One of my internet guilty pleasures is perusing the website of the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper, both the US and UK sides. I know – in the grand scheme of things, the Daily Mail is about one half-step up from a tabloid. The captions and headlines often give evidence of being written by middle-school students innocent of any knowledge of conventional grammar or spelling, they employ the execrable Piers Morgan, editorially despise Donald Trump, and have this inexplicable and unholy fascination with all things Kardashian. In my early blogging days, I favored the rather more high-class Times of London, and the Telegraph, but they went all pay-wall and frankly, hard to read. In any case and against the above-listed foibles and more, the Daily Mail is a free and straightforward read. Start at the top and scroll down; no hopscotching around to the various menu headings, hoping to get lucky and find something interesting. They nearly always do provide some daily amusement, or horror, depending on tastes. And they cover American news without fear or favor – although, as noted, they have no abiding affection for The Donald. They didn’t have for The Barack, either, so I’ll take what I can get, for easy AM reading.
This week’s headline bruhaha made the American conservative side of the blogosphere develop that kind of nervous eyelid twitch demonstrated by Inspector Clouseau’s boss in the classic Pink Panther series: an elderly retiree in a distant London suburb surprised a pair of burglars who had broken into his house in the middle of the night with the intent of robbery and god knows what other kind of criminal mayhem. This being England, land of hope and glory and strict gun control, the thirty-something burglar (who had a comprehensive record as an honest-work-shy professional criminal) was armed with an assault screwdriver, with which he menaced the home-owner. Much to everyone’s surprise – including, no doubt, the professional burglar and his faithful sidekick – the elderly retiree succeeded in defending himself against a pair of younger and presumably bigger men. Indeed, one of the felonious pair was stabbed fatally with his own screwdriver, collapsing in the street outside, whereupon his faithful sidekick abandoned him, gunned their escape vehicle, and vanished in a cloud of exhaust. (The police are searching for him, at last result, although they have located the burned-out escape vehicle. So much for honor among thieves, and the ability of the London police force.) The assault screwdriver-wielding professional career criminal was found, bloodied and dying in the street, taken to a hospital, wherein he expired. Well, they always said that crime doesn’t pay, even though for him it seemed that the eventual bill was a long time coming.
Meanwhile – the elderly homeowner, the caretaker for his invalid wife – was briefly arrested and charged with murder. This is the bit that made US conservative’s eyelid twitch. Texas is … an eccentric sort of place, but in this kind of eventuality, quite groundedly sane, thank you very much. The matter of being charged for murder, for having fatally wounded one of the local dirt-bag criminal fraternity in your own home in the middle of the night, when they have appeared there uninvited and menaced the homeowner with threats of dire bodily harm with a weapon, is a concept so alien as to be off the table entirely here in Texas. In fact, not even in the same room. According to legend, “He needed killing” is supposed to have been a valid defense, although likely not within living memory. Around here, terminating a serial criminal menace who has invaded your personal and private home without your consent, and subsequently been dropped on the doormat or farther into the home by the householder’s own efforts is more a cause for muted congratulations among the local legal and professional law-upholding fraternity. “Nice shooting” and “Thanks for taking out the trash” is more the expected official response.
I know that the usual Brit editorialist, or commentator will be tying themselves in knots over this – but honestly, where would you rather live? In a place where you must cower under the presence of a serial criminal menace with an assault screwdriver, a knife of any length (contra the dictates of the current mayor of London) or any other kind of menacing weapon, dark and threating and with that thing that goes up, and subsequently be charged with assault upon defending yourself – or in a place where your home is your castle, and defendable with anything, up to and including a pot of boiling oil? Seriously; I firmly believe that a search of my own neighborhood would turn up enough serious weaponry to equip a small European country, maybe about the size of San Marino or Monaco. Toss the entirety of San Antonio for weapons – definitely a country the size of Holland. The bottom line is – do not go invading private homes in Texas, with intent to commit robbery or other mayhem. That’s my heartfelt advice to the criminal class of whatever ethnicity in Texas. Don’t do it.
But that isn’t the worst of this story, oh, dearie me, no. The householder who defended himself successfully against a pair of criminals half his age, was released, and I hope with abject apologies on the part of the authorities. But he and his wife are now in hiding, under police protection … and the kin, friends, and tribe of the assailant spent a lot of time and effort in posting scores of bunches of flowers, balloons, notes and teddy bears – the usual kind of tatty public death memorial, on the fence opposite the home of the householder, and according to reports on the Daily Mail, threatening reprisals against the victimized householder, and by extension, his neighbors. Wrap your head around that, if you please. The police defend – first, according to current stories – the right of a dead career criminal to threaten and rob without risk to himself. And then, for the right of his scummy next of kin to memorialize and defend him in the very street and neighborhood where he committed the acts which brought him to a bad end.
One might wonder about the ethnicity of the criminal … no, not one of color. It appears that he is/was one of those known as Travelers, or Travellers; (the spelling of this designation all depends) ethnically white gypsies, given to live the peripatetic life in trailers and campers, doing the odd bit of this or that, sometimes dealing honestly with the public at large … and often, not. Hardly a month goes past where there is not a story in the DM about some bit of public or even private land, playing field, green belt meadow, park, or common, which has been descended upon by a band of Travellers for a week or month … and then, when they move on, the place has been turned into a dump. I mean – literally a dump; everything from building surplus, to trashed appliances, broken furniture, abandoned vehicles, household trash. This has happened over and over, as near as I can tell from the Daily Mail, to impotent outrage from nearby residents and the local municipalities who have to pay for cleanup, not to mention the property damage to grass and plantings. It seems to be difficult to nearly impossible for landowners or the authorities to evict a Traveller encampment until they damn well feel like moving on. Why this happens over and over again, while the local police force stands by, wringing their hands is a bit of a mystery to me. I can only think that perhaps they are seen generally as a protected class in formerly great Britain; a penchant for making responsible law-abiding citizens’ lives a misery through crime, harassment, threats and antisocial conduct will not be infringed upon, least of all by a ruling class who generally give the impression of despising their working and middle-class citizens too much to defend them against the feral protected class. Any ideas on this from over the pond?