Jan 5, 2015 · 1 minute

The so-called war on terror has been used to justify everything from mass surveillance programs and drone strikes to extraordinary renditions and torture programs. Now it's being used to cover another dubious effort: asking childcare professionals in the United Kingdom to warn the government when they fear a toddler might become a terrorist.

That might sound like a satirical take on modern life, but it's actually happening. This is a thing that babysitters, schools, nurseries, and universities will be asked to do if the counter-terrorism measures before parliament are enacted, according to the Telegraph. They'll also have to teach "fundamental British values" in an "age-appropriate" manner.

I'm not sure how that's supposed to be accomplished. Is there a song about the problem with extremism that toddlers can learn? How about a picture book about why it's wrong to wear a suicide vest out in public? Perhaps a cartoon that teaches children about the wonders of the West and brainwashes them into never criticizing their governments?

Those are obviously jokes, but I fear some British official might be reading them and thinking they're good ideas, so I want to make something clear: these are horrible ideas. To think babysitters or teachers can identify extremist toddlers is insane -- using cutesy songs or books to combat these little diaper-wearing jihadis is just batshit crazy.

Luckily for modern civilization, the Telegraph's report makes it clear that many in the British government think the rules go too far and would be difficult to implement. So it seems there's a line a Western government won't cross in the name of fighting terrorists, and that line happens to extend from the bassinet until someone becomes a teenager.

Now the only thing left is realizing that some other efforts to combat terrorism might be equally ill-advised. But considering that these rules made it all the way to the government without being shot down by someone with half a brain cell (damn, I hope "shot down" won't put me on some watch list) I wouldn't expect that to happen any time in the near future.

[photo via Wikimedia Commons]