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Belgium fills its pockets with "GAS-fines": An arbitrary tool of misfeasance

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posted on Dec, 15 2013 @ 11:00 AM
Before I start this thread I'd like to explain that GAS doesn't relate to gas or petrol. It's short for Gemeentelijke Administratieve Sanctie and basically is an administrative fine that has been introduced years ago to fight public nuisance.

Problem is every city now has the freedom to define "nuisance" and how much they charge for offences (with a maximum fine of 350€). Something might be forbidden in one city but not in the other. This has caused a lot of outrage because it firstly is a total arbitrary system, secondly it restricts a lot of our freedom and thirdly it has quickly deteriorated into the most absurd form of rules and laws.

I'll start of with an anthology of some of these rules per city. Again, if these rules are broken a civil servent has the right to fine citizens if caught:

Kortrijk: "It's forbidden to insult people."

Deinze: "During carnival, it's forbidden to pick up confetti and throw it."

Dendermonde: "It's forbidden to cycle in groups."

Dendermonde: "It's forbidden to slide down a water-slide in pairs."

Mechelen: "Ding-dong ditch is forbidden. Penalty is a 350€ fine."

Antwerpen and Menen: "It's forbidden to feed the ducks in the park."

Beveren: "It's forbidden to remove bird nests."

Gent: "Taking out the trash too early: 120€ fine. On places where there are works on the street, it's forbidden to pick up the sand for a period of 15 days. Beggars may not address other people or act intrusive."

Leuven: "It's forbidden for street-musicians to play out of tune."

Mol: "It's forbidden to scare someone."

Hasselt-Zonhoven-Diepenbeek: "Forbidden to sit on the railing of a public seat. Forbidden to cover the face."

Lokeren: "It's forbidden to practice fortune telling, explaining dreams or other quack."

Schaarbeek: "It's forbidden to transport a person who suffers from a contagious illness other than an ambulance. Forbidden to shake carpets above the public road."

Lier: "It's forbidden to have more than 5 cats or dogs inside a closed building or apartment."

Oudenburg: "Owning a pit-bull terrier is forbidden. If the animal is dangerous, it may be killed on the spot."

De Panne: "A fine when your house-number is missing."

Roeselare: "Forbidden for students to use wax crayons during the last 100 days celebration."

Zelzate: "Pets may not induce abnormal nuisance by continuous barking or mewing."

Oudenaarde: "Forbidden to lift wish-balloons up into the air."

Ronse: "Forbidden to make noise without reason or necessity."

Dendermonde: "Forbidden to leave ice-cones on the outside of roofs."

Dendermonde: "Forbidden to clean graves on November 1st & 2nd."

Willebroek: "Forbidden to hinder people in a public building like door-openings, telephone booths, waiting queues, garages, bicycle-stalls."

Borgloon: "The organizer of a public meeting which doesn't take place in open air has to warn the mayor about this 48 hours in front."

Hasselt: "Places that are reserved for specific sports or games may not be used for other sports, games or other activities."

Lokeren: "Forbidden to take field fruits or other useful products if they're not already loose from the soil."

Hasselt: "If not prepared in a bucket, it's forbidden to make mortar in the cemeteries."

Wellen: "Only biodegradable confetti with a diameter of approx. 10mm is allowed."

Dendermonde: "It's forbidden to knock on doors or windows secretly or without necessity."

Lede: "Open fires in housings are forbidden."

Hasselt: "It's forbidden to use lasers or light-beams without prior written approval of the mayor."

Dendermonde: "It's forbidden to sing indecent songs in public or to act as such towards others."

Rumst: "It's forbidden to fly RC planes without prior written approval of the mayor."

Gent: "He who rents a bike will handle it like 'a good house father' would."

Mortsel: "Doors, portals, fences, etc. may not open towards the public road."

So this is the kind of nonsense that has been released on the Belgian people. Note that there's not a single form of real criminal behaviour in this list and that it's only a cheap measure to fill the government's pockets on the backs of the good, hard working and law-abiding citizen who makes one of these "mistakes". The message is clear: Wake up, go to work, go home and stay home! Abide our rules and be good. Anyone who walks outside the line will be punished. It just makes me sick!

Talking about sick: If you suddenly feel sick while walking the roads of Antwerpen or Leuven and you have to puke, you'll get a fine because it's illegal to puke there. Better swallow it all back in and hope for the best.

Got car trouble? In a certain police zone it's illegal to perform repairs on your car on the public road. So, if you've got a flat tire and replace it and get caught, you'll get a fine.

A woman from Herentals left the bank and threw 4 receipts into the trash bin: 250€ fine.

A guy from Temse throwing a Halloween party got one phone call from a neighbour because his music was to loud. The Police visited him 4 times. Resulted in a 80€ fine.

In the whole Flemish region there's now a zero tolerance against lighting fireworks during the holidays. If you still want to light some, say, with the kids in your own backyard. You'll have to ask permission from the mayor.

An Antwerp art-house got a GAS-fine because they organised a protest in the form of handing out flyers against... ... GAS-fines.

A grandmother (I can't remember where she lives) got a fine because she was picking flowers with her grandchildren last summer.

Lots of schoolchildren from Mechelen have been fined for eating a sandwich on the stone stairs in front of a church. One of them, a 17 year old boy, was kept three hours at the police station and fined 100€. His crime? Spilling breadcrumbs and a piece of carrot...

Antwerpen has fined kids throwing snowballs.

Merchtem has fined children who were playing soccer in the vicinity of pigeon fanciers.

A lot of people in Antwerpen know a woman named Debby Strybosch. Marked as the most diligent civil servant fining people like she's grinding on a Facebook game has earned her a promotion as head of the Civil Order Department in Antwerpen.

I can go and on. Such absurdity makes my head spin!

A fine is always debatable in court. But not everyone has the courage or knowledge do to so. Still, these are measures to bully citizens until the point they're tired to fight and just obey. There's a lot of debate going on about this issue in Belgium but progress is minimal with the exception of some promises from cities to tone down the rules or maybe even expunge it all together. Still, 8 out of 10 cities use these GAS-fines. Nobody ever asked for it and just one day our government just pushed these GAS-fines down our throats! Ten thousands of people have already been fined for violations. "Katsjing!" anyone?

posted on Dec, 15 2013 @ 11:07 AM
I'm sure they had a reason in the past for making all those rules. Most of them address being social in a society. We have a lot of old laws on the books here in the USA that they can pull out of the hat if necessary. Why do people have to be so chaotic so much. If people were nice and considerate to others these stupid laws would not be necessary. Most of these rules were formed to protect society from a minority of their members.

posted on Dec, 15 2013 @ 11:18 AM
reply to post by rickymouse

So, basically, the members of society are to blame for these rules and you would like to be protected from a minority who throw snowballs and used confetti at you?

posted on Dec, 15 2013 @ 11:53 AM
reply to post by Staafke

If you throw confetti picked up from the ground, it could contain broken glass, sand, or a number of other contaminants. Would you like a chunk of glass or sand in your eye?

posted on Dec, 15 2013 @ 12:20 PM
reply to post by Staafke

Regrettable these laws are not reviewed occasionally. Same with the US, as rickymouse said there are plenty of old laws still on the books.

When the geniuses who came up with the idea of all the "laws" too bad they didn't come up with a mandatory review statute (say every ten years) to see if these laws were still applicable. But they were probably lawyer type control freaks anyway and we know how they love their laws.

edit on 806pm1414pm122013 by Bassago because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 15 2013 @ 12:20 PM
reply to post by rickymouse

Fair point. But don't you feel the slightest outrage when reading some of these other rules that are imposed?

posted on Dec, 15 2013 @ 12:23 PM
reply to post by Bassago

Indeed, laws were invented to protect and preserve people's rights. But it has sadly evolved to an economic thing with lots of money involved.

posted on Dec, 15 2013 @ 12:30 PM
reply to post by Staafke

Well Belgium made the news just the other day with there passing of a new law that allows them to euthanize their children.

Not the same I know but they, like every other country apparently love to pass laws. The more the merrier.

posted on Dec, 15 2013 @ 12:48 PM
reply to post by Bassago

Oh yes, we pass laws like we brew beer: many.
As a side note, that law isn't implemented yet and has to be looked at and voted for in the Second Chamber. I've read the thread about it but decided not to get involved as most reactions were emotional and rather angry, which I understand. And the source news article doesn't depict a right image of the law and leaves a lot of details and nuances out.

posted on Dec, 15 2013 @ 03:05 PM
reply to post by Staafke

Lots of rules were made by people who were cautious in the past. They were worried about the slipslide effect on society. I don't really like many of the rules but I understand why they may have been made. Youth seem to like to break the rules to show others that the rules are not right. They don't understand the slip slide effect. They should actually explain this and other ad hominum techniques in school. But then again would the ones in charge want the young to know of these things? When the youth mature and gain personal confidence, they see these tactics and begin to understand them. When you have kids you notice the kids doing similar things that you did when you were young, just a little different style.

Things haven't really changed over the last seventy years. Everyone wants to improve on things yet their improvements are often not improvements, they sometimes set us back. Observing history is a little worthless, history can be modified with the reprint of an updated version. When we interpret history we are perceiving what it means because each generation perceives things a little differently than the last. This ever looping tendency is why Economies crash because of the same reasons that they failed before. People think we are better than the people a few generations ago but that is false. Not much has changed, increasing knowledge does not mean common sense increased.

posted on Dec, 16 2013 @ 01:47 AM
I live in Belgium, and there is much resistance to these GAS fines with the public. A lot of policymakers are already slowing down and even reverting some of these ridiculous laws. For instance, in my city you can get fined for dragging a cardboard box on the street. I mean wth people.

But as I said, a lot of people just refuse to pay these silly fines.

posted on Dec, 16 2013 @ 09:46 AM
reply to post by Razziazoid

Yeah, some of those crazy laws are not good, being based on someone's opinion in the past. Busybodies create these policies a lot. Their prestige in society gets what they don't like banned in public.

The squeeky wheel gets the grease. I'll use an example. There is a little location here that has homes with big yards. It is not what is considered high class. Someone moved into the neighborhood that was prestigious many years ago and thought they should get chickens banned in the community, citing that they were unclean. Instead of just passing rules that chickens should be fenced in and that the manure should be dealt with properly, they bitched and complained that they should ban chickens. The people raising these chickens were selling the eggs to local people in the area, and this made the people have to buy the eggs from the store after that. The person who pushed for the creation of the law....owned the local store.

Do you see what happened there, someone wanted more profits and because they controlled the local food, they boosted our reliance on them to survive. This has been happening for a long time, people respect the ones who are rich more than the ones who grow food. People have been BSed to believe that if something is commercially grown it is safer. This is a lie, it depends on the farmer, not the middle man. I would trust the eggs produced by a local person, eggs which help our immune systems to work properly, before I would trust mass produced eggs that are missing essential chemistry to help us. We have been led to believe a lie.

In the case you are talking about about the law about dragging a box, try to find who started the law. It may have been started by someone selling carts who wanted to boost their sales. Someone who owned a hardware store long ago. The name of the person who initiated this law should be listed somewhere. We need something to do, this could be something to do

posted on Dec, 16 2013 @ 11:06 AM
reply to post by rickymouse

What a sad story. Anything to turn a buck, even with eggs. Like there's a fortune to be gained with it. But in my experience the rich man would still go a long way to earn another cent.

posted on Dec, 16 2013 @ 12:47 PM
reply to post by Staafke

People often make a profit of a penny on something that is toxic and sell it to a million people and make them sick for that penny on a dollar.

Wealth is what you have left after you pay all your living expenses. If you can con someone and it increases your leftovers by say a thousand dollars, you can buy something that makes you seem better. The easiest way is to make people need your services instead of working more or longer. This way you can raise the price of the goods sold.

I understand business well. I chose to work more and keep my price affordable so everyone could afford my services. I did not get rich this way, I wore out my body instead.

posted on Dec, 17 2013 @ 01:06 PM
Today our Prime Minister, Elio Di Rupo, stated in an interview with Knack that these GAS-fines are being abused by some cities. I don't know what that's worth but it's a good signal. He says that mostly youths are being targeted for stuff they didn't really do wrong and calls out for local lawmakers to let kids just be kids. So he asks cities to review their position towards some of these offences. Let's hope they kindly follow his advise.

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