I have had the misfortune of listening to LBC whilst driving back and forth between my home in North London and a client in Gatwick, Sussex: a round trip of some 130 miles a day.
I usually flick between Radio Four and LBC when Radio Four starts a sports segment, Thought For the Day or when a politician starts to avoid answering a question in a characteristically condescending fashion. What I hear on that station is a shocking display of public ignorance. Quite often the target for the orchestrated “moan in” is some minority group or another and very often, the callers are incited to blame “Ooman Bloody Rights”. As in:
- Can’t cut benefits to people who need it because it’s against their Ooman Bloody Rights!
- Bloody strikers and their Ooman Bloody Rights! What about the rest of us who have to get to work, eh?
- Can’t discriminate freely against a minority group because it’s against their Ooman Bloody Rights! What about my rights be be a bigot!
The other specious comment they trot out is a real stinker. It’s usually deployed against anyone who seeks to defend our human rights, usually the right to privacy, when discussing things like DNA databases, stop and search powers or the ID card scheme:
If you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear
On the face of it, it seems to have merit. That’s why it’s specious: “Hang on,” you think, “that seems plausible in some way but I can’t put my finger on why I’m uncomfortable”. So I’ve given it some thought, and here are a few ideas:
- The 9/11 hijackers used their own IDs. IDs are ineffective.
- I have nothing to hide from the police, but I have reason to fear miscarriages of justice.
- We all have something to hide for innocuous reasons. It’s none of your business what I look like naked, what I wear in bed or what colour my pants are. That’s private.
- Our “Authorities” are people, just like us. Let’s assume for a moment that they in did hold all our personal information in one centralised place. How open to abuse is that? How easily could information be sold on? It happened to T-Mobile customers recently. How do we know it won’t happen again? We don’t.
- Usually the “Ooman Bloody Rights” argument is dusted off along with some nonsense about the European Convention on Human Rights being somehow deleterious to our British Way of Life. Quite why is beyond me. Allright, then. Leaving Europe aside for a moment, here’s Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
That would be the same Universal Declaration of Human Rights that applies to us because it is Universal and the very same Universal one we decided to invade 2 countries in the last few years to make Universal on their soil.
- I might trust the Government. I have no idea what sort of Government will be elected in the future and what kind of laws they might enact. I might suddenly find that I do have something to hide or fear because of my political ideas, sexual orientation or ethnic origin. Yes: I’m digging up Hitler. How boring!