Friday, 23 September 2011

London's Burning (Well It Was...)

And so I'm back, from outer space (not technically, but I have been away getting married and stuff like that). Sorry for the absence, but apparently spewing forth my bilious feelings about the world whilst sitting on a beach with my brand new wife (not that I have another, older version) wouldn't necessarily be in harmony with the loving feel-good feelings I was reliably informed were to be present on the honeymoon. So the laptop stayed at home. You may now be thinking that writing a non-commercial blog for three men and a tortoise called Alan must be a better business model than it appears if I've been on honeymoon for the best part of two months. Alas, I merely got out of the swing after a normal length retreat and have spent many days since thinking how I must blog, but simply couldn't be bothered.

Perhaps I became apathetic, or maybe there was too much to get into. So I've picked a couple of things that irked me and split them down into a couple of posts. First off, I watched London burn and then watched the police come in for more "damned if they do and damned if they don't" abuse. Yes the riots lasted a while, but we rely on policing by co-operation not by force. We have shown in war zones the world around that escalation is rarely the answer to violence. Rolling armoured vehicles down Oxford Street sends out a message that violence is expected and the ante has been upped - you bring a bigger gun, so will I. No fool would rob a convenience store in America without a gun because all the shopkeepers have them and all the police have them. Therefore all criminals have guns - it is self-defeating. Look at Northern Ireland, look at Iraq. Policing those situations is about damage limitation, restrained policing and intelligent and targeted use of force. I thought they did alright.

I then watched as "human rights groups" (read: mindless morons with no better idea than to jump on the latest fools' bandwagon) and friends of the lawless complained at the 'unduly harsh' sentences passed down on rioters. I watched them castigate judges who sentenced within the law - there are guideline sentences with discretion for increasing or decreasing sentences towards the upper and lower limits according to aggravating or mitigating factors. It's pretty simple: When say, someone causes actual bodily harm in a scuffle and is of otherwise good character and was severely provoked and shows contrition, this mitigates and so the average sentence is lowered. If someone commits the same crime but with malice aforethought and shows no remorse and rather considers this to be jolly good sport, this aggravates the circumstance, so the average sentence increases. All within the limits set in law.

Why people couldn't understand the aggravating nature of the backdrop of joining in with rioting, looting, thuggery, arson etc and doing one's best to disturb the peace, eludes me. But so does much about what people like this think. I imagine some of the sentences will be decreased on appeal, but I thought it showed how our justice system is meant to work. It was too large an incident to be prevented by police (the optimum result), so it was contained, recorded and those responsible as far as could be discerned felt the full force of the law. They weren't indiscriminately battered or shot with baton rounds. The police didn't Tiananmen Square their asses. They committed a crime, they were apprehended, they were sentenced. Like the law says is meant to happen. Next.

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