One of the things I am constantly hearing here, especially when interacting with the older generation whose memory goes back further than mine, is how fair the British were, back in the day. By this they mean following the second world war and, in some cases, during those years too. I can’t say that this is a feeling held by everyone, but practically everyone who I have had dealings with seems to hold this opinion, and a completely different one for the Americans. It is at such times that I tend to keep quiet – in my already very quiet manner – and not mention the fact that I am American. It is something they cannot tell by looking at me, but they also don’t take me for an Island Monkey either, which I most certainly appreciate.
The general opinion of Americans, on a scale of one to don’t like, tends away from the one sad to say, and especially since the election of our next president. Not that everyone is against him, but many simply do not understand how the American people, so interested in justice and democracy, could possibly… you get my drift.
There is another thing which increases my understanding of this level of fairness, and it is justice with and without the courts. This is not, I hasten to add, another post on white supremacy, gun control or Black Lives Matter, but does have to do with justice. In the United States, as many will already know, it is possible for the police in some States to confiscate cash, cars and other possessions from suspects without a warrant. These items then have to be demanded back, often through a court of law, regardless of whether the suspect is a criminal or not. I have read tales, and I am sure they are easy to find on our Internet, of innocent people out to buy a house, with cash for the house or a deposit, caught by the system and their lives being ruined as a result.
Screenshot Source: Twitter / West Midlands Police
The British, with all their fairness, have a similar set of laws. Similar, not the same. They are allowed to confiscate the wealth and possessions of criminals to a value set by the courts according to the crime committed and the value of loss incurred by other people or by the State. That is, the criminal, upon conviction, doesn’t just go to prison or get a fine, they also pay for their crime in the broadest sense of the idea. This, according to the West Midlands Police, is to ensure they know that crime does not pay, and that other criminals get to know it too.
The advantage here, quite aside from the fact that this money is then used for good causes, is that the criminal has been convicted and is clearly guilty of his or her crime. It is not just someone caught up in a roadside check who happened to have a large stash of cash in their care and the wrong skin color. Having been convicted, the criminal knows it is pointless trying to get their ill-gotten gains back again, since the confiscation has been ordered by a judge sitting in court too. In the United States, the victims of this fraud – and I can see it no other way when looking at the various stories of people who have found themselves on the wrong end of the law through no fault of their own – sometimes have to spend years fighting to get back what was and is legally theirs, and which was taken without due cause or justification.
I think we Americans still have a great deal to learn from the ways of the British – and Europeans – especially when it comes to what is right and good, what is fair and sensible.
- Viktoria Michaelis.