This is what I would be saying if I encountered a burglar in my home, was able to overpower him. After caving in his vacant skull with a 40mm Bofors shell. If necessary, I would chase him away and administer this treatment in the street, save he come back with his mates to finish the job.
To neutralise this threat should be my right; after all, I would have been simply sitting at home minding my own business and the burglar would have made the conscious decision to break into my home to steal my property or worse. It’s a no-brainer, surely?
Well, not in the case of businessman Munir Hussain – who confronted an intruder, chased him outside and then pulverised his head with a cricket bat. Fair enough I would say – so long as the stroke was administered with a cultivated brutality á la Graeme Smith. Front foot forward, a smooth and even backlift, and a clean sweet strike over the ropes. One would have thought that would have been that: call the emergency services, have them scrape the shit and blood off the ground, job done.
But no. While Walid Salem – who had a list of previous offenses as long as both of Andrew Marr’s arms – was released back into public circulation, Mr. Hussain and his brother who also waded in have been given thirty and thirty-nine months in gaol respectively. Surely this fact alone serves to explain why people take such action? If the justice system protected the victim rather than concentrate on the rights of the criminal, ordinary people would have more faith in it. If the police dealt with these cases firmly and in force, people like Mr Hussain would not find themselves being cornered into taking such aggressive measures.
The usual liberal talking heads – the sort of people I’d describe as the organic butternet squash risotto brigade – have been quick to come down on the side of the judge who meted out these ridiculous sentences, and more often than not have thrown around terms like “vigilante”. I would suggest these people – including Antonia Senior, the author of the linked Times article – take some time out to look up the term.
Senior has attempted to present both sides of the argument in that familiar condescending, patronising way: she is – by her own admission – doomed to cling to her liberal credentials but yet at the same time feels the need to understand why some people would rather choose to serve up a knuckle sandwich or worse to a burglar as opposed to a cucumber one and cup of free trade herbal tea:
“A small band of the liberal elite makes the laws, disputes them in court, writes about them in papers and chatters about them on the box. It makes me both relieved and squeamish — relieved that my nice, liberal view of the world prevails, and squeamish that its execution is so inherently illiberal and anti- democratic. It’s a “we know better” political philosophy whose only defence is a plaintive cry, “But we do!” What’s the logical, intellectual justification for our stranglehold on this democracy? There is none that I can think of; I’m just glad to be on the inside, looking out.”
Of course, the giveaway line comes at the end of this paragraph: Senior and her ilk are just “glad to be on the inside, looking out”. You would just need to add “of the window in my ivory tower” to this in order to get the complete picture.
Mr. Hussain was hardly a vigilante; he didn’t go out hunting for these criminals in some modern British suburban version of Death Wish. His home was violated, and the offenders were chased down the road and received what can only described as their just desserts. The only parties doing the planning were the Walid Salem and his pals; the victim’s reaction on the other hand was one of pure rage, the instinctive gut reaction to witnessing his home being invaded and his wife and children being threatened.
The story has of course been made far more dramatic by the fact that the bat used to batter the criminal was broken in three places; however I’d say this is more to do with the quality of modern bats than either the hardness of the criminal’s skull or the force of the blow. I very much doubt this would have happened with my father’s redoubtable Gunn & Moore Autograph – though if anyone tried to pull the same stunt I’d keep the bat for its intended purpose and happily introduce them to one of the two 40mm Bofors shells I have sitting by the television instead.
Critics would naturally be quick to condemn, and would no doubt argue that having chased the criminals away, I should let them go. Why? So they can bring back reenforcements while the police take ten hours to arrive? Nah. If I thought for even a second that I might be setting myself up for a bigger fall, I’d make damned sure my light-fingered friend wasn’t going anywhere.
In Munir Hussain’s case, the incident began not when he landed the first blow out in the street, but when Walid Salem made the conscious decision to invade Mr. Hussain’s house. As far as I am concerned, once this rubicon has been crossed the criminal forfeits all rights. By choosing to engage in criminal activity they are sowing the seeds; it is they, and not the victim, who should be made to reap the whirlwind.
I am sure a majority of ordinary people – who simply want to live their lives and be left alone – would think the same.
If one might wonder why the police would take so long to deal with an ongoing burglary, it might have something to do with their having to deal with a high-priority backlog of speeding tickets – or a lack of resources caused by their needing half a dozen officers to “subdue” a female Italian art student before holding her for five hours in a cell and issuing an eighty-pound fine. Well, it’s one more for the statistics, eh?
For the love of God.