Ye Olde Edicts of Britannia

The lone english language bookstore in Old Prague sits on a lightly trafficked side street below the Prague Castle between an art gallery and a river front restaurant. They carry Harper’s Magazine at an unreasonable markup of 190 K? (12 USD). Though buried in a cardboard box on the floor, I found a few old editions with the covers torn off for about two bucks.

The follow excerpt is from one of those wrinkled and dusty copies that made their way home with me. While the column is humorous due to some of Britain’s antiquated regulations, it is alarming evidence why Britain is the world’s preeminent civil surveillance democracy.

From a column entitled “Trouble Helix” Harper’s Magazine March 2008 (abridged)

From a list compiled in 2006 by British police chiefs of more than 5,000 offenses warranting that the DNA of an arrested suspect be retained for life in a nation database.

violating king’s wife
violating king’s eldest daughter
violating wife of king’s eldest daughter
levying war against the sovereign in his or her realm
buggery with woman
buggery with animal
buggery with man in private
buggery with man other than in private
procuring a woman who is defective
procuring a woman by false pretenses
placing nonhuman embryo in woman
riding horse furiously in street
wantonly disturbing in habitant by knocking on door or ringing doorbell
keeping a disorderly house
using explosives to take fish
handling salmon in suspicious circumstances
cruelty to badgers
disturbing badger when it is occupying badger lair
fraudulently evading bingo duty
abstracting electricity
failure to remove disguise when required by constable
wasting police time

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