Saturday, October 30, 2004

Rumpole's creator hates being politically correct

By his own admission, Sir John Mortimer, author, playwright and barrister, has always been a bit of a rebel. The man who created the inimitable defence barrister Rumpole of the Bailey bears many of the traits of his crumpled, wine-swilling alter ego, including obstreperousness.

His current pet hates include people who are fanatical about recycling, stinginess towards beggars, New Labour and the ban on fox-hunting. He insists that governments should not be able to lead other people's lives for them. "I can't bear political correctness," he says. "It's so unfair. I have to smoke now, which I don't really like doing, because I'm so fed up with all this anti-smoking propaganda. I have to stuff these little cigars in my mouth after dinner and I'm not at all good at it."....

His 81 years have packed in enough for several lifetimes. A barrister, a playwright, a prolific writer - his many film and TV scripts include Brideshead Revisited and an adaptation of Cider With Rosie, which starred his daughter Emily.

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Americans should not feel too secure with the U.S. government's anti-terror policies because the people being targeted aren't necessarily the terrorists. The government's policies are based on the idea that it's easier to put a net over an entire nation of law-abiding citizens than to take appropriate actions to catch the bad guys.

Maryland Special Education teacher Kathryn Harrington was flying home from vacation a few weeks ago when airport security in Tampa, Fla., confiscated her bookmark as a potential weapon. It was an 8.5 inch leather strip with small lead weights at each end. Police said it resembled a weighted weapon that could be used to knock people unconscious. So the 52-year-old teacher was handcuffed, put into a police car, and charged with carrying a concealed weapon. Though later released, she could have faced a possible criminal trial and a $10,000 fine.

The government's no-fly list is the latest scheme to abuse trusting Americans. A growing number of news reports detail the absurd extremes government is willing to put U.S. citizens through in the name of fighting terrorism. Senator Ted Kennedy and singer Cat Stevens aside, there are more than 300,000 names on the no-fly list. Yet, according to comments by some members of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, incredibly, the no-fly list doesn't contain the names of ALL terrorists, just the names of those known to be threats to aviation. If you're a truck-bomber, apparently your name's not on the list.

If you are unfortunate enough to have a name similar to the few terrorist names that are actually on the no-fly list, then your travel plans become a nightmare of government agents, security guards, and strip searches. Meanwhile, the actual terrorists change their names, use false ID, and walk past you and your tormentors to board the plane. The government has chosen to target you rather than focus on the bad guys, because using effective police methods isn't politically correct. Some pressure group might get upset. It's much less painful for the government to focus on helpless individuals who have no voice. In fact, the government wants to deliberately show force to you in order to convince Americans that it is working to protect you. And so we live in a world of the absurd.

For example, The Wall Street Journal reports that the federal Department of Transportation actually fines airlines that search more than two Arab travelers per flight. That would be profiling and profiling is wrong, says the policy. Yet every single one of the 9-11 hijackers was a male of Middle Eastern descent. Any good police detective knows that to catch a criminal you first must look at those who match the description. Airlines are not allowed to do that. The strict politically correct policy is to ignore the facts and randomly select by computer a certain few passengers to be searched each flight. That way it's all fair!...

Meanwhile, as Americans are subjected to such misdirected policy, the southern border of the nation is wide open. Four thousand illegal immigrants per day walk into the nation. An entire industry operates along the border to bring them in. There are safe houses, camps and transportation systems designed to help them disappear into the countryside. As Time magazine reports, for the illegals, there are "no searches for weapons. No shoe removal. No photo-ID checks." Such searches are reserved for legal Americans trying to travel around their own country. And these aren't just illegals from Mexico. Time reports that as many as 190,000 are from other countries, including the Middle East.....

It is politically correct to express compassion for the plight of those who steal into the country under cover of night. It is politically correct to be sensitive to the feelings of those of Middle Eastern decent. It is politically correct to impose black lists, national ID cards, searches of private property without warrants and strip search little old ladies under the excuse of fighting terrorism. But it is NOT politically correct to say these things are a danger to our liberties.

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