Apropos nothing, the thought occurs to me that our politicians apparently have a problem with us owning things – or at least things which they consider to be bad for us – and that ownership of such things is punished by measures ranging from the financial through to the draconian.
Take some examples:
- Handguns: 5 years imprisonment
- Knives: A fine of up to £5,000 and up to 4 years in gaol
- Child pornography: Prison sentences of up to 10 years for the ‘most severe’ cases
- Extreme pornography: Up to 3 years in jail and a maximum £5,000 fine
- Drugs: Potentially unlimited fines and prison terms of up to 7 years
And that’s just the big ticket items. I’m sure I could turn up other examples of items that the government has outlawed ownership of if I fancied spending time hunting through the deep recesses of English law.
But what exactly is the benefit to society of these bans? Does restricting public ownership of any of the items on the above list make us, as a society, safer in any way?
The message that is apparently being sent to us, the public, by our politicians is that we aren’t to be trusted. That everyone owning a handgun or carrying a knife without what the police and CPS consider good reason is a potential murderer; that everyone who likes their pornography kinky is a potential sex offender; that anyone who has pictures of child abuse which they were not themselves responsible for is a potential kiddy fiddler and that everyone who takes drugs is going to do cause a problem (without necessarily indicating what that problem might be).
I find that idea repulsive. I didn’t like being treated like a child by my parents when I was in my teens (and I like it even less now when my mother tries it) so I certainly don’t want those people we elect to ‘serve’ us to treat me in such a manner. It is not up to them to determine what I might own because someone, somewhere might not do so responsibility. Such an approach, to me, smacks of convicting everyone of a thought crime and is thus intolerable.
My safety is first and foremost my own responsibility, not that of any government. By attempting to assume that role government is saying it knows best and such an approach only diminishes me. The only safety that the government should provide for the people that elect them is at the macro level – ensuring our borders against invasion and providing resources for assistance abroad if so required.
Likewise, what I watch and what I look at is no one else’s business. No crime is committed by me viewing an image however distasteful they may be. If the images feature individuals who are deemed not to have given their consent those who performed the acts and were present when they occured are the ones who should be prosecuted, not those who watch it second or third hand.
As for drugs, will anyone argue that that war wasn’t lost even before it begun?
Making ownership of anything a crime is simply another method of controlling us, another leash on our collars. It is what we do with those possessions that should count.