Monday, July 02, 2007

Critical Thinking

Apparently the terrorism threat in the UK is now "critical". I find it all a bit odd that we have words, which have meanings, but for some reason we now need to re-define those words for use in describing the threat to our lives from terrorism. So now - in the context of terrorism only - "critical" means "an attack is expected imminently" while "substantial" means "strong possibility of an attack". What is the point of these words? Surely we could just say the threat is "imminent" or "strong"?

Now firstly - those who know about these things have argued that the threat now is lower than it was a few days ago. To cut a long story short we now have several less wannabee terrorists on the loose and the ones that were out there turned out to be less competent than Victoria Beckham's voice coach.

But what does "critical" actually mean? There are many definitions, presumably the ones intended would be:

7. Being in or verging on a state of crisis or emergency.
8. Fraught with danger or risk; perilous

How can you describe as "perilous" or "fraught with danger" a sitution which for all the headlines and infringements on our civil liberties has failed to kill ANYONE in a country of 60 million people since 7th July 2005?

What I'd like to know is what the alert level is for road traffic accidents and for violence against women.

As a Whitehall source explained to the BBC: "If it [the terror alert] moves to critical, you should worry". Presumably the road traffic alert is "super-uber-critical" and the correct response to the violence against women alert is to "fucking panic"?

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