Sunday, 27 September 2009

Britain freezes over

In Hell, according to Dante, the lowest depth of the innermost circle of the Inferno is reserved for traitors.

Even the shades of those who have betrayed some duty or trust are discriminated between and graded in a diverse and degraded hierarchy of evil.

From bad to worst it goes:

Betrayers of kinsfolk;

Betrayers of polity, nation or state;

Betrayers of guests;

Betrayers of lords and benefactors.

Why be hung up – ha ha! – on the words of some homophobic foreign Papist whilst sitting here with mild backache in the sunlit uplands of the enlightened Twenty-First Century after the birth of some dead white Zionist?

Why, indeed, when I myself surely wouldn’t make it out of Hell’s reception room, if lucky, and would probably be roasting and toasting and enshrined in a tomb a bit further Downstairs myself?

Because some truths are universal, and they’re often expressed in literature, and they’re not all about nice stuff like getting married eventually.

The ancients and medieval folk weren’t just down on sin because they’d been brainwashed by the patriarchal military-workshop complex and lacked community organisers: they did it because thousands of generations of rural and city life had taught them that certain attitudes of mind generate behaviour that harms individuals and the polity a t large.

And it’s still true.

Via the Ranting Penguin and Julia amongst others, here’s real-life sin from fewer web pages than you have digits on one hand.

Betrayers of kinsfolk;

Gang torment woman 'sat in dark'

A woman who died inside her burning car with her disabled daughter would sit in the dark listening to the gang that tormented them, an inquest heard.


Despite police requests, Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council had no record of the problems, the hearing was told.

Council officer Tim Butterworth, who was responsible for dealing with anti-social behaviour, said he had "no concerns" with the situation.

Rugged individualism can be fine on some levels, but I think that at some deep level even the most doctrinaire Objectivists and natural-rights libertarians (who tend to be hyper-ethical in their private lives and public dealings, despite my newfound conservative prejudices) believe in something like common humanity – we may not owe a living to our healthy fellow-men, but in some ways they are our kin: and as such do not deserve to be left alone to be tormented. If this isn’t kin betraying kin, then it’s close enough for the authorities to be damnable, if not actually damned.

Betrayers of polity, nation or state;

Anti-social behaviour 'not police job'

A senior police officer told the inquest into the deaths of a family terrorised by a gang of youths that it was not the responsibility of police to tackle anti-social behaviour.


Earlier Ms Davison, assistant deputy coroner for Leicestershire and Rutland, asked whether Mr Butterworth remembered a meeting with a police officer.

She said: "The police officer wanted an anti-social behaviour order and as the best course of action to issue an anti-social behaviour warning. "He appears to want action from the council and he appears to want you to take action. Do you remember this?"

Mr Butterworth replied: "I don't think we have that statement anywhere."

Is Britain better or worse off for these ‘authorities?’

Betrayers of guests;

Hundreds of children are going missing from Britain's care homes and foster families each year, many falling victim to violent and sexual abuse, prostitution and drug addiction.


She tempered her unhappiness at a new foster home by drinking a lot of White Lightning cider, ran away and spent time in a children's home. The situation was exacerbated by sexual abuse from a carer, her rape by an older man who liked to prey on vulnerable children's home girls, and dropping out of school without GCSEs.

If fostered children and children in care aren’t guests, then what in heaven’s name are they?

Betrayers of lords and benefactors.

At the inquest into the pair's deaths yesterday, Superintendent Steve Harrod, head of criminal justice at Leicestershire Police, acknowledged that the criminal justice system was set up to avoid sending juveniles to prison.

He said police officers were only allowed to issue warnings to young troublemakers unless their behaviour was judged to be serious.

"I'm not sure if people know but low-level anti-social behaviour is mainly the responsibility of the council"

Supt Harrod suggested that officers got "frustrated with not being able to do some things".

"From my personal experience, if a juvenile goes into detention, they are likely to mix with like-minded people during their time there and they are more likely to reoffend."


For really improved outcomes, residential care and foster care need to be transformed. "Residential care needs to be top notch and that's expensive," said Wes Cuell, director of children's services at the NSPCC.

Look at your next wage slip or, if self-employed, your next tax return. Compare the top lines and bottom line and note the difference. Remember how residential carers, foster carers, police, social workers and local authority antisocial behaviour officers are paid, and by whom.

Who then are these armies’ lords and benefactors, if not us?

Now, we are supposed to endure endless taxes and regulations and criminal records checks and dutifully put our ticks in ethnicity boxes of various forms and scrawl X’s into other boxes twice a decade to change not even the guard at Buckingham Palace. We have to dawdle and daydream in pubs until our huddled friends come in from the rain after a cigarette, and we have to watch our soldiers’ coffined homecomings from their just and much-needed but under-strength and ill-supplied service overseas.

And we have to mind our Ps and Q’s and be lectured when we vote for the wrong people by the shamans of the very tribe that abolished punishment in the first place.

I can see why treachery is the worst sin of all in Dante’s imagination.

To take the name of kinsman: of protector; to become both public servant and recipient of public funds; to assume the rank and titles and respect and uniforms of guardians and to inexpertly wield the power of legitimate force and to fail on every level of your duty is sin, pure and simple.

It causes harm to the human family of your neighbours, to the guests in the institutions of child protection, to the country’s peace and prosperity, and to the very people who pay for your comfortable living.But for now; it’s someone else who’s being punished.


GoodnightVienna said...

Striking and thoughtful NNW, thanks for engaging my brain this morning.

Anonymous said...

Kill. Them. All.

Brian, follower of Deornoth.

JuliaM said...

Outstanding post!

INCOMING!!!!!!! said...


spot on, triple A.

North Northwester said...

Goodnight Vienna. - thank you here, as well as over at your place.
Betrayal seems to hurt more, doesn't it, in some ways than overt and honest enemy action? The IRA, the Soviets, the Islamists are or were obvious enemies whose programmes we understood and against whom the authorities could take varyingly resolute stands. But when the authorities themselves fail, and we bleed, and someone's children bleed and at our own expense, then it's adding insult to injury somehow.

Anonymous. Welcome, and thanks for your comment. I'm going for voting this gang our and pressuring their replacements to do a good job or lose next time. Admittedly, mine is a very long shot, but still, I'm too old for the barricades...

Thank you, Julia - always glad to pour gloom around after the Sunday Funnies ;-)

Hello again Incoming, and thanks. Who know, I may have another good thought before November. Lord knows, there are enough betrayals and idiocies to be going along with.

Rob said...

"A senior police officer told the inquest into the deaths of a family terrorised by a gang of youths that it was not the responsibility of police to tackle anti-social behaviour."

The problem here is that this allows te police to define almost any criminal act short of murder by youths as "anti-social behaviour".

As noted elsewhere, this daughter's son was assaulted with an iron bar, imprisoned at knifepoint, there were arson attempts and missiles were constantly thrown at the woman's house. All of this, according to the police, was "anti-social behaviour".

Crime's falling, don't you know. I suppose that if you don't investigate crime, it never happened.

Rob said...

BTW it IS the police's job to tackle anti-social behaviour. Years ago it was tackled by an informal alliance of citizens and the local bobby, who caught kids early and dealt with it without criminalising them.

The police of course now go mental if any citizen even looks at a misbehaving kid, so they have assumed the whole burden for themselves. They now claim that it is not their responsibility.

This is what happens when the State makes itself the sole source of authority and then through laziness or ideology refuses to exercise it.

North Northwester said...

Hi Rob, and welcome.

I don't think your 'BTW' is secondary at all.
Once the police exercised real authority - backed by respect from the general population - and they didn't seem to need data-banks and psych profiling and pre-crime and firearms officers that aren't allowed to shoot if it's dangerous to themselves. Such police were of and from the people whom they served: and not some kind of warrior-priest caste set in instant judgement over disarmed and voiceless peasants.
There's a connection here - whether we express it in liberal/libertarian-tinted terminology of State versus individuals on the one hand, or Burkean 'small platoons' conservatism on the other, the police have been drawn into the huge bureaucratic machine - and lost discretion and a sense of proportion that came from being domiciled in and of the neighbourhoods or towns in which they worked.

If 'small is beautiful' ever needed a poster villain, then it's the senior officer who said this:
"From my personal experience, if a juvenile goes into detention, they are likely to mix with like-minded people during their time there and they are more likely to reoffend."

Does he really think that jail's no good, or is it just something he learned to believe from the Guardian?

DJ said...

I'm pretty sure it was Sir Robert Peel himself who claimed the police should be 'citizens in uniform' - in other words, the only distinction between the police and Joe Citizen was that the police could devote themselves full-time to law enforcement. Modern day cops raising the spectre of vigilantism would have been as strange to our ancestors as it would to us if Jamie Oliver insisted only trained chefs should be allowed to cook stuff.

Indeed, I recall the case of an armed bank robbery in the 1900s where pursuing police officers borrowed firearms from passers-by.


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