Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Magic of The Asbo

 Posted by Hello

The British as a people, bless their little cotton socks, are spectacularly unsuited to live on a small crowded island. Petty greivances, bitterness, and lack of consideration for others form a fairly large percentage of the national character along with the more noble stoicism, humor, and boiled vegetables. Until recently the only answer to anti-social behavior was the old British Empire: if a person on your street was annoying one either conspired to have him arrested and shipped to Australia or encouraged said miscreant to join the army or navy, go to the mysterious east, and die of typhoid. The native peoples of these regions quite understandably soon grew tired of being the repository of all of Great Britain's objectionable, stupid, rascist, drunk and incontinent buffoons and demanded independence. We were able to have many of our purple faced, genetically imballanced embarrasments from all social classes bumped off by various native insurgencies but all good things come to an end and the surviving disagreeable crowd returned (their vileness somewhat distilled by restrictive breeding practices) to spawn and generally make life less bearable on an island where one is never more than 70 miles from the sea but the ocean is too bloody cold to swim in.

Over time the Nimbys and Chavs, Blimps and Casuals, and so on came to dominate much of the country, especially as many of the hinterland's bright young things fled to London or overseas once they realized that the 11pm closing of pubs was unlikely to change in their prime drinking years. As a result, the unpleasant ones began to get on each others' nerves, to the point where "someone getting on your nerves" trumped fighting poverty and inequality, fixing health care, or coherently explaining the pros and cons of Europe in politicians' election manifestos (I believe Rudy Gulliani rode the same wave). The net result of all this neighbor from hell hype was the asbo, or Anti-Social Behaviour Order.

Armed with an Asbo local authorities can compel behavioral changes or mandate treatment, punishment, or even loss of property in regards to a persistent miscreant- the weird guy who won't stop pooping through your mail slot, or the loud woman on the corner who believes she is Eva Braun and plays Nazi marching songs at top volume all night. All well and good but it is suggested that sometimes Asbos' can go too far or are open to abuse. The BBC has a few intriguing examples: Asbowatch V: War on a G-string. You be the judge.

This one is my personal favorite:
A man addicted to sniffing fuel is now in jail after breaking an Asbo which banned him from petrol station forecourts across Teesside. Brian Taylor, 36, terrorised staff and customers after cutting pipes, sniffing petrol and dancing unnervingly. His habit of slashing hoses didn't particularly help his case after customers ended up soaked in fuel. Brian Taylor is receiving help for his problem.

"Terrorised staff and customers.... and dancing unnervingly"? These people have obviously never been drinking with Mr. RDOWM. Oh, points will be awarded for the best suggested use of an asbo among our little blogging coterie.


Mondale said...

But surely that's the point? Miranda Sawyer once wrote about the british, along the lines of.. 'yes, it's a cramped, damp little island and you can drive from east to west in a matter of hours, north to south in two days but it's full of pyschos, lunatics and perverts'. And that's kinda, sorta part of the joy. My neice can visit the local library where there are real life alcoholics slumped in the corner with the Daily Mail and a can of super strength lager. I have only realised whilst living abroad that the British (and in a peculiar way the English)have a reputation for a brand of functioning insanity unlike any other nation. When I go home i am struck by the mediaeval atmosphere within society, a far cry from the "have a nice day' superficial politeness of the US which, although initally unnerving, is actually very pleasant. Alside whci Brtain has a sense of social justice (as long as you're not poor, gay, non white or foreign) which is to be admired.Sort of. Well, we're just getting used to it.

weasel said...

To a point I agree (hence the more satirical nature of the post) but there is still something not quite right about police vans idling outside pubs waiting for it to kick off every Friday night. Even in my parents adopted home of St Albans, which as you know aspires to be a toney yuppie enclave. I must be getting old, but I prefer to have a pint or nine in peace, and not risk a brawl for looking at someone funny.

What is more, my brother reports that he went to his first pub that didn't sell bitter- this was in Leicester which to have to admit is close to chav central.

Mondale said...

Call me an old Tory but i think it may have more to do with young people and rock n' roll than the coppers just looking for a few collars. My ex-local was full of miserable bastards getting leathered rather than face 'the wife'. It actually made for a great atmosphere.

weasel said...

Oh I totally agree- I'm rather glad the Bill is there to deal with wayward (and ultraviolent, Clockwork Orange type) youth.

As you say, "My ex-local was full of miserable bastards getting leathered"; now that makes for a good pub, not alcopops, the under 25s, and loud music. Give me peeling flock wallpaper, knackered toilets, and grumpy old bastards every day.