A Militant Authoritarian Writes


Note: This was first posted here as a comment on the alcohol pricing thread. Some blogs, I have no doubt, would remove it at once. I think it is worth promoting straight to the front page. It is a classic statement of what we are up against.

Look at the statistical assertions. 80 per cent of Melbournians frightened to use the public transport there? This sounds unlikely. If it isn’t a straight lie, we can ask what questions were asked of how many people. Or “48% reduction in costly and sometimes fatal alcohol related incidents.” What does this mean. What is the nature of these incidents? How many of them were fatal? How many fatalities were caused in any reasonable sense by people whose faculties had been impaired by drink? What is meant by costly? Or “(70% assaults in Oz are down to binge drinking.” Another suspicious claim.

Or look at the debating trick. Let us assume that these laws have dissuaded people from harming others. Even if true, is it necessary to set the limits so low? If you want to discourage bank robbery, is it necessary to hang shoplifters? The obvious purpose of all this is to produce large number of convictions and to frighten people out of drinking.

Then we have the continuous assertion that the right to stay alive is a civil liberty. This is a good one to throw about in a studio. It sounds reasonable, and explaining that it isn’t requires an argument rather than a soundbite. You can argue that staying alive is not a civil liberty, but one of those things that civil liberties are supposed to guarantee. Say that, and wait for the obvious sneered riposte. You can say there are better ways to protect the right to life than abolishing all the freedoms that make life worth having. That’s weak, because it requires you to explain that most of the alleged problem is made up, or that it is more effectively dealt with by enforcement of very old laws.

Yes – has anyone an effective one line response to this point about life as a civil liberty? Michael Howard once came out with it in private. He knew he was twisting words, and backed down when I laughed at him. But I’ve also heard Tony Blair use it. Any answers here? SIG

by Mike Cockburn

Well, a min price for alcohol is researched and recommended. No argument from me. IMHO, it’s not anywhere as effective as The Pedestrian 08 Campaign. The US Navy recently trialed something awfully close to Pedestrian 08 and got an immediate 48% reduction. That’s right folks! An immediate 48% reduction in costly and sometimes fatal alcohol related incidents. Nowhere in the Western World has any credible authority or government achieved such a culture busting result. Can you name one?

In Australia, where I write this, we have virtually eliminated driving under the influence. How? By setting out an easily understood limit to driving after drinking, measured and expressed in terms of your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). Then we have worked on cost effective, but, complete methods of policing. A few busloads of police go out into the wilderness – our suburbs – and Random Breath Test millions of drivers. Yes, millions of breath tests. (Last big campaign- 1.1 million tests conducted over 50 days. All in Victoria (pop. 5.5m))

Effective? Yes, every year, an extra 100 drivers have to be RBTd to find one moronic drunk. We are up past 400 plus drivers now, who are delayed 1-3 mins for a test, once or twice a year. A small price to ensure, you don’t get maimed or killed in a head on accident via the selfishness of a moronic drunk…

Civil Liberties? You bet. The right to life for thousands of innocents have been preserved. What’s this got to do with the above? Well, The pedestrian 08 campaign seeks to do the same for our crime riddled streets and public transport.

1/ set out max BAC for pedestrians (BAC 0.08)

2/ educate widely.

3/ place BAC testing machines in all liquor venues so users can self test and stay within limits on own accord.

4/ deploy teams of police to widely test and fine, fine, fine offenders until they stop.

Civil Liberties: You bet: Freedom from fear, violence, assault (70% assaults in Oz are down to binge drinking), rapes and one punch homicides. Further enhanced by the removal of alcohol fueled offenders holding up jail cells, so we can give hardened crims, hardened time. (Where 10 maybe 20. Sound good?).

80% of Melbournians are afraid to use their public transport system, their taxes have paid for. They will now have freedom of travel returned. Whole districts have been declared No Go Zones because of binge drinking. Law abiding citizens will now have the freedom to return.

i urge you to do what will kill this problem off, once and for all. Pedestrian 08 has been proven by U.S. Navy Submarine Fleet. Motorist point 05 has proven it. Our work authorities have proven it industrially. Our civil aviation authorities have proven it for airline / commercial pilots. And don’t worry, anytime you want a drink, you’ll be able to get one.

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7 responses to “A Militant Authoritarian Writes

  1. One line? Dunno if anyone can do it in one line. “Explain wave function collapse in one line”. If I’m only allowed one line, it’d be something like, “life is not a civil liberty”, then I’d explain further in the reply to the response to that.

    Another might be, “All street crime could be ended if no citizen were allowed to leave their home without an official escort. Discuss”. But that’s one sentence plus a sentence fragment.

  2. It’s a struggle this. The right to life is a natural law, while civil liberties are things bestowed and removed by a mob.
    I would need to go on and discuss the difference-probably at great length to politicians-so it didn’t quite get there.

  3. Regards to this business of minimum pricing. Have perused some of the research done in Canada and the U.K where they claim some success in reducing problems associated with drunkenness. Well, I wouldn’t doubt it. However the research so far as I can tell appears quite narrow.If you look for answers to support your intended policy you will find them. What I mean is, no research seems to have been done on whether stricter enforcement of the law regarding vandalism, criminal damage, brawling,assault e.t.c. would have the same effect. I propose that it would.Put some one in a cell Friday/ Saturday night, have them in front of the Magistrate first thing Monday morning and apply proper sanctions i.e. If some one has broken another person’s jaw, let him/her get the bill for the medical costs, or pay the full cost of replacing the broken window at the taxi/take-away place.Then let them try explaining to the boss why they didn’t turn up for work/ job centre.People need to shoulder the responsibility themselves; it should not be spread around the rest of us like some mass state controlled medication.It’s typical Socialist/Liberal sentiment. People cannot be trusted to understand the connection between decision and consequence, so we have to do it for them.

  4. I would just stipulate that, if we use language very loosely, not being killed is a civil liberty in the sense that we have a right not to have our lives ended by violent trespass on our persons.

    So what?

    It does not follow, from the fact that we have a right not to be killed, that the state has either an obligation or a right to invade public liberties through any prior restraint that may happen — directly or indirectly — to lessen the risk of death.

  5. Miguel Quintero

    Your never in a million years going to frighten away people from illegal (or legal) drug use or misuse,the second their mnds/bodies experience that **depending on chemical used**Moment of Bliss!!!!!!!!!!*OR*just feeling half way normal The only way they can feel good about themselves,is through self medication!!!It is more than safe to say,the **Legality**way has failed miserabley!!!!!!!The only way to get the numbers of fatality’s down……and same for misery!!!Is to make it a harm reduction,scenario….and for the young who have not experimented yet,TRUE education in the schools,not the uber-ridiculous scare stories they tell them in school,that is how allot of kids destroy their lives w such chemicals as Crystal Meth!!!!!!!!!!They assumed the government made up all of that nonsense about Cannabis,or MDMA(or related compounds)Alcohol one of the most destructive drugs known to human kind advertises their oroduct right on TV!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!It really makes me question humanity!

  6. misterdamage

    Hardline Authoritarians argument rests on the notion of “positive rights”. That is rights that exist because government gives them to us. For example, by setting up roadblocks and compelling people driving past them to submit to breath testing. But government is force. That’s what it does and that’s _all_ it does. “Positive rights” are rights to initiate the use of force upon another individual. The notion that violence may be initiated as a right is a nonsense on its face.

    Regrettably, authoritarians not only have a fundamentally different moral code than do libertarians but they regard government as fundamentally trustworthy. If you consider this in the context of the 20th century, which can reasonably be described as authoritarianisms reductio ad absurdum, this faith can be demonstrated to be fundamentally misplaced.

    I think that the argument cannot be won in a soundbite, that it is necessary to attack not specific policies, but the blind faith that authoritarians have in government by demonstrating that government requires limits and that it must be rigorously confined within those limits if the horrors of the 20th century are not to be repeated.

    Of course, it is impossible to convince people who are actually _in authority_ that authority is not to be trusted. These people have a fundamental conflict of interest and should be regarded not as potential allies to be courted but as enemies to be ruthlessly and cruelly mocked.

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