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Sunday, August 02, 2009

News and not news

Settled down on the train after a long day in town and picked up a couple of discarded newspapers to leaf through, thought I'd catch up on the news. Let's see... Doctor kicked to death by muggers near Buckingham palace... Father beaten to death by yobs in own front garden... Members of feral underclass beat to death yet another of their own children (this only happens once a week on average, so I shouldn't exaggerate), the usual kind of thing in a city where you are now seven times more likely to be a crime victim in New York. These stories are hardly news any more.

When I was in Texas last, I remember seeing a story in a local paper about a man who had shot dead someone who trying to rob him. Rather than a prosecution under health & safety regulations, he got some sort of prize from a community association. Needless to say, my brother-in-law's family, who live in Dallas, do not live in fear of yobs beating them up in their front garden or making their lives hell in the town centre on a Friday. I used the think that the American solution -- of segregating the middle class from the underclass -- was primitive and unsustainable, but our alternative (providing generous welfare to the underclass as a kind of danegeld) doesn't seem to be working. I'm racking my brain for a third way.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

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