Law-Abiding Law Breakers

Law-Abiding Law Breakers

It just struck me that even though criminals such as thieves, pick-pockets, white collar criminals, burglars and so on are breaking the law, they still adhere to a certain set of rules. Breaking the law doesn’t mean that the criminal embraces total anarchy, going on a destructive rampage causing as much mayhem as possible. A shoplifter might pay the bus fare. A pick-pocketer might be selective in their choice of victims (apart from finding marks with outward signs of wealth), such as avoiding people that don’t “deserve” it. Self-imposed restrictions on weaponry, tactics and choice of targets are more common than you might think.

If you stop and think about it, our society is frighteningly vulnerable. If you pay off the right individual in the right place, the only limit on the destruction caused is the imagination of the prospective villain. A software developer could crash a train, a plane, cause economic disaster through disrupting vital electronic services. A postal worker could help scammers gain access to identity documents sent through the mail. A dam controller could open the floodgates and cause death and carnage downstream. Is it only a question of enough money that is preventing Armageddon?

Even the most hardened of criminals display a sense of morality. In prisons, those who have victimized children are at the bottom of the social hierarchy. If they don’t watch their back, they might get a shiv in their back. They reject the ruleset of society in general, but they still limit and steer their course of action within a confined set of rules. Their own rules, but a set of rules nonetheless. A great example of this is the lack of an arms race between criminals and the police in Norway. Until recently, our police patrolled without firearms. If a precarious situation arose, they had access to weaponry in their vehicles, but they didn’t carry it by default. Wouldn’t this give criminals an enormous advantage? “Our” criminals didn’t take advantage of this state of affairs. They didn’t burgle properties armed to the teeth and armed robberies are uncommon. The choice of armament for criminals can be seen as a direct response to the lack of weapons on the hand of the authorities. Both sides in a sense respect the rules.

This brings us to the recent epidemic of acid attacks in Britain. The man in the street has had access to acid, hammers, nail guns and other tools-turned-weapons for a long time, but they haven’t been used in an offensive capability until recently. It can’t be denied that the influx of adherents of Islam has brought with it the cultural meme of attacking people (particularly women) with acid, defacing them for life. This represents a break with the relationship between law breakers and law enforcement. A new breed of criminal has entered the stage, not respecting the “peace” between the two disparate forces. We can also see this trend elsewhere. In Norway, there has been a dramatic increase in the use of machetes to attack people up to and including cutting off limbs. This is a worrisome trend. We have all benefited from the mutual understanding between people within and without the law. If this new anarchic culture is allowed to spread and fester, all of society will bear the brunt of the coming increase in the level of violence and brutality.





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