Angry New Yorker

Friday, December 10, 2004
We May Be Angry, but the British Are Out of Their Minds...

As a kid I thought the British were both cool and tough. Beatles and British Empire -- guys with big mustaches in Pith helmets enduring it all. You didn't mess with a people who'd successfully resisted every invasion of the British isle, kept a stiff upper lip and had the sheer gall to fight in day-glow RED uniforms [obviously they no longer wear redcoats, but still...].

So it's with no small dismay that the Brits, as a society not individually, today appear to be a majority of ultra pacifists and pensive hand-wringers (personified perhaps a bit too Monty Pythonish by the current crop of BBC's correspondents). The Belmont Club (here) launches a scathing exegesis on the U.K.'s practice of criminally charging homeowners who've killed robbers. It's now finally, stirred up a hornet's nest of controversy in Britain. (E.g. >Dr. Ian Stephen, What To Do When Your Home is Burgled, The Scotsman, Dec. 1, 2004, here (recommending "[w]hen individuals are confronted by intruders . . . Direct contact should be avoided whenever possible. If unavoidable, the victim should adopt a state of active passivity. . . . . be careful what you say or do and give up valuables without a struggle.")

The reason this is even noteworthy here in the U.S. is no one thinks twice (well, almost no one) as to whether you have the right to use deadly force should some miscreant burst into your home during the night while your daughter's asleep in the next room and your wife is under the covers. After all, that's what pump action 12-guage shotguns are for; and why racking one is perhaps the single most distinctive sound in the gun world. It's ironic that the bedrock precept that a man's home is his inviolative castle came to us from the British when they've apparently since lost grasp of the concept, and, adding insult to injury, haven't implemented the power of the broken windows theory. (See Theodore Dalrymple, The Frivolity of Evil, available here; and more here).

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