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Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Mark Steyn writes today on the crime epidemic in Britain, specifically in the metal department. It seems that anything metal (especially made of lead or copper) is being stolen, right down to the door knockers and number plates on people's homes.
But “crime prevention” measures cannot in and of themselves prevent crime. When I lived in England, not so long ago, one of the minor pleasures of rural life was walking across a couple of fields, along a public footpath through a copse, discovering a small medieval country church, and going inside to contemplate the divine for a few minutes. In those days, the churches were unlocked. They’re not anymore. Presumably there were local lads who would steal from the Lord even then, but not a significant segment of the population who targeted houses of worship. So today there’s wire mesh over the beautiful (one assumes) stained glass to stop thieves pinching the lead from the windows. It’s a small loss, but a telling one. The police have no leads, and the buildings have no lead. Ask not for whom the bell tolls; it was stolen last Thursday.

Back in the Seventies, it was discovered that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were illegally burning the barns of Quebec separatists. And the then Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, remarked with his customary glibness that if people were upset by the illegal barn-burning perhaps he’d make it legal for the Mounties to burn barns. As George Jonas observed, M. Trudeau had missed the point: barn-burning wasn’t wrong because it was illegal; it was illegal because it was wrong. Once that distinction is lost, civil society becomes all but impossible – because a broadly agreed morality plays a big role in social cohesion. Today in the western world, more and more things are illegal but we’re less and less clear what’s wrong. And everywhere but America, where any metal thief who attempts to steal your doorknob risks staggering away with at least as much metal lodged in his vital organs as in his swag bag, the state doesn’t trust its citizens to defend their property and in doing so uphold what’s right.

Britain’s metal crime is a poignant image of social disintegration: The very infrastructure of society – the manhole covers, the pipes, the cables on the transportation system, the fittings of the courthouse – is being cannibalized and melted down. When there’s no longer a sufficiently strong moral consensus and when the state actively disapproves of a self-reliant citizenry, what’s left is the law. And law detached from any other social pillars is not enough, and never can be.


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Darius' book montage

The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Overcoming Sin and Temptation
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
Disciplines of a Godly Man
Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Respectable Sins
The Kite Runner
Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, ... anabaptist/anglican, metho
Show Them No Mercy
The Lord of the Rings
Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming
The Chronicles of Narnia
Les Misérables

Darius Teichroew's favorite books »