April fool? Apparently not.
Recovering from the mother of all flu bugs, my suspicions were raised somewhat upon seeing this story appear on April the 1st, but by all accounts this is not a hoax. Above is the winning design for the new police vans and cars of the Czech Republic, in dashing new modernised colours, bearing a slogan which translates roughly as “to protect and serve”. So far so good, but certain mean-spirited individuals have poured cold water on the award-winning design before it’s even got off the ground by raising eyebrows at its similarity to the insignia of another well known Central European law enforcement service from times past. Plagiarism? Naaahh!
And now more bad news for our boys in blue – apparently the design’s also plagiarised, merely a mirror image of a design proposed a few months back by the Military History Institute – some opportunistic “unknown firm”, for whom the Ministry of the Interior takes absolutely no responsibility, was evidently inspired by the original, but not having quite such a keen sense of history (or perhaps eyes in their fucking head) somehow managed to overlook the fact that when the design was reversed it may have less salubrious connotations.
Of course, this is all strenuously denied. The similarity of the two designs is “pure coincidence”. And when the going gets tough, the tough get going: when under fire, the mighty machinery of Czech officialdom, remembering that attack is the best form of defence, springs into action with a swift admonition. After all, never forget that way back even before the days of the commies and the Nazis, this was the country of Franz Kafka. No official complaint from the public concerning the design has reached either the Ministry of the Interior or the police presidium, according to whose spokesman David Kubalák the very idea it may bear similarity to the SS logo of old “is so aberrant that we refuse to take any interest in the matter or issue any comment thereon”.
Well, the images are here, so judge for yourselves. Just remember that if you can see any similarity to the SS logo it’s all in your mind, and hence your fault, not theirs. Presumably then, these vehicles will be on the streets in a few months’ time. Watch this space.
3.4.2008 – UPDATE!!
According to new reports, the flashy new makeover came at the price of almost quarter of a million Czech crowns, which at the present, quite phenomenal, exchange rate, is a considerable amount of money by anybody’s standards, about enough to purchase… a small police car for example. Not a bad loot for simply reversing an image published on the internet in February, the designer of which will presumably see nothing of that amount. Police spokesman Tomáš Kužel sees no problem. “If you publish an image on your server and we decide to use your design, you can count yourself lucky that your design was successful. I’ve got nothing more to say on the matter”. He was equally if not more brusque on the subject of the SS controversy: “That’s beneath my level and my powers of discernment” – which makes one wonder just how elevated, or perhaps oblique, these powers are. Are they not rather wasted on the police?
Whether these pigshit-thick coppers are bluffing their way out of a pretty stinking mess, or digging themselves deeper into it remains to be seen. As it stands reportedly no change to the design is being considered and the first Tschechische Reichspolizei vehicles are due to hit the streets as early as 15 April.