Fuck the Community

Stephen Metcalf
(c) 1995

Birmingham. Derby. In those areas of town priest, teacher, and cop warned you about, something smells of burning. In Sodom and Gommorrah, if you like. Where the pimp apparatus of the illicit sex trade, deemed an unacceptable commodification by the pimp apparatus of Capital, the overpimp prostituting us all, is left by a retreating police force to a fate reserved for it by the community. The community. The last tribunal left for humanist fascism to appeal to; the final judge; panoptic eye; informer state; where all are encouraged to spy on all.

Surely, you bleat, you social workers, you pigs; surely the community policing itself, managing its own affairs for the common good is a good idea? A desirable end in itself? No! Not when it dilutes the nauseating authoritarianism of state morality into a thousand little despotisms, each appointing itself judge, jury and enforcer. Let's look at one such micro-despotism in action.

In Birmingham's red light district, where this self-righteous rage leaked out of the local churches and mosques onto the streets, a certain macho terrorism (where gangs of men police all women off the streets in the name of cleansing them of prostitution) is deemed positive in the local media and widely applauded among the populace. The cops love it: the community being so fascist without restraint and, besides, it makes less work for them. Meanwhile the theopolitical Gestapo on the street corners really seem to have nothing better to do than to guard "their" streets into the early hours of each morning, praying to catch a solitary glimpse of some "fucking whore" (young woman without male escort to you and I) or "fucking kerb-crawler" (man they've never seen before or who doesn't live in the area) and chase them down the street in packs, throwing stones, howling abuse. Is this, lefty children, all you students, you suburban liberals, you moralist radicals, you religious souls, what you mean when you talk about the community? A relational police state? "Common sense" mob justice? I thought as much... Perhaps you just need to sample some of the commodities you outlaw in your righteous drive to purify and cleanse the moral wastelands of the urban cores.

Meanwhile - perverts in the area desiring to fuck up this celibate marriage of cops and prurient moralists can try this simple ploy: pick up the telephone. Communicate. After all, they're always encouraging you to. Even if you haven't been hassled, you can complain about it to your glorious protectors, the police - why tell the truth? Sooner or later, ears bleeding from all the complaints and apparent popular pressure, have got to send a car or six along to clear their little helpers off the streets - a pleasant double bind to get them into, since this ethnic cleansing of the sex trade was their idea in the first place - resulting in a breakdown of relations between the community and the police. BT are right you know, it's good to talk!