Friday, 07 September 2007

Incivility in the dock A young woman had to go to court the other day for putting her flip-flopped feet on a train seat. The Guardian reports. There was a similar case some months ago, when a bloke was taken to court for 'behaving in a disorderly, indecent or offensive manner that interfered with the comfort or convenience of a person on the railway' - (yup, putting his feet on a seat). In this report, there is also mention of an attempt to prosecute someone for putting their feet on a station bench. Personally I think Merseyrail deserve all the formalised contempt that can be mustered: they got a mild bollocking from the court for being silly, but don't seem to have heard yet that zero-tolerance doesn't work, nor thought it through. And reading through the Guardian readers' comments is salutary for revealing the number of vehement, savagely punitive supporters the rail company seems to have found. Apart from the occasional alternative view ('What a bunch of secret fascists you lot are') the perpetrator of this not-very-hideous crime gets no mercy from the baying pack. And I know, from having visited some of these comment blogs before, that you tend to get these kinds of aggressive shoot-from-the-hip, bring-back-the-birch reactions - even from readers of a newspaper generally regarded as liberal or even 'left-leaning'. What hope is there for respect in the neighbourhood? If a kid plays ball near a 'No ball games' sign, better be ready for the righteous fury. I'm reduced to a state of gloom about attitudes towards behaviour and institutionalised discipline in this country. Think I'll go out and smile at somebody.

Recent Comments