Flat White

Big Brother is watching you... doing that

18 March 2021

4:36 PM

18 March 2021

4:36 PM

Sometimes senior police make remarks of such sheer stupidity that they appear deliberate; a deliberate attempt to say something that will make the law look like such an ass that they will have to resign and run off to a saner career carrying a large payout.

Whatever the case, New South Wales Police Commissioner Mick Fuller set the bar very high when he appeared on Sydney’s Radio 2GB this morning and floated using a mobile phone app to record sexual consent between two partners — an app he suggested could be run by a private company.

With unusual presence of mind for a senior police officer, Fuller at least added “the app could be a terrible idea”, but the genie is out of the bottle.

There’s the idea of an app itself. A senior police officer appears to be suggesting prohibiting intimacy unless partners have charged smartphones and reception. That second point would immediately prove a problem for young people with Vodaphone and other budget carriers, some of the most sexually active in the land.

Fuller suggests that the app should be administered to be run by the private sector. That’s good and bad. Private sector incompetents, as opposed to public sector incompetents, are at least notionally subject to punishment by customers for their incompetence, giving some hope for some accountability when the invariable data breach occurs (nobody is ever guilty in government). But who wants the geeks at Google to know the ins and outs of their sex lives?

And there are still other data issues. A friend of the Flat White Team enjoyed remarkable progress in her career when she successfully navigated Australia’s ban on advertising of individual prescription pharmacy items and put promos for the pill on Tinder. If we use the consent app, will we be bombarded with ads for condoms, lube, IUDs, contraceptives, cock rings or whatever?

Then there’s the sheer unsexiness of it all. When condoms became everyday items with the rise of HIV/AIDS 35 years ago, lines like Kingsley Amis’ “having sex with a condom is like showering in a raincoat” were everywhere.

In the years since then, we’ve learned that condoms, unlike raincoats, can be applied by partners’ mouths. Unlike suddenly stopping to reach for your phone and entering your name, your partner’s/partners’ name/s, your date of birth, their date/s of birth, the time and date, going to the (presumed) drop-down menu to tick off on what specific acts you’re consenting to and — finally — getting both parties to sign off, using a condom can enhance the erotic.

Which bring us to life in Orwell’s 1984. One of the most horrific aspects of Winston Smith’s world is that it is entirely functional. It lacks any beauty. It lacks any joy. It lacks anything that might offer an erotic frisson.

Our Big Brothers, our peevish police, Nanny Staters and Big Public Health are always determined to prevent us having any fun.

They now appear to also want a ban on sex — or at least to make it so laborious it comes without any pleasure.

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