Stamping out the pedestrian menace
A friend of mine alerted me today to this story, of 34-year-old property developer Sally Cameron:
She was walking from her office in Dundee to her home in the suburb of Broughty Ferry when she was arrested under new anti-terrorist legislation and held for four hours.
"I've been walking to work every morning for months and months to keep fit. One day, I was told by a guard on the gate that I couldn't use the route any more because it was solely a cycle path and he said, if I was caught doing it again, I'd be arrested.
“The next thing I knew, the harbour master had driven up behind me with a megaphone, saying, 'You're trespassing, please turn back'. It was totally ridiculous. I started laughing and kept on walking. Cyclists going past were also laughing.
"But then two police cars roared up beside me and cut me off, like a scene from Starsky and Hutch, and officers told me I was being arrested under the Terrorism Act. The harbour master was waffling on and (saying that), because of September 11, I would be arrested and charged."
My friend was trying to imply that the police were somehow overdoing it here. But this seems like a perfectly reasonable set of circumstances to me. After all, you do not want swarthy looking young men in anoraks hanging around harbour installations. But, you cannot pass a law called the Anti-Swarthy-Looking-Young-Men-In-Anoraks Act. It has to be anyone doing anything suspicious, like, you know, walking about.
But, cyclists are obviously not a problem. Cyclists are good. This is a well known fact. So, whereas public footpaths in the vicinity of harbours are an obvious problem and need to be shut down, there is clearly no need to involve cyclists in this prohibition. Cyclists are, I repeat, good. So, these footpaths can simply stay as they are, but be cycle tracks. But, that means that pedestrians must now be told to steer clear of these ex-footpaths, despite the fact that they still exist.
At which point, since this is the Anti-Terrorism Act that is being imposed here rather than merely some exercise in traffic control, any insubordinate pedestrian who causes trouble, by – I don't know – laughing when you tell him, or her, about the new arrangements, must clearly be treated as the terrorist that he, or she, may well be. I mean, better safe than sorry. This is the survival of our very way of life that we are talking about, the preservation of our ancient liberties against the forces of barbarism.
I cannot see why the Times Online is making such a fuss about this utterly routine matter.