Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Aggressive beggar alert

I see from this (see http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/street-angels-help-keep-douglas-town-centre-safe-1-4614060 ) that, as Douglas streets have been so safe late at night for years, the police have had to draft in troublemakers so that they can pick up enough overtime.
Think about this for a few seconds – if the police are willing to allow muddle-headed if sincere septuagenerarians to pester drunks, then the midnight streets of Douglas must be quieter than a Trappist monastery.
This nonsense has been tried before, mostly, it must be noted, in redneck backwaters of the UK where both incest and membership of the Christian Police Association is high (not that those three factors are always found together, of course – just alarmingly often). There, surveys of the relative figures for street-based violence before and after the introduction of such crackpot schemes inevitably show more disturbances and hospital visits AFTER the bible bashing started.
The funniest thing is that in some small towns there simply were no disturbances until the godbotherers started annoying people making their way home amicably enough from pubs and clubs. Perhaps the key here is that people in conservative communities might head for the pub to escape miserable puritans they have to put up with during the day, for example at work. If so, the last thing they want looming up at them after a couple of pints is that prod nosed supervisor who has been on their case all week about wearing an ‘inappropriate’ tie to the office.
This plan hasn’t appeared out of the blue, by the way. I was aware of a Broadway Baptist klingon trying to set up a ‘street pastor’ scheme five years ago, and since then, so disgruntled insiders say, there have been several approaches to the police from both Living Hell and the Batshits.
The irony is that one of their previous attempts at ‘street ministry’ so annoyed the public that it led to senior police officers being asked if the English crime of ‘aggressive begging’ (used in the UK to keep panhandling junkies way from tourists) was on the books over here. As families with small kids walking down the Prom being harangued by evangelical loons said, if threatening small kids and pensioners with hell fire isn’t demanding money with menaces, then what is?
Old hippies may also be sniggering at that acronym ‘DTCP’, which sounds very similar to ‘PCP’ – a nasty street drug in the 1970’s always associated with nutters jumping through windows, and better known as ‘Angel Dust’.
On a more serious note – who are the ‘other agencies’ so keen for the police to OK this nonsense? Not, by an odd coincidence, a certain ‘police advisory committee’ whose very membership is tightly controlled by three evangelical business figures (so convenient when you want to close down a small town for a bit of godbothering theatricality and police are needed to guide punters to the only available parking which is – oh, another coincidence – at your shopping centre)?
Thought so.

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