Monday 3 February 2014

Can we shoot them yet?

This story has more traction than it deserves.  Not because of the gravity of the offence but because of what it represents: A further tightening of the state noose around the neck of liberty.  Somehow the state seeks the right to intrude on the personal choices of others on a microscopic level, on the basis of some spurious over-hyped findings that pander to pre-existing anti-smoking prejudices.

Not for one moment does anyone stop to ask how big the problem is.  Who doesn't know that smoking is bad for them? Who actually smokes with kids in the car? Is it even a major issue? How will they enforce it?  - and where do we draw the line on perpetual intrusions into our lives, by the state?  But reality has little to do with this. This is more the usual display of politicians showing off their moral probity than anything else, seeking to police every aspect of bad parenting, 

You won't get any argument from me that it's an ugly thing to do to a child, but we cannot start harassing people and fining them just because we disagree with their mostly harmless choices.  The moment we consent to this level of nannying, next will be compulsory inspections in the home, and then it will be dietary inspections and who knows what else from there? This is how tyranny is born. Little by little they salami slice our capacity to live as adults.

What is also lost in this is that we are at critical mass with hectoring by the state. Just last year it was reported that attacks on traffic wardens have rocketed by 400 per cent in some areas of Britain as "furious drivers lash out" after being issued with parking tickets.  You could argue that the traffic wardens are being oversensitive and recording even the vaguest abuse as an "attack", but the fact such news is greeted with cheer and not concern tells you rather a lot:  The public have reached saturation point. 

Everywhere you turn there's a fine or fixed penalty notice - and today we learn via the Daily Mail that "stealth" cameras installed on motorways are now to be used to enforce the 70mph limit, when the vast majority of drivers agree that the 70mph limit on motorways is a stupid anachronism. My own research of late, including an enquiry to the West Yorkshire Chief Inspector, demonstrates the Mail is, as usual, hyperventilating in that the police apply a certain level of discretion in whom they prosecute, but the capability is there, and the temptation to apply the iron fist will overcome them eventually.

But that is in addition to the record numbers of CCTV cameras pointed at us, and now the state is deciding what is acceptable internet viewing. Every single aspect of our lives is being recorded and scrutinised, and justice goes out of the window because rather than facing a magistrate, jury or judge, we are in an era of legal absolutism where a computer decides if you are guilty or not. We have even reached the state where cops and traffic wardens (and soon all public servants) will be wearing cameras on their hats. Is this the society you want to live in? I prefer freedom, warts and all. I've seen the future on our present trajectory and it is a very ugly thing to behold.

If we go down this avenue, people will begin to hate public servants and the police (more than they already do), and the police cannot then secure the co-operation of the public when trying to keep the peace. That is when the covenant between the people and the state is broken and we start seeing a fracturing of society where people no longer call the police and deal with community issues inside their own system of laws. It is already happening. By overreaching its authority the state divorces itself from us and becomes the enemy rather than a protector.

As harmful as that is, we're making all these petty laws that the authorities are more than happy to exploit as a means of revenue collection - to the detriment of enforcing serious crime. People barely bother to report burglary now, nor fraud because nothing will happen. Criminals get a free ride, and the plod then become administrators and revenue collectors for the authorities, rather than public servants. And that's when we will see a serious breakdown in relations between the public and the police. It is already acute and I won't be surprised if people start hurting coppers over things like this - and I wouldn't blame them either.

No comments:

Post a Comment