USSR, UK Style, and Heavy-Handedness Here, Too

The proposed plan to store in a central database every cell call, text message and email in the United Kingdom reminds me of a line from Bill Atwood’s song "USSR," from his album 3:25 A.M.:

…and everything I do they see; there’s always somebody near.

He also sings about "across the sea, where men are free."  Presumably that’s the North Sea (since Atwood was British,) but the freedom is slipping away.


Sometimes the loss of freedom goes both ways, however, as Lord Rees-Mogg comments in Bring Back the Prima Facie Test:

British businessmen do not trust American criminal law because of plea bargaining, in which the horrors of some American prisons are used as a threat to impel people to plead guilty in return for an agreed sentence.  The difference between a possible fifty years in a violent prison and two years in a country camp can be a very compelling argument.

The U.S. is put at a disadvantage, since this makes businessmen reluctant to trade with the United States when there is the faintest chance of any party to a negotiation – such as Enron was in the Natwest case – being accused of illegal conduct, under the very wide U.S. laws which cover conspiracy.  Counter terrorist laws, and laws against organised crime can apply to ordinary businessmen, and frame the judgment of business transactions.

The U.S. puts way too much stock in incarceration as the method of choice to enforce social policy, and passes way too many complicated laws to micromanage that policy.  Americans take this kind of thing for granted, but others don’t.  And frankly I don’t see why they should.

5 thoughts on “USSR, UK Style, and Heavy-Handedness Here, Too”

  1. Hi there, Bill Atwood is American!! The “across the sea” refers to the USA. I was a good friend of his when he made “3.25 am”. He was a Vietnam veteran and became a Christian while out there. We studied theology together at Kngs College London in 1975 to 1976. Today he is a bishop in America and heads up the Ekklesia organisation working in Africa. He wrote USSR in 10 minutes while flying President Nixon back from the visit to Moscow. Lots of stories! Canon Ed Pruen.

    1. I have covered the Anglican Communion for ten years and had no idea that the bishop and the artist of 3:25 A.M. is one and the same. 3:25 A.M. is one more fantastic album and I doubt seriously that most North American Anglicans are aware of it.

      Re the title “Canon” the rector who baptised me had this title by the time he came to our church. His son, a schoolmate, boldly proclaimed that “My father’s a Canon, and I’m a son of a gun!”

      1. Thanks for your reply. The album cover for “3.25am” is a glass engraving by the Hon. Phil Lawson-Johnson. (His family home was the setting for the first Greenbelt Festival 40 years ago).
        The engraving is of a little street called Petersham Place just off the Gloucester Rd in London. A mews house there was known as The Kitchen, it was a meeting place and a good place to eat run by volunteers and owned by an architect called Micky Cawthorpe. (I think). People came from all over the world and the group, “Cloud”, headed by Phil Lawson-Johnson, lead the worship there every Sunday evening. (Sometimes I led it if they were not there. … it was early days for my guitar playing though. Inspired by Bill and Phil’s 12 string playing Bill helped me choose a guitar from Ivor Myrant’s shop in London. £55 Takamine… I still play it!)

        The back cover of Cloud’s first album has a photo of the group sat in The Kitchen. People like Jackie Pullinger sometimes called by, and out of this amazing and charismatic prayer, worship and teaching base sprung what is now known as HTB just around the corner. Bill Atwood came to Kings College to study Theology. He set up a charismatic prayer group in his home in the clergy house for All Saint’s in Margaret Street. It was my first experience of charismatic worship. He introduced me to the Kitchen early in 1975 around the time he made “3.25am”. (3.25am was the title because it was the time of day when he felt so many people seem to wake up and feel worried or cant sleep!)
        They were heady days, but… everyone I know from those times are all still very committed Christians, and so something happened that changed all our lives for ever! Ed
        PS Like the son of a gun! My son says the same!

        1. I think it’s fair to say that you, Bishop Atwood, Sandy Millar and others helped to change Anglican history in the process. I plan to follow up on this; I had no idea the connection between this music, the Charismatic Renewal and the Anglican world existed when I started.

          You might want to visit this page to see another example what I’m talking about. One of those commenters just sent me a copy of Free to Fly’s back cover. So I’ve seen that photo.

          Also, that Canon who baptised me was Robert Appleyard, who became Bishop of Pittsburgh.

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