We should pay closer attention to the words people use, for they often reveal hinterlands of thought, or at least of assumptions. Reading my local paper recently, I noticed what a policeman said about an attack carried out by a man with a hammer on a garage mechanic.
The man was annoyed, apparently, that the owner of a local garage refused to repair his mother’s car. According to the report in the newspaper, he afterwards ‘marched into [the garage] before pulling out a hammer and launching a ferocious attack on the him.’ The owner continued to hit him as he lay defenceless on the ground, fracturing his skull.
This seems to me to be taking filial piety a little too far.
He was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment, and I would be prepared to stake quite a lot on the probability that this was not the culprit’s first offence, not by a long chalk. It was more likely to be the culmination of a career (so far).
After the trial, the detective in charge of the investigation said ‘Standing at a height of 6ft 2ins, [he] was around a foot taller than the mechanic – given his physical advantage it makes the use of the hammer particularly unnecessary and cowardly.’
In other words, if the victim had been approximately the same size as the assailant, and if it had been a matter of fists rather than of an offensive weapon (thus giving the victim a sporting change of defeating his assailant), all would have been all right, or at least very much better?
If this is what the thin blue line thinks, is it any wonder that the elderly in this country live in effect under curfew?
Another case caught my attention. A man on release from a life sentence robbed a man in the street but was chased by a policeman, whom he attacked and injured. He then then jumped from a bridge into the local river in an attempt to escape. However, he was fished from the river and arrested.
At his trial, his lawyer entered in mitigation that he was a desperate man ‘in the grips of addiction.’ But this (if true) was not mitigation, it was aggravation. The man was responsible both for the robbery and his addiction, and was therefore doubly guilty. Aristotle understood this well enough more than two millennia ago. Unfortunately, our criminal justice system does not understand this. The passage of time is not the same as progress.
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