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.