Sunday, 15 January 2012

Security matters

I read in the Observer today that film and media stars at the Golden Globe ceremony are being served with a very riche dessert. This fantastic pudding, slaved over for an equally fantastic six months by the chef who crated it, consists of chocolate, almonds, berries, honey and … wait for it … edible gold flakes!!!! Yes, that was EDIBLE GOLD FLAKES!!! And they cost $135 a gram!!! Apart from a sneaky curiosity as to what edible gold flakes taste like, I’m not really sure I could stomach it.

Apparently adding gold to food goes way back to the Romans: a nicely ostentatious way of making people realise how wealthy you are.

Back in today’s world, there is some speculation about whether the more politically aware and even politically active of the stars will be happy to be fed such rich fare. An American “food poverty campaigner”, Joel Berg, has already commented on the uncomfortable contrast between rich people who enjoy eating very well indeed and the 50 million American citizens living in households that he calls “food insecure”.

Don’t you just love the terminology used there? First of all, I am astounded that someone can be described as a “food poverty campaigner” but then to go on and talk about people being “food insecure” is something else again. What is wrong with saying that people are going hungry or don’t known where their next meal is coming from? I am almost tempted to say that it takes the biscuit.

Meanwhile, other aspects of life in the US of A have also been coming to my notice in the Guardian newspaper. People of my generation will probably remember being threatened that if they didn’t behave a policeman would come and deal with them. I have even recently heard a mother on the bus telling her child that if he didn’t sit still, the driver would come and tell him off. Well, in some schools in Texas children are being arrested for disruptive behaviour in class!

The schools employ a police officer to patrol the corridors. Not only does he intervene if there are fights in the canteen or if something occurs involving weapons or drugs. Oh, no! If a child answers back in class the teacher can pick up the phone and send for the police. The officer then arrests the child on the spot or issues a ticket and the offending pupil then has to appear in court. Fines are issued which must be paid, quite a difficult thing for families who might already be “food insecure”.

If fines are not paid, when the offender reaches 17 s/he will probably face a prison sentence. And then, there’s the small matter of having a police record. This means that the offender will probably not be able to get a college place on leaving school and certainly can’t expect to qualify for any kind of scholarship to help pay for their studies. So, as a result of throwing a paper aeroplane when you are 11 or 12 or retaliating in kind when another pupil pushes you, you may never be able to escape from the spiral of poverty and crime that your family lives in. Now, I suppose such people are “education insecure”.

And this is not just happening to secondary school age youngsters. Children as young as six have been arrested for disruptive behaviour in class. It’s a good job such a system doesn’t operate here or my youngest grandchild, who is going through a rather bad patch at the moment, would have quite a substantial record already.

But still, our government looks to the USA for ideas on how to deal with the supposed gangs who caused last summer’s riots. American ways of coping are held up as models to us. Maybe our government is “ideas insecure”.

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