We do not know what is happening to us. In the world outside, great events take place, great figures move and act, great matters unfold, and this nation of Albion murmurs and stirs while malevolent voices whisper in the darkness – the voices of the new laws that are silently strangling the old freedoms the nation still dreams it enjoys.
We are so fast asleep that we don’t know who we are any more. Are we English? Scottish? Welsh? British? More than one of them? One but not another?
The new laws whisper:
We want to watch you day and night
We think you are abject enough to feel safe when we watch you
We can see you have lost all sense of what is proper to a free people
We can see you have abandoned modesty
Some of our friends have seen to that
They have arranged for you to find modesty contemptible
In a thousand ways they have led you to think that whoever does not want to be watched must have something shameful to hide
We want you to feel that solitude is frightening and unnatural
We want you to feel that being watched is the natural state of things
One of the pleasant fantasies that consoles us in our sleep is that we are a sovereign nation, and safe within our borders. This is what the new laws say about that:
We know who our friends are
And when our friends want to have words with one of you
We shall make it easy for them to take you away to a country where you will learn that you have more fingernails than you need
It will be no use bleating that you know of no offence you have committed under British law
It is for us to know what your offence is
Angering our friends is an offence
It is inconceivable to me that a waking nation in the full consciousness of its freedom would have allowed its government to pass such laws as the Protection from Harassment Act (1997), the Crime and Disorder Act (1998), the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (2000), the Terrorism Act (2000), the Criminal Justice and Police Act (2001), the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act (2001), the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Extension Act (2002), the Criminal Justice Act (2003), the Extradition Act (2003), the Anti-Social Behaviour Act (2003), the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act (2004), the Civil Contingencies Act (2004), the Prevention of Terrorism Act (2005), the Inquiries Act (2005), the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (2005), not to mention a host of pending legislation such as the Identity Cards Bill, the Coroners and Justice Bill, and the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill.
And those laws say:
Sleep, you stinking cowards
Sweating as you dream of rights and freedoms
Freedom is too hard for you
We shall decide what freedom is
Sleep, you vermin
Sleep, you scum.
Philip Pullman skal holde oplægget til Moden Liberty-konferencen i morgen, som handler om, hvad der egentlig sker med den personlige frihed i disse år. Det lyder, som om han er godt klædt på til opgaven.