Monday, May 18, 2009


The British have this handy thing called an Antisocial Behavior Order (ASBO) that you can use to oppress anyone you wish. Wikipedia defines it as follows:

An anti-social behaviour order is an Order of the Court which tells an individual over 10 years old how they must not behave. Under 10s can be given a BASBO (for "baby ASBO"). An Order can contain only negative prohibitions. It cannot contain a positive obligation. To obtain an ASBO a two-stage test must be satisfied by the applicant authority (see s.1(1) Crime and Disorder Act 1998). The first is that the defendant has committed acts causing or likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress (emphasis mine) within six months of the date of issue of the summons. The second is that an order is necessary to protect persons from further anti-social behaviour.
The neat thing is that you, the victim, get to define what is "harassment, alarm or distress." Just ask the hapless Britisher Caroline Cartwright who had once been slapped with an ASBO for being loud in bed (see Brendan O'Neill's May 11 article in Reason Online). Poor Caroline, having been loud in bed once too many times, was finally hauled off to a dungeon for "excessively noisy sex" because neighbors had complained and because of the ASBO in her dark past.

This, in spite of the ASBO law's provision that (Wikipedia again) "...each prohibited act must be an act preparatory to a criminal offence rather than the offence itself."

It is hard to see, from my perspective, how howling during sex is "preparatory to a criminal offense," but that's where the arbitrary "harassment, alarm or distress" business comes in. You say that it's preparatory to a criminal offense, therefore it is.

I cannot help but wonder if the Brits had learned this from our universities and HR departments, or vice versa. Either way, this is stupidity far down the slippery slope into Orwell's nightmares.

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