Date: 11 August 2010
Author: Peter Walker – The Guardian
Title: ASA watchdog bans ‘offensive’ anti-terror hotline radio advert
A radio advert devised by the Metroplitan Police is still being made available on their website despite being banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) watchdog for being ‘offensive’.
The brief message, billed as “brought to you by TalkSport and the anti-terrorist hotline”, urged the public to call if they spotted any apparent patterns of unusual behaviour. It gave seemingly everyday examples: “The man at the end of the street doesn’t talk to his neighbours much, because he likes to keep himself to himself. He pays with cash because he doesn’t have a bank card, and he keeps his curtains closed because his house is on a bus route. This may mean nothing, but together it could all add up to you having suspicions.”
The advert attracted 18 complaints from listeners who considered it offensive to encourage the reporting of those doing nothing illegal, or who thought it could cause harassment or victimisation.
The government will have us believe that there is danger on every corner of our towns and villages; they will have us believe that terrorist cells surround us and that we are in constant danger of attack from hidden dangers and that we should be on our guard and report anything suspicious or different.
Are these not the same tactics used by Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich; the use of propaganda to divide communities; to turn neighbours against each other; to isolate members of communities from each other so that they can begin to view each other with suspicion and hatred.
It starts out simply enough; closing down post offices and cottage hospitals to “save money” but in doing so people are dealt with in isolation, in queue’s stretching down our high streets from Post Office counters located in W H Smiths where the elderly can’t easily reach them and where they are one of a faceless number of people with no connection to the people behind the counter.
If you become sick, you are sent to a hospital miles away from where you live so the chances of connecting with a familiar face is greatly reduced and so the isolation continues. Now let’s ban smoking in public places so we can turn non-smokers against those who smoke and so divide communities further (no, I don’t smoke but I would defend your right to smoke and only ask that you keep the smoke out of my face); this ban leads to the closing of pubs and clubs – places where people meet and socialise; community spirit is further undermined.
Now the Nazi style propaganda begins causing further fear and suspicion; turning faces away from each other when the time comes to stand against a common enemy – an enemy whose face is not covered by a burka and his head is not covered by a head dress; the colour of their skin does not give away their intentions but rather the smile on their face – reminiscent of a snake that has captured the attention of a rabbit which becomes frozen with fear and cannot think, cannot run.
The enemy is not your neighbour; is not the man who keeps his curtains closed because he values his privacy or he lives upstairs and the bus stop is outside his window; is not the woman who struggles to her bin and puts a glass bottle in with the tin cans because she is distracted by thoughts of how she is going to afford to heat her home during the coming winter months; is not the man who is fined £50 when he fails to notice the £10 note that falls from his pocket by mistake; is not the 83 year old lady who was criminalised and locked-up because she cannot afford her council tax; is not the wheelchair user whose only affordable hobby is photography and who is arrested under terrorism laws; the market trader who is arrested under the Proceeds of Crime Act when spending his father’s lottery winnings; is not the man who in assisting justice is locked up for 100 days without recourse.
The enemy is those who create the fear that is generated when these walls are built between neighbours, communities and societies; keeping us from identifying with each other, from trusting to the good in each other. This offensive police advert has not been removed from their website – how many other organisations could ignore public decency in this manner?