Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Disproportionate punishments

DPF blogs about the case of a businessman whose (very expensive) Mercedes Benz was confiscated under "boy racer" laws, with the comment that

Next you will be kicked out of your house if you play your stereo too loudly.

Coincidentally, this is exactly what the Blair government is planning to do in the UK. Tony Blair's new "Respect" action plan [PDF] contains a slew of draconian new powers aimed at engendering and enforcing "respect" and combating "yobs" and "chavs", including an expansion of police summary powers and the much-abused system of anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs). But by far the worst part are plans for a system of "house closure orders", modelled on existing laws to close "crack houses", which would effectively evict people from their own homes as a penalty for "persistent anti-social behaviour".

Just to make that clear, what they are talking about is a system of banishment or exile, dispensed not as a criminal punishment, but on a civil standard of proof, with no presumption of innocence, and on the same sorts of dubious grounds used for the notorious ASBOs. Again, this is an affront to justice and to basic standards of decency - but I guess those values are just less important than people's right not to have to put up with people who play their stereo too loudly...


Tony Blair will go down as the most authoritarian and anti-democratic prime minister in the history of the UK.

Posted by Anonymous : 1/11/2006 02:32:00 PM

Which is ironic given Margaret Thatcher.

Posted by Muerk : 1/11/2006 08:50:00 PM

Given his lack of 'respect' for the British traditions of tolerance and dissent (not to mention the founders of his own party), I wonder if the new measures could be used to evict Blair from Number 10.


Posted by Anonymous : 1/12/2006 09:19:00 AM

Independent journo Johann Hari supports ASBOs, although in the UK Gay Times (Oct 2005), Benedict Brook wrote a rather interesting piece, "Taking Liberties,' dealing with UK gay community concerns about ASBOs. I'm writing a Gaynz.Com article about the British debate, and you might want to check out the two websites below:

Craig Y.

Posted by Anonymous : 1/14/2006 11:24:00 AM