UPDATE: Mike Cockburn has responded in comments, and in answer to his question, yes, the Prick does support “INFINITY” as the legal limit for pedestrians. It’s only when one starts causing trouble that we have a problem, and there are already plenty of laws to handle that. Several readers have tipped this site off to the fact that Cockburn is a crank of long-standing, having pushed this campaign at least as far back as 2010 when he ran in the Victorian state election and won a grand total of 216 votes. Better luck next time, champ.
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Anyone who’s lived in Australia knows that, contrary to the country’s overseas reputation, ours is one of the most highly-regulated democracies on Earth, a place where three whole layers of government conspire to boss a scant 22 million people around and generally ensure no one is having too good a time. And if Victorian man Mike Cockburn has his way, things are about to get a whole lot worse:
A WORRIED Melbourne parent believes the city has become so violent at night he has begun campaigning to ban “drink-walking”.
Father-of-three Mike Cockburn last week launched a website calling for the introduction of laws making it illegal to walk the city streets with a blood alcohol content above .08 per cent…
If the ambitious campaign is successful, police would use breathalysers to detect pedestrians over the limit.
The “drink-walkers” would be fined or locked up, depending on their level of impairment, Mr Cockburn said.
Cockburn even has a website with a semi-catchy name, Pedestrian08, which “exists to promote the rapid adoption of scientifically based, maximum blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for those other road users – Pedestrians.”
The scary thing is that this is exactly the sort of knee-jerk campaign that could catch on. Ever since the one-punch death of Thomas Kelly in Kings Cross, whose alleged killer the police have not claimed was affected by alcohol in any way, the great and the good have feasted on the tragedy to figure out new ways to impose order when the old ones – heavy police presence and charging people for violence and affray – tend to work whenever and wherever they are tried in earnest, as anyone who’s been to New York City can tell you. But that’s not good enough for some people: amazingly, soon after Kelly’s death, I listened to an ABC radio broadcast discussion in which Richard Neville, who once went down on an obscenity rap thanks to his involvement with the satirical magazine Oz, agreed with a similar anti-drunk walking proposal, with no hint of irony or embarrassment.
And if Cockburn’s proposal did catch on? Given that .08 is, for many people, barely impaired – and in fact the legal limit in many US states – it would give the cops a broad new power to stop just about anyone they wanted on a Saturday night. Almost surely an informal quota system would develop – “how many drunks did you bag tonight, Constable?”, desk sergeants around town would ask at the end of a shift – and as in airport security, the people who are least likely to give any guff will be the ones who have to put up with this sobriety theatre. Meanwhile those who are acting like real jerks, or worse, would continue to be considered too much trouble, their crimes hopefully caught on CCTV cameras to be picked over and analysed, perhaps, at some later date.