The man in the above picture is, as his placard makes clear, a drug dealer. His patch was in an area of South Belfast and, on Sunday evening, he was tarred and feathered by two men, while a crowd of local people looked on. This vigilante attack appears to have been carried out by members of the Ulster Defence Association, after the police repeatedly failed to act.
Now, the UDA is itself a reprehensible terrorist organisation, not to mention one which is involved in a range of criminality, including drug dealing - its members deserve tarring and feathering themselves. However, to my mind the principle underlying the tarring and feathering of this man is a perfectly good one. It is, that when the police consistently fail to act against criminals, then the public are entitled to take such action as they see fit. After all, local people generally know who the thugs and other lowlife who blight their communities are, even if the police are not interested, and therefore they generally know against whom they should direct their ire.
It would be nice to see this kind of action spread to Great Britain, in addition to Northern Ireland. Here too there are communities infested with low-level thugs, who make the lives of the local people miserable, and who have gone unchallenged by the police, and unpunished by the courts. If the decent majority were to take action themselves against the yobs who wreck their communities, then, not only would that teach them a lesson, but it would also have a salutary effect in reducing the fear with which they are regarded by many people, and which they use to intimidate those who might otherwise stand up to them. A few months ago I wrote about the American woman who was convicted of stealing from Walmart, and who was, upon conviction, ordered to stand outside Walmart wearing a sandwich board bearing the legend "I am a thief, I stole from Walmart". Ideally we would have similar judicially-sanctioned punishments in the UK, or at least a toughening up of existing sentencing, but until we do, and until we have a police force that is actually prepared to take serious action against the thugs, the public themselves have the right to take appropriate action against those who threaten them.