Thursday, March 16, 2006

Hey, we care

Scene: a magistrate's court, recently. Two defendants, one male (49), the other female (39), both drug addicts with lengthy records for offences of dishonesty and facing a new charge of supermarket theft.

The female is currently on a 'conditional discharge' for an offence of outraging public decency (since she's a drug addict, you can probably work out what this almost certainly entailed). Both are on Incapacity Benefit, of course. Both are, of course, in sheltered accommodation, where they met. Both are on courses of methadone and other drugs rehabilitative schemes.

To the current offfence, both pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity. In the dock, they make a genuinely pathetic sight. Their advocate requests that a fine is imposed by way of sentence (since they have no legitimate income, they would not be paying this: you and I would).

The sentence eventually imposed: a conditional discharge for 12 months (to the woman, the magistrate says, laughably: "You already know what this means, since you are already subject to a conditional discharge. So if you commit further offences, you could be punished for those as well". Yeah, right).

Exactly what do we learn from all of this?

That they, poor creeturs, are thereby saved?

To what end?

They inhabit a pseudo-life, where their actions have no consequences, beyond the transparent misery and bathos of their tragically wasted existences. They are provided with their basic needs, and nothing is demanded of them. They are treated as the numbskull children their own behaviour has encouraged others to consider them as being. Nothing is expected of them.

Indeed, all that is expected of anyone is what is expected of you and I: that we should continue to be complicit in the maintenance of this couple. Our pity is demanded of us, as is our financial slavery.

Pity and slavery.

Out of these conditions, the conditions to which the rest of us have no choice but to capitulate, this couple - no doubt as their health deteriorates, the NHS will provide the necessary hip replacements, largely risk-free amputations, and so on - will be kept alive for many years, just as they are now.

Whatever flaws in their characters took them down this route in the first place, you and I, our pity and our slavery, make those flaws a viable going concern. That is where our guilt lies.


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