Friday, 12 August 2011

Away with it

It's been a really depressing week for watching the News from behind the sofa through your fingers (unless you smugly live in Norwich of course).

One person much nearer the front line of street violence (but slightly tooo far to the left of centre) is the lovely Annie who said something very perceptive in her blog comments:

"...if we've learned anything it's that everybody will steal if they think they can get away with it".

Which is quite true.

The observation arose when I pointed out that pontificating Danny Baker (who I used to absolutely hero worship) had been criticising the Police on Twitter. Only last week he was on Desert Island Discs boasting about his Docker Dad bringing home loads of merchandise every week from the docks where he had, er, stolen it. It wasn't really stealing, of course, because everyone was doing it and the Dockers would come out on strike if anyone tried to stop them.

I suppose everyone in the Country is somewhere on that continuum between using an Employer's paper clips at home and marching into a ransacked Currys to pick up a digital radio. Take away the violence and the only difference is not the principle but the degree. Teary eyed looters who had been caught this week were coming out with the "Everyone else was doing it..." excuse which has such a familiar ring to it. It also means they didn't for one second expect to be caught.

In the last few years the same "Everyone was at it" mantra has been used to justify:

1. Phone Hacking

2. MP's expense fiddling.

3. Illegal downloading of Music from Pirate Bay & Napster.

4. Banker's ill-gotten bonuses.

I'd be interested to see if any reader of this blog is prepared to stand up and claim that they have never knowingly broken the law or taken (ie stolen) products or services using the "everybody else is at it" get out.


Geoff said...

I actually left my calculator at work when I went. Just in case of any legal ramifications.

Someone said on Twitter Currys is the unemployed's stationery cupboard. Or something like that.

Kids are brainwashed to get the latest gear from a very young age nowadays. And there's always something new saying "Come and get me" from a shop window.

posted from my ipad2

Tim said...

I stole a really cool stapler when I left work. But it requires non-standard-size staples, so that was a wasted career.

Scarlet Blue said...

I once turned down £250/- cos of my morals if it makes you feel any better. True, and it wasn't anything illegal.

Christopher said...

*remains seated, thus deterring neighbours from stealing chair*

Z said...

Having been self-employed for several decades, stealing from the stationery cupboard doesn't really apply, especially as we often don't bother to claim for tax-deductible items. My copy of Dead Souls was accidentally purloined from the library when I worked there before I had my first baby; I found it many years later. I can't think of anything else I've physically stolen, but someone downloaded an item of computer software once for me and I asked no questions. And we've occasionally paid cash for a service, not checking whether it included VAT or would be declared for tax, but in the expectation that it wouldn't.

Dave said...

A couple of thousand years ago someone said 'let him who is without sin cast the first stone'. Notwithstanding the upright citizens above (would it help if I increased my offer, Scarls?) none of us are perfect. I know I'm not.

Scarlet Blue said...

...I am going to help Mr Christopher look after the chair, by sitting on his knee...

Zig said...

on surveying the estate I can safely say that nearly everything I have has been previously owned and some have even been paid for, even Himself, for which I am paying dearly.

Macy said...

I used to help myself to the pick and mix when I worked the early morning shift at RS McColls.
To this day the sight of a chocolate ginger takes me right back.

And would reading the magazines and papers for free count?

Rog said...

Right we've established you're a right bunch of reprobates.

I've never done anything wrong in my life but implied that I have in order to elicit these damning endictments from you all.

I thangyow!

Roses said...

I'm going to sit quietly.

When I was younger, I did download music from dodgy websites. Now I have access to iTunes, I pay.

Nota Bene said...

Pass me the handcuffs...

Timorous Beastie said...

I've never stolen anything as far as I recall, but more because I could never live with the guilt than because of any sense of it being wrong. My friends used to nick sweets from RA McColls (sorry, Macy) but I was too scared of getting caught.

I did, however, fail to inform the university where I did my MA that they hadn't cashed a cheque I sent them for one of the modules I did. I'm six hundred quid richer as a result.

Liz said...

Having thought about this since reading your post yesterday, I can think of a few things that are technically theft;

Making personal phone calls from work at your employer's expense (slightly less of an issue for the self-employed).

Using your employer's internet facilities for things other than work. I had a short story published in the BBC Book of the Future in 2003 that was written at work one Tuesday afternoon while my boss was away on a sking holiday (which she had booked using the PC in her office).

Realising you have been given too much change and not returning it to the retailer that overpaid it to you.

I am guilty of all these things. I still think that looting a wide screen telly from Currys during a riot is worse though!

Tim said...

The moral dimensions of this interesting debate expand into ever-increasing circles. For me, all crimes are equal, because they're crimes. Law is law, full stop, otherwise anarchy rules.