Andrew Robinson - Theory Blog

Monday, November 15, 2004

Yes, He's a Right-Wing Fascist Police Officer!

Yes, he's a right-wing fascist police officer! Open letter to Nottm Post

Andy, 25.07.2004 10:38

A reply to the article published in the Nottingham Evening Post by Notts Chief Constable Steve Green, about the causes of crime.

Since the Nottingham Post has apparently decided not to print my detailed rebuttal of Steve Green's article, despite my being far more of a specialist on the sociology of crime than this cop is, and since instead they have simply published the flood of bigotry from their usual readers (including one letter which sounds like it was written by a BNP activist), I have submitted it here instead, in the hope at least that some will be made aware of the nonsense which is going on.

It is ridiculous that this rich powerful cop is claiming to be speaking as a beleaguered minority and that the letters to the Post complain about a PC conspiracy when in fact it is exactly the opposite - this cop is saying what all the power-holders say, and it is the Post and its readers who are suppressing alternative opinions.

Here is the letter:

Dear editor,

It’s time to get tough on right-wing rhetoric, not youths

“There are some who will dismiss my views as those of a right-wing fascist police officer”, remarks Steve Green (July 21 2004). Is this any surprise, given the ill-informed nonsense he is coming out with? A senior police officer is not an expert on the sociology of social problems. He is someone with a narrow institutional standpoint providing a one-sided, limited perspective. It is only from the standpoint of such bias and distortion that anyone can portray the ever more powerful police as beleaguered defenders of freedom and the youths they harass, the victims of underfunded education and urban poverty, as the real “tyrants” of modern society. It is only from such a distorted perspective that he can argue against a “disproportionate” emphasis on the rights of those who are treated by society as having no rights, and who he himself wishes to subject to the “iron discipline” of authoritarian control.

It is clear that Green does not believe in rights. Or in individual freedom. He believes in “rules” and “community”. And since he believes that his own officers express these virtues, he believes in arrogating more and more power to himself, at the expense of individuals’ rights. Good for him, bad for the rest of us. Why is it so terrible that suspects have a right to a solicitor, to prevent police from extracting forced confessions and fabricating evidence? Shouldn’t people have a right to play music in their own homes, to congregate where they see fit and to freely express themselves with expletives if this is what their free speech demands? Rights are for everyone or for no-one. To smash such rights does not produce the fluffy, sharing, compassionate world Green conjures in his rhetoric. It is to produce a Big Brother society of intolerance and control, where people learn, not caring and sharing, but the importance of submitting to the strong and the principle that might makes right.

Green expresses a laudable sentiment about the importance of protecting the vulnerable. But his approach is the utter negation of this sentiment. He wants to protect children, and yet advocates that they be criminalised and brutalised by authoritarian adults. He wants to protect people with disabilities, yet such people are also criminalised, since his approach is intolerant towards the psychologically different. He wants to protect the elderly, yet he would dip into their scant pensions to fund endless prison building. He wants the prison system to be a bottomless pit, and has no regard for the effects this system would then have on other areas of state funding or on taxpayers’ pockets.

Alongside the exaggerated crisis of anti-social behaviour, there is a far more serious crisis of creeping rightslessness, where even the most basic freedoms are today under threat or have already been destroyed. Today, we see community activists jailed under anti-social behaviour orders for lobbying councils, and activists threatened with ASBO’s for peacefully picketing outside shops. We see beggars and prostitutes dying because they are driven underground by crackdowns, the prostitutes forced to take more risks, the beggars dying of hunger and exposure because the police ensure they get no money. Prisoners are dying because of overcrowding, because judges take an approach similar to Green’s. Pensioners and hospital patients are dying because money which should be going to them is being sucked into the bottomless pit of police and prison funding.

Why not look to the causes of social problems, instead of throwing away our money and freedoms into this pit? For Green, such serious analysis is part of the problem. He says that criminal actions have “absolutely no motivation”. This is absurd rhetoric, ignoring the most basic of logical principles: that every effect has a cause. The absence of deterrents is not a “cause”, for if it were, how comes Green himself is not engaged in all these criminal activities, when he, too, is not subject to deterrence? As for his claim that gentle, understanding parenting causes crime, this is a claim for which he presents no evidence. If this is true, why are criminal actions mainly a problem on working-class estates, when liberal parenting practices are primarily middle-class? Sociological evidence suggests that violent and abusive youths are those whose parents are prone to use physical and extreme punishments and to scold rather than listen. The youths are simply imitating their parents’ ways of acting. But whereas when the youths act in this way, it is seen as “crime”, when the parents act this way it is seen by the likes of Green as laudable firmness. And it is precisely this double standard, this embracing of violence and intolerance by the socially included, which necessitates the fact that youths respond to their circumstances with violence and intolerance. If Green does not want to understand what causes social problems, he should shut up and leave the issue to those of us who do not succumb to his brand of irrationalism.

In fact, it is the “decent majority” which, in insisting that its own preferences be made into rules and enforced violently, by insisting that their own dominance be assured by dictating where people can congregate and what words they can use, is being selfish and inconsiderate, and trampling on the rights of others.

Of course, many foolish people will rally to Green’s call, because he has hit all the right buttons of existing prejudices and widespread irrational dogmas. But it remains to be seen whether his proposals will seem as rosy when the “decent majority” find themselves without rights at the hands of the state, and when they find their tax bills doubled and trebled to pay for endless prison building.

(Originally published on Indymedia UK)

This is a response to the following article:


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