Wednesday, 15 July 2009

I don't know what the answer is, but this isn't it.

From Times Online: (Full article).

"Seizing children’s mobile phones and bicycles could deter them from getting into trouble, according to Chris Grayling, the Shadow Home Secretary."

Well, if by "could deter them from getting into trouble", Chris Grayling means "will magnify young people's already considerable distrust of 'law' and 'justice' and foster a generation whose principle attitude with respect to law is 'how do I not get caught, next time'?", then he is probably right.

I'm old enough to remember a time when teachers had such power over pupils: powers that they could use without any justification, and without fear of challenge. That's how it was: they were despots and the 'establishment' (which included most parents) supported and indeed encouraged that form of 'discipline.' How effective was this, frankly, authoritarian approach? Well, this is how it was for me:

It generated a feeling of contempt for petty authority that has persisted to this day. I simply despise anyone who assumes the right to interfere with my life in some meddlesome kind of way. I fight those fuckers tooth and nail. This of course is a good thing but it is not the 'good thing' that teachers were hoping for.

What is not a good thing is that this was probably not the general response. From what I see now, it seems that many people seem to have regarded that approach as exemplary - if you don't like the way people behave, rob them.

There were a number of comments to the article when I read it, and most of them made sense to me, but they all missed a crucial point. It is the junior version of 'behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace'. That is: it is a catch-all which can be used to justify any kind of interference in your activities. I simply do not like 'offences' which depend on someone's opinion of a person's behaviour. The capacity for injustice is just too great.

No comments: