The Belmont Club today offers a discussion of Orwellian "psy-ops" in Great Britain concerning the increasing public fears about home invasion, in light of the murder of a well-known individual. For those of you who don't know about this, I refer you here and here. The basic point is that Britains who attempt to protect their homes against burglars and thugs have been the subject of intense legal prosecution to the point that homeowners are as frightened of going to jail for defending themselves as they are for being victimized by crime. As a result, home invasion is at an all-time high in Great Britain, where criminals have been emboldened to commit their crimes even when people are at home.
Now, back to the "psy-ops" being used by the British government. A psychological "expert", Dr. Ian Stephens offers the following advice:
When individuals are confronted by intruders there are some actions they should follow. Direct contact should be avoided whenever possible. If unavoidable, the victim should adopt a state of active passivity. In most cases the best form of defence is always avoidance. If this isn’t possible, act passively, be careful what you say or do and give up valuables without a struggle. This allows the victim to take charge of the situation, without the intruder’s awareness, through subtle and non-confrontational means. People can cooperate but initiate nothing. By doing nothing there is no chance of inadvertently initiating violence by saying something such as "Please don’t hurt me".
Sometimes the perpetrator of a burglary is even more terrified than the victim and in many cases when things go wrong it is the perpetrator of the crime who panics. Although they sometimes go equipped with weapons, in most cases they probably don’t intend to use them but in the heat of the moment, and the fear of either getting caught or attacked themselves, they use them. They don’t expect the person they are trying to hold up to retaliate or react. Mostly the knife is there simply for intimidation rather than intent to use it and they finish up killing somebody by accident rather than design.
As Wretchard correctly points out, this "expert advice" all but says, "It is YOUR fault if something bad happens." Those poor criminals didn't mean to hurt you! If you had only remained passive--instead of FORCING them to hurt or kill you!
I have two points to make as a psychiatrist. The first is that Dr. Stephen's advice is woefully shortsighted. He does not follow through. I would agree with him that acting passively--or, rather PRETENDING to act passively is a good idea. One should ALWAYS do what one has to in order to stay alive, and if acting passively is what is needed, then so be it. But that is where he and I part company. Passivity is a good strategy when there is nothing yet you are able to do to change a situation. But--and this is a BIG but--you should be ACTIVELY looking for an opportunity to 1) escape from the situation; or 2) take control of the situation. Neither of these may be viable options in a particular situation, but that does not mean you have to embrace the VICTIM role by default. It is morally and ethically sensible to lie, cheat and behave in a dishonest manner if you have to in order to survive. It is ethically and morally imperative that you protect yourself in whatever way you can from those whose intent is to harm you or your loved ones. Dr. Stephens' advice only works for a society of rabbits living in wolf country, who know they will get eaten anyway.
The second point is that--from a psychological perspective--a society that protects the criminal and prosecutes the innocent for self-defense against criminals is acting out of "identification with the aggressor". The government identifies with the criminal and is intent on protecting the criminal, because the government's own actions towards its citizens is morally equivalent to the actions of thieves and criminals. The officials of this society know that if you were allowed to protect yourself from those who would harm you, you might decide to act against the benevolent socialist government itself! Socialism IS the ultimate form of "home invasion", after all. It teaches that someone else is entitled to your work and effort; your property and life. In such a system, criminals naturally become the ruling class. On some subconscious level, the government knows this, and --just as the authorities did in Orwell's 1984--they will punish you for acting in your own interest and against the criminal interests of the State.
Wretchard quotes Orwell: If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face -- forever." Then adds his own pithy comment: "He forgot to add one thing: you will polish the boot." Read his entire analysis at the link above!