Bill Carmichael: Let’s have a real grown-up debate

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ONE thing that struck me about the Dale Farm eviction – besides the entirely predictable violence and thuggery – was the childishness of the protesters.

They pelted the police with bricks, iron bars and bottles of urine, and then immediately complained that the eviction wasn’t as peaceful as they had hoped.

Meanwhile, a young woman chained to a concrete filled barrel whinges that she is cold and miserable because the police left her there overnight. Of course once the bailiffs cut through the chains and carted her off, she complained about that too. There’s no pleasing some people.

This is the sort of passive-aggressive behaviour – “It’s all your fault that I behave so badly!” – that you would expect from a hormonal 13-year-old.

Yet many of these protesters (few of those arrested actually lived on the site) are in their 30s and 40s and although in many cases they’ve yet to find any gainful employment, they really should know better. It is the infantile level of debate and the adolescent refusal to take any responsibility for the consequences of their own behaviour that is the defining characteristic of the professional protester.

Instead of making any attempt at making a cogent and persuasive argument, we get foot stamping petulance and unhinged hysteria.

Much the same standard of thinking is on display in London where the Occupy the Stock Exchange movement protesters failed miserably to get anywhere near the Stock Exchange and decided to occupy the outside of St Paul’s Cathedral instead.

So rather than bringing down world capitalism, it looks as though they will force the Cathedral to close by deterring paying visitors. Well done you soldiers for justice!

The protesters say there is no need for any public sector cuts because we can just go on borrowing more and more money to pay for the things we want. Sorry to break this to you guys, but even Ed Balls doesn’t believe that any more.

Oh yes, and they want to stop global inequality and an end to world oppression and a few other really nice things too.

In contrast to the hooliganism on display at Dale Farm, the St Paul’s protest has so far been entirely peaceful. They, of course, have a right to protest, particularly as they don’t appear to have anything better to do.

I’m not sure what they hope to achieve. I doubt if they’ve thought very hard about it.

But until they can construct some semblance of a coherent argument, it is hard to see how they can contribute meaningfully to a grown-up debate on our future.

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IN 2006, Palestinian terrorists infiltrated Israel and attacked an army post, killing two soldiers and kidnapping a third, Gilad Shalit. This week, after five years in captivity in the Gaza Strip, Shalit was finally released by the terror group Hamas, in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners released by Israel.

Shalit had committed no crime, unlike the Palestinian prisoners who included many unrepentant killers and terror supporters.

Throughout his captivity, Shalit was denied contact with his family and even the International Red Cross was refused access to check on his condition.

In contrast, the Palestinians were held in humane conditions, allowed medical care and visits and could challenge their convictions in the courts.

On release, pale and gaunt Shalit looked like a concentration camp victim. The healthy, beaming Palestinians looked like they’d just returned from holiday.

This snapshot tells you everything you need to know about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.