Thursday, June 28, 2007

A sign of the times

Not on our main beat, but certainly a sign of the times – the story of a traffic warden now fighting for his life in hospital after he was assaulted while preparing a parking ticket for a pick-up (pictured – centre of pic) delivering a wreath to the wake of a soldier killed in Basra.

One is always supposed to deplore violence, but I have absolutely no sympathy for this man. There comes a time when the only response possible to blind, malevolent bureaucracy is violence. I have felt very close to violence myself in similar situations. Local authorities have been milking motorists for years – often acting illegally – turning the valid and necessary exercise of traffic regulation into a cynical money-making exercise, relying on brute force to impose their will.

That is always the end result of unresponsive government, whether at local, national or European level. You can get away with petty oppression for so long – the ovine population is generally very tolerant (or submissive) - but there comes a point when people crack. Often, it is over minor things – unrelated to any particular issue. The violence is then completely disproportionate, and easily condemned. But that is the way things happen.

Of course, the authorities will be squeaking with indignation about the "unprovoked" attack on a "public servant" – aka tax collector – and the attackers (one of whom, it seems, has been arrested) will, undoubtedly, turn out to be low life scum. But it is the authorities, as much as anyone else, who are responsible for putting this man in hospital. Before this is over, there will be many more.

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