a blog with cultural bulimia.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

On why I'm against the referendum...

...and why I will cancel my vote.

From today's The Financial Times: Brazil's gun ban referendum misses its target.

"As an exercise in particip-ative democracy, it seems badly flawed. Brazilians will vote in a mandatory referendum tomorrow to decide the question, "Should the sale of firearms and ammunition be prohibited in Brazil?"

There should be little doubt about the answer. Gunshot wounds kill more than 107 Brazilians every day, more than traffic accidents and fewer only than heart and brain disorders.


The question posed is confusing. Those who are against guns must vote Yes (doubly counter-intuitively, Yes is number two on the electronic voting machines) and those for them, No (number one). A daily newspaper, O Estado de S. Paulo, recently put the question to 100 people in the centre of São Paulo: 29 of them got it wrong (that is, they voted against the ban when they were in favour of it, and vice versa).


Instead of drawing on the evidence, the Yes campaign initially relied on singers, actors and models issuing vague exhortations along the lines of "give peace a chance". That has alienated many potential supporters. Raimundo Fagner, an ageing pop star, struck a chord when he said: 'Whenever a load of artists start talking, you know there's something wrong. They're a bunch of sheep who say what they're told to and don't think about anything'"