31 JANUARY 2004, Page 71

Crime thought


T uc Ferry, no relation to Lucy or Bryan, Linsists I cannot wear my Christian cross and go near a French school. Luc Ferry says many silly things, including that Jewish yarmulkas and Muslim head scarves are also prohibited in places of learning, and he's even thinking of making beards illegal. Except for being an utter fool in this case, Luc Ferry is also France's education minister, an important post in a country which takes learning seriously. How did the French get into this mess? By being politically correct, that's how.

When Jean-Marie Le Pen first signalled the dangers of unlimited Muslim immigration, the establishment held its nose and called him a filthy racist. For good measure they threw in an anti-Semite label, because, according to PC law, if you are a nationalist like Le Pen, you are also a racist, an anti-Semite, and, of course, proHitler. Monsieur le President, honest Jacques Chirac, refused to debate with Le Pen in the last presidential election, leaving Jean-Marie, whose only crime seems to be that he cares more for French men and women than Muslim men and women, talking to himself.

Now the chickens have come home to roost, as they used to say in Hong Kong before the latest bird-flu scare. The dresscode farce shows the feminists who were in favour of banning the scarves as symbols of female oppression to be as full of horse manure as Chirac, who first called the scarves 'aggressive'. Once the Muslims complained that they were being singled out, Luc Ferry banned all religious symbols, including 'religious beards', whatever that may mean. One thing is for sure, if the law passes, go out and buy yourself Gillette

stock. They're going to have to shave seven million of them.

Over in this country, things are more clear-cut. It is not the scarves that are aggressive, but the muggers. The public fears traffic wardens more than the fuzz, and the fuzz lives in fear it might be labelled racist for highlighting a crime wave disproportionately carried out by black youths. The chattering classes, of course, tremble at the thought of having to admit crime has got out of hand, but comfort themselves by attending cocktail parties and condemning racism in general and racists like the poor little Greek boy in particular.

Then there are those funny busybodies who look out for improper speech or writing and recommend prosecution. While a hard core of muggers are busy gang-raping mostly white women, the fuzz is busy investigating those who dare point out facts and figures.

As a Daily Telegraph leader wrote, 'Women and girls of white European appearance accounted for 59 per cent of victims but the sexual violence also heavily affected the black community, with 28 per cent of victims described as Afro-Caribbean.'

When I was attacked by three black men about seven years ago, I did not bother to

even describe them to the police. The only reason the cops came to Cale Street long after the muggers had fled was because the fight was noisy and someone had called the police and complained. I guess I was lucky the fuzz didn't arrest me for defending myself and causing a nuisance. Although I'm trying to be light-hearted, it is actually outrageous. The cops are as useless at pre venting crime as they are aggressive on policing thought and speech. They threaten a Tory candidate in Wales, arrest a Christian preacher for expressing unfashionable views on buggery, and menace broadcasters and writers with prosecution.

Everything is topsy-turvy. The cops have become a menace to those who obey the law, and do the dirty work of those who are opposed to free speech and liberty. There is a sense of anarchy in the air, yet the courts seem determined to criminalise those who defend themselves against the criminals. Reading Tom Utley last week about how his 12-year-old son was mugged by a teenager, I wondered what I would have done had I been present. Had I attacked the mugger, I most likely would have been charged and jailed. Unless one is lucky and manages to apply a good ankle-bar or choke-hold, the only alternative is a hard blow to the jaw, or a fingerthrust to the eyes.

I can see it clearly. Prosecuted and jailed for using unreasonable force. There would be very little sympathy from those who form public opinion for someone well-off who injured a 'victim' of society. In the meantime violent crime has increased by 14 per cent in the third quarter of 2003, compared with 2002. Welcome to the green and pleasant land of England.