbelief and mockery from Americans. Many people read the above tweet and noted the smug, condescending language from the police and, with good reason, believed this guy was jailed in part because he’d flipped off the police. Now you wouldn’t expect the tin-eared idiots who run the media accounts of British police forces to realise this, but perceptions matter. In the same week, this story did the rounds on the internet:

A teenage refugee who molested and tried to strangle a young woman as she waited for a lift home outside McDonald’s has been spared custody.

Eritrean Filmon Kbrom targeted the lone 25-year-old at 5am on July 18 last year after a night out in Maidstone.

Having urged her to follow him while grabbing at his crotch, the 18-year-old grabbed her by the wrists before trying to throttle her.

But a judge decided that there were exceptional circumstances which enabled him to avoid sending Kbrom to a young offenders’ institution.

He instead imposed a sentence of 19 months’ youth custody suspended for two years.

But Judge Philip Statman was unable to include a condition that he attends a ‘vigorous and intensive’ sex offender treatment programme, as is usually imposed in such cases, due to Kbrom’s basic knowledge of the English language.

Now perhaps the stories in the papers don’t adequately reflect the details in each case, but nevertheless you have millions of people seeing a policeman crowing about jailing a British citizen who flipped them the bird while an Eritrean asylum seeker is spared jail for sexual assault due to his poor English. Does anyone in this shambolic, idiotic government we have realise how bad this looks? Obviously not, because a few days before we had this story:

A teenager who posted rap lyrics which included racist language on Instagram has been found guilty of sending a grossly offensive message.

Chelsea Russell, 19, from Liverpool posted the lyric from Snap Dogg’s I’m Trippin’ to pay tribute to a boy who died in a road crash, a court heard.

Russell argued it was not offensive, but was handed a community order.

Prosecutors said her sentence was increased from a fine to a community order “as it was a hate crime”.

She was given an eight-week community order, placed on an eight-week curfew and told to pay costs of £500 and an £85 victim surcharge.

That’s right: a teenager has been successfully prosecuted for hate crimes for posting rap lyrics on a restricted Instagram account. So how did Plod come to hear of it?

She was charged after Merseyside Police were anonymously sent a screenshot of her update.

The screenshot was passed to hate crime unit PC Dominique Walker, who told the court the term was “grossly offensive” to her as a black woman and to the general community.

So a policewoman was sent an anonymous screenshot and decided to make it all about her. Those wondering where the crime is are not alone. Then on Monday we had this, (the background to which I wrote about here):

A man who filmed a pet dog giving Nazi salutes before putting the footage on YouTube has been fined £800.

Mark Meechan, 30, recorded his girlfriend’s pug, Buddha, responding to statements such as “Sieg Heil” by raising its paw.

The clip was viewed more than three million times on YouTube.

Meechan, of Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, was sentenced at Airdrie Sheriff Court after being found guilty of committing a hate crime last month.

He had denied any wrong-doing and insisted he made the video, which was posted in April 2016, to annoy his girlfriend.

But Sheriff Derek O’Carroll found him guilty of a charge under the Communications Act that he posted a video on social media and YouTube which was grossly offensive because it was “anti-Semitic and racist in nature” and was aggravated by religious prejudice.

I am sure Meechan will crowdfund the £800 within minutes, and whatever it costs him to appeal this ruling, but the point is that a man can be arrested and prosecuted for making a joke, albeit a very stupid and tasteless one, and posting it on the internet. Were it not for the massive publicity surrounding his case and the outrage his prosecution generated on both sides of the Atlantic, I am sure he’d have been given a custodial sentence.

This week, many Brits and Americans have referred to these stories and made the point I made myself here:

The thing that always enrages me about governments is they are doubly shit at performing vital state functions: murdering scumbags go free and innocent people get banged up; police harass citizens over trivial matters while serious crime remains a problem; jihadists are let into the country to carry out terrorist attacks but Canadian right-wing journalists are turned back at the airport and banned for life.

The police are happy to ignore gangs of rapists preying on underage girls and take pity on foreign refugees who sexually assault British women, but make a joke, post “offensive” lyrics, or stick a middle finger up to a speed camera and you’ll be prosecuted and fined or jailed. This might be overly simplistic, but it is a perception that has been created by the British government and, as I said before, perceptions matter. Why? Because of cases like this:

The parents of seriously ill toddler Alfie Evans will challenge a High Court ruling preventing them from taking him to Italy for further treatment.

The family’s lawyers told the BBC that a hearing has been scheduled at the Court of Appeal on Wednesday afternoon.

The 23-month-old’s life support was withdrawn on Monday after the court ruled Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital could end his care.

Tom Evans and Kate James want to move their son to a hospital in Rome.

On Tuesday a High Court judge ruled that the family could not take him abroad for further treatment, but that he may be allowed home.

Now I don’t know the details, but these sort of medical ethics cases are fiendishly difficult moral dilemmas, particularly those that require a decision over whether to switch off life support (I remember the Terri Schiavo case well). Regardless of the facts, it is perfectly reasonable for the public to ask why, if the child is condemned to die anyway, his parents cannot seek alternative treatment or better palliative care in Italy. The government’s response, although perhaps reasonable (I don’t know), is cloaked in an air of callous indifference, oblivious to the distress of the parents and ordinary human reaction to the case. Certainly, lining up policemen outside Alfie’s hospital room is appalling optics, but then this is what this post is all about. The Times, a mouthpiece of the ruling classes whose writers look down their noses at oiks who hold opinions on things they’re not clever enough to understand, tells us:

The heartrending case of Alfie Evans has been exploited by groups more anxious to advance a broad ‘pro-life’ agenda than to support a family in desperate circumstances.

By “support a family” they mean persuade them to accept whatever choices the state makes on their child’s behalf, and deal with the consequences. A “broad pro-life agenda” is hardly something beyond the pale in such a case, especially when the alternative, state-approved option is just to let the kid die in a government hospital under police protection. Americans in particular are absolutely apoplectic over this, and see it as a clear example of arrogant, government-employed doctors disliking their expertise being questioned, and supported by judges who believe the state has a greater claim over a little boy’s life than his parents.

Now the criticism in this case might be unfair, but the British government has nobody but themselves to blame for being seen to consist of incompetent, nasty, vindictive, petty, individuals who hold the ordinary citizen in utter, absolute contempt. Theresa May, who exhibited these precise characteristics while Home Secretary and continues to do so as Prime Minister, must shoulder much of the blame for this state of affairs. What a disgrace of a country Britain has become.

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73 thoughts on “Not a good week for Britain’s image

  1. what’s it to do with the government?

    You mean aside from the fact that every person involved in this case works for the government, with the exception of Alfie and his parents?

  2. “You mean aside from the fact that every person involved in this case works for the government”: by your standards that’s appallingly feeble – bloody near dishonest. Shame on you.

  3. Thud, I do care even if I’m not paying for it. This hysteria has a way of backfarting on normal decency. Remember the ancient ballyhoo about abortion, gay rights, etc. Took a decade or so in each case to calm down.

    As for Plod’s tweet, I suspect there’s an awful lot of hateful self righteousness going down on social media. Our relatively restrained discussion won’t get Tim in trouble.

  4. Re: the the Range Rover guy, it’s obvious why the cops really arrested him.

    He’s got his steering wheel on the wrong damn side of the car. That’s just dangerous.

    Re: Alfie, this has devolved into the pro-life argument against the pro-abortion one, with the always-present smug liberal insistence that we not recognize that some people are morally passionate about not taking lives for reasons of convenience, and so they simply call them names to show their superiority.

    (“lumpen”? – Really? Look up the definition (“uninterested in revolutionary advancement”) and then just use “redneck” or “hillbilly” instead if you need to feel superior.)

  5. All I can add is that the state should exist to serve us, and NOT the vice versa situation which has somehow evolved.

    Government, being a necessary evil, should be as small as is pragmatically possible and intrude as little as possible on the individual.

    A pox on them all and a plague on all their houses.

  6. “The proposition that parents own their children and can do whatever they like with them is wicked. ”

    No more wicked than the fuckwit proposition that the scummy state does.

  7. No more wicked than the fuckwit proposition that the scummy state does.

    There’s also the hatefact that no one has actually proposed that parents own their children and can do whatever they like with them, but hey, so reductio so Internet.

  8. It’s interesting…if Alfie were a dog and the state was preventing his owners from taking him overseas for some kind of veterinary treatment, would anyone be standing up to defend that?

  9. “There are also questions of triage. The money spent on Charlie Gard and this little lad would pay for a million mosquito nets, rape counselling for Oxfam workers, 24 hour surveillance of half a dozen Islamists… etc”

    Government doesn’t work that way. No one in the Exchequer thinks, “Ooo, we’ve let a bunch of children die and saved money on not having to fight pointless court cases. Let’s bung that into really good stuff!”

    If there’s any money not wasted, as if, they look to who they need to keep sweet and bung any ‘extra’ cash into their budget for a favour to be named at a later date.

    Perhaps I’m a tad cynical though.

  10. by your standards that’s appallingly feeble – bloody near dishonest. Shame on you.

    No it’s not. One of the major criticisms of this whole thing is that it’s the NHS – a state-run organisation – protecting its own, and the courts siding with the NHS. Nobody else other than you has felt the need to query what I meant by “government” in this post, so I’ll ignore the accusation of dishonesty.

  11. A (French) friend who works as a pediatrician in the NHS advises that if your child hurts themselves in an accident, then seriously consider taking them to France (if you are an Anglo-French family) as you have a non negligible risk of social services putting you in some Kafkaesque hell in the UK.

    And I have a long laundry list of petty you-shall-not-disobey (even disagree) behavior from the selfless public servants I have interacted with over the years.

    Competition is one of the most powerful forces in the universe for reducing prices and even more important improving experience. If you can leave you get fair treatment, if you are stuck why would you expect your interests to be at all relevant? The shrill cries against privatising our NHS / our schools at base are about forbidding you from having any choice and being forced to accept what the screechers wish to impose.

  12. “No more wicked than the fuckwit proposition that the scummy state does.” Who advanced that proposition?

  13. “There’s also the hatefact that no one has actually proposed that parents own their children and can do whatever they like with them” And yet, from this very thread: “The pro-life part of this is not the core issue. It is doing whatever the hell you want to with your kid.”

    So much hysterical rubbish, with positively American levels of shouty ignorance, and even Tim joining in, advancing the insane idea that because judges are employed by the state their decisions are in reality the government’s. Bonkers.

  14. Dearieme, it wouldn’t be the first instance of state collusion but I’m glad you see through it all for the rest of us.

  15. and even Tim joining in, advancing the insane idea that because judges are employed by the state their decisions are in reality the government’s

    You seem to have missed the point – which I made several times – that the Alfie case is more about perception, and comes hot on the heels of judges fining people for bad jokes and posting rap lyrics online. These latter rulings didn’t come out of a clear blue sky, they are part of a visible politicisation of the judicial process whereby people are prosecuted for falling foul of the latest PC missives.

    My post was pointing out that it is therefore not surprising people perceive these judges in the Alfie case to be less than impartial, particularly as they are ruling in support of the NHS, the nearest thing Britain has to a state religion.

  16. “advancing the insane idea that because judges are employed by the state their decisions are in reality the government’s”

    The courts very rarely (if ever) advance law that reduces the power of the State, or increases the power of the individual over the State, or allows the individual to escape the State’s clutches. They often cause the State to have to spend more money on individuals who are claiming they should be getting special treatment for X or Y, but I can’t think of an example where in a case of fundamental importance to the State (ie one where it would be in deep shit if it it lost) that the courts sided with the individual.

    Ultimately judges know who pays their salaries, who pays for the police that protect them (if not the public), and while they are quite happy to advance social law, and to question State decisions on individual cases, and how the State has treated a specific individual, when a case arises that fundamentally questions where the power lies, they will side with the State over the individual every time.

  17. I am amazed that no one has pointed out why the driver was jailed and the “refugee” was let off with a slap on the wrist with a wet bus ticket. It is obvious.

    The driver deprived the State of income in the way of fines. There was no profit or percentage in going after the “refugee”.

  18. Excellent summary of a sad state (State?) of affairs, Tim. I’ve come to suspect that the behaviour of the public sector is a demonstration of their contempt, to remind us who has the power and to know our place.

    Theodore Dalrymple’s finding that communist states controlled their population through humiliation, by making them play along with obvious and outrageous lies, springs to my mind so often.

    What really saddens me is how often people willingly play along. As you’ve said before, it doesn’t take many people that are happy to screw over the rest.

    Jim, Thud, Phil: +1

  19. Theodore Dalrymple’s finding that communist states controlled their population through humiliation, by making them play along with obvious and outrageous lies, springs to my mind so often.

    Oddly I referred to this passage of writing yesterday when describing to a colleague the dynamic which exists in large corporations. People quote Orwell a lot, but the thing about forcing people to say that 2+2=5 in order to humiliate and control them was absolutely spot on.

  20. Note the case of the parent fined for taking his child out of school in term time, despite winning in 2 courts, the State kept appealing and the Supreme court eventually sided with them:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-39504338

    Note the reasons given for the ruling – it would cause ‘unacceptable disruption’ (for the State) if children were allowed to be taken out of school on term time. So the decision had nothing to do with the interpretation of the actual wording of the law, just that if the State lost it would face trouble. So the courts naturally side with the State, eventually, once the lawyers have had a good feed on the case.

  21. So the courts naturally side with the State, eventually, once the lawyers have had a good feed on the case.

    An excellent example!

  22. Meanwhile, this pair of scrotes were part of a team of vandals who did close to £30k of damage to some historic railway carriages…

    http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/16187471.Downton_Abbey_train_carriage_vandals_told_they_should_be__ashamed_/?ref=mr&lp=8

    It would appear that theft and vandalism on an epic scale can cost you as little as £145.88
    Clearly giving the police revenue generation van the bird is a much more serious issue. (And fair play to the plod, at least this time they went to the trouble of getting the offender’s collars felt – I suspect the officers involved are currently wondering why they bothered).

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