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Theodore Dalrymple
Leniency and Its Costs « Back to Story

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In burning what he could have looted, Mr Thompson is atypical of the London rioters. Indeed, it could be argued his 'burn, baby, burn' initiative was the work of the purist and indicates a higher revolutionary consciousness than his more materially inclined companions. Or perhaps he was a sociopathic thug who found pleasure in starting the blaze.

It's so hard to tell what's what nowadays. The 'heroine of Hackney', an aging black lady with a stick, was hailed by the U.K. press for her courage in shouting at local yoof to stop looting family-owned businesses. That this rather endearing, failed cocaine smuggler ( she'd served a 6 years sentence for her own youthful folly in this respect ) would have rather they attacked the police station or the town hall and her lament was not for their violence but its targets, was conveniently overlooked by a press corps hungry for heroes.

In contrast, a peaceful demonstration a week before the riots to protest the closure as part of the government cuts of a local youth centre received no publicity at all. Such an event, lacking as it did stabbings, shootings or overt hard drug consumption, was not deemed newsworthy. Similarly, suggestions the Metropolitan Police deliberately allowed the disturbances to escalate as their own subtle protest against cutbacks didn't make the transition from street level to the national media. Instead, a fury of post-riot righteousness was unleashed on a procession of dozy kids caught in possession of looted goods or who'd made over-excitable comments on social media outlets. Sentences far in excess of the guidelines were handed down by a judiciary apparently impressed by calls for retribution by eminent politicians. Offenders became victims in some eyes and, as no journalist hung around the grim council estates of inner London to gauge their reactions, local communities kept their opinions to themselves. Clean cut volunteers from the burbs cleaned up token debris for the cameras, the drug gangs returned to their corners, and London life returned to its kind of normal.

So far this summer, only public sector workers, including policemen unhappy at their lot and the prohibition on their taking strike action, have demonstrated on London streets and residents hope it's not just the incessant rain that prevents more serious disturbances. Four fifths of the electorate didn't vote in the London mayoral contest and nobody quite knows what'll happen next in this vibrant, cosmopolitan but horribly divided city. All is quiet on the surface but it's difficult to escape a feeling that the root causes - whatever they may be - of the 2011 riots remain and are ready to boil over at the first provocation.
Yes, we do wonder why you are conservative.

You might think that England (or the UK) is liberal or soft on crime, but even softer and liberal (or lenient) countries such as Sweden,Norway and Denmark have less crime and repeat offenders than harder then then UK. And, non-liberal USA with its hard on crime approach was much more crime than Sweden, Denmark and Norway and even soft old England. I wonder why?

It seems that the more conservative you are the more crime ridden you are. Surely this can't be right!
Reminds me of the one about the two social workers who come across a man lying in the gutter, beaten and bleeding. One says to the other: "We have to find the man who did this. He needs help."

It is the liberal mind who will see that incarceration has not cured this guy of criminality and conclude, "Then incarceration doesn't work," rather than, "If we throw him in prison at least he won't be doing any more crimes."
Seamus, you are a prat. To try and minimise acts of arson but some sort of ill defined moral equivalence with Murdoch is intellectually and morally bankrupt.

As for prison, the leftists (they are not actually liberal in any real sense of the word) are right. It generally does not work.

Instead I quite seriously recommend flogging. It works. This is proven repeatedly under all possible observable and evidence based criteria. Countries such as Singapore maintain their civilised way of life through flogging criminals.

It works.

Some of those "crimes of financial exploitation" were legal. Maybe they should not have been, but they were. That's an important difference from the things Dalrymple has chosen to raise, which were always illegal. Then there are those crimes of financial exploitation that may or may not have been legal but, like the con games of old, only work because they take advantage of the stupidity and greed of the marks. Immoral, often is and more often should be illegal, but not too hard for honest people to avoid. Anyone scammed by Bernie Madoff was in it for the madly high returns. Just a con writ large. Anyone done in by unpayable mortgage, unless unpayable explicitly because they also lost a job, was foolish rather than a crime victim.

"destruction of communities for profit". I have no idea what that means.

"the ruthless pitting of groups and classes against each other in a cynical effort to squeeze the last bit of profit from people". I am not sure anyone in the profit business is doing that, since it is counterproductive of the moneymaking end. I certainly can think of no examples that meet that. The really cynical capitalists would deny the existence of classes and groups. The only people who profit from acknowledging them are on the left, and so they are the ones who do so. Beyond that, worth noting that classes and groups arise pretty organically in society and it is their nature to bump heads from time to time.

As to raising Murdoch, how did he do any of the things you raise here? He might well be a crook in some sense but I don't see how the hacking scandal or any underhanded moves to take over media outlets had the effects you cited. Or was his name just a red herring?
Jerym: Precisely right - when you have no argument you change the subject. I've seen it happen over and over again. You can't have a rational discussion with someone on the left. It's why there are so few of them with any brains, and why so many of them are only in it for the money.
I expect we shall have the usual crop of "Yeah but what about--"replies to this post just because it doesn`t mention and condemn every other similar issue .
If you agree with his opinions on this particular problem say so if not answer them and don`t bring up other aspects of the general situation that is dragging this country down.
Stick to the point.
Alena Hromádková, Prague April 25, 2012 at 4:47 AM
Very true and very sad.Imagine the sort of criminals used by political mafioso to check ordinary citizens in C/E Europe.The Austro-Hungarian monarchy suported economic liberalism but was strict in fields of public/individual morality. Now confused and impoverished lower/middle classes long for the old cultural patterns. The confusion is very well exploited by the experienced communist public opinion makers, I can see.After 1989 they gave many lectures to us about the British tolerancy and began to use the sort of vocabulary in very efficient way in the context of unprecedented plundering of their countries...
Et satan conduit le bal!
The phrase, "penological liberals", is another term for left wing ideologues. However, whatever one calls them they are people who find it much easier to fall back on a pre-determined leftist ideology that supplies meaningless solutions to all social problems than to face reality. And the reality is that only people who want to be reformed, can be reformed. Prisons are not meant to reform law breakers but to protect society from criminals. When will the lefties wake up?
"And they wonder why we’re conservative"

Really? Being against crime is a conservative v. liberal issue? It seems that people like Mr./Dr. Dalrymple only extends his outrage only towards those who commit crimes against property or persons on a small scale. I look in vain for examples of his umbrage at crimes of financial exploitation, destruction of communities for profit, and the ruthless pitting of groups and classes against each other in a cynical effort to squeeze the last bit of profit from people.

Yeah, Mr. Thompson's a ruthless, selfish, opportunistic a-hole, but everyone can agree on his crime. How's Mr. Dalrymple feeling about his old pal Mr. Murdoch?
Much as you might wish it were not it was ever thus
Theodore, have you run across the book by Jonathan Haidt, titled Righteous Minds? It's a stellar book, written by a former liberal psychology professor who has discovered that there is some merit in conservative values and positions. He's not switched camps, but he can see that we sometimes have a point. And he goes into why liberals, in general, don't understand conservatives or our reasoning. The thing that matters most to them is that nobody should be harmed. So far, so good. But harm that has already occurred is to them water under the bridge, so they're inclined to be against punishment.
In England's former North American colonies (i.e., the United States) we have much the same problem. Except that in the U.S. we have criminal justice experts, judges, and "overcrowded" prisons to thank for this. After all, there are so many "alternatives" to incarceration available that work so much better at "rehabilitating" these poor misunderstood souls.
The answer, of course, is the gallows, or perhaps an offshore prison in China.
our current minister of justice (an Orwellian term unknown to British government until that of Prime Minister Blair)

And unknown to everyone else until today. There's a Secretary of State for Justice, but no Minister of Justice.