Posts Tagged ‘Joseph Breen’

Why dumb and useless laws get passed

August 8, 2010

I have written on occasion about stupid laws, many most of which are written to show that something is being done to solve some perceived problem, regardless of effectiveness or even common sense.

Now an article by Joseph Brean in the National Post does some analysis as to why this happens.

If a skeptic was to wonder why Canadian authorities seem to respond to every tragedy by proposing intrusive new rules that can have impacts far beyond the problems they purport to be addressing, Frank Furedi has the answer: Canada has a cultural “addiction to rule-making.”

It is a world leader in the “intrusification” of everyday life, says Mr. Furedi, a sociologist who likens the impulse to using rules like religion to bring solace from grief and fear. “Every time a child dies, somebody will say — either the police or the coroner or a lawyer — that the lessons must be learned,” said Mr. Furedi, a professor at the University of Kent and author of The Politics of Fear. “We cannot just accept that this was a death. We’ve got to give that death meaning, and the way to give it meaning is to pass a law.”

The article then goes on to detail a number of examples, the latest being Ontario’s new legislation to instate a zero tolerance rule for alcohol in the system which will apply to any drivers under the age of 22. (My initial thought on this one was that it would be unconstitutional when applied to a specific group within society. There has already been a suit filed in that respect, although the provincial government feels that they are on solid footing.)

The article doesn’t even get to the federal gun legislation that was shoved down Canadian’s throats directly due to the murders at Ecole Polythechnique murders of 14 female engineering students in 1989.

Mr. Furedi makes a few other pointed comments:

Modern safety regulations, like witchcraft or divine retribution, are based on a faulty premise about who is responsible for stuff happening, and what can be done about it. Like religion, they are an effort to bring meaning to a cruel and random universe.

“They think their job is to save people from themselves,” he said of politicians who promote rules designed to send social messages, and that this reveals their “contempt” for “people who cannot be relied on to manage their everyday existence.”
Now if only our politicians, both provincial and federal, would take it to heart.