PETER HITCHENS QUOTES

"People once blamed or thanked God for everything that happened beyond their control. Now we blame or thank Government instead."
        - writing in "The Express"

CONTENTS
~ A Brief History of Crime - The Decline of Order, Justice and Liberty in England
~ The Abolition of Britain
~ Quotes on Various Subjects

# A BRIEF HISTORY OF CRIME #

"Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less there is within, the more there must be without."
        - Edmund Burke

Being 'tough on the causes of crime' means continuing to accept that public officials and public money can cajole and bribe the people into being good, when they would otherwise be bad. The left is still convinced that crime is a social and economic disease, produced by poverty, bad housing, poor schools and all the other ills that socialism claims to be able to cure.

Being 'tough on crime' means that Labour can from now on ignore what's left of its liberty-loving wing and cheerfully enact laws that increase the power of the state... while weakening jury trial and the other safeguards that our wiser ancestors devised to protect us if evil times should come again.

The left is so entrenched in power that it alone will carry the responsibility if the law crumbles and the country then turns to authoritarian government to impose a crude sort of order.

The EU has already drafted its own Charter of Rights and Freedoms which gives significantly more rights to the state and fewer to the individual. Many of the rights enshrined in these documents are political or group right, given to people supposedly discriminated against under the existing system. They are not rights as the English Whigs of 1689 or the American revolutionaries of 1776 would have understood them - freedom from autocratic power, arbitrary arrest, indiscriminate searches or indefinite detention without charge. On the contrary, modern human rights charters tend to be very weak and vague on such issues. They have generally been written by idealists from free countries with little experience of the methods and mechanisms of oppression.

The incoporation of the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights into English law have weakened the specifically English tradition of unconditional liberty - everything is legal unless officially banned. They have replaced it with the codified and conditional Continental system, under which all rights are granted by the authorities and everything is illegal unless specificially allowed.

The wicked, the selfish, the loud, the oafish, the inconsiderate and the bully are freer to behave as they wish than at any time for a hundred and fifty years. Their actions often go unrecorded or are dismissed as petty by the authorities. Yet their effects on people's lives are deep and painful... England is rapidly becoming a place where the good are afraid of the bad and the bad are not afraid of anything.

The paradox is this: the more harshly we treat wrongdoers and the greater the power of the state to punish and pursue them, the more we preserve liberty for the enormous majority who keep to the laws. A society that clearly and decisively punished wicked actions will have no need to document, restrict or spy on the many millions who do not do such actions. Conversely, the more generously we create safeguards for transgressors, the fewer freedoms will remain for those who behave themselves. ...The more formal and bureaucratic the criminal justice system becomes, the less use it will be against the disorderly and disobedient. Such people treat prison as a career risk, do not pay fines, fail to turn up at court or do not stay long at the same address. It is then simpler and more convenient for the polive to pursue the settled and orderly members of society. They are easy to find, can have regular earnings raided to pay fines and still fear the stigma of a criminal record.

Crime figures, in whatever form they are to be served up, they are not to be trusted fully or taken literally. Like all politically important statistics they have suffered what ought to be called the 'bikini effect' - the things concealed are more interesting than those revealed.

Set beside AJP Taylor's famous statement that the Edwardian Englishman hardly came into contact with the state at all, except to see a policeman walking past or a postman coming up his front path, these figures raise an interesting point.

Before the outbreak of WW1, murder, the worst of all crimes, seldom rose above 170 and often fell below 130 a year (these numbers include deaths from backstreet abortions and infanticides). Courts at that time were far less likely to accept pleas of manslaughter, and primitive medical treatment meant that almost any serious wounding could result in death whereas nowadays thousands of such injuries are successfully treated by the National Health Service.
These totals for a society far poorer than most of us can imagine, in which millions lived in disgusting and miserable slums or survived on wages that would barely be enough to feed a 21st century pet cat. There were no laws restricting the ownership of guns or knies. Transportation and the hulks had been abolished, as had public execution. There were no social services and very few benefits, targeted or otherwise, offered by the state or local authorities, apart from the workhouse. Trade union membership was small, council housing non-existent and state pensions for the elderly unknown until the very end of the period.
Even if recent suggestions that the crime figures of the era were manipulated are true - and given that most English police forces were locally controlled and crime was not a major political issue, one has to wonder why anyone should have manipulated them - the difference between then and now still cannot be explained by worsening social conditions... the idea that poverty or social conditions are causes of crime melt away in the hot blast of these truths. The highest levels of crime in memory have occured at a time of unheard-of prosperity, health, social welfare provision, good housing and material contentment, also destroys the idea that increased welfare leads to a reduction in crime.

Actions that would have one time been seen as helpful to the police are now prosecuted and punished. Faced with such actions - defence of homes, citizens' arrests of street robbers and so forth - police chiefs complain about citizens 'taking the law into their own hands'. This is an interesting use of language. The law, as it has existed for centuries, is in the hands of the English people, and is shared by them with a police force who are supposed to be citizens in uniforms.

One of the most important duties of the modern police force is to ensure its total monopoly of violence and enforcement. The common law has been taken from the common people, and their attempts to enforce it themselves are punished more severely that crime itself. Thus is why citizens who unintentionally kill suspects during attempted crimes are prosecuted and imprisoned while police officers who do the same thing are generally exonerated. It is not the action itself that is wrong - or police officers who have mistakenly shot suspects would be languishing in jail. It is the fact that a private individual rather than a representative of the elite state has done the shooting. The police are now a special body of armed men with special powers far beyond those of the ordinary citizen.

The division, between what people think the law should be and what it actually is leads to a permanent suspicision and near-hositility between police and citizens... this shatters the old sympathy between police and respectable law-abiding people.

Advanced medical techniques are saving many lives that would once have been lost. Human wickedness and murderous behaviour have increased vastly, but human mercy and ingenuity have, so far, outpaced them.

It does not seem to occur to those who argue this position (that possession should be legal) that a strongly enforced law against cannabis would actually protect their children from pressure to join the drug culture. If there were a real chance of arrest, conviction and prison for doing so, many would have a good, permanent excuse for refusing to buy or smoke cannabis. Instead, elite commentators complain that enforcement of the existing law would 'criminalize' their young. The fact is that users of illegal drugs criminalize themselves by breaking the criminal law.

The jury is more noble in theory than in reality. There is nothing especially elevating about the sight of 12 people crammed into a room trying to decide whether to ruin a fellow human being's life. Yet for once, the idea is more important than the practice. As long as these strange committees continue to exist, governments are less powerful and citizens are less free. Two things happen to trials when a jury is present. First, there is an element of doubt about the outcome that is quite beyond the control of the state. This turns the presumption of innocence from a mere slogan into a real possibility. Some on the jury may actually be prepared to believe that the police have the wrong man. Secondly, the prosecution's huge advantage over the defence is greatly reduced. The defence is not an interloper among officials but one of two contestants before a panel that owes nothing to either side.

BOBBIES ON THE BEAT

"The purpose of a trial is to find out the truth. But we no longer have trials about who did it - the trial is always about whether somebody broke the rules in trying to find out who did it."
        - Sir David Phillips, "Chief Constable of Kent"

"The police officer, knowing that 5 hours of his time could be taken up with bureaucracy if he makes an arrest, has a strong incentive to ignore minor crimes. That means that there is no chance of getting the much touted 'zero tolerance' policing in Britain. The police just have not got enough 5 hours to arrest people who write graffiti, vandalise telephone booths, cycle on the pavement and so on. They have only got time for the big stuff."
        - James Bartholomew, "The Daily Telegraph" (July 2001)

Trials, once a contest between prosectution and defence attempting to establish guilt or innocence, are now an elaborate game to see if the enormous safeguards and protections given to defendants by law have been fully exercised.

Over the period 1951-91 the number of police officers increased from roughly 1.4 per thousand to roughly 2.5 per thousand. This increase has coincided with an increase in crimes of all kinds. It is important to add that the police have been joined in their large new office buildings by tens of thousands of backroom staff whose job is to do the tedious paperwork that is supposed to be tying down so many officers. They have also been relieved of many duties - enforcing car parking rules, checking shops and factories by night, organizing prosecutions. These are respectively done by local authorities, private security firms and the Crown Prosecution Service. So the true increase in manpower is even greater than appears from the figures.

The failure of the police to find a way of overcoming the growing friction with middle-class car owners has so seriously damaged their standing with those whose support they most need that it is a pity that the 'Courtesy Cops' system has been entirely forgotten. This created a separate corps of traffic policemen whose main task was to improve driving standards by offering advice and warnings, rather than prosecuting motorists.

Crime for most people does not take the form of Al Capone but of a slight, nimble and ruthless young man breaking into their house or snatching their waller in a dark street.

Under the welfare state (of 1966) there were 35000 people in prison, in the 1930s, when life had been much harder, there had been only 11000.  Something had gone wrong out in the dark streets despite the radios, cars, helicopters, computers and modern, efficient management - but nobody seemed to know what it was. Even so, everyone seemed to think it was safe to retire Dixon of Dock Green (and end the 'beat' policing system of foot patrols).

Here is the problem. The machinery and structure of the English police have been designed since 1966 to react to crime instead of prevent it before it happens. Its chief constables have become driven by targets, which inevitably concentrate on the major crimes that attract the most media attention. Unit beat patrolling is ineffective against such crimes and poor at preventing more normal crime and disorder.
The embarrassing truth is that most crime is amazingly trivial unless it happens to affect you personally. Then it is a grief and an outrage which can darken your life permanently or even shorten it with worry and fear. Most crime os the kind of misbehaviour that was never worth prosecuting but that was always worth preventing, and still is. That prevention was, and could again be, achieved by a uniformed police force on foot among us, which shared our fears and hopes, gave us courage to stand up for ourselves and expected support when it stood up for us. This sort of crime consists of smashed windows, shoplifting, bag-snatching, bicycle theft, urinating in public, making unnecessary noise late at night. Leave these things unattended, as a famous American study - 'Broken Windows' by James Q Wilson - showed, and you move down to the next bitter stage of burglary, muggings, car theft and open drug dealing on the street.

Much of this crime is not worth reporting, so while this book will mention crime statistics it is written in the belief that no figures yet published have measured the sheer misery that has been caused by the retreat of police from the streets.

By removing the risk of being disturbed by a patrolling officer, fire-brigade policing (responding to incidents after they have happened) has given evildoers a new feeling of freedom from fear and so made streets less pleasant and less safe.

The plodding, unarmed constable in his dull blue tunic and helmet, proceeding slowly through the night streets with his lantern, was the creation of sceptics who mistrusted human nature and suspected that men would would behave badly if not watched and restrained. They applied this rule to governments as well as to criminals, by making sure that this mild police force could not be turned into a tool of tyranny.

Let us not be in any doubt that the old police force was the army of the respectable (though not the army of the wealthy) and that it was often unscrupulous in its methods. All societies are imperfect. Most people, asked to make the choice, would choose this imperfection rather than the one we currently suffer from - that the police are almost powerless against wrongdoers. Yet although our grandfathers trusted the constable to fight rough battles with the criminal classes, they did not trust him with powers of forced entry or interrogation, or unlimited detention. Almost by accident they conceived a scheme of great brilliance, which defended and enforced the law, and contained crime and disorder without threatening liberty in general.

MAKING BAD PEOPLE WORSE

"The humanity-mongers are so lavish in their pity for the criminal that they have none left for their victims."
        - Robert Anderson, "Crime and Criminals"

"The object of punishment is the prevention of crime, and every punishment should have a double effect, namely to prevent the person who has committed a crime from the repeating the act or omission, and to prevent other members of the community from committing similar crimes."
        - Halsbury's "Laws of England"

Our prisons are unpleasant and frightening, but in the wrong way. The rule seems to be that the more violent the criminal, the less he has to fear from prison.

While the establishment and the law have long abandoned the use of physical force and fear in dealing with offenders, the crimimal classes and successful terrorist groups still clearly believe in both, applying them with vigour when they get the chance. Thus suggests that criminals and terrorists alike would be deterred by fear and punishment if they were used against them.

"The penalty of crime is in the dishonouring circumstances which must accompany loss of liberty; in the deprivation of what liberty permits in the way of indulgence and self-gratification; in compulsory labour; in the loss of self-respect."
        - the old Prison Commissioners

"Does fining a criminal show want of respect for property, or imprisoning him, for liberty?"
        - John Stuart Mill

OUT OF THE BARREL OF A GUN

"Gun control? It's the best thing you can do for crooks and gansters. I want you to have nothing. If I'm the bad guy, I'm always gonna have a gun."
        - Sammy 'The Bull' Gravano, Mafia turncoat, interviewed in "Vanity Fair" (1999)

"There is no statistical relationship between the numbers of firearms legally held in Britain and the use of firearms in homicide or robbery."
        - Colin Greenwood, "Do Our Guns Laws Work?"

Those who are convined that America's gun law is a crazed relic of frontier chaos do not even know that this law is based on England's 17th century revolution against autocracy. Respectable citizens in this country used to own and even carry guns without a secod though, long after the Victorian police forces established order in the towns and countryside. In pre-1914 London there was a famous incident, the 'Tottenham Outrage' of 1909, where, when the police came under fire from an anarchist gang, they borrowed guns from the citizenry and appealed to members of the public to help shoot down the gang members.

Conan Doyle's great fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, frequently set out on his private missions with a revolver, as did his colleague, Dr. Watson. it is quite clear from the stories that the author expects his reader to think this is entirely normal and legal.

If the theory that more guns produce more crime were correct, England's own past could not have existed. Switzerland's present orderly peace would also be impossible.

A study for the Centre for Defence Studies at King's College in July 2001 showed that the use of handguns in crime rose by 40% in the two years after such weapons were banned in the UK.

"Guns also appear to be the great equalizer among the sexes. Murder rates decline when either more women or more men carry concealed handguns, but the effect is specially pronounced for women. One additional woman carrying a concealed handgun reduces the murder rate by about 3-4 times more than one additional man carrying a concealed handgun reduces the murder rate for men. This occurs because allowing a woman to defend herself with a concealed handgun produces a much larger change in her ability to defend herself than the change created by providing a man with a handgun."
        - John Lott, "More Guns, Less Crime"

Liberalism will defend to the death everybody's right to agree with it.

Young men have owned and used guns in the USA for centuries without events such as Columbine taking place, so some explanation other than the easy availability of guns is needed. This is especially so because guns, even in America, are far harder to obtain than they once were and it is much more difficult to carry them legally than it used to be. Until 1967, for instance, it was possible for a 13 year old almost anywhere in the USA to walk into a hardware store and buy a rifle. Many schools had shooting clubs and even in New York City it was common for high school students to take their guns to school with them on subways. Yet school massacres were unknown.

If the pre-1920 law of England still applied and respectable people kept guns at home in large numbers, there would almost certainly be significantly less crime despite the absence of the police from the streets. If such citizens were freely to enforce the law as it once was, they would be subverting the law as it is now. If burglars were shot in mid-burglary, intruders beaten and rapists effectively discouraged by armed victims, the feebleness of the official criminal justice system would be exposed and its moral relativism ridiculed. The elite state would be forced to respond to such competition by improving its own woeful efforts at law enforcement. The current policy seems to be to suppress the competition and warn it off. Citizens must be stripped of any power to defend themselves physically.

England is now halfway to becoming a society where both criminals and police and armed. While predictions are difficult, we could be slowly approaching the American state of affairs. There, hundreds of suspects are killed each year by armed officers and hundreds more by armed householders. Why is an armed police force, which must shoot and kill without due process, without jury trial or appeal or the possibility of reprieve, more civilized and less barbaric than hanging after due process?

# THE ABOLITION OF BRITAIN #

"We allowed our patriotism to be turned into a joke, wise sexual restraint to be mocked as prudery, our families to be defamed as nests of violence, loathing, and abuse, our literature to be tossed aside as so much garbage, and our church turned into a department of the Social Security system."

"Our religion, such as it is, has abandoned the only territory where it could not be challenged the saving of souls, and given up troubling our individual consciences. Instead, it has joined in the nationalization of the human conscience, so that a man's moral worth is now measured by the level of taxation he is willing to support, rather than by his faith or even his good works. Other tests opposition to apartheid or General Pinochet are valued more highly than personal adherence to the Ten Commandments or the Sermon on the Mount. An adulterer, with the correct view on Nelson Mandela, is preferable to a Mother Teresa who fails to criticize the currently unfashionable regimes of the world."

"Once, programmes for children had some reference to the outside world, to the old traditions of story-telling. Now, programme-makers devise Teletubbies who are living televisions, with little screens in their stomachs, a simple reflection of the fact that children learn to live their lives through the screen." (p8)

 "If the child needs a smack, he is  a free individual who has overstepped the line. If he needs a child guidance clinic, there is something wrong him which must be cured." (p78)

"At Christmas 1997, the female workforce in Britain would outnumber the male workforce for the first time in recorded history a development with such huge consequences that it has, of course, never been debated, directly legislated for in Parliament or discussed in a general election campaign." (p130)

"Perhaps more galling for those who believe that government action solves all problems, a fully functioning family does not *owe* the state anything much.  If it feeds itself, clothes and schools its children and cares for its old and ill, it does not need to show the almost feudal fealty to government demanded of the rest of us in an age where the authorities, rather than God or the Squire, seem to be in charge of everything and to require most of our money to pay for their services." (p191)

"Patrick's view, that his ideas are freethinking and unconventional, is wonderfully typical of the sexual left, who have always acted as if they were dissident free spirits making their own minds up, rather than succumbing to the most basic  primitive hedonism, crude desire rationalized, the conformism which  existed everywhere before religion and civilized ethics rose up and fought against it." (p238)

"They (the Police) now merely enforced the letter of a bureaucratic law rather than  the spirit of an agreed and respected moral code. As a result, they often seemed frighteningly neutral between criminals and householders. There was an alarming  growth in cases of law-abiding citizens, stretched to the limit, reacting with violence to vandalism or theft and finding themselves in the dock." (p292)

"For the first time, the British people would have positive 'rights', which sounded attractive but actually converted this country from one where all is permitted unless  prohibited, to one where all is prohibited unless permitted."
(On the European Human Rights Convention p304)

More quotes from the book [External Site]

# MISC #

The real threat to peace and democracy in Europe comes from the European Union, not from Austria's pocket führer, Jörg Haider.
        - writing in "The Express"

I think the monarchy is an essential part of a balanced constitution in much the same way that the king is an essential part of the game of chess. He doesn't actually do very much, but by occupying his square, he prevents others from occupying it.
I think the history of most countries, not all but most countries which haven't had monarchies or which have gotten rid of monarchies, suggest that once they've gone and politicians start seeking the kind of loyalty and love which monarchs enjoy, you get very serious political problems, and often you get an end to democracy. And I think it would be extremely dangerous to get rid of it.
I think there are many criticisms that you can make of the people who've occupied the throne. They're not perfect. They're not supposed to be. That's not the point. The whole point about them it doesn't really matter who they are, provided they behave themselves within the constitution.
        - on the importance of the British monarchy

"I am sorry I am late. I was trying to start the revolution."
        - excuse given to Lecturer when he a student at the University of York

"Any principled position is admirable even if it's wrong. It's rigid positions taken for corrupt and disreputable reasons or because you are a coward which are to be scorned."
        - Peter Hitchens, interviewed in "The Guardian"

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