Monday, November 16, 2009

A peculiar sense of "justice"

Great Britain is an interesting study these days because, frankly, the country seems to be falling apart, and doing so because of so many self-inflicted wounds.

What makes it interesting to watch is that so many of the things that are ripping British society apart are things that we think could never happen here. Yet, that's exactly what the British thought 20 or 30 years ago, but here they are, with political correctness run amok and chapter after chapter of silly laws that are turning British society into a laughingstock.

There are areas of the London suburbs - called "Londonistan" because of the dense Muslim population - where British police will not go, and where they have been told by the local Islamists to stay out because they, the Islamists, will govern that area under Sharia law.

Last March I linked to the story of a British grocer, who gave his customers the option of making their produce purchases in metric measures - liters, grams, etc. - or buying them in gallons, ounces, quarts, etc., also known as the "British" system of measures. He was prosecuted and convicted because it's been made illegal in Britain to use British measurements.

Now comes a case that would be even sillier if it weren't tragic.

In March, a former solider named Paul Clarke looked down from his balcony and saw a garbage bag on the ground in his garden. He went down and got it, opened it and found a sawed-off shotgun with two shells.

The next morning, in an attempt to do what he considered his civic duty, he called the local police and asked if he could stop by. He came into the station with the gun and shells, laid them on a table and reported his find.

Upon which he was promptly arrested, and charged with firearm possession. It's against the law in Britain to HAVE a firearm without a permit, and it is considered a "strict liability" offense, which means there is no acceptable excuse. And because the Brits have a mandatory minimum sentence for this law, Mr. Clarke was sentenced to five years in jail after a jury spent just 20 minutes deliberating before returning a guilty verdict.

A complete story of the case is here.

The moral is that it's a very small step from what might seem like a sensible law to a tyrannical, overreaching government that can take away your liberty on a lark. I'm sure that if you had described this case to a British citizen 20 years ago they would have said, "That could never happen here."

Which is what most Americans would say right now. But do they really KNOW that?

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