A ridiculous situation unfolded on radio yesterday. I’m relating this second hand, so I’m happy to be corrected. A lady parks in a municipal spot in town. When she comes back to her car, a “gentleman” demands R50 from her, as he believes the parking spot belongs to him, or he administers it. We all know the phenomenon – especially those of us rugger lovers who park near Coca Cola Park on winter Saturday afternoons.
She refuses, phones 702 and is live on air. The DJ asks her to pass the phone on to the “gentleman” in question. This she does, and the DJ tries to plead with the “gentleman”. The “gentleman” tells all listeners that he will keep the cellphone until she pays him the R50. In short, she is being mugged. This is a criminal offence, even in the minds of the most liberal of thinkers (ones that haven’t become tyrants, that is.)
A Good Samaritan arrives and offers her his cellphone to phone. Another kind of Samaritan phones in and asks for directions to the place so he can execute, shall we say, a civilian arrest – or something like that. Apparently, in the interests of avoiding an escalation of violence, it was suggested that the second Samaritan not do his deed of valour, and that a negotiated settlement be reached. I hope I’m wrong here, but it seems that something like this did transpire.
Now, clearly a crime has been committed, and abundant evidence exists so that quick action can be taken. Normally, the police might arrive, but sometimes a tad late. So, clear heads are needed.
I contend that the clearest thinking would be to recognise the crime and act accordingly. Call the law, and if the law can’t handle it immediately, take responsible, corrective action with witnesses. I contend that giving the “gentleman” R50 on behalf of the lady is not clear thinking. It perpetuates the problem. It also throws money at the problem, which seldom works in the long term. Beyond that, I don’t know what to say, except that the unravelling of the rule of law in our so called free society is a very, very real problem. No star gazing or navel gazing is going to fix that. No belief in the new society or brave new world in South Africa is going to remedy an already sick situation. The honeymoon is over and people are getting away with murder, literally.
So, if we accept the old truths that dictate that this “gentleman” is a criminal and this lady has rights, then we can come up with some really creative Good Samaritan ideas, like:
“Hey mister, I’ve just taken your photo with my cellphone. I’ll hand it over to the police, so I’m going to suggest that you give her her cellphone and let her go.”
“I’m calling police right now. Give her back her cellphone.” This will have limited effect, due to a problem we all know about.
“My friend and I here will divest you of that cellphone if you don’t give it back to her!” Make sure he hasn’t got a gun and there are witnesses – like her. Also make sure your jujitsu skills are fresh, and of course you DO have a friend with muscles.
A very wise pastor once told me that the clearest sign of the devil’s work is the inversion of truths. Take this instance. Some people are flirting with the notion that while the “gentleman” holds her phone and blocks her exit, everyone at the scene has equal rights and it’s time for negotiation. This is an inversion. Clearly, when I break the law, I relinquish certain rights and I must pay the consequences. Clearly, her right to self defence and defence of her property (in this case her phone) is also entrenched. But, we flirt with the notion that because everything is relative, the situation changes completely due to the exercise of power, and that the truths we all held dear are to be suspended and a new situation arises. Pragma rules; dogma is out.
Now, let’s step back completely and apply a similar analysis to the recent tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. As James Dobson has said, why does the president not lament the 4000 abortions that occurred that day? Let’s say 90% of them were about a woman’s “right” over her body, and 10% of them were due to life threatening situations – that would be a conservative estimate.
This is what has happened. Truths have been swapped out for convenience, for the situation. For them, it’s all relative. In an earlier blog, I alluded to the fact that scores of academics will now rush to explain this in terms of neurochemical or other cause. I was spot on. Already, reports BBC, Asperger’s syndrome has been blamed.
So, the way the worldly man thinks is as follows:
Step 1 Mess with the original truths – the sanctity of life, the rights of the individual, the rights of property ownership. Swap a few things around. Redefine some core “principles” if necessary. Like “human life” or “ownership” (who is to say the cellphone is hers in the broader scheme of things?)
Step 2 Find a solution to the problem now that those nasty absolutes are out of the way. Redefine the state of play. Fall back on the old, tired, weathered notions of “rights” and “goodwill” if you want some absolutes to step in.
Step 3 Blame something else – like a biological or sociological condition. The fetus is not human, really. The “gentleman” is an unfortunate victim of past atrocities. It is the legacy.
No – as James Dobson says. As hard as it is to acknowledge, it is clear that American society has turned its back on God by and large. Why are we no surprised, given the biblical doctrine of depravity of man’s heart.
These are the old markers. Return to them, or pay the consequences. Unfortunately, some innocent children are the victims here, and an innocent lady who just used a municipal parking space to get on with her business.
Perhaps if the “gentleman” in question had been assertively persuaded to return her property and step out the way by some real Samaritans (without fancy words and grandiose theories), then everyone would have thought: “Hey, there is decency and common law!”
Or perhaps if the police had arrived in time, assuming they were alerted.