Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Moonbat: a new target

Not for the Moonbat, but for your humble Devil. Timmy has been fisking this loony for an age, and Mr Eugenides is swiftly on his way to another Bloody Devil Award with his effort today. However, what with this being a 'typical "me too" blog', I thought that I'd also have a go at George; however, I must confess that this is simply the warm-up to the Polly-kicking that I shall be induging in a little later.

Today, Georges is talking about how cars are, in fact, the root of all evil; the title of his masterwork runs thusly:
They call themselves libertarians; I think they're antisocial bastards.

OK, wait, hold up. At what point did it become acceptable for columnists to use expletives in a mainstream paper? I'm sorry, George, old boy, but this is a pretty poor start.
The car is slowly turning us, like the Americans and the Australians, into a nation that recognises only the freedom to act.

No, it's not, George; let me explain to you about moral agency. A car is a lump of metal; it cannot turn people into selfish idiots. The way in which people use their cars may well be indicative of them being selfish idiots, but the car can't do it. You aren't really doing terribly well so far, are you?
The road-rage lobby couldn't have been more wrong. Organisations such as the Association of British Drivers or Safe Speed - the boy racers' club masquerading as a road-safety campaign - have spent years claiming that speeding doesn't cause accidents.

It doesn't, George. If some silly twit runs into the road in front of a car, then the speed at which the car is travelling may well be a critical factor in whether or not the silly sod gets knocked down, injured or killed. But then, an arbitrary speed limit isn't going to guarantee that the car will be able to stop either. It's to do wth physics, George; inertia, acceleration, friction, Newton's Laws, etc. etc. The failure of a driver to keep control of his car, yeah, that'll cause an accident. Speed may be a factor but it doesn't cause the accident.
Safe Speed, with the help of some of the most convoluted arguments I've ever read, even seeks to prove that speed cameras "make our roads more dangerous".

OK, George, here's an unconvoluted argument for you.
  • Human eyes can only take in one scene at a time.

  • The human brain can only concentrate on one thing at any given moment.

  • If you are looking at your speedometer, even for a split second, then you are not watching the surrounding environment, including the road in front of you.

  • If something happens, even at 20mph, the two seconds in which you were watching the speedo can mean the difference between life and death, between collision and avoidance.

  • If you are in a area covered with speed cameras, then you are going to be constantly checking your speedo. The less the increase in speed required to be caught by the camera required is, I would imagine, directly correlated to how often people check their speed. As is the size of the fine.

  • Therefore, the more you check your speedo, the more likely an accident is to happen.

  • Cameras cause you to check your speedo.

  • Therefore cameras are more likely to cause accidents. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Christ Almighty, I'm going to have to skip on: we are only halfway through George's first paragraph!
Other groups, such as Motorists Against Detection (officially known as Mad), have been toppling, burning and blowing up the hated cameras. These and about a thousand such campaigns maintain that speed limits, speed traps and the government's "war on the motorist" are shakedown operations whose sole purpose is to extract as much money as possible from the poor oppressed driver.

As Mr Eugenides points out, that is preceisely what governments do, at every opportunity. Allowing the police to keep the revenues from the speed cameras was only going to lead to a proliferation of them as the police tried to maximise their revenue. Those forms won't just photocopy themselves, you know.
Well last week the Department for Transport published the results of the study it had commissioned into the efficacy of its speed cameras.

So, the government department which has spent millions of pounds on a scheme, has now published a report auditing its own scheme. No bias in this source then!
It found that the number of drivers speeding down the roads where fixed cameras had been installed fell by 70%, and the number exceeding the speed limit by more than 15mph dropped by 91%.

Yes. And. So. What? Speeding doesn't cause accidents; if you make speeding itself a crime, and then put in measures to stop speeding, then you would expect the number of people speeding to drop (although how they measured the number of people speeding before they had cameras to monitor speed, the Lord only knows). Unfortunately, George doesn't provide any link to the raw data.
As a result, 42% fewer people were killed or seriously injured in those places than were killed or injured on the same stretches before the cameras were erected.

Well, the damage done is likely to be less severe at lower speeds, that much is true. But what about the number of accidents, George? Have they substantially dropped?
The number of deaths fell by more than 100 a year.

George? What about the number of collisions? Can you hear me? George?

Also, George, has the DfT factored in such technological factors as improvements in braking systems (I'll bet that the number of accidents in rain and snow fell quite substantially when ABS braking became widespread, for instance)? Where's the raw data, George?
The people blowing up speed cameras have blood on their hands.

I think that you'll find that it's fertiliser, actually...
But this is not, or not really, an article about speed, or cameras, or even cars.

What a pity that you've already made yourself look such a tit when talking about those subjects then, eh?
It is about the rise of the antisocial bastards who believe they should be allowed to do what they want, whenever they want, regardless of the consequences.

Criminals? Feckless layabouts? Piss-poor Guardian columnists?
I believe that while there are many reasons for the growth of individualism in the UK, the extreme libertarianism now beginning to take hold here begins on the road. When you drive, society becomes an obstacle.

Really? I walk, and I view cars as an obstacle. Does that make me an "antisocial bastard"?
Pedestrians, bicycles, traffic calming, speed limits, the law: all become a nuisance to be wished away.

Much like George Moonbat, Polly Toynbee and The Guardian, in fact. And this fucking government.
The more you drive, the more bloody-minded and individualistic you become. The car is slowly turning us, like the Americans and the Australians, into a nation that recognises only the freedom to act, and not the freedom from the consequences of other people's actions.

What? Have they repealed the laws against assault, murder, fraud, rape, etc. etc. already? Why did nobody tell me?
We drive on the left in Britain, but we are being driven to the right.

I like to imagine George sitting back at this point, sucking on his fountain pen (a Mont Blanc, or ponce's pen as we used to call it) and staring, slightly smugly, at that line. "Look at that," the refrain runs through his head; "do you see what you've done there, George, you clever old thing?"

The trouble is, ironically, that Lefty fuckwits like George don't get the conservative thing: conservatism is about being resposible for your own actions, the key word here being "responsible". Leftists talk about having a "social conscience" but they actually are unaware of what that concept means, For a lefty, the social conscience is imposed on you by the state, and the support framework that allows this to work is forced on people by the state. What lefties do, in fact, is to abdicate their personal conscience in favour of state-imposed "social conscience".

What conservatives prepound is that one takes responsibility for one's own actions; one does not, for instance, call one's biggest client a cunt, although he may be so, because to do so is probably going to damage your own interests. One does not deliberately run people down because it will damage one's own interests. And in the absence of a support framework, one does one's damnest not to kill anyone because your personal conscience cannot be abrogated to the state.
It is not just because of his celebration of everything brash and flash that Jeremy Clarkson has become the boy racer's hero. He articulates, with a certain wit and with less equivocation than any other writer in this country, the doctrine that he should be permitted to swing his fist - whoever's nose is in the way.

Yup, and I reckon that he and I would get on like a house on fire, despite the fact that I couldn't give too shits about cars. I like Clarkson: his brazen rudeness makes me laugh. A lot. I like the way that he is honest enough to say, "yup, I'm a bit of a cunt, but that's your problem!"
For years he has championed the unrestrained freedom of the road. He takes it so far that from time to time he appears to incite his disciples to vandalise and even kill.

Really? You mean, like the loony imams of the Religion of Piss?
"If the only way of getting their [the government's] attention," he told the readers of the Sun in 2002, "is to destroy the tools that pay for their junkets and their new wallpaper, then so be it. I wish the people from Mad all the very best."

You see? The man's a legend.
After the London bombings in July, he observed that "many commuters are now switching to bicycles ... can I offer five handy hints to those setting out on a bike for the first time. 1. Do not cruise through red lights. Because if I'm coming the other way, I will run you down, for fun. 2. Do not pull up at junctions in front of a line of traffic. Because if I'm behind you, I will set off at normal speed and you will be crushed under my wheels ... "

Now, as a pedestrian who has nearly been knocked down a couple of times by cyclists who seem to think that traffic signals do not apply to them, then I am right behind him, frankly. Many cyclists are cunts, and many are far more cunty than car drivers.

George Moonbat, ladies and gentlemen; the man who couldn't spot a joke if it took a running kick at his knackers!
Clarkson wants society out of his way when he's driving, and he isn't too particular about how it's done. One day, one of his fans will take him seriously.

George, we've already discussed moral agency.
ut, doubtless cheered by the response of his readers, he has expanded his journalism from attacks on "the Lycra-Nazi sandalistas of Islington" (cyclists) to polemics against every kind of government intervention. He now rails against "nannying bureaucrats sticking their index-linked snouts into the trough" (health and safety inspectors); complains that he has to tell the police why he wants to keep a gun; appears to champion the right of householders to shoot burglars in the back; and ponders the use of landmines to deter ramblers.

I say again: Clarkson is a god. Besides, I wouldn't shoot a burglar in the back: that's just not cricket. I'd shoot the fucker right in the face (and wipe the blood off my rug with his trousers). Once more, however, Moonbat seems to miss the joke (by the way, anyone who thinks that endorsing this kind of humour is just totally sick and wrong, man, is reading the wrong blog. Fuck off now, I don't want your traffic).
His acolytes are also venturing on to new ground. The website of the Association of British Drivers carries the usual links to campaigns against humps in the road (yes, people really are that sad)...

Speed bumbs damage cars, particularly the suspension, and they cause congestion. Next!
... speed cameras and the congestion charge.

Congestion, caused by traffic-calming measures such as speed bumps and speed cameras. Yada yada. Next!
But it also directs its readers to about 50 sites claiming that global warming is a fraud and a lie, several tirades against the evils of the nanny state, and an article by John Redwood calling for lower taxes.

Tirades against the evils of the nanny state?! Lower taxes?! What the fuck?! How dare they? Next thing you know they'll be encouraging people to sweep Israel into the sea...
Of course, these politics are possible only while we have a state capable of picking up the pieces. If there were not a massive hidden subsidy for private transport, those who decry the nannying bureaucrats couldn't afford to leave their drives.

Sorry, are we talking about "hidden subsidies"? These are better or worse than the blatant and bloated subsidies used to fund public transport?
Speed cameras, according to the government's study, now save the country £258m in annual medical bills: a fraction of the billions in health costs inflicted by Clarkson's chums.

Oh, yes? Figures? Raw data? Evidence of any fucking sort, you stupid fucking word-womble?

Look, I can't be arsed with the rest of this; see Tim and Mr Eugenides for more. The basic essence is that cars make people free. They are, in fact, more convenient and practical than buses, trams or trains (in that they will get you from an exact place to an exact place, not an approximation of those places). They allow the freedom to explore spontaneously, and they cover those areas that public transport can't reach. The allow people to make their own decisions (including whether or not to buy one in the first place).

I often write stupid, ill-informed tirades; but, then, I am not paid to do so. I suggest that Mr Monbiot get on his bike, and I hope Clarkson really does run him down as Moonbat zips through a red light. It's no more than the cunt deserves.


Anonymous said...

Moonbat's article is arse dribble of the worst kind (apologies to Stephen Fry). Worse, it is ignorant arse dribble. Speed does not kill; bad driving kills, which may or may not involve inappropriate speed, along with tailgating, failure to observe and respond to hazards, failure to adapt to changing road conditions and the competence and alertness of the driver among other things.

Moonbat does what the car haters all do - he simplifies the argument to "speed kills" which is one of the most inane mantras the hard of thinking have come up with in a long time.

Anonymous said...

I can't help thinking that the fisking from yourself and Eugenides is unhelpful here. I read your posts before reading the actual article from Monbiot. True, its emotive hyperbole at every turn, but there is still a case to answer.

The slagging off of Jeremy Clarkson is the key. Monbiot's essential gripe is that cars are causing pollution, and it is cars with large engines driving at high speeds (Clarkson's raison d'etre) that are the prime offenders here. Your argument for why people need cars is not an argument for why people should drive them so fast, or indeed drive cars that sacrifice fuel economy and the environment, for performance.

Watching the programmes last month about the old Routemaster Buses, I saw an advert for London Transport that showed a jam of twenty cars. "All of these people could be on one bus." I thought of this again last Thursday, when I made the mistake of travelling by car to Glasgow. It was positively soul destroying, sitting still on the M8 jam.

The problem with the libertarian attitude of "rules are there for the obeyance of fools and the guidance of wise men" is that most fools think they're wise men. Bad driving is of course the cause, but if that falls on deaf ears, then the 'Speed Kills' adverts and a £60 fine every fortnight may penetrate their thick skulls. The winding roads out of my home town are often littered with bunches of flowers, a marker of where some boy-racer has killed himself - and his friends - by speeding. Until that stops happening, I really cannot summon the energy to be annoyed by people who want to control our speed.

Monbiot could have spent more time discussing both sides of the argument, but that's not going to get The Guardian as many readers as "Motorists Are Bastards" is it? He is as much a controversy hunter as Jeremy Clarkson. I'm really not sure where the sense of humour failure occurs: Clarkson, Monbiot, DK, Eugenides... or me.

Mister Whiskers said...

Anybody tries to take my Megane off me, I'll come at 'em with a shovel.

Mind you, I AM an antisocial bastard.

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