British Police to Ask Music Venues for Ethnic Background of Audiences

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mojo-photo-feargal.jpgOh those Brits. We just established that they really seem to like Kings of Leon, but it turns out some of their own most exciting musical subcultures give the police the willies. The UK Independent reports that music venues are to be subjected to a “new piece of bureaucracy” called Form 696, an eight-page questionnaire asking for private information about performers as well as the “ethnic background” of the likely audience. Eh, on what grounds, constable?

The police say they need the information demanded on the eight-page Form 696, which runs to eight pages, so they can pinpoint which acts and venues attract troublemakers, and make sure venues are safe. … The scheme was introduced by the Metropolitan Police after incidents at live music concerts in 2006, some involving guns. In theory, it applies to any licensed premises where there is live entertainment, but Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Martin, head of the Met’s pubs and vice squad, said that in reality it will apply only to performances likely to draw large crowds.

The form actually gives hints about what kinds of music might raise eyebrows back at the station: in the question about the type of music featured, examples given are “bashment, R&B, garage,” styles that all happened to emerge from the UK’s black community. But the best part of the story is the spokesman against Form 696: Feargal Sharkey (above right), the former lead singer of The Undertones, whose goofball only-in-England name and terrible, silly ’80s solo hit “A Good Heart” makes him one of my favorite random references. Anyway, Feargal (chuckle) says that Form 696’s focus on the black community is “disproportionate, unacceptable and damaging to live music.” He even wrote an op-ed about it. One Londoner said musicians would likely refuse to fill out the form anyway. We’ll see where this goes, but in the meantime, let’s watch a Monty Python sketch about British police using silly voices, and Feargal Sharkey’s video for “A Good Heart.”

Monty Python – Silly Voice Police Sketch

Feargal Sharkey – “A Good Heart”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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