The Red Tape Fetish

Thanks to Dick Puddlecote for drawing my attention to this article in Spiked.

Josie Appleton neatly skewers the modern obsession with regulation of daily life –  from the protestor handing out leaflets having to go through monthly risk assessments to those people who have to endure the bureaucratic nightmare of CRB checks. This latter is perhaps is the best example of regulation for regulation’s sake. Having a CRB check does not mean that one is safe, neither does not having one mean that you are dangerous –  but the bureaucracy assumes so and the hard of thinking go along with it. After all, a CRB check really only means you haven’t been caught yet.

It is the hard of thinking acceptance of the state decreed safe people or unsafe people (and therefore muse be paedos) that is the most insidious. We have witnessed a steady and corrosive adjustment to attitudes that sees men as being potential abusers –  specifically white heterosexual men –  and are therefore dangerous. That nasty fake charity, the NSPCC has been at the forefront of demonising men (along with parents and anyone else who might be useful in its insatiable desire to increase its power base and income stream). From airlines that ban solitarily men from sitting next to children on their aeroplanes to them being banned from certain areas such as play centres –  because, you see, we men are so unable to control our urges that we will fiddle with the kiddies given half the chance; so the modern meme will have you believe. This is a cultural disintegration of trust between adults and minors. What solitary man would now go to the aid of a child in distress? Not without his CRB certificate handy is he is sensible. Unless he is gay, of course, then that should be all okay as being gay is alright. It’s the ordinary heterosexual male who is the new demon in our society.

I digress. We have entered a dystopian nightmare world where little bits of paper for their own sake are necessary for the simplest of activities. Appleton bemoans the loss of spontaneity –  or, more explicitly, the distrust harboured by authority of that very spontaneity –  that makes life worth living. The music festival, the youth outing –  and do the scouts go on camping trips these days? When I was a scout, we would organise such an event for a weekend at short notice because we felt inclined. No CRB checks, no risk assessments and indeed, no transport as we would pack our rucksacks and walk to our destination. I recall one such walk being overnight –  yup, a night hike. I wonder how many forms would be necessary to arrange that now? And don’t even get into the sheath knife on my belt…

Appleton makes a significant point in all of this:

So there is this morass of bureaucracy, yet there’s not one identifiable useful functional element within it. What you have then really are rules for the sake of rules.

Oh, there’s a function alright. Just not the obvious one. It is about control. If people are scared of putting a foot wrong because of the boxes not being ticked then they are more likely to be cowed into obedience; unthinking, blind obedience and those in power have an easier job of it. No wonder the likes of the union bosses and the politicians and the social workers love this stuff. It stops ordinary people doing ordinary things without their say so and their control. It’s about power and the more boxes we have to tick, the more hoops we have to jump through, the more petty, bureaucratic rules and regulations we are afraid of breaking for fear of prosecution and censure, the more that power is consolidated. And we, in our foolishness, gave it to them. Now we reap what we sowed.

6 comments for “The Red Tape Fetish

  1. David A. Evans
    December 23, 2012 at 11:27 am

    About 10 years ago, I was walking my dog and came across a young girl stuck up a tree.
    To help her down involved cupping her bum in my hands to support her & give her the confidence to climb down, always prepared to catch her if she slipped and fell.
    Would I do the same now?
    Too bloody right I would and F$%^ the consequences! I’d face them later.
    DaveE.

  2. AlexB
    December 23, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    So, in terms of dystopian fiction, less 1984 and more Brazil?

    • December 23, 2012 at 4:56 pm

      Mmm, probably.

  3. Jocelyn
    December 23, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    I also think the whole CRB check procedure is a money making exercise: It seems, in the UK, practically every job now requires a CRB check, which costs about £40 I recall. And these have to be renewed every year, paid for by either the employer or the jobseeker. I remember going to a few agencies to look for work and they all required CRB checks – with NO guarantee of a job at the end of it, possibly an interview but no guarantees. Moreover, you can’t use the same CRB check for different agencies even if it was recent. You have to have a separate CRB check for each agency you register with – and pay for it again and again. So the CRB check office must be making a fortune from all this duplication! Needless to say, this put me right off registering with employment agencies.

  4. nisakiman
    December 23, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    One of the reasons I like my adopted country is that on the petty regulation of our lives level – it just doesn’t. Oh, they love their official, bureaucratic rules and regulations and business is a nightmare of pointless paperwork, but when it comes to things like seatbelt laws, helmet laws, smoking bans and the like, they really can’t be bothered. And that easy-going approach pervades all personal life here.

    So I will be in a café on my own, and a young kid, bored because mum is gossiping with her mate, will drape him/herself over the back of a nearby chair and stare at me (I’m fairly obviously non-Greek). So I will generally strike up a conversation. How old are you, what’s your name etc etc. Normally, mum will look over to check that little Spiros isn’t being a pain, smile at me and go back to her gossip. Which is normal and how it should be.

    Not in UK anymore, alas.

    It really is a sad, sad situation. I’m glad all my kids are adults now, but I worry for my grandchildren growing up in the Orwellian state they find themselves a part of. It’s rather depressing.

  5. December 24, 2012 at 8:19 am

    This over-regulation does my head in, it does all of our heads in and the sooner it can be dismantled, the better for society – but everyone here knows that.

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