Sean O'Brien was cited for throwing a punch on the rugby field and banned for the next game, (against Argentina), as a result.
Watching this (Rugby World Cup), incident in slow motion it was clear that the big French forward was pulling O'Brien back from doing his job and it was in exasperation that O'Brien lashed out to get away from him. But the French player is blameless and Ireland lose the important O'Brien instead.
A few years back a remote farmer saw some traveling men come into his yard. They had hassled and bullied him before apparently but this time he met them with his shotgun. In the resulting confusion one of the intruders was shot dead. The farmer was given a prison sentence.
We all know that right and wrong has nothing to do with the law. Whatever you think about the farmer's actions, the law sees it clearly in black and white. I think this presents a problem though. You see, in many walks of life it is not a crime to provoke. I've always believed and understood that there is a direct relationship between provocation and retaliation. If the Frenchie hadn't pulled at O'Brien and if the knackers had left the farmer alone, there would have been no retaliation. This is the simple truth.
Provocation of any kind breeds anger and disharmony. The one being provoked feels unnecessarily wronged and the will to seek revenge is normal and strong too. Reading the book on the Corrib Gas Pipeline protests it becomes apparent that the violent incidents took place after Police provocation, prompted perhaps by their political masters. Provocation of some kind is always behind wars. The repeated message in the West during the Cold War was, "Don't prod the sleeping Russian bear." Don't provoke them.
There are natural laws that show cause and consequence across all aspects of living. Without the cause though, there is no consequence. If there is no sparking action then there will be no re-action. I can think of nothing more dangerous than a thief breaking into my family home in the middle of the night. It has never happened to me but I know if it ever did, I would do prison time as a result. I would feel perfectly entitled to do as I please with the individual in such circumstances using anything that came to hand. In the heat of the moment, the law of the land just would not come into it.
But as I say, I would end up in gaol for it, not the thieving hospital patient who provoked me in the first place. My feeble defense would be, "If he hadn't broken in your honour, none of this would have happened." This week on the radio we heard recordings of good rural people under siege from criminals and to a man and a woman, they wanted guns to protect themselves. In theory I think this is a dangerous road to take but in practice, I'm all for it somehow.
It is not a black and white issue as the law would have it and when it comes down to it, we are the law, not the wig in the high seat.