Fireman Sam and the day British freedom went up in smoke

By Peter Hitchens

Here are the most sinister and hopeless words I have ever read: ‘I was told that we now live in a different time and some things are not to be said.’ They should be carved on the tombstone of the Country Formerly Known as Great Britain.

They are as near as we will get to an exact moment at which it became clear our free, happy past is gone for ever.

We grew up in another country, and because we did not guard it, or even see the danger, we have lost it, and our children will live in a censored twilight.
Author David Jones was detained by airport security after he made a remark about wearing a scarf over his face

Author David Jones was detained by airport security after he made a remark about wearing a scarf over his face

They were spoken – apparently by a police officer – to David Jones, author of the Fireman Sam books. Mr Jones had been detained for speaking words that only a stone-faced totalitarian, wholly devoid of a sense of humour or proportion, could have objected to.

Here are the words: ‘If I was wearing this scarf over my face, I wonder what would happen.’

Here is the context. Mr Jones was passing through the officious farce known as airport security, in which surly persons pretend to watch out for terrorists, and we pretend to take them seriously. A Muslim woman wearing a face veil had gone through the screen ahead of Mr Jones, had not set off the alarm, and had not been stopped.

Mr Jones’s artificial hip (that well-known terrorist weapon) had caused the machine to bleep and so the law-abiding, respectable, 67-year-old former fireman was humiliated with a stupid search which (as always) revealed nothing.

I go through this stuff quite a lot, including an exciting new machine that allows security personnel to view my naked body, and good luck to them. Though its moronic futility fills me with rage, I have learned to suppress it (at one Texas airport, there is a recorded announcement warning that it is an offence to make jokes about security).

I also know, because I read and hear so many stories, just how the Equality and Diversity Inquisition is rapidly turning into a full-on Thought Police in workplaces, schools and public buildings. Sooner or later, they are going to get me too. At this rate, I think it will be sooner.

What Mr Jones was actually doing was to behave like a free man, instead of the cowed subject of a monitored surveillance state in which most of what we think can no longer be said, and every miserable snitch, snoop and sneak has the power to ruin his neighbour’s life.

I’ll carry on defying it for as long as I can, but how long will that be?


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