The arrest of a couple in Melton Mowbray for shooting at four burglars, wounding two of them slightly, drew the following comment from Pam Posnett, councillor for Melton North: “I feel sorry for the residents who were put in this position, I also have sympathy for the people who broke in, in so far as how the situation was handled…” Was Pam Posnett thinking of her electoral chances when she said this, calculating that there were at least as many criminals in Melton North as ordinary householders, and that therefore it was advisable for her not to come too firmly down on the side of householders against burglars? Even more alarming, however, was the manner in which she expressed herself… Nothing corrupts (or bores) so completely as the passive voice, and Pam Posnett speaks of people being put in situations, and of situations that were handled, as if no one were doing either the putting or the handling. Thus there is nothing to choose, morally, between the putters and the handlers, for all is a matter of fate, not action.
Incidentally, a new collection of essays by the good doctor appeared in my mailbox earlier this week. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, so I can’t tell you that it’s good. Just that I expect it will be.