Friday, 31 August 2012

Revenge is, well, undignified actually

There's been something of a minor surge in stories of people taking revenge on the ending of their marriages lately (it is the notorious silly season, after all).  First there was the man who destroyed his wife's collection of designer handbags (plus shoes and clothes, of course) when she left him for a man she met while on holiday:

The handbags

Now there's the tale the husband scattering his wife's underwear along the public highway:

The underwear

Intimate information is another quite common tactic, such as intimate photos of your formerly loved one:

The compromising photo

And there's always a constant diet of cases of cutting furniture and household effects in half because "that's fair".  Another favourite is publishing intimate photographs and videos of the person you see as having betrayed you.

I always wonder though, do these perpetrators really feel better as a result?  More to the point, do they look better to their friends and families?  For myself, it really speaks of immaturity.  However hurt you feel, lashing out to cause suffering and for no other reason, is just about as undignified and humiliating as it gets.  You show yourself as out of control and spiteful.  Sure, I understand why Mr. Plews, the handbag husband, is annoyed.  There must have been some relatively serious spending going during the marriage and on the face of it, there was a distinct lack of frankness from his wife about the new man in her life.  Nevertheless, there is no dignity in revenge.  Mr. Plews and these others come across as people unable to control themselves and the essence of living in a civilised society is exercising self control, especially with people who offend, hurt and annoy you. 

It's probably worth noting that the underwear scatterer, Mr. Klutch, had just been served with a protection from abuse order by the court, to protect his wife.  This rather suggests that the problems between them had  been of a pretty significant nature event before then and that Mr. Klutch had been operating outside the normal boundaries even of hurt and upset husbands.

It's clear from these tales that courts are intolerant of this type of behaviour, and so they ought to be.  English courts are just as capable of punishing this abuse as American ones, and of making orders intended to prevent it.  Abusive behaviour takes an almost endless variety of forms, only limited by human ingenuity.  The law is astute to be over prescriptive.  If property is damaged or spouses and partners put in fear or distress, there are orders available to prevent future repetitions and penalties for those who perpetrate those acts.

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