Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Illiberal liberals

One of the oddest things about living in a progressive liberal society is the belief that when more and more people appear to be breaking a law the best thing to do is change that law rather than try to enforce it consider the underlying reasons why that law is being broken.

Which way they change it - tighten or loosen it - depends on which side of the progressive liberal belief fence the law falls. For instance, if the law falls on the side which liberal progressives favour they will tend to be ... well .... liberal, they will usually loosen the law.

A good example of that is changing cannabis from a group B illegal narcotic to a group C illegal narcotic. No point in "criminalising" the myriads of young people who take illegal drugs according to the progs so we might as well loosen the law.

On the other hand, when the law falls on the wrong side of the progressive fence they tend to be considerably illiberal and very very intolerant leading to the tightening of the law or even a completely new piece of legislation to outlaw a practice that was, previously, perfectly legal. A typical example of that would be the hunting ban or smoking ban.

As a general rule of thumb, you will find that the laws which the progs favour loosening tend to be ones which effect their approved perceived victim groups, while laws they prefer to tighten tend to be ones that don't.

Occasionally, though - they stumble across a conundrum. A law which they favour tightening even though it will have an undue effect on one of their favoured victim groups.

A good example of this is drivers.

You see, progs hate drivers. This is because progs tend to be "environmentalists". The trouble is, as much as they hate the motor car, progs love young people - one of their favourite victim groups - and young people love cars.

Unfortunately, more and more young people are getting behind the wheel of a car and either killing or seriously injuring themselves - so the progs feel they have to do something about it.

Now progs are a lot of things, but they aren't stupid.

As well as a hatred of the motor car progs also hate alcohol. I don't really know why - for some reason progs have a hatred of legal stimulants which is only matched by their love of illegal drugs. Answers on a postcard, please.

Anyway, I digress. Progs hate alcohol. Having achieved such a huge degree of success with tobacco (funny how they believe you can control the use of a legal drug through law and enforcement, but not illegal drugs) they have now set their sights on alcohol. It's only a matter of time before bottles of alcohol are displaying health warnings just like cigarettes. Ultimately the goal is to ban drinking alcohol in public places. By then we'll all be getting off our heads in legal opium dens and cannabis coffee shops so no one will really notice.

Apologies - I'm rambling a little (nothing new). So progs hate alcohol and they hate the motor car - therefore it is only natural that they will see the rising carnage of young drivers as an opportunity to do something about the drink-drive laws.

The thing is, it's already illegal to drink and drive. Changing the law won't stop anyone who routinely drinks and drives while above the limit from continuing to do so - but that isn't the point. The proposal is just the precursor to the obvious - to change the limit to zero for all drivers. Trust me, soon after the idea is brought in someone will scream "discrimination" and the law will quickly be amended to cover all drivers. Thus, those of us who like a half a shandy in the pub on a Friday before driving home will soon find our behaviour "criminalised".

The argument that young drivers who have drunk alcohol and are below the current limit are prone to have more accidents than older drivers with the same level of alcohol is a bogus one. Young drivers are prone to have more accidents anyway - and the reason more and more of them are having serious accidents has nothing to do with the amount of alcohol they consume and everything to do with the easy availability of cars which are far more powerful and, therefore, dangerous in the wrong hands than those that people of my generation grew up with.

Changing the alcohol limit won't make the slightest difference to the toll of road deaths for young people. As long as cheap fast cars are available to them they will continue to wrap themselves around lamp posts, trees and bus shelters.

But that isn't the point behind this proposal. It is simply a way of bringing in an illiberal law in while seeming to be doing something about another issue entirely.

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