Since New Labour came to power they have pursued an agenda of increasing the power of the state over the individual. Examples include taking DNA samples of anyone who is arrested (though they may never be charged), plans to track our cars wherever we go and powers to read our emails. The list continues to expand.
In the debate over civil liberties one frequently hears the statement “if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear”. This is a statement made by people who have a misplaced faith in the establishment. They assume that the establishment will always act according to the spirit and letter of the law and in the best interests of citizens.
This week we heard of another example where the establishment runs roughshod over the rights of the individual. In this can it was the medical establishment who, it seems, are still casually mutilating the bodies of the dead without first obtaining the consent of the relatives. A man’s body is to be disinterred after it was buried without the brain. The brain was removed due to what has been termed a “blunder” by the pathology department of the University Hospital of Wales (UHW), in Cardiff. The outright arrogance of the medical establishment is demonstrated by the total inadequacy of the “oops sorry!” explanation for the removal of a man’s brain.
The Independent ran the wonderfully macabre headline: “Family horrified by man’s burial without brain”
The “if you have nothing to hide..” argument is usually made by conformists. People who accept the status quo. It’s important to remember that when the establishment goes wrong it doesn’t discriminate conformists from rebels. If powers are given to the establishment then they will be abused because the establishment is made up of fallible humanity. The way to protect civil liberties is to tightly restrict the powers that are given to the establishment.