Glasgow’s having a ball hosting the Commonwealth Games at the moment. As everyone here is going around saying to one another, there’s a real buzz about the place.
However, that buzz comes at a significant price.
I had a wander down to Glasgow’s great public gathering place by the Clyde yesterday – Glasgow Green. I was surprised to be frisked going onto the Green and even more surprised to read what was and was not allowed there during the Games celebrations.
It was very noticeable that in all the hullabaloo, religion had been written out of the picture. To a certain extent the churches have colluded with keeping themselves hidden during the Games period. I don’t particularly have a problem with that but it was striking that amidst all the festivities in this city in which both the glories and the shame of religious life are vibrantly practiced there was nothing at all to refer to that reality.
More troubling to me is that people on the Green were apparently being told to cover up YES badges indicating their support for Scottish Independence.
I’m not a supporter and have every intent to vote no and encourage others to do so. However, I don’t like the idea that the authorities were asking people to cover up their allegiance to a political movement on Glasgow Green – a place where political opinion and protest has often flourished.
There’s other things you can’t take onto the Green too which are perplexing – the ban on wifi routers being one particularly worrying one. Fortunately those doing the frisking seemed oblivious to the fact that one can use a mobile phone as a wifi router if one so desires.
There’s other things you can’t bring in too – drinks in large bottles was one restriction, I think.
There’s a lot of buying and selling going on down on Glasgow Green. But no protest. No dissent. No freedom of expression. No freedom to use new technology.
This glorious public space has been privatized and the Live Zone on Glasgow Green is a triumph of authoritarian capitalism.
Amidst all the celebrations which rightly surround these Games, we should not be blind to what is being done to us.