Thursday, 11 August 2011

Riots and Hypocrisy Part 2

After my last post it occurred to me that I was concentrating entirely on the hypocrisy of the rich and powerful. It might be worth remembering that such double vision is rife among other social classes as well.

Over the last couple of days I've been talking to a former Nottingham resident in his mid 40s. He's been condemning the rioters in florid terms with a tasty bit of racism thrown in. Sending people back on the 'banana boat' was one of his solutions.

Thing is, this person used to work for Nottingham City Council's street cleansing department. He has repeatedly and proudly regaled me of all the things he'd nicked from the stores during his time there, in fact he's shown me a few of the goodies as well. He tells me that it's rife and tolerated by management, although this could simply be to try and claim some legitimacy for his actions.

Obviously I can't identify him and it's perhaps worth saying that he's not the sharpest tool in the box so it might be asking a bit much to expect him to see any connection between robbing taxpayers in this way and those who loot shops. Certainly he sees no problem with telling me, a Nottingham council tax payer in years past, about his escapades despite directly contributing to my taxes increasing.

Of course he's not alone. It quite likely is rife at NCC. I suspect if you challenged any of those doing it they would respond with tales of how management treat them badly (and if it were a worker in the Woolsthorpe depot they'd have a point), poor pay etc. These are valid issues. Looking wider how many of the rest of use are quite happy to justify our own casual lawbreaking? Speeding kills children but anybody caught is full of righteous indignation about how the police should concentrate on 'real criminals'. I've sat in pubs while blokes come in selling knock-off cigarettes which deprives the exchequer of much needed taxes. I've argued online on photography forums with a serving police officer justifying his use of overseas ebay sellers which falsely mark £1500 lens packages with 'no commercial value' in order to avoid import duties. This is a key selling point of these merchants, they even offer a guarantee that if you are clobbered with duties they will refund them, confident that Customs and Excise only have the resources to check a tiny minority of packages.

Think about the levels of hypocrisy on that last one. A publicly employed law enforcement official using a service which illegally deprives the UK government of taxes and helps to put UK companies out of business.

The fact is that society is riddled with 'respectable' crimes, crimes that aren't 'real crimes', crimes that 'don't really matter' and that we 'shouldn't worry about'. We're all guilty of it. Yet we all excuse it when it's us that do it.

Of course when it's 'them', 'over there', those who aren't 'one of us' it's different, out come the pitchforks. Some of the magistrates salivating over 'making an example' of the recent troublemakers would do well to subject themselves to close examination of their own lifestyles and bear them in mind before throwing away the key.

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