Sunday, April 27, 2008

Bloody Libertarians

I'm feeling annoyed with the UK Libertarian Party. Stealing my ideas. OK, I hadn't actually mentioned them to anyone before, but that just makes it more sinister: thought theft.

Mind you, in this instance I will grudgingly admit this is such an obvious piece of sense it might just have occurred to more than one person at much the same time:

Repeal specific legislation about phone use, smoking and so on, and rely on historic laws in regard to vehicle control. Killing as a result of driving a vehicle while incapacitated—for whatever reason—should be manslaughter, and treated accordingly.
Even before reading the LPUK manifesto, I'd been preparing a post about this. Hurling a car into a blind corner, I had explained to my Labrador, Humphrey, last week while out walking, is like hurling a piano out of an upstairs window without looking out first to make sure the way was clear. Maybe the piano wouldn't hit anybody, maybe it would. If it did, the hurler would be looking at a manslaughter charge. Why not the motorist? Why do some forms of hurling-heavy-things-without-looking have special, extra-lenient legislation, but not others?

Humph seemed to take the point.

And this micro-legislation of harmless activity - very literally harmless: activity that hasn't caused harm - like using a phone safely while driving just allows the 20% or so of people who become sadists when given power over others to, well, become sadists. It diverts the police into lying in wait for people who are not harming anyone, it transforms the police from an agency that protects people who are doing no harm into an agency that preys on ordinary people.

It's not even as though it can be effective. What if I lean over to the passenger side of the car to pick up a packet of mints I use to fend off the nicotine pangs because I can't smoke because my car has been designated a workplace? That isn't illegal but it's more dangerous than lighting a cigarette. You can't ban every silly thing people might do while driving, so just deal with the effects of their actions, if there are any, in the normal way taking into account, as usual, any exacerbating or mitigating factors.

So, all very sensible and right. But is this part of a pattern? How many other ideas have they nicked? I'll report on more Libertarian Party policies over the coming week. I have a feeling it won't just be me: a lot of people will find that LPUK have been stealing their ideas.

Unless it's more a case of these ideas being widely held, if often unarticulated, and this new Party has started to put into concrete policy terms what millions hold to be true. Maybe thousands ruminate about the absurd, oppressive and ineffective interference in the minutiae of our daily lives by political agencies while out walking their dogs. Maybe all the people in my local pub who never even knew there was such a thing as Libertarianism when the smoking ban forced us outside last summer and a sort of rolling political debate began, maybe they'll find that LPUK are articulating the thoughts they'd been feeling growing in them over the past ten or so years.

Hmmm... Maybe. Now that would be interesting.


Anonymous said...

Interesting blog, but

"It diverts the police into laying in wait ..."

should be

"It diverts the police into lying in wait ..."

Peter Risdon said...

Corrected, stupid mistake. Thanks.