Just imagine that you are a parent and one of your daughters cuts the hair off the Barbie dolls belonging to her younger sister. Cue screaming, shouting and tears before bedtime. But it’s the kind of thing that happens in families, isn’t it?
In later years the crew-cut Barbies will be chuckled about over Sunday lunch. ‘Do you remember when . . .’
But now imagine someone else learns about the Barbie incident — during a seemingly casual conversation with that hurt younger sister, say.
This person is not a relative or friend but an official appointed by the state, without your permission, and allowed to gather information about you and your children — in secret, if it is deemed necessary — and circulate it among other state agencies such as the police and social services.
It so happens that this snooper doesn’t possess the sense of proportion or humour that is essential when addressing the issue of warring children. This hacking-off of synthetic blonde locks appears a bit odd to our ‘state guardian’. Disturbing, in fact.
So, this government-appointed busybody opens a file on you and your family and enters a remark: ‘Older girl exhibiting signs of aggression against younger. Doll disfigurement may indicate deeper issues of anger management within family unit.’
And suddenly it isn’t just about Barbie dolls any more.
George Orwell understood this kind of thing: how the state, always wary, always contemptuous of the people it claims to represent, forever seeks to exercise control over them.
Knowledge is power — and what better knowledge can one have of a person than that pertaining to the inner workings of their family?