Tolerance of violence

What is possibly of more concern than the assault committed by Mark Field – and it is clearly that no matter what Johnny Mercer says – is the normalisation of violence suggested in comments offered by Mercer and others.

Where should the line be drawn? In the mind of any mature and sensible person that line should lie prior to any form of contact. Arguably, before contact is even considered. Under no circumstances should violence, in any form and to any degree, be the first resort.

Given the prevalence of violence against women in our society it is not at all sexist to say that Field’s behaviour is doubly deplorable on account of his victim being female. It is disturbing to any thoughtful observer, and should be a matter which Field himself reflects upon long and hard, that the fact of it being a woman didn’t appear to give him pause at all.

If I did what Field did in a pub I would expect to be instantly and permanently barred from the premises. In any of the licensed premises which I frequent, that expectation would certainly be met.

In my life, I have witnessed many acts of violence. I am ashamed to admit that in all too many instances I was the perpetrator. I have also been in situations where I was permitted to use minimum or reasonable force. I know how easily it can go wrong. I know how things can rapidly escalate. I know that the consequences of a small misjudgement can be life-changing – if not life-ending.

That is why, as a society and as individuals, our tolerance of violence must be set as low as is practicable given considerations of our own safety and that of those close to us. That is why, when that line starts to move to the far side of actual physical violence, pushed by a public servant of some standing as well as their apologists, there is no possibility of over-reaction.

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