If we ban harmless things, then harmful things will magically disappear

It ought to be pretty obvious that banning drinking in a place is completely different from banning drunken louts from a place.

If you ban drinking in a place, it prevents people who aren’t louts but fancy a beer from having one, while doing absolutely nothing to prevent louts who are drunk from causing a nuisance (even if the drinking legislation were actually enforced against groups of rowdy chavs, which it won’t be).

If you actually want to stop drunken loutery, then you need to ensure that drunken louts are arrested, under the existing laws that provide a perfectly good arsenal of charges and punishments against rowdies, harrassers, disorderly conductors and affrayists. You don’t impose a new measure to punish the law-abiding.

Hence, the only two reasons to support Mr Johnson’s impending ban on drinking on the Tube are:

1) a belief that alcohol is inherently wrong and its consumption should be impeded wherever possible; or
2) idiocy

Neither of these are attractive traits, so it’s worrying that the plan is seen as a vote-winner…

Side note: the ban appears to advertised as “making everyone’s journey more pleasant”. Since it will very clearly make journeys less pleasant for those who enjoy drinking while on a journey, this is clearly false advertising, and I’d urge everyone who sees such a poster to report it to the ASA.

10 thoughts on “If we ban harmless things, then harmful things will magically disappear

  1. You bring to mind my regular journeys from the centre of London to Ealing Broadway after a Friday night out. At that time there was only one loo anywhere along the line, at Shepherds Bush I think, so it was a long journey indeed with a bladder full of Watneys Special. Drinking on the tube was out of the question, as would have been peeing in the carriage which I'm sure would have never occured to us as an option in those days.

  2. Is drinking to be banned on the (what used to be) the British Rail(ways) lines in (mostly) S.London? As that is surely where it is the biggest problem. Or would that be too hard to disentangle from banning booze of Inter-City lines and the Eurostar?

  3. Why do you think it is a vote-winner then? There must be a third reason:

    3) Banning alcohol will reduce the amount of loutish behaviour.

    You suggest arresting drunken louts. Why not stop them getting into that state in the first place? Policing this on Saturday afternoon will be easier than policing the drunken louts on Saturday evening.

    Of course, they're welcome to do that in the boozer or at home or whatever – but the tube is different.

  4. I can't believe people actually get drunk ON the tube – is there time on an average journey?

  5. 3) Banning alcohol will reduce the amount of loutish behaviour. – no, that's covered under point 2. If you think that banning people from drinking on the Tube in Saturday afternoon will have any significant effect preventing those likely to behave drunkenly and loutishly on Saturday night from doing so, then you are an idiot; end of story.

  6. Marvin: "Why not stop them getting into that state in the first place?"

    They're clearly getting in that state in pubs and clubs not on the tube, hence option 2.

  7. The dippers and muggers tend to stay very sober when practicing their art, but getting rid of them would require more than just making a noise, so the morning suits and the evening builders will have to go then.

    Does this mean I can orbit the circle line drinking special brew, throwing up into prams and calling everyone in the carriage a bollocks legally for the rest of the month?

  8. I've never really gone into drinking on the tube, but perhaps we should have a farewell 'tube crawl' on May 31st?

  9. Marvin, the point that you're missing out on is that it's restricting the rights of law-abiding citizens, who can drink their last drink on the tube home without causing a disturbance, in an attempt to crack down on the ones who do not obey the law, the ones who do cause disturbances.

    Attempting to crack down on criminals by restricting the rights of everybody else rarely works and is never popular, and it feels more like this was enacted based on a personal preference of the mayor, rather than as an act that was designed to benefit the people that he supposedly represents.

    Don't get me wrong, it's not like I generally sit on the tube carrying a bottle of booze, but I can at least recognise when a campaign is overstepping the line.

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