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What do you consider to be effective means of keeping law and order in today's society ?

 

Obviously the practical means of doing so lies in the hands of the police force, para-military antiriot forces, and, in the last resort, the armed forces themselves. In democratic countries, these are firmly under the control of civilian governments, the members of which are freely elected.

Governments legislate and judiciaries administer the law. However the degree of control over the individual and the nature of the sanctions to be applied depend partly on the traditions of the country concerned and partly on the seriousness of the law and order problems which the country faces.

What are today's problem? Political protest, leading to strikes, street demonstrations, physical violence, use of arms and weapons, mob violence and vandalism, looting, and in extreme cases, civil war. Football violence, such as has recently excluded England from matches in Europe. Crime against the person and against property e.g. murder, rape, theft, burglary and vandalism. These evils spread from country to country by imitation through international media publicity. Paradoxically, they also spread when law and order sanctions are either tightened or relaxed. This dilemma faces Mr Gorbachev precisely because of glasnost and perestroika, particularly insofar as political unrest spreads through the Soviets and Russia's satellite neighbors.

So the distinction between personal and political motivation behind lawlessness must be made. Where the motivation is personal, i.e. based in natural violence, social resentment due perhaps to deprivation, greed, sexual amorality, hatred or drug-induced mental states, then sanctions must be toughened as required. There are arguments for and against the death penalty, but there is little doubt that it provides an effective deterrent. There are arguments against physical punishments, but they also deter. English law provides severer penalties for offences against property than against the person. In view of the muggings, street and public transport violence experienced today, this must be reversed.

The modish, liberal explanation of the increase of such crime is that `society rejects the poor and underprivileged. Rebuild slum areas and offer more government handouts and crime would disappear'. This is nonsense. What is society but a collection of individuals? Every individual is endowed with personal choice. The individual must be made to choose the law and order path. Religion and morality must be instilled into children in the home, in the school and in the workplace. Some form of compulsory national service of a non-military nature would benefit young adults of all racial origins and of both sexes.

The more difficult question is that of offence against law and order when the motivation is truly political. Do citizens owe a duty to support and preserve the established order in return for the benefits they receive from it? If not, at what point does the freedom fighter become the terrorist? At what point in a democracy does the legitimate lobby become the violent, chanting, vociferous and sometimes blackmailing pressure group? The answers must of course depend on the political stance of the individual. Again however the distinction between political and personal motivation must be clearly made. In Ireland religion and politics are used as a cover for common criminality. In South Africa the motivation behind violence is often tribal rivalry or the instinct to loot, pillage and murder.

The justification for using the sanctions already mentioned in order to maintain law and order when offences are political lies in the quality of any country's government. Where there is democracy, where there is a multi-party system, where the legal system is fair, where human rights including that of free speech within the law are preserved, there lies the justification. When these things are denied then there can be a case for resistance, even revolution.

Yet underlying the spread of common criminality is the flight from religion and morality and the weakening of the family system. Much youth delinquency could be pre-empted by discipline in the home, school and work-place, always provided the motivation behind such discipline is affection and the true well-being of the young person.

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
 
 

 

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