Friday, December 15, 2006

Calling Theodore Dalrymple

A reader sent a link to this story on a British site today about a nun run amok in the streets of London.

Read it, and then let’s read between the lines. I have cut and pasted the whole thing, which is rather tacky, but the story is so bizarre and the bureaucracy so mindless, you need to see it in all its Orwellian glory to make your own assessment:

A nun was convicted of religious harassment after ranting against ‘terrorist’ Muslims in the middle of London’s busy Oxford Street.

Sister Ruth Augustus, 66, was fined £200 after she shouted at two women in full robes and veils “you’re probably terrorists, get back to your own country”.

Later she told cops who arrested her they should go back to Iraq and have their heads chopped off.

City of Westminster Magistrates Court heard how trouble flared when Augustus, a missionary who has worked with prostitutes in the developing world, was handing out prayer leaflets outside Debenhams department store on Easter Tuesday.

When people of Muslim appearance passed she called out “Jesus loves Muslims,” but two ladies in traditional dress took offence.

Fellow leafleter, Tony Rollins, told the court: “The ladies answered back and told her shut her stupid mouth.

“Sister Ruth said to them ‘you’re probably terrorists, get back to your own country’. They gave her a long, hard stare before walking away.

“I was cringing at what she said. It made me feel very uneasy.”

WPC Natasha Walker said she heard a ‘commotion’ outside the shop and went to investigate.

The officer said: “I heard someone shouting ‘terrorists, terrorists’ more than once. It’s busy on Oxford Street, so she must have been shouting really loud.

“I turned round and noticed there were a group of people standing outside Debenhams. Sister Augustus was shouting ‘terrorists’ repeatedly and other things about Muslims.

“I asked her to stop, but she refused. She said ‘I will not stop, I’m a nun’.

“Because she refused to stop I arrested her. She said ‘You’re not arresting me, I’m a nun. It’s a waste of tax payers’ money. You’re arresting me because you’re a Muslim.’”

WPC Walker called for for colleagues to help bundle the ‘agitated and aggressive’ into the back of the police van.

WPC Keeley Pemberton said when she arrived she heard Augustus shouting at PC Walker “Take your dirty hands off me, you’re a Muslim.”

After a night in police cells Augustus was bailed to return to Marylebone Police Station in June, but when her solicitor didn’t show, she launched into another tirade, it was said.

She called the two officers morons, referred to one as ‘WPC Muslim Walker’, and shouted in the public waiting area “This is a Muslim country full of terrorists,” the court heard.

WPC Pemberton said Augustus became increasingly ‘agitated and abusive’.

She said: “I asked her to be quiet and she shouted ‘Go back to Iraq’ and was pointing at WPC Walker. She said it very aggressively.

“Then she looked at me and said ‘You should go with her and both of you will get your heads chopped off’.”

WPC Walker said: “She said to me ‘you should go back to Iraq where you belong, where all the terrorists are. You are likely to be beheaded. You deserve it’.”
- - - - - - - - - -
When she was arrested again she ranted at officers “You’re all morons, especially that Muslim — she’s a chimpanzee and she needs to go back to the zoo with the other chimpanzees,” WPC Pemberton said.

Augustus, who represented herself after sacking her lawyer early in the proceedings, was frequently told to be quiet as she heckled the witnesses.

While giving evidence, she insisted on wearing a large placard with a picture of Jesus on it round her neck.

She claimed she had in fact suggested to the officers that they should stop wasting time on her and instead go out and catch paedophiles and rapists, or go out to Iraq to help our troops fight terrorists.

Augustus accused police of “religious bigotry and hatred” and claimed she was handled roughly, locked in a cell when she was ill, and strip-searched in the street.

She said: “I was responding to extreme provocation. The police were abusing me and were acting in a most satanic, brutal and unprofessional manner. I felt entitled to call them chimpanzees because that is how they were behaving.”

The reference to beheading she said was in reference to the catholic missionary Margaret Hassan, who was kidnapped and murdered by insurgents.

Augustus, of Kensington, was found guilty of two charges of religiously aggravated harassment.

District Judge Emma Arbuthnot told her: “I have no doubt at all that Sister Augustus’s behaviour amounted to religiously aggravated harassment.

“This was extremely upsetting and rude behaviour which harassed and alarmed not just the officers but others who were around at the time.

“It is clear from her behaviour today that she was an extremely difficult defendant to deal with. The officers I’m sure dealt with her as best they could and cannot be criticised.”

She was fined a total of £200 plus £40 court costs. The judge told the pensioner: “By rights you should pay compensation but I’m not going to make you as you are not in a position to pay any more.”

Augustus replied: “It’s a disgrace. If this is British justice, I’m going back to Africa. They are more civilised there.” She vowed to appeal against her conviction in the highest court.

The first thing that struck me was the charge filed against her: “religiously aggravated harassment.” It sounds like a CAIR dream, this kind of law. I wonder how long before we’ll be facing further erosion of our First Amendment rights here in the U.S. Some think it won’t be long at all before this kind of law is on the books.

The second thing — and really most glaring fact, if I weren’t so busy looking at why this woman was taken in - is that Sister Ruth Augustus has a few beads missing from her rosary. Her “crime” is surely more serious than the charge: she is obviously in need of some kind of treatment. Jail time for merely being bonkers and inappropriate seems strange from way over here.

The third thing, and perhaps the most telling part of the nun’s rant, comes at the end, when she says “It’s a disgrace. If this is British justice, I’m going back to Africa. They are more civilised there.”

I had heard that Christian missionaries from Africa consider the “developed” world missionary territory and are sending their people to preach in Europe. Godless Europe. Of course, as C. S. Lewis said, most people have been innoculated with such a mild version of Christiany that they’re immune to the real thing. So the notion of missionaries in post-Christian Europe seems a large waste of time and resources.

But if this is British justice, it certainly is thick-headed. Even from here, you can tell this woman “has problems” and she no more understands the charges against her than she understands that the police arresting her are not Muslims. Someone that agitated and off the wall needs quiet time and medication, not lectures from a judge who proclaims:

“I have no doubt at all that Sister Augustus’s behaviour amounted to religiously aggravated harassment….”

Well, duh. But in the 21st century I thought we looked at least glancingly at the possible sources of disruptive, crazy behavior.

Sister Augustus definitely needs a little time with Theodore Dalrymple. Of course, he's moved away from the UK to get away from the craziness.

What do you all think?


ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

Why do you reference the 2nd Amendment? The Brits lost that concept years ago. In the U.S. this would be a 1st Amendment issue. One is more likely to do jail time there for defending themselves than committing armed robbery.

Dymphna said...

Leonidas --

Why? Slip of the tongue/keyboard; senile dementia -- take your pick. The Baron noticed it, too, and I fixed it (I also fixed the one you didn't catch. Hah!).

Pastorius said...

I agree with you, Dymphna. A reader dropped this story in the comments section at IBA today, in hopes that we would publish this act of bravery. But clearly, this woman is troubled. She needs help, not jail and fines. I feel bad for her.

Anonymous said...

She may be troubled. Or she may be an old crank. Who's to say?

Clovis Sangrail said...

As a UK resident I should point out that there is now a whole tranche of crimes which come in `plain vanilla' and `racially-' or `religiously-' motivated versions. These versions are regarded as `aggravated' and incur a larger penalty.

I suspect the reason that the Judge didn't consider the obvious fact that the nun is cracked is because (as a proper, British upper middle class, PC member of the establishment) it was quite clear to Arbuthnot that she was mad, simply by virtue of being a nun.
Of course you can't say this in polite society (or court for that matter) as people might get the wrong idea, but everybody who's anybody knows that it's true. A
nyway, that's why you can't make any allowances for it-if you did, then all sorts of religious scum would be `let off' when clearly they need to be punished for being mad.

the above is a slight exaggeration of the average, but most certainly there are many people about, quite a few in positions of power who take that attitude (without ever having expressed it).

Vol-in-Law said...

This is part of a regular state/authority campaign of harrassment against the (often eccentric) Christian preachers on Oxford St. The BBC's HQ is right by Oxford Circus, and the BBC people don't like to be confronted with Christian preaching on their way to/from work. Some months ago the most famous preacher had a complaint made against him by a BBC Radio 3 staffer, which resulted in the preacher being given an Anti Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) and banned from preaching in the locality.

Wally Ballou said...

Hate crime legislation is a definite and continuing threate to liberty here, but I don't think Americans would ever submit to the total curtailment of civil liberties that Europeans and Brits seem to take for granted. The ASBOs are astonishing from am American perspective - they reflect a view of society as one big kindergarten.

Whatever Hillary and her ilk may wish, the totally committed socialists are still less (maybe far less) than 40% of the voting population. Keeping the spotlight on proposed national legislation, coupled with vigilance at the local level, may arouse enough popular resistance to hold them back. Who knows, maybe another Newt will come along to lead the GOP back from the wilderness.

In Russet Shadows said...

As civilization crumbles, more and more immoderate men and women of iron will rise to its defense. This woman is simply an off-battlefield beserker; beserkers or the "battle mad" or the "touched in the head" often turned the tide of battles.

hank_F_M said...

“Sister Ruth Augustus has a few beads missing from her rosary”

A whole decade perhaps?

I suspect a little inconsistence on the part of the media, though since I am not familiar with “Life Style Extra” maybe not them. Sisters of orders that sometimes mistake equally screwy political correctness for the Gospel have been using that sort of street theater for years. If it is good for one issue it should be good for another. Facts have never been a requirement for this sort of political theater. Obviously she needs to be educated on shat constitutes political correctness. :- )

Hate crimes have nothing to do with hate – they exist to enforce political conformity!

Wally Ballou said...

Actually, shouldn't the Church help this woman?

Anonymous said...

When nuns attack!

Jason Pappas said...

This would be normal in NYC. If I had a dollar for every cranky person who's said something stupid in my face, I'd retire to Florida.

I've heard worse from Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakan only they have a following and are dangerous. The nun wasn't making verbal threats and clearly wasn't in a position to carry out any threats. Yesterday, here in NYC "Rev." Calvin Butts insinuated that if Bloomberg doesn't cave to demands the next march won't be peaceful. That's a threat. No one is calling for his arrest nor will he be arrested if there is violence.

We used to understand the difference between distasteful outbursts and threats. It seems the first is now a hate crime and the latter is ignored. Where's Orwell when you need him?

Anonymous said...

What really puzzles me is why everybody seems to be focusing on the nun's (admittedly odd) behaviour rather than the moslem women telling her to 'shut her stupid mouth' when she told them that Jesus loves moslems.

Personally I'd have a lot more time for moslems if they spent more time telling me that Allah loves Christians and less time telling everybody that the West and Christianity are evil.

Rolfe said...

"As civilization crumbles, more and more immoderate men and women of iron will rise to its defense."

I like that phrase, my compliments.

One question, was this a magistrate hearing (no jury that is)? On appeal will she have a jury, a jury of her peers? You know, something like Royal Marines just back from Iraq.

Clovis Sangrail said...

as the article says it was a magistrate's court hearing. My understanding is that appeals are never heard by juries in England.

Dymphna said...

The question about the Church helping her was something I meant to address in my post. The reporter fails to say which order she was from, which in itself is strange.

But, as has been pointed out, anyone declaring themselves to be a nun is a priori a nut case. OTOH, I have known many, many nuns in my life, from a number of different orders, and I can't imagine any of them trying to pull rank: "you can't do this because I'm a nun" stuff.

In real life, her convent would've been called. If she's living in the community with another nun, her provincial would've been *is* many her mother superior is back in Africa and she a loose nut?

Anyone that paranoid needs treatment. What's strange is how the police and legal system handled her uproar.

Papa Ray said...

Well, I'll tell you what I think.

Not that you give a damn, but here it is.

Of course, this is from my long association with women and believe it or not quite a few very religious women.

But that's several other stories.

The Nun, gave a sarcastic but to her a truthful statement to the Lady terrorists. It was sarcastic only in the back of the Nun's mind, but was out and out offensive to the Ladys.

Why, because Jesus is just a second rate prophet to the Muslim Ladies, no matter that Jesus did the Messiah's work (opening heaven) 550 years before Islam's child molesting, thiefing, head chopping, I mean, prophet was born.

The remarks by the lady Muslims cracked the thin veneer of what was left of the Nun's civility and sanity.

Clear case of being prodded beyound the brink.

Papa Ray

Jason Pappas said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jason Pappas said...

Postscript: I told this story to my wife and had another take. (typo fixed:)

Just last week she had an encounter with a “nun” here in New York City. While sitting in McDonald’s a “nun” approached her asking for a donation to some unspecified orphanage in Brooklyn. My wife believed she was a phony nun and didn’t give her a penny. The nun started to rant and rave in an abusive manner cursing at my wife and telling her to go to hell.

Now my wife is no stranger to nuns --- she’s seen some of the toughest German born nuns in the Dominican order that ran her elementary school way back when. But never did she see a nun who behaved and talked in such a manner, at least not a real nun. She’s said she’s seen phony nuns like this before and I’ve seen some "begging nuns" that made me wonder.

Thus, it sounds, on the surface, that this could be a phony nun. In a big city such problems aren’t unusual.

Diomedes said...

Yes, Dalrymple moved--to France!

Unknown said...

First of all everybody this women is not a nun , she has no order and has not be professed as a nun. I live in central London and go to Westminster Cathedral and this women has been banned from entering the cathedral because of her bad tempered behaviour. She is also well known for her mental health problems so people are urged to steer away from her even the Catholic church

Unknown said...

Stay away from her she will cause a lot of trouble