Too much going on right now to write now… so here is the first of what i hope will be a regular feature. Short, specific analyses of current issues and debating points that will provide food for thought, and maybe help to shut down some of the more persistent online trolls.
Today, i take a brief look at community policing and protected beliefs.
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Nasties in Honor Oak
Over the last few years, the practice of drag readings has grown up in libraries across both the US and UK. This plays to two old and distinguished traditions. First, in the UK, the positive role played by cross-dressed pantomime dames (and also leading lads) in, er, pantos; and more widely, the practice of inviting weird and wonderful creatures down to the local library to encourage reading.
For my son, it was pirates; whereas i, in the long ago, was once read to by a six-foot squirrel. Called Tufty. Hmmm…
But the far right have re-branded these events as ‘grooming’ — tantamount to paedophilia, and keep turning up, in places like the Tate Gallery and Honor Oak to protest.
Oh, dear! What’s an honest copper to do? Because such protests engage two conflicting impulses.
First, as selectively promoted by the likes of Home Secretary, Sue-Ellen Braverman, it is all about the ‘free speech’. Cause, hate the message, it is the right of every freeborn Englishman ™ , etc. to express an opinion
Police are also tasked with maintaining public order and defending local communities from those who invade and disrupt. That is pretty much the defining rhetoric behind the UK Government’s inhumane immigration policy. Also, Public Space Protection Orders, that allow local councils to clamp down on anti-social behaviour.
Stuff like spitting, littering and skateboarding in a public space; and not forgetting the rather more controversial use of a PSPO to create a buffer zone around an abortion…