On the 5th May, 1980, two teams of Britain’s Special air Service (SAS) conducted a raid on the Iranian Embassy, in London. Their mission was to rescue 20 hostages, held at gun point by 6 terrorists. The assault lasted 17 minutes and of the six terrorists only one survived. Nineteen of the twenty hostages were liberated. The vision of men in black overalls, abseiling down buildings, wearing gas masks and armed with an MP5 is the first image I have when I think of the SAS. The Iranian embassy siege catapulted the SAS into the spotlight after operating in the shadows since its conception in the deserts of north Africa in 1941.
The six terrorists entered the Iranian embassy through the front door, drew their weapons and so began the siege. Maybe if there had been better security the terrorists wouldn’t have even made it through the front door… Or maybe not.
“It’s for security reasons” said the large gentlemen, preventing the lift doors from closing
“But why?” I asked
“For security. You have to take your hood down”
I begrudgingly obliged and removed my hood. I was then told if I did it again I would be reported.
I understand the need for security, to give people the illusion of safety, but what I don’t understand is this obsession with not being allowed to wear a hood. If it was a ski mask or a balaclava or a gas mask I’d understand… But a hood? Hoods don’t even cover your face, they don’t even obscure it. Look at someone who’s wearing a hood, you can see their face, all of it.
For the last few weeks I’ve walked into college wearing my hood up. Why? Because it’s against the rules. I have been experimenting in a little civil disobedience. Not a lot, just a little. Like dipping your toe into the water to see if your happy to jump in. For the last four weeks I was asked by several members of security to take my hood down. I disobeyed and continued towards my class without any repercussions. Now, I am fully aware that I’m being a dick when I do this… but as I said it’s an experiment. This week the same thing happened and as I was waiting for the lift I was accosted by a man who I assume was the head security man. We had an exchange of words and I was told, categorically, that if I didn’t remove my hood he would throw me out, “fair enough, but you still haven’t answered my question”
“It’s the college rules and for security”
Ahhh the rules… thank heavens for the rules. Without the rules we’d be left with only our common sense and intelligence. I know these people are just doing their jobs, but if history shows us anything, it is that people had their rights and liberties taken away by people who were just doing their job.
Now, I’m sure most of you are thinking that if I were to commit some random act of violence then my actions would have been recorded on the college’s CCTV; and if I was wearing a hood then they might not be able to make a positive ID. And you could well be right; but, If I was wearing dark glasses, a baseball cap, one of those silly caps that golfers wear or in fact almost any other piece of headgear it probably would have obscured my face much more than a hood; and all of which are allowed on campus. If you also take into account that CCTV is questionable, at best, at stoping/lowering crime; and convictions arising directly from CCTV footage is again, not great. So I’m left asking myself what’s wrong with wearing a hood?
There is also another question: should we obey, just because we’re told? I personally feel that if we as human beings want to retain our freedoms the answer should be a resounding NO! I have no problem complying with a request, so long as it’s not shrouded in bullshit and smeared with fear. However, I feel we should always question any such request, especially if it’s coming form a private security guard, and if your answer is along the lines of ‘It’s for security purposes’ I feel that’s not a good enough answer. I know this is not North Korea and we still enjoy a great deal many freedoms. But when can the comparisons between the UK and N.Korea be brought up? When there’s less of a gap? Fuck that! We don’t live in N.Korea or West Germany (as it was) or Russia or China, places that I deem to be police states, and I’m thankful for that. I don’t want this country heading down that road and to me, I feel it is.
There was a bill that made its way to the house of lords (Thankfully it was rejected). The bill proposed, in brief, that anyone as young as 10 found to be annoying or could be seen to possibly cause annoyance, could be arrested. Faced with a hefty fine and/or jail time. Just think about that. Anyone being annoying could be arrested. Chewing too loudly in a restaurant, walking too slowly on the path, poor pronunciation of the English language, peaceful protest, not taking your hood down in a public building, humming out of tune; the list is endless. In theory you could be arrested for doing anything. It just has to fall under the vague guideline of ‘Annoyance’
I must have shared the petition to have this bill blocked around to my friends on Facebook and Twitter a dozen times and only a handful of people signed it. Maybe that’s down to Facebook’s filtering system or maybe people are far too happy and prosperous with their toys and gadgets that they just don’t want to upset the apple cart, rock the boat…or they plain don’t give a shit. I knew in advance who’d sign it and I knew who wouldn’t. They’re the people we need to reach.
We all need to stand up and make sure that our freedoms remain in tact, even if that means you just sign an online petition. You don’t have to tie yourself to a gate, burn your underwear and not wash for a week. We just need to get more involved. Because one day your front door might be kicked in and a dozen men in black overalls and gas masks might come crashing in… all in the name of security.
“Evil is only allowed to bloom when good men stand idle”
Oh, I also stole a packet of chewing gum from a shop because the lady at the till was rude to me. About my hood…