Are you public-spirited? No, me neither. When I hear of have-a-go heroes who attack yobs with their umbrella or copy of The Times I ask myself “Why?” Why is this man risking life and limb and probably other parts as well, to confront these law-breakers? Isn’t that what we pay the police handsome salaries to do?
So when I saw the front page of that venerable organ The Irish News today, I felt once again out of tune with the organ’s zeitgeist. “Shoppers disarm raider” it declared, and followed with a blow-by-blow account of how a lad was overpowered at a Spar on the Glen Road as he tried to grab money from the till. When they asked the lad why he did it, he gave a disarmingly honest answer: “I had no money”. What the VO calls “the brave actions” of the customers follow a similar incident in a bank on the Lisburn Road recently, where customers overpowered another chap and kept him helpless until the cops arrived.
Why do they do it? Do the robber-overpowerers think that Mr Spar doesn’t have enough money? That they have a civic duty to protect the banks’ loot? You may be sure if the shoe were on the other foot – if the homes of the have-a-go heroes were being burgled – there would be no screech of tyres announcing the arrival of rescue teams from Mr Spar or Mr Bank. In fact, although I don’t say it out loud In case the VO or some such should hear me, the term ‘have-a-go-hero’ might be better reserved for the guys trying to get their fists in the till. Isn’t the right-wing press always urging those on the dole to get off their backsides and do something? If these doomed efforts to redistribute wealth don’t show initiative of a high order, I can’t think what does.
The bosses are pleased, of course, when the public risk death or injury to protect the bosses’ loot. Just as I’m sure BBC bosses were pleased when sports reporter Stephen Watson saw Jerome Quinn typing uncomplimentary remarks about the Beeb and hurried to tell his bosses. The kind word for people who take their life in their hands to see no one interferes with the money of the super-rich is misguided, and the polite word for people who go blabbing on their colleagues to the bosses is tout.