On Christmas Day, police in the U.K. rounded up tourists taking photos of the royal family at Sandringham church and confiscated their cameras. At The Independent, Dominic Lawson's dismay subsides to confusion: Britain's police are "descending into obvious madness," he writes. " …Their explanation of their behaviour is usually much harder to understand than the errors they seek to mitigate."
In his view, the many similar absurdities (also recently arrested was a man who took photographs of a chip shop) are united by a simple and apolitical motive. Lawson puts it thus:
If the innocent citizen reacts with the outrage of the genuinely guiltless, the officers involved may well take a special pleasure in humiliating him – and it is this which makes most people meekly accept official behaviour, even if they might strongly suspect it is the police who are behaving illegally.
Brits have a term for these sort of officials: jobsworths. The police know that they're harming what they ostensibly protect, but haven't been ordered to give a damn. And the result of that is far worse: "none of us can feel safe: exactly the inverse of what our masters' policies are supposedly designed to achieve."
Illustration: Pip R. Lagenta