09
Oct
08

Mid-week misanthropy, vol. 19

Making great art isn’t easy. The stereotype of the tortured genius, shivering in the garrett apartment he (hey, it’s a stereotype) can’t afford to heat and scratching out crude sketches which’ll sell for millions only after his death is in many ways consistent with reality. You’d think, though, that once an artist has shuffled off this mortal coil and s/h/its works started to earn millions for their publishers, we could leave them to rest in peace.

The celebrated German poet Friedrich Schiller, dead for more than 200 years, has been sent reminders that he should pay his TV and radio licence fee.

The German fee collection agency, GEZ, mistakenly sent letters to “Mr Friedrich Schiller” – which arrived at a primary school bearing his name.

[…]

With the annual fee of about 200 euros (£157) unpaid since 1805 Schiller would owe more than 40,000 euros.

Unusually for a state organ, the GEZ have apologized for their mistake; predictably, they have also issued the usual excuses:

GEZ issued an apology, admitting its mistake.

“We have to deal with such a huge amount of data, that something like this can happen, and the name Friedrich Schiller is not so unusual that it stood out as strange,” a GEZ spokeswoman said.

Gee, Sparky, if you’re so swamped with data that you routinely mistake national icons — “Schiller is one of Germany’s best-known poets and playwrights” — two hundred years dead for taxpayers, maybe your mandate is excessive.

——

Of course, no story of gobsmackingly imbecilic bureaucratic meddling from Germany can be allowed to pass without Albion raising a skeptical eyebrow from across the Channel and muttering, “I can top that.”

Silly me; I thought that was the whole point.

Bill Malcolm, 61, took the drastic step of installing the wire in a bid to prevent burglars raiding his tool shed and ransacking his vegetable plots. Intruders have struck three times in four months, stealing more than £300 worth of hardware, including spades, forks and hoes as well as destroying his potato patch. The fed-up gardener surrounded his 600 square yard site in Worcester with a single strand of barbed wire, which stood no more than waist high.

[…]

‘The council said they were unhappy about the precautions I had made but my response was to tell them that only someone climbing over on to my allotment could possibly hurt themselves.

‘They shouldn’t be trespassing in the first place but the council apologised and said they didn’t want to be sued by a wounded thief.’

And in a spot of very British irony, this may be the only part of the Isles that the plods don’t want to take under CCTV surveillance:

[A spokeswoman for Bromsgrove District Council said:] ‘The numbers of burglaries that have occurred on this allotment do not warrant the expense of installing CCTV.’

——

By now, some of my newer readers might be forgiven for wondering whether my distaste for domestic espionage and Byzantine bureaucracies aren’t a little overblown. So let’s bring this back across the pond, where “terrorism” sometimes includes nonviolent protest.

Before we go into the article itself, let me remind you of an obscure quotation from a small document that had some historical significance in the pre-9/11 world:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

That is, of course, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution; the keystone of the Bill of Rights.

Quaint, isn’t it?

The Maryland State Police classified 53 nonviolent activists as terrorists and entered their names and personal information into state and federal databases that track terrorism suspects, the state police chief acknowledged yesterday.

Police Superintendent Terrence B. Sheridan revealed at a legislative hearing that the surveillance operation, which targeted opponents of the death penalty and the Iraq war, was far more extensive than was known when its existence was disclosed in July.

[…]

“I don’t believe the First Amendment is any guarantee to those who wish to disrupt the government,” he said.

Disrupting the government… like an officer of said government subverting and undermining the founding principles of his country? Sounds treasonous.

——

And speaking of authority figures who ought to be hanged, drawn, and quartered:

The British Columbia College of Teachers suspended Steven Gerald Paras in August for four months from his new job in Surrey after he pleaded guilty to professional misconduct following a number of complaints made in 2002, while he was the principal at White Rock Christian Academy, a private school for kindergarten to Grade 12 students.

The most serious was his failure to tell the police or the Ministry of Children and Family Development about the sexual assault of a 13-year-old female student by an adult male.

Instead he “detained and isolated the student in a confined space for an inappropriate period of time during the initial investigation,” the college concluded in its report. He then suspended the student.

Paras can have some company whilst being dragged to the scaffold:

Marvin Hunt, a Surrey city councillor and the school’s chair, said there is no reason not to welcome back Paras when he completes his suspension in January.

I can think of several, starting with the fact that he punished a student for having the gall to get raped.  Of course, this is Surrey, which is to Vancouver what Whitechapel was to Victorian London, so we probably shouldn’t be surprised when city councillors overlook little things like sexual assaults.


1 Response to “Mid-week misanthropy, vol. 19”


  1. July 17, 2014 at 06:32

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