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Personal Responsibility or Education?

Posted on: March 30th 2021
By: Harley Dalton, Area Manager, Greater Manchester

Personal responsibility, not education, is the solution to sexual violence.

Sarah Everard is a name we all know for the most tragic of reasons, and her killing has sparked international debate about the treatment of women in our society. Of notable contributions, it is arguably the intervention of Jenny Jones, Baroness of Moulsecoomb and Member of the House of Lords that has most inflamed passions with her suggestion that a 6pm curfew on men could solve the problem of sexual violence.

To be clear, Baroness Jones wasn’t being entirely serious – as she wrote last week, hers was an ironic reaction to advice that women should adapt their movements and behaviours to account for the risk of sexual violence. The sentiment behind the suggestion however, is a genuine and common belief that such advice constitutes a form of victim-blaming and oppression, whereby women who exercise their free will are culpable for the wrongs inflicted upon them if they don’t conform to male safety standards.

Correspondingly, proponents of this kind of thinking are open about who is really to blame for sexual violence by insisting on referring to the problem of rape and sexual assault as ‘male violence’. The attribution of this collective responsibility and guilt strongly insinuates that the problem of sexual violence is so sufficiently ingrained in men, whether through their savage nature or patriarchal nurturing, as to warrant and justify more stringent societal and legal impositions on them.

“Don’t protect your daughters, educate your sons,” as the popular viral slogan goes. Yet if the likes of Baroness Jones want to deal effectively with sexual violence against women, they are best advised to check their premises. By blaming men for their alleged lack of education, we risk trivialising what is largely the real and ineradicable cause of sexual violence, while attacking sensible appeals for personal responsibility risks dismissing what is the only effective option for risk mitigation which would protect greater numbers of women.
Dismissing the supposed need for education isn’t to say that men ought not to be more mindful about how women perceive the threat of violence, nor should we dismiss women’s fears on the basis that men are more likely to be assaulted than women. Empathy necessarily means understanding similar situations through different perspectives; on a purely physical basis, for example, there is a stark difference between the options of fight or flight available to most men against most other people, versus the vulnerability of almost any woman against unexpected attacks by men who, in most cases she can neither outrun nor outmuscle.

Likewise, clearly defined and transparent rules around consent is of benefit to both sexes, and it is reasonable to suppose that greater social understanding and condemnation of what constitutes harassment or non-consensual contact – catcalling, or touching when dancing in a club, for example – might lead to a decline in non-invasive yet upsetting breaches of consent and good taste.

Such improvements are, though, beside the point. Greater understanding of personal boundaries might well reduce instances of catcalling, groping and unsolicited sexual images online, for example, but the nature of these repulsive transgressions is still very different to sexual violence. Sexual violence is malicious and barbaric. There’s nothing contextual about sexual violence. Its evil, its immorality, its physical, mental and spiritual harm, its social ignominy and its illegality, are unmistakable.

It is not a lack of education or understanding on behalf of men that leads to rape and sexual assault, or the more egregious cases of harassment. The wanton disregard for boundaries is no accident – it is deliberate, malevolent intent from a tiny proportion of men who know fully the evil of their actions. Despite all the laws and social conventions already widely known and accepted, the cold, hard, harsh truth is that bad people will always find some way to do bad things. Evil is intractable. The problem of sexual violence, just like ordinary violence is therefore also intractable; when you drill down to the core of the problem, beyond mental health disorders, social immobility, conviction rates, alcohol abuse, and everything else which contributes to the problem, you’re still left with raw, perverse, uncompromising evil.

And this is why, ultimately, those who take offence to well-meaning safety advice are so dangerously self-defeating. Those who advocate for personal responsibility are routinely chastised for advising women to stay safe; sensible behaviour apparently ought not to be a requirement for increasing one's safety. A woman should have the right to wander drunkenly through secluded areas in the dark wearing whatever she wants, without fear of ambush. This is obviously nonsensical.

The truth is that when people rally against personal responsibility, they're objecting to the nature of reality itself. Whatever mitigations one might adopt between, reality dictates that both the first and last lines of defence against life's suffering are personal responsibility. The hypothetical total absence of law and social order would necessitate self-defence to preserve life and liberty; the hypothetical total absence of modern medicine would necessitate cautious and healthy living; the hypothetical total absence of established food sources (think Tom Hanks in Cast Away) would necessitate foraging. You get the point. Now layer on all the protections, mitigations and conventions of state and society, the laws and principles, the services and technology, to their exhaustible limits. People are still killing and raping other people, despite law and custom. People still die of cancer, despite advanced medicine. People still starve, despite abundant food, welfare, charity and employment opportunity. The problems of life, uh, find a way. They will continue to do so, probably for centuries to come. And all you're left with, once external mitigations are exhausted, as all finite resources must be, is yourself and what you choose to do.

Being responsible still won't mean a total elimination of sexual violence, obviously not - bad people will find ways to do bad things. And I'm not going to sit here and tell women what constitutes "responsible behaviour" for them, because it's subjective and contextual. But it is highly irresponsible to tell women that a rape-free utopia is just around the corner if only we accept more government control over us all; personal responsibility is clearly, logically a necessary factor, because once you've exhausted the finite capacity of the state and society to mitigate risk, it is only in changing your behaviour that any further meaningful reduction in personal risk can be achieved.

So it isn't ‘oppressive’ or ‘misogynistic’ to suggest sensible behaviours to women to mitigate their risk of rape even with robust legal and social preventions, any more than it is oppressive (or tobaccophobic, say) to advise a smoker to quit despite the existence of chemotherapy. Personal responsibility is essential whether you like it or not, and abdicating that responsibility is a foolish and dangerous thing to do whether you like it or not.

There is much that could be done to improve conditions for women in our society. Clarifying and, if possible, strengthening laws on consent is an ongoing process, as all things in their imperfection must be. Low prosecution rates for sexual crimes are a real concern, and addressing this – for example, with more investment in reporting and forensic detection measures – is an important deterrent. Preventative policing could potentially make the streets safer at night. Our binge culture is a curse. Our society also needs to have an honest and open discussion about effective self-defence: denying women the ability to defend themselves with projectile weaponry like pepper spray is perpetuating a physical imbalance keeping women and their bodies in a constant state of disadvantage.

But we don't live in a utopia, or even in a potential one. The resources of the state are and always will be finite. With the best of intentions, cracks always exist in any system – the bigger the wider. No one can protect themselves against all things at all times. And there are bad eggs in every batch. But by treating personal responsibility as though it were futile in the face of the various problems of life, or oppressive and undesirable compared to a society which could or ought to aim through the state at utopian conditions, we expose ourselves to the whim of any external threat that slips through the cracks. I would call it wishful thinking to treat your personal safety as someone else’s problem, but I don't know what sort of person would wish that.

The views expressed represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of UK Liberty Party. UK Liberty Party sometimes publishes articles we may disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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Our Philosophy

We are the only UK party that consistently holds that your Rights are inalienable. We will not accept any violation of your Rights.

We do however have a very different perspective as to what Rights are. Unlike those that claim Rights simply exist or are God given, we take the approach of first asking "What makes you human?"

The answer to that is the basis from which the moral principle of Rights is derived. That is; your mind. You are not born with any innate knowledge. You do not instinctively know how to grow food or hunt, how to make clothes or build a house. Everything that you do begins with your mind. Your mind is your tool for living.

To be able to use your mind you have to be free to think, to reason, to choose, to act. The only way to prevent you from doing this, and thus to stop you living, is force (incl. coercion) from others. Rights are the moral principle of freeing you from force by others.

Of course, this alone cannot stop those that choose to initiate force against you. Some people will do bad things.

This is where the political recognition & protection of your Rights comes in to play. A political system simply says that a society will not tolerate someone violating your Rights and that those that do will face punishment under the Law. This is freedom.

You can live your life knowing that those around you understand the consequences of violating your Rights. Your interactions with others are peaceful and voluntary.

Being able to take the neccessary actions to fulfil your life by exercising your freedom, guaranteed by your Rights, is true Liberty.

EDUCATION

Most people recognise that private schools are cognitively superior to government schools but, taxed to support government institutions, are unable to pay twice for their children's education. With the abolition of the government schools must come the repeal of the income and property taxes that finance them, making it possible for millions of parents to now afford quality private education.

By taking schooling out of the government's hands and placing it where it belongs — in the hands of parents — we respect the right of individuals to choose the school they want for themselves and their children, we definitively terminate governmental initiation of force in the educational field, contributing to freedom of the mind, and we vastly improve the educational levels in this country. A free market of education will deliver superlative levels of literacy in this nation.

Moreover, a marketplace fully open to competition, teems with diverse options; for example, the restaurant industry offers a wide array of choices — from dozens of popular fast food chains to diners, sandwich shops, family restaurants, ethnic restaurants, and all variations up to and including establishments offering five star cuisine. (And supermarkets are a cornucopia of diverse foodstuffs to be purchased and prepared at home.) Similarly, when the monolithic government school system is abolished and education is privatised, a vast array of options will emerge to meet parental demand: More children will be home-schooled; tutors will offer academic services in a wealth of subjects; teachers will open tiny individualised schools; education corporations will be founded and open large-scale school systems across the country; and on-line education will proliferate.

HEALTH CARE [NHS]

The provision of universal medical care has become prodigiously more and more expensive. At the same time, not coincidentally, we recognise that the United Kingdom is not a free market system, it is, and has long been, a mixed economy — an unstable amalgam of capitalism and socialism, of freedom and government controls, of individual rights and statism.

We maintain that a National Health Service, backed and enabled by government intervention in the health care field, has immensely boosted demand for medical services without generating a corresponding increase in supply. The market feedback mechanism of supply and demand is broken and thus costs of provision precipitously escalate.

A free medical marketplace will enable the next wave of bio-medical advances, including ever more effective pharmaceuticals, pioneering surgical techniques, disease-detecting technology, as well as other life-saving developments.

We support a gradual but full phasing out of National Insurance and the National Health Service, over a period of several years, giving responsible individuals sufficient time to make alternative arrangements to pay medical costs, and for private medical charity organisations to form.

ENVIRONMENT

The earth is roughly 4.65 billion years old, possessing therefore a vast history in which climate change occurs naturally and ceaselessly. For example, millions of years ago, long before human beings existed, much less industrialised, huge naturally - driven temperature swings — significantly larger than the 1.5 degree Fahrenheit rise of the past 150 years — caused the onset and, in time, the cessation of ice ages.

We recognise that the best opportunity for human life to flourish during such periods is provided by electric power, indoor heat, thermal clothing, advances in medical science, air conditioning, sun screen, and the like — all products of applied science, technology, and industrialisation. Whether or not human industrial activity contributed to the slight warming of the past 150 years, two truths are certain: This mild warming, despite decades of alarmism, poses no immediate catastrophic threat to human life — and government's restricting of the economic activity required to attain flourishing life across all climates, is the exact opposite of a proper course of action.

The human environment is kept clean and safe primarily by advances in science, technology, and industrialisation. For example: development of steel and concrete enables construction of reservoirs, water mains, indoor plumbing, and sewer mains that keep sewage out of the drinking water; advanced technology enables men to drain swamps that are breeding grounds for malaria - carrying mosquitoes; heating and central air conditioning permit human beings to live comfortably in extreme climate conditions, without breathing smoke from indoor fires; and so forth.

Eliminating all subsidies to both fossil fuel companies and "alternative" or "green/renewable" energy companies, and a definitive end to government incentives/penalties for energy producers will encourage free thinking entrepreneurs to develop and cultivate earth's resources in service of human life.

ECONOMY

Centuries of free(ish) markets and statism demonstrate two practical conclusions: When the individual's rights are protected to freely engage in production and trade, immense advances result in innovations, in creation of both material and intellectual wealth, in living standards, and in human life expectancies — but when the individual's rights to voluntarily produce and trade are curtailed by government interference, when statism in any form is rampant, then progress stagnates, the creation of wealth plummets, living standards diminish, and life expectancies decline.

We therefore advocate for a strict legal separation of state and economy in the UK, just as, and for the same reason, there exists a legal separation of state and church. Just as religious belief and practice is — properly — a matter of private choice and initiative, so are men's economic choices and activities.

If business persons, like religious persons or clergy, initiate force or fraud, they should be properly prosecuted under the laws of the criminal justice system that protect individual Rights. But if they initiate neither force nor fraud, then the government must be constitutionally debarred from interfering with their activities.

It is time that the 'free' in free market actually meant something.

COVID vs RIGHTS

Back in March 2020 we were warning the British public and wider world about the dangers of our political classes' obsession and hubris with lockdowns and similar draconian measures. While the government were issuing slogans and reassurance about "2 weeks to save the NHS" and "seeing out the spring", we were predicting many months, perhaps years of stubborn policy failure, u-turns and flip-flops and, in the meanwhile, economic and social decay as a result of an obviously flawed and morally dubious policy approach. Likewise, while we were promoting sense, reason, proportion and hope, using widely available public data about the nature of the virus, governments and media conspired to conduct a deliberate campaign of fear to justify greater and lasting use of state power to curtail, abuse and violate your Rights, Freedom adnd Liberties.

The Government and Opposition in cahoots and a compliant media conspired to sacrifice the many under the arrogant delusion they could play heroes to the few; the result of this has indeed been the sacrifice of the many - many livelihoods and businesses, as well as the education, financial stability, social fabric and personal lives and happiness of millions. Despite all this, however, the government has not succeeded in solving a health crisis; rather, it has sparked one in the soaring numbers of untreated afflictions, notably cancers, cardiovascular problems and mental health. Tens or hundreds of thousands of people will die as a result of the government's policy. The government had the information to avoid this. They chose to do it anyway. To them your Rights are by permission. This must never happen again.










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