Is Britain turning into a police state? You know, a little like San Francisco.
Both places seem to have influential factions--in Britain's case, politicians seeking votes; in San Francisco's case, the people who run the trains--that wish to monitor and control the means of communication in slightly Mubarakian ways.
You might remember that the Brits, after last week's riots, were overcome with the urge to monitor BlackBerry's Messenger service, as well as every other imaginable social-networking system.
Well, now they've gone and arrested someone for allegedly trying to organize a water fight.
I have not been at the funny jam. For the Guardian reports that a 20-year-old man from Colchester, England, (not much of a dreamy place) has been charged by the police for allegedly using his cell phone to try to persuade as many people as possible to draw water pistols.
The police are claiming that he went on both Facebook and BlackBerry's hideously discreet Messenger system in order to encourage all and sundry to become all and sunwet.
You will be reaching for your law compendium as you read this. Please let me save you the trouble. The somewhat Disunited Kingdom has its 2007 Serious Crimes Act. Under this fine document, the man has been charged with "encouraging or assisting in the commission of an offense."
It seems that water fights are serious crimes in the Kingdom, whereas, say, rioting might get you a fine or even a conditional discharge.
As you contemplate the meaning of it all, if there's any left, you might be wondering just how the police discovered that such a water fight might take place. It seems possible that BlackBerry's stated co-operation with the police might have resulted in a fluid number of arrests.
But I want to reassure everyone in Britain who wants to use their cell phones and social networks in order to have a party and get over the events of last week.
I want to, but I can't. Instead, might I offer the news that MI5--yes, the James Bondy-types--has reportedly joined the party in trawling through social networks in order to find naughty people.
It seems that, perhaps, San Francisco might still be one step away from British levels of electronic surveillance. Its celebrated mass pillow fight, also organized through nasty electronic means like Web sites, occurred as scheduled this year.