Sunday, March 14, 2010


This week, my good Scottish friend Robert told me about some recent events in his road. A young mentally disturbed man who has (up until this point) lived a quiet and somewhat uneventful life with his equally troubled mother in a neighbouring house, has recently been vandalizing cars and sexually assaulting women in the street. The mental care authorities have so far been unable to stabilize his condition and efforts to “section” him have resulting in periodic but unsustained containment. When Robert’s car window was smashed he therefore decided to call the police. After listening sympathetically to the officer’s explanation of the local force's futile attempts to deal with the recent difficulties, Robert and his brother-in-law stood aghast as the officer explained the best way of dealing with the problem: “What you should do in these circumstances is to get a few mates together, bind him up with some rope and then take a baseball bat, smash his skull in and put him in the sewer.”

These are thoughts which a frustrated law enforcement officer may have during his very darkest moments, but this man – with all seriousness – articulated them.

With authorities like this, what hope is there for the rest of us?


Anonymous said...

Of late, I've been troubled by a recurrent observation. An essential part of growing up is developing a filter between what we think and what we say. Yet a significant proportion of the population appears to have reached adulthood without acquiring that filter.

Perhaps they've grown old without growing up.

Luke said...

A shrewd observation. Working with youth in the slums (where life is lived on top of others), confirms this. My friend John runs a pre-school in one of the worst favelas in the city ("Favela do Buraco Quente"). He told me a story at the weekend about one boy in the school who explained to him (in broken Portuguese) how he wouldn't have to work when he grows up - he'd simply be a drug dealer like all the others. The boy was three years old.

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