Tuesday, 19 August 2014

A Topical Parable

A story for you:

A man was standing outside his house.  He was fully grown, and extremely fit and strong.  The family next door had a little boy, a four year old whom everyone acknowledged was a complete brat, always causing trouble and misbehaving.  In the past, he had even damaged the man’s garden, and vandalised his house.  Despite many complaints, the boy’s family appeared unwilling or unable to do anything to moderate the child’s behaviour.

Seeing this man standing outside his house, the little boy ran straight up to him and hit him as hard as he possibly could in the leg, which was about as high as he could reach.  Even though the boy was small and the man was large, it still rather hurt.  After all, even small children can hit surprisingly hard if they want to.  The boy turned to run, and far more angry than hurt, the man gave chase.  The boy fled into his house, the man followed, smashing furniture and kicking down doors to get at the child.  The boy had several equally young brothers and sisters, and these were sent flying or trampled underfoot as the man furiously chased the little boy.

He finally cornered him, leant down and retaliated in kind, punching the child as hard as he possibly could, sending the child crashing into the floor.  This was witnessed by a large number of people, and the police were immediately called.  When they arrived, the man pointed out that the boy had struck him first, and that he had merely responded with a proportionately equal degree of force in order to defend himself, and he was shocked when instead of being sympathised with, and even praised for teaching the little brat a lesson, he was arrested and carted away.

Who was in the wrong?  The boy, for hitting the man?  The boy’s family, for not disciplining him sooner?  Perhaps the brothers and sisters who got in the way and were badly hurt through no fault of their own?  Or was it a grown man, striking out with all his power and fury, and not caring who he hurt so long as he could deal out the punishment that he considered just, no matter how disproportionate?

I know what I think, and I’m pretty sure I know what the court said when the man was brought before it.

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