Imagine a police station in the 1920s, in a thriving, medium-sized city, which has hosted a university for more than 100 years. It is March 1929. Before the police commissioner sits a Flemish student, Robert Fermont, who is a member of the Flemish Students’ General Association—division Ghent (Algemeen Vlaamsch Hoogstudentenverbond—tak Gent, AVHV). The police commissioner interrogates Robert Fermont about events that had transpired earlier that night, in which, for several hours, francophone and flamingant students chased after each other through the city, with shouts, fights, throwing of bottles, and beating with sticks. 1 The incidents started when a group of some 40 French-speaking students from the General Association of Catholic Students (Société Générale des Étudiants Catholiques, Gé Catholique), returning from a theatre play, insulted and mocked the flamingants outside the headquarters of the AVHV, the famous student house Uilenspiegel. This could not be left unanswered. In his statement, Fermont recalled the events and admitted he hit a fellow student:
On 15 March in the evening we were sitting in Uilenspiegel, when suddenly a passing parade of French Catholic students began shouting insults against the flamingants. We ran outside after the student group. At the belfry I came into the crowd and I found a student lying on the ground and I instinctively gave him a beating.
The police commissioner questioned Fermont further:
Why did you run out after the group of students?
I only followed the crowd.
Why did you beat a student who was already on the ground, like a coward?
Did you offend the police officer who brought you in?
Yes, I called him a “bastard”.
339Can you tell us something that justifies your deeds?
Yes, no one can actually prove that the beating I gave was the cause of all of the student’s injuries. 2