The Therapy Sessions
Friday, January 23, 2004
More BBC silliness...
As an exercise in grass-roots lobbying, Today (BBC Radio 4's morning program) asked its 6 million weekly listeners to propose a new law for the new year. A labour MP, Stephen Pound, was drafted to front the bill when it was all over.
More than 10,000 new laws were suggested over the course of a couple weeks. Of those, five were short-listed and voted on via email and telephone by some 26,007 respondents. The results, as one wag put it, "blew up" in the face of Today's producers and presenters.
Clearly expecting some sensible law mandating fat-free potato chips or renewed efforts to save the ruby-throated thrush of Upper Equatorial Guinea, the organizers were obviously aghast when the winner, with 37 percent of the vote, was a law allowing homeowners to use "any means" to defend their property from intruders...
...The winning law quickly became known as "Tony Martin's Law" after the Norfolk farmer who spent nearly four years in jail for killing a 16-year-old burglar who had broken into his home...Tony Martin, in a far-from-unusual act of gall, was sued for lost wages by a second burglar he merely winged.
But after he heard the result, the Labour politician appeared to withdraw his support, arguing: "This bill is unworkable," as it "endorses the slaughter of 16-year-old kids."
Mr. Pound was apoplectic. The bill was "unworkable," he said. "I can't remember who it was who said 'The people have spoken - the bastards,'" he quipped.
Radio 4 later insisted that the remark, a paraphrase of Mark Twain, was tongue-in-cheek, but in the next breath he said his enthusiasm for direct democracy was dampened by the experience.
The people! What a bunch of unenlightened brutes! Who cares what they think?