Monday, January 16, 2006

Liberty and the pursuit of happiness

One man's ceiling, another man's floor.

Odd cove this liberty chap. Sometimes those who drone on about it seem to have something they want to hide even if it's only that they watch ITV3 behind their lace curtains. Or they want to be free to do something that may inconvenience, annoy or harm others such as driving too fast, baiting bears or stealing policemen's helmets on boat race night.

It gets mixed up with the curiously English obsession with privacy that only really took hold imho amongst the Edwardian lower middle classes but which now fuels a largish section of the UK press. I don't much care who knows what I get up to and I don't much care who reads my e-mails or listens to my conversations. But others seem to care a lot.

It also gets mixed up with law and order and innocence until proven guilty which is a fine and noble principal that only really benefited the nobs and serious criminals in the days when policemen and vigilantes allegedly kept the peace with a few swift clips around the ears of the miscreant masses.

I can't help feeling that Mr Blair is onto something with the respect agenda. Given that the forces of Civil libertarians are lined up against him alongside the Daily Mail and the Telegraph on its bad days, perhaps he has found the true centre ground.

Anyway this is a Big Issue when I go canvassing and talk to the non-chattering classes. I was surprised at the genuine level of gratitude that many people expressed for what has already been done to clamp down on low level antisocial behaviour. But many people are still afraid to go out at night and that can't be right even though some of their fears may be irrational.

The venerable William Rees-Mogg in the Times doesn't agree: "In the history of Britain there have been many periods when liberty was threatened. The immediate threat is a government with a lust for control, with little respect for liberty". Neither does Rachel Sylvester in the Telegraph: "People would, for the first time, get a criminal record (as well as a fine or community service order) without ever having their case put for them by a defence barrister in court."

2 Comments:

At 19:24, Blogger Anna, Fair and True said...

I like your choice of colour and temmplate! ;)

 
At 08:58, Blogger Hughes Views said...

Oh dear! I've changed it (because I couldn't find my error in my previous template)

 

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