Over the years I have had some interesting (and unsolicited I might add) conversations with female acquaintances about law and order in Canada. This probably stemmed from the prominence that these issues have had in various media and the Liberal PR push to ban guns that are not being used by criminals.
In every case, these were people whom I would type as politically and social liberal, so I was quite surprised when the overall consensus could be expressed by the poster below
Though I might change the word fair to reasonable, it addresses the same basic point.
The conversation usual started around one news item or another concerning crime, and associated legislation – break and enter, home invasion, mugging, terrorism in its various domestic forms, and ability of the average citizen to avoid them. The just of it all was a general feeling of vulnerability, combined with the lack of any meaningful recourse or control. In one case, the person had in fact experienced several break-ins with no resolution or recourse. The key issue, in the end, was control.
Whether the crime rate is going down was irrelevant. The point (which authorities simply don’t seem to ‘get’) is that safety is based upon perception rather then reality. And that will not change.
What was expressed one way or the other was the conviction that
– contrary to government PR, the (urban) civilian population in Canada is increasingly less safe.
– police are over burdened and unable to help or prevent crime in a timely way.
– if one is a victim of crime, the criminal will most likely remain at large or get off.
– the criminal (especially if a teenage one) has more rights and stronger advocacy than the victim, who has in effect neither.
– both victim and criminal alike are often treated as criminals by both police and the courts.
and finally, most significantly
– any attempt to exercise control in ones life (ie. defend oneself) if attacked will almost always result in charges against the victim, with significantly worse consequences than for the perpetrator.
It came down to the issue of perceived control. It was perceived that a person had no right to defend oneself, even when attacked. In fact, quite the opposite was thought to be true.
The consensus was that a law abiding citizen one is expected (and implicitly forced by the law) to allow themselves to be the victim of a violent crime before it becomes a crime. Under no circumstances is one allowed to defend themselves. The only excuse for defense is to have already been harmed or killed, so to speak – which is of course impossible.
To put it another way, one must wait for the authorities to arrive while allowing the consequences to play out, hoping that there might be some vague justice after the fact.
This feeling is combined with the anecdotal belief that in the majority of cases justice is not served, and whatever justice there might be would not benefit the injured or dead victim.
In summary, one really had no right under law to act proactively in their own defense, and they would most surely be punished for doing so more severely than the criminal.
Now, before you react with classic liberal philosophy, think about it. Hear is some of what was said:
1. If someone broke into your home with a weapon, or attacked you or your family in the street, do you honestly think that the police could protect you in time? The answer was conclusively no.
2. If you protected yourself and in the process harmed the perpetrator, would you be charged? Most likely, yes – and likely more seriously that the attacker.
3. If the perpetrator was injured by you, would you be criminally and civilly liable? Definitely, and the consequences would likely be much more severe and disruptive for you as the victim.
And most telling
4. If you were injured, what good would the often small penalty against the perpetrator, likely inflected after several years in court, do to assist you in your subsequent life? Absolutely nothing. The perpetrator would end up benefiting.
Think hard about these questions and answers before you react.
These are the sort of questions people seem to quietly ask as they read about events in the newspaper at breakfast. Quietly scary stuff for which there seems no comforting answer. It appears that the women I spoke to had changed their views and increased in their resolve through observing society in recent years.
Their reaction and conclusions caught me somewhat by surprise. It leads me to think that in this area the feelings in society are out of sync with the law more than might be apparent on the surface.