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City Journal Summer 2014.
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NEW BOOK FROM THEODORE DALRYMPLE:
The New Vichy Syndrome: Why European Intellectuals Surrender to Barbarism.
NOT WITH A BANG BUT A WHIMPER:
The Politics and Culture of Decline

by Theodore Dalrymple
Not With a Bang But a Wimper.
 
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Theodore Dalrymple
The British Way of Murder
Surveillance won’t guarantee good behavior.
9 April 2007

Britain is experiencing a spate of murders that suggests a population increasingly unable, or unwilling, to control itself. A recent survey suggested that the British are now more prone to knife-fights than any other people in Europe. Guns have also become fashionable, despite—or is it because of?—stringent laws against them. An emblematic recent murder was that of Krystal Hart, a pregnant 22 year-old, shot with two bullets in the head and then found in her apartment in an up-and-coming part of London, which she shared with her mother.

As with any widely publicized murder in Britain these days, an outpouring of sentiment ensued. Mourners left flowers (still in cellophane wrapping) at the site, and the press conducted interviews with the victim’s relatives, who never seemed too distressed to grab a moment of fame, and who noted that the victim was a wonderful person. Then followed the typically emasculated detective, whose first thought, at least for public broadcast, was for the grieving relatives, and who said that this was a senseless murder, implying that perhaps there are perfectly sensible ones. Thus, the public gets the impression that what was terrible about the murder was not that it was contrary to common law—the nature of the victim being irrelevant—but that a young and pretty pregnant woman, “so bubbly and full of life,” died. If she were a person of different character—an old reclusive miser, say—it wouldn’t have been so terrible, it seems, and certainly wouldn’t have been worth publicizing.

Krystal Hart’s boyfriend, who had impregnated her, lamented that he had so looked forward to starting a family with her. Some might say that he had already done so. But that was not his only involvement with the incident. Shortly before the murder, he had come to her apartment, and had a disagreement with an associate of one of her neighbors; both of them, separately, left the scene. Hart and the neighbor, it turns out, had a long-standing dispute about parking spaces, but also about something else, as yet unknown to the public. Their ongoing quarrel was so acrimonious that Hart’s father—separated from her mother, as is now customary—had installed a closed-circuit television at the entrance to the apartment for security.

Thirty minutes after the quarrel, the neighbor’s associate, his ego no doubt bruised by something said in the dispute, returned with a gun, probably searching for the boyfriend. Instead, after kicking the door down, he shot Krystal Hart.

The media reports of practically every murder in Britain now conclude with the words, “The police are studying the CCTV evidence.” Britain has by far the highest density of closed-circuit television cameras in the world, each Briton being filmed 300 times per day. But no amount of electronic surveillance can ensure common decency.

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More by Theodore Dalrymple:
The Inexhaustible Hamlet
Ferry Unfair
The French (Jihad) Connection
More . . .
This story was cited in:
Wired
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