I’ve now spent several hours digesting the contents of Zander Warren’s post on motorcycle thieves (bit.ly/2qvqfno). I felt it was important not to rush into a response.
As someone who loves motorcycles, it’s an emotive issue; as someone whose new Triumph was badly damaged by thieves a few years ago, I find the idea that these gangs are brazenly roaming the streets, unchallenged, to be infuriating. Of course I do.
But the landscape of crime is never as simple as it seems. It’s all too easy to believe that a zero tolerance crackdown in the community with greater powers and funding for law enforcement agencies (blah blah whatever it is people say on radio phone-ins) is the right thing to say here. We could attempt to absolve society of its responsibilities and blame the bike makers, for not providing adequate built-in security. These are platitudes. We must deal with the problem of bike thieves at its source, by killing them.
It makes me shudder to write that. I, like any civilised person, am vehemently opposed to capital punishment and any other form of state-sponsored murder. Justice should not admit a public’s thirst for pure revenge. But that’s not what’s happening here. I have arrived at this conclusion not through knee-jerk reaction or impotent fury, but by a pure and unadulterated process of logic. They have to be killed.
As the law-abiding public, we are not permitted to take the law into our own hands. I’m not suggesting we do. The law already exists, viz: it’s wrong to steal motorcycles. It’s just that the law isn’t being enforced. The police seem unwilling or in some way unempowered to deal with it, the aggrieved people are unable to convene courts to try the perpetrators even if they could be caught, so they’ll just have to be killed. That way, they won’t nick any more bikes.
There is, as ever, the matter of morality to deal with. Many people imagine that theft is a cut and dried issue as far as morality is concerned, but this isn’t so. The ‘ethics of burglary’ is a subject worthy of debate because, let’s be clear, there comes a point within the disparity of wealth and personal circumstance of peoples where it is entirely reasonable. It’s what the Littleport Riots were all about.
I hate the idea of people nicking my stuff, but in all honesty, I’m pretty well off. If a genuinely desperate man on his last gasp nicks my coat from the pub on a freezing night, well, he’s welcome to it. It’ll change his life, mine’s only inconvenienced by having to buy another one. Even a truly desperate drug addict can have my coat. He’s made a mistake somewhere in life and I haven’t, which is my good fortune. But the people we’re talking about here are just wankers nicking bikes for profit, so we should kill them.
It has, like The Archers, gone on long enough. What many assume is a spate of petty theft is in fact a threat to societal stability. These thieves are not merely taking other people’s property, they are threatening anyone who opposes them with power tools, machetes and mediaeval debonkers. As several people have already pointed out, someone is going to be killed.
In which case, it might as well be them.