Jay, that fire story from Doncaster is almost unbearably sad: The characteristically moronic behavior of the braindead British coppers transformed it from a family tragedy to a national metaphor. I have written recently in Canada of the disturbing passivity of the “citizenry”, but Britain’s nudged it on a stage: Even if you understand the obligation to act in such a situation, the state will forcibly prevent you and (if recent form is anything to go by) ensure that if you disobey them you’ll be prosecuted — pour encourager les autres to remain obedient sheep to the government shepherd.
It’s interesting to read the words of the South Yorkshire Police spokeszombie:
The senior officer in charge is confident we handled this incident as professionally as possible. In a situation like that you could end up with more deceased bodies than you had in the first place
Well, there weren’t any “deceased bodies” at the time Her Majesty’s constabulary showed up. And there might not have been any had they not shown up at all. The incident has strange echoes of that fire at a school in Saudi Arabia not long after 9/11, where the fleeing schoolgirls escaped the blazing building but, because they were unveiled, were beaten back by the stick-wielding religious police to die in the flames. In both cases, the emergency responders who are supposed to save you (or at least make an attempt) instead wind up killing you — because a rote prostration before rule enforcement trumps their basic humanity. In recent years, the British police have evolved from being merely useless (at least when it comes to traditional activities such as solving crime) into what John O’Sullivan calls “the paramilitary wing of The Guardian” — the blundering enforcers of the nanny state.
Still, you begin to see why so many lazy government officials are wedded to that “there’s no right to shout fire in a theatre” rubbish. Even when the building’s burning down, you’ve no rights. New Hampshire’s great motto, “Live free or die,” is not just a bit of bloodcurdling stemwinding but a real choice that Britons, Canadians and, alas, Americans ought to ponder: You can live as free men, with all the rights and responsibilities and vicissitudes of fate that that entails. Or you can watch your society decay and die before your eyes — as England, once the crucible of freedom, dies a little with every day.