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Not the Nine o' Clock News

by ThatBritGuy Sat Oct 7th, 2006 at 03:44:05 PM EST

Readers of a certain age will have fond memories of this satirical show - which was a lot like Monty Python, but based on real events.

As it happens, it's also a good lead in for black comedy news stories you won't find being reported by the mainstream media in the UK.

For example, this one, which I'm shamelessly stealing from this Kos diary.

Rocket launcher `found at dentist's house'

A retired Grange dentist is accused of being part of a bomb plot after a record number of explosives were seized in a Lancashire town [...]

Police found rocket launchers, chemicals, British National Party literature and a nuclear or biological suit at his home.


Note the use of the plural there - rocket launchers. Not just one rocket launcher, which would be frightening enough. But many.

Now, it's surely strange that with worries about terrorism this doesn't seem to have made the headlines. Especially considering that this Mr David Jackson also had a bio/chemwar suit and more explosives than anyone has ever found before in the UK, outside of a military weapons depot.

If Mr Jackson happened to be Muslim, I'm sure we'd all be under curfew by now, and spying on our neighbours.

But in fact Mr Jackson is a member of the far-right proto-fascist British Nationalist Party. Apparently not being swarthy disqualifies him from being a terrorist - presumably he'll be labelled a nuisance and given a stern talking to, instead of being sent to Afghanistan for waterboarding and a course of aggressive foot massage with a baseball bat.

I'm not suggesting that the MSM in the UK is engaging in some kind of coverup here, or is complicit with the BNP. What interests me more is how narratives are created and maintained, and how anything outside of them seems to slip off the radar.

If anti-terrorism police action in the UK were reality-based, the obvious lesson to be drawn from Mr Jackson's unfortunate arrest is that there are any number of crazies out there, and some of them will be far more dangerous than swarthy people with home-made bombs.

But my guess is this won't get much in the way of serious media traction. Because it doesn't fit the official anti-Muslim clash-of-civilisations narrative.

If it's one of our own who's going to blow up a load of innocent people - that's not so bad, is it?

(And while we're here - where, exactly, can you pick up rocket launchers in the UK? Or don't we need to worry, because they don't sell them to brown people?)

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The term "rocket launcher" is vague.  I think it would be harder for him to have imported/bought and/or hidden a large multiple-rocket launcher, but it would be much easier to get an RPG or other shoulder-fired missile launcher.  

Thousands of them went missing in Iraq a couple of years ago.  (I'm not necessarily suggesting that any of them have made it to Britain, but it's not totally outside the realm of the possible... lots of British security contractors there.)

Getting rocket launchers into the UK is not unheard-of.  Remember this?

If Mr Jackson happened to be Muslim, I'm sure we'd all be under curfew by now, and spying on our neighbours.

Argh, yes.  I can hear the police discussing it now -- "Well, if that bloke could get his hands on a rocket launcher, I imagine someone really dangerous might, too..."

Ugh.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sat Oct 7th, 2006 at 07:13:09 PM EST
Your point about the vagueness of the term "rocket launcher" is very pertinent. If we knew that we would have a better idea of what he/they had in mind.

I personally would be interested in the provenance the weapons (whatever they are). If they came from British army stockpiles then we really have something to worry about.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Sun Oct 8th, 2006 at 06:19:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, precisely.  If this guy were a Muslim, the press would be all over this, and we'd most likely know a lot more because the police would have had to release more details -- what kind of launcher, what kind of chemicals, etc.  But so far, it remains a seven-sentence story in a regional newspaper....
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sun Oct 8th, 2006 at 07:55:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Great diary!

It almost tempts me to sit down and write my big "Understanding Terror -ism? -ists?" diary. Trouble with that is every time I get started I tend to get more and more annoyed until the coherence just falls out of it...

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Oct 7th, 2006 at 08:28:26 PM EST
...is going on?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Oct 7th, 2006 at 08:52:05 PM EST
can you imagine that story, if the actors in it had been more swarthy not having the words 'Less than fourty miles from the Sellafield neuclear reprocessing facility' and 'Dirty bomb' in it?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Oct 7th, 2006 at 09:12:56 PM EST
Is THAT where he was? Holy bleep.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Sun Oct 8th, 2006 at 06:14:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well looking at the articles, he's based somewhere about 100 miles away, but he worked till he retired about 30 miles away.

If he had been more swarthy, how can you doubt that the fat he had an NBC suit wouldn't have been linked to the fact of his location.

Of course, unless the details of the plot come out, you're probably better off  looking at him as a paranoid nutter

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Oct 8th, 2006 at 08:04:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
RPG + pool of high level waste -> not a good combination.

Mind you, he was probably planning to blow up some swarthy brown people with it rather than attacking something obvious. (But who knows?)

In an easy to miss footnote, isn't it just a touch worrying that this man used to be a dentist?

Presumably some of his patients must have been non-white. Wouldn't it be an interesting challenge for someone simmering with murderous racial hatred to do a good job?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Oct 8th, 2006 at 08:31:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well I've always though that you needed to be a touch psychopathic to want to be a dentist.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Oct 8th, 2006 at 08:43:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed. I always expect my dentist to start asking, "Is it safe?"

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Sun Oct 8th, 2006 at 08:48:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And then there's this guy:
WHEN Rowan Armstrong found a rocket launcher in a scrap metal yard, he took it home thinking it would look pretty cool in his living room.

What wasn't so cool was the security scare it sparked and the $1000 fine the 18-year-old copped when he faced court yesterday....

When he gets to court, I guess our Mr. Jackson could always try the "I'm a fucking idiot" defense and get away with a slap on the wrist.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sun Oct 8th, 2006 at 08:06:15 AM EST
hmmm a memeber of BNP

That would be fairly convincing evidence for the defence

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Oct 8th, 2006 at 08:44:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The nuke suit worries me more than the rocket launchers.  What the hell was this guy doing?  I knew the BNP was radical, but I didn't know it was that radical.  But this is no different, except in the potential size of the impact, from pseudo-Christian nutjobs who set bombs off at gay bars or abortion clinics.  Terrorism is terrorism.  Yes, al-Qaeda does it on a larger scale compared with the pseudo-Christian nutjobs, but murdering people at the scene as a means to frightening others is terrorism.  End of story.

If this guy had a nuke suit, why doesn't this fall under the Bush administration's "Torture the hell out of him" category of threat?  And, by that, I don't mean that we should torture him, but the double standard is amazing.  If this guy had chemicals, does this not fall under the category of "Imminent Threat"?  Should the cops not be rushing around trying to find anybody who might be connected to him?

That's what scares me: That the authorities look the other way when a certain breed of terrorist emerges.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Oct 8th, 2006 at 09:20:05 AM EST
With me it's the other way round, the dentist might have bought into the "moslems are  an iminent threat to civilisation" theory then he might be convinced that the local moslems might have a dirty bomb so that he might, in his state of paranoid delusion think that he needs a nuke suit.

The idea that he has rocket launchers and "The haul is thought to be the largest ever found at a house in this country." Now that's worrying

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Oct 8th, 2006 at 10:13:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Um, hold on, let me see if I can get this lip service right:

"Well, it would be wrong to blame or punish all members of the BNP for the actions of this one deranged extremist...."

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sun Oct 8th, 2006 at 10:56:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
got this reply from another place

when you quote "the largest ammount of explosives ever found in a british house" i presume you meant "the largest amount of a specific chemical, linked to bomb-making, ever found in a house". So not a bomb, or a chemical bomb, but potentially just bleach. And he's not in the BNP any more. And the copper investigating said "it is not a bomb making factory" and added that it was not related to terrorism. And when you said it wasn't in the papers you presumably exclude the biggest-selling quality paper, the Sunday Times, who covered it last weekend. Maybe the others didn't cover it cos they don't really see it as a decent story, who knows.


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 01:02:41 PM EST
Maybe he collects rocket launchers for their decorative value?
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 01:05:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some rocket launchers aren't much more than tubes. I'd worry a lot more if there were actual rockets.

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.
by technopolitical on Sun Oct 15th, 2006 at 03:45:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Did they link to the Sunday Times story? I'm curious to read it.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 01:24:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I found it, p2, small grey box in the left column, nice and inconspicuous "News in Brief", one of a bunch of stories.

BNP link to explosives charges

Two men linked to the British National Party have been charged with possessing chemical explosives after raids on their homes in Lancashire. Police say the discovered chemical componenets that can be used for home-made bombs. Robert Cottage, 49 of Colne, and David Jackson, a dentist, of Nelson, have been charged with possession of an explosive substance for an unlawful purpose. Bother were remanded in custody.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 01:32:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
coppers might have wanted to nab the BNP guys for other causes and found some convenient chemicals in the house.

but it does point up the press' difficulty in dealing with stories that don't fit the dominant narrative.  for example locally we have a dominant narrative that "trains are dangerous," so every time someone commits suicide on a train track it is headline news with much gnashing of teeth and demands to fence off the entire line or shut down the train service or whatever.  but when someone commits suicide by jumping off a tall building there is no similar wave of demand for more restrictive building codes mandating shorter buildings, or more elaborate fencing and locking of rooftop access, etc.

the dominant narrative works like like a hack writer and a cynical editor trying to fit plot elements into a potboiler.  anything that doesn't move the plot along or distracts from the novel's theme has to be downplayed or cut...

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Tue Oct 10th, 2006 at 05:12:34 PM EST
Given the current narrative regarding terrorism in the UK, how much political capital would the BNP garner if an unknown individual landed an RPG in Sellafield?
by Sassafras on Tue Oct 10th, 2006 at 05:34:49 PM EST
I think the chance of any BNP member living  past the next 24 hours would be somewhat slim.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Oct 11th, 2006 at 06:26:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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