Making something illegal doesn't mean it stops

A useful little lesson for bansturbationists everywhere. Just because you make something illegal doesn’t mean that the thing will stop happening. Thus, whenever a ban is suggested for something we’ve got to include the effects of the continued existence – yet illegally – of that thing. This will have costs, those costs may well be greater than any good that comes from the ban itself.

A useful illustration of the manner in which things carry on regardless of the law is hare coursing:

Tens of thousands of pounds is being gambled on illegal hare coursing events being live-streamed across the country via mobile phones, police have said.

Landowners have reported a “terrifying” increase in illicit gatherings fuelled by the emerging technology-enabled black market in betting.

More than a thousand incidents were reported in Lincolnshire alone during the 2017-18 season, despite a police crackdown, and the activity is believed to be increasingly prevalent across the east of England.

This isn’t two men and a dog turning up in a field. There’ll be an audience as well. And 1,000 incidences in just the one county is quite a lot really.

The activity, which involves two dogs competing against each other in pursuit of killing a hare, was outlawed as part of the 2004 Hunting Act.

But it has continued to take place illegally, principally in eastern counties where large flat fields enable good viewing and there is an abundance of hares.

So, making it illegal hasn’t stopped it. And a cost of it being illegal needs to be considered. Before, landowners were – I assume at least – able to have a word with those using their fields. Even invite those they wanted and not those they didn’t. Today no one can and so also it’s very difficult to exclude, given the criminal nature of the whole enterprise.

What’s the benefit of a ban on hare coursing? Does it more than cover this cost of the rise in crime? For it sure as hell hasn’t just faded away, has it?

True, hare coursing’s not one to go to the barricades for. But there are other things we ban in our society – brothels, exciting drugs for example. What are the costs of those bans? In that sense of hare coursing’s costs, the rise in crime and other undesirable effects of the ban itself? I would argue, and I’d have a weight of evidence on my side too, that the banning of both creates more costs than benefits, therefore we should legalise both.

As we should hare coursing as well although the calculation here is easier. Just because some townies don’t like country ways ain’t a reason to ban a method of hunting.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. Couldn’t agree more with your basic argument here, but hare coursers aren’t run-of-the-mill country folk. Farmers “having a word” are likely to end up with death threats, threats to family and livestock, and threats to property. Mysterious fires aren’t unknown. And this isn’t just since the Hunting Act.

    Hare coursing itself? Meh. I don’t personally like it or approve, but it’s essentially what happens in nature every day between predator and victim. But as I said, the people involved in it are not nice country people; usually violent criminal townies and what are euphemistically called “Travellers” who’re into making large sums of money.

  2. How much confidence do we have in the 1000 reported incidences, though? Are the landowners reportedly “reporting a terrifying increase in illicit gatherings”? And if so, by who? The campaigners? The police have a track record of inflating pretty well anything by 2 orders of magnitude ( unless it’s child grooming in Northern cities – when it’s under-reported by a couple). Dealing with problems needing funding & special operations & much, much lovely paperwork.

  3. And 1,000 incidences in just the one county is quite a lot really.

    So about 100 illegal Vietnamese nail bar slaves for each incidence?

    Before, landowners were – I assume at least – able to have a word with those using their fields.

    A word backed up by a shotgun. When we used to be a free people. Now we are Humiliores who must beg the state for basic protection.

    I am willing to bet that making coursing illegal did not wipe it out, but it sure as hell made it rare. Most people do not like breaking the law. Making something illegal usually goes with public shame if you engage in it. See dog fighting and bear baiting.

  4. ” Most people do not like breaking the law. Making something illegal usually goes with public shame if you engage in it. See dog fighting and bear baiting.”

    You seem a bit hazy on the nature of criminality SMFS.

    However 1000 meetings in one county does sound like hype. About 4% of the populace are crims or borderlines and they can’t all be obsessed with hare coursing.

    Reply

  5. @SMFS A word backed up by a shotgun. When we used to be a free people. Now we are Humiliores who must beg the state for basic protection.

    Trespass is a civil offence, not a criminal one. I’m not sure threatening trespassers at the business end of a shotgun was ever acceptable as a means of persuading them off, even if they’re issuing threats. Recourse for civil offences is suit for damages. Delightful as it might be just to shoot the toerags and start digging deep holes with the farm JCB.

    @Mr Ecks However 1000 meetings in one county does sound like hype

    Yes, it certainly does. I suspect that figure is likely a substantial rounding up of the total number of calls the Police receive. Even in the second-largest county in the country, if there were really 1000 meetings a year, I’d expect to have seen several by now, purely by chance.

    • It depends on how you do it with your shotgun. In the old days people knew they could not push an argument too far because the shotgun was there. Even if it was not pointed directly at someone. Anyone invading a farmer’s land had to know that the dispute could escalate to murder. Now they can tell the farmer to f**k off as they know there is nothing he can do – or that the police will do.

      A suit for damages is a great idea. If you know which Pickey is invading your land. And you can find him later to serve a summons. That sort of thing. Hard to do with the anonymous hard men that do this sort of thing.

  6. One to devolve to local authorities imv. The urban areas would likely support a ban on something that rarely goes on there. In rural areas it might be a close call, but it gets rid of the idiocy of people in London having more say in what is permitted in Lincolnshire than the Lincolnshire people themselves.

  7. I currently live in Lincolnshire and work in agriculture. I can confirm that there is a large scale dread among landowners about hare coursing and that they take measures to prevent it, such as blocking entrances to land.

    I don’t think this is a new thing though. All that has changed is that it has become illegal and so the people prepared to do it are criminal types and not the type of people you want hanging around your farm or getting annoyed with you for spoiling their fun.