Thursday, April 26, 2012

Will the 'nanny staters' ever learn???

Two news reports today have me shaking my head in disbelief at the seemingly terminal stupidity of 'nanny staters'.  It seems almost as if they willfully refuse to use the reasoning power that (allegedly) distinguishes us from animals.

First, from Germany comes this report:

New gun register a decade after massacre

Ten years after Germany’s worst school shooting, in which a former pupil killed 16 people before committing suicide, politicians are set to lay the foundations for a national gun-owners’ register.

. . .

A gun law reform which was, ironically, due to be discussed in parliament that day, was withdrawn and strengthened before being passed.

Since then sports shooters under the age of 25 have to undergo a medical-psychological examination to determine whether they are suitable gun keepers, while age limits for buying and owning guns were raised.

. . .

Seven years later, in March 2009, the 17-year-old Tim Kretschmer killed 15 people, mostly at his school in Winnenden, before committing suicide – he had taken one of his father’s 15 weapons. Although most of Kretschmer’s guns were locked away, he had kept the pistol near his bed.

The case prompted calls for a law to stop guns being kept in private homes – restricting them to gun club safes. Such proposals have been rejected by most mainstream politicians – but were revived on Thursday by an action group from Winnenden.

“Much has changed since Erfurt, but it is a long way,” Gisela Mayer, spokeswoman for the group. She said “laws of the highest possible security,” were needed.

There's more at the link.

Second, from Boston in Massachusetts (courtesy of a link from JayG), CBS reports:

Keller @ Large: Let’s All Give Up Foolish Cell Phone Use

It happened yesterday afternoon at the Fresh Pond rotary on Alewife Brook Parkway in Cambridge, a woman in a big SUV came barreling into the path of a smaller car that clearly had the right of way.

If driver number two had been less alert, or driving any faster, no way could he have slammed on the brakes before being broadsided and, most likely, killed by the nitwit in the SUV.

Why did she do it?

I’m positive the cellphone glued to her face played a major role in her failure to stop, slow down, or even, by all appearances, even notice that she almost took another life.

. . .

There are ten states that ban driving while on a hand-held phone, and we’re not one of them.

Only recently did we manage to ban their use by drivers under age 18 and school or passenger bus drivers.

So you can’t count on the state to step in and restore some order to the wild west scenario that’s playing out on our roads.

Again, more at the link.

Why, oh, why do we always have to deal with this bilge from so many commentators and politicians?  They always seek to blame the object rather than the person - yet we know full well that the opposite is true!  Consider:

  • In a case of drunk driving, we don't charge the vehicle - we charge the driver;
  • If a kid's been injured by being beaten with a stick, we don't arrest the stick - we arrest the person who wielded it;
  • In the recent Trayvon Martin affair, the gun that fired the bullet that killed Mr. Martin isn't being charged - the person who pulled the trigger is facing trial.

If you ban or strictly regulate firearms, those criminally or homicidally inclined will find other methods to perpetrate their crimes.  Consider:

  • Anders Breivik began his massacre in Norway last year by detonating a home-made bomb in the center of Oslo, killing eight people.  Is anyone suggesting that, if he hadn't had access to firearms, he wouldn't have taken a rucksack full of home-made bombs or grenades to the island of Utøya, and used them to murder even more than the 69 people he shot there?  Instructions on how to make such devices are freely available on the Internet.
  • The perpetrators of the 9/11 atrocities didn't use a single firearm.  They used box-cutters - small utility knives - to hijack four aircraft, and then used the latter as improvised weapons to kill almost 3,000 people.
  • Take the Rwandan genocide in 1994.  Hundreds of thousands of people were slaughtered, the majority with machetes, or clubs, or by fire when the buildings in which they had taken shelter were set alight.  The populace at large did not have many guns, so they used what they had.  Firearms in the hands of the military and militia movements accounted for relatively few of the dead.
  • Improvised weapons have killed untold numbers of people, and have been used by many others to defend themselves.  For example, peasants in both Europe and Asia used agricultural implements as weapons for many centuries.  Tools such as cleavers, field knives, axes, hammers, pitchforks, flails (which were later developed into nunchaku in Okinawa), scythes (notorious as the 'tool' carried by Death, the Grim Reaper), etc. were all pressed into offensive or defensive service, and sometimes even carried into battle if there were not enough conventional weapons available.  In some parts of the world, such tools still serve as weapons to this day.  Even sporting implements have been used; for example, Michael Skakel notoriously used a golf club to murder Martha Moxley in 1975.

On the other hand, if many of the victims of the crimes mentioned above had been armed, they might well have been able to stop the perpetrators in their tracks, and save not only their own lives, but the lives of those around them.  A single armed citizen aboard one of the planes hijacked on 9/11 might have been able to stop the hijackers reaching the cockpit and taking over the aircraft.  In Rwanda, in the few cases where those targeted for murder had weapons of their own, they were often able to fight off their would-be killers and escape.  Extensive research shows that firearms are used far more often in the USA by innocent people to defend themselves and their loved ones against criminal attacks, than by criminals to commit those attacks.

As for driving while distracted:  if we ban cellphone use while driving, those who allow their attention to be diverted from the road by such instruments will still be subject to all sorts of other distractions behind the wheel, such as doing their makeup, eating, reading, watching TV - even pornography!  An irresponsible driver won't be transformed into a responsible one by prohibiting the use of one or more objects behind the wheel.

It's hardly ever the object that's the problem - it's almost always the person using the object. Passing laws to regulate the former will do nothing to solve the problems caused by the latter.

Why, oh, why are 'nanny staters' so utterly incapable of recognizing this reality?  Whenever they pass laws against objects, the latter are usually demonstrated before very long to be useless in preventing further crimes or problems - yet their response is usually to demand even more such laws!

Einstein defined insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results".  By that measure, the 'nanny staters' are truly insane!  Unfortunately, the rest of us have to live with the consequences of their insanity . . .




Brad J (Kazrak) said...

It's a common belief on all sides of politics: if you ban something, it goes away.

Belief in this utterly foolish idea is behind everything from gun-control laws to the War on Drugs to anti-abortion legislation.

kenw said...

I read your words every morning when I get to work and I agree with the majority of yr commnents and have a chuckle at others. I am in Australia and things are quite different here and I do wholeheartedly disagree with you on the banning of mobile phones whilst driving. I think it's like the argument of mandatory seat belt use and motorbike helmets.Sometimes we need to legislate against idiots, yes I know they can still flout the rules but hey..what can u do? Speaking on the phone isn't the issue really, it's the idiots who insist on texting whislt driving that amazes me. I think that speaking on the phone whilst driving, eating a pie or drinking a softdrink are still bad to do whilst driving but yr concentration isn't quite so diverted as it is when texting. I think there is a law here that says you can't play yr in car music too load so you can't hear emergency vehicles also. Back to the phones though, my old girlfriend used to text even though she wandered all over the place and I told her to stop the car and let me drive and it is banned here! Let's face it years ago there were, no speed limits, no drink driving laws, no helmet laws, seat belt laws, drivers licences, safety certificates to name a few. That's my rant for today, regards Ken W

perlhaqr said...

On one hand I absolutely concur that it's not the object that's at fault in the case of someone driving distracted by their phone, it's the driving distracted part.

On the other hand, simply criminalising "driving while distracted" has the potential to allow too much leeway to the police to harass people. After all, how does one objectively measure "distractedness"? At least a cell phone is a visible indicator.

Douglas2 said...

In Massachusetts the vehicle laws are already strong enough that anyone failing to control their vehicle due to distraction from phone use could be stopped and cited. Moving into the path of a vehicle that has clear right of way is an infraction, regardless of why you do it.

I'm not sure what adding another law to make more-illegal an already illegal action is supposed to accomplish. It is easy to see what it accomplishes in practice, because one fifth of the US states, comprising much greater than one fifth of the population, already have such laws. We can compare accident statistics both between states and before-vs-after the ban within-states, in order to see if there is any effect that outweighs statistical noise.