THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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Chelsea fans battle police after defeat (but not in Moscow)

Link: Champions League final: Chelsea fans battle police after defeat to Manchester United - Telegraph.

RiotThe biggest change in Britain in my lifetime has been the development of a culture which excuses all kinds of misconduct by reference to "social factors", "alcohol", "drugs" or whatever. I have never bought it. People of all cultures and classes, though they they may occasionally do stupid things, are largely "rational actors".

This story rather proves it. Riot in London and you will probaby not be arrested. If you are arrested, you will be treated gently. You will probably not do any jail time. Do any jail time and you will probably be released early. And in any event, the chattering classes (including any social workers or probation officers) will not hold you personally accountable, but will blame it on external factors. Being, in truth, a rational actor you will learn to deploy all their arguments in your favour as this excellent little book explains.

Do the same in Moscow, however, and the police will deal with you rather differently. With the full support of  government and society, they will deploy all such force as is necessary (and a little more for good measure) to minimise the danger to themselves and others. They will throw you in an uncomfortable cell  from which you will shortly depart to an uncomfortable prison via a court which is ruthlessly unsympathetic to your social excuses. So unsympathetic in fact, that it is quite likely to increase your sentence for having dared to blame your own bad behaviour on others.

I am not saying the Russian justice system is perfect or even good. As you know, I don't comment on Russian affairs. I am a guest in this country and that would be rude. I am merely saying that the changes introduced in the systems of law enforcement in Britain during my lifetime are stupid. The English football fans in Moscow yesterday were aware of Russia's reputation and behaved accordingly. How else can you account for the fact that there was no violence? A few rowdy drunks were rounded up before they could "kick off" and denied access to the match, but otherwise all was serene. Football fans are near enough for all practical purposes (just like everyone else) to being rational actors. All efforts to factor in external forces as defences to any misbehaviour (or as mitigation to any punishment) are therefore rather worse than a total waste of time.


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