From "1984" to 2004 [or 2009?]
Harry was heading home. Work had been exceptionally busy that day. He had been working on the new government programme that was issuing compulsory identity cards to all the citizens of The Land. He paused for a moment and picked up the national newspaper from a news stand. There were many papers in The Land, but all of them adhered to the politically correct line of the courts and the government, so one was as "good" as the other. There was a picture on the front page of the New Leader of the party. He was smiling and shaking hands with a couple called Willie and Billy; they were celebrating the first anniversary of their marriage. Harry thought how in past times this picture of two men celebrating a "wedding anniversary" would have been classed as a sign of insanity or a silly joke, but now it was no laughing matter. This was a land of "equality" and male couplings were a cause for celebration.
Harry stood at the bus stop waiting for his bus. There were other persons waiting; men, women and The Others. The Others were, as yet, unrecognized in the country’s system of "rights." Some of them loved animals. Others believed in multiple partners, some had other peculiarities and other "nice" habits that at one time had been classed as criminal and obscene. Now they were just waiting for the go-ahead to legalize their relationships or declarations permitting their conduct. It was expected any day now that a decision would come down from the courts giving The Others the same "equality" rights as everyone else. Then The Land’s government would declare their relationships and behaviours as a given, for the courts were the supreme arbiters.
Harry was careful to keep his eyes averted from all at the bus stop. Looking at people could cause one to be accused of a crime and dragged before the Persons Rights Committees. So Harry was careful not to look. He did not want to be accused of "lookism." He was also careful not to smile as this could get you into trouble as well. In fact, there had been a new dictum handed down in The Land that there was to be no more smiling pictures in anyone’s passport. So just to be on the safe side many people had given up smiling.
The bus arrived and Harry boarded. He showed his pass to the seeing eye machine, which said, "pass okay." He then sat down. Two persons next to him were discussing the latest government decree from the ruling party. Compulsory I.D cards must be carried at all times. These two persons thought this was a great decision by the government and were speaking out loudly in praise of it. Harry, out of the corner of his eye, could see a Master of Politics (MP) from the ruling party on the bus and wondered cynically if their comments were for the MP’s benefit. Harry shook his head to erase these unpatriotic thoughts from his mind. One never knew if the government of The Land was able to read a person’s thoughts.
Harry was worried he owed the Ministry of Taxes some money and did not know how he could pay. He thought of writing the New Leader to ask for his help. After all, it was said that some persons could get favoured status from the Ministry of Taxes. So Harry thought perhaps he would try. The New Leader was an expert on money and taxes and knew the system well. It was said of the New Leader that he was able to answer any question to everyone’s satisfaction and that he had no negative views. In fact some people called him The Straddler because he could be on both sides of the fence at the same time. Give him a question and he’d give any answer that could mean anything but pleased almost everyone. That was why he was the leader. In fact The Land’s motto was "Tell the people anything as long as it is something."
Harry got off the bus, and hurried towards his apartment two blocks away. A parade was passing by in the middle of the street. Leading it were some Masters of Politics (MP’s) and a Police Chief. Some of the people in the parade were naked others were dressed in various costumes that it was hard to tell who was male or female. Harry stopped and joined other people in applauding the parade. He would have rather carried on walking but was afraid that he might be accused of "offensive" behaviour or of not being "tolerant" if he did not applaud. So he did the wise thing and cheered as well. One could not be too careful in The Land these days, "hate crimes" could be leveled on the slightest whim.
A huge cheer went up and Harry could see the reason. A media contingent was passing by. These were known as the "Purveyors of Propaganda" and they were indispensable to The Land and its rulers. Another cheer went up. A loudspeaker had announced a message from The Land’s Old Leader, which said: "Da bad is good and da good is bad and da proof is a proof for now it is proven." Harry thought: The Old Leader is still passing along his wisdom, whatever that is!!!
Suddenly there are more cheers and a huge amount of screaming, this was The Lands’ warrior class passing by. These were the radical, gender equality, womyns’ and patriarchal- hating womyns’ intelligentsia. Most of them taught womyns studies in The Land’s educational establishments. Some had even issued a list of dangerous writers. They were also adept at inventing new words. The word history, was now herstory. One of their big projects was to erase the word man from all words. These were people of power so Harry cheered until he was hoarse and applauded loudly till his hands hurt.
Then another group passed by in the parade. These were called Mascfems or Femmascs - both words were allowed - because they believed in gender neutrality- and did not believe in the words masculine or feminine. They rode bikes with placards saying: "Dikes on Bikes."
The armed forces of The Land was next in the parade. This consisted of 10 persons, five males and five females an equal gender split that passed the "equality" test of The Land. They carried toy weapons, for this was a peaceful land and the government had reduced them to this. They were known as the Ten Abandonments.
Next came the union bosses, the brothers and sisters of the Workers Movement. They were all singing loudly their song of praise which was called "Give us your dues, for the union to misuse. For in The Land, it is allowed, for us to make the workers proud." Harry cheered and cheered for he was a compulsory member of the Workers Movement and knew the shop stewards were watching. And so they were. A big burly steel toed female shop steward, clapped him on the shoulder, and said: "Well done brother."
Harry climbed the stairs to his apartment and sighed with relief. There was so much going on in The Land and in the government that just to make it home without offending anyone was a godsend. Harry broke into a sweat. Why did I think "godsend." Certain words could get you into trouble and "godsend" was one of them. He immediately purged the word "godsend" from his mind and made a mental note never to think of this word again.
Home at last. Harry bowed to a copy of The Land’s Charter, which was mandatory on all household walls. He then shouted out the words, "Freedom, Justice, Equality, Tolerance, Diversity and Inclusivity are a human right" just in case his place was bugged, as it surely was. Harry collapsed into a chair and turned on the T.V. The New Leader was giving a speech. He had a "vision" and a "plan" for The Land. Harry stood up and applauded the T.V. screen, better to be safe than sorry. It was said that the party monitored those whose T.V’s were on. The New Leader was talking about a "democratic deficit" Harry didn’t know what he meant but thought it sounded good.
Next up on T.V was the parade Harry had just passed. The T.V. announcer said: "Next up we will have special coverage of The Land in all its wonderful glory, The Parade is next so please stay with us while we take a commercial break." Harry thought that was a good statement. "Why would I dare leave." he asked himself. "They monitor everything." The commercial was quite brief but extolled the message that: "The Land was your land. A land of equality, diversity, tolerance and freedom. A home of peace order and good government." Harry thought to himself: I read a book once called "1984" and it is amazing how similar the book is to The Land of 2004.[or 2009?]
Stephen J. Gray
Sept. 4, 2003.