Freedom, responsibility, law and order

 

Freedom is bounded by responsibility.

The way to maximise freedom is to allow people to be themselves as long as there is not a significant chance of them harming anyone by doing so.  

 

We should implement rules that filter out the most harmful behaviours, such that the responsible majority obey the rules voluntarily and enforcement can be directed at the minority of offenders.

The enforcement, particularly against the highest-rank offenders, should be strict.  I don't advocate bringing back the death penalty, but heavier fines and jail sentences, and also stronger rehabilitation policies, are needed.  We need to clamp down on the cultures that spearhead such irresponsibility, through a combination of education and enforcement.  Although this method will not be foolproof at stopping those who perpetuate irresponsible behaviour it will make significant inroads against it.

If clamping down specifically on the minority does not give the kind of risk reductions we are after, we can then consider "casting the net wider", bringing in more draconian rules that prohibit lower-risk activities alongside the high-risk ones, but in that case we run into a diminishing returns law where we erode progressively larger chunks of liberty in order to reduce increasingly negligible amounts of risk.   But this way, whenever this does prove to be a necessary evil to some extent, we can make sure we apply it to the minimum extent necessary.

 

In conjunction with the above we need to do away with the cultural acceptance that "the minority have to spoil it for the majority, because that's life and it's just the way it is".

Current conventional policies often clamp down on everyone to legislate for idiots right from the start.   Typical problems include the minority of offenders moving from abusing one thing to another, and going underground, and valuable enforcement resources being displaced over towards policing the general public instead of the minority of offenders.  We also make criminals out of responsible, previously law-abiding, citizens and then wonder why there seems to be a growing legal problem and increased disobedience of laws.  These kinds of policies are more likely to provide foolproof ways of stopping the idiots if carried to enough of an extreme, but doing so usually requires such an excessive amount of draconianism that we end up with a very poor tradeoff.

All too often, people think in terms of individual cases of the above, and think "well, this loss of liberty is trivial in the grand scale of things, and we do need to do something about the minority of idiots".  Unfortunately they fail to realise that "the minority have to spoil it for the majority" and related arguments can be used to argue for banning almost anything, and that the bigger picture that all of these incremental measures add up to is not pretty.

We will never eliminate risk altogether without being excessively draconian about it, and we need to come to terms with this and realise that we must strike the right balance between reducing risk and tolerating individuality and personal liberty.

 

People must be made responsible for their own actions.

Today, we have the compensation culture where people sue for negligence at the slightest thing.  Again, we need to draw a line between what constitutes a person being hurt/injured because of authority negligence, and a person being hurt/injured because of his or her own stupidity.  

We should not be legislating for stupidity.  All too often, "negligence" seems to be defined today as "failing to pass a draconian measure that causes the minority to spoil it for everyone else".   Again, there is no limit to how far this principle can be applied, short of trampling on just about every personal freedom under the sun. 

People need to learn how to be responsible, and that includes facing up to the consequences if they do something stupid and get hurt.  Legislating for idiots like this does not encourage people to be responsible, in fact it discourages it, because if you do something responsible it may well be next on the list of things to be banned because a few idiots abuse it.

 

Laws should be there to filter out harmful behaviour and encourage responsible behaviour.

In addition to the above we need to encourage people to learn and understand why laws are in place, and why they should follow them, instead of the prevailing "the law is the law" nonsense that usually spawns a series of circular arguments (e.g. "the law is right because the law says so").  The "the law is the law" approach encourages people to blindly follow the rules just because they're the rules, and this leaves the rules open to considerable abuse and often causes what's morally right and wrong to be lost.

 
 

Individuality should be embraced.

Individuality is a good thing for society, it increases diversity between individuals, and helps people to think of different ways of seeing things and to come up with new ideas and make a positive difference to the world.  Therefore we need to discourage the attitude of condemning behaviour purely because it is considered different.  Again this is related to the "law and order" issue, as this "punishing people for being different" issue arises via enforcement of social norms, which are essentially rules that are enforced socially instead of via authority establishments.
 
 

We should only tolerate the intolerant if they do not pose a threat to the tolerant society.

"I have a right to my opinion, and my opinion is that you have no right to your opinion"- George Carlin
 
Essentially, there is a difference between people merely having opinions, and people forcing those opinions down other people's throats.  If a tolerant society lets intolerant people be intolerant, then there is a serious risk of the intolerant people taking over the tolerant society and thus making it intolerant.  Tolerance can in many cases be self-limiting.