Saturday, 13 August 2011

Post Mortem

Well, well, well. Even I am surprised at the way the riot aftermath has been handled. The Press have run and re-run images and CCTV footage of the individuals responsible for looting and criminal damage, shaming most of them very effectively and sending a clear message to them all about the way we, the people, feel about their behaviour.

I got a lot of feedback, as expected, from my last post and a few of you did not agree with my opinion but that's fine. It is, after all, only my opinion. However, I received emails and messages from young people; teenagers and school children, who agreed totally with my rant. Some of them feel embarrassed to belong to the same generation, social class or geographical area as the idiots that torched and stole their way through last week.

The Government and the police got together and decided to name and shame all those that could be identified. The newspapers listed them, along with their charges and sentences, and the TV news made spectacles of them bumping into lamp-posts and hiding their faces, as they tried to avoid the kind of mass publicity that would ruin their lives.

Not one person has moaned about the 'rights' of these thieves; nobody has complained, as far as I know, about their names and faces being publicised for the whole country (the world in fact) to see. And that makes me feel very glad. Would a Labour Government have allowed this? Who knows... but it worked. It created a contrast for the people involved in the trouble, so that they could measure themselves and their actions against rising public opinion, which was hugely against them. We have, in effect, done exactly what was required of us - we put our badly behaved hooligan kids on the naughty step and told them to think about what they've done. We have commited our little criminals to the media stocks.

But, there are a few anomalies. Those that did not 'fit the bill' for this type of feral behaviour -  like the millionaire's daughter who acted as the getaway driver for a gang of looters. she was obviously bored of daddy's money and wanted a bit of low-life excitement. Then there was the out-of-work musician who called the cops 'facists' because they arrested him. He'd stolen a musical instrument. Or the ballerina who decided to steal while it was possible, and then gave herself up when she saw her face being publicly advertised as part of a rogue's gallery. She'd asked herself why she'd done it.

This wasn't all about the usual suspects. This was about opportunism and spleen-venting against authority, as if the individual cop on the street had anything to do with University fee hikes, or unemployment levels... or the price of a ballerina's clothing.

Among the unusual suspects, we had the real hardcore problem; arsonists, serial criminals and murderers. They are going to face justice very soon and when their faces are revealed - especially the ones who mugged the injured student - they will understand that something is changing in this society. People are no longer going to allow them to rule the roost.

For mowing down three innocent young men who were protecting their community, there must be a very long sentence, without parole - please. And for murdering an ageing man who was unilaterally protesting against the behaviour of these louts as they mobbed around him, the individual(s) responsible should never see the outside world again.

We need to examine the underlying problems of course, but for now, I think those affected directly by this need to be punished properly.


Thursday, 11 August 2011

It's a hard life

Hands up if you are one of the few people in this country who use phrases like 'disenchanted youth' or 'nothing else to do'... or 'they have no prospects', when you talk about the individuals, some as young as eleven, who 'rioted' and stole from honest hard-working business people?

Good for you I say. And jolly good for those of you who revel in the 'they have rights' syndrome of society in which the youth of today are allowed, by merit of the goody-two-shoes of the European courts and other weak-minded people, to haunt the streets, mug the injured, throw stones, bottles and other debris at police officers, and torch shops and homes. Well done for complaining bitterly and endlessly about the 'heavy-handed' behaviour of law enforcement when faced with hundreds of feral, braying teenagers, hell-bent on causing injury or death. Let them stand there and take it. Let them leave their batons in their belts because that, surely, is sending out the right signal, isn't it?

We now have a dangerous situation in this society. So dangerous in fact that I fully expect to receive the usual number of threatening, poisonous remarks that I get from time to time when I vent about these things. I'll get them from people who fully support an individual's right to violently protest and let the authorities know who's boss - the same people who hate authority and loathe the way others live. Our societal situation is no different to that of a household, where parents (or in a lot of cases, single mums) have no control whatsoever over their children. There is no discipline, no moral guidance and absolutely no punishment or consequences for bad actions.

There are hundreds of thousands of disaffected people in this country. There are millions or people who can't make ends meet and who live in deprived, God-forsaken places, but not all of them behave like this. Not every single mum, or single dad has lost complete control of their off-spring either... but there is a seed of this problem in that kind of family set-up. A lot of our problems stem from a total lack of micro-Government within the home.

I saw a large, mouthy woman have a go at a man on the news yesterday. She endorsed the point I now make here. She said to the reporter that kids 'are treated like scum, so they behave like scum... what do you expect?' It was her universal excuse for looting, arson, violence and murder on the streets. It was a statement that would never in a million years, provoke the response 'Yes, you are absolutely right, and here is the solution'.

Then a man appeared and put his opinion forward, stating that what she had said was no argument and couldn't possibly justify what was going on. Interestingly, her short, fat eleven year old boy started to remonstrate with the man, as if he had a functional statement to make about it! The mother then verbally attacked the man, saying it was 'his ignorance that had led to this problem' and that he should 'jog on'.

Here's my point. I am from a council estate; I come from one of the hardest places in the country, where violence and theft was very common, and expected. I grew up in a working-class environment, not a poor one, because in those days there were jobs for everyone, but I still had a rough time of it. I suffered all of the stuff that child psychologists and social workers would label 'high risk' for bad behaviour... but I also had something else. I had a healthy fear and respect of the police and authority. I was given certain tools to enable me to see right from wrong, and to be properly scared if I did anything illegal. I open doors for the elderly and females (shamefully sexist, I know). I say please and thank you and feel guilty when I don't exercise manners when expected of me. Simple tools are required so that children do not become wild animals; strong, disciplined family environments are critical. I don't mean abusive families.

The Press has been to blame for a lot of the disrespect shown to police these days. Whenever a cop makes a mistake, or gets stupid and over-steps the mark, it gets inflated into a series of hysterical headlines that carry on for days, or weeks, so that Joe Public is in no doubt about who the real enemy is. The death of an innocent person at the hands of the authorities is an outrage, there's no question, but it might be worth considering under what circumstances some of those deaths came about. Was there a life-threatening situation in play... like a riot? Was a weapon being brandished? Are we saying that cops aren't human and that they can't feel frightened for their own lives?

If you don't agree with me, then what's your solution? Don't just attack my writing, because that's dumber than burning a shop for the sake of it. Tell me what YOU would do to sort this out and how it makes things better for us all.

I believe we need to return to values that are intrinsic to a safe, decent society. We need discipline; proper punishment for serious law-breakers. Let's bring back National Service. We can keep our armed forces up to strength and give these kids a place to go, money in their pockets and a sense of duty and commitment. It's not the cure-all, I know, because there were students, a teaching assistant and many other non-deprived individuals involved in the stealing spree - it wasn't just 'council-house scum', but it would begin to change how our children behave.

Three people died as the direct result of the violence that went on further north. These men were protecting their community. I found it interesting that while Turks and Pakistanis... and other 'minority' groups got themselves together to defend their homes and businesses, a twenty-odd year old moron ranted about how all the Polish were 'taking our jobs'. This guy, who also appeared on the news, looked like he'd never worked in his life and would never go on to do anything useful in society. The Poles do the jobs that Brits won't do, so his whole logic is flawed. He's repeating a rhetoric that is off-the-shelf racism and hatred. Thankfully, the white English didn't dishonour themselves because they too began to stand up for their streets. This, I believe, is partly why things have quietened down.

One man is shot by police in London. It's tragic but there must be a reason why an officer felt threatened enough to open up. If there isn't a good excuse, then he will face the consequences, but anyone carrying a gun should expect to risk being shot, let's not have any mindless arguments about that! A few days later and this country is in crisis; hundreds of businesses will either go under, or will face hefty insurance bills - or will move away from the very places they were serving and providing jobs to. A father tries to resuscitate his dying son, whose been mown down by a car, and we still have individuals whose mentality is so warped they can find sick reasons for it all to have happened. Even the family of the man shot by police had stated that the riots have nothing to do with their son's death.

We need to respect the rights of our children but we must stop telling them they have rights. Parents must start to show strength and deliver punishment so that kids learn there are consequences for their actions. They must also deliver praise and support. Society must create the biggest naughty step imaginable or we are all surely going to Hell.


Monday, 1 August 2011

A dark place

There is a sick feeling of no control or recollection of what’s about to happen. I’m being taken away somewhere where I can’t escape and where no one will find me. 

There are no land marks or road signs here. There is nothing. I used to scream for help but no one ever heard me or helped me so I don’t scream anymore. I can feel my body sliding out of control underneath me; soon I will have no authority of the muscles or bones that normally obey my every command. 

I’ve decided I’m not going to fight it anymore. Instead I will wait. It might be minutes, it might be hours or it could even be days sitting here alone in the darkness until the clouds start to lift releasing beams of aesthetic light through the deep smog that hangs slightly above a path. I don’t know where the path starts or how far along it I am but I know if I carry on walking soon I will be back.

This was written by Stephanie Smith. She's describing epilepsy. She's describing her fears. I thought some of you might like to pay her blog a visit. She is young and she needs empathy and support from others like her, so please be kind to her.