Pat Nurse was right: the pub smoking room proposal has been removed from UKIP’s manifesto. I suppose that it’s no surprise that this happened as soon as Nigel Farage stepped down as UKIP leader: it was probably only his personal intervention as a smoker and drinker that ensured it was in their manifesto in the first place. But it means that there’s now no UK party that speaks for me, who is also a smoker and a drinker.
But why should UKIP’s members vote for something they themselves don’t want? Isn’t the law whatever people want it to be? And so, if the city councillors of Laguna Beach want smoking to be banned everywhere, why shouldn’t it be banned, if that’s what they want?
The Laguna Beach City Council approved a ban Tuesday on smoking and vaping in all public spaces, making it the city with the strictest smoking laws in Orange County.
The new ordinance bans smoking throughout the city including sidewalks, alleys and common areas of apartment complexes.
A fine of $100 would be given for the first violation and up to $500 for the third.
The city already prohibits smoking at beaches and parks.
And if they want to ban drinking anywhere in Laguna Beach, or the colour yellow, or mini-skirts, or books, or the word “bananas”, why shouldn’t they ban them? And slap $100 fines on the first violation? Isn’t the law just the enforcement of people’s personal preferences?
I’ve got my own personal preferences about lots of things. And if I were to make my own personal preferences into law, I’d ban celery. I’d ban celery because I can’t stand celery. I can’t even stand the sight of other people eating it. And I’d ban fruitcake too. I like fruit, and I like cake, but I don’t like fruit – raisins or sultanas – inside cakes. I think it’s unnatural. So I’d ban that too. And I’d ban Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. In fact, I’d hunt down every vinyl disc or CD of it, and have them burned. It’s a stupid song that keeps turning into another stupid song. And I’d also ban Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody. We seem to have endured this piece of music in Britain for about the last 200 years. And I think I’d ban Christmas as well, or at least the commercial spending-binge Christmas season that now seems to start in October and go on until December 25. I wouldn’t ban the religious Christmas, with all the cribs and Virgin Marys and angels and Wise Men. I’d just ban all the santas and Christmas trees and Yule Logs and snowmen and reindeer.
And why shouldn’t I just make my own personal preferences into law? Why shouldn’t I make people do what I want? After all, isn’t what I want the only thing that really matters? Isn’t it all about me, me, me, and then again – after a short pause – me? Isn’t this increasingly how laws are actually made anyway? The councillors of Laguna Beach don’t like smoking, and so they ban it. Good for them.
But if laws are to simply be people’s personal preferences, that would mean that the laws would be continually changing, as different people made their own personal preferences into law. One day smoking would be banned, the next day bubblegum, and then trousers, and then spinning tops. And as one new ban came into force, the previous bans would probably be lifted. So when the spinning top ban came into force, the trouser ban would be lifted, because whoever didn’t like spinning tops actually quite liked trousers.
And so if the law is to simply reflect personal preferences, it will become chaotic. And it will become unpredictable. People will not know what the ever-changing laws currently actually are. And if nobody knows what the laws are, it has become a lawless world.
Or what about Wildwood’s upcoming smoking ban.
What I find most obnoxious about what Wildwood is doing is while the law doesn’t start until January 1st, officials say they’ll be asking people to put out their cigarettes this summer. Really? You’re going to send your police officers up to people who aren’t yet breaking any law and ask them to stop what they’re doing? “Hey, it’s not illegal yet, I can’t do anything yet, but can you just do us this small favor and put out the cigarette anyway?”
Why bother to make your own personal preferences into law, if you can just send in the police to tell people to stop smoking (or anything else you don’t like), regardless of whether there is or isn’t any law currently in force? Why not entirely dispense with the silly business of making laws, and just get your own goon squads to enforce whatever you happen to dislike that day?
And doesn’t making lots and lots of laws, about everything and anything, also serve to debase the law? One good thing about the Ten Commandments is that there are only ten of them, and most people might (once have been) reasonably be expected to know what they are. It also helps that they are written in stone, and so can be expected to not change from time to time. But if there were Ten Thousand Commandments, who could possibly be expected to know what they all were? And when nobody knows what the law is, has not law become valueless?
A society in which laws multiply, and in which the laws represent the personal preferences of the legislators, is one which has become lawless. It could not be one in which people could possibly be law-abiding. How can people be law-abiding if they don’t know what the law is?
And what would a lawless world be like? Most likely it would be one in which brute force ruled. In London and other cities, some years ago, street gangs would mark out their territories with graffiti that read “Our Gang Rules OK” or similar. We are approaching the point where the next piece of legislation to be enacted in parliament will be appear on a small piece of paper on which is written “Tory Gang Rules OK” or “Labour Gang Rules OK.”