“Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.” ― attributed to Laurence J. Peter, The Peter Principle
In Scotland, Scott Walker faces sentencing over the crime of carrying a potato peeler, a crime for which he could be imprisoned up to five years or subjected to a fine or both. Five years… for a potato peeler! According to the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995, it is illegal for any person who has with him (they used the masculine pronoun, oh no!) in a public space, “…any article which has a blade or is sharply pointed…” except a folding pocket knife with a blade not exceeding three inches (7.62 centimeters).
So, in Scotland, a pocket knife is fine, but a potato peeler is an instrument of mayhem.
The law continues, “It shall be a defence for a person charged with an offence under subsection (1) above to show that the person had a reasonable excuse or lawful authority for having the article with him in the public place.”
Everyone should be aghast that one needs a reasonable excuse to have a potato peeler in one’s possession. In the UK, you are presumed guilty of a crime unless you can prove your innocence… even for carrying a potato peeler. I don’t have any stats on the number of potato peeling attacks that occur in Scotland, but it must be staggering!
If Walker had an unpeeled potato in his pocket, presumably he could have used the I-wanted-to-have-a-snack-later defense. I would be interested in hearing the legislature define the class of person who has the “lawful authority” to carry a potato peeler, wouldn’t you? Are there Potato Officers? Is there a Ministry of Potatoes, with duly designated representatives?
But wait, there’s more! “Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (4) above, it shall be a defence for a person charged with an offence under subsection (1) above to show that he had the article with him— (a)for use at work; (b)for religious reasons; or (c)as part of any national costume.”
If Walker self-identified as a worshipper of the Divine Potato, and asserted that he must be prepared to release any potato from its skin when called upon, he wouldn’t be looking at prison time?
If Walker had been wearing a kilt and carrying a basket hilt sword instead of a potato peeler, he wouldn’t be looking at prison time?
It’s not just potato peelers. Apparently, the subjects of the crown need protection from lots of things. The Regents Park Police (London) showed off some of the super dangerous killing implements they confiscated. These weapons of war appear to be a pair of scissors, a slotted screwdriver, a Phillips screwdriver, a common file, a pair of needle nose pliers, and a pair of linesman pliers. Thankfully they have been, “Safely disposed and taken off the streets…”
“There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.” ― attributed to Ayn Rand
I await raids on the UK equivalent of Hobby Lobby, Lowe’s, and Home Depot. “Something must be done to protect society from these merchants of death!”
What do I know? I’m Justa Gaibroh.