Bats in the Bromley belfry

Masked vigilantes prowling the streets doling out justice to ne’er-do-wells are typically the province of comic books. These fictional vigilantes operate outside of the law and rarely have any official oversight, no governing body to regulate their actions. Usually, their strong moral character ensures that they only punish the guilty (leaving aside the fact that the vigilante sets themselves up as a judge and jury; something else they have no authority to do) and don’t typically present a threat to civilians (though as we see every day in USAmerica, organizations who are governed and regulated by official entities still trample on the rights of civilians and get away with it). For these reasons and more, it behooves civilians to not engage in vigilante activities, no matter how well-meaning they might be.

Apparently, someone in London didn’t get that memo.

A masked hero in combat trousers and a muscle top swung into action to rescue a City worker from a knife gang as they tried to rob him in south London.

Victim Ken believes the tall, Batman-like vigilante may have stepped in to help others in Bromley, which he called “a dreadful place to walk around” at night.

Ken – who asked the Standard to withhold his surname because he has not told his family about the ordeal – was walking through Martin’s Hill on Monday night when the foul-mouthed thugs “came out of nowhere” and demanded his phone and wallet.

“I thought I was quite literally done for,” he said.

“Then, out of nowhere, a man about 6ft tall, dressed in black combat-style trousers and a tight muscle top, and wearing a black bandana mask, came running towards them.

“He kicked the biggest of my attackers to the ground, which must have knocked the wind out of him.

“Then he grabbed one of the others and swung him into the other one, and pushed them both into a prickly hedge. They were both screaming in pain.

“It actually scared the life out of me – as I’m sure it did the young chaps who attempted to mug me.”

Ken now wants to track down the mysterious Good Samaritan so he can thank him properly for intervening.

“I only had one thought, and that was my family,” he told the Standard. “I thought: ‘What if I don’t make it home?'”

He added his would-be muggers may have been hiding in a bush. “It all happened so fast,” he said. “They were swearing, calling me names – and then one said: ‘We should take his s*** from him.'”

London’s hero fancies himself a real-life Kick-Ass, but his lack of oversight is problematic.

I’m glad Ken is ok.

But.

Imagine if this “hero” had injured himself. Does he imagine his insurance is going to cover such injuries or does he have a personal ‘Alfred’ who can tend to any injury he sustains? And is he rich? Because he’s inevitably going to sustain injuries that might prevent him from working. What then? What if he caused serious injuries to Ken’s attackers, resulting in their hospitalization? Who’s going to pay for all that-taxpayers? What if he gets it wrong next time and hurts someone for walking while black, wearing a hoodie, and carrying Skittles? What if he intervenes in a situation that he has insufficient knowledge of? What if his actions accidentally resort in property damage to someone’s business or worse, death to someone? How can anyone trust that this guy will always act in ways that benefit potential victims?

There are too many unanswered questions, and too many ways vigilantism can go wrong for all parties involved. This is not a good idea for anyone, so kids and adults, don’t try this at home.

For more information on the problems inherent in vigilantism, see here.

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Bats in the Bromley belfry
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