Social engineering is just done to help, isn't it To help the poor and criminal and other people who challenge the common good? Surely it's an acceptable aspect of democracy? And hey, surely it's well researched and well planned and carried out carefully by professionals alert to the possibility of misuse of power?
I mean, you can't get ordinary people to drive change just because you tell them to, can you? (let's ignore history for a while here)
You can't get ordinary members of the public to snoop on each other for nothing, can you? (let's, again, ignore history for a while here)
You think I'm kidding right?
Okay, I don't mean every member of the public snooping, just 4% to 5% of the population in that place. And yep, not snooping about everything, all of the time. Just snooping on children who are out in public between 9am and 3pm, Mondays to Fridays.
Not snooping on adults (unless they're with those children at that time and in those circumstances). Not snooping during school holidays (unless they're the holidays of people who are visiting that place and they don't happen to correlate with the local holidays). Not snooping to any end but just to ensure people are abiding by the law (unless that law doesn't apply to them because they are exercising their legal right to educate otherwise than at school)
What's that? You think I'm referring to truancy patrols? Nope, think again. Notice I said that it's ordinary members of the public who'll be doing the snooping. People doing a range of jobs from part time cleaner to full time librarian. People who will be encouraged by their employer to approach and question children they suspect of truanting.
And, of course, people usually don't do what their employer asks of them, do they? I mean, their job is safe if they turn down optional work, isn't it?
And hey, surely the children and adults targeted by such an initiative won't mind, will they? After all, it's just going to be ordinary folk sticking their ordinary noses into other ordinary folks' business? Ordinary folk like bus drivers and road sweepers and toilet attendants and art gallery guides and museum curators and park attendants and care assistants and shop workers and... well, yes, some of them will also be a mite more officious... people with professional job titles and an inflated sense of their own importance... LA "Officer" types convinced the title designates them an honorary policing role...
Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "Stranger Danger".
Yep. It's not a joke. There's a plan afoot, in at least one city, to encourage all council employees to act as unofficial truancy patrols. I'm not sure what the Unions will say, if anything. I'm not sure what all of those employees will say, if anything. But it is planned to happen this Autumn, in a city near you...
Sure, near is relative!
Frankly, it's about all I can do to joke about this because it's potential consequences are so insidious.
Certainly, I don't mind strangers approaching and asking my daughter or I why she's not at school. It's a chance to educate, to inform and sometimes to recruit. Meeting people who are curious or even snoopy is a natural consequence of living an alternative lifestyle (really, we're so radical - not).
We take it as it comes and like to think that we're a great advertisement for HE*.
But now that the prospect of being approached by someone because they've got their LA employee cap on looms... hmm, I'm feeling slightly less inclined to be so generous with my time...
Then I think, no, I know what I'll do. I'll pre-empt the situation. If we go anywhere or see anyone who looks like they're from the LA I'll corner them and hand them a leaflet about HE... with maybe a a few Orwellian quotes on the back so as to prompt reflection on the nature of their role.
And perhaps we'll start wearing badges and T-shirts and sweatshirts with HE slogans on them - "School is NOT Compulsory", "Home Educated and Happy", "Autonomous Freedom", "Home educated - Out and About", "Not Another Brick in the Wall", "Autonomy
Or maybe we will take different routes to activities and avoid some altogether. Why give the council our business during school hours if they can't honour our hospitality by treating us with the same respect they extend to their other patrons? We might even send letters to some of those galleries and libraries and museums and leisure centres telling them why they've lost our custom.
I'm really not sure what we'll do if this takes off as it's planned to...
All I know right now is that it stinks to live in a country where we have learned so little from history that people who are supposed support the development of cohesive communities are out there pitting us against one another. These people are my neighbours, the representatives of my adopted city, stewards of public money. And now they're going to be Big Brothers, quite probably without even realising that's the mantle they've donned.
S'funny, when I started this blog I wasn't going to get political about HE. I've spent over 30 years campaigning for equal rights for so many of us that I was pretty burned out by the constant engagement with doublethink and politicking. Now here I am. Two posts in a row expressing my unhappiness with LA busybodies.
Why? Well I can't help thinking all this behaviour might be another step toward a Brave New World.
“A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.”
Yep, I hope I'm wrong.
*Daughter certainly is a good advertisment for HE - she was the only child at a recent friend's birthday party to approach the mother (of school-going child) and offer to help with setting out food and cleaning up.
She was also the first one on the dance floor and the most confident dancer (and yep, she dances well). What can I say, if dance can change the world, she'll be leading the revolution :-)