So I was reading The Independent on the way to work this morning. I find this is something that I do less and less these days as the paper has started to irritate me – it isn’t “independent” in the slightest. How can a newspaper that editorialises on its front page pretty much every day claim to be independent?
Anyway, they’re leading today with a piece on Asbos (Anti-Social Behaviour Orders) and how they are increasingly being used on children (defined therein as anyone under 18). The Indie then provides some examples for us to consider (these are from the print edition so I cannot link):
Boy, 16, from Birmingham
Banned from housing estate after he and some fellow gang members vandalised cars and homes
Boy, 16, from Staffordshire
One of 11 gang members ordered not to misbehave in public after drunken rampage in which windows were broken
Boy, 17, from Livingstone
Banned from main shopping area and streets near family of former girlfriend that he allegedly stalked
Boy, 15, from Co Durham
Banned from playing football in his village after causing havoc on busy roads and abusing passers-by
And so on.
So I’m reading through these and thinking “Yes? And? What’s the problem, exactly?”. Admittedly, there were a few instances where the slapping of the Asbo seemed a bit inappropriate, for example in the case of the boy with Tourette’s syndrome being banned from swearing in public, or another where a 15 year old boy with Asperger’s syndrome was banned from staring into a neighbour’s garden. OK, these don’t seem right. But I bet the vast majority of these little shits thoroughly deserve to have their freedoms curtailed and quite frankly, if it becomes necessary for civility to be enforced in this way then so be it. I just don’t have a problem with anti-social behaviour being punished. It sometimes feels like this country is under seige from louts and general chav types, so if we have a way of fighting back, let’s do so and bollocks to the bleeding hearts brigade. You can blame the parents, blame the schools, blame society, but ultimately the way you behave comes down to individual choice.