Friday 02 December 2022

Moral outcry

There is an outcry in the media and among many of the opposition parties that the state is embarking on a moral crusade. This week alone there have been three proposals to tighten the moral reigns on society.

These include a breathalyser test for kids under 16 (a large number apparently arrive at school on a Monday still drunk from the weekend) and a curfew for teenagers who cause trouble.
Criticism over these sort of matters is often more forceful and persistent than the reaction to more serious threats to personal freedom such as sexual abuse in a children’s home or police maltreatment of asylum seekers.
Indeed a strong moralistic tone is to be expected from the current coalition government which has a strong Christian backbone. But should critics be banging on about a nanny state when the government is trying to get 15-year-olds to go to school sober? Or to stem juvenile crime with a curfew? These are things that everyone who believes in a decent and fair society should support.
The outcry is may be more to do with the government’s approach. The Dutch don’t like tough direct action, preferring a gradual, consensus-based approach with plenty of leeway for wrong-doers to learn from their mistakes and correct themselves.
For example, this week a ban on trucks without filters for exhaust fumes was introduced in two cities, but drivers could get round the ban if they applied for exemption!
The moral atmosphere is definitely changing but stamping out social problems is going to take a long time.

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