On 3 June Simon Jenkins published a devastating critique of the “security industry’s” promotion and exploitation of paranoia to expand its domain. It prompted the letter below, sadly not published. So I submitted it to my blog where it was accepted with alacrity.
Simon Jenkins (Not every adult is a paedophile, a terrorist or a mass murderer, 3 June) sets out the impervious, paranoia-generating logic of the security industry: “If an incident occurs, it is reason for spending more on security. If no incident occurs it justifies what is already being spent.”
Perhaps the industry’s greatest achievement thus far in the deployment of this logic is its success in protecting us from bicycle bombs. Anyone who has parked a bicycle near Whitehall or Parliament Square will appreciate the efforts that are being made to protect us from this threat; the police will confiscate it on the grounds that it might be a pipe bomb in disguise.
It has worked. So far no one in Britain has been killed by such a device. But the achievement is global. I have appealed for evidence on various websites, on the Radio 4 Today Programme, and on the BBC World Service. On evidence so far received it appears that no one, anywhere, ever has been killed by such a device. Can one ask for more convincing justification? The inconvenience of thousands of cyclists seems a small price to pay.