Do Europeans have different attitudes than Americans about the sanctity of property?

In the US the sanctity of personal property and the seriousness of threats against it are considered sufficiently high to allow deadly force to be used to defend it. In the US you can often (depending on the location) legally kill an intruder for trespassing and theft, even if they are not directly confronting you.

I get the impression that some Europeans are shocked by this. Is there a substantially different attitude regarding the seriousness of property crime and appropriate responses to it in Europe?

The Germans obviously didn’t think very highly of the personal possessions of the millions of Jews that they confiscated.

While the attitudes of the Nazis 60-70 years ago might be of some historical interest I’m looking from something more contemporary unless you want Europeans to start weighing how Americans regarded the personal property rights of blacks in the antebellum era, or the sanctity of the property rights of Japanese citizens interred in WWII. It might be an interesting discussion, but not really germane to the OP.

No, you can’t.

I find that very hard to believe.

There’s a recent case of this we’re discussing in GD right now. “Frequently” might be too strong a term, but it does appear that you are allowed to shoot someone in defense of property under some circumstances in some places.

This is a controversial issue in the UK. I don’t think anyone here would claim that a burglar deserves a death sentence, and people understand why the rules are in place, but people (especially repeat victims) get very frustrated by soft sentences passed down to intruders from the courts, and generally have the backing of the tabloids and the public.

There have also been calls for the law to be better clarified on what defensive force is allowed. For example, you are allowed to take reasonable action to defend yourself from threats, but then how are you supposed to know if an intruder intends violence or just wants to get out?

The Tony Martin case has been mentioned on these boards before -

I think the bottom line is:

  1. Yes, killing an intruder not directly confronting you would be shocking to us. For the most part, human life is valued over possessions. This gets slightly cloudy in the face of repeat break-ins when the police seem to do nothing; hence the Tony Martin controversy.

  2. Everyone is frustrated about the apparent apathy from the authorities towards these crimes, but I don’t think many people really want the public to have the right to play judge, jury and executioner to perceived intruders. Too open to abuse and mistaken identity.

Remember that Europe is not one hegemonious mass like the USA - there are a lot of different countries with different attitudes and laws. Even then, attitudes within countries vary greatly.

Speaking personally, I don’t necessarily think its a question of whether deadly force is valid in certain situations, its whether it is valid at all.

That’s not to say that i think its always avoidable, just that it should never be the conscious goal - British law holds that you should always use the minimum force necessary in self defence/defence of your home and there are very, very few situations i can think of where “minimum force” is equivalent to a bullet through the head.

In my mind, any action (in a civilian context) that results in the death of an individual is a crime. It may be a crime of Involuntary Manslaughter or Manslaughter with mitigating circumstances, but it is a crime none-the-less.

Fuck me. You godwinned a thread in under 5 minutes. That’s gotta be some kind of record. There’s some Native Americans over there who want a word with you by the way.

Stones and glass houses and all that… :rolleyes:

I say fuck Godwin’s law. We NEED to remember the Nazis. We need to remember Hitler and how evil he was. We have to never, ever forget it, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with bringing it up.

In this case, I think it’s just important to note that while Europeans think of themselves as very civilized and peaceful and progressive right NOW, little more than half a century ago they had Hitler, Mussolini, and all of the leaders of the other countries that cooperated with them. Make no mistake - the Nazis had about half of Europe on their side. And put out of your mind the idea that the people who collaborated with the Nazis did it because they were forced to. Those French and Hungarians and Romanians and Poles and Lithuanians, they were horrifically anti-Semitic long before Hitler ever existed, and they killed the Jews with great glee. Some of them helped the Jews, but the majority went along like sheep and helped Hitler.

So forgive me if I’m a little indignant about Europeans acting like they’re so much more peaceful and progressive than Americans, those wild, wild West cowboy vigilante gun-slinging Americans. At least in this country we’re allowed to protect ourselves. And yeah, we fucked the Indians over. It was really shitty of us. But the Europeans were slaughtering each other by the hundreds of thousands in stupid religious wars, long before America ever existed. The British committed genocide against the people of Ireland, and they also wiped out the Tasmanians. Every country has its sins, but it seems like America in the long run has a much better record of human rights. Today is Independence Day, goddammit, and I’ll be fucked if I don’t take the opportunity to stand up for my country. I love it here. My ancestors had to run away from Europe and come here because if they didn’t, they would have all been killed. This country is a haven for people who suffered under the brutal regimes of Europe.

Just my humble opinion.

Oh, give yourselves a few centuries more to hone your skills. We in Europe have had 2000 years of advance over you, after all. No worries, you’ll catch us yet! :smiley:

Just my 2 eurocent!

I don´t think anyone here is forgetting about him. More like putting things into their proper context

And there were absolutely no pro-nazis in the states? And still absolutely no neo-nazis anywhere in the USA? And just to remind me - when did you guys abolish slavery? In the Nordic countries we abolished it in the century.

And most of you Americans were among those of us who lived in Europe and fought and killed eachother - long before we went over to colonize and conquer in the Americas. But you are only responsible for your ancestors since they touched land in America, while we are how long back?

Just my two cents.

Argent, I think that bringing up the Nazis’ crimes in such an inappropriate way is not doing much to genuinely remember them and put into practice whichever lessons we might still be able to learn from those horrible days. Also, it is in no way related to the OP, which asked a factual question and was not about


re: the OP. I think that you’re right and that Europeans are generally more likely than Americans to disapprove of what Joe Horn did. I have no cite or anything, though, it’s just a feeling I get reading this thread.

OK, in hindsight, I think my post was not really very helpful. It was probably more suited for GD. Sorry for derailing the thread - carry on.

And you are perfectly entitled to it, of course, but getting all righteously “Land of the Free” over the thread isn’t going to accomplish anything other than derail a perfectly good discussion topic. If one of us had come in here and thrown out the following statement:

Then is strongly suspect you’d have rolled your eyes just as fast as i did.

America is barely two hundred years old - i’ve got fucking furniture older than that. As JoseB pointed out, you’ve got plenty of time to work up some embarrasing history of your own.

Trust me, I’m English - we’ve fucked over more of the world than you Teadrowners could even dream of. We can smell our own.

That, of course, is just my humble opinion.

Argent - Sorry, hadn’t seen your final post there.

No post-comment pile-on intended :smiley:

I think that in general terms Americans and Europeans have very similar attitudes with respect to sanctity of property, but often much different ways of protecting it. We Americans in general will agressively protect our property and family with whatever means we can use, while Europeans often are limited in the means of protection.
The Joe Horn case has been disposed of recently in court because Horn felt in danger of his life when the robbers turned toward him in what he felt was a threatening manner. After all, they had been illegally entering a house, and had been caught at it.
Texas law allows a person to defend himself and his home and family to the best of his ability, and Horn’s best was to be armed and “ready” to use the gun.

I don’t think the explanation for the OP lies with the ‘sanctity of property’, but with the difference in opinion about actions that can or should be taken which cause harm to others. Another example which comes to mind is a greater willingness to call off high speed police pursuits because of the danger to the public or even to the fleeing driver.

I’ve opened, read and closed this thread several times, not really knowing what to say. I finally worked out what I thought about the question, then came here to find that GorillaMan had already just said it. So - what he said.

Part of the definition of a state is “a sovereign entity with a monopoly on violence in a certain area”. This is adhered to pretty strictly in the parts of Europe I am familiar with - as a private citizen, you do not have the right to use violence for any reason except direct self-defence (although “self” can mean another human being you are trying to protect).

In fact, among us historians, the “strenght” of a state is measured by how well it keeps it’s monopoly on violence. Thus, late medieval scandinavia has “strong” states, while Free-State Iceland is reffered to as “a state-less society”.

It seems this is somewhat more loosely translated in America, where private citizens do retain som right to use violence (or where “self-defence” is wider term, I’m not entirely sure).

I´m gonna loan that sentence, if you don´t mind :slight_smile:

But like the previous posters have said. It´s more about who gets to use violence and in that case, even in the now not-so-state-less Free-State, that privilege goes to the state.

Come to think of it (just rambling now), it might be connected with the greater social systems in most wester European countries where the state is supposed to take care of its inhabitants. With these systems being deconstructed in many countries, I wouldn´t be surprised if the American sentiment might gain some forte in the years to come.