Rather Wonderful

I was listening yesterday to Peter Hitchens telling the world that Britain had become a police state, its citizens infantilised. He was talking about the current lockdown, everyone told to stay at home.

And I didn’t agree with him.

I suppose that what I think is that there are episodes when the normal rules governing behaviour are suspended. This happens in small communities, and also in nations. For example after a car crash in which someone has been slightly hurt, that person might be lifted up and carried away. And that’s a break with normal behaviour, in which no hand is laid on anyone.

The current coronavirus epidemic seems to me to be one of these episodes when normal rules are suspended. The British government wants to slow the spread of the virus by locking most people in their homes for a few weeks, and it needs the cooperation of the British people to do this. And the British people seem to be cooperating. Is that such a terrible thing?

I don’t think it’s terrible. I think it’s rather wonderful to see people and government in quick agreement with each other in the face of a rather sudden emergency.

Is it any different from the captain of the Titanic calling for women and children first to the lifeboats as the ship started sinking? He introduced a new rule in the emergency. Did he do something terrible? Should the passengers have revolted?

So I see what’s currently happening as being the British people going along with the British government during an emergency. I don’t think we’ve been infantilised. I don’t think Britain has become a police state.

I think that will only happen if, when the emergency is over, the lockdown continues. Britain will only become a police state if a temporary emergency is used as a pretext for permanent change.

And I don’t think that’s going to happen. Boris Johnson isn’t a dictator. Nor is he a progressive radical. When the coronavirus epidemic has passed, the lockdown will end.

If I have any reservations about what’s happening, it is that I wonder if the whole coronavirus episode is one vast over-reaction to an epidemic which may not be much worse than the flu epidemics that afflict Britain every year. We can’t know right now, but in a year or so we probably will have a much better idea. And in particular we will have a better idea of how great the economic damage the lockdown will have caused.

But my main point is that there isn’t one set of rules of conduct to which all must always conform. Instead, these rules are regularly suspended in the face of periodic emergencies. What’s right conduct at one time is wrong at another time. It is appropriate to raise an umbrella when it starts raining, and furl it when it stops raining.

I think Peter Hitchens is being rather silly.

About Frank Davis

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25 Responses to Rather Wonderful

  1. Richard Joyce says:

    I think Peter Hitchens is spot on – have you given up fags or something?

  2. Mark Jarratt says:

    Regret I disagree too. No illness, or potential illness, justifies suspending democracy, and as we have seen repeatedly with anti-tobacco zealots persecuting smokers, once power is ceded, regaining it is exceedingly uncommon.
    Police actions without legal foundations at the whim of politicians is the dictionary definition of a police bully state. The draconian restrictions and over reach are a far greater threat to democracy than any illness. Nobody gets out alive, and believing otherwise is proof of unrealistic disconnection from the elementary truths of human existence.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Democracy hasn’t been suspended. The elected government voted in a Coronavirus Bill last week.

      I will of course agree with you if if its sanctions are never lifted.

      • James Sykes says:

        They voted it in without debate or any kind of debate. I suppose the true test is what will remain of the legislation once this nonsense is over. We sha see.

      • Mark Jarratt says:

        Pardon, I should have clarified that my reference was to the Australian Parliament, and State/Territory governments, seemingly in a competition to impose more totalitarian illegal measures daily to trash the economy and drain the treasuries.

  3. mongoose says:

    The women-and-children-first rule seems to date from a bit ealier and is associated with the Birkenhead, a troopship. She sank and, there not being enough boats, it is said that the men for whom there was no room formed up on deck as she went down.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Well said, Frank. I agree with you. I think people are nitwits that believe we are being taken over by a conspiracy theory Police State. But there IS a virus, I think was a big “oops” from a lab in Wuhan, and it’s doing nasty things, we don’t actually know what to expect because the Chinese lied. I think the Government is doing its best. It doesn’t need nitwits, it needs support.

  5. RdM says:

    Well I haven’t (yet) watched the PH episode, but had just started reading this discussion …
    (Down to middle earth?)

    https://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2020/04/the_banned_list.html

    In case the references to the Health Minister aren’t apparent, refer to this:

    https://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2020/04/should_clark_have_resigned.html

    Popcorn, anyone?

  6. slugbop007 says:

    In Montreal one does not have to worry too much about adhering to the 2 meter rule because there is hardly a soul on the streets at this time. On the other hand, more and more young people are congregating in front of closed cafés and shops and begging for money to the occasional passersby. Police cars, their red lights flashing,  are blocking bus routes for hours. Why? No idea. There is talk of the police the power to give people $1000 fines for not following social distancing rules and just a few nights ago the Jacques Cartier Bridge was lit up like a giant rainbow in the hopes of ‘comforting’ us. Most people thought that it was a wonderful gesture. Even our Prime Minister gave it a thumbs up. I think the money would have been better spent on medical supplies, test kits and the like. I tried to find out how much this light show cost us taxpayers but have yet to find a link. And this is typical of the City of Montreal, it is almost impossible to find out how much of our money that they are wasting on ad campaigns and special light shows and who knows what else. One poster ad was about overflowing city garbage bins. Funny that one because there are very few garbage around the city and the garbage pickups are few and far between. So, instead of adding more bins they spent the money on an ad campaign complaining about them overflowing. Another ad was about cigarette butts littering our city’s sidewalks. It was called Mégoisme in French. A pun on the French word for butts and Egoism. Twelve years ago we used to smoke indoors and crush our smokes in ashtrays that were later picked up by waiters and barmaids and deposited in recycled cans of tomatoes, or some such, then put in the trash. The Children didn’t see us smoking because they were at school or at home doing their homework and waiting for supper while we were inside a public place, drinking beer, socializing, chatting and smoking. Their logic really is absurd. And the consequences of their lack of forward thinking is laughable.

    slugbop007 

  7. slugbop007 says:

    One Earth, One Chance: Six Activists Discuss Climate By David Swanson https://davidswanson.org/one-earth-one-chance-six-activists-discuss-climate/

    The latest salvo from the global ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ version of the Club de Rome think tank.

    slugbop007

  8. Rolf Norfolk says:

    The people are cooperating, otherwise it couldn’t work.

  9. smokingscot says:

    This was imposed to give the NHS time to get their side of things sorted. That is their protective clothing, their ICU units and the ventilators – and that’s it.

    Now it’s up to our decision makers to make this happen and pronto.

    Once they’re properly equipped and infection rates are dropping, then it’s time to gradually slacken the lockdown to a point where we get back to a form of normality. Sure it’ll be gradual, but until some sort of vaccine and reliable antibody test is available then we’ve no choice but go the herd immunity thing.

    On the NHS side, once they’ve gotten over the worst, they’ll need to gear up to treat COVID 19 as a routine event. They do what they’re paid to do, we get on with our lives and the most vulnerable are advised, but not forced by law, to self isolate.

  10. Audrey Silk says:

    I’ve been utterly dismayed at the number of smokers’ rights advocates abandoning their roots when it’s the same science, same civil liberties, same private property questions involved here.

  11. woodsy42 says:

    Hitchens is somewhat extreme, I agree with you that I don’t think Boris intends to remove democracy or freedoms longer than needed. But the police appear to be using their new powers in a very overzealous way. We have been asked to stay home as much as possible – fine most folks are – and not allowed to congregate – Ok makes sense. The police however are acting against people who are doing nothing that would spread the virus. they are applying their own made up rules and treating advice about what is ‘essential’ as though it were law that nothing else is allowed – which it isn’t. That is very worrying.

  12. slugbop007 says:

    COVID-19 SO FAR, APRIL 5, 2020 1 MLLION INFECTED OUT OF 7 BILLION = 0.00014285714 % OF THE HUMAN POPULATION

    slugbop007

  13. slugbop007 says:

    The Immorality of Moral Crusaders.

    slugbop007

  14. beobrigitte says:

    I was listening yesterday to Peter Hitchens telling the world that Britain had become a police state, its citizens infantilised. He was talking about the current lockdown, everyone told to stay at home.
    1. There is no full lock-down. People can still go out to exercise, walk their dog and/or go to the shops.
    2. Police state? Citizen infantilised? I’m more under the impression it is the citizen who are looking for to be told exactly what to do. Perhaps this is the fall-out of all these previously dispersed health warnings? People lost common sense?
    I am living proof that no bans (for anything!!!!) are needed. Common sense works just fine.
    I heeded the advice to reduce the possibility of meeting an infected person and self isolated 3 weeks ago and would much prefer if I could get a delivery slot for my groceries rather than having to go shopping once/3 weeks.
    I am aware that I am in it for the long run – until there is a vaccine. It is what it is.

    However, if the government decides that it a certain type of and number of articles (e.g. alcohol, tobacco etc.) will not be allowed to be sold it is a different matter as it is up to the customer to decide what he she buys.

    Boris. Although I cannot forgive nor forget the pursuit of the not even from the biosciences coined term “herd-immunity”, I do wish him a good recovery. He sure does follow the course of disease pattern I have observed in the last couple of weeks.

  15. Igrowmyown says:

    I went out this morning at 8.00 am to purchase some bottled water as the water has been turned off. The high street was virtually deserted and as I approached the shop a black guy out jogging had been called over to the police vehicle on the opposite side of the high street,he was arguing with them presumably about his right to exercise. I went in the shop,purchased the water,and when I came out a police van with lights flashing pulled up to arrest the guy. It was the Derbyshire Constabulary ( yes those buggers of the flying drones to harass and humiliate walkers in the Peak District ) and the thing that got me is that in the small market town that I live in there are few black people. Give certain people overwhelming power and they will always, always abuse it. Enough is enough of the complete erosion of our civil liberties,the cure is worse than the disease.

    • beobrigitte says:

      If you’re dead, your civil liberty means nothing. You were told that if it comes to choosing a respirator the younger person wins.
      I have 2 friends on the front line who already are reaching breaking point. One of them already lost a colleague last Friday.
      For now I forfeit my civil liberties (no worries, I will get mine back!) as not to add to my friends’ (and others’) workloads. They have the same rights and liberties as I have, you know.

      In my area people do adhere to the guidelines, not even the children are outside! And, no, I have as yet not made use of my daily walk. I have a little garden that I tend to and therefore leave my slot for people stuck in flats. Makes sense.

      “Herd immunity” will leave you with a lot of dead people (of no use to the “herd”) and a high probability (read up where in your body you find ACE2 receptors) of a long term sick work force.

      • Igrowmyown says:

        So I’ll presume that you believe the police arrest of the man was entirely justified, who’s only crime as far as I could tell was running instead of walking early in the morning. One thing does not negate the other, policing in this country is by consent not dictat and personal interpretation of new powers bestowed upon them.

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