What is the difference between a citizen and a subject?
Personally, my reflexive answer is freedom of one sort or another — the right to bear arms, the right to free speech and freedom of association, etc. The things that a citizen has and takes for granted. Sometimes, however, it is what the subject has to put up with that makes the difference.
It comes into starkest relief when contrasting the United States and the United Kingdom — chillingly so, since much of what starts there seems to seep out over on this side of the Atlantic — traffic cameras and police CCTV come to mind.
So, now, allow me to introduce to you, via the UK Daily Mail, the very latest variation of the nanny-cam:
“Our movements are already tracked by CCTV, speed cameras and even spies in dustbins.
Now snooping on the public has reached new heights with local authorities putting spy planes in the air to snoop on homeowners who are wasting too much energy.
Thermal imaging cameras are being used to create colour-coded maps which will enable council officers to identify offenders and pay them a visit to educate them about the harm to the environment and measures they can take.”
Now, you’d think that the loyal opposition in the UK might have something to say about this sort of thing… and they do:
“Lib Dem group leader Stuart Beadle added: ‘Cameras are in place all over today and we have to accept them. So long as the right guidelines are in place and it will bring benefits, I think the scheme is a good thing.'”
Not quite as catchy as “Four legs good, two legs better,” but it may have to do. Of course, the bleating Beadle may simply have been swept away with the tide:
“Almost 500 local authorities have been using anti-terrorism powers brought in under the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to launch a string of bizarre investigations.
These have included checks on dog fouling, putting bins out on the wrong day and people trying to cheat school catchment area rules.”
Almost makes you miss Alan Funt, doesn’t it?