Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Lifeline that failed victim of system

Just as an exercise, I suggest you read this article and note the careful use of loaded language to describe the various problems in this tragic man's life. He did not "take crack"; rather "he ended up with a crack habit." He did not "go back quickly to crime", rather "Sometimes it took him only a day to get back into trouble; never more than a few months".

Then read it again for euphemisms. He did not steal or burgle. No he "nicked," he "screwed houses". The Grauniad writer identifies himself enthusiastically with criminals by using their jargon.

We are told this man was a "victim", although he must by even this slanted account have left hundreds of real victims in his wake. We are told he could not write properly, yet the few pieces of direct quotation in the story are oddly articulate. This "victim" well knew how to make his demands in the language of the Guardian (and all the quotes are coded demands).

Many people grow up in poverty, are abused and unfortunate. Not all of them turn to crime. By blaming "the system", people like this writer equip the enemies of civilisation with a vocabulary of self-justification and actually encourage crime.

I regret the mistakes made in dealing with this young man. Up until the age of 18, I would have supported every effort to assist and reform him, although I would much prefer that the State provided cash to private charities for the purpose. State care of unfortunate children seems invariably to lead to worse abuse, sexual and psychological, than in even the worst families.

Once he was an adult however, he could have stayed off drugs and out of jail. He had choices and was responsible for their outcomes. The incompetence of the various social workers in the story rather suggests to me the money that could be saved by dispensing with their services than the need for more of them. On the other hand, while I don't like them very much for what I learn in this article, I am not as ready to blame them for this losers criminality, or its consequences, as is the Guardian.

It is ludicrous to portray such a man as a victim, however sad his childhood may have been. The Guardian, as always, is helping to build a culture of irresponsibility in which everyone is to blame for a man's problems, except that man himself.

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Lifeline that failed victim of system

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