Racist cop uses UK Terrorism Act to detain mixed-race family and take away their disabled child

A policeman in Kent, UK has been suspended after he detained a child with autism and cerebral palsy. The child is mixed-race and was travelling with his mother and father, whose skin is a different colour from his and each other. As the family approached the chunnel entrance, they were stopped by the policeman, who sent for reinforcements. Police surrounded the car and detained the family under the Terrorism Act.
The family were then detained under the Terrorism Act and surrounded by "at least 10 police officers" who ordered them to get out of their car.

Ms Maynard was separated from her husband and son, who is autistic and has cerebral palsy, and taken to a detention room for questioning, leaving Joshua distressed.

Ms Maynard said the woman officer told her: "It's obvious he [Joshua] has nothing to do with you".

She said officers had told the family they had powers to hold them for up to nine hours under Section 7 of the Terrorism Act, but they were released after more than two hours.



  1. How sad. I know it’s unfair to UK law enforcement, but when I read a story like this, it’s scenes from Children of Men that I see in my minds eye.

  2. Those crafty terrorists, riding around with disabled autistic children as cover.

    That man in the wheelchair? All that metal must be concealing a weapon. The boy with the leg-braces, he’s some kind of robotic terrorist.

    The mastermind is truly dangerous. If he ever gets out of that iron lung, we’re doomed.

  3. I think the key thing here is what happens now….

    ….if the policeman has abused his powers (which the story says) but the police force then deal with him. Good. If they covered this up and said he’d acted reasonable then we’d have an issue.

  4. Title is a bit misleading there Cory and some of the details are wrong in your summary – the child being ‘taken away’ makes it sound like he was taken into care – he was separated from his mother whilst she was questioned, hardly an unsurprising thing to have happened. The policeman is actually a police officer (it was a woman) and she has been transferred to other duties, not suspended according to that article. It is a lousy enough story (lousy in the sense that it was a lousy thing to have happened to them, not lousy in the sense that it isn’t important) without embellishing!

  5. Takuan that sounds awfully like flamebaiting.

    its the political equivalent of saying “if that girl didn’t want to be raped, she shouldn’t have been in that part of town dressed like that”

    theres a lot of things about my country i haven’t chosen for myself.

  6. This is the problem with draconian policies in the UK and the US right now. “The terrorists” has got to stop being the excuse for all kinds of rights violations and crazy behavior from the persons who are supposed to be serving the people’s trust.

  7. So as I’m a (white) British passport holder, wife is Malaysian Chinese and the kids are (obviously) mixed race (with NZ passports), does this mean we’d be split up and interrogated at the border if we try and take the kids back to see their grandparents?

  8. @8 Takuan

    Is that why Bush was elected twice.

    Problem here in the UK is that all major parties are just saying the same things, and stealing one anothers policies.

    As Rikf said this story really didn’t need embelishment, the truth was bad enough. No need to scare monger.

  9. As others have said, the police officer was female.

    @anonymous — the article says an apology, a substantial payment to the child’s school, and a trip for the boy around the Kent police marine launch.

  10. mgfarrelly –

    It wasn’t anything to do with terrorism, they were arrested on suspision of child trafficking, seems he just used the Terrorism act to do it.

  11. @8 Takuan: The government was certainly elected, but from a choice of two pretty much identical parties, which isn’t my idea of democracy.

    If a gang of friends decided to democratically vote on what they were going to do that night, they would all have an equal say in the matter. It wouldn’t just be agreed that only 2 members of the group could ever be allowed to make the decision, and that whichever of the two members were picked that night would control what the group did every night for the next 5 years.

  12. don’t want to be pedantic, but my reading of the BBC report leads me to believe it was a female officer who did this?

  13. @8 Takuan: New Labour may have got the largest share of the vote, but since the UK has more than two major political parties they didn’t get a majority of the total vote. Just over a third of people voted for New Labour, two thirds didn’t.

  14. Are we really picking on the use of policeman?

    The story as quoted in the post clearly identifies the policeman as a female officer. Policeman is proper, so is calling her “Sir” when she is at work (though it’s cheeky).

    She’s also a human, but we can all call her a ‘female person’ if the use of ‘human’ to describe her offends you.

    A story about crass racism and you focus on the gender semantics in the post. Bravo, Brava! You are how that is allowed to happen.

  15. If you’ve ever been stopped at a border for anything (It’s usually something slightly unusual to arouse their suspicions) you’ll understand the scenario of being stood or parked up with an official questioning you and all the people on the flight/ferry going past and concluding they have nabbed a bad guy.
    My friend and I were held for an hour an Newcastle after returning from offroading in Sweden.
    The reason they gave was that it was ‘unusual’ for two 30yr old males to be crossing in a Land Rover.
    ‘Unusual’ I said, ‘but we went the other way 2 weeks ago and it wasn’t unusual then’

  16. Takuan @2: Nice. I’ll have to remember that line for the next time BB blogs about the TSA.

  17. Actually reading the full story, I’m left wondering where the racism mentioned sprung from. The parents imply that she may be discriminating their son due to race and that’s all there is as to mentioning of this being a racist incident. The story also says that the parents were both white (though boing boing make it sound like they are an interracial couple) while the son was mixed race, so obvisouly not their biological child. Not unusual that a cop would check their papers to make sure the child was adopted.

    Was it badly handled? Yes. Was there a real reason to stop them? Slightly. Was it racist? Really doesn’t seem like it.

  18. @ mdhatter: None of the female officers I work with are called Sir or referred to as policemen.

    The story isn’t racist; if both parents are white and the child is mixed-race, it’s not unreasonable to suspect something unusual might be going on. The officer handled the situation badly, but that’s about the end of it.

  19. “The story isn’t racist; if both parents are white and the child is mixed-race, it’s not unreasonable to suspect something unusual might be going on. The officer handled the situation badly, but that’s about the end of it.”

    Like mixed-race adoption? Ridiculously unusual! {Seriously, it’s reasonably common in America–in fact most people’s response on seeing a child of a different ethnicity from its parents would be that it was adopted, not that the parents were international child-smugglers. Is it very uncommon in Britain?}

    Also, who “trafficks” autistic children with cerebral palsy? To be brutally frank, there can’t be much of a market for them.

  20. Msanon, you misunderstand me. Of course mixed-race adoption isn’t unusual. What I meant is that from the officer’s perspective, the situation would be identical to that of child trafficking. The officer absolutely handled it poorly, but her apparent motive wasn’t unreasonable.

  21. It could also easily have been a kid out of a previous relationship, of course.

    But even if it did look unusual, heck, even if it WAS child trafficking, it still shouldn’t have anything to do with any Terrorism Act.

  22. It is impossible to understand this mother’s frustration with a racist society, but this is not a story about racism. This is about an officer’s inappropriate response to an obvious assumption that the child is not their biological child. This story is another example of the insidious way terrorism is exploited to monitor, track, and detain people. An officer erroneously assumes a child is being taken from the country illegally, so terrorism is her excuse for detaining the family. This is what the apology ignores.

    What is lacking is a word to describe assumptions based on race without malice. Would assuming someone’s child is black if they had sickle cell anemia be racist? Or assuming a redheaded child is white? An Asian child is hurt at the playground, is it racist to look around for adults of a similar race? While these are all race-based assumptions, let’s not dilute the concept of racism.

    And BTW – is this the society they have chosen for themselves… Yes it is.

    I tend to believe, things are the way they are because that is the only way they could be. If things could have been, they would be.

    When there is a disconnect between our choices and the time when the consequences of those choices is revealed, and those choices were made or avoided out of ignorance or apathy, or an inability to choose or act in our own enlightened self interest, well there you have it. Never forget our ability to choose is limited by the choices available and our ability to choose and act. In other words, we do the best we can, not the best that is possible. For better or usually worse, as pertains to the collective, the bell curve rules.

    So, yes this is what we have chosen. The question is what we choose to do now.

    Democracy sucks, when they don’t do what I want!

  23. It seems that one of the most consistent violations of civil liberties comes not from changes in the law but from in-the-field law enforcement who have no clue what the law actually is.

    Would it be too conspiratorial of me to suggest that having undertrained police who misunderstand and overstep their authority puts the burden of reclaiming one’s freedom and proving one’s innocence onto the populace; that most of the populace will either welcome this stern hand or will be too intimidated/busy to respond to most of the violations; and that this state of affairs might be exactly what an authoritarian state might wish for: an authoritarian state without visible authoritarian laws?

    Too tinfoil-y?

  24. Hopefully I’m not sounding flame-batey here:

    Whenever I see stories similar to this – anything anti-civil liberties, photographer abuse, police abusing their power or the law in the name of keeping the terra-ists away, or “citizens” calling the police on other people just because of the color of their skin – coming from Britain, I shake my head and say, jeez, they’re really going to hell in a handbasket, I’m GLAD I don’t live there. Why did I ever think it would be fun to visit? I’m almost -scared- to visit, to think what might happen to me while I’m over there.

    And then I realize that this must be how people from nearly every other country in the world must feel about America.

    At least we’re not as bad as Italy:

  25. Not even the authorities trust the documents and instruments they’ve propagated to ensure “security” – and so we have people who are arrested and held because of one person’s disbelief or disapproval.

    She /is/ racist, and a poor police officer – REASONABLE suspicion is the standard, not “Chough – let’s harass people who are different.”

  26. Italy has much to be ashamed of. Others should take note before such police crimes become totally accepted in their own countries.

  27. @21 and others..its amusing how much of a huff people got in this thread over Takaun’s post in @2.

    The reference to the TSA is amusing given that it is clear from Takan’s previous posts at BB that he lives in Argentina.

    Like @21, most of the responses to Takaun’s post seem to reflect more about those objecting than they do about Takaun.

  28. Brian @32: Huh. Well, in that case, I’ll have to remember the line for the next time BB blogs… about… Argenti…. You’re right, I got nothing.

    Nelson.C exits, weeping.

  29. “My son is mixed race and the officer then told us, ‘I believe you are child trafficking’.”
    When Ms Maynard asked the woman officer if she would be asked the same question if her son was white, she said the officer replied: “Are you accusing me of being a racist?”

    – Sorry folks. Still racism. Not NEARLY as bad as other examples in the past, but still racism. Though, the mother did ask a loaded question. At the very least, this is racial profiling. In this case the race of the child.

    Ms Maynard said the woman officer told her: “It’s obvious he [Joshua] has nothing to do with you”.

    – Again, this is either racism outright, or racial profiling. I don’t pretend to know the makeup of families in the UK, but I would assume that this isn’t the ONLY family like this.

    The easiest way to have handled this: ask for the passports or ID…if it all matches (and isn’t fake) you’re on your way. Only pull them out to question them IF there is something wrong with either. I also don’t know the legal precedent there for detaining CITIZENS, but, my guess is the legal framework is much more than “the baby didn’t match the parents colour”. Which, as it APPEARS, it what the officer was saying.

  30. I’ve been stopped multiple times with my son, who has a different last name, when we have exited the US to return to our home country. I had a snotty airline employee ask me where my “permission letter” from the boys father was. I was shocked as she tried to tell me it was both a policy of the airline and a US law, which it is not, I asked her what she would do if I was a widow. She said we would not be able to fly home but that she said she would get the supervisor who upon simply checking our passports which have all the same entry and exit dates rolled her eyes at the counter person and told us to go through. This is obviously a milder example but now when we travel we have to bring all of our passports, birth certificates, visas and marriage certificate to avoid hassles all because I chose to keep my last name.

  31. Brian, I’m pretty sure Takuan doesn’t live in Argentina.
    Wow, I could be so wrong though; I’ve be far wronger about much less..

    I presume Tak will leave that detail to the aether though, in that mysterious ninja-cephalopod way he has of avoiding personal facts :)

  32. I’m now sitting here filled with disgust and fear after reading the Guardian article linked @#29, and no amount of watching a skateboarding hippie or kittens is going to fix this anytime soon.

  33. Racism, sexism, generally not understanding the law they’re paid to uphold all seem to be symptoms of a common malady in police forces: lack of education. In the United States, most police forces only require high school educations (and a few states don’t even require that). From what I understand, Britain isn’t much difference. I know I have only personally met one police officer who finished a degree (I live in the American Midwest).

    I didn’t start getting over my prejudices until I started my university education. High schools focus too much on rote learning and not enough on analytical and critical thought. The episteme and pedagogy employed at a high school level is at best modernist and at worst medieval scholasticism. Is it any wonder then that people who do not continue on to the more post modern halls of higher learning seem to embrace the same prejudices that plagued the modernist era?

    There are good, thoughtful and decent police officers and the cases we hear about are (I hope) the exceptions, not the rule. However, it seems like requiring more education, especially a liberal arts education, would get us a better police force. I know there are horrible, small minded people who have college educations (several politicians come to mind), but I think this would at least weed out the most egregious abusers from ever entering the system.

  34. My point is that comparing this to racism is like comparing Bush to the Nazi’s. Godwin’s Law should also apply.

    Is this officer both stupid and ignorant? Hell yes!

    Should this person be a police officer? Hell no!

    Is she a racist? We don’t know.

    Did she do this because she hates people of color? We don’t know.

    Using these definitions of racism, it would be racist to think so. Would we think she was racist if she had been any race other than white, or would we just say she is an ignorant, rude, power drunk fk who doesn’t belong in uniform?

    To me, this incedent has little or nothing to do with race. This is what worries me, “She (the mother) said, officers had told the family they had powers to hold them for up to nine hours under Section 7 of the Terrorism Act, but they were released after more than two hours.”

    This officer did not act alone and terrorism works.

  35. The officer absolutely handled it poorly, but her apparent motive wasn’t unreasonable.

    This is why it will only get much much worse in the UK. The reason the family was held for two hours was to punish the mother for speaking up. Obviously the people of the UK are not yet sufficiently docile if they still have the gall to question authority.

    There is only one place this path leads to, the abattoir.

  36. Does it matter what law a bad cop cites?

    The officer told the family she had the right to detain them under an terrorism law. If the officer was wrong, it means the officer had no understanding of the law, or knowingly lied about it, but the law might not be problematic.

    Here’s an extreme example. I’m barefoot, and an officer doesn’t like me, so the officer arrests me for public indecency, stating the law prohibits bare feet. The officer is wrong but the law is not.

    BB readers should be no strangers to people knowingly misrepresenting things to further their agendas.

  37. “BB readers should be no strangers to people knowingly misrepresenting things to further their agendas.”

    yeah, we remember

  38. @12 posted by Takuan
    all I can suggest is to have video cameras and record everything

    HOLY COW! We all know how much trouble they’d get in to if they whip out a camera! Boy, don’t bring ‘the man’ down on you by doing that!

  39. The big question in my mind is why on Earth would an official of any stripe imagine that anyone would traffic a child out of what is still a reasonably prosperous Old World nation? Surely the child trafficking usually goes the other way?

  40. cameras, video, wearable. Will someone out there please get to work on manufacturing and marketing extremely cheap, wearable video cameras disguised as jewelry, hair clips, barrettes, brooches, hair pieces, neck scarves and ties, lapel badges, clothing build-ins etc. etc. etc? They must be VERY CHEAP. They don;t have to last, they just have to be so ubiquitous that everyone, everywhere MUST assume the person they are talking to (or debasing for sexual pleasure under the guise of security theatre) IS wearing a camera and there WILL be an accounting one day. Such things already exist but until the price and availability put them in the reach of the poorest members of society, they will have no moderating impact on junior fascists everywhere.

  41. This kind of thing is why I despise any kind of cop in general. The good ones are rare, the bad ones are everywhere.

  42. Me @45: Sorry, didn’t close the italic tag properly after the first word. The perils of mobile commenting.

  43. @Takuan the thing that worries me about universal video cameras is privacy. Do I give up my right to assume that I can speak freely in public without being harassed by every jackass with an internet connection, or do I give up my right to not be harassed by police or gov’t? Trouble is, we still get harassed either way.

  44. I can’t believe some people here still believe this is a racist issue, pls d m fvr nd sty wy frm shrp thngs ‘m frd y my hrt yrslvs. n scnd thght pls ply wth th shny shrp thngs.

    The fact that she picked them out shows she was doing her job, the way she treated them showed she doesn’t know how to treat people. They were worth checking out their passports, not what being detained. Your very niave to even say things like ‘who traffiks children?’, there are some very evil people in the world so please take those idealistic rose tinted glasses off.

    #40 Foetusnail hits the nail on the head what the news article is about.

    Adoption isn’t unusual, but adopting a special needs child is very rare. Not many can do it or are willing, so kodus to the parents here for actually giving the kid parents.

    I shouldn’t of supposed what country you are from, I will learn to not do it. Bt th whl “f ths s th scty thy hv chsn fr thmslvs…” rgmnt s th mst rtrdd n hv vr hrd. Srsly, t’s jst rlly dmb nd nly srvs t mk th ppl tht s t fl bg bt thmslvs. It’s wheeled out when a lone civil servant acts out of line and is used for the basis of the whole gorvenment. If it truly was the society we chose for ourselves wouldn’t we be defending it rather than condemning it?

    ‘m mst srprsd t BngBng. cm hr t hr ntrstng nws r s ntrstng thngs, nt s Dly Ml-sq prpgnd styl hdngs tht cldn’t mss th pnt mr thn blnd drts plyr. nd sdly t sms t b hppnng mr nd mr. nd mst ppl (nt ll) hr sm t tlrt t nd lt t g nchllngd.

    1. Idlehands,

      Manners. People might think that you don’t respect them just because they disagree with you.

  45. Takuan @8, you know the details of policies aren’t guaranteed by votes. Elections are low-res expressions of interest and opinion. Once your officials are in office, you have to fine-tune them by regularly putting pressure on them to do what you had in mind when you voted for them.

    How is it that so many people have lost track of that principle? It’s how democracy works. The big moneyed interests certainly remember it. Maybe I should work up a conspiracy theory about how all the basics of government by the people are no longer being properly taught in schools.

    General Specific @23, 25:

    From the officer’s perspective, the situation would be identical to that of child trafficking.

    Would it indeed? Tell me: how much of a market is there for children with autism and cerebral palsy?

    Disabled children plus their gear are awkward to travel with, easy to track, hard to disguise, labor intensive, and memorable. They’d have to be a very lucrative commodity indeed to make trafficking them worthwhile.

    There is no such market. Neither is there any other market for them. I checked. What your officer was looking at was a situation identical to an adopted child and its parents.

    Virgil @28:

    It seems that one of the most consistent violations of civil liberties comes not from changes in the law but from in-the-field law enforcement who have no clue what the law actually is.

    On that, I agree with you completely. Look at the incident Kaiser Korndog reported in the most recent entry about the TSA no-fly list: TSA employees told him that travel is a privilege, not a right, which is absolutely not true under basic U.S. law. Or look at the documents photographers have taken to carrying which detail their legal standing, made necessary by all the police and security personnel who think the law is what the law ain’t.

    Would it be too conspiratorial of me to suggest that having undertrained police who misunderstand and overstep their authority puts the burden of reclaiming one’s freedom and proving one’s innocence onto the populace;


    that most of the populace will either welcome this stern hand or will be too intimidated/busy to respond to most of the violations;

    They’ll welcome this stern hand, or the idea that this stern hand exists, when it’s applied to others. When it happens to them, they’ll be too intimidated, busy, or short on information and resources, to respond effectively.

    and that this state of affairs might be exactly what an authoritarian state might wish for: an authoritarian state without visible authoritarian laws?

    Even when I put on my tinfoil hat, I can’t dismiss that idea, because I know that the general public’s lack of understanding of the DMCA has had exactly the effects you describe. This is going to be a bit of a digression from discussing the misuse of the U.K. Terrorism Act, but I promise it comes round again to the main topic.

    Basically, I’ve seen too many cases where the scary-sounding provisions in the DMCA have stampeded ill-informed internet service providers (ISPs) into taking down sites that weren’t in violation of copyright, or shutting down entire sites instead of asking the owners to remove one small item that’s under copyright. Boing Boing (mostly Cory) has been tracking stuff like universities penalizing students who are accused of copyright violations, when the organizations sending out the takedown notices are being extremely sloppy about who they accuse.

    The actual provisions of the DMCA have a certain amount of impact on real people and organizations. However, what people imagine and misunderstand about the DMCA has a much larger and more pervasive effect. It’s fear that drives it. As I mentioned earlier, the DMCA contains very scary-sounding provisions. For many people, these read as saying “Do everything the alleged copyright holder says, IMMEDIATELY, or face dire consequences,” and “If we catch you violating a copyright–“ (a subject few civilians fully understand) “–we’ll make sure you regret it for the rest of your life.” This renders people jumpy and superstitious about copyrights, which makes them hesitant about using anything they’re not sure of — and there’s a lot they’re not sure of.

    The DMCA also enshrines asymmetrical inconvenience for the accuser and defendant. If you’re the copyright holder, you don’t have to show any evidence that your rights are being violated. All you have to do is assert that they are, and the ISP will be obliged to take immediate action. However, if you’re a site that’s been shut down by your ISP because of a DMCA takedown, even if you can demonstrate your innocence on the spot, or you immediately take down the offending material, your ISP can still keep your site closed down for up to ten days while they consider the matter. This is enough of a hardship to make sites wary of putting up material they have every right to use because it might get hit with a takedown notice.

    Did the sponsors and supporters who got the DMCA passed know it would work out that way? Short of someone leaking memos, we can’t say; but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. Anyone who deals with copyrights knows the general public is perennially confused about what they are and how they work. The DMCA doesn’t stop copyright violations. What it does is make them scary. This has no effect on the small number of criminals who already know they’re violating copyrights, but it disposes the general public to not exercise a great many rights they aren’t sure they have.

    Which brings us back to your proposal: that undertraining police and other security personnel on the general public’s legal rights might be intentional, since it makes them more inclined to overstep their authority. In effect, you get more repression out of milder-looking laws.

    I’ll add that it also means far fewer people know what those legal rights are, and how they should be interpreted and applied. This lands hardest on people who don’t have ongoing access to professional legal advice. For everyone else, it produces the same climate of uncertainty about law enforcement that the DMCA does about copyrights.

    Do our governments know that? I suspect they do. It’s a disturbing notion. It puts me in mind of Joanna Russ saying that the culturally approved homophobia of the 1950s and 1960s didn’t do much to keep out-and-out queers in check; they were already over the line and they knew it. What it really did was motivate one hell of a lot of social conformity in everyone else, because they were anxious to avoid being tagged as potential homosexuals.

    McCarthyism and the general anxiety over Communism did the same thing to what had been a vigorous segment of the American political spectrum. If European leftists want to know what became of everything to the left of the Democrats, including the best parts of the labor movement and our long indigenous tradition of socialism in state and local governments, there’s the answer.

    Dammit, Virgil, I’m talking myself into this, and I don’t want to.

    Damn. You may have a point there.

  46. From the post: “The child is mixed-race and was travelling with his mother and father, whose skin is a different colour from his and each other.”

    To paraphrase: All three of them objectively appear to be of different races.

    The added: “You obviously have nothing to do with [him]”. It’s hard to see it as -not- racist.

    That any of you are inclined to see the semantics as the gender issue as more relevant speaks volumes as to how these abuses of liberty can happen, repeatedly.

  47. I am not happy with humanity these days. Not happy at all. It especially enrages me when I see democracies repeatedly vote in corrupt,stupid ,evil,repressive,irresponsible,venal, short-sighted,lying, thieving, murdering scum. It doesn’t bother me so much to see the continuing torture and slaughter in places like North Korea and Burma since those populations don’t have elections.

    When I deliberately drop lit matches like: “if that is the society they choose” it is with malicious intent and forethought to GOAD PEOPLE INTO TAKING DEMOCRATIC RESPONSIBILITY AND HATING THEIR GOVERNMENTS FOR DOING HATEFUL THINGS! My comments are supposed to inflame and irritate.

    Hows the hell did poster-child pissant George W Bush end up on the throne? Twice? Vote buying? Smears against the opponent? Diebold fraud? NO!
    He got in because a huge number of Americans DID NOT even vote. They weren’t angry enough. Are they angry now? We teeter on the brink of global economic depression,environmental catastrophe and ruinous war – will they be angry enough to vote after this all hits the fan? And England? And Canada? And France? Italy even? Twits ruling everywhere.

    Time to make it better. Or this miserable species does not deserve to survive.

  48. Takuan,

    I agree with all of the above, no problem, but I was having a hard time the other day and you reminded me of something better for my pain than the Vics I was chewing. I took the hint. Now I hand it back: fire up, bro, you are not alone.

  49. very kind of you Buddy, but I’ll stick to being drunk all the time. My public demands it.

  50. I can communicate with and learn from people around the world anytime I want. The news of the world is available instantaneously 24/7 from a variety of competing sources. The world’s most prosperous and powerful country is a democracy, yet here we are on a collision course. Anger? Is this really all that is missing? Is this sad or what? Well, any port in a storm.

  51. TNH @ 52

    Neither autism nor cerebral palsy present themselves in ways that would be immediately evident to someone from outside the car.

  52. My friends, lots of things are racist that fall well short of men in white hoods having a “necktie party” and burning crosses. For example, when I’m more afraid of a group of African-American teenagers than a similarly-dressed and -behaving group of white teenagers, I’m being racist. (I’m more or less over that one, thank gods.)

    Yes, the cop was being racist. Thinking a child “has nothing to do with” his parents because he’s of a different race than they are is racist. I know a guy who is half Egyptian and half Greek (why, yes, as it happens he IS beautiful, why do you ask?); his brother is Greek on both sides; their older brothers and sisters are mixed race, and their younger brother is African-American.

    Adoption makes good families, but they do look unusual. Halting a family because it looks unusual in this way is racist.

    noen 41: There is only one place this path leads to, the abattoir.

    “…which then propel the tenants into the main room, and onto the rotating knives. The last 40 feet of the corridor are heavily soundproofed. Now the—”

    “Excuse me. Did you say knives?”

    “Rotating knives, yes.”

    “Are you saying you mean to slaughter our tenants?”

    “Oh! It seems I hadn’t quite divined your attitude toward the tenants. You see I mostly design slaughterhouses.”

  53. @54 Takuan

    I said before but I’ll elebarate more. In the US I envy the fact they have 2 nominees to vote for that are polar opposite to one another. Don’t like one of them, then vote for the other (yes I’m over simplifing, and glossing over some problems). Bush got in because of the huge voting market in the bible belt. Here in the UK we have many political parties, and of late they are all copying each others policies and saying the same thing. That’s why more people don’t vote, because it doesn’t seem to matter, they are all the same and doesn’t matter, defeating the purpose of making a difference. It’s become more about getting undecided voters votes here rather than creating solid policies to actually improve the country. Sound bites rather than pages of plans and research. Party policies are hidden very deep beneath catchy sound bites, and usually are there more for show.

    That’s why I get angry at the whole “if that is the society they choose..”.

    @59 Xopher

    “Halting a family because it looks unusual in this way is racist.”

    Isn’t their job at border control to stop unusual things? As I’ve said she did it the wrong way but it’s not racist to check them out. Racism is having preconcieved notions of someone based purely on their skin colour, not seeing a group of multi-racial people and not instantly assuming that they are all one family. If we go along with what you are saying then everyone is racist, I prefer to believe it’s just general prejudice that everyone has about everyone. I prefer the use of the word racist/racism to be saved for people of the cross burning variety, so the word still holds meaning. Keep throwing the word around and it’ll lose meaning and impact. I just object to the headlines’ use of the word, it conjures up images of snarling bigoted bastards that spend weekends throwing bricks through asians shops shouting “Go home p*ki” (I can’t bring myself to type the full word). I just feel it cheapens it, she didn’t treat them horribly because he was mixed race, but because she’s just bad at her job (which should be the main discourse about this story).

    @53 Mdhatter

    Try reading the linked story.
    BoingBoing – “The child is mixed-race and was travelling with his mother and father, whose skin is a different colour from his and each other”
    Linked Story – “Our officer spoke to a white couple with a child of mixed race”

  54. politicos know that people want tomorrow to be the same as yesterday – when you ask people what they want today. They also know the people have no memory.

    One: People MUST develop a memory

    Two: People MUST learn to believe again that tomorrow MIGHT BE better.

    Get the second without the first and you have the next Hitler. The first by itself means no one in their right mind will want the job.

  55. True. But it’s hard to get enough people motivated, as our government is not Hitler bad (well not yet at least). They’ve done good things, like making gay marriage legal. They are about half bad half good. The other problem is that there are MP’s in charge of each genre, so you may agree with one parties MP (say home security) but disagree with the same parties other MP (say Health and saftey). So we vote in a good MP into one slot but chance getting a bad one in another, this is the problem with the whole democratic process here I find.

    The saddest thing is that apparantly the BMP are getting more votes, and it’s easy to get motivated against them. They are the Hitler political party, they have one policy “deport anyone of a different skin colour than white”. But they are succeding becuase they are now going door to door and ‘neglecting’ to tell them this policy and telling them other policies that they want to hear. It’s all about the spin. Apparantly they may get a following where I live, I say “like hell!”, I’ll dedicate myself to stop this nonsense. See easy to get motivated about them, as they are clearly pitch black, but they main parties are all slightly different shades of grey.

    Plus how do you get the government to listen that they need to change? Not voting can let the BMP in, but by voting they believe that you believe in them.

  56. I confess I do not truly understand the British political dynamic. Is democracy crippled because of too little public engagement or too much? How bad does it have to get before people get angry?

  57. @idlehands –

    The insinuation that the wife “clearly had nothing to do with” her husband, well, it doesn’t sit right with me. So what if both parents were ‘white’?

    Redheads dating swarthy Aryans? Both are ‘white’, but it’s a mixed race marriage to many.

    To too many.

    Does nearly matching skin pigments remove racism from the picture just because the police (who have no reason to smooth the flap) said so?

    All ‘Europeans’ are white, does that make the European wars of the last 2000 years or so not a matter of race?

    Racism isn’t limited to skin color.

  58. Hello Xopher,

    I suppose my past causes me to split hairs that don’t exist. I grew up with white only water fountains and bathrooms. Also, having known so many stereotypical redneck racist skinheads, through the tattoo business, I tend to think of a racist in a more literal sense. To me a racist is one who has a philosophy of race-based superiority who usually also hates those of different races and wishes them extinct. To me racists are more than just prejudicial or afraid of something different; they are more than just some ignorant, rude, and thoughtless cop. While she may indeed be a racist by both of our definitions, I am not prepared to make that assumption.

    Obviously, it is wise to watch your ass around young punks of any color. However, I do have slightly more fear of young African-Americans than similarly dressed and behaving young whites because I’ve been the victim of racism. I was beaten up for using a bathroom young African-Americans claimed as their own. I know it was a racial attack because they kept asking whitey what the hell he was doing taking a shit in their bathroom. It really sucks to get your ass kicked, literally, trapped in a stall and hobbled by your pants, though in hindsight being in that stall probably saved my ass. Trust me there are some pissed off African-American kids who will beat the crap out of you because you are white.

    I’ve been the only white person on a standing room only bus, I also happened to be the only person with an open seat next to them. I’ve had to sit alone in the backseat of a car while everyone stood outside discussing who was going to sit next to him; they were just trying to all sit together “so we can talk”. However, before the night was over, sometime around sunup, all that shit was forgotten.

    Travel back to 1975 and try getting into a party in a walkup in DC sometime. There must have been over a hundred people crammed into that place. Despite the fact that it was impossible to stand, sit, or move without being in constant contact with someone, not one person talked to me for over an hour. I did however frequently hear a rather legitimate question, what is he doing here? As the night wore on, I also ended up taking some good-natured ribbing, because in addition to being white I can‘t dance.

    Years later, near Miami, the funniest thing happened when a friend and I pulled off the interstate to grab some food. As soon as the employee heard our voices, we could hear her excitedly telling her co-workers, “There’s white people in the drive through. There’s white people in the drive through.” When we pulled up to the window, the employees, laughing hysterically, had gathered at the window to get a look at the curiosities. I would add we found it hilarious as well.

    The way I interpret your comment all of these people were racists or at least committed racist acts, maybe you’re right. I just never thought of it that way. For me, it takes more than being racially prejudiced, fearful, or finding something unusual to make one a racist or their actions racist; though maybe that’s splitting hairs that don’t exist.

    I can tell you one thing, having seen the media at work close hand; we may never know the truth about any of those involved or what happened at that checkpoint, making the title of this post an opinion, many of our comments prejudicial, and some racist.


  59. #63: Takuan. Do you not think that maybe this kind of thing is an isolated incident? That maybe our political dynamic functions around things that…well…seem more important because they happen with frequency?

    How much do you ‘bone up’ on the UK news? In this country at the moment we have far more severe problems involving race than this tawdry story of one dumb cop. Namely – the increasing level of knife related violence (fatal or otherwise) that is affecting, predominantly, the black youth of London. This is a bona-fide problem, resulting from social inequalities in race. There are various campaigns and demonstrations (and even attempts by hapless idiot politicians) trying to bring this issue to light and to attempt to get something done about it.

    Your whole ‘if this is the society they have chosen…’ stance is just plain annoying. Can you please let me know which country you live in so I can point out all its problems and then tacitly blame them (at least in part) on you. Can you find me a ‘democratic’ country in the world that doesn’t suffer from isolated incidents of retarded cop? I’m the USA suffers far more from institutionalised racism in its police forces than the UK. I know that Italy has bona-fide card carrying Fascists running the Cabineri.

    I really don’t like the UK. It’s politically apathetic, it suffers from deep social inequalities. But these are problems that are basically universal…it’s pretty difficult to attempt to sneer from the moral highground. Unless you live in…say…a Scandanavian Social Democracy…but even then it’s best to remember that your lovely state of affairs is maintained only by a draconian immigration policy.

  60. @64 Mdhatter

    That’s really just splitting hairs, actually you literally are seperating people into race according to hair colour. Like I said it demeans the impact and power of the words racism/racist, when people calling a redhead a name classes you as racist.
    “All ‘Europeans’ are white”
    See that can be taken as being very racist.

    Again I have to wonder if anyone would of called racism if it wasn’t for BoingBoing’s headline.

    @63 Takuan

    A bit of both. The government parties went off on this new path of focusing on saying what they think we want to hear, rather than doing what is best for the country. The people put too much trust into them saying “ok you deal with that we’ll be over here” and we’ve come back too late to find they’ve kept the place shiny and tidy, but taken a crap on the coffee table.

    People are angry but like I said alot don’t know what to do, so resign themselves to having nothing change. I’ve gone on marches, demonstrations and done petitiions on various things, but nothing changed our voices were heard but not considered. It’s like chairmen for retail companies, they instigate something that looks good on paper but in practice is ridiculous. They are too far removed from the effects of their action, relying solely on stats. And their employees are just working until they can find something better and quit.

  61. IdleHands 60: Isn’t their job at border control to stop unusual things?

    Good gods, I hope not. I’ll get stopped every time! No, their job is to stop suspicious things. And as someone said, “It’s obvious he has nothing to do with you” is either blatantly racist or some kind of wacky anti-adoption sentiment.

    ____ 62: See easy to get motivated about them, as they are clearly pitch black, but the main parties are all slightly different shades of grey.

    Could we avoid using ‘black’ as a metaphor for ‘evil’ while we’re discussing race? I don’t like it anyway, but it really jangles me in this context. (I’m not saying you meant it in a racist way or anything.)

    FoetusNail 65: I would say that all those people were being racist (adjective). I reserve the noun for people who consciously and deliberately act on their racist feelings. Therefore the guys who beat you up in the bathroom were racists, and so were the people discussing sitting next to you in the car. Maybe the people at the party who asked what you were doing there. I assume you were invited by the hosts, or by guests with inviting privileges.

    The thing is, there’s a risk of watering down the term, but that risk is lessened if we acknowledge that racism is pandemic in society. It’s a disease that infects everyone without exception; all we can do is try to keep the symptoms under control and avoid passing it on to the next generation.

    IdleHands 67: I think MDHatter meant “All people of entirely European descent are ‘white’.” It’s too obviously racist to say that “everyone who belongs in Europe is white,” which appears to be your interpretation.

    By the “race” criterion of “where were your ancestors living 5000 years ago” I’m entirely European. (I am not white. I am sometimes a light pinkish beige. In the summer I darken slightly, but not much. Sometimes I am bright red. If I stay indoors for an extended period I turn very pale indeed, but still not any color that could reasonably be called “white” in any context other than the racial.) Btw, I think the phrase ‘the White Race’ should be abandoned by anyone who isn’t a white supremacist; it’s already a tag that identifies them, at least in this country.

  62. @68 Xopher

    I knew what MDHatter was trying to say, I was showing how easy it is to cry racism using such a broad definition of racism that he uses and quoting out of context.

    “where were your ancestors living 5000 years ago”
    I hate this line, sorry this is just a rant about this silly line. An aside rant if you will. What does it matter where your ancestor grew up thousands of years ago, it’s as relevant as asking ‘have your parents ever day tripped to Dorset?’. ‘I’m part Irish’ That’s great but you grew up and live in LA, please don’t trout that about like it actually means something (just to clarify that isn’t directed at anyone here, just people I’ve heard use it, in thick american accents).

    Xopher would you say this joke is racist;
    “Your dating a black man? How do you know he’s still there during the night? The night and him are the same colour. He could’ve snuck off.”
    Just a pondering as this came from a black girl, to a group of various ethnicities. We all laughed (though not a very good joke once written but in conversation it was).

    Security do sometimes have to check people, even if it annoys them. Yes there are ridicolous lengths that they will go to, though it usually comes from the government, and yes some security people are power hungry fools. But I’ve never understood this infantile “I don’t trust the police, they are a bunch of fools”, at least UK people. Every police officer I’ve dealt with has been very good and friendly enough, but some people seem to focus on that minority that are bad until it’s all they see. If they had it their way the security forces would be too afraid of being sexist/racist/ageist. By the way I’m not defending the TSA, I’m talking about UK security forces (as they are the ones I know about, I’m not going to presume about any persons country).

  63. IdleHands, the location of your ancestors 5000 years ago really more or less determines your “race,” as it’s commonly understood. “Continent to which you trace your ancestors as of the dawn of history” is another way of describing it.

    If what you’re saying is that the whole concept of race is silly, then I agree, but it’s widely taken seriously, and used for all kinds of unjust persecution.

    And “part Irish,” which I proudly claim, is something we Americans do because our ethnicities are very important to us. In fact, in some places and times they have acted as races (Google “NINA sign” with the quotes if you don’t believe me). And we’re much more mixed than you’d expect. My ancestors are all of European descent, but they come from a wide variety of places on that continent. We’re a nation of immigrants, much as some here like to forget it.

    As for the joke: for some reason it’s considered socially OK in many circles for people to tell racist jokes about their own race. But that joke is racist, yes. I’ve never met a man who was the color of night; if I did, I’d probably date him, but that’s not really on topic here!

    Not all police are fools, anywhere. Some are more foolish than others. But trust them? They are not to be trusted! Actually I don’t know about UK police, but in the US the only reasonable approach of any sensible person is to avoid all contact with the police (acting in their professional capacity) whenever possible. If forced to interact with them, be very careful what you say and do in their presence, and keep the interaction as brief as possible. To do otherwise is just foolish.

  64. Xopher,

    I still believe the whole ancestory determines is wrong but good to hear I’m not the only one. It’s strange that a PC term would be African-American, but if you think about it they were born in America (as an example) then aren’t they by proxy American, labeling as African-American is making them outsiders no? Just another musing really.

    I have no problem with people knowing and being proud of their ancestory, just using it to pigeon-hole them into ‘races’ seems silly. Wow I never knew about NINA signs, that’s depressing.

    The joke may be racist, but is it offensive? When I hear something is racist then I always assume it’s offensive. Again this is more of a probing of the issue on my part.

    The police thing . . I think I’m just annoyed that they seem to get a bum rap in the media all the time, and treated a bit like lepers or tax men. That and I’m a little sad that we can’t just simply trust the police, I know it’s naive but still it was kinda the point of them.

  65. IdleHands 72: No, they’re not American by proxy, they’re American by right of birth! Many African-American families have been in this country longer than my families have: I’m not sure ANY of mine were here before the American Civil War, for example. If not, then any slave-descended African-American is more “American” than I am.

    It was my understanding that the term ‘African-American’ was preferred by (some representative segment of) the African-American community itself.

    About the joke: things are racist in the abstract, but offensive only in context. If the joke is told in a context where mild racial humor is tolerated, then no, it isn’t offensive. If it is told in, say, my house, it is.

  66. Not all police are fools, anywhere. Some are more foolish than others. But trust them? They are not to be trusted! Actually I don’t know about UK police, but in the US the only reasonable approach of any sensible person is to avoid all contact with the police (acting in their professional capacity) whenever possible. If forced to interact with them, be very careful what you say and do in their presence, and keep the interaction as brief as possible. To do otherwise is just foolish.

    This should be handed out on wallet cards.

    BTW – Thanks for the toughtful response.

  67. yeah, that is true pretty well everywhere. Cops are about cops, for cops and only want to do right by other cops. A few of the young ones might see citizens as someone to help, but 90% see the people as scum or cattle. If you want a peaceful life, you have to take care of yourself. Cops always make things worse. They can be used as a weapon when required, but only a fool thinks they are life preservers. Funny, this is the view old cultures like China and India have always held. Experience does teach life-lessons.

  68. Takuan…yeah…sorry about that…I managed to miss your justification until after I’d posted.

    But I thought I’d just let the comment stand…because I don’t see that the justification is particularly valid. Being annoying on already liberal messageboards isn’t a great way to re-ignite democracy. It doesn’t encourage debate. It doesn’t encourage anything really – it’s just annoying.

    It just comes across as preachy. I already hate my government, I’m already well-informed as to its various misdoings and I already do what I think relevant in the real world to stand against that government. I think most BB messageboard posters are of a similar ilk. It seems to me that unless you have some kind of positive suggestions for the real world…well…you’re just flamebaiting in fantasyland.

    Seems pretty unproductive to me.

  69. #36 arkizzle,
    Brian, I’m pretty sure Takuan doesn’t live in Argentina. Wow, I could be so wrong though; I’ve be far wronger about much less..

    Isn’t Takuan from Malaysia?

Comments are closed.