Heartfelt thanks to all of you who responded with sympathy and support re the assault on G. I’m pleased to report that, thanks to lashings of arnica and sympathy, he’s fine now.
I’m opening up a new post because I think this is really important and I don’t want the arguments to dwindle off into the hinterland of the comments section.
As well as the above-mentioned comments, I also received an email from a friend. She’s a retired probation officer with a heart the size of a planet and a keen intellect to match. She emailed rather than commenting because she was afraid of offending me. Far from it and, to prove the point, I’m reproducing the text of her email here with her permission.
But Debi, Debi, ah Debi, please don't use words like 'dregs' (oh please). That's tabloid, Tory, lazy, thinking (Good. Bad. Black. White. Fuck the complexity). You're not a tabloid thinker, I know how generally aware and compassionate you are (more so than me on many issues) and I was distressed to hear you say 'dregs'. There's no such thing as dregs. They're people with all sorts of forces, personal, social, political working on them to make them, finally, behave in this appalling way. Which is a million miles from me wanting to pat them on the head and say 'there, there, you're a victim of a wicked world, here have a sweet and a cuddle' (that's tabloidism again). If I had those lads in front of me now I'd be giving them a very hard time indeed. But, but...
I feel I want to throw Tim's mantra at you "Don't not know. Know. Be conscious. Only if you're conscious..." Don't be perplexed. You're politically sophisticated and intelligent. You can work it out. You can see that those lads, deprived, poorly educated, probably jobless, media soaked, hopeless about their future, look at Greg, big, manly, fit, (I saw him) living the good life (as they perceive it), everything they're not, having everything they don't have and never will (they think). You can feel the envy, the rage, the need to taunt the need to assert themselves. And then, when Greg just ignored them (which was right and brave and I don't know how he did that) and they couldn't keep up with him and they knew that he really was stronger and faster and better than them, the need to lash out, the increase in rage, the need to assert something. It was dreadful behaviour and I hope somebody will teach them to deal with their problems in a different way. But it's not perplexing. And they're not dregs.
She’s absolutely right. My angry and dismissive use of the word ‘dregs’ to describe the men who abused and assaulted G was lazy and – yes – ignorant. In its own way, as ignorant as they were, but with less excuse.
Do I mind having this lapse pointed out to me? Absolutely not! I WANT this space to be used to provoke debate. It’s why I often phrase things as questions rather than steaming in with my own line. If we don’t discuss the issues, how else can we learn and grow?
Understanding why people resort to senseless violence is certainly not the same as condoning it. Taking a step back and seeing where such behaviour comes from instead of resorting to dismissing the perpetrators as ‘dregs’ isn’t liberal and wet. It’s the only way forward if we are to break out of the cycle of violence, fear and overflowing prisons.
So NOW what do you think??? Please feel free to respond. And I hope my friend will have the confidence to comment too and join the debate in this forum, knowing that my mind is open and I won’t be offended, but will be grateful for her (and your) contribution.
The continuous exchange if ideas is crucial if we’re to understand our world and hopefully change it for the better.