Spitting at her having seemed to him the logical thing to do, the situation developed:
One of the I think it was the bar manager that come out and grip me up. We were having a little scuffle and he threw me out. I was outside having an argument with the bouncers, that’s when John got dragged out by the bouncers and threw up the fence and that, so we were there for about twenty minutes and that, arguing with the bouncers. I said to John, I ain’t having this man, she got me threw out for nothing I said, the silly bitch. I said, fucking started an argument on me, so I said I’m going to go and smash her car up. So, er, we walked off and, er, I went round the back of the bar, where all of the cars are parked. I seen her car, I walked back and said to the two lads who were waiting, I said here, I’ve found the car. I’m gonna get a brick so I can smash her window. So I went over the road, picked up a brick, walked back to her car, smashed the window. I threw it at another window, it didn’t smash, so I picked it up again, threw it, it smashed the driver’s side window. I said to them two lads, carry on…
It was all the girl’s fault, of course: If she hadn’t offended him in the bar, he wouldn’t have behaved like this. This, more or less, is the argument offered by the defenders, or at least extenuators, of Muslim terrorists who attack those who offend them, and also by those who believe that taking offense at something someone has said justifies aggressive or violent reaction.
The late Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, now the Democratic [sic] Republic of the Congo, once said that it took two to be corrupt. Likewise, it takes two for offense to be caused, and some people delight to take offense. It gives them license (they think) to behave badly, which is what they always wanted to do anyway.
Theodore Dalrymple’s Grief, and Other Stories, has just been published by the New English Review Press.