Wednesday, 26 July 2017
You would like to think that the police, with their much-vaunted initiatives to keep a finger on the pulse would know better. You would think that the police, who are supposed to both represent us and understand us, would think twice before they publicised the extent to which they have become tools; tools not for law and order, but for the furtherance of political agenda, criminalising all dissenters from the new orthodoxy.
No doubt Wiltshire Plod thought that getting their twitter intern to post, un-proof-read, an antagonistic tweet was a good idea. And that the use of a couple of iPhone emojis would impart an air of being down with the zeitgeist. But ‘your’ for ‘you are’ and ‘boys & gals’? Who else wonders whether they were paying attention during their gender sensitivity re-programming session? Here’s the ‘offending’ tweet, suggesting a reach way beyond even their Thought Police competence and budget.
Naturally, Twitter went to town; if there is one tradition that runs strong in this country it is pricking the pomposity of those who seek to bully and clumsily impose authority from afar. The police have long been accused of detachment from the front line and disengagement from the policed; this could have been an opportunity for them to admit their mistakes and play along.
But no, lessons have not been learned. After a day of light-hearted mild abuse and the odd more strongly worded criticism they got what they thought was a grown-up to write a response. Talk about putting out the fire with petrol. This sinister warning shows a grave misreading of the public mood and an utter lack of understanding about who or what controls and operates social media.
If the threatening language was intended to make us feel like criminals it worked. I now understand that anybody who dares to criticise the official line is as bad as a murderer or a rapist; not a muslim rape-gang rapist, of course, they are off limits to the long arm of the stupid. Quite apart from the sheer idiocy of pushing back against an online presence many times their size and geographically spread worldwide, the police seem to have forgotten that they police by our consent.
When they left the beat they began to lose our trust and respect. When they began to strut about like paramilitaries they put themselves apart from the public they used to be a part of. When they start to openly threaten potentially large numbers of ordinary people just having a laugh, they have exceeded their remit. The crowd turns on the slightest of whims; those size ten boots could so easily be on other feet.