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He likes to keep himself to himself
August 11, 2010 6:53 AM   Subscribe

After years of "If You Suspect It, Report It" (the more Big Brotherly British equivalent of "See Something? Say Something."), it has been finally been determined what level of encouraging people to turn in their neighbours is just too much.
posted by 256 (47 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
You can read the full-text of the banned radio ad at the "just too much" link, or listen to it (and another, non-banned ad from the same people) here.
posted by 256 at 6:55 AM on August 11, 2010


i have a friend who lives like this, mainly as he is poor and has depression.

Fucking hell, this "Grass on your neighbours" shite fucks me off beyond belief. After the destruction of our society by Thatch, there now seems to be this; setting people off against one another, via this campaign and the rise of the far right (and to some extent the far left).

All this while the police indulge in murder and property vandelism, while councils use anti-terror laws to snoop on the citizens of the UK, and the defense and security budgets escape the axe of savings.

GRAR GRAR etc etc. sorry about that.
posted by marienbad at 7:07 AM on August 11, 2010 [8 favorites]


tl;dr:
On this point the ad breached CAP (Broadcast) Radio Advertising Standards Code section 2 rule 9 (Good taste, decency and offence to public feeling).
...
Action:
The ad must not appear again in its current form.
posted by delmoi at 7:08 AM on August 11, 2010


Oh, drat. I live* alone, pay for most small purchases with cash**, don't talk to my neighbors much***, keep quiet****, and I keep my blinds drawn*****. I confess, officer! I am quiet and relatively private! Take me away! I have been fooling even myself, I am so undercover!

* just 'cause
** I do not love my credit card
***because I live in an apartment building and I tend to use the street exit rather than the parking lot exit
**** the walls are thin, and I don't like disturbing people
***** my neighbors don't need to see me watching a movie or using the bathroom, do they?
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:22 AM on August 11, 2010


Wow. Report introverts to the police! Their desire to be left alone is unacceptable!
posted by honeydew at 7:26 AM on August 11, 2010 [9 favorites]


Action

The ad must not appear again in its current form.

Adjudication of the ASA Council (Broadcast)


So then: the real question is what does the ASA Council have to hide? Why are they enabling terrorist activities such as closing one's curtains? I think a thorough investigation is called for.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:26 AM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Once upon a time, there was a government that encouraged this same behavior of reporting on your neighbors when they committed no obvious crimes and were a little odd.

Once upon a time.
posted by zizzle at 7:26 AM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


So implicitly all those other counter-terrorism adverts are perfectly OK right?
posted by public at 7:31 AM on August 11, 2010


my neighbors don't need to see me watching a movie or using the bathroom, do they?

*drums fingers on thick file*

"Standing or sitting?"
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:32 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


That link should probably have gone here.
posted by public at 7:33 AM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think the bigger question than if the ad should be pulled is what do the authorities actually do when someone calls up and says that their (Middle Eastern) neighbor keeps their blinds closed all day? If this is just an organized way of collecting all of the "tips" from nosy neighbors that get ignored by the police then I don't really have a problem with it, whereas if they are actually wasting time on this bullshit and hassling law-abiding citizens that's completely different.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:34 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Or not. I give up. *gets more coffee*
posted by public at 7:35 AM on August 11, 2010


Daily Mash.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 7:39 AM on August 11, 2010


If this is just an organized way of collecting all of the "tips" from nosy neighbors that get ignored by the police then I don't really have a problem with it, whereas if they are actually wasting time on this bullshit and hassling law-abiding citizens that's completely different.

Are you suggesting that cultivating irrational paranoia and subservience to our all seeing overlords is actually a net benefit for the country regardless of whether or not it's actually used to catch actual criminals?
posted by public at 7:40 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


this is just an organized way of collecting all of the "tips" from nosy neighbors that get ignored by the police then I don't really have a problem with it

It could cut a few different ways:

a) mass reporting leads to massed, ignored, data
b) mass reporting permits selective (possibly biased) followups
c) selective (possibly biased) reporting leads to biased (effect) response

Part of the problem with neighbour call-ins is that, if the description of goings-on ticks enough boxes, there must be a response, but the authorities never know if the wacky suburbanite is just filling in details when "Middle Eastern" is really all they needed to know.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:41 AM on August 11, 2010


Whole bunch of parodies here of the last asinine Met. anti-terror campaign using this generator.

And, yeah, I fit this profile to a T.
(You should be able to hear the original ads in all their paranoia-inducing awesomeness from the link.
posted by SyntacticSugar at 7:43 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fear is the mind-killer.
posted by Aquaman at 7:48 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fear is the mind-killer.
The Met, on the other hand, is the Brazilian electrician killer.
posted by SyntacticSugar at 7:51 AM on August 11, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'm tempted to report the hundreds of probably empty flats nearby as having suspiciously quiet people in them. Well, you never know, one of them could have a terrorist hiding within.

The particularly interesting thing about the banned advert is that it lists the perfectly good reasons the person has for his behaviour, as if having a good reason isn't relevant, and rationality shouldn't get in the way of some good old fashioned paranoid witch-hunting.
posted by BinaryApe at 8:03 AM on August 11, 2010


Go for it BinaryApe, what's the worst that could happen?

Thinking about it the bloke over the road's rarely opens his blinds and has a garage full of stuff. I'll teach him to start cutting his hedge at 8am on a Saturday do my bit for the War on Terror?
posted by SyntacticSugar at 8:11 AM on August 11, 2010


Hopefully my poor grasp of my mother tongue won't count against me when I call.
posted by SyntacticSugar at 8:14 AM on August 11, 2010


Are you suggesting that cultivating irrational paranoia and subservience to our all seeing overlords is actually a net benefit for the country regardless of whether or not it's actually used to catch actual criminals?

I'm just saying from a practical standpoint, police are going to get complaints about minor and possibly non-criminal things from cranks and nosy people. If people are tying up emergency lines or wasting time at town hall meeting complaining about things that the police reasonably can't do anything about, it might make sense to make a special "hotline" for those kinds of information and publicize it. Also, from a cynical perspective it might help the police give the public a sense of security the same way that the security theater in airports is meant to. Although I don't exactly love the idea of telling people to report their neighbors for things that aren't even crimes, the key question for me is how the authorities actually act on that information rather than what information they solicit.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:19 AM on August 11, 2010


Once upon a time, there was a government that encouraged this same behavior of reporting on your neighbors when they committed no obvious crimes and were a little odd.

The UK government has always had a bit of a creepy paternalistic vibe to it. Although many Americans read it as a slippery slope into despotism, this has failed to actually occur.

From a cultural standpoint, the UK and the US have rather different definitions of the role of their government, and also a somewhat different idea of separation of powers. Some local US municipalities are outright tyrannical (ie. mandatory neighborhood associations) compared to the UK.

Don't judge unless you've lived in both.
posted by schmod at 8:20 AM on August 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


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…

The man at the end of the street is a loud, obnoxious twat that enjoys blasting his bass-heavy music at all hours. He pays with credit cards because he doesn't have any cash and is perpetually in debt, and he keeps his curtains wide open because not only is he too poor to afford curtains (and the curtain-store doesn't take lay-away) but also because he's a pervert and a pedophile that wants to espose all his wiggly bits to the children that pass by on the local bus route, that drives right by his window. This may mean nothing…
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:22 AM on August 11, 2010


What's he building in there?

We have a right to know.
posted by Shepherd at 8:26 AM on August 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


These campaigns are designed to do nothing but keep the populace in fear. If they really wanted security, they'd encourage people to get to know each other.
posted by DU at 8:30 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Didn't someone once say the best way to deal with something like this is to follow it to the letter? 50k people reporting one of their neighbours a week should do nicely.
posted by Leon at 8:36 AM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think this is actually an example of "the system" (the state, the authorities, whatever) working. And I include the police in that statement.

It is their job to look for terrorists. In this case, they were asking people to look out for behaviour which they had consistently seen in previous cases involving terrorists. They acknowledge in the ad itself and elsewhere that these things are not illegal in themselves, nor is there any suggestion that the police have recently tried to arrest anyone for being a bit of a shut in. On the other hand, looking for terrorists is, erm, really hard, and they had to try something.

It is then the job of the ASA to decide whether the police ad is justified or whether it is in fact offensive/unjustifiable. The ASA decided against the police - I happen to think this was the right choice, they clearly got the balance wrong - but I don't think our freedoms are at risk such that we should be spitting jasmine tea and organic muesli onto our copies of The Guardian when we read about this case at breakfast.

We give cops the task of looking out for society and then bitch and moan when they go about their jobs. But there are numerous fail safes in place to guarantee our freedoms, such as democratic elections, which have worked quite well recently because we have thrown Labour and it's totalitarian methods out the door.

The police aren't perfect but for fuck's sake people, cut them some slack. I wouldn't want their job but I am glad they are out there doing it.
posted by marmaduke_yaverland at 8:48 AM on August 11, 2010


STOP SNITCHIN'
posted by infinitywaltz at 8:53 AM on August 11, 2010


posted by infinitywaltz STOP SNITCHIN'

No, start your own chapter of S.N.I.T.C.H.!
posted by mattdidthat at 9:02 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


...doesn't talk to his neighbours much

Check. Because I'm British, duh. I'd be far more suspicious of someone who does talk to his neighbours a lot.

... he likes to keep himself to himself.

Check. Still British.

...He pays with cash


Check. Not because I don't have a bank card but because I hate everyone who uses cards for every damned purchase in their damned lives, and holds me up while they fanny about with the chip and pin machine instead of having the (usually correct) cash in hand and moving the hell along. Damn!

...he keeps his curtains closed

Check. Partly because the sun comes in and makes my room too hot in summer but also because I like to wander around my flat naked. What? Don't you dare judge me!

Also, I am, in fact, a terrorist. Probably.
posted by Decani at 9:17 AM on August 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


Fear is the mind-killer.

No, fear is a man's best friend.
posted by Rangeboy at 9:17 AM on August 11, 2010


marmaduke,

In this case, they were asking people to look out for behaviour which they had consistently seen in previous cases involving terrorists.

Except these behavioral traits have almost 0 predictive power for detecting terrorists.

They acknowledge in the ad itself and elsewhere that these things are not illegal in themselves, nor is there any suggestion that the police have recently tried to arrest anyone for being a bit of a shut in.

They do suggest you report them anyway and let the police decide though.

We give cops the task of looking out for society and then bitch and moan when they go about their jobs.

Because they routinely do a terrible job of it despite the numerous protestations from people with clue who have repeatedly complained about this sort of tactic.

This action isn't getting attention because it's an example of people doing their jobs correctly. It's getting attention because it's the ONLY example of it happening. It's the vast number of other fearmongering campaigns from the police that we have a problem with.

And "It's hard." Is really not an excuse for their failures.
posted by public at 9:21 AM on August 11, 2010


I'm actually quite reassured by this advertisement, as it suggests that, despite the best efforts of the media to whip up fears of terrorism, the British are still reluctant to shop their neighbours to the police.

And considering how often I see headlines like 'Man lay dead for six months before body was discovered' I don't think we need worry just yet about Britain becoming a nation of nosy neighbours.
posted by verstegan at 9:26 AM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Standing or sitting?"

Who watches movies standing up?

Well, OK, I sometimes iron my shirts while watching a movie. I stand during that part.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:47 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


>It is their job to look for terrorists. In this case, they were asking people to look out for behaviour which they had consistently seen in previous cases involving terrorists.

From the Metropolitan Police's list of examples of suspicious activity:

Computer - Terrorists use computers. Do you know someone who visits terrorist-related websites?

Luckily there's no chance that anyone could be wrongly convicted for that sort of behaviour.
posted by verstegan at 9:52 AM on August 11, 2010


Wait, so why are we paying all these CIA guys if Joe Schmoe on the street is the true counter-terrorism expert? Seems like the govt. is getting ripped off if there's guys that can do the job for free.

As for me, I'll report something as soon as you start paying me.
posted by Eideteker at 10:36 AM on August 11, 2010


I am much more sympathetic to the "report suspicious packages" messages than the "report suspicious people" ones. In the former case, the worst you are likely to do is find lost property. In the latter, you can screw up someone's life.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:00 AM on August 11, 2010


"In the former case, the worst you are likely to do is find lost property."

And get it blown up (can't be too careful!).
posted by Eideteker at 11:03 AM on August 11, 2010


In the USA, you can be compelled to be an anonymous informer via an FBI order that is not seen or approved by any judge. Up to 50,000 such events happen each year. 1, 2.
posted by Rumple at 11:19 AM on August 11, 2010


Wait, so why are we paying all these CIA guys if Joe Schmoe on the street is the true counter-terrorism expert? Seems like the govt. is getting ripped off if there's guys that can do the job for free.

Since when has anyone thought the CIA was good value for money? Paying top dollar for getting shocking incompetence (and abuse of state secrecy to keep the heads responsible from rolling) has never stood in the way of billion dollar budgets. Accountability and efficiency is not how entrenched and highly secretive institutions operate.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:39 AM on August 11, 2010


"The police aren't perfect but for fuck's sake people, cut them some slack."

No. Wrong. Absolutely not.

Police get held to a higher standard. Someone with the authority to ruin lives on a daily basis does not get "slack". Ever.
posted by y6y6y6 at 12:30 PM on August 11, 2010 [9 favorites]


"Since when has anyone thought the CIA was good value for money? Paying top dollar for getting shocking incompetence "

I thought the CIA financed their stuff by selling Heroin from china/laos/afgahnistan?
posted by marienbad at 12:42 PM on August 11, 2010


Man, talk about poisoning the social well. I'm wondering, why did the UK fight the Germans, then turn around and foster a-house-divided-against-itself by encouraging snitches?

(Not that North America didn't have a boatload of scientists who started human experimentation post WW2. I'm just certain I'd find living in a Total Surveillance Society pretty creepy - and wonder why Britons led themselves be led in that direction.)
posted by Twang at 12:57 PM on August 11, 2010


MIND THAT PARCEL
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:17 PM on August 11, 2010


"Hello? Yes, my neighbour's curtains are always closed. I think something is up."

"We shall investigate, Madame."

[later, peeking inside]

"Blimey, 'e's just wanking!"
posted by bwg at 6:00 PM on August 11, 2010


This reminds me of the episode of 30 Rock where Liz reported her neighbour as a terrorist, only to find out that his suspicious behaviour was due to him trying out for The Amazing Race.
posted by antifuse at 11:41 AM on August 12, 2010


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