The Clash London Calling Security Alert

Now war is declared, and battle come down
London Calling: “Now war is declared, and battle come down.”

This is getting ridiculous. A man was frog-marched off a London bound airplane flight because he had listened to the song, London Calling, by the legendary punk band, the Clash. 24-year old Harraj Mann took a taxi to Tees Valley International Airport in Northern England, and while in the cab he listened to his own music through the cab’s stereo.

He played songs by Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, and Procol Harum, but it was the Clash song that made the taxi driver suspicious. Perhaps the good cabby thought the lyrics were some type of terrorist code: “London Calling to the faraway towns, now war is declared, and battle come down. London Calling to the underworld, come out of the cupboard, you boys and girls.” The alert taxi driver reported Mann to airport police, who arrested him and interrogated him for three hours under the Terrorism Act before releasing him.

Now some may say “better safe than sorry,” and that the police were correct to have arrested the fellow for listening to “suspicious music,” but what message is really being delivered here? Are we really expected to believe that there are certain songs, books, movies and paintings that are “suspicious,” and that their enjoyment warrants a visit from the police?

The Clash penned another trenchant observation about authoritarian government in their 1978 song, English Civil War. “Who hid a radio under the stairs, an’ who got caught out on their unawares – when that new party army came marching right up the stairs.”

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