The Nanny State and the Reasonable Man


Following on from some reflection about the Nanny State, I would like to explore the nanny state’s relationship with the reasonable man.

“In law, a reasonable person (historically reasonable man) is a composite of a relevant community’s judgment as to how a typical member of said community should behave in situations that might pose a threat of harm (through action or inaction) to the public.”

Now, I mention the reasonable man because, in America and now Australia, there has been an insidious creeping attack on personal liberty via the reinterpretation of the “reasonable man”.

Roughly speaking, when someone does something stupid, and then goes on to sue under common law someone else (person, employer or government), it is a judge (and not law makers nor juries,) that refers to “precedents” and then may go on to make a judgement which often creates a new precedent.

imageSo, assuming I stick my penis in a blender and said blender starts to blend, it is entirely possible that a good lawyer will argue, and a judge will accept, that the “reasonable man” could not have known that said action could lead to damage. Often the argument will follow a path along the lines of: “Did your blender have warnings not to insert penis lest it may be damaged?” and if it did not, well, hohoho, that is a breach of duty of care, as the reasonable man could not have foreseen that something he could put his dick into, and which did not warn him of any dangers, could cause him damage.

So, then the argument goes toward damages. How much to sticky tape the penis back together? $200,000 in medical costs (pecuninary damages.) How much for mental pain and anguish? “This is my penis, I put the anguish at $200,000,000,” and we settle somewhere ridiculous in the middle.

Substitute penis and blender with lap and hot coffee or other less childish examples, and you get an understanding of how common law progresses. As in America, so too in Australia and the UK.

So, what does this have to do with the nanny state? Ever swum at the beach, got hurt? Was there a sign warning of danger from waves? If not, you could sue the council. So… the nanny steps in, and protects us from our potential idiocy with bans, signs and diminished personal liberties. Insurances sky rocket. Kids cannot play on monkey bars as they may fall, break a limb and sue the school.

The reasonable man reinterpreted, along with the nanny state, stops us from learning common sense.

Meanwhile, costs of business skyrocket. An army of health (elf) and safety fluro jacketed workers springs up. It has a marriage with the socialists and the Greens at its ideological core.

So, next time you see an idiot, bear in mind it is dumbing down the interpretation of what is a reasonable man and strengthening the powers of the nanny state.