It turns out that George Orwell may never have said this:
People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.
The quote came to mind as I was trying to work out why TV1’s new series, Ultimate Force made me feel so uneasy. It’s a fairly fast moving hour on some SAS types who get pulled in to sort out the sticky situations that the “plod” can’t handle. You’d think it might be amiable Cold-War stuff like The Professionals, but no. It’s slickly handled and ultraviolent, and the bad guys always wind up very very dead.
In many cases, the bad guys are incapacitated, and then executed. Are we meant to think that it’s all no problem? No-one comments on this; there’s no official reprimand or enquiry. The nearest we get to it causing some sort of moral dilemma for the soldiers is when one of them looks at the other as if to say “I don’t believe you just did that”. Up until then, it’s been a fun ride.
It’s one thing shooting to kill when their opponent is trying to kill them. It’s another thing emptying a clip into their opponent when they are lying on the ground wounded. I hope I never live in a society where anyone can get away with doing that. I hope that the rough men have more honour and integrity than that.
Easiest solution is to stop watching. Which I will. Luckily it’s only a story.