Monday, 27 April 2020

Sending The Wrong Message

The public get it. We're not stupid.

The Beijing Boak is a particularly nasty virus. It's very contagious.

Not only do we fully understand that this disease is nasty and contagious, we also realise that you can have this virus for a number of days without showing any symptoms. In many cases you don't even know you've got it.

Which means if you gather around other people - even in small groups for the smallest amount of time - there's a good chance you could contract the virus. Or if you've already got it, pass it on to someone else.

It's not rocket science, the public get it, honestly we do.

We also get why many countries around the world - including ours - made the bold and difficult decision to put their citizens in to lockdown.

So far, so good.

But what doesn't make sense is the Governments message throughout all of this.

In particular, I'm referring to their often repeated "Stay home" message which we have been bombarded with since day-one (a message which, unsurprisingly, our untrustworthy police have been super keen to enforce, but more about that later in the article).

Surely a "Don't gather" message would've made more sense and been much easier to implement.

Most people I speak to agree that the "Stay home" message has been a miserable failure, mainly because it comes with a ton of exceptions. In fact there are so many exceptions to the rule, the rule has become virtually impossible to implement.

You see, the "Stay home" message came with a list as long as your arm of circumstances where you DIDN'T need to stay home, for example essential workers, walking your dog, going out for some exercise, going to the supermarket, the list goes on.

It should've been pretty obvious to our politicians from the beginning that if police were to encounter someone out and about who was flouting the "Stay home" order, all that person needed to do was use one of the exceptions to the rule and tell police "I'm exercising" or "I'm going to the supermarket".

In addition to this, politicians should have anticipated that the "Stay home" message was never going to resonate well with the general public. 

To decent folks, it was always going to smell a bit like being under house arrest in a police-state while they watch rogues finding ways to get around it.

In short, this was never going to be easy to implement properly.

Only the most stupid politicians in the world would seriously believe that ordering people to "Stay home" while trotting out a laundry list of circumstances where it was ok for them NOT to stay at home would be effective.

We have some seriously stupid politicians.

I believe a "Don't gather" message would have achieved their goal of keeping people apart in a much better way. It would have been far more palatable, more effective, and much easier to implement.

Because the phrase "Don't gather" says it all.

It means don't gather at home with friends or neighbours, don't have visitors round, don't have house parties, don't gather in public places like parks, don't gather with other dog walkers - the list goes on, you get the idea.

And if you do find yourself in a situation where people could possibly be gathering a bit closer together than you feel is safe - a petrol station, a shop, or a supermarket for example - then keep yourself at least 6 feet apart from others. Social distance yourself.

This would have helped prevent all the stories we're now hearing with alarming regularity of jobsworth police officers hassling members of the public and ordering them to go home even though the person is out alone, social distancing, with no one else around for as far as the eye can see.

People who are out alone are by the very nature of being alone practicing social-distancing! These types of people should be congratulated for being socially responsible, not ordered home, fined or arrested by numpty coppers.

But unfortunately we didn't get a "Don't gather" order, we got a "Stay home" order. And needless to say, our police jumped up and down with joy the very minute those stupid politicians handed them the carte-blanche authority to go wag their finger at every stray cat walking down the street without permission.

Because the police absolutely love it when they get handed new powers.

Sadly it doesn't take long for them to abuse those powers.

And abuse them they did.

Within days the Government were forced to slap down the police for overreaching with their new powers (see https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52245937). 

Turns out many of our half-wit police officers immediately decided that the best way to police our communities was to walk up and down supermarket aisles handing out fines to the public for such heinous crimes as putting "non-essential" goods in their basket.

One Chief Constable even suggested he would introduce roadblocks and search people's shopping in the boot of their car. No doubt in case any of his officers in the aisles of Asda had missed the odd pot noodle.

I'll refrain from making the obvious joke about the police being a bunch of baskets who are off their trolleys (oops, I think I just did)!

Anyway, the Home Secretary Priti Patel was forced to announce that it was "not appropriate" for police to be checking people's supermarket trolleys. Police should NOT check your shopping basket and have no power to tell you what you can and can’t buy in the supermarket.

But the police took no notice and continued.

So the government had to go a step further and announce that the public can buy anything they like from shops that are open. If they stock it, you can buy it. The police do not have the power to say which supermarket goods are essential or non essential.

And so the new, amended, Government message we then got was "Stay home, unless you're using one of the many reasons, excuses, and exceptions we gave you not to stay home, including but not limited to the buying of essential and non essential items from the supermarket in front of a police officer who we've now advised is no longer allowed to look in your basket, stop you buying it, or fine you for it".

What a disaster!

The police, of course, helped cause this disaster because as per usual they pounced on their new powers and immediately started to twist them around to suit their age-old agenda which is to get as many fines, charges, and arrests as possible against otherwise law-abiding citizens.

Police are lazy, they will always go for the low-hanging fruit. It used to be the poor motorist who got fleeced by police slapping petty fines on him. Now shoppers in supermarket aisles have become their new target.

Police will resort to doing anything, as long as it's easier than chasing hardened criminals like burglars, rapists, and murderers.

So to summarise, while really bad criminals are roaming around freely out there, the public can be confident that our wonderful boys and girls in blue are busy doing absolutely sterling police work such as looking in to peoples shopping baskets, telling a family that their kids can't play in their own front garden, stopping you buying Easter eggs (because they're "non essential" items), arresting a girl for sitting alone on a park bench in a completely deserted park, fining someone for buying two bottles of wine from his local off-licence, threatening a member of the public for walking his dog, alone, in a rural area with no one else around for miles...ad nauseam. The police are a disgrace.

Yet all this could've been avoided had the Government issued a very simple 'Don't gather" message instead of the stupid and impossible to implement "Stay home" message with its ridiculous number of exceptions and its backdoor loophole allowing corrupt police to purposely misinterpret it.

The issue was never about people going out for a walk, or going shopping, or exercising, or walking the dog, or sitting on a park bench by themselves. The issue was about people gathering with others when out for a walk, gathering with others in the supermarket, gathering with other dog walkers, gathering with others on park benches.

People gathering together in close proximity and spreading the infection was the problem, so a "Don't gather" message would have been far more effective.

The public are not stupid. Everywhere I go, I see social-distancing being faithfully practiced. Outside supermarkets there are queues halfway around the block waiting to get in, and when you do get inside, I see customers being respectful to each other by staying a few feet away from each other in the aisles. It's genuinely heartwarming to see people taking this so seriously.

The public are smart. They know how to venture outside of their home while still social-distancing themselves from others. The "Stay home" order insulted the intelligence of the public and treated them like imbeciles.

"Don't gather" would have been a better message. Everyone knows what "Don't gather" means. It means don't go near others who could infect you with the old Beijing Boak and vice-versa. It means stay away from others, no matter whether you're at home or outside.

It's a simple instruction, it covers everywhere and anywhere a person could possibly be at any time, it makes perfect sense, and unlike the "Stay home" message it doesn't involve a plethora of exceptions to the rule that defeat its purpose. It doesn't make people feel they're living under house arrest in a police-state.

And just as importantly, a simple "Don't gather" message makes it much harder for corrupt and untrustworthy police to twist and use it to suit their own agenda of making criminals of otherwise law-abiding citizens to falsify their figures.