It is a largely forgotten fact that the world’s modern law enforcement agencies were built upon the principle of ‘protecting people from crime’ and as a ‘visible deterrent’.
The first modern, professional police force was Robert Peel’s “New” police, based on a strong, centralized, politically neutral body to detect and prevent crime that is answerable to the public.
Today’s national and international forces are of course governed by Political bodies and firstly answerable to same, but scale does not change the fundamental premise.
With this perspective in mind, at what stage did the principal of law morph from the protection of citizens from crime, to protecting citizens from themselves and attempting to reduce the likelihood that they will end up involved in crime? Isn’t this like locking up the shifty-looking guy lest he does something undesirable? The reasoning may sound, but is this a democracy or an Orwellian nightmare?
During my time spent operating a pub in California, I lost count of how many Yanks remarked, as though I didn’t know but needed to, that Australia was built on a penal colony. American humour at its bluntest.
But perhaps they have a point, in that I for one was never willing to blindly accept anything that seemed in conflict of ‘a fair go’. (Disputes to this principle ranged from disdain for the undercover stings executed by under-age licensing inspectors armed with Mexican fake IDs, or the café waitresses that insisted the black poison they kept in a glass pot behind the bar constituted coffee.)
And perhaps it is this point that makes Australians so generally resistant to some of the bubble-wrap regulations that have come to pass in our wonderful, pub-soaked country.
If the Government, the public, and of course the all-important soap-boxers all want to see fewer instances of crime, violence and other undesirable public behaviour, at least have the decency to find the true cause instead of blaming an industry that has existed for centuries – yet somehow in just a few short recent years become the root of all evil.
Your thoughts on the matter are welcome.
Clyde Mooney – pub media die-hard