Jeff Randal in an article in today's Daily Telegraph, London, quotes the Chief Rabbi of Britain, Sir Jonathan Sacks: 'We are living through the death of civility … Today, it is commonplace to encounter road rage, muggings, street crime, drunkenness, lager louts, hoodies, yobbishness and laddishness. Teachers are attacked in the classroom. Nurses encounter violence from patients'.
Jeff Randal continues, 'The death of civility? I'm afraid so. The liberal revolution of the Sixties, which separated morality from law, is leading us, says Sacks, to "a new form of barbarism". The view that "it's legal, so I can do it" is destroying the fabric of social harmony. Manners are disappearing, along with courtesy and shame'.
There's a clear increase in violent crime, involving guns or knives, in both Ireland and Britain in recent years and I've noticed in Ireland an increasing gratuitous coarseness in language over the years, not to mention the use of words that were previously taboo on radio, TV and in movies. I remember reading With a Machine Gun to Cambrai by George Coppard. He was one of the few ordinary soldiers to write about his experience in the Great War (1914-1918). He had a few pages about the soldiers' language. When they were engaged in fighting at the front it was extremely primitive, with the 'f'' word prevailing. However, when they moved from the front their language became less coarse. His interpretation was that language reflects the world we live in. Violent language reflects violence. The front in World War I was hell and the soldiers' language reflected that, even though the war also produced some sublime poetry.
Jeff Randal's article suggests a direct link between the availability of abortion, which is the direct killing of an unborn child, an act of ultimate violence, even if legal, and the rise in mindless violence among young people in certain parts of Britain. I was studying in a Catholic college in New York between 1968 and 1971. During that time the New York State Legislature made what amounted to abortion-on-demand legal in the State. This was before the US Supreme Court interpreted the US Constitution perversely, in the deepest sense of that word, to make the same legal everywhere in the USA under the name of 'privacy' (Roe v Wade). But after the New York decision one student, a young woman, wrote in the college paper, 'Now we have another way to solve our problems' - in another words, what Rabbi Sacks was saying, 'It's legal, so I can do it'.
Jeff Randall ends his article thus: 'The state protects Abu Qatada, but not semi-formed babies. Their lives are no longer precious, not even cheap. They are deemed to be worthless.
'When our legal system loses its moral compass, it is only to be expected that on the mean streets of Britain many impressionable children will do the same.'