Quis custodiet (ipsos custodes)2? Oh, it’s me. Right.

I’ve just arrived home, having spent a pleasant evening in the company of Messrs Canon L. Printer and Henry The Depressed Fern. Printers, as any fule kno, were put on this Earth to test us, and to separate the merely persistent from those prepared to spend three solid hours making the requisite sacrifices of dead trees, bent paperclips, blood, sweat and (alarmingly) hair in order to ensure the passage of the last print job. But this is a whinge for another day.

Bearing this in mind, however, I wasn’t in the best of moods on the Tube home, so I’m not sure whether my reaction to this poster is entirely fair. I present it to you without prejudice:

Statistically aberrant cluster of babies

Statistically aberrant cluster of babies

Now, having scrupulously allowed the reader to make up his or her own mind, allow me to supply my own views:

Fuck that for a game of soldiers.

I suppose I can manage a bit more than that, so here goes: has it really come to this? That we are publishing some bizarre form of propagandic haiku, exhorting people to spy on the people who are spying on the machines that spy on us? Even for the most fervent surveillance state wet-dreamer, this paranoia in triplicate is surely spiralling into self-parody. Not only are we expected to be content with being watched 24/7, we’re expected to be complicit in ensuring that everyone else is similarly chuffed. Don’t look at the cameras! Don’t photograph the Police! And smile while you don’t, dammit.

Clearly, the lesson we are take from this poster is that we must somehow cleanse the populace of all information that might somehow be useful to terrorists. I’m afraid that just for starters this is going to require the elimination of all particle physicists, either by deportatation, elimination or lobotomy. We can continue by rounding up the aeronautical engineers, sequestering them somewhere they can do no serious harm – Hull, perhaps – and distracting them from their plight with plenty of questions about aircraft on treadmills. We can then continue through the professions as necessary, until our population consists entirely of telephone sanitisers, management consultants and marketing executives (neatly closing the cycle of human existence). We will subsist on the remnants of the canned food made by our better-informed but terminally imperilled ancestors, retaining only important knowledge such as “don’t run with scissors.” It’ll be a better life for us all.

As I took the photo, incidentally, I drew odd looks from several nearby people, causing me to wonder whether my overt surveillance of propaganda encouraging people to practice surveillance of people practising surveillance of surveillance gear was itself suspicious. However, this fifth order spying clearly confused my fellow travellers, unused as they are to multiple levels of recursion. Having not only observed me observing the propaganda about observing those who observe those who observe me, they observed each other observing me, and experienced a moment of fleeting self-doubt sufficient that they briefly considered turning themselves in to the Police.

This allowed me to slip on to the next Tube, ironically unobserved.

5 Responses to “Quis custodiet (ipsos custodes)2? Oh, it’s me. Right.”

  • In Australia, we have a TV ad devoted to this very thing. It has about a dozen different voiceovers saying various things such as “exchanged hands…” “downloaded suspicious documents…” “saw a suspicious person…” It all seems a little paranoid, seeing as any of those could just be an innocent person going about their business.

    That poster is classic, however.

  • Well, precisely. Do the Police really have the resources to follow up on everyone who does one of these “suspicious” things? Of course not. And they must know that too, which means this poster is not actually about getting us to dob in camera enthusiasts, it’s about breeding a general sense of mistrust among the public, and reliance on the all-seeing Police.

    What pisses me off most, though, is the missing comma. What happened weeks before a shopper reported someone studying the CCTV cameras, motherfuckers?

    If they’re going to creep me out, they could at least have the basic decency to punctuate properly.

  • Also, can you report someone weeks before something doesn’t happen? It’s logically bankrupt.

    I’ll stop now.

  • Yes, the first time I read it I was confused because without the comma, it’s more of a sentence fragment than anything else. It just makes the Police appear more moronic.

  • Surely spreading the fear of such a possible attack, is terrorism in itself?

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