The Cancer that is killing B (Britain)

July 17th, 2009

Today, we read three blog posts that describe perfectly 'the problem with Britain'. There are people in this country who can only be described as a disease; they are the cancer that is killing Britain.

The first example of this human cancer is the utterly loathsome Beatrix Campbell:

Vetting: it should happen to an author

Philip Pullman and fellow writers are up in arms about a new child protection scheme for school visitors. What's their problem?

Philip Pullman is fizzing… dark antibodies are fighting his freedom of speech. He is one of a clutch of esteemed children's writers and illustrators protesting against a vetting scheme that would extend to writers what already applies to anyone working with children in schools: a vetting scheme.

They protest that they're never "alone with children", so why should they be vetted. They've been going into schools for years, they say, so why now? Pullman, in particular, feels that vetting is "demeaning and insulting", another index of "corrosive and poisonous" state intervention.

What on earth is their problem?

Any writer-in-residence working with young people in schools, prisons and care facilities is vetted – I have been, several times – whether or not they work with crowds, groups or individuals.

We should be glad to do it if it confirms childrens' rights to safe access to adults. The gesture – so slight, after all – should signal to young people that their school thinks their bodily integrity matters; and that it matters more than a minor interruption of adults' privacy.

This institutional promise should exact no less commitment from us than our routine surrenders to scrutiny in the name of public safety. Why are these writers threatening to withdraw from schools and children when, presumably, they submit to the plethora of surveillance systems that are proliferating across public space?

Whether we agree with passports, identity cards, frontiers or road safety, we generally assent to their impact on our individuals freedoms. Liberty, the civil liberties and human rights guardian, was taken by surprise when it conducted a survey of public attitudes to CCTV in the streets – most people approved.

We give ourselves up to body checks when we travel by Eurostar and when we take a plane. Do these same authors refuse to travel other than by their own bicycles or cars on the grounds that such searches of our property and our persons imply a "demeaning" suspicion that we're all terrorists?

Custom officers now check your eyes when you cross our national frontiers. Do the writers boycott foreign travel?


This caricature of a human woman… oh dear me.

We have been over this for almost a decade, so there is no need to refute her ignorant garbage line for line. If you read BLOGDIAL, you will be as ready to puke over your keyboard as any person with a single working brain cell is.

I will say this however… this monsters argument is completely destroyed by recent examples in the news about nursery perverts who were ALL CRB CHECKED. That jackass, Beatrix Campbell, couldn't think her way our of a wet paper bag.

Now for the second example. It is from a blogger whose piece was dropped in by a lurker:

False Positives and the Database State
There is, in the UK (as elsewhere) a prevailing climate of paranoia about adults interacting with children.

In an attempt to be seen to Do Something, in the wake of a particularly gruesome multiple murder, the British government established a new agency, the Independent Safeguarding Authority, "to help prevent unsuitable people from working with children and vulnerable adults." Working with the Criminal Records Bureau, the ISA "will assess every person who wants to work or volunteer with vulnerable people. Potential employees and volunteers will need to apply to register with the ISA." For a fee of £64 you apply to the ISA for a background check. They then certify that you're not an evil paedophile and a threat to society, and issue you with a piece of paper that says you're allowed to interact with children in a specific role. Want multiple roles — driving kids to school in your taxi, and teaching them karate in the evening? — get multiple certificates.

Authors need to get a certificate before they can visit schools to deliver readings. MPs need a background check, it seems, before they can visit schools. (Usually the employer is responsible for getting the certificate; hilarity ensues when it transpires that MPs aren't actually employed by Parliament …)

As you can imagine, the authors are upset. As Philip Pullman puts it, "It seems to be fuelled by the same combination of prurience, sexual fear and cold political calculation," the author of the bestselling His Dark Materials trilogy said today. "When you go into a school as an author or an illustrator you talk to a class at a time or else to the whole school. How on earth — how on earth — how in the world is anybody going to rape or assault a child in those circumstances? It's preposterous."

He's completely right, in my opinion. But the situation is worse than he imagines. I'm not going to apply for a CRB check — ever. And not because I'm a criminal. (My sum total of negative interaction with the law over the past 44 years has amounted to two speeding tickets, most recently six years ago.)

Nor am I outraged at the privacy thing. (I'm used to the idea that we live in a panopticon.)

What I'm worried about is the problem of false positives.

Even the simplest of databases have been found to contain error rates of 10%. (The HMRC database in this study contains merely first, second and surname, title, sex, data of birth, address and National Insurance number — nevertheless 10% of the records contain errors.) Other agencies are even more prone to mistakes. For example: my wife recently discovered that our GP's medical records showed her as having been born outside the UK rather than in an NHS hospital in Manchester. We don't know why that error's in the system, and we've got the birth certificate and witnesses to prove that it is an error, but imagine the fun that might ensue if the control freaks in Whitehall decided to enforce record sharing between the NHS and the Immigration Agency …! (Hopefully they're not that stupid, but who can tell?)

The point is, if 10% of government database records contain an error, than the probability of a sweep of databases coming up with an error rises as you consult more sources. And there are a whole bundle of wonderful ways for errors to show up. If your name and date of birth are the same as someone with heavy criminal record, a CRB check could label you as a bad guy. If your social security number is one digit transposition away from $BAD_GUY, see above. If the previous owner of your house was a child abuser, see above. If your street address is one letter/digit away from a street address occupied by a criminal and some bored clerk mis-typed it, you can end up being conflated with somebody else. And the more sources the CRB checks, the higher the probability of a false positive result — that is, of them obtaining a positive result (subject is a criminal) when in fact the subject is a negative.


Did you catch that?

“Nor am I outraged at the privacy thing. (I'm used to the idea that we live in a panopticon.)”

Finally, for the examples, (and this one can be compared to a melanoma spot on an otherwise healthy body, whereas Beatrix 'The Beast' Campbell is final stage Leukemia and Charlie is a testicular lump) here is a final specimen:


This guy is only a melanoma spot (treatable with simple excision) because he is calling himself a Libertarian and seems to have a little sense, even though he has not worked it all out yet… still he has been touched by THE CANCER THAT IS KILLING BRITAIN.

My friends, this is the cancer, this is the creeping disease, the battery chicken, inured to slavery attitude that is literally KILLING Britain.

These diseased people and their 'thinking' are the problem.

It would be better for us all if they did not exist; in fact, they are far more dangerous than the statistically insignificant number of perverts out there or the even more rare serial killer.

The harm that these cancer spreaders do affects millions of people; and they spread the disease merely by existing. They literally can kill an entire country and way of life by just being. They are the physical embodiment of, and the vector of and the multiplier of cancer, of the debilitating, destroying and horrible disease that before our very eyes, has turned Britain into a dystopia.

Thankfully, there is a fool proof form of radiotherapy. Did I say, 'fool proof'? I'm sorry, it's not fool proof… there are too many fools following too many rules… and they are The Cancer That is Killing Britain®

No, this radiotherapy is fail proof.

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