Monday, April 04, 2005

A wonderful welcome

It was with dismay I read the following in the Times on Saturday:

"A student on a working holiday in Britain has been forced into hiding after being terrorised by mobs who mistook her for Maxine Carr. "

What a great way of showing the British qualities of restraint and respect for the rule of law. Quite apart from the fact that there was obviously mistaken identity here - that any mob would behave in such a manner towards anyone defies belief. We have a judicial process in this country for one very good reason. That is, it removes emotional excess from our system - it dispassionately reviews the facts of the case and sentences appropriately.

Why do these people show such disregard for the rule of law by their actions? Maxine Carr was put in prison for the crimes she committed. She has served her time, and now is entitled to enjoy the benefits of a free citizen, like any other resident in this country. Whether we feel the punishment is justified or not, that is the system we have.

A society cannot work without recognised and accepted laws. If we are against the laws, we campaign to change them in public. A mob mentality does not achieve anything. And in this case, it is positively counter-productive. The actions of the people of Cheadle suggest that obeying the law is something that you can pick and choose. We like this, so we'll follow it, but we don't like that, so it goes. That's no way to run a society. Indeed, society simply cannot run on this basis. The people of Cheadle should be ashamed of themselves.