from the still-a-problem dept
We had just relayed a story via the BBC about an elementary school kid in the UK earning a visit to his home from the authorities after writing in an English assignment that he lived in a “terrorist house”, when he reportedly was trying to say he lived in a “terraced house.” The crux of this story was that the UK’s Anti-Terrorism law, which requires that school teachers act as surveillance agents for the state in an attempt to weed out future-radicalized will-be-terrorists is a policy built for unintended chaos, given that teachers are neither trained nor properly equipped to fulfill this role. The resulting visit to the boy’s home by the authorities from a misspelled word was billed as an example of this overreach by government.
But, as some in the comments pointed out, Lancashire police have pushed back on the BBC’s story, saying that it wasn’t the misspelled words that triggered the visit and ultimately resulted in the authorities determining there was no need for an investigation, but was instead other schoolwork the boy had done that triggered the visit and ultimately resulted in the authorities determining there was no need for an investigation.
In a statement, police and the county council said it was “untrue to suggest that this situation was brought about by a simple spelling mistake. The school and the police have acted responsibly and proportionately in looking into a number of potential concerns using a low-key, local approach,” it said. “No concerns were identified and no further action was required by any agency.”
For some reason, there are those that think this vindicates both law enforcement and the UK’s law because police say the spelling error had nothing to do with any of this. I can’t quite figure out the logic of those people, because this is still a story about a teacher using schoolwork to identify a Muslim boy possibly being dangerous that triggered a visit to the boy’s home from the authorities. While the BBC has pulled its original post as a result of the pushback, the fundamentals of the story haven’t really changed at all. We still have a scared child and an annoyed family stemming from law enforcement action built on the back of a teacher picking through the child’s schoolwork. That isn’t a sustainable model for combating terrorism, but it is a sustainable model for alienating an entire subsection of a nation’s population.
Miqdaad Versi, assistant secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, the UK’s largest umbrella group for Islamic associations, said he was aware of dozens of cases similar to that of the schoolboy.
“There are huge concerns that individuals going about their daily life are being seen through the lens of security and are being seen as potential terrorists rather than students,” he said. “This is a natural consequence of the extension of the ‘Prevent Duty’ to schools.”
Regardless of the police pushback, which was extremely light on details, that hasn’t changed.