When the London riots broke out last August, I was particularly interested. You see, three days prior to the violence I had been staying in Hackney, one of the areas of London affected by the social unrest. So severe had the violence become in that area the subway station I had been using to travel to and from graduate school had to be shut down until the police got control of the situation.
As I kept up on the news, I confess my heart sank to see the lame reaction on the part of both the police and the British government. The pinnacle of this half-hearted response was when members of the coalition government criticised the number of lengthy jail terms given by the courts to the perpetrators of burglary, disorder and theft.
But my heart sank even more when I realized that, in all likelihood, the real legacy of the August riots would be the quiet and little-noticed legislative reaction which would move Britain one step closer to being a totalitarian police state. I hoped that this wouldn’t happen, but as I observed in 2009, power-hungry governments are all too willing to use national emergencies as a cloak for introducing draconian laws. They know the public are all too willing to give up any number of freedoms if they can be persuaded that it is in the interest of public safety.