New Justice Secretary and all-round tough guy Chris Grayling has used his platform at the Tory party conference to promote plans to permit the pummelling of fellow citizens for trespassing on one’s property. ‘If you act in a disproportionate way,’ Grayling reassures the baseball-bat-wielding homeowners of middle England, ‘the law will be on your side.’
Whilst condoning assault on burglars, Grayling also appears to be committing an assault against the English language. Disproportionate force is, by definition, unacceptable; redefining what’s legal simply changes what we consider ‘proportionate’. If we let it, this issue could spiral out of control (not to mention proportion), with Grayling sitting in the middle of a vortex of vocabulary, first beating and, soon, beheading anyone challenging his dominion over this legal singularity. But I suppose you can’t get people out of your house by using logical reasoning. Especially if you’re incapable of logical reasoning.
And there are no worries about Grayling having any of that. Like an exam board desperately trying to differentiate high-flying students with top grades of A-double-star-plus, the law would award overachieving home-defending psychos the adverb-laden accolade of ‘grossly disproportionate’. Grayling explains:
But if you act in a grossly disproportionate way?… I think if the burglar is out cold on the floor and you then stick a knife into him, that, in my judgment would be grossly disproportionate.
Well, it’s good to know that his judgment is reasonable.
Hang on…what? Is stabbing a defenceless person in cold blood really the first example of a disproportionately disproportionate response which would cross his presumably-briefed mind? It would be most enlightening to know what he could come up with in the heat of a burglary. Probably a first-draft screenplay for Saw VII.
So, is the punishment of disproportionately violent self-defence really an issue? Well, no. According to the BBC, just 0.47 people a year are prosecuted for this kind of burglar-bashing. This gives you an approximately 0.0000007% chance of being afflicted by such a prosecution this year. The good news is that you’re ten times more likely to win the lottery this weekend with a single ticket; the bad news is that there’s a 99.9999993% chance that this might just be whipping up a grossly disproportionate level of media attention for an issue that would have been better left out cold at the foot of the stairs.
Continuing economic crisis? Cutting of cancer, heart disease and stroke doctors? Hilariously mishandled privatised transport auction procedure? Look, over here, someone in 2008, jailed after using a cricket bat on intruders, was later released! Important political issue of the day: identified.