You can’t legislate against stupidity

The latest obsession in the media is the number of young people who binge drink. It’s astounding how some old topics crop up from time to time. Nothing comes of the discussion. Nothing can come. Just a lot of hot air. Here’s more of it…

Apparently, it has come to the attention of politicians and the media that there’s lots of drinking going on. Some young people are overdoing it, shock horror! Now that is a surprise, isn’t it?

Young people trying to do what their elders are doing, trying to prove that they are grown up and can drink themselves stupid. Well, it helps if you are half way there already. What do I mean by that? I mean that Australia is a nation that can’t take a breath without a drink.

Aussies celebrate by having a drink. They grieve while having a drink. They watch sport and drink. They buy boats so that they can drink on the water. They drink while they fish. They drink while they barbeque.

They drink when they come of age. They drink when they graduate. They drink too much and they drink too young.

It’s part of the culture. Other nations drink too. Why? Well, I suspect that all the mumbo jumbo by psychologists, sociologists and other ologists will use fancy terminology in their explanation, but the reason can be summed up by the following. They do it because they want to and because they can.

My opinion is that one can’t change a culture. People are not going to give up what they enjoy doing unless there’s a good reason to. Take a look at the aborigines, for example. You can legislate, you can preach, you can intervene all you like, but nothing is going to change their behaviour until they want to for reasons of their own. And it is a bit presumptuous of the white community to tell them that drinking is bad when whites indulge and overindulge all the time.

We can apply the same argument to smoking. People will continue smoking if they want to. They will use their democratic right to smoke plea and I agree with them to some extent, but not because of their right to smoke. In my opinion, they have been informed about the dangers but if they want to continue their habit it’s fine with me. If they want to smoke, smoke away… away from me, that is.

If they want to drink, then go ahead and drink. Drink until your brain cells melt and your guts rot. It’s your democratic right.

I make only two requests. My first is that if you drink then don’t drive because you could hurt someone else. Drink and hit a tree, that’s fine by me. (although I feel sorry for the tree) But drink and hit another car or a pedestrian, and that’s when I become enraged.

We should have more stringent drinking and driving laws. There should be a zero tolerance for alcohol-related driving accidents. I don’t want to hear that somebody got off because ‘he or she’ was too drunk to know what ‘he or she’ was doing. Don’t give a drunk driver a second chance to commit another offence.

My second request is that if you want to smoke, then don’t do it near me. I don’t want to be a victim of your addiction. Smoke at home. Smoke in you car. Smoke in your sleep if you want, but not near me. Fortunately, at last we have some legislation that protects us from smokers in public. It has a long way to go, however and should be regarded in the same way as defecating in public. As a public nuisance.

This past Easter break, there have been several drownings owing to drinking and then going for a swim at the beach. I don’t regard this as a tragedy because it was a question of personal choice and didn’t involve anyone else being hurt. My point is that these folks chose to swim under inappropriate circumstances. They have a right to do whatever they want as long as they don’t hurt anyone else.

Some of those drownings were at night when lifesavers are not on duty. In Australia, lifesavers perform their duties on a voluntary basis. They patrol beaches and rescue people for free. I have the greatest respect for them as have all Australians. So it is very frustrating for them to have to retrieve bodies out of the water when such swimmers should have been obeying water safety rules. Swim between the flags where it is safe. Don’t drink and swim and don’t swim at night. Simple.

All Aussies know these rules but tourists don’t. So there should be a more concerted campaign to inform visitors to our country about the possible dangers of swimming in unpatrolled areas. These rules must be explained on the planes and in the hotels and tour guides should be obliged to warn their tour groups as well.

The point that I am making is that it’s about time that personal responsibility came into play in our lives. We seem to expect the law and the government to do our decision making for us. When we do something that is going to hurt us, there is no reason for the law to get involved unless we are mentally ill and need protection from our illness.

The law should not be there to tell us what we should eat, what we should wear, what we should drink and even what stupid drugs we should take.

The role of society should be to educate while pointing out personal responsibility. The problem with leftist governments or nanny states is that personal responsibility for one’s actions is reduced.

We are left with a dependent mentality. Someone has to make decisions for us and if anything goes wrong we blame others and then sue. It’s always someone else’s fault, apparently. Mcdonalds forced us to eat to those Big Macs so now we are fat. We didn’t look where we were walking and so the council is sued for not telling us to look where we walk. How ludicrous and immature!

The law should only protect us from hurting others or others from hurting us. It should be involved in crime– that is, doing something bad to someone else. That is the crux of civilisation as far as I’m concerned. The way we treat others is what counts. The way we treat ourselves is up to us and we should be accountable to ourselves for that.

Some people will say that the law should protect us from hurting ourselves. That’s as silly as claiming that attempting suicide is a crime. You only get charged if you fail, I guess, so actually failing to die is the crime. It simply doesn’t make sense. But then, perhaps life isn’t meant to. Or perhaps that’s just a cop-out on my part.

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