Thursday, 26 November 2009

Too many knee jerk reactions

According to the Telegraph, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary has said that
“Policing has “lost its way” amid the “noise and clutter” of government targets, initiatives and new laws.”
Mr Denis O’Connor has, apparently
“accused ministers, local authorities and police chiefs of “too many knee jerk reactions” to the problems of law and order.”
Well said, sir. I hope that you are listened to. But it’s not just the problems of law and order. In the world of government, there are too many knee jerk reactions to just about everything. Too many initiatives. Too many initiatives. And definitely too many new laws.

Legislation is, to borrow a phrase from the Book of Common Prayer, “is not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly.”

I think ‘wantonly’ is the perfect word to sum up the way our government has been going about the business of legislation.

10 comments:

indigomyth said...

//Legislation is, to borrow a phrase from the Book of Common Prayer, “is not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly.”//

I think it is to do with the language that is used. When a government makes something against the law, or legislates against something, they are effecitively advocating state violence, or threat of violence, against people. Perhaps people would be far less willing to pass stupid legislation if instead of saying "this should be illegal", they said "the state should use violence and the threat of violence against these people who say or do X". Perhaps once people actually realise what making something illegal means, then they will stop wanting to make things illegal.

Young Mr. Brown said...

Good point!

indigomyth said...

Though I have been continuing to debate on Cranmer, and have come across a Christian that advocates Dominionism. A little taster:

//I believe that God is the king of the universe and the ultimate judge of all. Everyone is accountable to him. All people are commanded to obey him, whether they recognise this or not. God's law does not apply only to believers, but to everyone.

However, where people do not recognise God as God, then the laws of the country are likely to be at odds with God's standards.

The country's laws cannot make people moral. They cannot make people love God - they should serve merely as a deterrent to public immorality.//

There is much more, including:

//indigomyth: "So, you only disagree with Sharia law for forcing people to act in accordance with Islam, even if they re not muslims, because they are forcng people to obey the wrong religion."

Basically yes. All people are created by God, and whether they recognise it or not, they will answer to him. In theory, the role of the state is to act as a deterrent to public immorality.//

It makes me shiver to think that there are people out there that actually believe the state has the authority to use violence against people that have done no violence to anyone else.

Young Mr. Brown said...

Indigomyth,

I have had a look at the debate on Cranmer. Ben Stevenson is not a libertarian, as he himself makes clear. I don't agree with everything he says. However, it seems to me that he is much closer to, and much more sympathetic to, libertarianism than most people in Britain.

I would guess that about 95% of the people in Britain believe that the state has the authority to use violence against people that have done no violence to anyone else. Take the views of David Cameron on penalising knife carrying, which I believe are completely shocking, but which appear to have support of most people in this country.

As I say, it seems to me that Ben Stevenson is closer to us than most people in this country, and I can't see why you feel obliged to attack him. Debate, discuss, disagree, yes. But don't attack.

It's not a good advert for the libertarian non-aggression principle.

:-)

Young Mr. Brown said...

Whoops. Second link there is wrong.

See this instead.

indigomyth said...

Would you also reprimand me for attacking Islamists that want to impose Sharia law? Or socialists for wanting to impose communist policies?

Ben Stevenson explicitly endorses violence against me, via the state. In fact, he only disagrees with Sharia law because it honours the wrong God.

//It's not a good advert for the libertarian non-aggression principle.//

Yes, but I am only promising defensive violence. That is why libertarians support gun rights, for self-defence. Ben wants the state to brutalise me for what I say and do with my own body. Like any other person that wants to invade my home and life to attack me, I have the right to protect myself. So you can understand my aggression towards someone that wants to use violence against me, when I have done nothing to them. I would not advocare initiating violence against him merely for what he says, but his views do deserve contempt, in much the same way that Islamists and Communists deserve contempt.

People like Ben agree with Libertarianism when if favours them, and increases their liberty. However, they want to decrease the liberty of other people. It is called Theonomy, or Christian Reconstructionism.

Indeed, I would argue that he is far further from Libertarian principles in terms of his social outlook, at least in terms of things expressly forbidden by the Bible, than many people. Only in economic matters is he approving of Libertarian principles.

If we are to make peace with people like Ben, on the basis of their economic libertarianism, then we should also make peace with socialists on the basis of their social libertarianism.

indigomyth said...

I think a lot of Libertarians fixate on the "smaller government" element of Liberty, rather than individual sovereignty, negative rights and essential freedoms. This has the result of attracting people who want to make government smaller, but want to increase the intrusion of the state in peoples lives. This is the kind of thing that Ben is advocating.

The justify it by arguing that individual liberty means only that you are free to obey God (God, Allah, Yahweh), free from state coercion to the contrary. In this view, it is entirely permissible to restrict individual liberty, if individual actions are sinful.

To be honest, I would rather have a large government that defends individual liberty, and stays out of my life, rather than a small government that wants to regulate my interpersonal relationships based upon any form of esoteric ideology. Either that or anarchism. I quote from C.S. Lewis,

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

So, in fact, anarchy, with its occasional dictators and despots, may indeed be preferable to the sort of tyranny that Ben would take us to.

Young Mr. Brown said...

Hi indigomyth.

On theonomy, there are two things to keep in mind.

1) Theonomists are a total irrelevance in political terms. Theonomy's advocates have been vocal, but there have never been more than a handful of them, especially in Britain. But even in America, there were never many, and they peaked in their influence back in the 1980's. Theonomy is a paper tiger. Why worry about it?

2) The world's most influential theonomist thinker, Gary North has worked for Ron Paul, and continues to write for Lew Rockwell.com. So, at the moment, Gary North is an ally of libertarianism, and while I would feel free to critique his thought, should the need arise (and it is so irrelevant that the need does not arise), I see no need to attack him.

I'm not convinced that Ben Stevenson is a theonomist. Nor can I see that he is threatening any more violence to you than Gordon Brown, David Cameron, or Nick Clegg. I'd rather try to win him round to consistent libertarianism than simply attacking him. People change their minds.

If someone says "I'm sympathetic with some aspects of libertarianism, but I disagree with you on the legalisation of drugs", I don't think that the best response is to whip out your copy of Atlas Shrugged, batter him over the head with it, and yell "Fascist Pig!" at him.

Would you also reprimand me for attacking Islamists that want to impose Sharia law? Or socialists for wanting to impose communist policies?

I think you would be wiser to critique them politely rather than call them fascists - as I've written here.

a lot of Libertarians fixate on the "smaller government" element of Liberty, rather than individual sovereignty, negative rights and essential freedoms. This has the result of attracting people who want to make government smaller, but want to increase the intrusion of the state in peoples lives.

It can also have the effect of getting people who are attracted by smaller government to look again at "individual sovereignty, negative rights and essential freedoms."

I would rather have a large government that defends individual liberty, and stays out of my life, rather than a small government that wants to regulate my interpersonal relationships based upon any form of esoteric ideology.

Me too!

indigomyth said...

//I don't think that the best response is to whip out your copy of Atlas Shrugged, batter him over the head with it, and yell "Fascist Pig!" at him.//

True. Perhaps I was being a bit hot-blooded.

It can get to you sometimes though. Continuous attacks on my liberty (from the government and its supporters), continuous verbal threats to liberty (Islamists, certain Christian campaigners, and even certain Jewish affliations in Israel), it makes you sensitive.

I am sure you feel something of the same by the attacks on religious liberty that come from atheists, Muslims and so forth.

But perhaps I lean more towards the Devil's Kitchen / Old Holborne sort of protest - vitriolic and abusive. Your way is more level headed, and reasonable though.

Young Mr. Brown said...

It can get to you sometimes though.

Yes, it certainly can!

Your way is more level headed, and reasonable though.

Well, I like to think so. Though I'm not sure that level headed and reasonable is fashionable in the blogosphere.

;-)