Category Archives: exculpatory sociology

Notes from underground

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 13.23.08On an escalator on the Metro, Dalrymple witnessed this scene:

A young man in international slum-costume and face as malign as the late Mark Duggan’s…used a spray gun to scrawl his initials in bright red on the handrail. Scores of people saw him do it….He returned the other way to repeat his action on another handrail.

Dalrymple was saddened.

The ease with which the stupid and criminal insolence of one young man was able to defeat the civilised conduct of the vast majority of citizens present was…dispiriting.

Duggan: malign

Duggan: malign

And just because the young man was cretinous

doesn’t mean he wasn’t cunning, or wouldn’t be able to draw the correct lesson that he could act with…impunity.

Dalrymple dared not do anything to stop the French Duggan. Nor did anyone else. Why? Dalrymple points to these factors:

  • He and others were ‘busy with their own lives’
  • He and others were afraid of the French Duggan, ‘that he might carry a knife or a gun’
  • He and others were ‘by no means confident that if they had intervened…it would be the young man and not they who would be charged with an offence’
  • Certain witnesses — admittedly a very few, the silliest among them — might have ‘so read, marked and inwardly digested the exculpatory sociology of our time that they saw in his graffito not an act of moral depravity but a cry for help’