Saturday 14 February 2009

Shock horror - the arsonist will be declared a looney

I hear they've caught a bloke in Victoria and suspect he's been setting a few fires. The hunt is on for anyone else with firelighting tendencies, and the locals sound like they are going to lynch anyone found with a box of matches.

I predict here and now that anyone charged with arson will quickly be declared to be suffering from some form of mental illness. The "everyone is suffering from some form of mental illness" crowd, henceforth known as the "mental-forming industry", will be able to diagnose the arsonist from a thin sheaf of press clippings and a blurry photo in a newspaper. He'll have "issues", and a history of some sort of childhood problems. Blah blah blah.

Frankly, I don't think you are nuts if you like lighting fires. I like lighting fires. Everyone I know likes lighting fires. When you consider that until the invention of electric or gas lighting and the piano, the only night time entertainment man had was watching a fire. Consider a fire as the caveman's TV. Stories used to be told around the fire. Primitive tribes still have ceremonies where grown men cover themselves in mud and feathers and dance around a fire. I have only seem about five minutes of "Survivor", but the end of each episode always seems to involve something to do with fire.

If we didn't like fire, we wouldn't have fireplaces, regardless of whether they are still burning wood or have been converted to gas. We like candles. We like burning torches. A bonfire on the beach, and a few cartons of beer, is the perfect teenage idea of a good night out.

Fires are good. Fires are fun. Fires are dramatic. Fire turns marshmallows into gooey edible things. Fires cause unpunctured cans of baked beans to explode. Fires really cause empty shaving cream cans to explode.

However, there is a time and a place for fire, and a stinking hot day with high winds is not the time to light one, and a block knee deep in kindling is not the place. The arsonist should not be considered to be mental because they like fire - they should be considered mental because they clearly lack the sort of impulse control that stops the likes of you and me from tossing a match into dry grass when the temperature is off the charts.

Anyway, I'm sure we will be hearing from someone in the mental health crowd, saying that this person needs to be "understood", and all they really need is a big hug. Oh, and by the way, sending someone with mental health problems to prison is a really, really bad thing to do. So the judge should just let them go, so they can get "treatment".

Like I said, you heard it here first.

No comments: