Burning Indignation

Theodore Dalrymple offers an in-depth analysis on a bizarre incident in 2017 involving a homeless man begging for money and a University of Cambridge law student burning a £20 note (~$25) in front of him, as well as the unsurprising outraged reactions from all corners of Britain.

Yet, is it actually unjust that he had money to burn—and, if so, unjust to whom? All of us, even the poorest, enjoy benefits that we have done nothing to earn or deserve. We have done nothing, for example, to deserve the comparatively long life expectancies that we enjoy, or at least possess. Most of us enjoy, without gratitude and as if by cosmic entitlement, the fruit of the efforts of past generations.


Perhaps it should not come as a surprise to us, then, that many of those who expressed themselves about Ronald Coyne’s awful behavior did so with a violence that belied their supposed humanity.

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