Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain towards the end of January 2018 for about a month
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Nanny-State Netherlands says 'No!'

From a British perspective it sometimes seems that we have the most complete 'nanny-state' in the world (why, there's even a blog dedicated to the premise), but we have a close rival in the Netherlands, whose government apparatus has stepped in to prevent a 13 (going on 14) year old girl from launching her attempt to sail solo around the world. Here are a few excerpts from the BBC report which illustrate perfectly the suffocating effect on a young person's courage, when even the judge admits her sailing-skills are not in question:

Judges at the Utrecht district court said Ms Dekker's sailing skills were not in question.

But they said her safety plan was not fully developed and that she had no experience with sleep management.

- the final sentence really takes the biscuit! Just how much 'experience' do the judges at the Utrecht district court have with this thing called 'sleep management'? And just what does this thing about her safety plan not being fully developed mean? Not all risks can, or necessarily should, be ironed out before anyone steps out of their front doors in the morning. I might be involved in an accident later this morning when I go out in my car to do some shopping; perhaps this (I hope!) non-existent accident will be 'my fault', or perhaps not. Does that mean I should just stay in bed all day, to avoid the risk?

Interestingly just yesterday Prince Edward's off-the-cuff and perfectly reasonable if infelicitously-expressed comments (about the untimely death of a young person walking in the bush in Australia) seem to have sparked off both remarks about 'another Royal gaffe' in the style of his father The Duke of Edinburgh, who started the 'Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme', but also challenging the [obvious to me] fact that some young people do seek out thrills and yes, DANGER, quite deliberately. There are other points of view, however. Poor Price Edward - his youthful folly with the "It's a knock-out" games is never likely to be forgotten, nor his petulance when criticised for the flop it turned out to be. But however clumsily he may have expressed himself recently in Australia, I think youngsters do relish a certain element of 'risk' and being taken out of their usual 'comfort zones'. It's just a pity that 'the State' seems to want populations to be totally-insulated and docile 'consumers' unable to think for themselves or to do (or be allowed to do) anything for themselves. Would we have ever travelled to what is now the United States or Australia, for example, if the explorers who undertook those quite dangerous expeditions (not to say fatal for some of the early pioneers!) had not had the courage to sail off in pretty small and flimsy craft with none of the modern technologies we take for granted such as GPS or satellite-internet? With this attitude is it ever likely we'll make a return visit to the moon, never mind attempt visits to Mars and beyond?! Rant ends ...

Finally, I wish the young Dutch person mentioned at the beginning of this article every success when she finally manages to escape the clutches of the Dutch 'State' next summer.


  1. I don't dissent from what you've written with one proviso, were I to be a Dutch taxpayer. Should something unfortunate happen to the child then I would expect no public money to be spent on her rescue. The costs should fall entirely on her parents unless they have been able to secure insurance (an unlikely eventuality knowing insurance companies and one not to be relied upon anyway),

  2. Well that wasn't a part of my blog article, but since you've raised the issue I must say I agree entirely. Similarly for folks who get stranded on Scottish (or Cumbrian or Welsh) hillsides when the weather closes in.

    Doesn't detract from the point that this young girl should be allowed to do it if her parents agree (the father is very keen, the mother somewhat less so, but not actively opposed, from what I gather).


Welcome to my comment area. Whilst all comment is welcome you are requested to respect the views of others. To read full terms for use of this facility, please visit my 'Terms of Use' section, linked to under the 'About this Blog' heading at top right of the blog. Note added 12JUL2010 - All comments will now be pre-moderated before they appear in this blog; this is a measure to prevent 'spam' commenting, which has become frequent of late. Thank you.