Terrorized Into Irrationality: UK Police Demand Names of Charlie Hebdo *Supporters*
from the confused?-you-will-be dept
It’s been sad to watch the Charlie Hebdo story turn from a massive outpouring of solidarity with the victims to an opportunistic exploitation of the strong feelings it produced to attack the very freedoms that solidarity was celebrating. Just how bad things have become can be gauged from this story in the Guardian:
A British police force has apologised after an officer told a newsagent to hand over details of customers who purchased copies of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.
Wiltshire police confirmed that one of their officers visited a newsagent in Corsham, Wiltshire, to ask for the names of four customers who ordered the commemorative “survivors’ issue” of the magazine.
Demanding the names of people who bought that commemorative issue clearly makes no sense: they were trying to support Charlie Hebdo, not attack it in any way. And yet the continued terrorization of the public — by the authorities, that is, not by the so-called “terrorists” — has induced a kind of irrationality that has apparently now spread to the police. Here’s the official “explanation” of what happened:
A police officer visited a local shop and post office in Corsham to make an assessment of community tensions and, if appropriate, encourage the newsagent’s owner to be vigilant. During this conversation the officer requested information about subscribers to the Charlie Hebdo magazine.
This is clearly creating a problem where none exists, purely because fear has become the default condition for society, resulting in heavy-handed and unnecessary interventions of the kind described above. At least the police force concerned seems to recognize this here:
Wiltshire police would like to apologise to the members of public who may be affected by this. Information relating to this specific incident has been permanently and securely disposed of.
That’s welcome, but it’s worrying and symptomatic of the situation today that a police officer could demand these names without being aware of the absurdity of doing so.
Update: It seems that this was not an isolated event.