Tag: nothing to do with beer

| Uncategorised

Bye bye freedom – it was nice knowing you

When I’m not happily drinking beer, I’m increasingly concerned about the systematic undermining of our civil liberties in the name of the prevention of terrorism. As every half-decent stand-up comedian in the country is quipping at the moment: “We cannot let terrorists take away our freedoms – we’ve gotta do it first.”

I’m not the first writer to see a link between beer and pubs and fighting for freedom – many revolutionary and workers’ rights movements met in pubs when they were not allowed to meet anywhere else, and George Orwell saw the pub as the last bastion of freedom away from the prying eyes of government. But that’s another story, and I’m just trying to justify writing about this on my blog. Maybe I’m going to need a separate political blog like BLTP.

Anyway, many people in the UK still don’t realise that the police have been given powers of random stop and search and detention without charge. Your brain doesn’t want to accept it, because powers like that would mean we are living in a police state. Well guess what? We are.

The s44 Terrorism Act 2000 act gives the police powers to:

  • Stop and search people and vehicles for anything that could be used in connection with terrorism
  • Search people even if they do not have evidence to suspect them
  • Hold people for up to a month without charge
  • Search homes and remove protesters’ outer clothes, such as hats, shoes and coats.

Let’s be clear: they have the power to do this to you whoever you are, just because they decide they want to. You don’t have to be acting in a suspicious, terrorist-like way, or commit the crime of travelling on public transport with a rucksack and brown skin. “Anything that could be used in connection with terrorism” – you mean like a car, or a rucksack, or more than 100mls of liquid in a container, or chapatti flour… it could be applied to anything.

Everyone wants terrorism defeated, but when civil liberties groups protest against measures like this, it’s because once granted, these powers may be misused – that is, used for purposes other than defeating terrorism. Because clearly that would be wrong. That would be using a climate of fear in order to erode civil liberties and increase government and police power across the board, with the overall aim of keeping the population cowed.

Whenever anyone protests about this they are dismissed as a paranoid conspiracy theorist who hasn’t got their priorities right. “But we’d never misuse these powers!” the authorities protest. “Look at us, we’re nice guys. Cross our hearts and hope to die, we will only ever use these powers to fight terrorism. It. Would. Never. Happen.”

Cut to today’s Guardian: the government are encouraging the police to use stop and search and detention without charge… against climate change protesters. Why? Because climate change protesters might blow shit up? No – because they might exacerbate delays at Heathrow.

Now, I wouldn’t want to be delayed while going on my holidays either, but if I am flying off somewhere, I think it’s right that I should have to go past a bunch of people pointing out what my flight was doing to the atmosphere. It might make me think a little before booking the next one. But those protesters now face the full might of anti-terror law.

The arrests have already started. According to the Guardian article, one protester has already been arrested under anti-terrorism powers. Her terrorist crime? Riding a bicycle, near Heathrow.

Perhaps they were worried that, inspired by 9/11, or by that mad fucker in Glasgow last month, she might crash her pushbike into the terminal, causing massive explosions and unimaginable loss of life. Perhaps the reason British troops could be on the ground in Afghanistan for another thirty years (The Soviet Empire failed to defeat the Taliban – it’s almost cute we think we’ll be able to) is that the Taliban have employed mass fleets of bikes, with wicker basket mounted rocket launchers, or bells with a specially modified ding-ding sound that disrupts human brain waves.

After holding her for thirty hours, they of course dropped the terrorist charges (because, in fact, she wasn’t a terrorist after all – funny that) and re-charged her with the crime – and this really is a crime, apparently – intention to cause a public nuisance. Now. If that really is a crime – and Gods help us, it seems like it is – and you were to compile a most wanted list, and you went around arresting people in the order of how big a public nuisance they were intending to create, just how many people would you arrest before you got down as far as a woman riding a bicycle near Heathrow?

I’m sure the families who live under the flight path would like to see BA’s top executives arrested on these grounds well ahead of the woman on a bike near their houses, and given that they are “the public” nearest to Heathrow, maybe we should let them decide. We could arrest Pete Doherty every time he plays a concert, as well as all the other times. James Blunt. Big Brother contestants. Jodie Marsh. Jose Mourinho. Simon Cowell. That sinner/winner bloke on Oxford Street (though I hear he has in fact been ASBO’d). Richard Littlejohn. Jordan and Peter Andre. All these people regularly cause a public nuisance and as far as I know, they have never been arrested for it. Perhaps it’s just a matter of time.

It’s funny how some people can sound a bit bonkers until they are proven right. Welcome to the police state.

If you don’t like it, please, for your own sake, go here.

| Uncategorised


It’s probably a very bad idea to introduce politics to this blog, but I don’t think this is really about party politics (I’m sure the story would have been similar if we’d been under the Tories for the last ten years). And anyway it’s too important.

Taking Liberties is a documentary that details in a painstaking, alarming and yet often very funny fashion how our basic civil rights have been wiped out by government legislation over the last decade.

Did you know you could be arrested for wearing a T-shirt reading “Bollocks to Blair”? That you are not allowed to stage any kind of protest or demonstration whatsoever within a one kilometre radius of Parliament without prior written permission from the police? That you have no right to trial by jury? That you can be extradited to the US, just because they want you, with no evidence against you and no charges brought against you, and that this is the only extradition agreement of this kind in the world? That the UK, with one per cent of the world’s population and 0.05 per cent of the earth’s surface, has twenty per cent of the world’s CCTV cameras? That, with the introduction of ASBOs, we are no longer equal in the eyes of the law? That the ID cards that WILL be brought in will do nothing to deter terrorism, but will increase fraud and identity theft, and that the details on there – including everything about you, including your DNA – will be sold on to private companies?

Ah, but if you’ve noting to be guilty about, you’ve nothing to fear; the only people this applies to are people who are a bit dodgy, you might be thinking. Left wing agitators and anarchists, chavs and smelly crusties, and people who look a bit like they might be terrorists.
Well, try telling that to the man who keeps getting arrested for standing outside Downing Street dressed as Charlie Chaplin and holding a BLANK placard, or the two retired headmistresses who had their names and addresses taken by the police for LOOKING at an American air base in Yorkshire from about a mile away, or the 82 year-old, life-long labour supporter and survivor of the Nazi concentration camps who was manhandled out of his seat and detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act for daring to shout “rubbish” at Jack Straw, or the nice middle class people who got arrested in Trafalgar Square for having a picnic with little cakes that had the word ‘freedom’ written on them in icing, or the city banker who is currently in prison in Texas despite committing no crime on American soil, or the Tourette’s sufferer with an ASBO that means he can be arrested for swearing, whereas you, without your ASBO, can say what you like.
Not all the above examples are in the film – some are in this book, which is nothing to do with the film but details the same subject.
The reaction of most people is the same. You start off thinking, ‘this is a joke’, then you think ‘well, just because technically they have these powers doesn’t mean it would actually happen’, then you go, ‘oh shit’.
It’s time to get angry about this before it’s too late – we’re a lot closer than you think to even a blog post like this being deemed illegal.
Go see the film. Get angry. Then go here:
Pete Brown’s Blog would like to apologise for the lack of gags or beer in this post.

| Uncategorised

“The very last thing before I go…”*

Yahoo news story today:

The creators of the online phenomenon “Lonelygirl15” have joined forces with social networking site Bebo to create a British spin-off story that will use brands to help define the characters. The organisers say the project will give advertisers the chance to pitch their products such as clothing or mobile phones at a younger audience who have moved in recent years from traditional media to the Internet.

I’ve often wanted to say this, and a blog is a good start in being able to do so: can I just apologise, on behalf of the advertising industry, for the fucking bullshit that we create for no other purpose than to instil the brands that we work for in peoples’ minds?

Why an apology? Because each time we succeed in planting a brand there, we pollute and degrade your intellect that little bit further.

I think the most frightening thing about the above press release is that the people who wrote it (yeah, “people” -trust me, this was agreed by committee) have absolutely no moral dilemma whatsoever with creating a character that vulnerable teenagers identify with and believe is real, and then using that character as yet another medium to sell meaningless shit that nobody needs – because there aren’t enough media around already to do that with, right?

Lonelygirl15” started life as a series of video diaries posted on YouTube by a 15 year-old girl, talking about her life and the angst she faced. She caught the imaginations of teenage girls across the planet, who saw these posts as a voice they did not have – a real person, speaking their thoughts, when until that point they felt like they were alone.

So when it turned out that the whole thing was fake – “Lonelygirl” was a 21-year-old actress, employed by a couple of twats trying to make their name and fortune – many of “her” followers felt a genuine sense of bereavement – a friend had been revealed as an artificial construct.

Does that remind you of – ooh, I dunno – the horror stories we hear about paedophiles grooming kids in chat rooms, pretending to be 13 year old girls and then turning out to be 40 year-old men?

And then, when the plot is revealed, and YouTube is suddenly deluged with videos from REAL girls talking to their webcams about how hurt, betrayed and deceived they feel (even if you find them insufferable, you have to concede they do really feel this way), how do the perpetrators respond? Do they apologise for the hurt they’ve caused thousands of vulnerable kids? Course not – they say, “Cool! How can we sell this to the advertisers who already have a stranglehold on these peoples’ minds?”

As my sense of disgust with advertising grows (like smokers who become the most vehement anti-smokers, or racists who instantly switch to the Anti-Nazi League and go from beating up “pakis” to beating up the people who use that offensive term) I find this intolerable.

People ask me how I can say this and still be happy promoting beer drinking as a good thing – sniffing for hypocrisy.

But I believe beer drinking is a good thing – statistics show that for the vast, vast majority of people who drink beer, it relaxes them and aids social interaction – and that’s something we need more than ever. When you’re in a pub, you’re not in the shops. In the pub you talk to people, often people you don’t know. You make friends. You put the word to rights. The whole ambience is designed to make you feel relaxed, at home, content.

In shops you’re alone, insecure, competitive.

That’s why the state that loves to turn us into good consumers would rather have us in shops than pubs. You’re not much use to the economy if you’re happy propping up a bar stool, spending £2.50 an hour for a decent pint, when you could be out buying Product.

With this new development, the guys behind LonelyGirl reveal their game plan. They don’t want to fuck children; they just want to harness their purchasing power. They’re not paedophiles. But isn’t it interesting that they’re using exactly the same techniques paedophiles use? When nonces do it, we condemn it unreservedly because it pollutes and deceives young minds. When someone does it in order to sell brands, we hail it as cutting edge marketing.

Does anyone else feel sick or is it just me?

*Lyric from arguably the best Cure song ever