The Other I

May 12, 2010

Cheers for breaking the law

I’m not naturally drawn to breaking the law – in fact, it usually seems to me to be worth a fair amount of inconvenience not to – for myself and for society in general.  An attitude of indifference to the rule of law, if too widespread, leads to anarchy.

It goes without saying there are some times when the law is immoral.  I was five years old when World War II ended, but my second-generation German lawyer father never let us doubt that there are times when governments must be defied.

But sometimes the law is simply idiotic. Aspects of health and safety legislation here in Britain belong firmly in this category.

And so it was with great delight and relief that I read the story about three teenagers who defied the police and jumped into the River Clyde to save a drowning woman.  The police were lined up on the river bank keeping observers away but refusing to go into the water themselves to help.  “It’s not our job,” they argued.  They were waiting for the fire department to arrive.  By which point the woman would clearly have been dead.

Glasgow City Guide Photograph: Glasgow Guide: Images: Glasgow in July 2005 Along the River Clyde Along_the_River_Clyde_06.jpg Along_the_River_Clyde_06 Along the Clyde  87.8 KB 15:19: 24 True color (24 bit) 16777216   451 600 Along_the_River_Clyde_06.html Glasgow in July 2005 Along the River Clyde Along the Clyde

As I heard the story, I half expected to hear that the three teenagers, having saved the woman’s life, were then arrested for breaking the law.

But they weren’t.

Some true stories do have happy endings.

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