July 28, 2011

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Crimes Against Humanity Crimes against humanity<br/> Lynne Patrick<br/> <br/> Inspired by Jeff’s explosion of ire against shortsighted bureaucrats on Monday, today I’m going to veer away from crime fiction and head towards crime fact.<br/> OK, maybe not literal crime. At least, not in the sense that they can go to jail for it, or even be led away in handcuffs, hanging their heads in shame. And if I start using too much emotive language, the handcuffs could be on me as I’m banged up for libel. So I need to watch my words.<br/> But you tell me if this is a moral crime – a bad thing which will affect the future of a lot of people if it’s allowed to go ahead.<br/> I live in a village: a concept which American Dead Guy followers may interpret differently from us Brits. I’ve visited cities in the US which had populations in the low hundreds. Over here, a small independent community is a village, usually surrounded by countryside: in this case woodland and agricultural fields, with moorland not far away.<br/> Village is only a label – something administrative, I think – and not an indication of the number of people who live there. Ours has a population of several thousand, and in the thtymumble years I’ve lived here, it has just about doubled in size. In number of houses and people, anyway. In terms of facilities like shops, schools, medical services and leisure, it’s hardly grown at all.<br/> And now a developer wants to expand it still further – not on to scrub land or the site of old farm buildings, as has happened before, but on to one of the lovely green fields which surround us, and provide us with some fresh air and breathing space before the urban sprawl which lies a mile or so away.<br/> That mile or so matters to us. We live on a small island, not much bigger than South Dakota, but with a population the size of Texas’s and California’s combined. So unlike South Dakota and Texas, where you can drive (or better still walk) for dozens of miles and not encounter another human being, much less arrive at a town, fresh air and breathing space are at a premium. We need to preserve as much of it as we can. Didn’t somebody say the countryside acts as the lungs of the world?<br/> Of course people need houses – but there are plenty more available spaces, already eaten into by previous construction work. One of our key arguments is that there’s a space like that just a couple of miles away.<br/> Battle commenced a couple of weeks ago, at a public meeting; we expected only a handful of people to come, but the hall was packed out. People care about this stuff.<br/> A month ago I’d have said the biggest crime people commit against themselves is apathy. The average voter turnout in elections is less than 50% – even lower than that when it’s local administrations rather than national government. But an issue like this brings people together.<br/> So we’re fighting. For the right to fresh air; for the good of our community; for the sake of the little people against the big corporations.<br/> And if we lose... well, if I’m missing without explanation one Wednesday, look out for the newspaper headlines and the picture captioned WOMAN PROTESTOR LIES DOWN IN FRONT OF BULLDOZER.

Jeff Cohen

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