Saturday, 16 February 2013
Bending the rules
And if you tell me you've never committed a crime, I don't believe you. No speeding? No petty pilfering? No VAT-dodging? Nothing from the black market? No illegal drugs? No litter-dropping? How could you be so saintly? Do you have a police officer in the family?
I frankly admit that I have on occasion done all the things on that list. Not out of ignorance either but quite deliberately. Because the way I see it, although in general laws are needed to maintain decent behaviour, there are times when breaking the law does no harm, may actually be necessary in the circumstances, and may (shock horror) just be enjoyable and cathartic.
How many of us have nicked a few things from work to compensate for a tyrannical boss or miserable pay? Or hurtled through a 30 mph zone because we're late for work or just like to put our foot down? Or bought something knowing full well it's from a dodgy source but it's half the normal price? How many of us slavishly keep to the law because we're afraid of unleashing anarchy or mayhem? Is there anyone that puritanical, that strait-laced?
By the same token, I won't rush to judgment over other people who've committed crimes, or at least relatively minor ones. I won't condemn a penniless woman who's shoplifted from the local corner shop to feed the kids, or someone with rent arrears who's done a moonlight flit, or a homeless person who squats in a long-time empty house. Okay, so they're breaking the law, but maybe you or I would do the same in similar circumstances. How can I tell them they're criminals and happily see them fined or jailed? I'd need a heart of stone.
Those people who pontificate about law and order and coming down hard on law-breakers are probably not only heartless arseholes but also hypocrites. Let she who is without sin cast the first stone....