Today the pigs: tomorrow the people

Are you suggesting that the Government is going to forbid farmers from coming into our gardens?
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The Independent Online

I have learnt that the Government is drawing up secret plans in case of an epidemic in our human population. If the outbreak is serious, a new government task force will have no hesitation; it will go in and cordon off the stricken individuals and slaughter them.

I have learnt that the Government is drawing up secret plans in case of an epidemic in our human population. If the outbreak is serious, a new government task force will have no hesitation; it will go in and cordon off the stricken individuals and slaughter them.

This plan is, of course, very very very secret indeed, as the Government thinks there may be some hostile reaction. I only came across the plan by accident, when one day last week by accident my phone rang and by accident I answered it.

"Kington?" said a voice. "It's Deep Sleep here."

Deep Sleep is the code name my government informant uses to pass on confidential information. I have no idea what his real name is. Of course, he is in a similar position. He has no idea what my code name is and so is forced to use my real name.

"I have the scoop of a lifetime, Kington," he said. "I have it on the best authority that the Government is so encouraged by its success with foot-and-mouth disease that it is going to do the same thing with humans."

"I'm not sure I know what you mean," I said. "Are you suggesting that the Government is going to forbid farmers to come into our gardens?"

"Don't be silly," he said testily. "I mean that when large sections of the population fall prey to some loathsome disease, a newly formed Slaughter Squad is to go out, round them all up and discreetly cull them."

"You mean kill them?"

"Kill them, cull them, it's only words."

I tried to think about the unthinkable.

"The British public would never stand for it!"

"Don't be silly. The British public will stand for anything. They don't mind it when we go out and bomb innocent Iraqis or Kosovars. They don't mind it when we slaughter all the cod in the North Sea. They don't raise a squeak when livestock is slaughtered to combat foot-and-mouth disease. They don't mind battery farming of chickens. They're hardly likely to object to a timely reduction of condemned people.

"The Government has done a lot of intensive research here and found that the British public will stand for almost anything as long as enough men in white coats say that it is necessary. They have even carried out a nationwide experiment to prove it."

"Oh? When?"

"It was the 'beef-on-the-bone ban'. Remember that? There was no earthly justification for a ban on beef on the bone. They just tried it to see if people would stand for it. And the British public fell for it. Like a lamb to the slaughter. Which is what this new move is all about. Lambs to the slaughter. Or mutton, maybe, as it will mostly be old people involved..."

"Do you honestly think that the British public would see numbers of its citizens being killed off without protest?"

"Why not? They did when Dr Harold Shipman did it. They did when Fred West did it. Not a murmur..."

I paused to give the plan more thought. I had to admit it; the plan was frighteningly plausible...

"Just think of all the advantages," Deep Sleep said insidiously. "It would lighten the load of the national health service immeasurably. It would reduce the cost of looking after the old enormously. If we decided that the best way of dealing with cancer was to eliminate the suffering..."

"Cancer?" I said. "You didn't say anything about cancer!"

"No, but it's bound to come to that eventually. In any case, the way that most people live today, crammed into polluted, unhygienic cities, means that we are sitting on a medical time bomb. Cities are human battery farms. City living is intensive human farming. We know that intensive farming and the thrust for cheaper food has brought susceptibility to disease in its wake for animals. It is logically bound to do the same with humans. Round the corner is a terrifying epidemic for which Aids was only a rehearsal. When that drastic day comes, there will be a need for a drastic reaction. The Government thinks that it should be prepared now. That is why I think you should know..."

There was a sudden cry at the far end of the phone, followed by a thud and the sound of a fall.

"Sleep!" I cried.

There was no answer. The receiver was silently replaced. I had a terrible feeling that I had heard Deep Sleep being, if not culled, at least muzzled.

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