by Peter Franklin
Thursday, 27
August 2020
Idea
10:52

Don’t educate litter louts, shame them!

by Peter Franklin
Discarded litter at Dovedale in the Peak District

Sometimes I wonder why I bother with conservatism. Tory ineptitude at home and Republican grotesquerie in America is pushing me to the edge. Perhaps I should embrace my inner radical and defect to the red corner — or, more likely for me, the green one.

But then I read something like this — and realise why I belong in the blue corner. It’s a report in Wednesday’s Guardian about litter — specifically litter in the countryside. An earlier report sets the ugly scene:

“Beleaguered rangers complain that a new generation of holidaymakers are treating the countryside like a festival site, leaving behind tents, chairs and excrement, as well as endangering rare habitats and wildlife.”

It’s not just the sheer number of visitors (actual festivals and foreign holidays being unavailable this year), but the way they behave. Barkham quotes a warden at a nature reserve: “Anything you would expect people to understand, such as littering or people using the countryside as a lavatory, they ignore.”

But why don’t they understand it? Inevitably, there are those who think it’s the Government’s fault — for not spending enough money:

“An unprecedented rise in litter, damaging fires and ‘fly-camping’ across the English countryside is partly a result of the government spending less than £2,000 a year over the past decade on promoting the Countryside Code, campaigners say.”

Well “campaigners” would say that, wouldn’t they? The idea that a social problem might be wholly the fault of those perpetrating it is now alien to the Leftist mindset. I mean, why rely on people to exercise personal responsibility when we could blame the state instead?

Except that the Countryside Code isn’t written in code, but freely available for anyone to read. Moreover, most of it is common sense. You don’t need specialist knowledge to take home your rubbish, or close a gate behind you or control your dog, you just need to be a decent human being.

Deliberately dropping litter betrays a sickness of the soul, not a lack of public spending. Shifting responsibility to the state weakens the social pressure which, in this case, is our best defence against individual selfishness.

If campaigners really care about the countryside, then they should forget ‘awareness raising’ and promote the power of public shaming. CCTV has never been cheaper, so use it to catch the litter louts in the act; then use social media to make them famous; and, once identified, prosecute them to set an example (and recover costs). Finally, film them again, leaving the courts ashen-faced.

If people won’t do the right thing out of respect, then let fear, fines and community service do the job instead.

Join the discussion


  • August 31, 2020
    "Tiresome canard is posted in its entirety above. I didn't post the tiresome canards of others in agreement an in support of the concept." I don't understand what this means. Read more

  • August 29, 2020
    I would like to adopt the same punishment for offenders who refuse to pick up their dog's excrement in public parks. And the subsequent TV show would make for even more compelling and amusing viewing I'm sure. Read more

  • August 29, 2020
    You're not following the dialectic of this conversation. Read more

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