Two horrific crimes

September 11, 2006

Two stories caught my eye this morning.

‘Man Refusing to Remove Lawn Art Faces Arrest
46-year-old Cornwall resident Gordon MacKillop is facing possible prosecution under UK’s Protection From Harrassment Act for refusing to remove a police garden gnome in his front yard that his neighbour says is offensive. MacKillop says he bought the lantern to light up his driveway where his motorcycle was stolen. His neighbour, a former cop, says he put it in an “annoying position” in order to intimidate people coming to look at his home, which is up for sale. MacKillop was visited by police around midnight to warn him that the store-bought gnome was offending his neighbour. “I was absolutely fuming. I thought there had been an accident in the family,” he said.’
What right has he to ‘fume’, I wonder. A garden gnome with a light in its head? He should consider himself lucky he wasn’t charged with public indecency or picked up in a dawn raid by the anti-terrorist squad.
Meanwhile, “A mother of two has been fined for swearing at yobs who terrorised her neighbourhood”. After months of torment and police inaction, the unfortunate woman finally lost her temper and pleaded with her tormenters: “Please, just f*** off”. Would the punishment have been different, I wonder, if she had been a mother of three, or one? Anyway, congratulations to the sturdy officers of the West Yorkshire police. We cannot allow our young people to be subjected to words like ‘please’. And as for the f-word, swearing is an appalling offence, revealing not only a lack of manners but also an impoverished vocabulary. Ultimately, of course, it is the dreadful standards of English teaching in schools that are responsible for anti-social behaviour like this.
How encouraging it was to see a robust defence of the police action: ‘Sergeant Neil Haley, from West Yorkshire police, defended the force’s actions. He said: “We appreciate that anti-social behaviour can be frustrating for people but they should not take the law into their own hands.” ‘ ‘Frustrating’ is perhaps a little strong, though, I would prefer ‘irritating’ or ‘inconvenient’ to describe the feelings aroused by hordes of marauding yobs terrorising neighbourhoods. And as for not taking the law into one’s own hands, I couldn’t agree more. Leave the nasty business of swearing at people to the police, who can do it so much better.

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