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Monday, January 19, 2004
Society to blame

We should all greet news of an alleged attack on 62-year old, wheelchair-bound physicist Stephen Hawking with horror. Horror that our barren, penny-pinching welfare state - with a budget barely above a hundred billion pounds per annum - still does not remove the harsh inequalities that make such attacks inevitable. The usual hangers and floggers on the right will no doubt take the view that our first priority must always be the victim. I agree: the poor souls who beat up this 'defenceless' man are completely innocent victims of a viciously unjust society, and it must absolutely be our priority to alleviate the economic circumstances against which their every punch was a hammer blow. Not for us the bloodthirsty caveman's desire always to 'punish' people for supposed wrongs. If the conservatives had their way, people who did this sort of thing would be put away for a long time, on the grounds that the defence of the public comes first. What better testament to their lop-sided priorities could there be? It's as if they would rather violent criminals and repeat offenders spent years behind bars than they be released and react in the natural way to their material deprivation. Make no mistake: if they could lock up everyone who is a danger to the public, they would do it. And some of these people even admit to speeding on the motorway. The hypocrisy!

It is easy to blame crimes on the people who commit them. But the real courage comes in recognising how responsible are those who fall prey to them, and in acknowledging that any 'faults' within the lovable rogues who perpetrate attacks like this pale into insignificance when we consider how much all of us, everyone in society, is to blame. God-speed, young chaps: all enlightened opinion is four-square behind you. If you get anything approaching a custodial sentence, it will be an utter travesty. But then we both know how unlikely that is.

Thanks to Natalie Solent for the link.

UPDATE: Of course, the above was a parody. This, it seems, is not.

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