Sunday, 28 November 2010

Put some goodwill back into Christmas: Let’s end the photophobia of nativity plays

Sign the Petition

I had always said that if a headteacher of my children’s school stood up at their nativity play and told the parents and relatives in the audience not to take photographs of their children, I would stand up and demand we all collectively take a vote about this. Of course, a few years ago exactly this did happen. And of course, I did exactly nothing. Not because I bottled it, I like to think, but because for me to stand up at that moment, with the children sitting all dressed up and excited on the stage, and us sitting in the audience already beaming and feeling all Christmasy, would have been the equivalent of tossing a turd into a swimming pool as a point of principle (if you’ll excuse the analogy). But perhaps I’m being soft on myself, and if nothing else it would have been interesting to see how the parents and the headteacher responded.

There are no laws banning the taking of such photographs, and that schools and councils implement such bans is entirely due to their own overzealous attitudes towards child safety: an attitude that ultimately sullies these occasions and drags the paedophile (where there is none) into the room.

These bans are a nonsense. They are degrading. They are unhelpful. 
This Christmas, let’s put an end to the nativity photophobia so we can all sit back, relax and enjoy our children, our Christmas, and each other's company.

Below is the petition. Please sign this and forward it to as many people as possible.

Feel free to contact Take a Liberty, share your experience of this issue and help to put pressure on the Scottish government and education authorities to stop these miserable bans.

These Bans are a Nonsense
Print off the poster and send it to your MSP

Click to link to a pdf

The Petition

Christmas Appeal: Stop Nativity Photophobia

The City of Edinburgh Council in 2002 was one of the first councils in Scotland to ban parents taking photographs of their children at school events. Subsequently taking a photo of your child’s sports day or nativity play has become increasingly problematic in Scotland and indeed across the UK. Something that was once a very natural part of recording a lovely event in someone’s life is frequently being sullied by unnecessary regulations enforced by overzealous councils and headteachers who enforce such bans.

There are no laws banning the taking of photographs at schools, nor should there be. But when it comes to local rules and regulations things have got out of hand. Let’s put some goodwill back into Christmas this year and end these unpleasant, distrusting bans.

We the undersigned oppose the restrictions and regulations placed on parents taking photographs at nativity plays and school events.

For articles & campaigns on this topic see 'Photophobia in the news' top right 

What is Take a Liberty all about?

In one of the Sherlock Holmes stories, The Sign of Four, Dr Watson, having watched Holmes inject himself once again, ponders the idea of telling his friend he shouldn’t be doing drugs. However, Watson restrains himself; to do so, he suggests, would be to ‘take a liberty’. Why? Because despite wanting to have a go, Watson recognises that Holmes is not a child; he is an adult who makes his own choices however poor those choices may be.

Holmes is one of Scotland’s most successful inventions – and indeed Scotland has a proud enlightened tradition when it comes to the question of liberty. But today this tradition is in tatters.

As part of a book club, that did indeed read and discuss the The Sign of Four, the question of liberty, individual freedom and the, at times, unbelievably patronising attitude of the Scottish government, is often raised. The issue, for example, of seeking to increase the price of cheap booze being a case in point – and it is this issue that has led to us deciding enough is enough. Not only is it bad enough to have such a condescending government wanting to save us from ourselves and treat the poor, in particular, like children, but the pathetic excuse for an opposition suggests there is little or no sense in society, or at least within the corridors of power, of what being an adult actually means anymore.

With this as a starting point, Take a Liberty has been set up to act as a public forum for people who want to take their liberties back and to prevent the government taking any more of them.