Mon, 07 May 2007

I fought the law by Dan Kieran

I fought the law Dan Kieran's book I fought the law is available at a bookshop near you - in the humour section. The choice of section likely comes from Dan's approach:

My approach has always been to do funny books about serious issues because I think you can reach more people by being entertaining as well as informing.

I fought the law ended up being a very different book from the one Dan initially intended:

My original idea was to write a guide to some of the most absurd ancient legislation still on the statute book. I’d had this great idea to go round the country on a crime spree, breaking as many silly old laws as I could find: imagine if Fred Dibnah met Bonnie and Clyde.

However, in the process of researching these laws I couldn’t help noticing another glut of legislation that seemed even more ludicrous. Most of our silly laws have trickled onto the statute book over centuries, but this particular set had all come from our current government. And when you meet a man who got arrested after eating a cake with “Freedom of speech” written on it in icing, and someone else who has a criminal record for holding a banner made of fridge packing in Parliament Square that had “Freedom of speech” written on it in Biro, the idea of breaking the Adulteration of Tea Act of 1776 starts to seem a little frivolous.

Dan had already rescoped his book when I met him one evening in November 2005 at the offices of the Idler. He recorded an interview about what happend when the Police found my behaviour suspicious when going in a tube station and the subsequent stop and search, arrest, detainment, flat search, etc. This was the context for the interview:

This book is about my journey to break the strangest law in Britain. Now people will expect it to be all the odd and eccentric laws of the past but because I'm writing it in the current climate, I want to highlight how our freedom is being eroded. An interview with you to tell your story would point out that you can now be arrested for literally doing nothing.

The chapter called Britain's Ten Worst Laws which Dan wrote in conjunction with civil rights campaign group Liberty opens with this interview.

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