The ban-merchants are at it again. The Million-Mom March puts me in
mind of a wonderful story from Edward Gibbon in his “Decline and Fall of
the Roman Empire”; when one of the ancient Locrians proposed a new law,
he was made to stand before an assembly of the people with a noose
around his neck. If the law was rejected, the would-be legislator was
instantly strangled.

There is something refreshing, something uplifting (no pun intended)
about that procedure. A tad ruthless, maybe, but who can deny that a
modern version, applied to all the ban-merchants in British and American
politics, would be immensely beneficial — maybe not to activists, but
certainly to the country?

It might, for instance, provoke a decent sense of restraint among all
the agitators who are determined through hell and high water to
legislate and otherwise inhibit us into virtuous behavior and are
grimly, absolutely set on making us HEALTHY and SAFE — by legal force
if necessary.

In America thousands of gun-control laws have failed to prevent
horrors such as the Columbine School massacre. But, as writer Mark
Steyn acerbically pointed out in a London Daily Telegraph article, guns
in American private hands also seem related to a crime rate which is
lower than in Britain, where any civilian, no matter how harmless or
law-abiding, in possession of a hand-gun is now officially a criminal.

In Britain there is, however, no shortage of illegal guns —
including Uzis which are used for drive-by shootings in Manchester’s
drug wars — which kill most of Britain’s domestic victims and are used
to commit any number of crimes from murder to mugging. Shotguns,
handguns and other weapons, up to and including AK47s, remain out there
in Britain, blowing innocent people to kingdom come. But, this is not
entirely bad for British democracy. It is a salutary reminder that Tony
Blair’s government, dazzled by a huge majority into striking God-like
poses, is also influenced by the sort of asses, dolts and imbeciles who
think with their jerking knees instead of their (notional) brains. Such
people were nicely described by the American poet E.E. cummings: “A
politician is an arse upon which everything has sat except a man.”

Of course, the Locrians were aware of this and framed their
procedures accordingly. We, alas, have yet to learn it properly. That
is why so many public officials show a sporadic taste for orgies of
legal banning and anti-sin regulation — and not just with guns; watch
out for alcohol, tobacco, food, hot coffee in MacDonald’s — almost
nothing is exempt from their attention and if the criminal courts don’t
get you, the ambulance-chasers will.

Is it an accident or malice aforethought that most of this regulatory
and / or litigious lust is designed to prevent us from doing something
or other that we like to do? The Brits are currently excited about
young people who get drunk on Friday and Saturday nights. An
organization called Alcohol Concern is making noises about government
involvement in the drinking habits of these young people. Alcohol
Concern means to repeat the success of activists who have managed to
introduce (but not yet pass) legislation against fox-hunting. The same
Roundhead puritans have forced the British to say goodbye to target
shooting and all that. For their categorically imperative minds, the
misguided people who shoot are dangerous by definition. They may be
law-abiding, but once in a blue moon one of them goes bananas. This is
the real target of the gun law: going bananas. The logic of it is that
Brits who like to shoot at targets are all, without exception, closet
madmen and must therefore be disarmed. This view is now being pushed by
certain wild-eyed activists in the United States. The same logic seems
to apply to smokers in large areas of American life.

That is why the virtuous gun-laws have nothing to do with restricting
violent thieves, drug dealers, and murderers and such-like, even if they
are heavy smokers — those people are not crazy — they are just
criminals. Which is, of course, better because they are in control of
themselves; they know what they are doing — and, besides, they already
figure in a bunch of laws. They ignore these, of course, but not in a
psychotic way. More in a sane purposeful way, which seems to be less
dangerous — as far as hysterical activists and peddlers of compulsory
virtue are concerned.

Forced-virtue reasoning also applies to smokers and drinkers and
people who drive their cars a lot and eat (or sell) too many fatty
foods. They enjoy what they are doing but it harms some of them. Maybe
even lots of them. Now, everyone knows that it is bad to enjoy things
that harm you. In that respect, smoking, drinking, driving and eating
too many fatty foods (so the foamy-lipped activists say) are like taking
drugs. Or more like pushing drugs. Not only do drivers pollute the
atmosphere and cause global warming and murder us all with carbon
monoxide and other poisons, but alcohol and tobacco are also drugs which
might shorten your life. I am not forgetting too many fatty foods. The
alternatives seem to be the notional risk of a shortened life, with a
certain amount of guilty enjoyment attached, or a long, drawn-out,
squeaky clean, domesticated, dull, joyless existence during which the
activists can contemplate and enjoy their own brand of intoxication —
i.e., power.

This raises an interesting multiple choice question: Which is the
most dangerous intoxicant? Choose: a) tobacco, b) alcohol, c) guns,
d) driving, e) too many fatty foods, or f) power. Now, it is true
that guns and alcohol and tobacco and driving have been known to kill
people. I would be the last person to deny that. And if the diet nuts
insist that too many fatty foods cause heart attacks (or death, as the
case may be) in later life, who am I to argue? But how do these perils
stack up against the intoxicant of power?

Here, we are getting into pretty deadly stuff. I mean, power doesn’t
necessarily give you lung cancer or heart attacks. But it certainly was
killing off people by the zillion long before cigarettes, guns,
automobiles and fatty foods were thought of, let alone invented. Talk
about going bananas? What can drive anyone into madness more quickly or
more certainly than an abundance of unrestrained power? And, once you
are powerful and crazy — well, think about it. Hitler? Stalin? The
Holocaust? Slaughtering tens of millions of Russians? Stuff like that,
all because of power.

And what I want to know is, what are we doing about power? Certainly
the Locrians had a pretty good handle on it. But we seem to be doing
nothing at all about power. My God, not only are we doing nothing about
it, we are actually encouraging this deadly phenomenon. Not only are
those power-greedy, anti-enjoyment, foamy-lipped activists getting pats
on the back from government officials, but Parliament, Congress, and
Bill Clinton have actually done what they were told to do by these

Of course, this is not entirely the fault of Parliament, Congress or
the President. Running after fashionably gibbering hysterics has become
a central part of legislative and executive activity, at least lately.
(And the media? Don’t ask.) Let’s face it, the activists and Roundhead
puritans are determined to remove any sort of decent restraint on their
own power. (Remember Ralph Nader?) So, what with the activists greedy
for power and the government with a lot of power already, all these
anti-enjoyment measures should be no surprise to anyone. Maybe that’s
what democracy (such as it is) has come to and we ought to get used to

And yet, and yet — I keep coming back to those Locrians. A law
banning power would be an oxymoron. But, maybe, with a bit of energy
and luck, we could start a noose-movement and shout loud enough to get a
few activists together to gibber at Parliament, Congress and the White
House — maybe even the U.N. This movement might even get into the
media and, then, whee! We’d be away. I mean, there have been worse
cures for our ills than the risk of strangling a few power-crazy
politicians and Roundhead puritan activists. And there is no doubt that
the spectacle of those damned sanctimonious ban-merchants and their
favorite legislators standing in Parliament Square or in front of the
Lincoln Monument with nooses around their necks — well, it might
restore some of the enjoyment and delight which these bastards are so
intent on removing from our lives.

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