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21st Century crimes?


Hold up! Before you read on, please read this...

This post was published more than 14 years ago

I keep old posts on the site because I often enjoy reading old content on other people's sites. It can be interesting to see how views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have, to put it mildly, mellowed.

I'm not a believer in brushing the past under the carpet. I've written some offensive rubbish on here in the past: deleting it and pretending it never happened doesn't change that. I hope that stumbling across something that's 14 years old won't offend anyone anew, because I hope that people can understand that what I thought and felt and wrote about then is probably very different to what I think and feel and write about now. It's a relic of an (albeit recent) bygone era.

So, given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views may well have changed in the last 14 years. I have written some very silly things over the years, many of which I find utterly cringeworthy today.
  • This post might use words or language in ways which I would now consider highly inappropriate, offensive, embarrassing, or all three.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken, and embedded material might not appear properly.

Okay. Consider yourself duly warned. Read on...

From the Beeb’s article on Blair’s ludicrous ‘Respect’ laws:

For example, somebody spitting at an old lady in the street would not be prosecuted because it used too much police time and the only result was a fine.

Mr Blair accepted that on-the-spot fines for some offences reversed the principle that people were innocent until proven guilty.

But he argued: “To get on top of 21st century crime we need to accept that what works in practice, in reality on the streets, is a measure of summary powers with right of appeal alongside the traditional court processes.”

Spitting in someone’s face is a great many things, first among which must be disgusting. It is not, however, a 21st century crime. Or does Mr Blair think that this is some newly-evolved ability?

I suspect he doesn’t realise that this provides the perfect example of why legislating in this way will notThe Right Honourable Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, MP foster a culture of respect. In times gone by, people didn’t refrain from spitting at old ladies because they thought they might be prosecuted. They did it because they had respect for their elders. Now, respect for elders, and for authority, seems to have been lost in certain minorities of the community. So an authority for whom a youngster has no respect officially saying “Don’t spit in grannies’ faces or we’ll fine you” if anything provides an incentive to spit at them. It doesn’t help the matter.

Respect works two ways. Just as there are sections of the youth community who spit at grannies (something I’ve never personally seen or experience), there are equally antisocial grannies (who I’ve personally experienced, and who have hit, pushed, and shoved me in bus queues). To focus solely on the youth and try and foster respect in youth culture misses the point entirely. And to try and foster a culture through legislation is ludicrous.

And just when you thought this plan couldn’t come any further out of the tree, Mr Blair announces that he wants to reduce crime by making people homeless:

People could be evicted from their own homes for three months if they are nuisance neighbours, under a new action plan for Tony Blair’s “respect agenda”.

Eviction by court order would be a “last resort”, says the government but it could, for example, be used against students who annoy their neighbours with loud music.

Well, I guess it’s inventive, if nothing else.

This 793rd post was filed under: News and Comment.

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