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Uncanny fear of the Law?

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Uncanny fear of the Law?

Unread postby Angoid » November 23rd, 2006, 5:05 am

I was in the States earlier this year, and I picked up on something strange ....

An uncanny fear of the law.

If walking out and about on my own, I did not feel very safe. Not because I thought someone was going to pull a gun on me, but more like I thought I was going to inadvertently break a law I knew nothing about (such as walking somewhere I shouldn't, for instance a grass verge, or cross the road), be seen by a cop, and spot-fined for it. I know you cannot cross the road there when it says "Don't walk" or you'll get fined....

I heard that if a couple wanted to go to a park to have a picnic, and it was attached to a school and it was coming-out time for the kids, then you're likely to be reported as sexual predators and arrested. No, this did not happen to me!!!!!!

A friend back home about this said that it's interesting to note that for a country where law enforcement is much stronger than here (in the UK), there is much more lawlessness in the US.

It struck me as though you need more law enforcement than we have in the UK, but less than what I perceived in the US.

Somehow I didn't feel as free as I do here ..... even less free than in China! This struck me as very strange.

I'd be interested to see what the reaction is of other people from the UK that have visited the States, or whether people from the States have felt "freer" when visiting the UK.
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Unread postby Angoid » November 23rd, 2006, 5:11 am

Bump to remove from the zero-replies list .... and an addition....

The "fear" started as soon as I stepped off the plane .... I felt watched the instant I stepped off the plane to go through the funnel thingy to the airport terminal - there were armed police everywhere, you were never out of the sight of one. I know security has been heightened since 9/11, and rightly so, but this was just plain weird and oppressive.
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Unread postby Orac » November 23rd, 2006, 7:24 am

Iam lucky enough to be able to spend a fair amount of time in the States, mainly California and Washington.

IMO the Americans have a far better deal so far as being a "free society" is concerned (althou i agree with your point about crossing the road :!: )

In the UK we currently have a goverment seemingly bent on reducing all our personal freedoms, over 3,000 new offences in 9 years of which 90% are totaly minor/pointless but can "crimalise" a otherwise innocent citizen, who has never, and would never dream of hurting anyone or break any law.

Their intent on introducing ID cards despite the fact theirs overwhelming opposition to them.

Our freedom of information act is a joke, you can find out more about this country using the US information laws than we can our own.

Our right of free speach is not written down in any law passed by parliment, but numerous "anti descrimation" acts that have been passed by parliment are, piecemeal, reducing all our historical rights to freedom of speach.

Despite passing numerous laws concerning firearms in the past 9 years, the amount of illegal arms/shootings has more than doubled, but law abidding citizens can no longer even consider taking up Olympic sports such as pistol shooting. We used to lead in the world in the shooting sports, Mike Gault currently holds the english record for commentwealth medals in any sporting catorgy, yet he has to travel to switerland to pratice. When he retires they will be no englishman/woman who will ever be able to replace him on the world stage. Yet despite this your far more likely now than at anytime before to meet a crimial on the streets with a firearm than you are see a police officer with one.

We have more surveylance camers than any other country in the world.

We have number plate recogintaion equipment attached to a large number of those camers.

We have facial recognation equipment attached to a large number of camers.

We have the largest DNA database in the world.

Yesterday i saw an article on our local tv news that the police are now testing mobile finger print scanning equipment, and can seemingly ask any motorist, who hasnt even broken a law, to be fingerprinted by the scanner. Were told that the data is deleted as soon as its been used, but i bet anything its not deleted from the national database they use to check it, its only deleted from the hand held scanner.

And at the same time we have a goverment that sells seats in our upper house of parliment to anyone who will "donate" a few million to their cause.

Ok you may see more armed police in a US airport than you do here, but how many camers are watching your every move at our airports that you dont even know about. Rember the policeman with his gun is accountable for his actions, this countries camera based survelance has no such safe guards.
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Unread postby Angoid » November 23rd, 2006, 8:04 am

OK, I wasn't trying to incide a political debate because they have a nasty habit of becoming acrimonious :)

We have 1 CCTV camera for every 17 people here in the UK, and yes, we do have a Government that will do as it pleases despite what the public might think.

The point I was making was that it felt oppressive; even more so than China which also crawls with police - overt ones as well as the covert ones :) .

I was very surprised to feel like that in a country which is supposedly the free-est country in the world.
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Unread postby Gary R » November 23rd, 2006, 9:40 am

Can't say I've ever felt uncomfortable when I've visited the States.

I ski there pretty frequently, and apart from a few "slow ski" zones, and a rather more ordered queueing system, the resorts (if smaller) compare well with Europe and I've certainly never had any problems with transgressing any unknown rules or feeling less free when I'm there.

I might gripe about the painfully slow entry system in the airports (particularly since 11/9 :D ) where they have a dozen empty gates for US citizens and 2 totally overwhelmed gates for everyone else, but that's about all.

Course I don't visit "big city" USA (why would I want to), where there may be a more intrusive infliction of petty rules, but in the places I've visited I've always been made more than welcome.
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Unread postby Angoid » November 23rd, 2006, 9:43 am

...but in the places I've visited I've always been made more than welcome.

No, I didn't feel unwelcome.

Maybe it was just a local thing .... if I was to visit a different part, maybe things would be different.
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Unread postby Gary R » November 23rd, 2006, 11:59 am

No, I didn't feel unwelcome.


Perhaps I phrased that wrongly. Not only was I made welcome, but I had no sense of being restricted in my freedoms (over and above the normal restrictions that apply in any developed country).

I do concede that this may be entirely due to the places I visited, the fact is I was in towns that regularly attract a large number of foreign visitors so a certain amount of lassitude in local ordnances may be tolerated. Things may be different in other parts of the US.

Having said that, I do recall advise given about driving over there.

I was told that if pulled over by the law it was not a sensible thing to reach into your pockets for your driving documents until directed to do so, and that's not something you'd ever have to think about over here.
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Unread postby Orac » November 23rd, 2006, 1:08 pm

I was told that if pulled over by the law it was not a sensible thing to reach into your pockets for your driving documents until directed to do so, and that's not something you'd ever have to think about over here.


errrr :oops: i actually did that, a few years ago at san franciso airport, i was parked in a restricted zone (i didnt know that at the time), and he asked me if i had a driving licence, i said yes, and without thinking went to put my hand in my pocket, he shouted STOP, I STOPPED, :shock: Anyway long story short i said i was going to show him, he said if i wanted to see iwould have said so, iam only intrested if you had one, you in a restricred zone. Told him i was from England and five minutes later we were best buddies and did i know his friend "fred" in london :lol:

One things for sure i will never make that mistake again. :shock:

But have to say apart from that all my experiances thought the states have been very positive. :P
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Unread postby markamus » November 28th, 2006, 12:35 pm

Usually the law enforcement officials here in the states aren't too bad. However, they do have their moments.

@ Gary R and Orac,
I've had that happen to me also. I got pulled over because for some odd reason they thought I looked "suspicious". Made me get out of the vehicle, stand by the police car, while they called the "drug dog" out to search me and the entire field i was pulled over beside. While the policeman was writing down my information and warnings, I got extremely bored, having to stand...so I put my hands in my pockets. They tend to freak out about that :lol:

Once he found out he was wrong in his assumption, and he had made me extremely late for work...I was given a very big apology. Now every time I get stopped in town, (which is fairly often because most of the time policemen don't have anything to do with their time and look for small things like vehicle defects such as cracks in the windshield) I remind the policemen of that time they wrongfully accused me and they quickly let me go ;)
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