Monday, June 27, 2005

New Labour and legal moralism

Legal moralism is the name given to the notion that it is the proper function of the law to enforce morality - or, in other words, that government can and should make people better. Having given up, in Larry Elliot's phrase, "moral socialism for social moralism" much of this government's domestic legislation can be understood in this way.

Asbos, smoking bans, fox-hunting bans, the hectoring of fat people, religious incitement legislation, the attempt to ban smacking, and their ridiculous witterings about "hoodies" are all attempts to get people to behave in a way that this government thinks it should.

The problem with this legal paternalism is, the attempt to criminalise bad behaviour results in good people being made criminals.

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