Minor crime is dramatised and excessively punished in Britain for propaganda effect.
The BBC’s website yesterday carried a story – mainly for amusement it would seem - about a fumbling peeing Tom. The facts seemed pretty simple: a man was on roof of a sun tanning establishment and peeped through at a woman lying naked on her back on a sun bed. The clumsy idiot, however, was spotted by the woman underneath.
Quite obviously the woman had a right to privacy, and the man had no right to peep. In so far as a matter of this kind had to come before the courts, one would have thought that a small fine and an apology would suffice. (If the fellow were a headcase and repeatedly doing things of this kind, mental health measures might be in order.)
In actual fact the whole matter went before a crown court and the man was sentenced to three months in prison suspended for two years. True, he wasn’t actually imprisoned, but by a hair’s breadth he avoided becoming one over 80 000 now incarcerated in Brown’s Britain - a life ruined and a person consigned to social marginalisation and poverty for life.
This absurd case has no direct political meaning, but it does illustrate the state-led lust for authoritarianism which is so evident in Britain, from the ubiquitous CCTV cameras, anti- terror laws and zero-tolerance of whatever grabs a headline for government.