Vir Cantium

I'm right, you know …

It’s Not Direct Action – It’s Assault

I agree with John Prescott.

OK, I’ll pause while you read that again….

And I think it was wrong to attack Lord Mandelson.

OK, another pause….

Well, I should point out … it was wrong to physically assault Peter Mandelson. Note, “assault” not “direct action”, that term much beloved of many in the media, whether with or without weasily quotation marks.

From the feted Swampy to the latest green custard incident, examples of criminal damage, assault and various other acts of law-breaking are excused as “direct action” – though strangely only when such acts are perpetrated in the name of some left-friendly environmental cause (yes, even one that crosses party boundaries, like the Heathrow third runway). The laws being broken are not draconian rules imposed by a totalitarian regime, but basic rules of decent behaviour necessary to hold a civilised society together.

Worse, we recently had a legal case of direct action being excused in a court of law on the grounds of – to strip away the frills – a very heartfelt cause. Much as the perpetrators might dress up their actions by paper thin accusations about a lack of democracy – and of course such complaints usually only come to the surface when a democratic process doesn’t come to a decision they like – it should bear little more weight than a burglar justifying his actions by citing his victim’s wealth or his own financial situation.

Yet one is left wondering, as so often these days, how much effect the media coverage has on such events. Naturally they only occur to gain media attention, but the soft-handed way in which such actions are written off with acceptable sounding terms like “direct action” has a cumulative effect on establishing a legitimacy for them, and a longer term corrosive effect on how democracy and free speech works in our country – and the excuse that is given to those who would use the power of the state to restrict all our freedoms.

(And yes, for the record, I also agree with my own party’s statement on the matter. Those who oppose the third runway should be making the loudest condemnations of this attack.)

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