Holier-Than-Thou Social Parasites
On Saturday, 30 May 2015, in Tunbridge Wells Public Library at about 16:00 I was seated at PC1 when I was asked by a member of staff to respond to a claim that I had verbally-abused another customer.
I did so but, just in case there is any misunderstanding about the verb
Abuse, I offer the following synopsis of what happened:
- On entering the library, I went to the ground-floor Booking PC, located near to the public toilets, to check my library account and to book a PC;
- the complainant was sitting at this PC, not using it & staring into a mobile phone;
- I asked him to move so that I could use this PC; he moved, but was clearly annoyed to do so. This PC did not work;
- I then returned a copy of a DVD called
Annie(at 15:30 - see attached Returned Items’ receipt below) and went upstairs to use the Booking PC there. This PC was also obstructed by a woman not using it and I asked her to move - she did. I then booked the next-available PC: PC1;
- I went downstairs to find the complainant now siting at PC1 - again, not using it; while staring at a mobile phone. I asked him to move and he took the view that I was persecuting him. Nevertheless, he moved away;
- PC1 was also not working and it then became suddenly obvious that the complainant was recharging his phone by unplugging library PCs. I could then see that the downstairs Booking PC was not plugged-in: I had been mistaken about it being out-of-order. (It would have been quite a coincidence if the complainant had not also unplugged the Booking PC, since he was clearly looking for free electricity there, as well.);
- I reinstated the power supply to PC1 and began to log-in; while the complainant continued talking to me for no valid reason; distracting me in the process. At no point did he replug the PCs he had disconnected from their power supply, nor did he point-out that he had unplugged them in the first place; denying the public use of public facilities - without lawful excuse; yet, whining when challenged;
- I rolled my eyes at the complainant’s contumely and he was upset by my understandable annoyance. I asked, in a highly-mocking tone, if his mother had not loved him (this is a lack most-often bedeviling those who believe the world owes them a living). He was upset about this and decided to call the Police - while standing by the photocopier next to PC1 - to claim I had verbally-abused him. After he wandered off, the Police did not appear; hardly surprising since a crime was not in progress and nobody’s life was in danger.
Threatening, abusive or insulting
The member of staff who questioned me claimed that one man’s
Abuse is something else to others. This is wholly-subjective and provides no basis for rational action. His apparent lack of any definition of the word
Abuse means anyone can be accused of anything by anyone at any time, without the accuser having to prove anything - simply on the basis of their personal prejudice.
However, without such a clear definition, anyone so accused can also just-as-easily claim that they are being accused of nothing and that any complaint against them is frivolous and, in itself, abusive.
The abusive behaviour of the complainant was merely designed to waste everyone’s time since he had been caught doing something he knows he shouldn’t - not because he actually had been abused. Such people possess the erroneous belief that they can be abused, but never abusive.
Under the Public Order Act 1986, there are three offences that someone who uses
threatening, abusive or insulting language in a public place may have committed. In order of least-to-most serious:
- Section 5 makes it an offence to use threatening, abusive or insulting words within the hearing of someone likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress by them - regardless of whether such harassment, alarm or distress was actually caused;
- Section 4A makes it an offence to use threatening, abusive or insulting language with the intention of causing someone else harassment, alarm or distress - so long as it actually has that effect; or,
- Section 4 makes it an offence to use threatening, abusive or insulting language with the intention of making someone else believe that immediate violence will be used against them or of provoking an immediate violent response.
I understand the relevant terms to mean:
Threateningthe likelihood of physical assault;
Abusivewords to belittle, humiliate or upset someone; &,
Insultingas synonymous with
Aggravated forms of these offences come under Section 28 of the Crime & Disorder Act 1998; including such items as racial & religious abuse. But I was merely critiquing the behaviour - not the appearance or faith - of someone who believes that public space is for his sole, personal use.
Mockery, satire & sarcasm vents annoyance, irritation & frustration
With me, mockery, satire & sarcasm tends to be an automatic response when the physically-mature start behaving like the emotionally-immature. These are not likely to be offences of
Abuse, so long as they are a reasonable and a proportionate response to behaviour initiated by others (otherwise, staff would render themselves legally-liable because of their often-patronizing attitudes to library customers).
It is also not a criminal offence to express annoyance, irritation & frustration, as such, especially regarding someone else causing an obstruction, breaking the law and adopting an anti-social attitude - all without lawful excuse. Otherwise, public censure would be a crime.
My intention was simply to get the complainant away from the PC so that I could use it - not to listen to his whining or to harass him. His clear intention was to prevent others using Library PCs so that he could charge his mobile phone for free. He has probably done this sort of thing before, as he would appear to be aware that verbal abuse can be a crime and that he can use such a claim to distract attention from his demonstrated belief that library equipment is his own personal property by acting as though his rights supersede everyone else’s.
I do not initiate contact or problems with others unless I have no other option. If I am physically attacked, I must physically respond. If someone is in my way, without lawful excuse, I ask them to move and only become insistent if they refuse. If I am verbally-abused, I become verbally-abusive. I was not threatened, so I did not threaten; I was not being directly-abused, so I did not abuse. I was, however, having my time wasted, so I gave the time-waster the suggestion that he strive harder to achieve the emotional-maturity he obviously never learned from his parents, in order to lead a more fulfilling life; ie,
Grow up!. This is mockery, satire & sarcasm, not abuse - unless, of course, humour is now to be made illegal?
I prefer to respond-in-kind by giving malcontents a dose of their own medicine. Although not sanctioned by law, I do not have the time to pursue legal relief since that would place me in the same position as a Negro in segregated Alabama desperately-awaiting a Supreme Court ruling to use a Whites-Only toilet - before he wets himself. Instead, time-saving common sense is applied. (I also do not ask staff for help because I have found them unwilling, in the past, to be as confrontational as is often necessary.)
Responding-in-kind is a defence to charges under sections 4A & 5, but not 4; allowing wilful attention-seekers the opportunity to provoke a response & then call the Police. This is a risk I am happy to take since, in the circumstances, I could not just walk away as I am perfectly-entitled to use library facilities. If I did back off, I might just as well stay at home - when not at work. As a Black man, I would then have to accept permanent second-class citizenship status which, obviously, would only occur over my dead body. In any case, the law can always be challenged in court, if push comes to shove - it is a common law country, after all.
Conflating the Public with the Private
An attitude of mind has developed where many customers have come to the erroneous conclusion that the library is their personal fiefdom and space allocated for the use of PC users can be commandeered for their own, exclusive, non-computing purposes. And electrical sockets can be used to illegally-extract electrical units, in contravention of the Electricity Act 1989. For their part, library staff seem to find this PC-blocking behaviour largely acceptable.
The member of staff who questioned me claimed that CCtv would confirm or deny my account of events. But the library video cameras are not marked as such, nor is there any written declaration - anywhere in the building - that such recording is actually taking place: The cameras are as unobtrusive as possible to make their being damaged less likely. So why make such a claim if it is true? If these cameras work, the veracity of anyone’s statements can easily be confirmed or denied - without drawing attention to the means. If not, the implied threat is an empty one.
For Your Listening Pleasure
30-05-2015 is a sound recording (takes about a minute to upload & about 13 minutes to play) of the entire incident to prove that events transpired as itemised above. If your security cameras work, they will also corroborate my story (by proving the audio is unedited) and hopefully lead to the complainant being barred future library use since he lacks the necessary respect, self-respect and courtesy toward other users that makes civilised life possible - or even imaginable. Barred because it is inevitable that once it becomes known - on the local
social-parasites’ grapevine - that the local library provides free electricity, more PCs will be disabled by those who refuse to work for what they get.