Friday, 11 July 2008

A law about the law

Should it be illegal to represent the law?

Should a PCSO face action when they tell a photographer they aren't allowed to take photos in a public place when even the Home Secretary states "there is no legal restriction on photography in public places"?

Is it right to be aggrieved when you are told in a pub "It is against the terms of our licence to serve you that" when you ask for a Black and Tan or a Snakebite, when what they mean is "the manager doesn't like people drinking those in case people think the beer is off"?

What do you think?

4 comments:

rince-wind said...

Short answer: No

Slightly longer answer: The law really doesnt need to impose criminal penalties for people being stupid and/or lying.

imyril said...

No. I think we've got quite enough laws about things that should really be resolved with a quick conversation and a damning judgement call.

If your barman won't serve you the drink you want, drink somewhere else. If a PCSO gets narky over a law that doesn't exist, call him/her on it if it means enough to you at that moment in time, or suggest politely that he/she checks his facts and let it go.

Unless the misdirection is malicious and endangers you, the response should be choice and/or education, not punishment.

If we start punishing people for being ignorant, we'll find we have far more than we can handle. Which is not to say that a big of judicious sterilisation wouldn't do the gene pool a favour :P

cheesymarzipan said...

how about
"should stupidity be illegal?" - a broader kind of thing which then will stop us having to have health and safety rules for idiots and having to put things like "Butter. Contains Milk." on food packaging.
This would include lying about what is legal and illegal because clearly somebody trying to uphold the law should be intelligent enough to know what the law is.

Zombie said...

I worry about PSCOs and the like misrepresenting the law.

Since there's a new criminal offence made every day (on average, over the last 10 years) it's impossible to keep track of what's legal and what isn't. You've no option but to take police officers at their word if they quote a law at you that you don't recognise. If you argue, you might get arrested for arguing. If you don't argue and end up getting arrested for a non-existent crime, you're still arrested.

And for me, being arrested has unacceptable consequences: an entry on the NDNAD and the police national computer. Even if I'm the innocent victim of a mistake.

So even if I know that what I'm doing is perfectly legal, I'm likely to stop doing it if a copper tells me to, in case they take exception and arrest me anyway.

Question is: does that mean the police are having a chilling effect on freedom under the law?

Publicans can do what they like with their snakebite as far as I'm concerned. Bleugh!