It all depends on perspective, doesn’t it?
In a blog post named Booze bans – the new frontier of joyless regulation, Henry Porter at the Guardian is alarmed that the right to drink in public is being systematically attacked across the country by local authorities using powers to stop people having a good time in a park or a picnic with their friends.
Here in Norway, it’s more central government who’s pushing for stricter regulation, while a number of local authorities are more liberal.
It’s not only a matter of laws, either, more a question of enforcement, at least in Oslo. The police look the other way, and there would be an uproar if they started confiscating beer cans from picnickers in the parks while the sale of hard drugs goes on without more than a token police effort.
If you live in the countryside, you have a garden where you can enjoy a beer or a glass of wine. In the town and cities we have communal spaces that we use for recreation. It is sensible to have a liberal attitude to people enjoying refreshments in the parks on hot days. Public disturbance is another matter.
But I think it is symptomatic that in an age where the problems are too complex for the politicians too grasp, they go for detailed regulations on more symbolic issues instead. Why don’t they go away and solve the health crisis or the global economy or something and let us get on with our lives?