Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Panic stations!

So far this week all I've been hearing is a sense of moral panic following last weeks disturbances, riots or whatever phrase you may care to deploy to describe what happened in England.

As I said last week here and in a few other places I have no intentions of getting into any kind of a political debate over this in part cos I know just how much exposure to our political points of view can cause irreparable damage to our friendships as well as being seriously hacked off about the rhetoric and posturing of all the major politicians over here over it.

Greed and a sense of 'got to have it all' have been raised by many commentators political, social and religious to explain in part the actions we saw.

Greed is by now means new in our society and it's history goes well back to the Bible.

It is used as a motivator for consumerism by commerce as we're encouraged to think the regular 1.6 four door automobile isn't good enough for us, we can do better and anyway don't we deserve this even if we don't really need it and sometimes there may be an opportunity cost to others, such as putting that second car on the road cos our garage isn't big enough?

Greed is not uncommon when quite literally our neighbours submit building plans that use part of OUR gardens for their OWN gain and lets not forget those politicians who took our money as tax payer for expenses that they had not in fact incurred.

It seems to me those out were little different morally in that regard.

That takes to the idea of looting and stealing as somehow shocking acts committed by the urban youth.

Let me make it clear I disagree theft and theft with any kind of menace actual or implied but in a society where others are seen to get away with it, the moral bar is lowered and in a year that has seen many powerful people caught out defrauding us and getting lenient sentences is it that surprising that such crimes do occur in the heat of disturbances?

And are these exactly new as I can't help but wonder if we hadn't had this in previous centuries and hadn't that led to the Riot Act?

While disagreeing the actions, I'm not so strongly persuaded all this can be blamed on mid twentieth century social values such as Liberalism or the Welfare State rather the disconnect between action and consequence which outside of last weeks actions has resulted in other issues across society. And often politicians fail to acknowledge themselves the connection between the actions and the consequences as much as they are entitled to make their arguments to favour of a policy. None of us can afford to just disregard each other as immaterial in the bigger plan.

The reaction to the Prison Minister's comments trying to categorize rape offences into minor and major is testimony to that.

I suppose my final musing form a moral stand point is one of disbelief that Politicians of all parties were trying to say how they had brought about decisive action who themselves were on vacation seemingly regarding the disturbances across the Capital, London, as being not sufficient reason to return while they were being dealt with by Police forces on the ground.

The perimeters are set by Parliament through with the Police fighting away through the often contradictory guidance and recommendations of previous inquiries into similar situations to keep the peace without direct political interference.If the politicians want to make life easier for policing these things, perhaps they'd care to reform the guidance using parliamentary time instead?

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