I love the UK. I love the people. I love the culture. I love the history. Their government is rubbish. In many ways, the UK government makes the US government look like a model of enlightenment.
Without belaboring the point, the latest (creeping up to a) police state news (edited):
Moves by Home Secretary John Reid will allow police to act against organised criminals without taking them to trial.
Gangsters suspected of being involved in organised crime will face a wide range of tough restrictions - and could be jailed for five years if they fail to go straight.
But Jago Russell of civil rights group Liberty said: "We used to believe in hard evidence and fair trials in this country - now we dispense rapid-fire justice as quickly as the Government can develop a catchy four-letter acronym for it. These new orders targeted at the 'Mr Bigs' of the criminal world will likely be as unfair and ineffective as Asbos and control orders before them."
The range of restrictions which will be imposed on criminals could include limits on their financial, property or business dealings, their working arrangements, the people they can associate with or communicate with, premises they have access to, and their travel in the UK or abroad.
Now does that last paragraph read like something straight out of the former Soviet Union or not?
For those not in the UK, you may wonder what an 'ASBO' is. That's short for Anti-Social Behavior Order. They can forbid you from doing all manner of things, and you face stiff penalties if you breach the orders. You can get one merely on the basis of anonymous testimony or hearsay and kids in troubled neighborhoods are now sometimes deliberately going out and getting them to achieve status with their peers.
ASBOs typically cost about £5,000 to obtain and the recidivism rate amongst recipients is high. Does anyone in the UK government even ask if acronyms are our best weapon against crime?
A 23-year-old woman who repeatedly threw herself into the Avon was served with an Asbo banning her from jumping into rivers or canals. A man with mental health problems was banned from sniffing petrol anywhere in Teesside. A woman living on an estate in East Kilbride was given an Asbo ordering her not to be seen wearing her underwear at her window or in her garden. The local Asbo unit handed out diaries to her neighbours to record when she was seen in her underwear, giving a new meaning to neighbourhood watch.
And polls I've read suggest that greater than 80% of UK citizens support ASBOs even though most don't feel they're effective. Sigh.