David Cameron has suggested that ‘the moment a burglar steps over your threshold… I think they leave their human rights outside’. The Daily Mail published an article on this that has so far attracted over 338 comments, of which the majority (and best rated) are people saying it is about time we’re allowed Carte Blanche in our own homes. The Daily Mail have done their best to hype things up a little bit with a few choice phrases such as: ‘Under existing laws, homeowners are allowed to use only ‘reasonable’ force to tackle a burglar’.
This is put forward as if it is unreasonable that homeowners are only allowed to use reasonable force, as if somehow homeowners are being cheated out of a basic right to defend themselves and their homes. This is, of course, utter rubbish. Reasonable force sounds vague precisely because it is designed to be flexible. For example, if a burglar breaks into your house and is subdued merely by being discovered and cowers in fear whilst you call the police, who then turn up to arrest him; it is safe to assume that reasonable force in this instance would be making sure the burglar did not leave the premises. Unreasonable force in this instance would be knocking the burglar to the ground with a cricket bat and beating him to within an inch of his life.
However, should the burglar try to escape by grabbing a kitchen knife and trying to stab the homeowner; then reasonable force would cover the homeowner grabbing a chair and knocking out the burglar and so on and so forth. Reasonable force can cover pretty much any act carried out by someone protecting their home and perhaps more importantly their family as long as the circumstances justify the force. This – to me at least – sounds reasonable and I can see why the phrase legislation is called ‘reasonable force’.
The idea that burglars are no longer human beings once they enter your house is to suggest that we can just give anyone a damn good beating and worse even if they don’t pose a real threat. It’s a slippery slope which we perhaps don’t want to go down when reasonable force can protect ‘law abiding citizens’ who – according to the comments on the Mail article – seem to be suffering from the advent of universal human rights.
Perhaps now is a good time to examine just what rights homeowners should have in their own home and consider the case of Paddy and Stephanie Lynch, who invited into their home a maths tutor for their 14 year old daughter who is unable to attend school because she has Leukaemia. This couple invited the maths tutor – Olive Jones – into their ‘non-religious’ home to tutor their daughter in maths. However, according to this couple Olive Jones:
“used every opportunity to discuss religion, despite the fact I made it clear we were a non-religious family and didn’t want to talk about these issues in this way. On one occasion she asked my daughter to pray with her. My daughter was distressed by this behaviour.
“On another, after the death of my daughter’s close friend, Mrs Jones told my 14-year-old daughter that when young people die they go to heaven. These conversations upset my daughter deeply. The sessions with Mrs Jones became increasingly traumatic and we decided it was not appropriate for this woman to come to my home.”
However, rather than report this story as more evidence that homeowners need more rights and that visitors ‘should lose the right to convert your loved ones to their religion once they enter your house’ the Daily Mail attacked the parents and suggested that this was another disgraceful attack on Christianity.
So there you have it, you should be allowed to give anyone who breaks into your home a damn good kicking whether it is necessary or not, but you should not be allowed to defend your daughter from a maths teacher with a penchant for distressing your daughter with religious propaganda.
For full details and the latest on the appalling Daily Mail reporting of the Olive Jones case – attacking the family for trying to protect their child – see Tabloidwatch’s post: ‘Who are the zealots? (cont.)‘ and his original post on the subject: ‘You can’t upset a 14yo girl with leukaemia any more – it’s political correctness gone mad!‘.
For more on the ‘burglars should lose human rights at the door’ story you might also want to look at Nadine Dorries’ tweets on the subject which are looked at over on the Nadine Dorries Project: ‘Not All Humans Have Human Rights‘.