The Law - Getting It Right - Is The Law Breaking The Law...???

Order And Decency: Ever since time began man has tried to impose his will on others. Sometimes for all the wrong reasons, sometimes for all the right. Maintaining order and decency in a modern civilised society is obviously one of the right reasons for imposing our will. We don't like scumbags running riot and causing problems for the decent people in society, and so we have the law to try and address this problem. However, again, ever since time began, getting the law right has been a challenge for us, and we can see the different variations in different countries and how laws have evolved over the years, as our understanding improves.

Joint Enterprise: There is an age old saying, "The law is an ass," and at times, we all know it has been, and can be. It is not perfect and we have been trying to hone it ever since the first rule book came about. As far as laws go, our country is one of the better ones in this world, but there is always room for improvement. The recent Jimmy McGovern TV drama, 'Common', highlighted problems with the application and possible establishment abuse of the Joint Enterprise law. Of course, we know in some areas people are still persecuted by the law in this country for their personal lifestyle choices. Affairs that should be nobody else's business because they have nothing to do with anyone else can still attract the attention of the law, as we still see fit to impose our will and interfere with decent, honourable, just, otherwise law-abiding people in these areas. These people are not in the wrong, the law is! I'm sure, as our understanding continues to develop and evolve, this will be put right, but at the moment it is not.

More Of A Crime: Laws are fluid and they change all the time. We could perhaps do better if our politicians were more on the ball, however, we all know that's asking a bit much and consequently it takes time to change a law that needs changing. Sometimes decades, sometimes centuries. Over the years, there have been a considerable number of examples which fit into this category. I can mention a few, so as to remind us not to think that just because it is the law, it has to be right. Because, unfortunately, this is far from the case. Some people may have thought it was right at the time, but when you look back and around you don't have to be a genius to realize some things were, and are, simply wrong. The law evolves as we evolve, and it reflects our ability to understand what is right and what is wrong and to behave more reasonably towards each other. If you look around the globe there are an absolute plethora of examples that most educated decent people would see as simply ludicrous. A clear demonstration perhaps that man makes it up as he goes along and, as far as right and wrong is concerned, at times, we simply haven't got a clue. In fact, such laws are often far more of a crime and an injustice than the so-called crimes themselves!

Natural Course: Most of us know that up until recently it was illegal to be homosexual in the U.K., as if people have a say in it. However, if you acted on the feelings you were blessed with, your natural course in life could lead you to imprisonment and, at one time, even the death penalty. It was also illegal for the contraceptive pill to be prescribed to anyone who wasn't married, or to have an abortion. Most people are familiar with the ridiculous 'double jeopardy' law, which dated back eight hundred years, and stipulated that a person could not be tried twice for the same crime, even if they were guilty. In the past, in this country and others, you could be stoned to death for being an unmarried mum and burnt at the stake for being a witch or a heretic. You could squat in someone's house for months on end, and prohibit them from having access to their own property and you could get locked up for defending your own home and your family against an intruder if you used excessive force in the heat of the moment. Women get an exceptionally bad deal in some places in this world. They are not entitled to initiate divorce, regardless, not allowed out without suitable accompaniment, have to drape themselves behind drab cloth, and so it goes on. Taliban law is extremely oppressive against women. However, both men and women are prohibited from listening to music, watching TV and videos, having certain literature, kite flying and numerous other rather ludicrous things. The law may be an ass, but it's even more of an ass in some places. The way we conduct ourselves and the nature of our governing rulebook always has room for improvement and it is something we should all constantly question in the quest for improvement and peace and contentment for all on our planet. The law is important and must be looked up to and respected, however, this cannot be the case if the law itself is wrong.

Freewill Is Important: As said, when it comes to freedom and freewill, I regard this country as one of the better ones, because it is. However, although we may currently have freedom of speech, we don't quite have freedom of choice and there are still areas where I see people interfering in the lives (and deaths) of others. Watching the 'Tonight' programme on assisted dying (another one of my irks with society and the law interfering), it often disturbs me that some of the people speaking out against the right to die, who obviously think they know better on behalf of others, are religious people belonging to some church or religious organisation. When are these people going to learn to respect that which God gave everyman, I wonder? When are they going to understand that freewill for an individual is all important. Perhaps more important than anything else. God does not interfere. Doesn't that teach us something? Even though he may know better, he does not poke his nose in. That is because freewill is important! When these people think they know better to the point where they can live someone else's life for them, completely disregarding that person's personal autonomy and their fundamental right to choose for them self, as if they somehow know better than everyone, they have completely lost the plot. If they think they're doing God a favour (or anyone else for that matter), they had better think again. They are completely missing the point. But then, in my opinion, that is exactly what religion does. It completely misses the point!

Fundamental Right: The law in the U.K. says you can drink alcohol, and even with all the problems that it causes, this is an acknowledgement of a person's fundamental right to choose for them self. Likewise, even though it is what I would regard as a red category drug, on a par with heroin, crystal meth and crack cocaine for its addictive nature, the law also says you can smoke tobacco. Yes, even though it's not at all good for you, the law says its ok. Up until a few years ago, the law said you were allowed to pollute other people with the resultant noxious fumes in pubs, club and restaurants, and even though this was disagreeable to the people being polluted (especially whilst trying to enjoy a meal), it was still seen as socially acceptable and ok by the law. Of course, that has now changed. However, the same law still says you cannot smoke cannabis or take other comparable social drugs even in the privacy of your own home. Even though you are affecting no other, and are in your own personal space, you cannot exercise the same personal choice without breaking the same law. On balance, cannabis is what I would refer to as a more positive drug, and although I enjoy a beer or a glass of wine myself, I wouldn't necessarily put alcohol in that bracket because it has a higher number of negative factors, somewhat outweighing the positive ones. On balance, therefore, I would say alcohol is a more negative drug, problematic and costly for the authorities, the health service, and decent members of society alike because of its anti-social and confrontational effects. Not to mention people who irresponsibly drive whilst seriously over the limit. Put simply, as well as death, it causes violent behaviour and leads to people and property being abused and physically damaged. It causes massive problems for the NHS and the police alike. None of these attributes apply to cannabis. Quite the opposite. Out of the two, on balance, it would be more likely in my book that alcohol would be banned and naturally occurring cannabis, as nature intended that is, would have been perfectly socially acceptable. However, strangely, this is not the case!

Gift At Birth: When people are restricted and inhibited by laws that they feel are unjust, they will simply try and go about things covertly. Prohibition of any sort that contravenes and diminishes a person's fundamental right to personal autonomy and freedom of choice will always be a contentious issue and people will always resist it if they don't believe in it. This is different to criminal behaviour. People who exercise criminal behaviour generally know it is wrong - not least because there is always a victim. If we want to get our law right, we have to respect the personal choice of an individual. Unless they are doing harm to others, we must let people do what they want to do and stop interfering with their lives. Let's get off the 'think we know better than you do on your behalf' bandwagon and take a leaf out of God's book, and I don't mean the bible. But follow the example that was set in our creation. Everyone was given freewill, it was a gift at birth. At least, as an adult, that's how it was intended. People who disrespect that, and take that right away from others, are in the wrong. Sometimes that wrong gets enshrined and embedded in law and people get persecuted as a result. We must recognise when this is the case and put it right. Freewill is important - very important. In fact, I think most would agree there is perhaps nothing more important to us than the ability and freedom to make up our own minds. If we make laws that take this right away from people, we are in essence playing God with people's lives, and even God doesn't do that!
Crosstalk by Taz: September 2014