How to be a Good Victim


With an average of 2,5 million crimes reported every year, crime is endemic in South Africa. Listening to the official advice, from both government and media, as to how to deal with crime, it becomes evident as to why crime is such a growth industry in the country. Far from declaring war on crime, or encouraging strong resistance to crime, the official mantras are: Don't be armed! Don't resist! Do what the assailant tells you!

These and other mantras for victims are repeated by information leaflets distributed to foreign tourists: Don't wear jewellery when you go out! (Considering that the selling of jewellery is an important industry in South Africa, the question then arises as to when jewellery should be worn – at home in the shower?)

In response to the increased hijacking spree, some officials offer this piece of advice: Don't drive a nice car! (However, considering how dangerous public transport, and even walking in many areas can be, one can only wonder what's left? What are we meant to do? Use helicopters? Parachute into work?)

The advice being given to victims in South Africa seems counter-productive to the goal of fighting crime. However, if the intention is to make the working environment of the criminal safer for crime, then these official pearls of wisdom begin to make some sense.

Criminals prefer unarmed victims, so whatever you do, don't be armed!

To justify being disarmed-victims-waiting-to-be-mugged-or-murdered at the whim of their local criminals, these co-operative victims console themselves with Gun-Free South Africa's theory that “if you have a weapon, it will probably be used against you.” This argument hardly evidences a high degree of self-confidence or competence, to assume that every assailant will be quicker, cleverer, better trained and more skilled than you will be. It also is rather naive to assume that all criminals go to work without their tools (violent criminals tend to have their own weapons). Of course, the fact that all studies have shown that the greatest fear to criminals is meeting an armed victim; that 93% of women who are armed successfully resist a rape attempt; that those who use a firearm to resist increase their chances of survival of an attack by 31 times, should not be considered by those repeating these essential mantras for victims: Don't be armed! Don't resist! Do what the assailant tells you!

To justify their co-operate-with-the-criminal philosophy, good victims will recite various reasons including: If you shoot back you could get into trouble with the law (like being mugged, raped and murdered isn't worse?)
Most importantly we are advised: Do what the assailant tells you! Give them your car. Hand over your wallet / purse / handbag / jewellery / watch / shoes / whatever!

Now, what if we were to apply this logic to nations? Don't be armed! Don't resist! Do what the assailant (invader) tells you! After all if this is good advice for an individual, it should be good policy for a nation. So let's abolish the army, disarm the police, not resist any assaults, and co-operate with any invaders or terrorist groups. Do whatever the aggressor demands. Does that sound like good national policy? Then why is it such great advice domestically? Should we tell our children to give in to bullies at school as well?

Who is writing the script? Who is the architect of this: Don't be armed! Don't resist! Do what the assailant tells you!, mantras-for-victims policy? The Advancing National Criminals society?

The fact is that armed citizens save lives, but unarmed citizens all too often become helpless victims. Criminals prefer unarmed victims. So why do many politicians choose to co-operate with the criminals in helping to disarm their potential victims?

If you reward crime, you will get more of it.

There is other bad advice that seems to go along with the How-To-Be-A-Good-Victim mantra, Don't get involved! Never volunteer! We can't have people obeying the teachings of Christ and being Good Samaritans to their neighbours in need. We need to walk by on the other side of the road like the priest and the Levite (Luke 10:27-37). Don't get involved! A community spirit where people work together against the criminal element and back up their neighbours in need would quickly frustrate the plans of the criminals, and reverse the lawlessness in our society. Good neighbourliness, doing to others as you want them to do to you, loving your neighbour as yourself, would make the working environment of the criminals too dangerous and difficult for crime to succeed. If you were to come to the rescue of someone under attack, if you would help the police identify criminals in your community, if you were to testify in court, you could deprive many criminals of their primary source of earnings. And you know the constitution protects a person's choice of occupation. In a Biblical society the criminals live in fear of the people. In a Humanistic society the people live in fear of the criminals.

In addition, it is important to criminalise the victims and to ignore the real criminals. It is safer to prosecute law-abiding citizens than to pursue real criminals. So, instead of dealing with the millions of illegal firearms in the country, let us harass the law-abiding citizens who have licensed firearms. Instead of dealing with the dangerous unlicensed taxi drivers in their un-roadworthy vehicles, let us rather go after parking offenders outside a crowded church on Sunday morning. Instead of tackling crime syndicates, let's rather harass some farmer who may have inherited some rifles from his grandfather. It is much safer to prosecute law-abiding citizens than to pursue real criminals.

And so, next time people ask why is it that crime is increasing in society? Look no further than the mealy mouthed, limp wristed, pacifistic, cowardly and compromising responses to crime. It is these how-to-be-a-good-victim mantras which are a recipe for crime and chaos.

But as a Christian, however, our attitude has to be shaped by the Scriptures:
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Submit to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7

If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the Faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5:8
Why do people commit crimes so readily? Because crime is not punished quickly enough.” Ecclesiastes 8:11

Don't be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, Who is great and awesome and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” Nehemiah 4:14

Maybe it's time for us to stop listening to the criminals and their public relations agents. Let us take God's Word seriously and instead of giving in to and co-operating with crime, we need to be prepared to not be good victims, but rather to be a criminal's worst nightmare: an armed citizen with neighbours who will back him up in resisting crime.

Dr Peter Hammond

Dr Peter Hammond is the author of Holocaust in Rwanda and Security and Survival In Unstable Times. 

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