Sunday, 18 November 2007

Shocked and appalled

I would love to hear a convincing argument supporting the action taken against a man who has become something of a cause célèbre having been found simulating a sexual act with a bicycle. Assuming the facts presented in this story are true, I am left flabbergasted and extremely disturbed by the implications for personal liberty.

If you can't spare two minutes to read the story, here is a quick overview of the facts* presented:

  • Man lives in hostel.
  • Man is in his bedroom in the hostel.
  • Man has locked the door.
  • Man is using his bicycle in his locked bedroom for the purposes of sexual gratification.
  • Cleaners use a master key to unlock the door to Man's room.
  • Cleaners see Man using bicycle for the purposes of sexual gratification, are shocked, tell their manager, who involves the police.

The conclusion of the police action beggars belief:

Man has been convicted of a sexually aggravated breach of the peace by conducting himself in a disorderly manner and simulating sex. He has been sentenced to three years' probation and placed on the Sex Offenders Register.

Let's have a quick recap: This chap has been using an inanimate possession in a private location behind a locked door to give himself pleasure. Having been happened across by two people, his actions are then considered not only illegal (why?), but considered sufficiently serious for him to be on the Sex Offender's Register. His actions might well be considered a bit odd, bizarre, and perhaps suggest that he needs a bit of guidance to find better sex surrogates, but they don't seem to require intervention by the state (unless the state is intent on taking seriously its hitherto unknown obligation to protect inanimate bicycles from pedalphiles... On second thoughts, I shouldn't jest. This isn't a laughing matter.)

In fairness to the Sheriff, it appears that once Man pleaded guilty to the charges, the Sheriff was unable to consider the fact that this occurred in what most of us (any legal eagles out there want to pitch in?) would consider to be a private place, and that Man took reasonable precautions against being disturbed by locking the door. However, I fail to see why it was considered in the public interest for this case taken to pursued and taken to court in the first place. Truth be told, I am shocked and appalled by the invasion of Man's privacy.

I would like to think that should I wish to use an inanimate object owned by myself for whatever purpose which does not harm others or myself, this should not be illegal, however ill-suited the object might at first glance seem for the purposes to which it is put. It makes me wonder what I might be doing which leads me to inadvertently break the law, and whether there's an idiot's guide to what is and isn't legal. It's not at all obvious to me.

*I have no way of verifying these, so will take as read that the reports are accurate.


KindaBlue said...

Just as an aside, it's pretty much inevitable that the more laws a state creates, the more crime there is.

Copyright law is an example of an immense legislative minefield. In the early days of the 1980s, several high-profile test cases determined that it was not illegal for companies to sell VCRs to the general public, largely on the grounds that they had legitimate legal uses.

Now, however, the concept of "fair dealing" has been all but eradicated from UK copyright legislation - which could mean that the use of a VCR to record ones favourite TV show might just be illegal.

It does seem worrying, though, that this so-called "liberal democracy" in which we live seems so keen to react to every potential new "threat" with a new piece of prohibitive legislation. Did we really need a specific offence of using a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving, for instance?

It's all rather worrying. What I reckon we need is a new political movement to challenge the cosy hegemony of Labour, the Conservatives and all the other parties in Westminster and the devolved assemblies.

Above all, we need to somehow eliminate the "hang-'em-and-flog-'em" attitude of certain sections of the general public, which allows for the proliferation of prohibitions and offences in the name of "national security".

Pixie said...

Gawd, what about all those inanimate rabbits out there!

And I agree with you, what people do behind locked doors is very much their buisness and not the states.

Society has some very questionable morals sometimes.

But Why? said...

Out of interest, how do you propose eliminating the "hang 'em and flog 'em" element? You presumably wouldn't hang or flog them, would you? My politics unfortunately do not allow me to support you in the total elimination of groups of people. It's all a bit too much like the final solution for me. But on your other point, yes, it's all a bit rubbish, but how did you derive the need for a new political movement from a guy being convicted of copulating with a bike??

I'd go further and suggest that even if the door wasn't locked, this shouldn't be a crime. If performed in the middle of somewhere such as Mayfair, for the sake of argument, I can understand how being naked from the waist down and attempting to copulate with a bicycle might not be appropriate to the situation, has the potential to shock and cause offence, and should probably be discouraged. But in a bedroom whose function is to provide an environment in which to satisfy basic animal needs, I see very little need to regulate activities.

To be on the safe side, I would ensure that should you engage with your inanimate rabbit, you lock the doors and ensure all copies of the keys are with you in the locked room.

You might also want to position yourself away from the window and close the curtains. Don't even think about posting the video on YouTube...

On another matter, I was wondering if perhaps a solidarity movement could be organised, with people mounting and riding their bikes (funny how that now takes on the guise of innuendo...), whether in the privacy of their bedrooms or on the street, in support of Mr Stewart and his right to sexually engage his bike.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Did his bike give birth to a couple of plastic tricycles? My washing machine is starting to look quite attractive now.... mmm! Let me fiddle with your spin cycle darling! Oooo what is this little drawer for? Yes I can put some conditioner in there for you!

But Why? said...

Despite long and arduous internet research, the condition of the bike remains a mystery. There is, however, some suggestion that it may not have reached the age of consent, which would of course fully justify the inclusion of Man on the Sex Offenders Register.

(It goes without saying that I do not condone the molestation of under-age washing machines, whether in the privacy of one's own home or in the launderette.)

trousers said...

Very well said indeed.

I wish the man had not pleaded guilty.

This is, as you say, all very disturbing.

(I'll leave my comments at that since otherwise I could get into incoherent ranting mode: which would be pointless since you've covered all the salient points in a very concise, clear and thoughtful way)

Casdok said...

Lol! Great post!!!!!!!!

KindaBlue said...

Sorry, was in left-wing revolutionary mode for a moment. It'll clear up in a bit.

I don't propose to actually eliminate people; that might be thought of as a teensy bit of an over-reaction. The point I was attempting to make was that politicians tend to feed off the knee-jerk reactions of a small section of the public. Reduce the number of these knee-jerk responses and we might see less shameless opportunism from Westminster.

Or something like that, anyhow.

But Why? said...

Why, thankyou kindly. I am still shocked and appalled, and increasingly outraged. However, I sense there could be an interesting synergy to be gained between World Naked Bike Ride (London) 2008 and a public demonstration defending the rights of all British subjects to demonstrate their love for their bicycles in any manner of their choosing.

Glad you enjoyed it. Happy to be able to return the favour!

You are having a left-wing revolutionary moment, aren't you? Please remember that politicians keep me in work and that I therefore love them all very dearly and couldn't countenance any unkind words directed towards them... Or something like that. Having now absolved myself of any connection with left-wing revolutionary activity, do please continue with your revolutionary wisdom.

DJ Kirkby said...

Blimey! Weird...botht eh court action and his hip action. Why on both counts.

Andrew Ferrier said...

Couldn't agree more. A complete disgrace. It's not even the waste of police time that bothers me so much; it's the fact that _he did nothing wrong_. I don't understand how anyone could think he did.

It almost makes me want to swear in print. Almost.

Rob Clack said...

Allow me, Andrew Ferrier.

Eee, it's enough to mek yer want to fook yer bike.


But Why? said...

Quite, though the hip action disturbs me far less, and I think is less likely to affect me, than the court action.

Mr Ferrier,
Thankyou kindly for having restrained yourself so. Likewise, I'm not particularly bothered about the wasted police time, particularly if the opportunity cost of this endeavour was less time otherwise spent on tea and biscuits, not that I'm suggesting the constabulary concerned contains a higher than average quota of tea-and-biscuit-related activities. No. I'm merely pointing out that wasting time is only a problem if you would otherwise have been doing something productive. And now I'm going to stop digging this hole I'm in...

Rob C,
For some reason, your comment reminded me of a recent rendition of "On Ilkla Moor baht'at" which I gave to the long-suffering DrWhyMobile whilst it sped me through some of the more godforsaken parts of Yorkshire.

SmallExperiences Inc. would like to thank all visitors for their consideration in swearing only in an unfathomable accent.