Saturday, April 01, 2006

New Age Neo Krypteia

Regular readers will know that there is a strong chance that I am going to end my days hoarding canned goods against 'The Rapture', and discount my millennial ravings accordingly but I was irritated to read a press release issued by Cleveland Police yesterday.

Police Chief Rounds Up A Posse Of Seat Belt Sheriffs
Thousands of youngsters are being recruited by Cleveland's Road Policing Chief - to ride "shotgun" in the family car.
Insp Eric Robinson wants posses of Seat Belt Sheriffs to ensure that the clunk click rule is followed for every trip.
Around 8,000 letters are being sent out to nine and ten-year-olds asking for their help in ensuring family and friends always wear seat belts - and the drivers don't use hand-held mobile phones when driving.
Insp Robinson said: "We want to save lives, not deal in the aftermath. We all know that not wearing a seat belt is an offence, but more importantly is that children and their families are safe - and who better to make sure everyone belts up that the children themselves."
In his letter Insp Robinson asks youngsters to ensure their mums and dads, brothers and sisters wear seat belts for every journey - even if just to the shops or on the school run.
"Crashes can happen at any time so I need some Seat Belt Sheriffs to keep an eye out for me," he wrote. "We all know it's against the law not to wear a seat belt, but it's more important that you and your family stop yourselves from getting hurt."
Insp Robinson plans to recruit his first posse at Rossmere Primary School in Catcote Road, Hartlepool on Monday April 3rd 2006 at 11.00am.
My distaste - in its intricate image - strides on two levels.

The first is simply visceral revulsion at such a nakedly blatant attempt to turn a cadre of children into prissy sneaks and teachers' pets. I am fortunately convinced that human nature is sufficiently immutable to condemn it to failure notwithstanding the appeal of 'Spike the Road Safety Hedgehog'.

The second objection is more profound. What on earth gives the Police the notion that it is acceptable for them to set children to spy on their kith and kin in order to further their policies?

The example may be - from a civil liberties perspective - comparatively trivial, but the principle - especially in the context of the current regime - is of paramount importance.

Remember that Tony Blair really said, when launching his Respect agenda:

"I can't raise people's children for them...but what I can do is provide the right system of sanctions and support for families where they need them."
The supercilious arrogance of that remark and its implicit contempt for ordinary - though I prefer the adjective 'normal' - people is so hair raising that I thought at first that it must have been a slip taken out of context. Not so. It is trumpeted on Downing Street's own website -

For Blair, and the fatuous ideology he represents, it is self evident that it would be better if he and his acolytes could raise our children for us (thus inoculating and protecting them from the countless viscious unthinking phobias and isms with which the ordinary working stiff is so clearly infected) rather than letting us muddle through on our own.

Here's a history lesson on where thus style of thinking can lead. You draw the dots, I'm tired:
When a male child was born in Sparta soldiers came to the house and examined it carefully to determine its strength. The baby was bathed in wine rather than water, to see its reaction. If a baby was weak, the Spartans exposed it on the hillside or took it away to become a slave (helot). When the child reached the age of seven, he was taken from his family. Boys were organized into age groups or Agelai (meaning flocks ) and lived communally in dormitories. Once assigned the Agelai, the child became subject to the Agoge. The Agoge was what allowed a Spartan child to become a citizen. The training that went on throughout the Agoge was brutal. Always under the control of someone older than themselves, the specific Agelai were subjected to numerous competitive events and staged battles. After the Agoge, the Agelai, were reintegrated into society slowly, by undertaking the krypteia. The krypteia was undertaken by select individuals rather than by the entire agelai, during it, armed with a small knife, but without shelter, clothing, or food, the youths hid during the day, and in the evening as a sort of 'secret police' patrolled the helot land plots in search of potential revolts, and roamed the mountainside.

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