Hedges in Santa Monica and gun control in Britain


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ssr
August 9, 2004, 06:21 AM
http://www.washingtontimes.com/commentary/20040808-110054-9949r.htm

Hedging on our freedom


By Thomas Sowell


Santa Monica, Calif., has decreed a fine of $2,500 a day for not cutting your hedges.
Has someone discovered some terrible health hazard or other danger from hedges that are too high? Not at all. The politicians who run Santa Monica have simply decided people should not be able to build high hedge walls around themselves.

Santa Monica has long been called "the People's Republic of Santa Monica" for all the far-left laws and rhetoric it generates. Like other governments called "people's republic," the last thing they care about is people. The ideology, or even whims, of those in power routinely take away other people's right to live their own lives as they see fit.
Santa Monica is not unique. Wherever you get enough far left people in power, you can find a similar willingness to force everyone into collectivist conformity at all costs.
Too often these selfish ego trips of the left are called idealism, and issues are discussed in terms of the wonderful goals they proclaim — "social justice," "open space" or "saving" this or that — rather than in terms of what is actually being done and the costs to others, even when that cost is $2,500 a day.
None of this is peculiar to the United States. In fact, the same mindset is more prevalent in a number of Western European countries and has been carried even further in practice.
In Britain, for example, the right to self-defense is being eroded in many ways. Gun control laws there have not only tightened restrictions on gun-ownership — with the murder rate rising as they do — these laws ban anything that looks like a gun, especially if used in self-defense.
Britons who, by using toy pistols, have held burglars in their homes until the police arrived have been arrested along with the burglars. To the collectivist mindset, independent self-help of any sort is a threat to their vision of the government as the sole source of protection and direction.
If someone attacks you in Britain and you knock him down, you are not allowed to hit him again or you will be charged with assault. Apparently, they think someone who has been knocked down is now harmless. People who have led sufficiently sheltered lives may believe such things — and impose such notions on others through the power of government.
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has even advised you are not to yell "help" when attacked in a public place. You are to yell "Call the police." Both self-defense and coming to the aid of others are lumped together as "vigilante" action. That mindset has made inroads into the U.S. media as well.
Years ago, Bernard Goetz was called "the subway vigilante" in the media because he shot some young hoodlums who attacked him directly. He had sat quietly minding his own business while the thugs harassed other people in the same subway car. But even to defend himself was "vigilante" action, as far as those in the liberal media were concerned.
The left takes its vision seriously — more seriously than it takes the rights of other people. They want to be our shepherds. But that requires us to be sheep.
Even in the raising of children, the left wants to take charge — without taking responsibility. Schools have long ago taken over the role of introducing children to sex when, how and with whatever beliefs are in vogue. But, if your child ends up pregnant or stricken with AIDS, that is your problem, not theirs.
In some European countries, it is illegal to spank your own children. They apparently believe, like Hillary Clinton, that "it takes a village" to raise a child. But, if the child ends up rotten, it is not the village that lies awake at night but the parents.
Making other people's decisions for them without being accountable for the consequences is the left's vision in many different contexts — including outsourcing our foreign policy to the United Nations or to the International Court of Justice, whom nobody elected and whom nobody can hold accountable.
Hedges in Santa Monica are just one of the signs of our times. They want to cut our freedom down, not just hedges.

Thomas Sowell is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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agricola
August 9, 2004, 11:19 AM
sigh

Thomas Sowell appears to be just the latest in a long line of paid commentators who appear to be more people of fiction, rather than fact.

To sum up:

Gun control laws there have not only tightened restrictions on gun-ownership — with the murder rate rising as they do

there is no link between the availability of guns and the number of murders, as Colin Greenwood found (he actually said crime rates, but the same applies), as Sowell would know if he had the slightest inkling about the UK.

If someone attacks you in Britain and you knock him down, you are not allowed to hit him again or you will be charged with assault.

palpably untrue, and I challenge both Sowell and anyone else who wants to back him up to find the piece of legislation that says this. The law says that a person can defend themselves or another with reasonable force against an attack, percieved attack or impending attack. There is no restriction on "what is deemed reasonable", it is left to the Court to decide (as it should be).

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has even advised you are not to yell "help" when attacked in a public place. You are to yell "Call the police."

again, an utter fabrication. I have googled and searched the BBC website, and the only thing that even remotely resembles what Sowell alleges (and it actually says something that completely contradicts his statement) is this article. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/crime/prevention/selfdefence.shtml) . No doubt some of you may find it odd, but dont ignore the fact that Sowell has clearly fibbed.

Both self-defense and coming to the aid of others are lumped together as "vigilante" action.

It has never been described as such. What has been described as "vigilante action" are cases like that of Martin and Hastings in which the "self defence", as the evidence clearly showed, was not self defence at all. Of course, if Sowell and/or his apologists can point to some stories that show his point is correct.......

goalie
August 9, 2004, 11:58 AM
agricola,

I am a citizen, you are a serf. You can spin it around any way that you want, but you, sir, are living in a country that does not deem it's citizens trustworthy enough to own and use firearms responsibly. You can have your collective social good herd mentality, I will keep freedom.

agricola
August 9, 2004, 12:17 PM
goalie,

its quicker to type:

I cant challenge the facts, so I'll just repeat a stereotype and hope noone notices

EricOKC
August 9, 2004, 12:51 PM
agricola,

Facts are facts sir. The crime rate in the UK has risen dramatically since you tightened your gun control laws. Tony Martin wouldnt have even been charged in much of the US, much less convicted of anything. For pete's sake, when he came up for parole, it was denied on the basis that he was a threat to burglars and showed no remorse over killing the criminal. Sorry, but that kind of thing just doesnt fly well here.

From your provided link:

You have the right to defend yourself with reasonable force and this includes using items you have with you such as an umbrella, bag, briefcase or keys. However, don't carry or use anything that the law would regard as an offensive weapon. Once you've achieved your primary aim of stunning or surprising your attacker, get away as fast as you can. If you manage to overcome them don't attack again, you could be putting yourself in more danger or you could end up being charged with assault.

agricola
August 9, 2004, 01:54 PM
eric,

again, you fly in the face of the evidence.

for the "gun control measures cause rise in crime" theory to work, we in the UK would have had to have had, both before 1988 and 1997, a sizeable group of people who were prevented from committing crime by armed householders / citizens.

since we had - especially between 1988 and 1997 - already some of the most stringent firearms legislation in the world, combined with a policy of no-self-defence licences since the start of the 1950s (aside from a very small number of examples), together with a ban on carrying loaded weapons since at least 1968, this means that we had no (in terms of public places) and very little (in terms of householders) of a group that would prevent these rises.

Of course, there are other reasons for these rises (though its worth noting that burglary has fallen consistently for the past ten years, and crime generally is on a downward trend), but the gun control bans are not one of those.

With regards to Martin, the facts of the case speak for themselves - that was clearly not an issue of self-defence. As for the refusal of his parole, that was not so much that he was a threat to burglars, but that he felt none of his behaviour was wrong - including shooting out a neighbours windows with his shotgun (which revoked his shotgun licence), or shooting at apple scrumpers in his orchard, or shooting at a car he felt was trespassing. If you think shooting burglars and thieves is fine, then thats up to you - but dont try and claim its self defence.

As for your quote, thats correct (if someone is lying on a floor, presenting no threat then to attack them further might be believed to be an assault) and it bears little resemblance to what Sowell said anyway.

[edited to clear up a confusion]

R.H. Lee
August 9, 2004, 01:58 PM
Not to go OT, but if the hedge is blocking the view of cross traffic at an intersection, the city .gubmint has every right and duty to tell the knucklehead to trim it.

carebear
August 9, 2004, 02:00 PM
agri,

No agenda here (aside from the normal gun-nut stuff, of course :) ) just a question. (Yes, I should do my own research but I'll take your word for it. Agree or disagree with your perspective, you don't seem to outright lie ever.)

When you say "reasonability is decided by the court" is that by a jury or by a bench decision? i.e. can the jury make the decision based on the facts as presented by counsels or are they instructed as to the action's reasonability by the judge/prosecutor?

My knowledge of the British legal system was never thorough and is now quite old and half-forgotten.

agricola
August 9, 2004, 02:46 PM
carebear,

the jury decides. the Judge can issue a direction on point of law to them, but the decision is down to the jury as to whether the force was justified (acquital) or not (conviction).

as it happens, in several instances self-defence killings dont even make Court, being sorted out at the Coroner / CPS stage. these people often get arrested, but that isnt the same as in the US because here the law (the Police and Criminal Evidence Act) says that before anyone can be questioned about an offence, or suspected offence, they must be cautioned, which in almost all cases means they get arrested.

these cases dont get reported as much in the US because, for whatever reason, they dont fit the neat little package so many of you have been sold about the UK.

I was going to steal the links from Tim Lamberts Deltoid (http://cgi.cse.unsw.edu.au/~lambert/cgi-bin/blog/guns/UK/) website, but its very slow at the moment, so unfortunately I cant.

Hope this clears it up.

Muzzleflash
August 9, 2004, 04:04 PM
Look- I don't like spin and lies when it comes from Moore and Franken, and I don't like it when it comes from Coulter and Sowell.

Just because they're arguing our side does not repeat DOES NOT mean they should be defended when they choose to fudge the facts to make their point just a bit more powerful.

goalie
August 9, 2004, 05:02 PM
goalie,

its quicker to type:

I cant challenge the facts, so I'll just repeat a stereotype and hope noone notices

agricola,

I posted that YOUR country does not trust it's SUBJECTS with firearms to defend themselves. That, sir, is a FACT. And it is a fact you yourself have pointed out time and time again. I then pointed out that the CITIZENS of MY country are allowed to own firearms for self defense.

That is not stereotyping, that is observation. The best part is that you yourself don't even question WHY subjects of the crown are not to be trusted.

TallPine
August 9, 2004, 05:36 PM
It ain't just "far left" types who are power and control freaks.

:rolleyes:

atek3
August 9, 2004, 09:36 PM
I then pointed out that the CITIZENS of MY country are allowed to own firearms for self defense.

We're ALLOWED to own firearms? "Thank you sir, may I have another?"

More like, We OWN firearms, and they haven't had the gumption to try and take 'em yet. there is no "allow" in this equation.

"inalienable RIGHT" not priviledge.

atek3

goalie
August 9, 2004, 09:39 PM
atek3,

I wish you were right, but, for all intents and purposes, right now, we are allowed to own certain firearms and certain standard capacity feeding devices depending on the date of manufacture and your personal location in the US.

Hopefully things will keep progressing in the favor of civil liberties.

atek3
August 9, 2004, 09:48 PM
Hopefully things will keep progressing in the favor of civil liberties

hah, gun rights and civil liberties are on two different escalators these days. Gun rights are gradually increasing while privacy and civil liberties are rapidly being flushed down the toilet.

atek3

carebear
August 10, 2004, 02:21 AM
Thanks agricola. :)

Shooter 2.5
August 10, 2004, 08:43 AM
quote: If someone attacks you in Britain and you knock him down, you are not allowed to hit him again or you will be charged with assault.

palpably untrue, and I challenge both Sowell and anyone else who wants to back him up to find the piece of legislation that says this. The law says that a person can defend themselves or another with reasonable force against an attack, percieved attack or impending attack. There is no restriction on "what is deemed reasonable", it is left to the Court to decide (as it should be).unquote



It sounds to me you didn't understand your own post. The poster said you will be charged with assault and you said that was palpably untrue. You then say it's for the court to decide. If you're arguing you won't be arrested, why is the court deciding your fate?

agricola
August 10, 2004, 09:55 AM
shooter,

thats not correct, and with respect, its clear that is not the meaning of what I wrote. Sowell stated a that something was definate:

If someone attacks you in Britain and you knock him down, you are not allowed to hit him again or you will be charged with assault

That is not the case, for the reasons I posted above.

To repeat myself, over here to be arrested is not the same as being charged. Thanks to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, before any questions can be put to you about an offence you must be cautioned (similar to your Miranda rights), and in the vast majority of cases (especially serious ones) this wll mean an arrest so that the evidence (from questioning) is admissible.

As I said above, most of these cases (of killings where self defence is claimed) would result in an arrest so that the facts of the matter can be investigated, some cases wont even get charged, some will get charged but dropped before court, and some will be determined by the Court.

Of course, the ultimate decision of what is, or what is not, justified force in a given circumstance is a jury of your peers - just as in the US. That doesnt stop the CPS or the Coroners Court determining it before we get that far.

carebear,

here are the links from the Deltoid website (thanks again to Tim Lambert):

http://www.manchesteronline.co.uk/news/s/84/84719_intruder_was_lawfully_killed.html
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/2550627.stm
http://cgi.cse.unsw.edu.au/~lambert/cgi-bin/blog/guns/files/selfdefstories.html#baungartner

tyme
August 10, 2004, 10:34 AM
Britain has a very narrow concept of necessity.
The U.S., at least most of it, has a somewhat broader concept of necessity.

Rules of society are arbitrary to begin with. Getting upset over British law when you don't live there is like getting upset that sharks will eat you if you go swimming in certain parts of the ocean.

I, for one, will maintain my citizenship on this side of the pond.

Gunsnrovers
August 10, 2004, 10:55 AM
I just keep looking at the immigration ratios and shrug. Whatever you want to do at home is up to you, just don't tell me how to run my household.

Evidently we're at least heading in the right direction over here.

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