Why does RAAD flourish? Or even exist? The authorities would say because they’ve cowed the local population, people are afraid to speak out against them or name them. RAAD would say it serves a community purpose: it puts the fear of God, or at least of pain and/or death, into the drug-pushers. Who’s right?
Well, maybe both. If you lived in a community where you knew who was administering punishment beatings, who was sometimes killing people, would you stand up and denounce them, name names? It’s always easier to wax moral about matters from a safe distance.
But it’s not all based on fear. Even where drugs aren’t concerned, people can feel driven to distraction by some social problem that nobody in authority appears willing to take on. I once knew a woman who moved into a new house. For a time she and her family were thrilled by their new setting. Then the next-door neighbours began to make their children’s life hell. Taunts, abuse, even stones. The woman brought her case to the police but was politely told to get lost. If these people weren’t caught in the act of making her existence and her family’s hell, there was nothing could be done. She even thought of selling the recently-bought house and moving out again but the practicalities of life made that impossible. Then someone suggested she have a word with Whatshisname. If she had a genuine complaint and was in despair, Whatshisname might have an answer. So after weeks of agonizing, she had a word with Whatshisname. One morning a week later the family from next door woke to find all of their windows had been broken. Inside forty-eight hours they’d moved out. From that day to this, the woman is full of praise for the window-breakers who solved her problem.
Morally dubious? Rough justice? You betcha. But when you’re faced with a problem that’s driving you and your family crazy, and when those appointed to solve that problem shrug their shoulders, maybe you’d be less fastidious about who solved it for you and how.
Maybe RAAD is a bit like the Duke of Wellington’s troops. You remember how he famously said “I don't know what effect these men will have upon the enemy, but, by God, they frighten me”.