Saturday, July 26, 2008

The evil British police again

Grandmother arrested on race charges after telling rowdy Asian students to 'go home'

After being woken for the third time in one night by a group of drunken and noisy students, Jo Calvert-Mindell was at her wits' end. The former policewoman got dressed, went outside and shouted at them: 'Why can't you go back to where you come from and make some noise there? I bet your families and neighbours wouldn't put up with it. 'You don't care about us and do just as you like. What gives you the right to frighten my elderly neighbours, cause damage and keep us awake at night?'

She also reported the incident to police, who came and dispersed the eight students. The 51-year-old grandmother was astonished when four months later she was arrested and accused of being a racist. It turned out that two Asians in the group had complained to the police. In April, Miss Calvert-Mindell, who has never been in trouble with the police before, was charged with using racially aggravated threatening words or behaviour under section 5 of the Public Order Act. In May, she appeared at Folkestone Magistrates' Court in Kent, where she denied the charge.

The case hung over her until the Crown Prosecution Service decided to drop it last week, admitting there was little chance of conviction. Now she is filing a complaint about the way the police treated her.

Yesterday, Miss Calvert-Mindell, a Liberal Democrat councillor and community volunteer, said: 'The last thing I am is a racist. 'I have a totally inclusive attitude to different races and cultures - I don't care if you are black, white, green or a Martian. 'Their colour had nothing to do with it - it was their behaviour. 'I think there is something very wrong in our society when a resident can't go out and try and prevent crime and disorder and encourage the defendants to go back home and that they can then play the race card to completely absolve themselves of responsibility for that behaviour. 'The authorities today are so sensitive to being criticised for being racist that any claims of racism just raises their antennae, instead of using common sense.'

The incident that led to her court appearance happened in the early hours of November 8 last year on the Hales Place estate in Canterbury. Miss Calvert-Mindell, who has a daughter and three grandchildren, was woken three times by students from the nearby University of Kent, who were shouting drunkenly and kicking bins. Fed up after months of sleeplessness caused by noisy students she put her clothes on and went down to tell them to be quiet.

She said that when she shouted at the students 'all I meant was that they would not do that at their family homes wherever they had come from in England.' But one of the students said she was being racist. Two Asians in the group later complained to police.

Assistant district crown prosecutor Carol Chastney said: 'Following a review we decided to discontinue the proceedings against the defendant as there was no longer sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction.' Kent Police refused to apologise. Superintendent Chris Hogben said: 'An allegation was made that was fully investigated. A case was presented to the CPS and the decision was made to prosecute. 'If Miss Calvert-Mindell would like to discuss our response and the conduct of officers I would urge her to contact me direct.'


British photography paranoia reaches new peak (1)

No photos of even EMPTY pools!

A council has apologised to two women after a worker ordered them to stop photographing a deserted paddling pool over fears about child protection. Southampton City Council said it was trying to safeguard youngsters on the city's common but added staff would now be advised to use more discretion. Betty Robinson, 82, and Brenda Bennett, 69, were taking pictures when they were ordered to stop by a female worker. Mrs Robinson said: "It's pathetic, bureaucracy gone mad."

"I said is it because we might be paedophiles? There were no children in the pool but she pointed to a man and boys in the distance and said we could come back later at 6pm when the park was closed. "We are just a couple of old ladies who wouldn't hurt children and we are certainly not paedophiles."

Mike Harris, head of leisure and culture at Southampton City Council, said in a statement: "I'm sorry if we have caused any offence on this occasion. "We have to walk a fine line between protecting the children who use this popular paddling pool and the interests of the community as a whole. "A lot of people are more concerned about the safety of their children these days so it is appropriate that our staff are aware of who is taking photos."


British photography paranoia reaches new peak (2)

Must not photograph offenders -- is "assault"

A householder who took photographs of hooded teenagers as evidence of their anti-social behaviour says he was told he was breaking the law after they called the police. David Green, 64, and his neighbours had been plagued by the youths from a nearby comprehensive school for months, and was advised by their headmaster to identify them so action could be taken.

But when Mr Green left his $2 million London flat to take photographs of the gang, who were aged around 17, he said one threatened to kill him while another called the police on his mobile. And he claimed that a Police Community Support Officer sent to the scene promptly issued a warning that taking pictures of youths without permission was illegal, and could lead to a charge of assault.

Last night Mr Green, a television cameraman, said he was appalled that the legal system's first priority seemed not to be stopping frightening anti-social behaviour by aggressive youths, but protecting them from being photographed by the concerned public. Mr Green, a father-of-two, lives with his programme-maker wife Judy in a penthouse flat close to Waterloo station. He said: 'We've had problems with this group shouting abuse and throwing stones for months, and were asked to identify them. 'When I went to take photographs of eight of them throwing cans of Coke around, six of them ran away, one threatened to kill me, and another one started phoning the police.

'A couple of hours later, a Police Community Support Officer told me I had been accused of assault, though no such thing occurred, and told me I was not allowed to take photographs of teenagers on the street. 'I think it's wrong that when teenagers are running riot and the police are called, it's about me, and I'm treated like a criminal. 'In South London we all know how many stabbings there have been, and I think the police should be busy catching the real bad people.'

Mr Green said he handed his pictures to a deputy headmaster at the nearby Nautical School, and was promised the matter would be investigated. A Metropolitan Police spokesman said the force had no record of the incident.


A Look Back at the New Age

BOOK REVIEW of "Farm Friends" By Tom Fels

While campaigning, Barack Obama has criticized the politics of baby boomers who are still "fighting some of the same fights since the sixties." Such a criticism must resonate with many Americans, who have grown weary of the boomer cohort's fondness for itself.

Tom Fels's "Farm Friends," although a 1960s memoir, does not really belong to his generation's self-celebratory tradition. It concerns a group of people who, in the manner of 19th-century utopian communities, lived on a communal farm in western Massachusetts in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They worked diligently to usher in the New Age -- living as self-sufficiently as possible (aided by the stealing of food and tools), sharing responsibilities and avoiding "the world of trauma outside." That world included the Vietnam War as well as American middle-class culture, with its apparent lack of interest in realities deeper than consumerism. Farm life would supposedly help create the kind of peace and harmony that the 1960s counterculture was so keen to find.

Naturally, the New Age did not arrive, and the farm members went their separate ways. But Mr. Fels is not intent on merely condemning the experiment or praising it. He shows an appealing resistance to sweeping philosophical explanations and to aphorisms disguised as existential truths, both favorites of the 1960s. In "Farm Friends," he describes life on the farm, interviews the commune members in later years and examines how their lives reflect (or do not reflect) the ideals they once espoused.

Dozens of people pop in and out of the narrative. We meet the prodigal daughter of a French admiral who, as Mr. Fels puts it, "believed that the world was in a stage of decadence, degeneracy, and decay comparable to Rome." Then there is a writer who begins as a chronicler of commune life and eventually composes a novel that he deems "the 'Godfather' of the stoned generation." The commune's founder, Marshall Bloom, is a frequent subject of conversation. He was an iconic figure of the counterculture who committed suicide in 1969.

Mr. Fels treats his friends with gentle skepticism but also respect, and he writes with considerable psychological insight. Still, he can be overly indulgent. He labels one commune member an "entrepreneur" even though the man's first business is drug dealing. In fact, drugs are a constant among the farm friends, who consume them with the same aplomb with which an earlier generation drank scotch and sodas. The taste in drugs tracks consumer trends -- pot and hallucinogens during the 1960s, cocaine a decade later.

But Mr. Fels seems determined not to pass judgment. He quotes without comment from one friend's 1970 book, "Total Loss Farm," an earlier commune memoir whose author recounts the militant radicalism that he came to reject: "We dreamed of a New Age born of violent insurrection. We danced on the graves of the war dead in Vietnam, every corpse was ammunition for Our Side." Mr. Fels writes of the admiral's daughter, apparently without irony: "On her thirtieth birthday, at the farm, she had changed her name to Lilly Stillwater and adopted the calm, organic lifestyle that ought to have gone with it, only to be deeply disrupted shortly after by the growth of a consuming passion for the music of Tina Turner."

Mr. Fels visits with one farm friend who has become a drug-taking hipster corporate attorney. "Isn't it great?" the man exults. "Corporate America is paying for this lifestyle!" Like other former radicals, he is eager to maintain the fiction that, even by joining "the system," he is somehow subverting it. Other farm friends take up social causes, like the anti-nuclear weapons campaign of the late 1970s and early 1980s and the campaign against nuclear power. One former commune member is arrested for toppling a weather tower that had been erected as part of a nuclear-power plant.

Still other farm alumni make no pretense to continuing the revolution but instead engage in the boomer habit of replacing youthful extremism with a middle-aged version: "We used to think money was the least important thing. Now I can see that it's the most important," says one former commune member, sounding like a budding Randian. "Money buys freedom."

Few of the farm friends are terribly likable or sympathetic -- with the notable exception of Tim, an "alienated citizen" of the farm while he lived there. Tim found the commune's group dynamics stifling. He wanted time to himself and was promised that he could build his own room and work space in the barn, but the objections of others to his solitary plans thwarted him at nearly every turn.

Of the farm's whole New Age mission, Tim remarks: "The error was, I think, imagining that there was somewhere new to go, someone new to be. It became increasingly clear that a closed system of myth did not jibe with the world as it really was." Looking later at the outside world, Tim saw "a system formed less from malice than from a kind of natural order, less from inordinate greed than from longings much like our own for privacy, comfort, individual freedom, and one's familiar or chosen way of life." Unfortunately, "Farm Friends" spends too little time with Tim.

In the last part of the book, Mr. Fels details his studies in art history and his career as an independent art curator. For all his memoir's moderate tone, he cannot resist a note of narcissistic complaint: "Have you noticed that . . . we have had to make compromises, find ways to support our visions, create a framework in this difficult world through which to live and to survive?" Usually, though, he leaves the self- involvement to others. "I'm still doing my thing," a friend tells the author in a typical passage, "such as it may be, and my thing goes on, and on, and on." We've noticed.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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