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Becoming a criminal

December 30, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

I was struck by the last sentence in this article.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/bbc/8219280/Online-viewers-prosecuted-for-not-paying-TV-licence.html

“Watching TV without a valid licence is a criminal offence punishable by a fine of up to £1,000.”

Given the invasive nature of TV licence inspectors and the ruthlessness with which they pursue their objectives, I imagine that quite a few, otherwise harmless citizens, find themselves with criminal records. In the event, albeit unlikely, that I were to be successfully prosecuted for not owning a television licence and thus categorized as a criminal, I think that I would be more, rather than less, inclined to commit further crimes. There is an old saying, ‘one may as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb’ and I think this is a perfect example of how the pettiness of self-serving law-makers  has the unintended but predictable result of creating more law-breakers. Having a criminal record creates all sorts of difficulties in a person’s life including inhibiting one’s ability to travel,  denying one job opportunities, prohibiting one from becoming a company director and so forth. I do not want a criminal record, but were I to have one, it would no longer serve as a deterrent. Tax evasion, amongst a host of other crimes, would suddenly become a real consideration. By branding me a criminal, you turn me into one. That is of course if one assumes I have no moral inhibitions.

Categories: General, Politics Tags: , ,
  1. Cymbeline
    December 30, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    The French make a very clear distinction between the ‘délit’ and the ‘crime’. The semantic fields are different too, as you can see. No Frenchman would even begin to feel ‘criminel’ for not having paid a fine or a television licence.

  2. January 4, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Happy New Year Cymbeline. Sorry I missed your comment earlier. Normally I get emailed when a comment arrives. In any event, I think the French approach is the more sensible one.

    I am reading an interesting book at the moment called “What the Dog Saw” by Malcolm Gladwell. It is a series of essays, that were written for the New York Times, I think. He examines in a fascinating way, some of the problems confronting society and the way they are so often mismanaged. One has to do with the treatment of homeless people. As vagrants, they frequently run up hospital bills of in excess of US$100,000 a year, each, which are paid for by the city or state. If instead, those people were housed, clothed and fed properly, the savings would be considerable. But society objects to the idea of helping ‘worthless bums, drunks and addicts’ to that extent. So, once they have been fixed up in hospital, they are put back on the street where they resume their drinking and drug taking which in turn leads to more accidents and illness.

    Another essay deals with the effects that the birth control pill has had on modern women. Did you know that pre-industrial women, who lived past menopause, typically menstruated about 100 times during the course of their lives. Modern women, on the other hand, menstruate between 350 and 400 times. In days of yore, women were either pregnant or nursing for a great deal of their lives. Contrary to the beliefs of the early developers of the pill, regular menstruation causes stress to the body and leads to cancer. John Rock was a staunch Catholic. He believed that the Church would allow the pills use if it fitted in with the natural cycle. Hence it came in 28 day packs. The Pope said no, but the idea had been planted. Of course, I imagine companies such as Proctor and Gamble and Tampax, are only too keen to keep things as they are. Women’s health be damned.

    I guess my reason for mentioning this is that we so often look for simple, in-your-face solutions when a little bit of research and lateral thinking might provide a better answer.

  3. Cymbeline
    January 8, 2011 at 12:23 am

    Happy New Year, Sipu.

    The idea about helping ‘worthless bums’ may be exciting new thought for the Yanks, but it aint exciting new thought for most of civilized Europe.

    As to the contraceptive pill, anyone who is happy to pop a pill of hormones daily, for decades, must be completely insane.

  4. January 19, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Sipu – sorry attached to the wrong one of your blogs….

  5. January 19, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Hi CWJ, I remember that article of Charles Moore and I do indeed enjoy his defiant stand. I wonder if there has been an update since 2009. Is he perhaps languishing in gaol at Her Majesty’s pleasure, or has this latter day Scarlet Pimpernel managed to elude the watchdogs of the BBC?

    I am not sure you got the wrong blog, I merely changed themes with my comment #2 which has made things very confusing.

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