Monday, February 19, 2007

Who Is Defending Our Civil Liberties? (Pt II)

Today has seen the House of Lords effect more amendments to the government's Mental Health Bill, and some pretty poor reporting of it too on Radio 4. The principle of treatment is not something that the Lords are plucking from nowhere in order to elevate civil liberties over public safety, as you may think if you listened to the report on PM tonight. This principle is already enshrined in the 1983 Mental Health Act, and pretty damn important it is too. I refer you to a previous post on this bill. (And I also offer on a plate the opportunity for the Periodic Englishman to make his Tardive Dyskenisia joke....which is actually quite funny.)



Oh for God's sake. I've been agonising over an answer in your previous post for the last goodness knows how long. Had I known I could have just come in here and made a cheap gag on masturbation I would have saved myself a lot of bother.

Anyway - don't tempt me. I'm trying to be more responsible in my contributions these days.

It's only marginally to do with the subject at hand, sorry to say, but I never thought I would find myself feeling grateful for the House of Lords. The actions of the present Labour administration have forced me look at the Lords in a new, and appreciative, light. On more than one occasion, in fact.

Kind regards etc.....

trousers said...

Actually, englishman (do you own a periodic table?) I found myself nodding at your comment - in the sense that I too found myself feeling grateful for the Lords being there, something I've never felt before.

Perhaps its purely in the sense of it being the lesser of two evils, but the more it acts as a restraining force for those who would happily see a large number of individuals restrained for all sorts of spurious reasons or none, the more (I hate to say) we bloody need it at times like this.


I agree with you and I agree with me, Trousers. I found myself nodding sympathetically at my comment, too. We're both just SO right that it's almost embarrassing. I pity the fool who tries to take issue with us, I'll tell you that for free.

I lost my periodic table, unfortunately. Don't go there, please - it still hurts.

Ms Melancholy said...

Well guys, at risk of sounding like a total creep, I agree with all three of you. There have been some great speeches in the Lords about the government's tabloid style (MAD MAN AT LARGE!) interpretation of the facts. Let's Be Sensible did a great post on this which is worth a read. So just when did the House of Lords become the voice of reason around here? I'll be voting for the bishops next.

trousers said...

Well Ms Melancholy, on the basis of my experience at the front line this week, I'd suggest it would/ will result in people being in a secure psychiatric unit who shouldn't be, leaving less space for those who should be (ie those who in the short term might benefit, but who certainly won't be in there indefinitely).

I shan't go into any detail for all sorts of reasons - but really, nor should I need to since it is the principle which stinks, regardless of (as well as) ones experience.

Ms Melancholy said...

Wish you could say more Trousers, but it certainly sounds like you know what you are talking about. I find it shocking that no-one seems to care about the civil liberties issue - that it is absolutely OK to just lock people up indefinitely, because we don't like the look of them. Did you read the quote at Let's Be Sensible - the speech from the House of Lords. Why is nobody else saying this? No other group would have their liberty curtailed so easily with so little care from the rest of society. We may as well just lock up all men, because some of them commit murder.


The civil liberties issue is what bothers me most about the whole affair, Melancholy, truth be told. Sometimes - increasingly so - I am left with a feeling that those entrusted with making (our) societal decisions really barely trouble themselves with considering the long-term implications of their actions.

It just seems too wrong, too misguided, too preternaturally stupid and blinkered, too effing easy, in fact, to come to the conclusion that the best way to deal with these (admittedly difficult) issues is through a blanket jailing of all and sundry. Because that's all it is, really. Out of sight, out of mind. And completely out of order, if you ask me.

Trousers is right, I daresay, when claiming that this will lead to many people being held (indefinitely, for God's sake) in secure psychiatric units who have absolutely no place being there. That's just obvious, isn't it? How are these people to protect themselves from such an eventuality?

It is startling that the unelected Lords, of all people, are the only ones who seem to properly grasp the sheer hateful magnitude of this bitterly inappropriate (quick-fix) solution.

Strange to say, then, that when Toothy Bland came to power, I was really rather looking forward to seeing the Lords getting royally and terminally skewered.

Now I find myself cheering them on from the sidelines, utterly bemused by the turn of events.

Kind regards etc...

bobo said...

Why is no one else complaining about ending civil liberties for mentally ill people who might commit murder? My top half dozen are:

1. Because they're loonies and therefore inherently unpredictable, frightening, mad, bad and dangerous

2. Because “it must never happen again,” is repeated over and over in any situation, in a fantasy where risk is cannot be allowed to exist and perfection is possible

3. Because no one is bothered about giving away there own civil liberties by being biometrically tagged on Government ID Cards (just don’t get me started)

4. Because people are stunningly crap at assessing risk, but are completely unaware of their poor risk judgement, and want a political response to “fix” their fears

5. Because it’s for their own safety really (not)

6. Because out of sight, out of mind

Ms Melancholy said...

I agree. And I agree some more.