03/02/2010

It's not Death Wish and you're not Charles Bronson

David Cameron's latest tabloid appeasing wheeze is to say that burglars leave their human rights at the door when they enter someone's house.  Wurrgh!  Tough, huh?  You could imagine him squinting a steely-eyed hundred yard stare as he said that, while chewing on a matchstick and growling.  Until you saw his stupid chubby posh face.

Predictably, the tabloids, never normally given to the abandonment of nuance in favour of the unrealistic cramming of everything into a simplified black and white worldview, love it.  'More please, Mr Cameron' says inaptly named John Gaunt.



He goes on:
I have to agree because I have been saying exactly the same thing in my Sun column and on the radio for the last five long years.
Which gives us an idea of where Cameron got the idea for this latest bit of old rubbish.

The law as it stands already allows you to defend yourself and your family from an intruder, right up to killing the sod.  That's provided, of course, that the force you've used is 'reasonable'.  This is purposely vague so it can cover different eventualities.  If you walk into your front room investigating a mysterious noise and you're confronted with a carving knife brandishing maniac in a boiler suit and a Shatner mask, it's perfectly reasonable to beat him into a coma where he stands with a sawn off hockey stick.  If you're greeted with the vision of a terrified eight stone jonesing smack addict trying desperately to claw his way back out of the window he came in, it's probably not reasonable to set about his spine with a lead pipe.

In the picture home-made justice advocates paint for us, there's always a dangerous maniac in the front room.  But confronting an intruder is an incredibly rare occurrence.  If by some outside chance that happens to you, you're far more likely to encounter someone trying to get money for drugs who didn't know anyone was in than a machete wielding psychopath after your kids. 

If these Punisher-fantasising eejits got their own way, the law would be amended to assume that it's appropriate to treat every intruder as if they're a mask-wearing slasher who will silently stalk us through the woods as we run, screaming, until we finally trip - if we don't at the very least run him through with a railing and shoot massive amounts of electricity through it. 

However, if by any chance they were confronted by anyone even remotely physically threatening in their house in real life rather than in their ego-affirming fantasies, I guarantee you that most of these brave advocates of home-made justice would cower in the corner and make a puddle, sobbing about being left alone and please take anything you want but please don't hurt me.

If they walked in on an eight stone smack addict who can barely hold his hands steady enough to throw a punch though - well, now you're talking.  When you're not in obvious physical danger it's much easier to be brave.  Get the red-hot calipers, love.  I've just pulled him back through the window by his ankles and gaffer taped him to a chair.

If burglars really did have to leave their human rights at the door, what we'd end up with is a situation where the people who need to be subdued with force were no more likely to be physically confronted than they are now, but those who don't need it were beaten to within an millimetre of their lives and set on fire to satisfy some inadequate's fantasy of restorative justice.  And I'm not even going to bother starting about people who'd deal with personal grudges by using horrific violence and pretending their victim had entered the house uninvited.

Of course, David Cameron knows this.  He doesn't actually mean what he says about burglars leaving their human rights at the door.  He's just cynically playing to the gallery by parroting stupid tabloid crime fantasies.  Again.  Any new law he introduced would be a reworded version of the current one that's spun in a different way, with 'grossly disproportionate' taking the place of 'unreasonable' it seems.  Whoop de doo.  One subjective and vague adjective replaced with another.  A triumph of empty bleating to trick morons.  John Gaunt wants more please.

I think he'll get it.

2 comments:

Helen Highwater said...

Every comment Gaunt (sic) says is followed by "String 'em up!" He's very creepy.

Then again, I'd like to see him exerting reasonable force. He'd be out of puff just raising his arms.

Andrew Bartlett said...

Isn't there a sub-genre of horror films in which some kids, or even petty criminals, break into a house and end up being tortured and murdered by the resident psychopath. Even in these films, which aren't particularly liberal or morally complex, it is clear who the villain is, the pretext pf unlawful entry or not.

When the Tories watch these films, they must be cheering on the murderer.