Occasionally I have a little rant; you can check my About page if you don’t believe me.
I don’t believe all laws should be repealed but I do think we have rather too many of them. Many are contradictory, many are irrelevant, many are there for enforcement and power reasons rather than protection and enhancing the quality of life. But again: there are many laws. Many, many laws. Too many.
The problem with having lots of laws, rules, and guides is that lots of people will follow those laws, rules, and guides without sparing a thought for them. I really, really don’t like the idea of an unthinking society. Unthinking societies are shepherded societies and breeding grounds for dangerous, debilitating "ideas."
Now, I’m not an anarchist – I don’t like anarchist music or food, for example – but the legal framework of society needs to be torn down and replaced with something simpler and which requires a certain element of thought and consideration in implementing it. I advocate two primary principles of law: common sense and justice.
The common sense portion of law overrides all other laws: is a company exploiting a loophole in financial reporting, not in the spirit of the law? No need for lawyers, years of work, and bribing people to get the loophole closed; just poll the general population and ask "do you think this company was acting in an underhand manner by trying to get out of its responsibilities and deserves to be punished?" Did someone just slip over on the pavement because it had recently been raining and there were leaves? And that person wants to sue the local council because there wasn’t a "leaves may be slippery when wet" sign? Yeah, tough luck. Learn. Your child fell off the cliff and you think you should be compensated because there’s no railing around its edge or giant trampoline at the bottom of the chasm? I don’t think so. You burnt your mouth on hot coffee? Which part of hot weren’t you taught in school?
The justice portion of law simply makes the punishment fit the crime. Have you ever watched one of those television programmes where the police chase down a youth in a stolen car, clearly without insurance, no licence, etc.? How often is the punishment "banned from driving for a year?" This is a person who didn’t care that he had no insurance, that he had no licence, and that he had no car of his own. A year-long ban is a joke. Justice says: add up the cost of the police officers involved, petrol used in the chase, and any damage caused, then make the toerag work off his punishment in the most humiliating way possible for twice as long as necessary in order to earn enough to offset his crime and effectively earn half the going rate for his trouble.
I was reminded to rant about this subject just the other day when I heard – not for the first time by a very long way – about an elderly woman being refused alcohol from an off-licence because she had no photo ID to prove her age. This particular law grates for so many reasons, not least of which is the gradual insertion of this requirement to have identification on you at all times. I’ve heard the arguments for it: they do it in America, they do it in Europe, you vill obey schweinhund, ihre Papieren bitte. They don’t sit well with me at all. Personal freedom is something to which I think everyone has the right, rather than something sliced up and rewarded piecemeal for being a good little citizen who always makes sure their government officials (elected and otherwise) know what they’re up to. Reward good behaviour by all means but don’t take away something first and then offer it back; that’s kidnapping, with liberty the ransom price.
I’m not an anarchist – I believe I’ve mentioned this before in something I like to call "Hey You, The Paragraph Four Crew!" – but I do think that civil disobedience is an occasionally wonderful thing in which to partake. I’ve been thinking about how I would like to react should I ever fall victim to the "do you have any ID on you?" question from a gormless member of staff obeying the inflexible rule of the establishment at which he or she is working. As a man I have these sorts of flights of fantasy every ten seconds or so – those teenagers over there? I just karate-chopped the lot of them in my mind. That burning building on the TV news? If I’d been there I’d have thrown a blanket over my head and dived through the window, rescuing a trapped granny in my mind – so it’s inevitable that this sort of thing will traverse the troughs of my brain’s surface when I hear something which ires me so. I’ve decided that I will from now on carry this card with me at all times:
And when I find an establishment that has a policy stating they have the right to refuse to sell to me if I can’t prove what common sense should be screaming at them then I’ll turn up at the till with as much as I can carry, produce my card, and then walk off haughtily afterwards leaving them with the problem of returning the stock to the shelves. Hahahaha! Take that!
In my mind.
I’m British. I’ll do nothing of the sort. But I’ll remember the days of liberty and thinking people in a country without an arse of a legal system with great fondness and greater bitterness in my old age. And I’ll moan about it too.