Those two fiery – eyed black horses that in ancient Greek myths pull the chariot of Greek war god Ares have galloped though Boggart Blog many times and today they are with us again in spirit if not in actuality. Phobos and Deimos or Fear and Panic in English do not work for an ancient pagan god now but for the dark forces of authoritarianism and their evil henchmen The Politically Correct Thought Police who use these mythical beasts to inflate trivial risks in our minds to the proportions of imminent catastrophe. Thus they persuade We The Punters into meekly surrendering age old liberties and hard won civil rights in the name of The War On Terror.
The war on Terror is no more a real war than Phobos and Deimos are real horses. What are real are the wars on individualism and common sense. It is not a new political ploy of course. In Shakespeare’s play Henry IV part 2 King Henry asks his son Prince Harry:
Therefore, my Harry,
Be it thy course to busy giddy minds
With foreign quarrels; that action, hence borne out,
May waste the memory of the former days
Fear and Panic. It worked then and it seems to be working now. All we have done is substitute the word terror for “foreign quarrels”. Brainwashed by scare stories or terrorist conspiracies spread by government and media we overreact grossly to the most trivial incidents.
The malaise has spread through all levels of society, even the security forces have succumbed. In 2007 we had armed police shooting an innocent Brazilian in the face seven times because he had slightly swathy skin and a shoulder bag that could have carried a binary liquid explosive but in fact carried his lunch. If the people charged with protecting society from “evil doors and people of Evelyn Tent” who can we rely on to protect the peace?
Well not the Police force obviously if an incident involving two of Londons’s finest reported in this week's news is anything to go by. When a “potentially harmful substance” was thrown through the window of a patrol car at these two intrepid peacekeepers they called at once for medical assistance, were rushed to hospital, examined and treated. The substance was then analysed and found to be HP Sauce.
So what happened to normal human responses to being hit by something gooey and slimy? First the sense of smell ought to be called on: Does it smell like shit? No, bit vinegary and fruity maybe…OK so far . Next step is the sense of touch: Is it burning as a strong acid or alkaline would? No… OK so far. Next step is sight: Get a bit on the fingertip. Does it look dangerous? No … OK so far. Finally the truly brave person might risk employing the sense of taste and having dabbed the fingertip on the tongue ask: Does it taste like a new weapon of mass distraction developed by terrorists to kill us in our homes and places of work? No; it tastes like HP Sauce.
Conclusion: if it smells like HP Sauce, tastes like HP Sauce and looks like HP Sauce it probably is HP Sauce.
If you apply the common sense test in all situations you will not loose your grip on reality every time Phobias and Deimos gallop through your life.
FEAR AND PANIC are among us all the time along with suspicion, mistrust and paranoisa. Have a look at Ian's comic poem You Just Can't Be Too Paranoid and you'll see what we mean.
UPDATED 23 Feb 2009
This is getting beyond a joke. Among the attacks on civil liberyies being attacked while we are distracted by Phobos and Deimos is our freedom of movement. The government's ID cards scheme will enable the authorities to track our movements 23/4 in the interests of national security ( ID cards create second class citizens )This is not what we voted for
Updated 26 Feb 2009:
Hazel Blears says we must engage with extremists. What the Government must do is stop bigging up the terrorist threat in order to lubricate the passage of new laws aimed at shafting our right to privacy and our civil liberties. We the punters are saying to would be terrorists "Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough." It's the government who are cowering behind Whitehall's security barriers.
The Government may spread fear and panic about terror when they want to erode our civil libertties but who is really looking after our Homeland Security
UPDATED 7 March 2009: As Plane Stupid protesters drench Peter Mandelson with custard in a protest against the Heathrow 3rd runway Ariane Sherine says schoolyard taunts are the best way to belittle the pompous.