An immodest proposal

Dec 2nd, 2010 | By | Category: Ireland

Isn’t there something in martial arts about turning an opponent’s strength into his weakness?

In dire economic times where resources are stretched, couldn’t the Government address petty crime by looking at what motivates those involved? Aren’t drink and sex, and sometimes drugs, at the heart of the thinking of most of those who get caught up in petty, and sometimes stupidly pointless, antisocial activity?

Watching an advert on television for Corsodyl mouthwash, an advert which has been around for two years, so must have been successful, it seems that sex still sells.  Acknowledging the reality of youth behaviour, what a Machiavellian government might attempt is a programme whereby sex doesn’t so much sell, in the way a clever company might sell a product, but to control the members of the groups targeted in anti-social behaviour prevention programmes.

The likely success of such a programme became apparent during a visit to a south Dublin shopping centre one Saturday night a couple of years ago.

Things were needed for Sunday and the 24 hour supermarket was the only place still open at nine o’clock.  Lurking outside the mostly closed shops were a bunch of what an Irish Times colour supplement a couple of years ago would have described as ‘skangers’, the Irish counterpart to the English ‘chavs’. They weren’t causing trouble, just loitering with the inevitable logo-carrying label hoodies pulled up. The omnipresent security man stood about ten yards away watching them. He seemed of Eastern European origin, was this what he anticipated when he came to our land of opportunity? Standing outside of a supermarket on a Saturday night?

I came out of the supermarket, threw my purchases in through the passenger’s door and then sat in my car and watched, The group stood outside of the off license, some had packs of beer, none of them showed much sign of going anywhere. Then the group broke up and some drifted away. Looking to the right, there were two teenage girls, heavily underdressed for an Irish March evening, low cut tops, short skirts. They had made it clear that they weren’t hanging around any longer, if the boys wanted their company, then they had better move now.

If one was a Machiavellian minister of justice, one would target girls who hang around supermarket car parks on a Saturday night with a programme that encouraged them to keep the guys off the streets; incentivise social behaviour.  Ethical, it would not be, and would be of questionable integrity, but if it reduced fear and, sometimes, real terror in particular communities and reduced the number of potential customers for those who sell drugs from shiny German cars, it might be the lesser of evils.

(With apologies to Dean Swift)

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