Hate Crimes

We have been hearing a lot recently about sex crimes. We have also been hearing calls for the perpetrators of these crimes to be variously, castrated, hanged, kept in prison forever, executed, etc, etc. This is just not rational, it is born out of hatred. They have become an impersonal totem of evil and we can now dance maniacally at the foot of the totem without let or hindrance – or consideration of the facts. It is all too convenient.

Let me now turn to hate crimes. Recently two men were jailed for the murder of Jody Dobrowski. They kicked him to death because he was homosexual. I cannot think of a mainstream world view, interpretive community or belief system that could declare this to be an acceptable act. If there is such a thing as evil, this murder is a paradigm of it. I believe that Jody Dobrowski was a focus of hatred. It was wrong.

Also recently, we have seen the emergence of racial hatred from within our own Union; the assaults, by Scots, upon wearers of “England” shirts. The victims this time were a seven year old boy and a disabled man.

Its easy to forget, but we certainly should not forget, that a young black man, Anthony Walker was beaten to death with a baseball bat in another racist attack.

In the murky world of illegal drug gangs two young girls were tortured, raped and shot. Mary-Ann Leneghan died. One defendant at the trial was reported as saying that there was an atmosphere of evil in the room that night.

And now a question for you. To which of the above do you think the Judge, in passing sentence, applied these words:

The crime of which you have been convicted is so bad that one has to put stern restraint upon one's self to prevent one's self from describing, in language which I would rather not use, the sentiments which must rise to every person who has heard the details…People who can do these things must be dead to all sense of shame, and one cannot hope to produce any effect upon them. It is the worst case I have ever tried
I shall, under such circumstances, be expected to pass the severest sentence that the law allows. In my judgment it is totally inadequate for such a case as this.

A trick question I am afraid. It is the judge in the second Oscar Wilde trial which took place over 100 years ago. His crime? – “Gross Indecency” with a male prostitute. For this crime, Wilde lost everything – his home, his family (he was denied access to his children and never saw them again) and his desire to create. Prison broke him. That is all it did. It did not stop him from being homosexual. (It is worth recalling that today, Mark Oaten MP was found to be doing exactly the same thing, but is now to all intents and purposes, rehabilitated in the eyes of the general public, or at least the BBC.)

But this article is not about homosexuality, it is about hate. The same people who hounded Wilde to death, who destroyed his life and who cheered at the verdict – they are no different to those who today want a blanket moratorium on mercy for sex offenders.

I am not talking here about murderers, rapists and torturers who prey on young boys and girls. I want to make that plain. They deserve the full weight of the law. But consider the situation of someone who may have had a fumbled sexual encounter with a fourteen year-old boy and is now in prison for longer than a murderer. Would it, I wonder, be ok for a few of us to get together and kick the shit out of him when he gets out of jail? Will you join in? I hope not.

In condemning such an individual, in screaming for castration and torture (which some are) are we not guilty of the same sort of hatred and lack of humanity that killed the victims I cited?
Neither you nor I can allow our souls to be degraded by allowing our own less attractive instincts to find a convenient scapegoat, whether it is those of other races, sexes, attitudes or whatever the latest media kicking post is.

We can do better than that.


Pie said...

Hmm, good argument. Not 100% in agreement, but there are going to be a few situations where perhaps the situation isn't totally clear-cut.

Having relatives who have been victims to certain people I suppose it's never going to be easy for me to look on it in an unbiased way.

a.c.t said...

There's nothing folk love more than a witch hunt. Pediatricians being attacked because people don't know the difference between them and pedophiles is saddening.

* (asterisk) said...

Yeah, I can't say I'm in total agreement, but until such time as the law and order types actually get the right people for the crimes, then I can't wholly support capital punishment. Otherwise I'm afraid I would. You know how much I like the Bible, WW: An eye for an eye and all that!

Oh and here's a winky eye for you


Lesley McDade said...

Good article Wrinkley. You are right to focus on the judge. We appoint judges in a safe and just society to do what, given our natural instincts, we would do ourselves. As such, we cannot justify conduct outside the rule of law as it becomes itself subject to the rule of law. A vicious circle leading only to savagery.

Judges are our "intelligent" response to savagery and the law is 'supposed' to be uniform in application and apply to everyone equally.

In an age of technology, we should be nearer to a "Utopia" than otherwise as all judges now have the use of IT and presumably can do themselves or use their assistants to check what the going rate for sentence is on a particular crime.

Hate crime. When both parties are before the judge they are presumed to be equal. As Lord Mackay of Clashfern wisely stated in the Moorcock test case - it is what you did or did not do, not what you should have done - that the judge focuses on.

However, if you have gone through the judicial system and not received justice - which is a good in a safe and just society and also means we live in a civilised society called a democracy, then and only then, do you have the right to kick the shit out of someone, because you have ultimately two rights in natural law, the right to life and the right to defend yourself. If Judges fail to secure those two fundamental rights, then only your own intellect and freewill will prevent you from kicking the shit out of someone, especially where they deserve it.

Judges need to take their function in society responsibly and with accountability - because to fail to do so - has serious consequences in a democracy or not?

a.c.t said...

Tut tut, my spelling is dreadful. Paediatrician and paedophile indeed. I really should use the spell check in future...