Tuesday, May 19, 2009

No groaning please, we're British

Man, what a country!

No, not here. England. Mother of democracy. Home of the Anti-Social Behaviour Order.

The French have joie de vivre. The Italians, la dolce vita. The English, the ASBO.

This particular bit of Orwellian, kill-joy bureaucracy came to my attention via a Toronto Star article about a Wearside housewife arrested for "excessive noise during sex."

It seems that 48-year old Caroline Cartwright is a repeat offender, having been issued on a prior occasion with an ASBO for enjoying the procreative act just a wee bit too much. So, she was arrested at the behest of neighbours, and will now appear before the judge at Newcastle Crown Court to defend her right to unrestricted shouting and groaning while in the throes of passion.

Anyway, back to these ASBO's. Introduced in 1998, they enable anyone to apply to stop someone else from conduct that, in their own view, is causing them "harassment, alarm or distress." There is no requirement to prove anything in court. Just present your complaint to a local magistrate (similar to our justice of the peace). Hearsay evidence is allowed, meaning the defendant is denied the ability to cross-examine all prosecution witnesses.

The real kicker is that if, like Ms. Cartwright, you break the conditions of your ASBO, you can be arrested and charged with a crime.

A clear case of put up vs. shut up.

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