August 16, 2011


Diary of August 15, 2011 (James Bowman)

The headline news in the London Daily Telegraph over the weekend read: "Young thugs 'should fear the police' says David Cameron's new crime adviser." Gosh, ya think? Who is this "new crime adviser" with a gift for stating the obvious? He turns out to be none other than our own Bill Bratton, former head of the Boston, New York and Los Angeles police forces, who has been spoken of as a candidate for the vacant position of head of the London Metropolitan Police.

Speaking in New York, Mr Bratton, 63, said police forces should be more assertive in their dealings with offenders, leaving no doubt that crime would always meet a firm response. "You want the criminal element to fear them, fear their ability to interrupt their own ability to carry out criminal behaviour, and arrest and prosecute and incarcerate them," he said. "In my experience, the younger criminal element don't fear the police and have been emboldened to challenge the police and effectively take them on." Some critics believe that British forces have been cowed by threats of legal action and a lack of political support for robust policing. Mr Bratton said officers should leave no doubt that they were ready and willing to use force when required. "What needs to be understood is that police are empowered to do certain things -- to stop, to talk, to frisk on certain occasions, to arrest if necessary, to use force," he said.

Not exactly controversial stuff, you might think. But in Britain, it appears, it is -- and for the same reason I mentioned in my last post about discipline in schools, namely the fear of fear. On that occasion I argued, as I take Mr Bratton to be arguing here, that fear -- also known as "respect" -- is the foundation of good discipline. This kind of healthy fear is not the same as abject terror nor even, I would argue, the sort of insecurity we all feel before arbitrary fate, since the fear I mean, if properly engendered, carries with it a certain confidence that good behavior has nothing to fear. But your modern progressive mind is absolutist about fear. Indeed, the progressive project often seems to me to start from the assumption that it is the function of government, as of morality and decency, to abolish fear.

That's close to it in a nutshell

Posted by at August 16, 2011 6:52 AM

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