I regard this story as curiously parallel to our own defunding of the Mexican truck program–a populist uprising against unpopular regulation. But where we had protectionist Teamsters, they had the “Metric Martyrs”–shopkeepers who violated European Union regulations by continuing to sell things in pounds and ounces and pints instead of in hemidemisemiquavers and hectagons and rectaliters or whatever such Continental barbarities the muscles from Brussels demanded. And they were fined heavily for it.
In 1984, there’s a passage about Socialist metricization being an extension of demoralizing mind control. I remember it concerned an old prole lamenting, over his beer, that a half liter was too little, and a liter was too much, and that he missed his old comfortable pints which had been just right. That’s it exactly. Feet and inches are a likewise a useful, human scale. NOTHING is a meter long. (Or are we supposed to switch to one-third-meter hot dogs at ballgames?)
Another example: almost everyone is between one and two meters in height. Centimeters are too small. But five feet six versus six foot two is a useful gradation of measurement, and those gradations have survived because they are part of a system that describes the everyday world and its usual proportions pretty well. If you science people need a new system for astrophysics or molecular biology, go ahead and use it in your lab. But don’t think you have the right to force that system down my throat, not even with a one-and-a-half ounce shot of Glenlivet, or I’ll hit you with a two-by-four.
An odd rant? Maybe, but writing in the Telegraph, Simon Heffer also sees the Orwellian implications of the vanquished EU directive and sees not just an occasion for rejoicing, but a chance for rollback:
The campaign to metricate Britain has been no laughing matter. Precisely because they could not see why it mattered a jot to Brussels whether potatoes were sold in Britain by the pound, a group of traders some years ago chose to defy a law that was not in their interests, nor in the interests of their customers, but merely served the European project of uniformity, unification and submission.
It was all part of the mind-game that Brussels feels it must play with us, to beat us into obedience.
Many things flow, or should flow, from this. If we can continue to sell beer and milk in pints, and measure our roads in miles, then all the other forcible acts of metrication we have had to suffer can be reversed.
Better watch that talk, Mr. Heffer. Brussels isn’t big on free speech these days, and you might find yourself dragged off to Room 101.
(Link to Heffer’s rant added–Seedub)