Category Archive 'Safety Fascism'
18 May 2009

Clip-ons Replace “Dangerous” School Ties in Britain

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Eton tie

The BBC quotes an industry association report identifying the latest breakthrough in British mollycoddling: replacing dangerous, capable of individual expression knotted ties with clip-ons.

Clip-on ties are replacing knotted school ties as schools worry about health and safety, says a survey of school uniform suppliers.

The Schoolwear Association says 10 schools a week in the UK are switching, because of fears of ties getting caught in equipment or strangling pupils.

There are also claims that clip-on ties can stop pupils from customising the size of the knots in their ties.

Uniforms are an “instrument of social levelling,” says the association. …

The emergence of clip-on ties is part of a growing sensitivity towards health and safety, says the association, along with modifications such as high-visibility trimming on scarves.

Clip-on ties take away the risk of pupils having accidents with their knotted ties.

Schools have raised concerns about ties catching fire in science lessons, getting trapped in technology equipment or ties getting caught when pupils were running.

Clip-on ties also allow schools to create a more standardised appearance, says the association, stopping pupils from being more creative in how they wear their ties.

There is something perfectly embodying modern leftist thought in the combination of motives here: sniveling cowardice joined with leveling conformity.

11 May 2009

Books Out of Reach at Bodleian

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Oxford’s Bodleian Library

The news has even reached India’s DNA news service (Bombay) that librarians at Oxford have banned step ladders and refused all access to books on upper shelves.

Britain, to make up for the monstrosities it perpetrated on its colonies during its empire days, has since the culmination of the Second World War been celeritously progressing on a path of political correctness — to the extent of first starting to call a spade a wilting water lily and then beginning to nurse a whimpering nanny state.

Now, an old stanchion of olde Blighty has caught the contagion. The Bodleian Library of the University of Oxford, where many a ruminative afternoon was spent by the likes of Gladstone and Attlee, Wilde and Shelly, and Hawking and Tim Berners-Lee, has made the books in its uppermost shelves out of bounds for students — or anyone else for that matter.

The reason: three-year-old British health and safety regulations that the library’s authorities happened to trip upon recently. Better late than never, the library has deemed the use of stepladders to be too risky for a scholar’s life and limb. The momentous decision has been arrived at irrespective of the fact that in the centuries of its existence, no untoward incident is on record to have occurred in the Bodleian owing to the use of ladders for reaching books in the higher rows.

So is there a way to access the books? In one word, no. The authorities say, respecting the national love of tradition, the books stay where they are: in their “historic” locations. If one wants access to a particular volume, one can always try at the British Library in London. And yes, there are also the digital versions.

It was several decades ago that Yale closed all the fireplaces in in residential dorms after the fire marshal declared that they constituted a fire hazard.

One of contemporary nincompoopery’s most characteristic features is an infatuation with the idea of Progress so complete that it excludes totally the ability not only to draw lessons from the evidence of the past, but even to recognize that the possibility of continuation with the past exists. Revolutionary change today is always vital and obligatory. And anytime events produce the slightest break with ordinary routine, as in the case of Islamic terrorists captured post 9/11, a group of experts must be hastily assembled to re-invent the wheel.

Oxford librarians simply cannot recognize that people have climbed stepladders to reach books for centuries, just as Yale’s administration could not access the fact that people heated homes and cooked with fireplaces for centuries, all with entirely acceptable rates of untoward incident. Similarly, the Bush Administration could not grasp the fact that American military commanders had previously encountered illegal combatants and that practically effective policies and customs applying to such circumstances have existed throughout the history of human conflict. Instead, George W. Bush had to invent new policies and order policy drafts from Justice Department attorneys.

The Bodleian’s high shelf books are exactly like mankind’s history, tradition, and the experience of all our deceased predecessors: out of the reach of contemporary idiots.

26 Apr 2009

New Worst Appointment

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He’s a real mother, alright

Get ready, America, for a return to the 1970s era of federally-mandated nationwide 55 mph speed limits, emission-strangled automobile engines, and speedometers topping out at 85.

Barack Obama has appointed America’s Safety-Nazi-in-Chief Charles A. Hurley, current head of Mothers Against Drunk Driving to preside over the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Well, you’re living in the Nanny State now, boys and girls. Hurley is a long time advocate of drastically more extensive federal supervision of your naughty driving.

He is on the record as supporting a .04% Blood Alcohol Content limit, meaning you are guilty of DUI if you sip one glass of Chardonnay at dinner, and he favors vastly expanded pullover alcohol checks to enforce it, along with breathalyzer-ignition interlocks.

Expect to see the federally mandatory 55 mph speed limit again, expanded liability opportunities for trial lawyers, and a nationwide regime of stoplight and speed check cameras everywhere.

Repeat after me: “I love Big Brother!”


Hat tip to Walter Olson.

26 Dec 2008

The State Is Our Shepherd

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Hugo Rifkind survived Xmas without the advice of Britain’s Labour Government. It was obviously a Xmas miracle.

For all I know, this column is coming to you from beyond the grave. As I write, it is Christmas Eve. As you read, it is Boxing Day. I can’t really see myself making it through. You see, despite my best efforts, I have utterly failed to get hold of a copy of the Government’s festive safety leaflet, Tis the Season to be Careful.

Tis, tis it? Oh dear. I wonder what will get me? Will I sever an artery with scissors while excitedly opening a present? Take a lethal elbow to the nose, thanks to somebody else’s overenthusiastic tug on a Christmas cracker? Maybe I’ll get drunk and sit in the fireplace, or blow up the house by putting a gravy boat in the microwave. Maybe, who knows, I’ll fit the whole turkey over my head and, as the complete antithesis of that “Blind man sees” story that was in the newspapers the other day, run around excitedly until I fall off the landing. You know, like Joey would have done, if they’d had stairs in that apartment in Friends.

Alas, there is just no knowing. For the Government handed out 150,000 leaflets advising people on how not to kill themselves at Christmas, and my household didn’t end up with one. I’m feeling terribly exposed. And there must be plenty of other families in the same boat.

Maybe you read this now as the only survivor of your own little festive apocalypse. Under the dining room table, naked except for a party hat, beating off the advances of your snarling, brandy-butter-crazed family dog with the charred remains of grandma’s thighbone. “Nooooo!” you will be wailing. “If only I had been appraised of the stark and leafleted warnings of Baroness Morgan of Drefelin, the Minister for Children, in conjunction with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents! Woe! Woe!” Sob, growl, thunk. ..

Once you stop resenting nanny, you start to rely on her. If nanny tells you to stop smoking in pubs, you probably stop smoking in pubs. But, in time, you also stop thinking about whether you ought to smoke in pubs or not. And worse, if somebody else lights up next to you, you expect nanny to do something about it. It’s not your business or even really his. It’s just nanny’s business. You’ve both become morons.

Now nanny is telling you not to hurt yourself over Christmas. Chances are, you weren’t really planning to, anyway. Chances are, moreover, that you probably thought you were quite well equipped to avoid hurting yourself at Christmas all by yourself.

But nanny disagrees. Nanny doesn’t think that you are up to it. And, in time, you’ll probably start to believe her. In time, as a result, you will grow to consider your wellbeing at Christmas not to be your own problem at all, but to be nanny’s problem entirely. And that’s nuts.

In other words, you used to have a duty not to burn down your house and slaughter your entire family. Now, because nanny has taken on that duty, you have a right not to burn down your house and slaughter your entire family. Needless to say, this makes no sense at all.

Still, don’t come crying to me. It’s nanny’s fault, not mine. And anyway, as discussed, I’m probably dead.

Read the whole thing.

30 May 2008

Wading Pool Requires Lifeguard and Insurance

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Daily Mail:

For nearly a quarter of a century, Lourdes Maxwell has celebrated the arrival of summer by putting a paddling pool in the garden.

This year, however, her two grandchildren and the children of her neighbours may have to find another way to cool off in the heat.

Miss Maxwell’s local council has decided that the pool – which is only 2ft deep – needs a lifeguard.

The 47-year-old divorced mother of three has also been told she must have insurance before she can inflate the toy outside her house in Portsmouth.

21 Jan 2008

Freedom Out of Fashion

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Jonah Goldberg sounds the alarm over the elect’s revival of enthusiasm for coercive expressions collectivist paternalism.

Remember this? “There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical….”

Younger readers may not remember the opening to “The Outer Limits,” a pretty good sci-fi rip-off of “The Twilight Zone” (and they may have only a fuzzy understanding that TVs used to have knobs to control the horizontal and vertical). But as they read the news these days, maybe they can find a new appreciation for the creepy feeling of powerlessness that opening once gave viewers. …

We are seeing a return to the idea — first championed by social planners in the progressive era — that government can and should play the role of parent. For instance, Michael Gerson, once a speechwriter for President Bush, advocates a new “heroic conservatism” — an updating of his former boss’ compassionate conservatism — that would unleash a new era of statist regulations. On the stump, Hillary Clinton refers to her book, “It Takes a Village,” in which she argued that we all must surrender ourselves to the near-constant prodding, monitoring, cajoling and scolding of the “helping professions.” Clinton argues that children are born in “crisis” and government must respond with all the tools in its arsenal from the word go. She advocates putting television sets in all public gathering places so citizens can be treated to an endless loop of good parenting tutorials.

Mike Huckabee, who represents compassionate conservatism on steroids, favors a nationwide ban on public smoking. Everywhere, from Barack Obama to John McCain, we are told that our politics must be about causes “larger than ourselves.” What we used to think of as individual freedom is now being recast as greedy and selfish.

Read the whole thing.

19 Jan 2008

Latest Object of British Gun Control

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“First they came for the fully-automatic machine guns, and I’d didn’t protest because I didn’t own a machine gun…”

As the BBC reports, even joke guns and toys swords must be registered and stored locked up in today’s Britain.

A Cornish village drama group has had to register a toy gun with the police to comply with health and safety rules.

Carnon Downs drama group in Cornwall have also had to keep their plastic cutlasses and wooden swords locked up for the pantomime, Robinson Crusoe.

Producers of the show called the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) rules “farcical”.

A spokesman for the HSE said the rules were designed to make risks “sensibly managed”.

The climax of the show is a fight in which actors use replica 4ft-foot long plastic cutlasses.

There is also a toy gun which produces a flag saying “Bang”.

The directors contacted police after receiving advice from the HSE and the National Operatic and Dramatic Association.

The HSE have a page on their website called Entertainment Information Sheet 20 which lays down strict rules for the handling of guns, swords and other weapons on set.

Drama group co-director Linda Barker said: “The cutlasses count as weapons even though they are replicas and made of plastic and apparently they could be mistaken for real ones.

“Our only gun was a panto pistol which produces a flag with the word bang on it.

“Our local police at Truro were fantastic and they have registered the gun, the two plastic cutlasses and our six wooden swords.”

She added: “It gets a bit farcical when you are dealing with plastic swords. It is not as if anyone is likely to be scared by them.”

Neighbourhood beat officer Pc Nigel Hyde said: “We have been informed and made a note.

“It seems a bit unusual but other forms of replica weapons have been used to carry out crimes and the consequences have been serious.”

A spokesman for the HSE said: “We do not want to stop people putting on pantos or having fun as long as the risks are sensible managed.”

Hat tip to Walter Olson.

19 Jan 2008

Naval Academy Likely to Ban Herndon Climb

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Completion of the ritual last year took 1 hour, 32 minutes and 42 seconds.

The Washington Post reports that the US Naval Academy may soon be losing its plebe year culminating ritual when the mass scrimmage is condemned by the authorities as “unsafe.”

In the name of safety, the U.S. Naval Academy is considering an overhaul of one of its most bizarre traditions: the annual ritual in which a thousand first-year midshipmen struggle to conquer a 21-foot granite obelisk coated with 200 pounds of lard.

The Herndon Climb has occupied a hallowed place in Naval Academy tradition for decades. For members of the plebe class, the climb represents what a former midshipman called “our final exam of all finals.” The starter gun fires, and the plebes, working together, race to replace a blue-rimmed sailor’s cap, known as a “dixie cup,” with a midshipman’s cap.

The scene is unforgettable to those who watch, as the sweating, grunting, red-faced midshipmen at the bottom, their arms linked, support a human pyramid surging to the top of the monument. The pyramid often collapses, but the plebes invariably make it to the top whether it takes them minutes or hours.

But at the ever-changing academy, the climb may be going the way of the sailing ship and the smoothbore cannon.

“Similar to how our Navy looks at all traditions in the Fleet, we are evaluating the Herndon Monument Climb to ensure the event remains a valid part of our heritage but it is conducted with professionalism, respect, and most important, safety in mind,” the academy’s public affairs office said in a statement.

It is unclear what changes might be imposed. This year’s climb is scheduled for 9 a.m. May 15.

Deborah Goode, a spokeswoman for the academy, said that she could not recall any serious injuries resulting from the Herndon Climb and that the reevaluation was part of a broader reconsideration of the end-of-year events for plebes.

Alumni scoffed at the risk of someone’s getting hurt, especially given the school’s mission to prepare officers for combat.

Yale use to have a similar male-bonding event, the annual bladderball game, banned by President Bartlett Giamatti in a fit of politically correct namby-pambyness in 1982.

12 Jan 2008

Regulations Trump Heroism in Today’s Britain

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The London Times reports the story of a British coastguard who is resigning after being reprimanded for saving a life by violating his agency’s safety procedures.

A coastguard who risked his life to save a teenage girl stranded on a cliff ledge has resigned after he was criticised for breaching health and safety rules during the rescue.

Paul Waugh, 44, was so concerned for the 13-year-old girl that he clambered down to her in gale-force winds without waiting to fit safety harnesses.

The father of three, who was hailed as a hero and received an award for stopping the girl from falling 300ft as she waited for an RAF rescue helicopter, announced yesterday that he was leaving the service after 13 years.

Officials at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said that Mr Waugh, from Cleveland, had breached health and safety regulations because he had not been roped up for the descent. A spokesman said that the rules were in place because the agency did not want any “dead heroes”.

Mr Waugh said: “I am very sad that I have had to leave because I loved my job, but it is one of those things. You save a life and this is how they treat you. I am sorry, but I would not leave any 13-year-old girl hanging off a cliff.

“Saving her life was the important thing. The cliff edge was crumbling away and I didn’t think I had time to wait. It was pitch black and all you could see was a little girl’s frightened face. She was even planning her own funeral. If I had left her and ran back to the vehicle, got the safety equipment and then ran back, she could have fallen. She had been stuck there for 45 minutes and the cliff ledge had actually gave way so she was hanging by her arms off tufts of grass.

“If she had fallen and I had stood watching her, my life would not have been worth living.”

The former miner gave up as a volunteer for the agency, blaming “immense pressure” from management at Bridlington Coastguard.

The girl, Faye Harrison, had been walking with three friends along the cliff top at Brotton last January when they followed the wrong path down the cliff. As it got dark they became disorientated and stranded. A dog walker raised the alarm after hearing their screams for help.

Mr Waugh was paged by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, and with two others went to the scene. Because of a locked farm gate they could not get the rescue vehicle, which contained harnesses and ropes, to the cliff. Mr Waugh clambered down to Faye and held her to prevent her from falling. About 30 minutes later they were winched off by the helicopter.

Mr Waugh said: “I broke a rule and did not use the kit but I saved a life. I don’t call myself a hero. I would have helped even if I had not been in the coastguard. If I had done nothing I would have got slated, but I saved her life and I still get slated.” …

A spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: “We wish Paul well in his future endeavours and the MCA is very grateful for his past activities and work in the Coastguard Rescue Service. However, the MCA is very mindful of health and safety regulations, which are in place for very good reasons.

“Above all our responsibility is to maintain the health and welfare of those who we sometimes ask to go out in difficult and challenging conditions to affect rescues. The MCA is not looking for dead heroes. As such, we ask our volunteers to risk-assess the situations they and the injured or distressed person find themselves in, and to ensure that whatever action they take does not put anyone in further danger.”

27 Nov 2007


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Gorman Beauchamp demolishes, and then dances over the corpse of, one of principal idiocies of our time.

Fifty years ago, New American Library published the Mentor Philosophers series, each with a title beginning The Age of . . . Belief, Ideology, Reason, and so on; the 20th-century selections bore the title The Age of Analysis. Had the series continued to the end of that century and into this, the volume should no doubt be The Age of Apology. Our postmodern ethos seems to hold that if anything can be proved to have happened, then surely someone needs to apologize for it.

We live amid a veritable tsunami of apology. The Catholic Church, which, of course, has much to apologize for, has, of late, offered mea culpas to Galileo, the Jews, the gypsies, Jan Hus, whom it burned at the stake in 1415, even to Constantinople (now Istanbul) for its sacking 800 years ago by the knights of the Fourth Crusade, an event for which the late John Paul II expressed “deep regret.” No wonder that a group in England, claiming descent from the medieval Knights Templars, is asking the Vatican to apologize for the violent suppression of the order and for torturing to death its Grand Master Jacques de Molay in 1314, an apology timed to commemorate the 700th anniversary of that fell deed. In America, the National Council of Churches apologized to Native Americans for Europeans’ discovering their continent and appropriating their land (but did not return any church’s specific holdings to any specific tribe). The United Church of Canada followed suit, officially apologizing to Canada’s native peoples for wrongs inflicted by the church; the native peoples, however, officially rejected the apology.

The current lieutenant governor of Illinois, Pat Quinn, personally presented the leaders of the Mormon church with a copy of his state legislature’s House Resolution 793, expressing “official regret” for the 1844 murder of Joseph Smith and the expulsion of his followers, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The language asking for “pardon and forgiveness” was toned down when certain lawmakers protested that they could not ask for forgiveness for acts that they had not personally committed — a retrograde notion, apparently, of individual responsibility. Tony Blair, as British prime minister, apologized to the Irish for his nation’s insensitivity to the plight of the victims of the Potato Famine in the 1840s. A hundred years after the event, the U.S. Congress offered a formal apology to the Hawaiians for the overthrow of their monarchy in 1893. The French parlement unanimously adopted a law stating that “the trans-Atlantic and Indian Ocean slave trade, perpetuated from the 15th century against Africans, Amerindians, Malagasies and Indians, constitutes a crime against humanity”: the centuries of slavery before the 15th and the slavery of other peoples do not, apparently, constitute such a crime, at least in France.

In 2005 the U.S. Senate formally apologized for something that it had not done: make lynching a federal crime. Such a record of inaction, claimed one of the resolution’s sponsors, constituted a “stain on the United States Senate.” True enough, no doubt, but one of how many? Imagine if the United States or any other government began apologizing not only for sins of commission but for those of omission: an infinite regress of culpability.

My favorite apology so far, however, appeared in a brief Reuters account. “Villagers of the tiny settlement of Nubutautau [Fiji] wept as they apologized to the descendants of a British missionary killed and eaten by their ancestors 136 years ago,” the news agency reported. “The villagers and the relatives of the missionary, the Rev. Thomas Baker, were taking part in a complex ritual intended to lift a curse the locals say has caused an extended run of bad luck.” A cow was slaughtered and kisses given to the 11 relatives of the missionary by the village chief, Ratu Filimoni Nawawabalavu, “a descendant of the chief who cooked the missionary.” No word on whether the curse lifted. …

Our mania for apology stems from a radical sort of “presentism”: the belief, in practice, if not fully articulated, that the actions and actors of the past should be evaluated, and usually condemned, by present-day standards. In our relativistic age in which advanced opinion notoriously eschews universals and absolutes, the criteria obtaining at the moment in Cambridge and Chapel Hill, Ann Arbor and Palo Alto, Austin and Madison seem to have more than contingent status. The criteria appear perilously close to absolutes, the sort of absolutes obeisance to which allows moderately competent graduate students in sociology or culture studies to relish their moral superiority to almost any denizen of the benighted pre-Foucault past. One has only to listen to the incredulous-to-hostile laughter that, at academic conferences, greets the opinions of, say, Henry Adams or Thomas Carlyle on the mental capacities of women, or of Hegel or Hume on Africans, commonplace a century or two ago, to understand how relative our relativism really is.

Presentism wants not only to judge the past by the criteria of the present, but, in a complete failure of historical imagination, can’t conceive of the criteria of the future being radically different from today’s.

Don’t miss the whole thing.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

05 Jun 2007

British Nanny-State to Crack Down on Wine-Drinking

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The London Times reports:

Middle-class wine drinkers will be the focus of government plans to make drunkenness as socially unacceptable as smoking, The Times has learnt.

Under the plans published today, a fresh audit is to be conducted by the Government into the overall costs of alcohol abuse to society and the National Health Service.

“We want to target older drinkers, those that are maybe drinking one or two bottles of wine at home each evening,” a Whitehall source said. “They do not realise the damage they are doing to their health and that they risk developing liver disease. …

The move comes as The Times has been told that the British Medical Association is to investigate measures used in other countries to curb excessive alcohol consumption. Doctors’ leaders are also calling for pubs and restaurants to display warnings stating how many units of alcohol are contained in drinks served by the glass.

Today’s strategy, by the Home Office and the Department of Health, broadens the Government’s offensive against excessive drinking, with the focus moving beyond teenagers and the binge-drinkers to include those regularly sipping wine at home.

As part of the strategy, ministers wish to highlight the increasing burden that drink-related disease is placing on the NHS, which four years ago was estimated to be costing between £1.3 billion and £1.7 billion. Ministers want drunkenness in public to be as socially unacceptable in ten years’ time as smoking or drink-driving is today.

Last night Ian Gilmore, President of the Royal College of Physicians, gave his full support to the focus on the health costs of heavy drinking. “We really need the spotlight more on health. While crime and antisocial behaviour is important it’s too easy to concentrate on that because it’s somebody else causing the trouble.

“When you look at health it’s more uncomfortable because there’s a very significant percentage of the population already drinking at potentially hazardous levels.”

With alcohol costing 54 per cent less in real terms than in 1980, Professor Gilmore, a liver specialist, also called on the Chancellor to raise drink taxes.

Socialized medicine demonstrably involves the surrender of private liberty to the nanny state now in charge of paying your doctor bill.

17 Jan 2007

Big Brother Watching Over Britain

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Hat tip to José Guardia.

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