The New Year began in Britain with an initiative from the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, designed to combat what many Britons see as an epidemic of anti-social behavior, particularly on the part of young people. Titled “Respect Action Plan” or RAP—the usefulness of the acronym will become apparent presently—it proposed increased police powers and on-the-spot fines for anti-social behavior, more social and “outreach” workers for “problem families,” and classes in parenting, all in the name of increasing the sum-total of “respect” in British society. The example of its absence cited by Mr. Blair was of someone “spitting at an old lady on her way to the shops”—something which, to be sure, is already an offense but which is almost never prosecuted. This is because, he said, the cost of doing so and obtaining a conviction resulting in a small fine has seemed too...

 

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